The Perils Of Discord For NFT Startups

NFTs are a frontier space. It’s the Wild West. Creators in the NFT industry are traversing their way across an unknown landscape. There are plenty of road maps, but no signs. We’re all just trying to figure this out together.

Photo by Cayetano Gil on Unsplash

Being a creator in the space is packed with excitement and adventure. However, like exploring the Wild West, it’s easy to lose your way. Launching a Discord server too soon may take you off course, struggling to get back to your intended route.

Discord has become a standard amongst NFT collections for the purpose of community building. It makes sense that NFT communities have flourished on Discord. There is a lot of crossover between the demographics of NFT collectors and Discord’s primary demographic — gamers.

In many cases, NFTs represent digital assets for video games in the Metaverse. For instance, an NFT could be a character or an item with unique traits in a game. As a result, a large portion of the play-to-earn gamer community has embraced NFTs for their value and utility within video games.

However, not all NFTs are assets for the Metaverse. I’m the creator and co-founder of the NumbSkulls collection. Our collection is designed for real world utility — not video games. If you’re a creator like us, and your NFT collection serves a unique purpose, a Discord server is not necessary — at least in the beginning.

While every NFT startup needs fans and supporters for a successful mint, not every project needs a community pre-mint. In fact, launching a Discord server too soon may quickly become more of a hinderance than a benefit. We encountered the following issues when launching a Discord server pre-mint:

Distraction

The purpose of the NumbSkulls collection is to raise capital for building Web3 software that will be valuable to our NFT holders, other collections, and the industry as a whole. Since our project is about more about utility, managing a Discord server prior to mint only serves as a distraction in the early stages.

Early on, I created a basic Discord server for our project, primarily because it’s the industry standard. However, I’m an artist, designer, and web developer. I’m not a Discord expert, nor am I a community manager.

Although I added a discreet invite link to the server on our website, I was hesitant to publicly announce the server. Instead, I continued promoting our project by creating content, sharing on social media, and engaging with members in other Discord communities. This strategy was effective, and I forgot about the link on the website.

Despite never publicly announcing our Discord, some early fans found the link, and joined the server as our project started receiving attention.

This was unexpected, and we were unprepared. Suddenly, we were forced to build out the server completely — installing bots, creating channels, setting up a verification system, assigning roles, and handling all the other responsibilities that come with managing a Discord server. It’s a time consuming process. In fact, it was already consuming valuable time that could have been better spent elsewhere on our project.

We are very grateful for the early NumbSkulls fans that joined our server. However, we were also concerned that the “freshness” of the server may give our new members the wrong impression.

Unfortunately, the activity within a Discord server has become synonymous with the success of a project. So, when users see a small number of members or low server activity, they may be quick to dismiss the project. However, that assumption doesn’t apply across the board. Many successful NFT projects don’t launch a server until the mint.

In our case, I’ve already assumed the roles of the artist, developer, writer, and social promoter for our project. There is a point at which spreading yourself too thin prevents you from being effective at any one task.

I’m not a multitasker. If I’m creating, I’m not talking. And if I’m talking, I’m not creating. At this stage, I need to be doing more creating than talking for the future of our project. Unfortunately, managing a Discord server demands constant attention that is not beneficial in the early stages on an NFT startup.

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

The distraction of managing a Discord server was only one of our concerns. There was another major concern…

Security

Recently, one of the most popular bots for managing Discord servers, MEE6, was compromised. The hacked bot made a surprise mint announcement within the servers of several major projects. The announcement contained a link to a fake mint, and when users connected their wallets, it left their assets vulnerable to theft. As a result, many NFTs were stolen.

Unfortunately, events like this are not uncommon in Discord servers — or the NFT space in general. Millions of dollars worth of digital assets have been stolen. For some people, it’s catastrophic.

We were on the fence about opening our server to the public, or making it private. However, this event was the nail in the coffin. It confirmed our decision to close the NumbSkulls server.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Discord. It’s an excellent platform for its intended purpose. However, NFTs involve the flow of cryptocurrencies and the trading of digital assets — some of which are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. While Discord itself is not to blame for these security issues, the platform just wasn’t ready for the security needs of the NFT industry. As a result, scammers and hackers have flocked to the platform like Bored Apes to a Yacht Club.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

These security concerns are a threat to NFT startups. If a server becomes compromised early in a project, or a fake mint is announced before the intended mint date, or loyal members are scammed in your server, the project may be doomed.

Projects get one chance to get this right. If it goes horribly wrong, they may lose the trust of their supporters. They’ll move on to the next hyped project, and leave you in the dust—watching the tumbleweed roll by.

We want our project to succeed, as all creators do. That’s why we’re concerned about the security of our project and future holders. We don’t want to host an environment that is susceptible to fraud before we’re prepared to combat it. It’s that simple.

Solution

In our case, we made the NumbSkulls server private and invite only. We gave early members OG roles. Then, we removed all invite links, and closed down the server with the intention of making the community available only to holders after mint. In the meantime, our OG members will be provided insider information about our strategies moving forward.

This is a good strategy for our particular needs. An NFT holder exclusive community is stronger, safer, and more valuable than a community that’s open to the public.

We’ve experienced the value in exclusive communities of which we are holders — like Moonbirds and PREMINT. And when we’re ready to launch our community, we want it to provide similar benefits.

Summary

If you’re starting an NFT project, I highly recommend joining other Discord servers, and using the platform as a promotional tool. It’s the best social platform to find people interested in your NFT project. And if the purpose of your NFT project is primarily building a community, a Discord server is an invaluable asset.

However, if a community isn’t the primary focus of your project, then a Discord server is not necessary in the early stages — maybe not at all.

Hopefully, Discord will address the security issues, or another community platform will become available that is more tailored to the security needs of the NFT industry. In the meantime, proceed with caution when using Discord.

When we launch the NumbSkulls community, we want it to be a valuable and secure asset for our holders. We don’t want it saturated with unidentifiable members with unclear intentions.

Until our mint, we are focused on growing our following on Twitter, and gathering registrations for our PREMINT allowlist. If you’re interested in NumbSkulls, you can learn more about us here.

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