Airdropping: Some Truths

Preaching to the Choir: How to Orchestrate an Airdrop

Or Harel

Hot Air.

In a bull market, airdrops are like passing gas – everyone does it, and thinks everyone else's stinks.” - Not Shakespeare

It seems like every other day, another crypto project announces an airdrop, trying to shoot through the noise and the fiery exit into space like a daring spaceship launch. But the real challenge isn't just breaking Earth's gravity—it's successfully navigating through the cosmic hurdles and safely returning the crew home. Similarly, while launching an airdrop might grab headlines, the true science and art lie in steering it towards sustained, lasting impact and ensuring it doesn't just disintegrate on re-entry to the real-world market. The design space for airdrops is ripe for new innovation, offering immense opportunities that are particularly exciting if you are or plan to be a crypto developer.

The following review will outline the essential steps and best practices for conducting successful airdrops, leveraging this potent technology (yes, technology) to maximize engagement and impact. You will gain insights into how to transform passive users into active stakeholders, validate your product-market fit, and crowdsource quality assurance and development. Additionally, we will explore how to use airdrops to foster community engagement and drive growth. By the end of this guide, you will be equipped with the knowledge and tools to design and execute airdrops that not only distribute tokens but also strategically enhance your project's ecosystem and value.

Airdrops are not just a marketing gimmick; they are a powerful tool to align and incentivize a broad array of stakeholders, including project creators, developers, users, and community members. Setting the right eligibility criteria is not just about filtering participants; it's about strategically aligning incentives to attract the right kind of engagement and deter the undesirable. These criteria serve as the foundation for cultivating a prospering and active community, ensuring that every token distributed contributes meaningfully to the project's growth and ecosystem health. This guide will delve into the mechanics of airdrops, from setting eligibility criteria to executing the distribution, ensuring that each step is designed to maximize the benefits for your project and its community. A poorly executed airdrop can cripple a good project, while a well-executed airdrop can launch a struggling project like a guided missile, adjusting its course to reach its desired target. However, without solid fundamentals, this boost will be short-lived, like battery-operated life support.

Furthermore, we will discuss common challenges and pitfalls associated with airdrops, such as Sybil attacks and low user engagement, and provide strategies to overcome these issues. By integrating best practices and innovative approaches, you can enhance the effectiveness of your airdrop campaigns, ensuring they not only meet but exceed your strategic objectives. Whether you are new to airdrops or looking to refine your existing strategy, this comprehensive guide will (hopefully) provide valuable insights and actionable steps to help you succeed in your future airdrop campaigns, if you choose to have one. Lastly but not leasly, we will introduce the Airdrop Assist tool, a Python script developed by us. The main purpose of the Airdrop Assist tool is to help project teams design effective and strategic airdrops by providing data-driven insights through the analysis and visualization of various airdrop parameters.

At a Glance

Hot Air

What's an Airdrop?

Why Airdrop?!

  • From Users to Stakeholders
  • Finding & Validating Product-Market Fit
  • Crowdsourced QA, User Testing, and Development
  • Community Engagement and Content Creation

What's a “Successful” Airdrop?

  • Wallets Speak Louder Than Words
  • Use It or Lose It?
  • Broad Distribution (Metrics) Matters
  • DAUs, MAUs, and a Purple Cow
  • Sound Tech... Testing: One, Two, Three

Airdrop Design

  • Integrating Airdrops into Your Tokenomics Strategy
  • Clear Vision with Actionable Goals and Objectives
  • Identifying Users, Synergetic Projects, and Other Stakeholders
  • Eligible Backers: THE Eligibility Criteria
  • Communication Strategy and Community Engagement
  • Allocation, Distribution Strategies and Claim Mechanisms
  • Smart Contract Security and Auditing
  • Regulatory Compliance

The Airdrop Assist Tool

  • Introduction to the Airdrop Assist Tool
  • Core Functionalities of Airdrop Assist
  • Detailed Script Capabilities
  • Strategic Airdrop Planning with Airdrop Assist
  • Visualization and Insights
  • Wrapping it Together


What’s an Airdrop?

An airdrop is a strategic tool and mechanism employed within the blockchain ecosystem to align and incentivize a broad array of stakeholders. These include project creators, developers (both internal and community-based), current and prospective users, community members, as well as collaborators such as other protocols, node operators, ecosystem partners, liquidity providers, market makers, and others who help sustain and grow the ecosystem.

Old media often depict airdrops as mere marketing gimmicks, much like reducing the iPhone to just a device for making calls and sending texts—yet in reality, airdrops are multifaceted tools and can be immensely powerful.

Airdrops are a subcomponent of tokenomics, involving the distribution of assets—typically tokens (fungible or not), and potentially other forms of digital assets in the future—directly to the digital wallets of these stakeholders based on specified eligibility criteria, often for free. As the crypto world continues to evolve, the scope of airdrops may also broaden, encompassing a more diverse array of digital assets to offer greater utility and incentives to participants.

Summary: This table highlights the various parties that benefit from airdrops, showcasing how airdrops can incentivize a wide range of stakeholders. By distributing tokens to these groups, projects can foster engagement, collaboration, and growth within the ecosystem.
An airdrop is a strategic tool and mechanism employed within the blockchain ecosystem to align and incentivize a broad array of stakeholders. These include project creators, developers (both internal and community-based), current and prospective users, community members, as well as collaborators such as other protocols, node operators, ecosystem partners, liquidity providers, market makers, and others who help sustain and grow the ecosystem.”. 

