The State of Expansive Communities on Farcaster

“Tell the old story for our modern times” - Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey

Expansive Communities: in essence, are interoperable hyperchannels that are both permissionless and sustainable through sensible governance, meaning-making, and caregiving

Farcaster provides decentralized, permissionless space for expansive communities to flourish as an experimental example of how growth, knowledge sharing, and participation in discussion can bring a sense of meaning to social behavior.

While it is important to acknowledge that the early iterations of these channels on Warpcast are certainly still in experimental phases, outside observers may not fully understand their strengths and weaknesses since a large percentage of crypto native communities continue to rely on Discord, Telegram, and Twitter, all centralized ‘web2’ services.

Optimism, Zora, Base, Gitcoin, Farcaster - what will fill the next gaps?
Optimism, Zora, Base, Gitcoin, Farcaster - what will fill the next gaps?

First, you might be wondering what the hell is a Farcaster channel, how do I get one, why do I need one, and what’s it gonna cost me? Well, let’s dive in! We’ll go over all that and then get into how to set a purpose for building your own Expansive Community in the Farcaster ecosystem.

Q. What is a Farcaster Channel?

A. Essentially, you can think of them as a cross between a subreddit and Discord channel. They are intended to host conversations on niche topics and could be used to build a thriving community or simply to boost your own content. Boost? Yes, casting (posting) into a channel does give a slight boost to your content in the current algorithm.

Q. Why do I need one?

A. Well, as stated above, many casters are using channels as a personal dumping ground for their thoughts and an enabling feature for folks to interact directly with them. Again, using them as a personal subreddit of sorts. Especially useful for those folks who frequent Warpcast and have built their own personality on the platform.

Fairly significant growth in qDAU!
Fairly significant growth in qDAU!

There are near endless reasons why a builder would choose to create a Farcaster channel over a more traditional centralized Twitter/X chat, Discord server, or even Telegram group. These services have the power to throttle messages, not reach your target, or get lost in the countless messaging services the modern social human is required to engage with. Now, this isn’t to say getting rid of those other apps will solve all or really any of your community problems. Let’s be real, crypto communities face far more issues than choosing a platform. It simply means that you may be able to discover more aligned native speakers who carry your beliefs and reach them where they are. Twitter/X has long been a toxic, noisy environment with little to no belief on my end of getting better in the near future. Not all communities are meant for the pure exclusivity of token-gated Discord or the messiness of bots, scams, and the overwhelming nature of many servers. Telegram can be an aligned alternative, but to maintain the mental stability of members, you absolutely have to mute channels to save yourself from endless notifications and configure folders within the app to retain some semblance of well-being.

Q. What’s it going to cost?

A. Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Let’s break it down:

One Farcaster channel costs 2500 Warps, equal to $25USD worth of ETH, which can currently be purchased on the web client for Warpcast. The Warpcast client utilizes Coinbase Commerce for easy accessibility. Warps are a simple way to do three things, mint in-app NFTs with a single click, create channels, and gift to users.

Each new user must first purchase storage on an app like Warpcast. This costs $7 via the Apple or Android app stores. On the other hand, the various centralized apps cost much less to spin up, though keep in mind many Twitter/X users do pay for premium features. Discord is free to use (sans Nitro for the cool reaction emojis), and so is Telegram. This small cost reduces the spam (subjective) largely unseen on Warpcast.

Building Culture Through Expansive Communities

Injecting some personal hopes here, the goal for 2024 is to encourage the use of sub-channels as more users come aboard and create interoperability between partner channels. This enables connections and links to form outside clear boundaries, which are imperative for connective tissues to strengthen.

