The word shill has started to be used a lot lately in cryptocurrency communities, sometimes even too much in my opinion.
If you google the word it will give you a definition such as "an accomplice of a confidence trickster or swindler who poses as a genuine customer to entice or encourage others." with an example like "I used to be a shill in a Reno gambling club". Nowadays though they seem to call anyone a shill that merely dares to bring up an alternative solution to a problem they may be facing or discussing at the time.
If I had a Steem for each time I've been called a shill on various chats or social media platforms, I'd probably be shilling a lot more for Steem.
Over the years I've been involved in blockchain technology, my focus has drifted from Bitcoin, to Litecoin, Dogecoin, Dash, Ethereum, Expanse, Lisk, Waves, Decred and finally landed on Steem. Its not even as if I've always only had skin in one of them at the time to be shilling for the my own interest, at some point you get annoyed when you're in a discussion with random internet users and just cause you happen to bring up one of those currencies you are instantly called a shill and downvoted by the hivemind of that community.
There are a few different shills out there as well. The most common ones are probably those with self-interest, shilling & marketing their own assets for attention and with them increasing in value in mind. Then there are paid shills who directly through cryptocurrency get paid to mention and attract potential investors to their currency. One thing they have in common though is that the technology backing their projects never matters when they are actively shilling it. They choose the timing of bringing these up when it seems best to fit their agenda.
If I had an Ether for every comment and direct message on Reddit I received not to invest in Ethereum cause it was only a scam/pump&dump, etc, I'd probably be able to buy a horde of cryptokitties right now.
The worst of it all is that platforms such as Reddit make shilling effective. Having anonymous upvotes and downvotes they can use them for their agenda and work in groups to change the outcome of a discussion for their own favor. Not to mention the shady sites that offer clever ways to game Reddit upvotes and downvotes for a low sum of money.
I admit I have been shilling for Bitcoin back in 2013-2014, I visited subreddits such as r/investing and other similar ones to discuss Bitcoin and Blockchain technology - the outcome was always negative. Still to this day when Bitcoin is above $10k I only get downvoted there and Bitcoin gets called a Ponzi scheme or some sort of "HYIP" high-yield investment program and kept bringing up common negative aspects of it such as drug deals and ransom payments. Often completely ignoring the innovative technology behind it and the decentralized freedom of payment it offers.
When I moved away from Bitcoin and started seeing the improved technology in projects like Ethereum I was instead called an Eth shill. Its like these communities form into bubbles where anyone discussing any potential competitors brings risk of bursting that bubble so they silence them and group up on that user to shut them off.
Same thing with Steem the past 1.5 years since I've been introduced to it, doesn't matter if you bring up the technological advantages, the censorship resistance, the limitless possibilites, etc. You are labeled a shill instantly. This feels really weird to me, especially in a time where people should be more open to other possibilities and solutions, especially after Bitcoin started it all with the blockchain innovation - it should've opened their eyes that change is a good thing. Freed them from the chains of the economy pre-blockchain and compared to the beginnings of the internet they should know that we are still at the infancy of technology. It seems like they instead get comfortable with what they already know and own a stake of, and anything else that attacks their blissful existence they don't want to hear nothing of, as if trading fees are ridiculously high.
I find it a bit hypocritical to be honest, people who only want to follow one project alone and want to stay ignorant toward other solutions out there are not far off from those who didn't want to hear or research the blockchain innovation to begin with.
Considering my history, I don't want to be called a shill when I mention Steem on a platform that's discussing their problems of fake news and censorship. I don't want to be called a shill when I offer people other ways to monetize their content than ad-revenue that's constantly dropping or a platform that demonetizes them. I don't want to be called a shill when I tell people they need not worry about trading or transaction fees on this blockchain.
I don't want to be called a shill just cause I happen to follow the most promising blockchain solutions to date.
I'm a shill for the overall innovation that blockchain technology offers.