Why Airdrop?!

Airdrops are valuable tools that enable projects to:

  1. Transform Users into Stakeholders: Airdrops fundamentally shift the user dynamic, transforming passive participants into active stakeholders with a vested interest in the project's success and sustainability.
  2. Find & Validate Product-Market Fit: Airdrops serve as a practical tool for testing and validating your MVP/product with a real audience, helping to quickly identify and adjust to market needs and preferences.
  3. Crowdsource QA, User Testing, and Development: Strategic testing at scale not only allows projects to gather rapid user feedback crucial for agile development cycles but also engages users in bug fixes, feature enhancements, and even code contributions. This extensive involvement supports continuous improvement and agile responsiveness.
  4. Community Engagement and Content Creation: By fostering active community involvement, airdrops enhance network effects and user loyalty. Community members contribute significantly by creating educational materials, such as how-to guides, improving documentation, translating content into multiple languages, and producing marketing materials like posts, blogs, videos, and viral memes.
  5. Empowering Community-Driven Growth: With the right incentive in place, Airdrops can also empower users to undertake marketing and biz-dev-like roles, facilitating connections with synergistic projects and expanding the project's reach and impact within the ecosystem.
Tweet shows mobilizing its users to ask CEXes for $weETH collateral, illustrating incentivized community members as ambassadors and biz devs.

From Users to Stakeholders

Airdrops can catalyze a profound transformation within your user base, evolving mere users into integral components of the project's ecosystem. This shift can transform users into stakeholders, changing them from passive onlookers, like someone watching football on TV, to animated raving fans cheering in the stadium. 

This fosters a strong sense of togetherness and personal investment, inspiring them to actively contribute to the project’s success. Their newfound role is characterized by active participation in decision-making processes and a direct influence on the project’s direction and success. By engaging in activities such as governance voting, strategic feedback, and community advocacy, these stakeholders not only enrich the project’s culture but also fortify its market position. Each active contribution amplifies the project's network effects, enhancing its visibility and attracting further investment. This creates a flywheel effect, where every improvement fuels more engagement and growth, thereby sustaining a vigorous cycle of innovation and expansion.

Finding & Validating Product-Market Fit

Validating product-market fit (PMF) is crucial for any startup, and airdrops offer a unique way to test this alignment. By distributing tokens or digital assets, projects can engage a wide range of potential users, gathering essential feedback on the product's appeal and utility. This method provides real-world insights into whether a product satisfies market needs, allowing developers to make informed adjustments. Effective PMF validation through airdrops not only confirms a product's viability but also primes the market for broader adoption, setting the stage for future success.

Navigating the complexities of validating product-market fit through airdrops isn't without its challenges. The process is often clouded by the usual pitfalls and shenanigans that pervade the crypto space. Expect your data to be noisy from Sybil attacks, though wise planning and the right incentive structure can greatly reduce this issue. We'll dive deeper into strategies for mitigating these challenges later in this discussion.

Crowdsourced QA, User Testing, and Development

Beyond incentivization, airdrops play a critical role in facilitating large-scale testing and QA that are unfeasible through conventional methods. This unique approach allows for real-time, widespread interaction across the platform by a diverse user base, effectively making each participant a tester and contributor to the project's development. This method provides real-time interaction and feedback across different stages of deployment, from testnets to mainnet, facilitating a comprehensive stress test of systems under diverse conditions. Such widespread engagement not only accelerates the refinement process but also ensures that all user experiences are robustly evaluated and improved. This setup enables you to collect detailed analytics on user interaction across different devices and geographical locations, offering a unique chance to conduct A/B testing with direct feedback, allowing you to iteratively refine the product and stress-test user experiences under varied real-world conditions.

Community Engagement and Content Creation

Airdrops stand out as a dynamic tool for driving engagement within your project, and encouraging active participation and contribution. They transcend traditional customer acquisition costs (CAC), coupons, or simple onboarding gifts. By offering tokens or digital assets, airdrops not only spark immediate interest but also furnish tangible rewards that motivate both existing and new users to interact with a platform. These rewards go beyond mere enticement; the eligibility criteria for airdrops are deliberately designed to highlight and reward behaviors that the project deems valuable, effectively guiding participant actions towards those that enhance the ecosystem’s growth and prosperity.

By fostering active community involvement, airdrops enhance network effects and user loyalty. Community members contribute significantly by creating educational materials, such as how-to guides, improving documentation, translating content into multiple languages, and producing marketing materials like posts, blogs, videos, and viral memes. The true power of this approach cannot be overstated; not only is the content generated virtually for free, but it also varies in style and tone, offering authenticity that traditional, homogeneous marketing cannot match. This diversity enables each piece to resonate uniquely, reaching a broader and more diverse audience effectively.

Video tutorial created by “Airdrop Official” for the Dymension’s airdrop

Moreover, if users have questions on your social channels like Telegram, Discord, or Twitter, a well-engaged community often provides timely responses before your team can, showcasing the strength and cohesiveness of the community support.

What‘s a “Successful” Airdrop?

