Starknet founder’s personal note: Reflections after the airdrop

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Original author: Starknet founder Eli Ben-Sasson

Translated by: Odaily Planet Daily Azuma ( @azuma.eth )

Starknet founder’s personal note: Reflections after the airdrop

Now that the first phase of the Starknet airdrop (Provisions) has ended, I would like to share some of my personal feelings. Nothing stated below constitutes investment advice and does not necessarily reflect the position of StarkWare or the Starknet Foundation. DYOR.

What is Starknet? Why do we need STRK?

Starknet is a ZK-Rollup network that we launched in Alpha mode in November 2021. It aims to use the STARKs cryptographic protocol to scale Ethereum without compromising Ethereums core principles, such as decentralization, transparency, inclusiveness, and security.

The STRK token empowers those who wish to contribute to the success of the ecosystem to play a role in governing, operating, and protecting the Starknet network. There are three main use cases for STRK — governance, paying gas fees on Starknet, and participating in Starknet’s consensus mechanism.

The Starknet Foundation is distributing STRK to valued community members who have demonstrated their desire to advance, maintain, and protect Starknet through multiple campaigns such as Devonomics, Catalyst, DeFi Spring, and the focus of this article, Provisions.

On February 14, 2024, the Starknet Foundation announced the first round of Provisions, which is expected to allocate up to 700 million STRK tokens, which come from the 900 million STRK reserved for the Provisions activity. The claim lasted for four months, from February 20, 2024 to June 20, and in the end, about 500 million tokens were claimed, and the remaining approximately 400 million STRK will be used for future airdrop rounds.

What is the goal of Provisions?

The main goal of Provisions is to distribute STRK tokens to a wide range of individuals, real users, who will conduct activities on Starknet and contribute to its security and governance, thus helping to advance the decentralization of Starknet. Starknet is both a technology and a social tool that allows individuals and societies to implement any social functions they need on it, such as currency, assets, governance, etc. Therefore, the security of Starknet is directly linked to the size and resilience of the people who care about it.

One of the big challenges faced by Provisions is that “the blockchain cannot represent real humans.” What I mean is that the basic unit on the chain is the account address, not the human or user. There is no clear correspondence between the two, and one person may control multiple addresses.

Based on the information currently available on-chain, it is difficult to tell which accounts represent users who are more likely to contribute to the future operations, security, and governance of Starknet. In other words, our question is, given the data on-chain and elsewhere about accounts and their activities, how can STRK be reasonably allocated to people who are aligned with the Starknet mission in the long term?

First of all, it should be clear that the existing data is not enough to accurately solve this problem. Everyone involved in the design of Provisions realized early on that all potential calculation methods can only produce a relative result, and cannot accurately achieve all goals – there will be some users who are completely consistent with the Starknet mission and can only get a small amount of tokens, or even no tokens at all; there will also be users who are not quite consistent with the mission and get a large amount of tokens.

Given the public criticism that Starknet Provisions faced, and subsequent airdrops such as Eigenlayer, ZKsync, and LayerZero, I think its important to make this clear. To my knowledge, there is no existing scheme that achieves the above goals in a more accurate or fair way than ours . The allocation scheme may not be perfect, but using other metrics will also lead to different inaccuracies in different situations.

How did the Starknet Foundation design the airdrop?

The Starknet Foundation included six groups in the airdrop, and the allocation within each group was based on metrics/data relevant to that group.

  • Starknet users: mainly consider address activity indicators, and entrust external third parties to conduct Sybil screening;

  • STARK Early Adopters: Allocated based on the user’s use of StarkEx prior to Starknet;

  • Ethereum Contributors: Mainly includes individuals who contribute to Ethereum in various ways (staking, development, submitting Ethereum Improvement Proposals, etc.), each subcategory has specific indicators;

  • Github Developers: Allocations were made to developers of select open source projects on Github based on Github activity metrics.

  • Early Community Member Program (ECMP): Individuals who contribute to the Starknet ecosystem by hosting events, promoting the Starknet community, etc. can apply to receive tokens in advance. A committee composed of ecosystem members will decide on the allocation based on the application review results.

  • Developer Partners (DP): Infrastructure developers who have previously reached an agreement with the Starknet Foundation may also receive token allocations. This is an agreement reached in advance between the Starknet Foundation and the developer team.

In summary, the basic philosophy of Starknet is to try to distribute STRK to a range of diverse groups that, based on their past actions and contributions, Starknet believes are well suited to operate, care for, and protect the future of Starknet.

Did Provisions achieve its goals?

