POAP 2019 Recap
(And plans for 2020)
ETHDenver will mark the first year anniversary of the Proof of Attendance Protocol and these are our thoughts.
If you have never heard of POAP before, that’s too bad because in a true Ethereum-ecosystem fashion, all the information about the project is horribly scattered around different highly centralized web2 properties, like:
- Twitter (http://twitter.com/poapxyz)
- Telegram (http://t.me/poapxyz)
- Discord (http://poap.xyz/discord)
- Github (http://github.com/poapxyz)
- Our own website (http://poap.xyz)
- Reddit (http://reddit.com/r/poap )
- And we are adding Medium for more and better clutter!
Chronological non-exhaustive review of events that had POAP magic in 2019:
ETHDenver (February 2019 )
Launching POAP on ETHDenver honored the concept of a hackathon. It was really a marathon of non-stop coding and then launch and capture of users.
It was an unforgettable experience and we made it past the finish line triumphantly thanks to the help of many friends. For getting the POAP NFT you had to open a web3 browser and access http://ethdenver.poap.xyz which was a website hosted in the local wifi network and didn’t work from the outer internet. It was a nice hack that made us really proud and was also very short lived. Tech-wise it was impossible to scale and the UX made some users water their eyes.
EthCC/ETHParis (March 2019)
We couldn’t catch up on rest after Denver that we flew to Paris for EthCC and ETHParis.
The six days of conference + hackathon were really intense. It was motivating to enjoy early validation of the core value proposition.
YouTube video is Gonzalo’s lightning talk courtesy of our host, the best ginger in the space, Pascal Van Hecke.
The events in Paris were eye-opening regarding the disastrous end user UX. We had people coming to us wanting the NFTs, but most wallets didn’t comply correctly with the ERC-721 standard, many didn’t even display NFTs at all. The wifi claiming system was also pretty much broken because of the security policies of that crazy 42 venue where the hackathon took place.
This would have been a very disappointing experience if we lacked all the emotional support of many community members around that cheered although the product was broken all around. To name some: Liam Horne, Adrian Brink, Sunny Agrawal, Awacate, Hadrien Crubois and Freddy Zwanzger for the earliest validation!
EDCON Sydney (April 2019)
The cozy atmosphere of both the hackathon and the conference allowed nice discussions and sparked exciting ideas.
There were so many ETH 2.0 developers and so many fundamental design decisions about it to be made, that for the first time someone came up with the idea of making a voting/polling system were you had to own a POAP of certain event to be eligible for voting.
Some valuable validation and feedback from Rick Dudley, Kain Warwick (before he became a Defi celebrity!), Shane Hong and Deniz Omer from Kyber among many others. This time the tokens were only issued manually on demand… it was centralized but it generally worked fine.
ETH New York City (May 2019)
For the first time ETHGlobal appoints us to officially issue POAPs to all attendees. This was flattering and challenging because we were still using the kludgy codebase from Denver. We had a brand new smart contract to use, with better design patterns and practices but we needed to migrate all the pre-issued tokens and we decided to postpone that.
This hackathon was a blast, likely the most thrilling among all the events in the history of POAP. This was when the project moved from 0 to 1.
The now famous POAP rosettes debut putting us on the spotlight and quickly gets the attention of the curious Vitalik Buterin, who shows up at our desk to learn what was this about.
The tokens were issued by pulling the Kickback API, so we were sure that all 300 hackers got the NFT it in their wallets.
Zcon1 (Split, Croatia, June 2019)
By June of 2019 POAP was five months old, had incipient traction on its own, a couple of hundreds of NFT on mainnet and just released a new, much improved codebase. The tokens on Zcon1 were still issued manually, but that wasn’t a problem because the people spontaneously came to ask for it.
The Zcash community was experiencing serious difficulties on collecting community sentiment at scale, and the idea of a “POAP Vote” showed up in a few workshops. POAP runs on the ethereum mainnet and follows the ERC-721 standard, that means that privacy is non-existent and that of course surfaced some backlash and very welcomed criticism.
The #poap_friends series of Twitter started here, as a way to be thankful with all the kind people we were on boarding.
ETHIndia 2 (Bangalore — August 2019)
Bringing POAP to India was an expensive bet that payed off.
