During the final stretches of the 2000s, a group of Reddit users decided that the community should have its own torrent tracker.
The idea emerged during Christmas 2009 after some Redditors, in the spirit of ‘sharing’, posted pirated content on Dropbox and Amazon S3. When those services were swiftly targeted with takedown notices, a torrent-based solution was proposed.
After a few hours of pooling resources, a small group of people managed to get a tracker up and running. That tracker was named “BaconBits”.
Once all systems were running and stable, the staff officially announced their new sharing platform on Reddit itself, branding it the first private torrent tracker exclusive to Reddit users.
“We’ve decided to make a tracker for only Reddit users! Its name is Baconbits.org It’s much like the S3 Dropbox that was started on Christmas, where Reddit users can share out of their hearts to the rest of Reddit,” the message read.
After just one day, the site had already amassed thousands of users. This is all the more impressive since prospective users were required to have a Reddit account for at least three months, with some respectable link and comment karma.
The swift rise of the site is a testament to the power of the crowd. Up until this day, it remains one of the most unique origins of a torrent site that we know of.
The Beginning of the End
In the years that followed BaconBits built up a small but dedicated community. It never ran into any legal trouble that we’re aware of. However, there was a massive technical failure in 2015, which nearly wiped out the site.
While the site managed to make a comeback, restoring some of the content, a permanent scar remained. Things were never the same again and now, almost seven years later, BaconBits is shutting down permanently.
“There is no easy way to say it, this site has been struggling since the great robot uprising nuked half our torrents. We’ve kept the lights on since then, but morale has been flagging, user and upload counts have never recovered, and developer bandwidth has been minimal,” staffer Blackfish explained.
“Many of us staff have moved on to focus on other things, and unfortunately, the time has come when it’s clear that life support is the best we’ll be able to manage. We don’t want you to remember us like this, but nonetheless, it’s time to pull the plug.”
Over the years the site had changed quite a bit. BaconBits abandoned its Reddit requirements for prospective users and started to operate more like a traditional private tracker.
While BaconBits was an iconic site for many early Redditors who were into file-sharing, traffic to the site was relatively modest. That, paired with the change of interests and motivation among staffers, probably made the shutdown decision a bit easier.
When a tracker closes its doors there are always users calling for a restart. The closure of BaconBits is no different. However, if people want to keep the spirit going, they will have to start anew. The staff are not planning to hand over the code, period.
“No, it will not be handed over to a random user with ‘good intentions’. That’s bad security. Any relaunches will be scams,” Blackfish notes.