Channels & Crypto Natives

Examining the evolving nature of community formation on Farcaster

We're been seeing an interesting phenomenon take shape over the past few weeks. Channels on Farcaster have become a central schelling point for grassroots community formation. Over 43% of people with a Farcaster account have never casted before. But of the people that have sent casts, almost 70% of them were in a channel. This week I dug into the open cast data on channels and their usage to see what the numbers say.

The average number of channels a Farcaster user casts in is ~8 channels!

While this is a number significantly skewed by the upper spectrum of users (like the @degentokenbase bot which has replied in over 2000 channels), this is still quite large for an average!

Taking a closer look, I took the top 15 channels by follower count, and saw 7 that are "crypto native" and/or related to Farcaster in some way and 8 that are general purpose non-crypto channels. A pretty even mix.

For folks who cast in multiple channels over time, what is the overlap in usage between channels?

The top 15 channels on Farcaster and how much overlap in users they have

A few things jump out. Firstly there are a core 4 channels (/base, /degen, /farcaster and /frames) that have a significantly high level of users who post in several of them. And on the other hand, there are some supremely uncorrelated non-crypto channels like /tabletop (for board gamers) and /front-end with their own sub communities.

Prolific Channeloors

If an average user posts in 8 channels, how does it actually break down? Bucketing by the number of channels that users post in shows this distribution:

The cognitive choice of what channel to place a cast in is understandably tough (when the menu of choices is so large) so 2-4 channels being the largest bucket here makes sense. It's akin to an all-you-can-eat menu in a restaurant - you eventually end up choosing the same few dishes over and over out of habitual grooves and comfort.

However, what's interesting is that:

  • 21% of users don't post on channels at all (mostly first time casters) and

  • Nearly as many (19%) of users are prolific channeloors (casting in 10+ channels)

Topic Dispersion

So which channels are getting the most traction?

As we saw earlier, one way to segment channels is between "crypto-native" ones and more general purpose channels - as clustered on the right hand side of the visual below.

Farcaster Channels (larger bubbles meaning more followers)

What's been cool to see as an emergent feature of the crypto native channels on Farcaster is that they've organically sprouted highly engaged sub-communities. From large ones like /degen and /nouns to several smaller ones that have sprung up over the past few weeks - /higher, /sendit, and the notorious /ticker - many with a namesake memecoin or NFT collection to rally around.

While it's hard to see general-purpose non-crypto channels like /founders or /frontend coaelsce around a token, it's possible to see a world where every crypto-native channel on the network has some sort of token or on-chain asset associated with it.

Reddit, Farcaster, & the road ahead

This past week saw Reddit IPO at a $7B valuation - 19 years after its founding and millions of users and posts later. For a certain portion of the internet, Reddit is their defacto "front page of the internet" - a central hub for a vast variety of content - including news, discussions, opinions, and entertainment - all sourced and curated by its users. The similarities between Reddit and Farcaster have been well documented.

Compared to the Farcaster topic space, how do subreddits compare?

Subreddits (larger bubbles meaning more subscribers)

Apart from r/funny which stands above the rest, you can see the wide range of general purpose topics across the spectrum all with 20M - 30M subscribers - many of whom gained their initial following from users getting auto subscribed to them upon joining Reddit.

Channels on Farcaster were initially described as "decentralized subreddits" when initially launched last year. For folks who get started with Farcaster, the platform as a whole looks and feels like one big cryptocurrency subreddit. However, as the network has grown, what's been interesting is seeing the the growth of new channels in both "crypto native" topics to markedly more general purpose ones.

There are over 100K subreddits and close to 5K channels on Farcaster and there are several topics (like "memes") that have large communities on both.

Channel on Farcaster (Left) vs Subreddit on Reddit (Left)

As Farcaster matures, and the selection of feature-parity clients (not restricted to just Warpcast) grows, it will be interesting to see which path becomes more dominant - a network of specialized, crypto-native sub communities or more generalist channels with wider appeal akin to Reddit.

Channels, including how they're moderated and managed (with channel passes), and the communities that form around them will play a crucial role in shaping the network's future direction and identity. As users continue to tune in and out of different channels, they will collectively determine the types of communities and conversations that define the Farcaster experience.

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