The combination of the ETHGlobal, Devfolio and the local community was perfect and we learnt a great deal about how to make POAP better. Arnaud Schenk (Twitter) from AZTEC team offered good advise on how to bring privacy to POAP and we met again with old friends from Kyber Network, Aavesome, and Matic. A fundamental takeaway from the India experience was that for serving the indian market the product needs to be prepared for india-scale events. A regular hackathon in a mid-size city of india can easily bring over 5000 people. Gas prices average those days were above 5–10gwei so we started exploring L2 solutions. The NFTs of this event were issued by pulling the list of ethereum address of the hackers from Devfolio, an amazing turn-on key solution for hackathon organizers. EthIndia III on early August 2020 is now a safer bet. Congrats Shakti Goap.
Dappcon (August 2019)
And Metacartel Demo Day and ETHBerlinZwei (Department of Decentralization)
Exercising the typical Argentinean ability of doing a lot with too little, Dappcon was a complete success for POAP — excepting the thing that we Airdropped the tokens to the EtherCards of both Dappcon an ETHBerlin and almost nobody bothered to get the tokens out of them. This was an expensive lesson, as the airdrop was quite costly, bloated the state and didn’t have anything close to the desired impact. Even worse, some people are using the cards’ keypair as their main Ethereum account (big no!)
This sad lesson was completely offset because Anna George from Gnosis with all her sweetness tendered us a booth in the sponsors area where we were constantly swarmed by people coming to learn more about POAP, play games… and ask for help about how to take the non fungible token out of the EtherCard ha :-(
Some guests we were honored to have visit our both: Alexey Akhunov, Eric Conner, Rick Dudley, Jerome de Tychey, Boyun Pyun, Matt Condon, Anthony Bertolino, Anthony Sassano, and many others friends new and old !
Special mention to our neighboring booth of Dhack maned by Eylon Aviv and to Dune Analytics who helped with some serious last minute data extraction challenge.
But Dappcon wasn’t the only event of the Berlin Blokchain Week that had top argentinean ingenuity. ETHBerlinZwei led by Maria Paula Fernández (and Helena Flack and others) was a mindblowing experience were we managed to boil and catalyze lots of ideas we wanted to realize for POAP. Barron Jetter and Eli Turlington finally achieved the top positions in the POAP token holder leaderboard as the previous leader Evan Van Ness was absent from the conference circuit for a while (paternity leave).
The MetaCartel Demo Day looks dwarfed next to these amazing experiences, but the truth is that, on a shoestring budget, they put together a fantastic event that sparked very valuable conversations, including the initial thoughts of using POAP for sybil resistant airdrops. POAP met with Luis Bezzenberger from Brainbot Technologies / Trustlines Network who later would launch the interesting Trustlines Merkledrop using POAP.
Nate Geier and @mintbase deserve a mention as they smoothly managed the ticketing.
ETHBoston (September 2019)
And defi summit London and Tel Aviv Blockchain Week
ETHGlobal was putting their best resources and bringing the best people to the heart of Cambridge (Massachusetts) and POAP needed to be there.
Reviving the spirit of Ethdenver, we spent the whole weekend hacking as if our lives depended from that.
We built the POAP Vote, a proof of concept of sybil-resistant quadratic-voting based on POAP token holdings. The product is feature rich and quite complex. It’s all thoroughly explained in the following link, which I encourage you to read because it was really a lot of work to build in such a short period of time.
Landing Vote page Decentralized protocols (like Ethereum but also tens of others) are particularly hard to govern. It's…
Congraulations to the Queen of lobster Jinglan Wang and the princess Mel Vera and many thanks to all of you who helped across the weekend: Hayden Adams, Mariano Conti, Marguerite deCourcelle, Alex Atallah, Libby Kent, Tyler Kell, CryptoPenguin and others.
From there we flew to London for the Defi Summit where we kept growing POAP and learning how to make it better.
Thanks to: Alex Gluchowski from Matter Labs for the advice on privacy and scaling and your general support. Cambrial Capital for putting the event together, Lenka Hudakova, Matthew Finestone, Megan Knab, keld van schreven, George Mcdonaugh, Deniz Omer, Hugh Karp, and others.
