NEAR Community in Focus: Decentralized Community Building on NEAR
When Matt Aaron, project lead at DeFi and NFT analytics app UniWhales, saw the explosion of interest in the NEAR protocol, he also saw a gap in the market: an app that monitored its blockchain.
The idea was to create a platform that provided real-time data for NEAR wallet activity, just like the platform he set-up to track Ethereum movements. After launching this week, the NEAR tracker bot is still a work in progress — but so far, so good.
“It was good vibes from the beginning,” says Matt. “As an analytics provider trying to tell the story of what’s going on on all these blockchains, we have to do our best to anticipate additional Layer 1s besides Ethereum where we think there can be meaningful activity our users would like to track.”
“We’re getting all the help we need to get off to a good start,”he adds. “Community members and 4NTS helped connect me to the NEAR ecosystem and get things off to a smooth start.”
Building Web3 products is different from building for Web2. Why? Because Web3 is decentralized, and users have — or at least are supposed to have — ownership. With no centralized authority making all the decisions singlehandedly, it is up to everyone to push things forward.
The importance of community in the Web3 world
For a project to be successful, those working on a protocol need to work in harmony and help newcomers. This can only be achieved with a strong community.
A recurring theme with those building NEAR products is getting a warm welcome from seasoned users of the blockchain, and the support needed to get off to a good start. “The people working on NEAR projects definitely want to help — especially newcomers,” adds Matt.
Community definitely exists in Web2. People interact on platforms like Reddit and writers can freely add to the world’s most popular websites, like Wikipedia.
But Web3 projects break down barriers, and users are much closer to the tools they use. People can have more control and say over how a project is built; there is no centralized authority (or, at least, there shouldn’t be — not for long, anyway); members can be rewarded for what they contribute.
In the Web3 world, communities are much more active and engaged (think DAOs and governance tokens.) And building a big, healthy community is key to a project’s success. The more people who believe in the project and are actively involved, the more likely it is to succeed.
How NEAR’s blockchain was built for communities
Jordan Gray, who is part of the TenK DAO and launched the NEAR Misfits NFT collection, says that building a community on NEAR is, for the most part, a smooth process — even for those moving from Web2 to Web3. This is in part due to NEAR’s unique and fool-proof architecture.
An example? NEAR’s web wallet. Getting started with it is far easier than getting started with other popular Web3 wallets, like MetaMask, says Jordan. Users get a human readable name that must be correctly entered to send money. And there are no lost funds on the NEAR blockchain. This is a feature many new users praise when entering Web3.
It’s one of the things that attracted Jordan to build upon blockchain in the first place.
“The fact that when new users had their wallets, there was a human readable name — it wasn’t a long hexadecimal code — was just very friendly in that regard,” he says. “It’s really nice and easy for new users coming from the Web2 space, they find it pretty natural and it makes sense to them.”
Naksh, an NFT marketplace built on NEAR that puts traditional art on the blockchain, has gained traction in India’s art world. Naksh co-founder Sri Lakshmi says that NEAR’s impressive architecture — the wallet in particular — has helped get people using the marketplace, in turn helping to create a buzzing community.
“I think it’s pretty simple,” she says. “I have taught my artists how to open their wallets and they did not find it that difficult being completely new to this.”
“Since all of the artists in our platform are completely new to the Web3 ecosystem and it was a first time experience for them, creating a wallet itself wasn’t much of a hassle for them,” she adds. “Including some of the deaf and dumb artists.”
NEAR’s community is already bustling, and this makes building new communities easier. With a host of guilds and DAOs already in place to help new projects launch, things go more smoothly.
“NEAR’s community thrives on cross collaborating and helping each other out,” says Sri. “We have received a lot of help from guilds and other communities on NEAR in getting more people interested in Naksh through the various giveaways, Twitter spaces, video interviews, and articles.”
A shared vision is also what keeps a decentralized community strong. And NEAR’s community shares one thing in common: a focus on building quality products.
“The kind of people who end up on NEAR are very collaborative and cooperative and want to help others,” adds Jordan. “Quality attracts quality.”
The strength of community during a bear market
NEAR Misfits co-creator Alejandro Betancourt, who does business development for the liquid staking app Meta Pool, finds strength in community. He says the NEAR community’s resilience during hard times is evidence of a solid community and project.
If anything, more people are noticing the NEAR ecosystem. Launched during the last crypto winter in 2020, it’s still going strong during today’s bear market, with more builders jumping aboard daily.
“There’s definitely a lot in the crypto culture that can be lost because everyone is just too obsessed with price or the herd mentality is too strong, so no one has the time or audacity to look into new things,” says Betancourt. “We launched during the bear market and now it’s a bear market again. The builder ethos and mentality keeps people motivated in the long-term.”
It’s a bit quiet, there is less noise, and it makes it less pump and dumpy,” he adds. “Not everything is shiny, so people get a bit more critical of projects. So when people spend time looking into NEAR technology and the community, it definitely rises to the top in ways that other projects may have been attractive when everything was pumping but are now suddenly a bit more questionable.”
This is what makes NEAR a solid project. A strong community that keeps building, growing and helping others — even when things in the wider ecosystem have quieted down.