(CNN) – Dogecoin is the most popular and quirky cryptocurrency on the planet.

The total value of dogecoins in circulation is over $ 53 billion, which is not bad for a digital currency that started as a joke.

Dogecoin is the fifth most valuable cryptocurrency on the market, according to CoinMarketCap, having surged more than 6000% this year.

The price of a dogecoin doubled again on Friday after Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted about it for the umpteenth time. Demand for dogecoin skyrocketed so much this week that it briefly broke the Robinhood cryptocurrency trading system.

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What is Dogecoin?

Like all cryptocurrencies, dogecoin is a digital currency that can be bought and sold as an investment and spent as money.

Although each crypto is unique, dogecoin shares some similarities with its more well-known peers (its code is based on the litecoin script, for example). But it has a couple of key differences.

Unlike bitcoin, which has set the number of coins available on the market at 21 million, dogecoin has 129 billion coins in circulation. It will continue to make new blocks of cash available to mine each year. That’s part of the reason why a dogecoin is currently valued at just under 40 cents on the dollar. And a bitcoin is worth about $ 62,000.

Although cryptocurrencies are gaining acceptance as a currency to buy goods, dogecoin does not have much use in the real world. It has some niche markets, like tipping artists online.

And its main differentiator – its active online community – is what makes this strange coin so fun. The group, active on Reddit, has raised money (in dogecoin, of course) for charitable causes, and in 2014 successfully funded a sponsorship for Nascar driver Josh Wise to advertise dogecoin in his car.

“Dogecoin is not so much an alternative deflationary numismatic instrument. But an inflationary idle exploration of community building around crypto assets,” Usman Chohan, an economist at the University of New South Wales School of Business, wrote in an article. They were updated in February on the digital currency.

How did it start?

Dogecoin stand created as a joke on December 6, 2013, by a couple of software engineers.

Billy Markus, an IBM programmer from Portland, Oregon, set out to differentiate his cryptocurrency from bitcoin, which remain steeped in mystery thanks to its anonymous creator since, at that time, it attracted a small group of miners. Markus wanted his crypto to be open to the masses, according to Chohan.

Markus sought help to make his strange dream come true and found Jackson Palmer, who worked for Adobe. Palmer bought the dogecoin domain. Com, a nod to the “doge” meme that was all over the internet at the time.

The website nods to its joke origins at the top – its Shiba Inu mascot is the first image on the page. Mimicking the meme, it remains inspired by, featuring the same dog surrounded by a ton of comic text. Sans in misspelt English.

In dogecoin. Com, its mascot has a title: “Dogecoin is open-source. Peer-to-peer digital currency that Shiba Inus around the world favour.”

Why is it suddenly so popular?

Dogecoin is no longer a joke. Its popularity has exploded – astronomically this year –

in part due to the widespread adoption of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

But Elon Musk is the most notorious and prominent supporter of dogecoin. One of his tweets to his 50 million followers can send the cryptocurrency skyrocketing. That’s what happened on Friday when Musk tweeted, “Doge barking at the moon”. And shared a photo of a painting by Spanish artist Joan Miró, titled “Dog barking at the moon.”

Dogecoin has also enjoyed something of a cult status on Reddit. Where a popular group – not unlike the WallStreetBets group behind the GameStop rally. Decided earlier this year to push its value “to the moon.” Dogecoin soared more than 600% in the wake of that.

Whether or not it is a smart investment remains a question. The more actively traded and accepted bitcoin is subject to extreme volatility, so [dogecoin] could also crash without warning. But Its rise this year has been impressive.

Markus, who hasn’t benefited from the currency’s soaring growth, sold all of his dogecoins when he was laid off in 2015. He used the money to buy a Honda Civic.

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