Reddit Either Cracked Homeless Man’s Cipher Or Got Lured By Brilliant Marketers

07.12.12 David Lumb

Reddit is an internet hive, somewhere above, below, or in direct rivalry with the creative and news-breaking potential of 4Chan. Reddit can do great things, like supercharge a charity drive for a tormented bus monitor by 400 times its original funding goal. Reddit can also do terrible things, like disbelieve and publicly shame a user’s rape claim.

But post a neural challenge and the hive knocks back the moral kickstand and boots into high gear, as happened last night when a user posted about a homeless man handing him $50 and a massive sudoku grid littered with characters and numbers. Within hours, the buzzing community deduced characters in Russian, Basque, and Hebrew, ultimately culminating in user SirSpam28’s revelation that the century-old Bifid Cipher was in use. The unencrypted message:

There’s plenty more money to make.
Figure this out and prepare to meet July 19th, 56th & 6th.
There’s a hot dog stand outside Rue57 cafe. Ask for Mr. Input.

Government spook theories aside, I’m inclined to agree with the outpouring of other stories Reddit users threw into the discussion about freak job offers cleverly encrypted by ultratech companies. It could also be an ingenious marketing ploy using a seemingly innocuous post targeted right at Reddit’s skeptical heart–in which case user delverofsecrets is himself a secret to be delved (i.e. a corporate plant)! Circles within circles. CELLAR DOOR.

Of course, as Mashable pointed out at the end of their post, who isn’t going to show up at 56th and 6th on July 19th and ask for Mr. Input?