Right the next day after the defi summit finished, we decided that we loved POAP so much that we would pollute the atmosphere even more by traveling to Tel Aviv, and polluting the environment is something that POAP actively avoids when possible. Big thanks and mention to portis, our host whom without the trip wouldn’t been possible. We missed Ethereal because of health issues but we were recovered at the time of the StartWare sessions. POAP makes it to the event with already thousands of NFT on mainnet and a growing set of identities for conducting different experiments. Some good conversations happen with Albert Ni, @barrywhitehat and Vitalik Buterin and we start working on the ambitious idea of a POAP vote system that uses ZK tech to conceal the contents of the vote. This final project would be released later by Koh Wei Jie, more information here:
Private voting and whistleblowing in Ethereum using Semaphore
In a previous post, I wrote a technical explanation of Semaphore, a zero-knowledge privacy gadget built on Ethereum…
And we made it to DeVcon! (Osaka, JP, October 2019)
The road to Devcon was bumpy and frightening. It was during ETHBerlinZwei that Aya Miyaguchi got her first POAP rosette and when she said yes to the POAP proposal of issuing a Non-Fungible token to every attendee of Devcon5.
The Ethereum Foundation doesn’t lend its legitimacy easily, and when it does, it expects the best outcome. This puts some pressure on us as there were certainly several challenges:
- The ticketing system was already in place and it didn’t collect the addresses of the attendees (we wished it had Kickback)
- The network gas costs averaged 10–20gwei because of the FairWin ponzi (each token issuance takes 190000 gas units)
- The event was in Japan! (culture gap made impossible for us to source materials locally)
- We didn’t have much time
The Buenos Aires based software factory Xivis who was helping POAP since May offered to assemble a dedicated team to come up with a solution and the POAP claim system was born.
The way it would work was simple: at registration/check-in, every attendee would get a POAP rosette with a luggage tag on the back with a unique QR code and a flyer with instructions and general information. After scanning the QR code they would be shown a landing page to input their ENS name or address.
We rushed the Argentinian manufacturer of patches and got several different designs to offer a gamified experience.
After a couple of all nighters we finished sticking the 5000 luggage tags. Next challenge was packing them and figuring out how to put them in Japan, on time, safely. First decision was to wrap them in bags of 40 rosettes each. This was so they could be activated on demand and the leftovers used in the future. If we did enable all the 5000 pieces and then found that we got 1000 unused, there wouldn’t be a way to mass-reset them for future use.
We debated wether it was better to split the payload on different travelers and decided that only one person would carry them all, on a single piece of luggage, arriving several days early to Japan just in case. Customs are well known to create problems and we had to cross two (The united states and Japan).
This is how they looked on the suitcase:
If they are not drugs, why did you pack them like drugs?
Japanese customs official
So on the day before Devcon day zero we meet Skylar Weaver, the head of volunteers and were pleased to discover that the guy is amazing. That gives us some relief because we knew that registration was the last challenge.
He delegates the responsibility to Dominique Kunz who was in charge of everything check-in and that was another also relieving because she’s the type of overachieving person that can’t be happy if things are not right.
After spending day zero and one around the registration desks just in case we were needed, we finally called it a success, relaxed and mounted the portable POAP booth in the main open space of the conference hall:
On the last day Joseph Schweitzer diligently sent a push notification to remind everyone to claim the NFTs:
The deployment of POAP on Devcon 5 was a success. We made lots of people happy.
The dataset of POAP token holders of devcon5 is a now a highly curated list of people that anyone can trustlessly use by snapshotting the ethereum state, without our help, without us being able to stop it.
ETH New York is how to got from zero to one, Devcon was how we got from one to ten. The next milestone is getting from ten to a hundred.
EthWaterloo (Canada, November 2019)
For closing the year 2019 ETHGlobal made us go to where all started, and good thing we went. It was again a lovely experience.
Once again the Xivis team came up with a solution and now the projects can work together leveraging the power of Ethereum’s composability. Every event that uses Unlock for their registrations, can issue POAP seamlessly.
EthWaterloo was a nice opportunity to celebrate a year of growth and also sparked the initial conversations with team members of the Marketing DAO who hopefully will help us running POAP in 2020.
You may think that you are finally finishing….
The truth is, all this year 2019 we’ve been a bunch of people working a lot to make POAP better, we’ve done lots of experiments around the world, and we never shared much with the people that don’t attend events; so there’s a backlog.