As Dan suggests quite frequently, it may also be helpful for communities to build their own client to cater to specific, cozier needs and allow members to curate feeds with more unique and innovative features that Warpcast won’t or doesn’t currently enable. While I don’t see this as necessary for Expansive Communities, it could be a way for community management to take place. What if you want to build your own client that only shows your sub-channels? Build a client solely for RetroPGF. Build a client for events management, AMAs, or whatever else you think of. These are all examples of potential expansive communities so long as they retain these properties:

  • Permissionless [no (or ethical) gatekeeping]

  • Clearly stated aims and norms

  • Rituals, weekly, monthly, quarterly and otherwise

  • Meaning-making through online and in-person meetups

  • Caregiving via delightful engagement

  • Roles give purpose to engaged participants

I’ve stated in many public and private forums that I can’t wait to see community-led products built within Warpcast channels, and this has already happened to a degree. Sam has built Humankind Candles essentially using their early exposure to the Farcaster protocol. Even though this was done outside of a channel, I see it as an opportunity to build potential feedback loops and possible partnerships with folks like Christin in the Spirituality channel for meditation sessions. I know I would be more inclined to buy a candle if it came with a discount for a guided meditation or a premium subscription to a Paragraph newsletter.

Rituals like Unlonely livestreams help bring users of products together and build community connections as well. GM Farcaster is a weekly 21-minute podcast streamed on Unlonely and proliferated through a channel with nearly 250 followers at the time of writing. The duo also hosts AMAs, newsletters, recording mints on Base, and uploads on traditional streaming services. They’ve also gathered retroactive funding, which is helping to keep them going. This is all possible by continuing to be active on the protocol, which has led to great success, earning multiple features to build case studies, recognition, and articles written about each host.

Finding and Funding Within Expansive Communities

When it comes to finding and funding communities by telling an old story for modern times, we often talk of the need for funding events, development costs, media production sponsorships, and products to build (because capitalism) and the ways we discover connections through algorithms or curation.

First up: Funding

Warpcast has, as explained here, a funding mechanism (that’s not a token) called Warps used for minting, gifting, and channel creation. Casters are also able to subsidize invites with Warps, and any invites will be rewarded with 50 Warps on both ends of a completed invite.

We’ve seen channel hosts/leads reward engaged replies with Warps, entire channels created via gifting of Warps, and also the creation of a channel dedicated to casters who need some extra Warps called /get100warps with over 500 followers.

On top of this, according to Dan, Farcaster-related projects received over $1M+ in the RetroPGF round 3. This is because, in 2023, the Farcaster protocol moved to the OP Stack, meaning any Farcaster app or related project building within the ecosystem is inherently OP-based by design. Many such projects utilize Base or Zora for minting, and as explained earlier, minting these NFTs happens in-app with a single click; no extra signature is required because of the protocol design.

Farcaster is the socially expansive community of the Superchain. Regenerative funding from RetroPGF goes into building better products, apps, and experiences for users, which feeds into more products being built, more satisfied users, and seeding ideas that simply aren’t possible without these innovative funding models.

And Lastly: Finding

Discovery, curation, and sensemaking among expansive communities on Farcaster continue to be in developmental stages, in my opinion. However, channels are surfacing for the sole purpose of this effort and I foresee curation of in-person meetups in particular becoming easier, especially due to the decrease of noise on other platforms and culture creation of sharing only the most high-signal resources and intelligencia found in such channels.

Even casino-like channels like /degen have proven the curation of coordination mechanisms exceeding expectations, rising to be a top channel for engagement. Educating casters on how to get into new memecoins, their drawbacks, failures, etc., and while I do not view memecoins as healthy expansive communities, this proves that channels can work as incentive mechanisms.

In Conclusion

The cultural markers of decentralized social media and expansive communities, specifically as they are created on Farcaster, while in an experimental phase, are well on their way to noticeable growth.

Channel hosts or leads should consider online and in-person events for connecting casters with one another for side events at major conferences as well as Farcaster-exclusive Farcon events. These will require both hosts and specified roles that can be rewarded with Warps, OP Stack tokens directly, or even greater funds distributed through community-governed RetroPGF.

Where shifts are happening all throughout the tech space in early 2024, communities will need to double down on creating a purpose for contributors and members alike that gives them a sense of meaning with added free time on their weekly calendars.

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