As mentioned above, we knew from the beginning that the distribution of STRK could not be completely accurate due to the lack of metrics. This leads to the following questions: Have we done our best with the data at hand? How do we evaluate the distribution results – to what extent do the addresses included in the airdrop correspond to real people/users?

  • Of the six groups mentioned above, the last three can be confirmed to correspond one-to-one with real humans, and we can even further infer that these people are likely to continue to care about the future of Starknet.

  • For the third group (Ethereum contributors), except for the staking subgroup, most of the other subgroups included in the airdrop may meet the one address corresponds to one user standard, and their past actions have shown that they are willing to care about the decentralization process, so we can hope that they will also care and help Starknet.

  • The second group (StarkEx users), as early adopters of STARK technology, has the smallest claim rate and airdrop size (only 2.4 million STRKs were claimed, less than 1% of the total allocation), and can therefore be ignored.

  • The most difficult to evaluate is the distribution to Starknet users, who received over 87% of the airdrop (over 430 million STRK). Public dissatisfaction after Provisions also focused on the distribution to this group.

There has been a lot of discussion on social media about this, much of it very negative , with many people mentioning the balance threshold issue – Starknet requires at least 0.005 ETH to be held on a certain date. There have also been other controversial incidents, such as a StarkWare executives fiery remarks that sparked community anger, and he quickly apologized for this; StarkWare shareholders (including investors, founders and employees) have also been criticized, and we have since revised the unlocking plan.

Criticisms about the “0.005 ETH threshold” and “electronic beggars” have persisted for a long time, and although they have been greatly alleviated recently with the emergence of some new airdrop controversies, they have not completely disappeared yet.

How should we think about this anger in the community? To what extent does it come from professional farming teams trying to rationally influence the airdrop criteria for this round and subsequent rounds (not limited to Starknet)? To what extent is it representative of a certain group of people (farmers or non-farmers)? Would they contribute to the long-term success of Starknet if a different distribution method was adopted? These are all research questions I would like to see answered. If you have a way to deal with this, please post your suggestions on the Starknet community forum and @ me.

So far, I’ve discussed social media sentiment related to Starknet user distribution, and now it’s time to consider a larger question. Did Starknet’s airdrop go well? The answer is that I don’t know, and the reason we lack the metrics needed to answer this question is the same problem that prevented us from accurately completing the token distribution in the first place. The metrics available on-chain, such as TPS, TVL, STRK price, and number of addresses, do not directly answer the following question – Are STRK holders a broad and diverse group of people? Will they stay and continue to improve, operate, and protect Starknet?

Id love to get an answer to this question, too. If you have ideas for how to handle this, please post them on the Starknet Community Forum and @ me.

How do I feel personally?

This question may sound strange, but I believe many people want to hear the answer. The entire team is under great mental pressure in the Provisions work, especially Abdel and I, who are the main targets of personal attacks.

In response to a Twitter feed filled with misinformation (and worse), we have relied not only on each other within the Starknet Foundation or the StarkWare team, but also on the unwavering support of the amazing Starknet ecosystem. While this has been a difficult time to navigate, it has ultimately proven to be valuable, highlighting some areas for improvement and testing the resilience of our team.

We learned the importance of being firm in our decisions, but also the need to be open to constructive feedback, even when it’s harsh. This experience reinforced our belief that in crypto, how we handle public pressure is just as important as technical decisions. It was so inspiring to see people from other ecosystems (and sometimes even our competitors) reach out and offer support, and I’ll never forget that. Most importantly, we drew strength from the amazing Starknet ecosystem.

How can we do better in the future?

There are still about 400 million STRKs to be used for future airdrop rounds. How can we do better?

Obviously, identity proof on the blockchain is a very difficult problem to solve, and we are not sure whether it can be solved, but this is exactly the kind of scientific and technological research we are keen to pursue.

The incentives for professional airdrop farming teams to influence subsequent airdrop rounds remain strong, which means that anything we do will lead to public outcry on social media. For me, this is an unavoidable and unpleasant part of the cryptocurrency industry.

I hope that the Starknet Foundation and its Provisions team can find new ways to distribute tokens to a diverse group of people who care about Starknets long-term vision and mission and are willing to stay and help it run safely. I know this is their desire and they are researching and discussing ways to achieve this goal.

All in all, Provisions is designed to put STRK in the right hands. To be honest, I dont know if the Starknet Foundations design (especially the design of the distribution scheme for Starknet users) is accurate enough, and I hope that future community research can answer this question. I will definitely continue to think about this issue and plan to share my suggestions at some point in the future.

I’d love to hear more thoughts on the token distribution mechanism from people both inside and outside the ecosystem, so please let us know on the Starknet Community Forum.

This article is sourced from the internet: Starknet founder’s personal note: Reflections after the airdrop

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