Success for an airdrop is multivariate, incorporating both immediate and long-term indicators of achievement. When conducting pre, mid, and post-airdrop assessments (hopefully not a post mortem), there are certain metrics that stand out as especially important.

Wallets Speak Louder Than Words

Like in every campaign, The bottom line is truly the bottom line when assessing the success of an airdrop and is the ultimate measure of an airdrop “success”.

An obvious yet clear indicator of an airdrop’s success is if the token’s market cap post-airdrop surpasses the project's previously perceived value. For example, if a recent funding round valued the project at $100 million and the market cap post-airdrop rises to $500 million, this signals strong market approval. Moreover, harnessing on-chain insights from user transactions, such as when early adopters continue to buy tokens at higher prices, serves as a strong example of belief in the project's long-term potential. It's important to note, however, that the true success of an airdrop might take weeks or months to fully manifest as the market adjusts and stabilizes.

Use It or Lose It?

Another significant measure of airdrop success is token utilization. It’s important to assess not just how many tokens are held but how they are being actively used within the project's ecosystem. High utilization rates of the tokens for transactions, staking, voting, or other functions specific to the ecosystem indicate successful integration of new users and effective token distribution. This metric helps gauge whether the airdrop has truly incentivized the desired economic activities within the platform.

Broad Distribution (Metrics) Matters

Effective distribution should not only reach a wide number of users but also ensure that no small group holds between 30-50% of the total supply. Achieving this balance is crucial for decentralizing network governance and aligning incentives across a broader community base. Such widespread distribution aids in stabilizing and strengthening the project’s ecosystem over time.

DAUs, MAUs, and a Purple Cows

User engagement is a pivotal metric in evaluating the success of an airdrop, often quantified by Daily Active Users (DAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU) as well as TVL and other financial stats. A successful airdrop should lead to steady or increasing engagement metrics, demonstrating that recipients are not merely holding the tokens but are actively utilizing them within the ecosystem. This active participation is essential for the long-term vitality of the project. 

Creating a "purple cow"—something remarkable and extraordinary—within your airdrop strategy can significantly boost these metrics. If these stats stagnate or don’t change much, it’s a clear signal that something is amiss and that your approach may need to be re-evaluated.’s TVL and users growth: up and to the right. That’s a good thing.

Sound Tech… Testing: One, Two, Three

The technical robustness of a project following an airdrop is crucial and can be rigorously quantified. The sudden influx of new users and the diversity of transactions they initiate serves as a real-world stress test. Key performance indicators to measure success in this area include uptime, error rates per epoch, TPS statistics, and more. Maintaining high uptime, minimizing errors, and ensuring fast and efficient transaction handling are critical for proving the system's capacity to scale effectively. A robust platform will demonstrate the ability to handle increased load without significant performance degradation, thereby ensuring scalability and stability as the user base grows

Airdrop Design

Throughout this section, we explore various dos and don'ts of airdrop design, illustrated with examples from projects we have closely monitored. A key example is, a leading Liquid Restaking Token (LRT) protocol on Ethereum (and beyond). Node Capital took an active role in assisting with its airdrop, providing strategic guidance and support. To help us aid, we developed the Airdrop Assist tool, a Python script that helps visualize how different airdrop parameters could impact the outcome. We will discuss this tool in greater detail in the next and final section of our guide. has executed a comprehensive masterclass on key aspects such as vision, clear communication, partnerships, execution, transparency, marketing, and collaboration. Investments in our portfolio are (somewhat) similar to our own children—there's a natural tendency to view them through a rose-colored lens. Despite this bias, there is much to learn from's approach. However, it's important to note that they have made mistakes along the way. But that's precisely what positions them as market leaders: they move fast, try new things, and break things, yet crucially, they fix these issues promptly without sweeping them under the rug. This approach highlights a critical lesson: making mistakes indicates boldness, not carelessness. Striving for perfection can be a real affliction (some of us still contend with today). Ultimately, this emphasizes the classic cliché that highlights the distinction between being effective and being efficient.

In this section, we'll explore eight key points essential for a thoughtful airdrop design:

  1. Integrating Airdrops into Your Tokenomics Strategy - Airdrops should be seamlessly integrated into your tokenomics, enhancing your project’s strategic framework rather than existing as an afterthought.
  2. Clear Vision with Actionable Goals and Objectives - Every airdrop should be driven by a clear vision, with specific, actionable goals that aim to achieve measurable outcomes.
  3. Identifying Users, Synergetic Projects, and Other Stakeholders - Understanding and identifying the right stakeholders, from users to collaborative projects, is crucial for tailoring the airdrop to those who will add real value.
  4. Eligible Backers: The Eligibility Criteria - Setting the right eligibility criteria is crucial not just for filtering participants but for aligning incentives to attract the right kind of engagement and deter undesirable behaviors, such as Sybil attacks where a user creates multiple identities. This supports a robust and active community.
  5. Communication Strategy and Community Engagement - Effective communication is pivotal in managing expectations and fostering a supportive community, emphasizing transparency and ongoing dialogue.
  6. Distribution Mechanisms and Claiming Processes - Choosing the right mechanisms for distributing tokens is crucial for ensuring accessibility while protecting against fraud, with strategies ranging from direct drops to claim-based systems.
  7. Security Measures and Smart Contract Auditing - Prioritizing security through rigorous testing and audits helps prevent vulnerabilities that could compromise the airdrop, ensuring trust and integrity in the process.
  8. Regulatory Compliance - Navigating the complex regulatory environment is essential for conducting airdrops legally and ethically, particularly in regions with stringent crypto regulations.

