NFTs might have started as fun PFPs but since recently their use cases have stared to expand. One such new use case is community membership gated by NFTs. In this article we will look at (1) what they are, (2) what some of the top current communities, and (3) what should you be your alpha play on this.
You might have come across mint announcements for ‘membership’ NFTs or spotted jpegs with ‘membership pass’ on them while snooping around some wallets on OpenSea. These are different to the community NFTs that I am about to cover. Jpegs that claim to represent ‘membership’/ ‘pass’/ ‘passport’ on their face value are usually minted before there is any community in place. The question of whether there’s any significant merit to them is out of scope of this article. In contrast, the key difference of the OG community NFTs lie in the sequence of events: existence of community precedes existence of NFTs that bind it together. Take a look at how the OG NFT-gated community typically develops:
The last point might seem perplexing - why would the projects offer goodies to these NFT holders? There may be a number of reasons for this:
As the result, NFT hodlers get a valuable asset that yields income from airdrops and WLs, capital gains from potential upside in NFT floor price, various perks offered by projects, reputation and recognition within Web3 as member of that community (could this help with your Web3 career development?).
All clear so far? Let's go through top 3 communities. Can you guess these, anon? Hint: a lobster, a lion, and a testing tube met up for tea.
**Disclaimer: I’m member of all three communities and aim to be objective. However, please keep in mind that there might be some degree of generalization on my part**
*LobsterDAO is a Telegram group set up by Ivangbi over 3 years ago. The focus is on knowledge sharing and (primarily Defi) research. Community includes many founders, devs, researchers, influencers, and generally army of Defi degens. Some of the OGs that can be spotted in their chat include Darren Lau, Daryl Lau, Defiprime, Banteg, and until recently Andre Cronje.
*Lobsterdao NFT (6751 pieces)
*In October 2021, Ivan airdropped over 80% of total NFT supply to community members (most received 2 lobsters each). Cryptopunks, BAYC, and Loot holders were whitelisted to mint 1 lobster each.
There are also talks about potential perks from Nansen. Lobsters are also linked to Degen Score and Brahma (where Ivan is investor), but nothing has been promised from these projects yet. Chat in their Telegram channel and you'll start spotting collaboration hints from various projects in no time.
*Pros and cons
*Overall, this is a well-known Web3 community and a good place to learn, chat to OGs, and spot promising early-stage projects. The focus is chiefly on Defi with a flavour of interest in NFTs. So far, good record history of collaborations with no end in sight for further WLs and airdrops. On the cons side, with floor price of 1.8E at the time of writing, lobsters have the higher entry price in comparison to other communities. It’s also important to add that some of the past airdrops and perks targeted those with at least 2 lobsters in their wallets.
*Founded in 2019 by Lito Coen, Cryptotesters started as a platform to support builders and onboard new Web3 users. Right now the focus is on education, testnets and user feedback, L2s (especially optimistic rollups), smart wallets, NFTs. Cryptotester community have been helping numerous projects with hiring, user acquisition, user testing sessions, and networking. There is also education platform that has product reviews and tutorials. Community has project team members, investors, and active project contributors.
*Cryptotesters NFT (2000 pieces)
*In May 2022, WLd Discord members were given a free mint. Wintermute and Tioga Capital are confirmed institutional holders. The rest of the supply is currently available for public mint: https://cryptotesters.com/community/mint.
In terms of perks, even though the NFT drop is happening only now at the time of writing, there is already an impressive list of partnerships including with Grid Plus, Ambire Wallet, Zerion, Atlendis and many others:
In the past, Cryptotesters Discord members received early access to Argent wallet and Polynomial vaults, WL for minting free BattleFly NFT, early tip-off about Fancurve NFT drop, enough Karma to deposit into Brahma vault, and so on. Future collaborations with more NFT projects and marketplaces on Layer 2 like Quixotic wouldn't surprise me. Since Wintermute and Tioga Capital are confirmed holders, I also expect collaborations with their portfolio projects.
Pros and Cons
Community is very pro #L222 (+NFT was issued on Optimism). There is presence of institutional holders. Strong interest in innovative NFTs (e.g. Crecos with on-chain metadata). Lito's business development skills are unparalleled - he singlehandedly secured all of the above perks and they keep on coming. In terms of cons, not all of the pieces were distributed to community members via free mint (although the community size didn’t match up with total NFT supply of 2000 at the time of the drop), opening up doors for new members that might not be fully aligned with the vision and mission of Cryptotesters from the get-go.
*R/ethfinance (EVMavericks) community
*Last but not least OG Web3 community is EVMavericks (EVMs). Native to Reddit (r/ethfinance), there’s currently no single leader. R/ethfinance is where it started and it's still the place to discuss all things Ethereum. Discord is for ManeNet DAO, that's specific to EVM NFT holders. For the purpose of this review, it's one and the same. Members are old-timers that survived through multiple crypto winters and are known to be the OG diamond h̶a̶n̶d̶s̶ paws. Both the Reddit and Discord is a great place to learn and get your technical questions answered. Community has researchers, educators, many Ethereum old-timers that run own validator. Reddit/Discord members include Superphiz, modular blockchain OGs and ZK-rollup evangelists (Swagtimus Prime, Polynya/Liberosist, Bxpana of ZK Sync, Odin), David of the Bankless podcast, Anthony Sassano, Paul Brody (Global head of blockchain at EY), DCinvestor and many others.
EVMs NFT (1324 pieces)
In April 2022, community member etheraider airdropped the lions to active community members. It was a free mint with WL for active members (1 per person) and raffle WL for 'lurkers'.
*ManeNetDAO is recent but we can expect future collaborations around the following key themes:
*Pros and Cons
*Community members care deeply about decentralization. There are many zero-knowledge OGs. NFT was distributed fairly amongst the community members. The community itself is very family-like (see how many lions will subscribe to you if you change your PFP to EVM on Twitter!). In terms of cons, the Redditors used to be somewhat sceptical about NFTs but that's changing drastically with the introduction of the EVMs.
Now, to the alpha.
The above NFTs not only come with explicit and/or implied perks. Further airdrops and benefits can’t be ruled out in the future. The obvious alpha play is to get hold of one. But how? If you have ETH, then get one on secondary (or mint in the Cryptotesters’ case). If you’re broke, then get involved with these communities. All three have spare NFTs in their treasuries:
At the moment, Lobsters is probably the hardest one to earn. And as EVMs don't have a clear contribution path yet, Cryptotesters is likely to be your best bet as contributor right now.
What's next for NFT-gated Web3 communities? While numerous Web3 identity solutions are currently in works, OG community NFTs can also serve as way to identify (some, not all) real wallets, particularly given the anti-sybil and anti-bot measures that recently became a hot topic. Therefore, apart from coming with the above-mentioned list of perks, OG community NFTs may play a role in confirming your Web3 identity in the future as they are quite impossible to farm (no one was posting in r/ethfinance for the past 2 years in the hopes of an airdrop!).
As Web3 grows, so will the number of new communities. They are too likely to choose NFTs to mark their members. However, I believe that more and more of them will choose to airdrop soulbound NFTs that you won't be able to transfer to another wallet. Soulbound NFTs are like a permanent badge of honor on your Web3 CV - a reputation that one can't buy, only earn. So get involved with projects and communities, and start contributing. In the end, WAGMI!