Where is the crypto community?

Creative Commons License Posted on 2023-02-07 by wizard@zeal.center

Since starting the Zeal Center instance in November 2022, I have been surprised by the lack of content and conversation on the Fediverse around blockchain and cryptocurrency. I think I am not alone, as I received this humorous and accurate message recently:

When I joined the Fediverse, I had the incorrect impression that now I would find the real blockchain community, people that believe in decentralization and self-sovereignty so much, they left the corporate platforms years ago. Instead, I found mostly silence peppered by the occasional dunk from people waiting for scams, rug-pulls, and hacks to make snarky comments1.

When over a million people joined the Fediverse as an alternative to Twitter, why did the bulk of Crypto-Twitter remain behind? Here are some of my theories:

The “Twitter echo chamber” hypothesis

Twitter’s algorithm creates echo chambers and if the crypto bubble was not disrupted by the overall turmoil of Elon Musk’s decisions, then people in the bubble may not have felt the need to change anything. Multiple projects continue to depend on Twitter campaigns to promote themselves, despite their reach being completely limited by their bubble, and the chances of the bubble expanding fade by the day as people continue to abandon the platform.

An implication of this hypothesis is that the crypto community on Twitter is not diverse enough to be impacted by the poor decisions of Twitter’s management regarding content moderation, third-party apps, and developers. I think this could be a clear area of improvement for crypto projects that are looking to increase their reach and adoption, if they develop the awareness that there are entire online communities outside of Twitter to interact with.

The “community ≠ Crypto-Twitter” hypothesis

I believe there is a difference between the people that work on crypto projects and the people that buy a bag and hope for the best. This was a hotly debated issue in the Zcash community and I am completely on the side of holding a bag of a particular coin or token is not sufficient to be part of the community. Yes, even if you really believe in the project, just holding a bag is not helping the community grow if you are not also active in other aspects of the project.

I believe the community –the people developing code, writing documentation, creating content, organizing meetings and conferences, etc.– has begun to slowly move into the Fediverse, but the people that are holding bags and are using Twitter as a signaling mechanism for when to dump those bags have not. The bulk of the volume of posts on Twitter comes from the speculators and that has not migrated.

The “Crypto got too coupled to Twitter” hypothesis

The blockchain industry counter-intuitively created a single point of failure by depending on one centralized private company entirely for a critical function, public communications. From the Twitter bots used for managing marketing campaigns to relying on Twitter Spaces, to “sentiment analysis”2, blockchain projects have no fall-back, despite the Fediverse being available for years. I believe the sunk cost fallacy is heavily at play here even though we have evidence that you can get more engagement from the Fediverse than from Twitter3.

What are these projects going to do when mentioning a coin that is not DOGE gets your account banned by the DogeFather?4

The hypothesis I hope is wrong

There is a significant part of Crypto-Twitter that agrees with the new management’s policies and politics, both explicit and implicit.


I don’t know why so much of the crypto-related content is stuck inside Twitter, it is likely a combination of the hypotheses above plus others that are not even on my radar.

I want to highlight that any of these are a bad situation for the blockchain industry if we want to increase adoption and bring this technology to the mainstream. As members of the blockchain community, we should stop and think about these and other possibilities and their impact on the adoption of the technology and the ideas behind it.

  1. Scams, rug-pulls and hacks should be reported on, but not used to dismiss the entire community as “fraudsters”.↩︎

  2. An entire cottage industry built on the eroding foundation of Twitter (and other walled gardens), trying to divine the crypto markets from searching through posts.↩︎

  3. Brian Krebs compares Mastodon and Twitter engagement↩︎

  4. Incidentally, blockchain projects are making the exact same mistake with Discord and Telegram.↩︎