1. Integrating Airdrops into Your Tokenomics Strategy

Airdrops are far more than just promotional freebies; they are a fundamental component of tokenomics, intricately woven into the fabric of crypto project strategies. If you're considering an airdrop, it should ideally be planned in conjunction with the design of your tokenomics, requiring a deep understanding of the underlying economic mechanisms and a commitment to empirical rigor.

For those engrossed in the complexities of token economies, consider delving into our comprehensive three-part discussions on tokenomics and our UNAGIs framework (Users, Needs, Actions, Goals, Incentives, and Simulations). Stats don’t care about your feelings. Approaching your airdrop strategy like a cold, calculated science experiment ensures that you avoid the pitfalls of p-hacking and relying on vanity metrics, which can turn your well-intended airdrop into a fragile house of cards, ready to topple at the slightest puff of wind.

2. Clear Vision with Actionable Goals and Objectives

Crafting a clear vision with actionable goals is vital when orchestrating airdrops, one that complements the empirical rigor we’ve just discussed. It’s essential to not only define the parameters and mechanics—such as the number, timing, and allocation of airdrops—but also to align these elements with an audacious, overarching goal that resonates with both the project and its community. This vision serves as a rallying point, uniting users and stakeholders around a common purpose and driving collective effort towards substantial, shared achievements.

Start by defining  clear, quantifiable objectives. For example, if your aim is to boost user acquisition, you might set a target to increase your user base by 60% within six weeks following the airdrop. If enhancing token distribution and usage is the goal, for example, aiming for a 25% to 200% increase in daily transactions using your token over a period of 2 to 6 weeks, tailored to the boldness of your goals. Additionally, determine the allocation for each airdrop and establish the total budget.

  • Market Cap Goals: Define a desired yet realistic market cap under scenarios like worst (e.g., $2 million), average (e.g., $300 million), and best cases (e.g., $4 billion) to gauge financial success.
  • User Engagement Targets: Specify the number of users you intend to engage, aiming for milestones such as reaching 50,000 active users or achieving a 40% increase in user activity post-airdrop.
  • Financial Allocation: Outline the total financial allocation for each scenario, ensuring it aligns with your strategic funding and sustainability plans.

These figures should provide a clear yet flexible framework to gauge success and guide strategic adjustments throughout the airdrop campaign. By articulating these targets, which are intended as realistic yet aspirational benchmarks, every initiative within the airdrop is purposefully crafted to propel your project towards its broader strategic ambitions. This approach ensures that each action taken is impactful and aligned with your community’s growth and prosperity, aiming to inspire and mobilize the entire community to action. Remember that these numbers are merely benchmarks and must be adjusted to fit the stage and life cycle of your project.This structured approach not only clarifies the campaign’s objectives but also establishes a pragmatic roadmap that underscores the project’s aspirations, guiding it from inception through execution and into ongoing development.

3. Identifying Users, Synergetic Projects, and Other Stakeholders

A “successful” airdrop campaign begins with a thorough understanding of your audience. Identifying the right users to attract—and those to deter—is crucial for crafting a campaign that not only reaches but resonates with the intended recipients. Start by defining your audience segments: analyze demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral traits to understand who your users are and what they need from your project. Expand these segments by incorporating lookalike audiences to capture similar potential users who may not yet be engaged with your platform but show comparable characteristics to your current users.

The team at Dymension strategically expanded its reach beyond its native ecosystem by airdropping tokens to users of various established crypto projects in its “Genasis Rolldrop”. Citing “advancements in layer 2 scaling solutions”, Dymension allocated 10M DYM tokens to active users on Ethereum's rollup chains like Arbitrum and Optimism, as well as Base and Blast. Additionally, the Genesis Rolldrop document mentions that this allocation pays tribute to three core pillars of crypto: Culture, Money, and Tech, with the Culture pillar recognizing the foundational role of culture in the crypto space and setting a vision and theme by allocating a total of 12.5M DYM to noteworthy NFT communities invited to join Dymension. Simultaneously, another 10M DYM tokens were earmarked for the Solana ecosystem, targeting over 180,000 addresses associated with protocols such as Wormhole, Tensor, and Drip.Haus, which maintained a minimum balance of 1 SOL. This move aimed to merge the strengths of both modular and integrated designs by tapping into Solana’s dedicated community and fostering a connection with Dymension’s modular rollup vision.

Dymension's Airdrop aimed at “Culture, Money, and Tech” to allure non-Dymension users

Bonus points if you develop representational personas for each segment. These personas should outline typical user profiles within your ecosystem, helping to tailor the airdrop more precisely to meet the needs and expectations of these groups. Consider what actions you want these users to take, whether on the supply side (such as providing liquidity or staking tokens) or the demand side (such as using tokens in transactions or participating in governance).

Furthermore, identifying synergetic projects and stakeholders that align with your project's goals can amplify the impact of your airdrop. Collaboration with these entities can extend your reach and enhance the effectiveness of the airdrop through shared audiences and mutual benefits.

