Crypto-networks (blockchains) and various protocols/apps built on top of them live or die based on their communities. You can see this play out rapidly across DeFi where new projects are spun up almost every day and those with strong and vocal communities tend to do very well. The yEarn/YFI ecosystem is the obvious example here and I don’t think I need to go into how much growth that project has seen in just a few months due in large part to its amazing community.
Building a strong community is hard and takes time to get right (and a lot of luck). You basically want to attract the biggest and brightest minds but to do so you have to have a compelling narrative that gets these people excited and motivated. With Ethereum, the narrative that initially attracted people was being able to “decentralize everything” – not just money. This narrative evolved over time and ended up manifesting into a much clearer and more powerful narrative that we all know as “decentralized finance”. This gives the community a “schelling point” for where to focus their efforts and allows them to work in cohesion towards a common goal.
Now, obviously Bitcoin and Ethereum have the strongest communities in crypto and are the biggest networks because of it but due to online echo chambers a lot of people tend to not even be aware of entire communities outside of these 2. For example, there are rather large communities for less-popular layer 1 blockchains that you will probably never be exposed to unless you go looking for them. Well, I did go looking for them and I was honestly amazed – there are literally tens of thousands of people that follow projects that I don’t really think about (I won’t name them as I don’t want to pick on any particular project).
An important thing to note is that not every community is created equal. Some care more about the token price than the actual products being built, some get bogged down chasing certain narratives that lead to no where while others manage to find product/market fit and go on to become billion dollar protocols. I believe that the original architects of a system have the power to “set the scene” on what community they want to cultivate. Want to optimize for speculators? Well, that’s not too hard – just create a ponzi. Want to optimize for long-term growth? Don’t issue a token until you have a working product that people actually care about and use. Obviously all of this is easier said than done but there are some pretty clear decisions that you can make early on to cater to a specific type of community member.
When it comes to layer 1 blockchains, they really only die out when people stop caring about them. They can continue on as “zombie chains” for many years and not really do anything but “death” is a long and drawn out process for them. As for individual projects (such as those in DeFi), they don’t tend to last as long (especially if they don’t have a token) and may just end up being “acquired” by other more successful protocols. Usually when that happens the acquired project tends to lose its community as they either leave the project or join the parent projects community.
Have a great weekend everyone,
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All information presented above is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as investment advice.