Yesterday, the price of Bitcoin crashed through the psychologically important $10,000 barrier. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts celebrated. “We made it!” cried one Reddit poster. Others looked forward to even higher prices: on Twitter, Adam Back, co-founder and CEO of Blockstream, advised people to sell as little as possible, because “$100k is the next number.” Today, Bitcoin has risen a further $1,000. It is also rising against other international currencies such as the euro and the yen: its value in yen is now over 1m. The sky is the limit, seemingly.

A screen displays a euro currency exchange graph inside the offices of La Maison du Bitcoin bank in Paris, France, on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. The price of the largest cryptocurrency by market value is soaring as it gains greater mainstream attention despite warnings of a bubble. Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg

Bitcoin’s meteoritic rise has pulled up the prices of other coins too, to the delight of their owners. “Congratulations to all the hodlers!” cried Litecoin’s Charlie Lee. “This is by far the strongest Bitcoin bull run I’ve seen in 6+ years”.

What is a “hodler”, you may ask? Well, it appears that someone misspelt “hold” after drinking a lot of whiskey, and it caught on, perhaps because cryptocurrency enthusiasts like to pretend they are different from other investors. You don’t “hold” cryptocurrencies, you “hodl” them. Though personally I would call it “hoarding” them. People are buying cryptocurrencies not to use them for transactions, but to hoard (or “hodl”) them in the expectation of profiting from the ever-rising price. How this is compatible with Bitcoin eventually becoming a mainstream payments mechanism is difficult to imagine. When everyone is buying to hold, the price inevitably goes up, which makes the currency less and less usable as a medium of exchange.

But amid all the partying, the sheer incongruity of this price rise appears to have struck almost no-one. Why are people who want cryptocurrencies to replace fiat currencies such as the U.S. dollar rejoicing because they are making profits in U.S. dollars? Charlie Lee's comment is hardly a ringing endorsement of the future of cryptocurrencies:

Now take some profit off the table. You deserve it for believing when no one else around you did.

To profit from Bitcoin’s price rise, you must convert it to fiat currency. Since all cryptocurrencies are rising in price versus the U.S. dollar, there is little profit to be made by exchanging Bitcoin for other cryptocurrencies. You can only realize profits from Bitcoin’s price rise versus U.S. dollars if you exchange it for U.S. dollars. So Lee is now advising Bitcoin “hodlers” to buy U.S. dollars.

Another prominent Bitcoiner took breaking the $10,000 barrier as a sell signal: “It's amazing to see Bitcoin break $10k. The first thing I did this morning was actually sell some. That way I can always say that I sold some above $10k.”

He seems to have called the top. If he is right, then he has limited his potential losses to some extent. But if he is wrong, he faces a dilemma: he will lose all those profits and more if he later decides to buy back in, but if he doesn’t buy back in, he will lose any subsequent gains from Bitcoin price rises. No wonder most people are “hodling”. And no wonder everyone is trying to work out how long the party will last. This is supposed to be revolutionary?