A short list of collaborations with top DeFi projects: Pendle, Balancer, and Curve has excelled in fostering collaborations with top-tier projects in the crypto industry. A short list of's collaborations with top-tier DeFi projects includes Pendle, Balancer, Curve, EigenLayer, and others, underscoring its leadership in the LST sector. The team and community have demonstrated a strong commitment to quality and strategic alignment through these exceptional collaborations.

Regarding Sybil attacks, this is a can of worms and worthy of its own dedicated discussion and easily one of the top three most important aspects to consider. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge the challenge of preventing such malicious activities, which can undermine the fairness and effectiveness of the airdrop. 

Con Air

While current technology does not offer a complete solution to fully prevent these attacks, employing tools like Forta—an AI-powered threat detection and prevention system for blockchains and applications (Node Capital is also an early investor)—along with Holonym and its insightful blog on Sybil combat, and developing rigorous eligibility criteria can significantly mitigate the risks.

Forta's Malicious Actor Filtering. For more details on Forta’s approach to filtering malicious actors in airdrops, read here and see how they manage security threats.

Forta's Premium Feed includes a variety of security tools: Scam Detector, Spam Detector, Rull Pull Detector, Attack Detector, and Sybil Defender. These tools collectively enhance detection and prevention capabilities for blockchain applications

Forta also played a crucial role in supporting's successful Token Generation Event

4. Eligible Backers: THE Eligibility Criteria

Setting the right eligibility criteria is not just about filtering participants; it's about strategically aligning incentives to attract the right kind of engagement and deter the undesirable. These criteria serve as the foundation for cultivating a robust and active community, ensuring that every token distributed contributes meaningfully to the project's growth and ecosystem health.

Valuable Behaviors and Rewards and Penalties

Defining and rewarding the right behaviors is pivotal for fostering a thriving ecosystem. Our focus includes incentivizing liquidity provision, a critical activity where users enhance the liquidity and stability of trading environments, thereby improving market health. Bridging activities also play a vital role by fostering interoperability across different blockchain platforms, making the ecosystem more interconnected

Further, encouraging active participation through staking not only secures the network but also deepens user engagement with the project. Engaging with partnered DeFi projects through the use of tokens can drive widespread adoption and integrate our offerings into a broader blockchain ecosystem. This approach ensures that our tokens are actively utilized across various platforms, creating a seamless experience for users.

Table Overview: Selected “Valuable” Actions for Eligibility (Example: Arbitrum Airdrop)

On the flip side, it’s equally important to establish actions that might warrant penalties (point deductions or complete ban) to maintain the integrity of the airdrop, very much like Slashing in PoS networks. This includes discouraging exploitative behaviors such as creating duplicate accounts (i.e Sybils), which can be identified through onchain analysis and rigorous identity verification methods tailored to blockchain transactions. Misuse of referral systems is also monitored closely, ensuring that these mechanisms are used as intended to genuinely expand and enrich the community rather than being gamed for undue advantage.

Participation in governance is another area where valuable contributions can be rewarded, encouraging users to take part in key decision-making processes and aligning their interests with the long-term goals of the project. This not only empowers the community but also ensures that those who are actively involved are recognized and rewarded accordingly.

Fair Fare Fairies and Dust(ing): Setting Caps and Limits 

Setting up the airdrop, we confront the reality that there is no such thing as a 'fair' distribution; perceptions of fairness are deeply subjective and vary widely. Just as fairies and fairy dust exist only in fiction, so too does a 'fair fare,' underscoring the challenge of crafting what is deemed 'fair.' By implementing caps and limits, we are not trying to achieve elusive fairness but rather pragmatically managing the distribution.

A minimum cap is set to ensure that rewards are at least worth more than the transaction cost to claim the token. While it’s challenging to establish a one-size-fits-all number, a minimum of $30-50 USD is considered a common industry standard to engage a community effectively. No one wants a few dollars worth of airdrop—neither the user nor the project and its stakeholders. An upper cap is also in place to prevent disproportionate gains by any single entity, which can still be circumvented through Sybil attacks—where individuals create multiple accounts to claim more than their fair share.

This method is designed to pragmatically reduce complaints and manage expectations across a diverse spectrum of participants, from the smallest contributors to the largest whales. Handling potential Sybil attacks is a critical aspect. Strategies like requiring decentralized KYC verification can help mitigate such risks, maintaining the integrity of the airdrop. Tools like Gitcoin and Holonym provide frameworks for non-intrusive participant validation, aligning with our decentralization-first ethos.

Sybil War: Cat and Mouse - Dusting Wars by the Sybils (The Sybils Strike Back)

According to the post above where Naim mentions a 50 wallet cluster is in fact not really a cluster, but someone using a dusting attack to target a few top-ranking LZ wallets on the Dune leaderboard, then driving the narrative that they all belong to the same user. A dusting attack involves sending tiny amounts of cryptocurrency to multiple wallets to track and de-anonymize the wallet owners, typically for malicious purposes. This ongoing battle between securing systems and exploiting them is akin to the perpetual race between viruses and antivirus software, illustrating the adaptive challenges we face in maintaining ecosystem integrity

Distribution Models: Linear vs. Quadratic or other

Choosing the right distribution model influences how rewards are allocated among participants. A linear model offers simplicity, granting rewards directly proportional to the actions taken. In contrast, a quadratic model can enhance “fairness” by disproportionately benefiting smaller contributors, which helps to balance the influence of larger stakeholders. Each model has its merits and should be chosen based on what best aligns with the project's philosophy on fairness and engagement.

