What does a community look like ?

We’ve heard and mostly understood that blockchains are community driven. But what does Marsellus Wallace this community look like? It’s necessary to think about an answer to this question because it determines the nature of your target demography if you’re building a decentralized app on a blockchain. Understanding the community will give answers to questions like the following – for a certain dapp, how many unique users are there who could be interested, are there similar products that can co-exist and reinforce each other, how likely is it for users of other categories to try yours and as such how does it resonate with the ecosystem’s direction.

Is it clusters of users ?

To start, there are only a handful of product categories out there yet. Because of the restrictions in privacy and scalability aspects of blockchains today, developers have been focusing on low volume dapps. Numerous DeFi applications, an increasing number of on-chain games, marketplaces and social dapps to name a few of those out there. Among the dapps from these categories, we can check few basic metrics like the total number of daily active addresses, social media engagement, ongoing projects and so on. Additionally, checking the number of users that are common between an app and other apps of same and different categories will help divide the total user base by their degree of interest in the product and can also provide an entrypoint for understanding user behavior. For example, a DeFi user may not be all too interested in an open world game or a secure chat application; a simple user may not find it necessary to transact through a privacy-friendly zero-knowledge applications like tornado-cash or zcash. However, a game that uses NFTs can share large chunk of user base with that of a marketplace dapp.

Let’s take ICON for example

For additional examples, the total number of transactions on ICON Blockchain is roughly around 9 thousand on average per day when looked over the time range between Oct 1st, 2022 and Jan 31st, 2023. But so much of these transactions are triggered by some noisy applications that do not really do anything useful. Instead if you look at the total number of unique users over this same period, there are around 4930 users. The table below summarizes the number of users that are common between different dapps. The diagonals, here, represent the total unique users for that dapp. For example, it can be seen that of the 184 unique users that transacted with ICON Bridge, 100 users also transacted with both ICON Bridge and Balanced. Some of the observations here are:

  • Most of bridge users use Balanced
  • Craft and Balanced drive a lot of users
  • A lot of Gangstabet users also use Craft Marketplace
  • A lot of OMM users also use Balanced

Needless to say, the data below will not be sufficient to draw any conclusion and is meant only as a guiding metric. The observations made above also seem rather obvious and something that may not even need data to prove it but what is intended to be known upon further inspection is answers to questions like the following:

  • Had most users used bridged assets on NFT Games and Marketplaces, would such information be relevant to identify which chain brings or can bring the most value from being integrated ?
  • ICON Bet has more number of mini products yet drives much less interest. Could integrating Gangstabet and ICONBet bring benefits to both?

User addresses that transacted with the contract addresses given below were used to extract the information above.

Balancedcx8dc674ce709c518bf1a6058a2722a59f94b6fb7fBalanced StakedLP
cx203d9cd2a669be67177e997b8948ce2c35caffaeBalanced Dividends
cx66d4d90f5f113eba575bf793570135f9b10cece1Balanced Loans
cxe0252e6c1fe4040412811d83d13979e335287e45Boosted Baln
cx40d59439571299bca40362db2a7d8cae5b0b30b0Balanced Rebalancing
cxa0af3165c08318e988cb30993b3048335b94af6cBalanced DEX
cx21e94c08c03daee80c25d8ee3ea22a20786ec231Balanced Router
cx10d59e8103ab44635190bd4139dbfd682fa2d07eBalanced Rewards
cx44250a12074799e26fdeee75648ae47e2cc84219Balanced Governance
OMMcx4f2d730ad969f5c839229de42184c5e47aefef6fOMM Reward distribution
cxcb455f26a2c01c686fa7f30e1e3661642dd53c0dOmm Lending Pool
cx841f29ec6ce98b527d49a275e87d427627f1afe5OMM Delegation
cxeaff5a10cb72bf85965b8b4af3e708ab772b7921Boosted OMM Token
cx8190de91c8831f382dcabdbc87968448380c4838Omm Governance Manager
cx015c7f8884d43519aa2bcf634140bd7328730cb6Omm Staked Lp
ICONBridgecxcef70e92b89f2d8191a0582de966280358713c32BTP TokenService
ICONBetcxd47f7d943ad76a0403210501dab03d4daf1f6864ICONbet DAOblackjack
cx6cdbc291c73faf79366d35b1491b89217fdc6638ICONbet WarGame
cx38fd2687b202caf4bd1bda55223578f39dbb6561ICONbet Mini Roulette
cxf17ab3c6daa47e915eab4292fbf3094067e9a026Spherebet World Cup 2022 Prediction
cx9fda786d3e7965ed9dc01321c85026653d6a5ff4ICONbet Jungle Jackpot
cx26b5b9990e78c6afe4f9d30776a43b1c19f7d85aICONbet Sic bo
cx1c06cf597921e343dfca2883f699265fbec4d578ICONbet Lottery
GangstaBetcx2dc662031f3d62bcdba4f63e9bf827767c847565GangstaBet Skill

So far we’ve talked about the way groups inside a community are clustered around the set of products they are interested in and how incorporating it to one’s study can help a developer find the right product-market fit.

Why is more connectedness sometimes necessary?

With that being said, it should also be noted that if these user group clusters are separated so as to appear like separate silos of users on their own, the total value that the blockchain can extract from its community decreases. Having siloed user groups is equivalent to having a small community which developers can base their apps upon and as such is prone to scalability challenges. For a two-sided platform like blockchain that facilitates interaction between developers and users, this issue can be remarkable because it affects the network effect which the platform heavily relies upon. In other words, small userbase means developers are less attracted to build on platform; this in turn means less utility driven products that users can use which in turn alienates even more users to create an even smaller userbase. In such situation, the case made by blockchain interoperability to link blockchains and bring communities with similar interests together also makes sense.

In conclusion, when we throw around the phrase “building community”, we should be sensible to the idea that this community represents more than a pool of dapp users and testers. Based on their values, the community is likely to take a form which builders need to inspect carefully to maximize the utlity of their product.