Our work “Altruistic and Profit-oriented: Making Sense of Roles in Web3 Community from Airdrop Perspective” is accepted by ACM CHI’23

Blockchain Highlight Human Factors


With the development of blockchain technology and the popularization of decentralized applications, the emergence of the so-called Web 3.0 has brought the communities built on this particular background into our research horizon. Unlike a community in the traditional context, joining and exiting a decentralized community often simply means whether you are a stakeholder of a certain type of token: holding assets issued by a specific protocol implies corresponding rights and obligations. These governance tokens grant their holders voting rights like a shareholder meeting of listed companies. Members and potential participants are usually motivated to contribute to the community, especially in the early stages. For example, some Decentralized Applications (DApps), such as Uniswap, dYdX, etc., issue airdrops to early supporters for their contributions. Among the early supporters eligible for airdrop, most of them are motivated by financial profit or preferential access to tokens with governance rights to obtain quick cash. Many of them exploit the anonymity of blockchain, registering multiple accounts and interacting with the DApp to maximize their profits, which cannot be taken as a positive factor for the long-term development, because once they acquire the tokens, exploiters tend to sell the tokens as soon as possible, consequently making a drop of the asset price. These behaviors undermine the rights and the interests of those enthusiasts who would like to hold the tokens in the long run and proactively engage in the community. To address these issues, many DApps have begun to distribute governance tokens by designing stringent filtering mechanisms, which triggered intense debate on its effectiveness.

Research Method

In this paper, we take ParaSwap as a representative example, trying to evaluate the Web 3.0 community and the effectiveness of allocation principles through the analysis of eligible users’ behavior and token transaction network. We collect PSP transactions of 20,148 addresses between November 15th, 2021 and April 13th, 2022, based on which we analyze their behavior before and after the airdrop event and the allocation method from the following two aspects. From the macro aspect, we investigate the temporal development of the network properties, based on which we also find a series of the unique structure of the interaction between token holders through component analysis by comparing the token network with the external transaction network. 

From the micro aspect of individual addresses, we perform unsupervised clustering on eligible airdrop addresses based on their transaction patterns. We then compare the distribution difference in terms of the amount of capital and token holding duration among different clusters. 


To sum up, in this paper, we use a detailed mix-method approach to understand altruistic and profit-oriented members in a decentralized community. We explore the rationality of airdrop as a kind of incentive mechanism and affirm the contribution of part of this allocation method: the differential tiers can be a potential method to encourage community-beneficial behaviors. We also perform a network analysis to identify the airdrop hunter’s method of arbitrage through multiple accounts. Our findings lead us to a discussion on the underlying causes of the current predicament and future direction of the decentralized community in Web 3.0. We suggest that taxonomy of roles based on the public data could be a promising solution to support the empowerment process of the community. We propose that, beyond the technical difficulties, between the current decentralized community and the goals of the ideal Metaverse, there are still complex issues related to human factors, social organization, and financialized markets that require the participation of the HCI community. Moreover, with the development of Web 3.0, we also raise potential governance issues regarding blockchain-based content platforms or social networks by analogy to Web 2.0. We hope that our work could play a role in advancing the understanding of this unique emerging technology and form of community, and further motivate researchers to push forwards the boundaries and expand the possibility of governance.

This is a collaborative work with White Matrix Inc.