After EthWaterloo we started opening POAP to third parties that run events on the Ethereum space, for them to issue tokens and move forward with the decentralization of POAP.
We are very thankful to:
- James Waugh who issued POAP at 2 events in New Zealand
- Maurice Von Glassenap who issued POAP at the Berlin meetup
- Kathleen Chu of MakerDAO who issued POAP in the defi Meetup of Tokyo
- Thomas Jay Rush for issuing POAPs in the Philadelphia Ethereum meetup
- Paul Cowgill for using POAPs on the Chicago meetup
- Cristian Garner for using POAPs in events in Honduras
- DeFi Dude for issuing POAPs in the Chicago Defi meetup
- Chih-Cheng and Yuren Ju for issuing POAPs in the Taipei meetup
- Mariano Conti for issuing POAPs on your own birthday party!
The Ethereum Buenos Aires meetup
As much as we were traveling to attend all the events that were featured in the article, we managed to not miss a single edition of the monthly Ethereum Buenos Aires meetup since June. On these nine events (there were specials) we run experiments of all sorts to make POAP better. We are very proud of our local community.
Now finally, what’s in the menu for 2020 !
We have very ambitious plans for the Proof of Attendance Protocol. On the grand vision, POAP is not just a tool for Ethereum people to have fun, but a real world product that solves real world needs, for people that don’t care about blockchains. It was a fundamental reason to build POAP on the first place, that such a product could achieve results that no other technology can. Giving people the opportunity to hold and use cryptographic proofs of where they were enables applications that humanity never pursued because they were simply not technologically possible.
Every time someone creative learns about POAP they reply with a new use case, in all industries, for all purposes.
POAP has three groups of users, and in 2020 we want to foster them all:
Collectors: We want you to keep collecting tokens, every time you go to an Ethereum event, make sure you get the POAP. If the organizer is not yet on board on POAP, help them. Right now there’s not much you can do besides hodling them and maybe claiming the Trustlines Merkledrop, but we are working on groundbreaking functionality and the more POAPs you have, the better.
Token issuers: If you run Ethereum events, whether they are physical or virtual (like community calls), please consider using POAP, reach out to us and see how it can work. POAP is all about network effects, the more people issuing tokens using the same standard, the more powerful the network becomes.
Dapp developers: Everything POAP creates is open source, if you can leverage the POAP datasets for anything, go ahead and do it. If you need help, reach out to us and we will help. Some ideas about things that can be built right now:
- Voting/polling: You can ask a certain group of users what do they think about something, with very strong sybil resistance guarantees, at very low cost. Even if you are not a dapp developer but you need to do polls, checkout POAP Vote, the codebase is commented and can be reused for different purposes.
- DAO/Curation. Are you starting a DAO and need to bootstrap? you can airdrop shares to your target audience based on the events they have been.
- Beta testers: Are you launching a new product and need highly skilled testers?
- Defi: Uncollateralized credit becomes a reality with an identity substrate that takes real world effort to build and it’s increasingly harder to trick.
- Marketing: Loyalty can now be proven and rewarded on a trustless very low cost fashion.
- Social graphs: Finding like-minded by checking POAP token overlapping can create social graphs to be used openly without gatekeepers.
2020 events schedule
POAP has so far planed activities for:
- ETHDenver (thanks John Paller and Justin Moskowitz) Feb 14th 2020
- ETHCC (thanks Asseth) Mar 3rd 2020
- ETHLondon (thanks Jacob Willemsma) Feb 28th 2020
- Dappcon ( Thanks Anna George) September 2020
- POAP doesn’t make any money. Everything so far has been done on a volunteer effort by generous people that wants this to exist. This has hindered our ability to develop new features, we would be further down the road if we had more resources.
- If you or your organization considers that this is valuable for the ecosystem, be sure that we are open to receive help whether it’s direct funding in the form of grants or other valuables, even Google Cloud credits for the front end costs come handy. Anonymous donations can be sent to POAP.eth.
- POAP could run on different platforms, we’ve been approached by a bunch of Ethereum killers (you would be surprised how many are out there) with tempting offers, and we rejected them all. We are Ethereum first and we want to keep it like that.
- Individuals that been instrumental in the growth of POAP have been omitted from this article either intentionally or forgetfully. We still love you.