Geographical Considerations and Controversies

Decisions on geographic eligibility can significantly impact the reception and success of an airdrop. Clear communication about why certain regions may be excluded is vital to manage community expectations and avoid backlash. Such decisions should be made with careful consideration of legal compliance and community sentiment, ensuring that the airdrop fosters inclusivity wherever possible. It is essential that this is stated in advance or a backlash is almost inevitable. 

Looking forward

As we steer our airdrop strategy towards the horizon, our focus extends beyond the immediate distribution. It's crucial to consider the lifecycle of the tokens once they are in the hands of users. The goal is to prevent the all-too-common pitfall of immediate token dumps upon release. Integrating mechanisms like vesting schedules and staking options helps temper the initial surge of liquidity and encourages long-term holding. More importantly, designing a roadmap that continuously rewards and incentivizes holders is key. This can include offering bonuses for long-term holders, special access to new services, or additional rewards for ongoing participation in the ecosystem. By planning these post-airdrop incentives, we ensure that our tokens remain a valuable asset for users eager to support and grow with our project, securing a happy and engaged community ready to propel our vision forward.

DeFi Dad on the importance of post-airdrop strategies. Fathers Know Best.

5. Communication Strategy and Community Engagement

Communication is the glue that holds everything together and the foundation upon which success is built, but let's be clear—it's necessary but not sufficient. Brace yourselves: no distribution strategy will ever be seen as "fair" by everyone, and complaints are just part of the game. Remember, you can keep some of the users happy all the time, and all the users happy some of the time, but you can't keep all the users happy all the time. The key is to listen—really listen—to your current and future users. It's about striking that delicate balance between being receptive to the community and ignoring the Sybils and trolls, while steadfastly pursuing the project's long-term goals.

Once the groundwork is laid (for this iteration, anyway), it's time to kick the communication machine into high gear. Leverage the incentives crafted earlier to help the community amplify your message. Amplify it across both crypto-specific and Web2 channels: think project's website, documentation, social media platforms, emails, and don't forget the broader platforms like Discord, Telegram, Crypto Twitter (CT), Xspaces, podcasts, AMAs, Medium, Mirror, YouTube, and Google+.

Here are a few principles to guide your communication:

  1. Simplicity and Transparency: Crypto is complicated enough. Keep the rules straightforward and your communication crystal clear—with the prevalence of scams in the space, transparency and openness are crucial. Straight shooting about how things work and what's happening behind the scenes cuts through the noise and builds trust. It’s about making complex systems accessible and understandable, ensuring everyone is on the same page and fully engaged.
How to earn loyalty points (season 1): docs
  1. Leverage Community Power: Harness the collective strength of your community. Instead of relying on just 5 developers, imagine tapping into the potential of 500. Instead of a small team of marketers, business developers, and QA personnel, you now have the potential force of 50,000, all invested in the success of the project.
When you have tens of thousands of frens, problems get solved quickly.

For example, if the overlords of some Web2 social app decide to ban you, having a robust and engaged community can be pivotal. In extreme cases, the difference between staying afloat or sinking can be a matter of just three hours or three days, thanks to the swift action of your supporters.

  1. Strong Conviction, Loosely Held: Clarity reigns supreme, but flexibility remains your secret weapon. The capacity to pivot in response to community feedback and real-time data keeps a project nimble. Consider it having a strong opinion but allowing enough flexibility to adjust when new, better information surfaces. EigenLayer received mixed reviews on their airdrop—while complaints often overshadow other feedback, the loudest criticisms were about "non-transferability" and the volume of the airdrop. Responding to the varied voices of the "community," the EigenLayer team made necessary adjustments to their airdrop strategy.
EigenLayer team response: adapting and listening to the community
  1. Us Against the Baddies: Rally the community with a clear delineation of friend from foe. You should consider taking a page out of the Hop Protocol's playbook during Sybil hunting season—make it clear who the real “enemies” are and unite the troops against common threats.
Chris Whinfrey - Hop Protocol
  1. Own Your Mistakes: At the end of the day, it’s humans who are running the show (for now). To err is human, but to own up to those mistakes and discuss them with your users is truly divine. Don’t sweep notable mistakes under the rug. Correcting course in this way not only builds trust and transparency but also strengthens community bonds, making your community stronger and more cohesive. This fortifies your project against the inevitable storms, making it antifragile and a committed supporter base.
Mike Silagadze, CEO of, owning up. The community approves.
  1. Listen to the Community (Keep ANC on for Sybils): By keeping your hand on the pulse and selectively listening to the community, you can discern genuine feedback from noise created by Trojan horses like Sybils, guiding your project with clear vision and effective leadership.
  1. Respect Your Audience: Never underestimate the intelligence of your community. They’re the lifeblood of your project, and nothing turns the tide faster than being caught in a lie. If you're sharing data—like, say, a pie chart—ensure it’s accurate. Authenticity isn't just appreciated; it's expected.

