Reddit’s users had no way of knowing what r/A858 was, but they knew they had to keep working on it. Guidance from the original creator of the subreddit was, to say the least, scarce. But the puzzle solvers of the world were encouraged when occasional messages were successfully decoded. A seeming breakthrough occurred in August 2015 when certain hexadecimal chains began appearing in a forum devoted to solving r/A858. This proved to be the most indirect AMA in the history of Reddit. “It left the amateur code-breakers with perhaps more questions than answers,” Guthrie writes, “but also with a renewed enthusiasm.”


But the project seems to have reached an impasse of late. The original subreddit has gone private, and a message appeared saying that r/A858 “has concluded” and advising users to unsubscribe. But the faithful continue to plow through the archived posts, still seeking an ultimate answer. Says one such aspirant: ““I only hope A858 actually has a purpose. I don’t particularly care if it is a good one.”