By embedding these principles into your communication strategy, you're not just broadcasting messages; you're engaging in a dialogue that elevates your project from being another token in the ether to a thriving ecosystem with a united, supportive community.

6. Allocation, Distribution Strategies and Claim Mechanisms

Effective distribution is another key element of a successful airdrop, ensuring that tokens not only reach their intended recipients but also engage them in ways that reinforce the project's long-term objectives. Your strategy should focus on precision and user accessibility, making the claiming process as intuitive as possible while safeguarding against abuses that could undermine the airdrop's value.

How Much to Allocate For The Airdrops?

Like many figures already mentioned, there’s a wide range. A good rule of thumb is—if you do an airdrop, allocate at least 10% in total (numbers can rise up to 30 percent and even more), but the main goal is to give the community a significant portion of the total pie.

A truly decentralized project offers all users a chance to get the token and not only the early investors. Additionally, balance risk and reward since the airdrop itself should generally occur at a more mature phase of the project.

Token Distribution Mechanics  

In considering the mechanics of the airdrop, there are two primary methods to choose from. The first option is a direct airdrop to wallets, which, while straightforward, can be costly for the project (with current tech) and potentially wasteful as some recipients may not claim their tokens. A more efficient alternative involves using a dedicated claim smart contract coupled with a user-friendly website. This method not only optimizes resource allocation but also ensures that tokens are claimed actively by those who are truly engaged with the project

Tiered Distribution Approach

Recognizing the diversity within our community, a tiered distribution system can be utilized to reward users based on their level of engagement and investment in the project. Newcomers might receive smaller amounts as a welcome gesture, encouraging their further involvement, while veteran users who have demonstrated loyalty and active participation receive significantly more. This system rewards past behaviors and incentivizes ongoing involvement and deeper integration into the project’s activities.

User Education and Support Initiative

Given the complexities of the claim process, especially for those new to crypto, it's crucial to provide comprehensive support and educational resources. CT is a minefield rife with phishing and other scams. Ensuring your users’ safety is paramount. Through tutorial videos, FAQs, and live support sessions, you can guide users through the claiming process, helping them feel confident and informed. This support smooths the user experience and fosters a more knowledgeable and engaged community.

Time-Limited Claims

To instill a sense of urgency and ensure active token circulation, you might consider implementing time-limited claims. Participants would have a set window, typically between three to twelve months—widely recognized as reasonable benchmarks—to claim their tokens. After this period, unclaimed tokens could be reallocated to community reserves. This strategy not only discourages hoarding but also promotes active participation and allows you to adjust your distribution strategies based on real-time user engagement.

By carefully designing these distribution strategies and claim mechanisms, we aim to maximize participation, enhance user experience, and ensure that every token distributed plays a strategic role in the growth and enrichment of our ecosystem.

7. Smart Contract Security and Auditing

A bug in your smart contract can be catastrophic—ensure thorough code checks and audits. Allocating sufficient time and buffer is essential, as projects often face both known and unknown challenges. The process typically takes longer than anticipated.

In addition to engaging the community to identify bugs, employing professional auditing services from organizations like Open Zeppelin, Consensys Diligence, Trail of Bits, and Sigma Prime, and the like, is virtually essential. These audits provide a crucial layer of confidence for both the project and the community, and serve as a stamp of approval on the security of your code.

8. Regulatory Compliance

While this discussion does not delve deeply into regulatory compliance, it's crucial to be aware of the evolving legal landscape in cryptocurrency, especially concerning airdrops. Legal standards vary widely across jurisdictions and often lack clarity, making it essential for your legal team or advisors to stay informed about the latest developments from regulatory bodies worldwide.

Ethical considerations remain at the forefront of our approach; despite the lack of clarity in some regions, the commitment to uphold the ethos of permissionlessness in crypto is fundamental. However, due to regulatory uncertainties (circa mid 2024)—such as in the U.S., where airdrops are considered taxable events, and in China, where cryptocurrency operations face severe restrictions—many projects choose to cautiously exclude participants from these areas. This decision, while prudent, underscores the ongoing challenge of balancing ethical intentions with regulatory requirements. As the regulatory climate evolves, there may be opportunities to expand into these markets, reflecting a dynamic and changing landscape, much like the global climate itself.

The Airdrop Assist Tool

We at Node Capital have supported several projects in guiding their airdrop strategies. Recently, we developed the Airdrop Assist tool, a Python script designed to analyze and visualize various airdrop parameters. Created under time constraints, this tool takes a practical yet rapid development approach, foregoing strict adherence to "clean code" principles or test-driven development (TDD). Nevertheless, we aim to share this tool with the broader crypto community for use, improvement, and further development.

Introduction to the Airdrop Assist Tool

The Airdrop Assist tool supports our team and others in optimizing airdrop strategies. It processes data from project-specific CSV files, allowing the setting and adjustment of key variables such as minimum loyalty points thresholds, airdrop size, and token values. The tool enables teams to analyze loyalty points (or other user contribution scores) to design effective airdrops strategically. By exploring various scenarios, Airdrop Assist provides a platform for making informed decisions based on comprehensive data analysis, helping teams develop airdrop strategies that align with project objectives and user engagement goals.

Core Functionalities of Airdrop Assist

  1. Data Handling and Processing: The tool processes data from various sources, merging user data with contract account information while assuming these are not multisig wallets. It filters out Sybil accounts based on a pre-defined list.
  2. User Selection and Filtering: By setting and adjusting variables such as minimum loyalty points thresholds, the tool selects eligible users and excludes ineligible ones, ensuring a focus on genuine participants.
  3. Dynamic Visualization: The tool generates various visualizations, including bar charts and histograms, to illustrate the distribution of loyalty points and airdrop values across different user segments. This helps visualize token value distribution and guides strategic airdrop allocation.

Detailed Script Capabilities

The Airdrop Assist tool encompasses several functions designed to optimize airdrop strategies:

  • Data Loading and Merging: Functions like load_data() and merge_contract_accounts() handle the integration of data from multiple sources, ensuring comprehensive user profiles.
  • Filtering and Calculations: Functions such as filter_ca_addresses() and calculate_loyalty_cols() manage the exclusion of contract accounts and the definition of loyalty metrics. The script also includes filter_sybils() to remove known Sybil accounts.
  • Statistical Analysis and Selection: Functions like calculate_total_loyalty_for_all(), compare_multiple_total_loyalty_points_stats(), and select_users_by_loyalty_points() enable thorough statistical analysis and user selection based on loyalty points.
  • Data Visualization and Comparison: The tool offers robust visualization capabilities with functions such as plot_log_histogram(), plot_dynamic_range_barchart(), and compare_dfs_stats_side_by_side(), which help teams understand data distributions and compare different scenarios effectively.
  • Detailed Insights and Reporting: Functions like print_descriptive_stats(), print_top_loyalty_points(), and display_all_airdrop_info() provide detailed reports and insights into user data and airdrop metrics.

Strategic Airdrop Planning with Airdrop Assist

Airdrop Assist enables teams to perform sensitivity analysis by dynamically setting different thresholds based on user input. This helps assess how changes in these thresholds affect token allocation across user segments, ensuring an iterative and responsive airdrop design. By providing clear visualizations and detailed insights, the tool supports informed decision-making, aligning airdrop strategies with project goals and user engagement objectives.

Visualization and Insights

To illustrate the tool's capabilities, here are some key visualizations generated by Airdrop Assist:

Loyalty Points Distribution Across Users by Range

This bar chart illustrates the distribution of loyalty points among users, divided into dynamically determined intervals. Each bar reflects a unique range of loyalty points, with its height indicating the number of users within that range.

Range by Loyalty Filter

Another bar chart showing the distribution of total loyalty points across various ranges, highlighting how different loyalty thresholds impact user segments.

Loyalty Points Distribution Across Percentile Segments

This table presents a breakdown of loyalty points across different percentile segments, showing the number of eligible accounts, tokens per user, and other relevant metrics.

Airdrop Statistics Based on Eligibility Points

A table summarizing the airdrop statistics based on different loyalty point thresholds, including eligible accounts, tokens per user, and other key data points.

Comparison of Points vs. Accounts

These charts compare the distribution of points across various accounts, providing a visual representation of how loyalty points are spread.

Airdrop $ Value Distribution Across Users by Range:

This graph illustrates the distribution of airdrop values among users, segmented into specified value ranges. Each bar in the chart represents a unique range of airdrop values in USD, with the height of each bar indicating the number of users within that range. This visualization helps in understanding how airdrop values are distributed across different user segments and assists in designing airdrop strategies that effectively target various groups based on their contribution levels.

Wrapping it Together

The Airdrop Assist tool was built with a practical yet rapid development approach. Despite these constraints, we are excited to share this tool with the broader crypto community. By making it available, we aim to contribute to the great and greater crypto community, advancing not just airdrop strategies but also the broader ecosystem for developers and builders, enabling other projects to benefit from data-driven insights and iterative planning. We encourage the community to use, build upon, and improve this tool, fostering a collaborative effort to enhance airdrop effectiveness across the industry.


Airdrops can be extraordinarily potent, immensely powerful, and remarkably effective tools in the crypto landscape, blending the precision of science with the creativity of art. In a world where we're bombarded with asks and offers vying for our attention, it's hard to pierce through the noise. Thoughtful airdrop design can achieve that breakthrough, but more importantly, it sets the stage for more— aligning the project's community to a common goal.

A critical aspect of this planning is setting the right eligibility criteria. This is not merely about filtering participants but strategically aligning incentives to attract the ideal users and foster meaningful engagement while deterring undesirable behavior. These criteria lay the foundation for a thriving and active community, ensuring that every token distributed contributes to the project’s growth and ecosystem health.

By integrating airdrops into your tokenomics strategy and setting clear, actionable goals, you create a strong foundation for your project's growth. Tools like the Airdrop Assist empower teams to analyze data-driven insights and optimize their campaigns. The design space for airdrops is ripe for innovation, offering immense opportunities for crypto developers. By balancing ambition with practicality and continuously iterating based on empirical data, you'll improve your chances of making a lasting impact. Embrace the challenge, harness the technology, and with a little luck and grace, your project will soar to new heights.

We value your insights. Share them with us on @node_or and @Node_Cap.

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial, legal, or any other type of professional advice. Consult with a qualified professional before making any financial decisions based on the information provided.

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