Episode 29: Today I’m speaking with Derek, with DataNexus, and Graph God, both of whom are Curators at The Graph. I’m speaking with Derek and Graph God to learn more about the work of Curators and to introduce Curation Station, a stakeholder community within The Graph entirely dedicated to Curation.
My conversation with Derek and Graph God covers their entry into crypto, how and why they got involved with The Graph, what Curation Station is and their vision for it, and their early experiences working as Curators when curation launched in July.
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So it I see it as being, you know, kind of a core piece of really any dApp that has, has a need for historical information, which is essentially ever, everyone needs data. And that’s what we provide. And that’s why The Graph is just an incredibly great position for Web 3.
Welcome to the GRTiQ podcast. Today I’m speaking with Derek with DataNexus and Graph God, both of whom are Curators at The Graph. I’m speaking with Derek and Graph God to learn more about their work as Curators and to introduce Curation Station, a stakeholder community within The Graph, entirely dedicated to curation. My conversation with Derek and Graph God covers their entry into crypto, how and why they got involved with The Graph, what Curation Station is, and their long term vision for it. And their early experience working as Curators when curation launched back in July, we began by discussing their professional and educational background, starting with Graph God.
Sure, so I’ve been a Software Developer for about 10 years. And during my time, as a software developer, it’s mostly been related to creating and maintaining databases and delivery of that information to, you know, another service, whether that’s a front end of a website, or that could be a third party CMS system or something along those lines, all delivered via API. So that’s a pretty good background to immediately notice the value of an open source API market, which is effectively what The Graph was. So I had a friend of mine that got me involved with crypto during DeFi summer, I had been an interested observer, I guess you’d say before that, but once I saw The Graph, I realized, you know, that is going to eventually replace my job. I’m a back end Web 2 software engineer, and I’m just thinking to myself, boy, you know, I better learn this, if I want to be…. at least buy it if I can’t learn it. So I bought some and then I just was so enthusiastic and excited and about what you know what graph is going to be? So I ended up creating a Twitter, and I just started talking to everybody about it, you know, and then you guys know, the rest, you know, curation came around. And, you know, now we have the Curation Station.
Yeah, my backgrounds. somewhat similar. I used to work at a Software Developer Bootcamp, actually worked in their sales area. And so I had to learn the lingo of speaking, you know, tech speak. And shortly after that, while I was working there as doing the program, in addition to that, and then when my wife and I moved across the country, I decided I would try to get a job as a developer. And so I’m now a database developer. And I’ve grown to be this senior SQL Developer for my company. And I also do a lot of their database administration work. So with how I got into The Graph, I was mining Bitcoin back in 2014. Purely on the basis that one of my friends said, Hey, do you want to, you know, cover your electricity bill by running your computer? And I was like, Sure. So I mined you know, probably about eight Bitcoin, but I was just selling it each month to pay for my electricity bill. And then with you know, hardware, upgrades and all that stuff. My mining rig was no longer profitable. So we shut that down. And then in 2016, when Ethereum was listed on Coinbase, I got an email from them saying like, Oh, yeah, we’ve got a new cryptocurrency that we’re offering, so I bought a decent amount of Ethereum. And I, I got bit by the Ethereum bug pretty quickly because it was… You know, offered the ability to build things on top of it and provide more value than just a, you know, just the store of value that that Bitcoin offers. My only drawback to that is I never really had a way to participate in the network, because at that point in time, I hadn’t done much development work yet. And so when there was a coin base learn and earn program, where they said that this protocol indexes the Ethereum blockchain, and as a database developer, I’m like, Oh, this index is in the blockchain. That’s something that I know things about, let me know, let me see if this is a way that I can contribute to a network and grow a network and improve its value. That way I can have a more positive point of view, improve my holdings and improve what I’m doing. Because I have that active role.
Well, I’m really intrigued to be talking to two people who have such a strong background on the software engineer and development side, maybe in a way that would be helpful to listeners of the podcast that are non-technical. What is it that guys like you see in The Graph that makes it so valuable? And you are so optimistic about this project?
Yeah. So the thing that really excites me about this is from my work as a database developer, I’m constantly working with tables of information and all of that, and I’ve seen good databases, and I’ve seen poor databases. And if you look at what a subgraph is, and and I know that you asked this question on the podcast, of what is a subgraph. From a non-technical user, I mean, we’ve all used Excel. And if you were to envision an Excel spreadsheet, where you’re trying to keep track of your banking records, or you’re trying to keep track of, you know, event attendees, or whatever you’re keeping track of, you want to make sure that your data is in alignment. So the first column has your name, or the first name of each attendee, the second column has, you know, whatever specific information working. And what can happen is if you throw all your Excel spreadsheets into one spreadsheet, then you have data mismatching. So your second column might be the funds that you received, if you’re doing a banking spreadsheet, or if you’re doing event attendees, it might be what chairs someone sitting in. And that as a data structure is not something that is very usable. So when I considered what the Ethereum blockchain looks like, in terms of its transactions, you know, it’s largely set up and in that way, where it’s almost like a mismatching Excel spreadsheet. And there’s no good way to get information that you really want. So querying anything, you know, against the entirety of the blockchain is just inefficient, because you’re not only querying your spreadsheet, but you’re querying everyone’s spreadsheet and having to sift through everything. So when I saw that The Graph was a way of taking the data from the blockchain, that’s specific to what you intend to use it for. And instead, you just query that subsection. That to me made a lot of sense. And that’s why I got really excited for it is because it’s a very efficient way of utilizing the data stored in the blockchain.
Well, Graph God, I would regret not asking a follow up. And of course, Derek, I’d like to invite you to answer this as well. But how will listeners experience the benefit or the improvement of a Web 3 environment, right? I think we’re so used to Web 2 everybody knows how in the day to day, the internet impacts our lives. But what’s the step up? What’s the benefit of a Web 3 world? Sure. So
To be honest with you, there are many advantages to having this Web 3 internet, right. So you can see Stani Kulechov, from Aave talking about why you should own your data. And for people that are privacy focused, you know, there’s a lot of reasons why you should be ultimately in control of that. But you know, personally, I think that the biggest improvement is going to be for dApps. Because, you know, traditional companies, you know, like a Facebook app, I think that it will eventually be less expensive to host your website, or your app or whatever on the blockchain than it would be to pay someone like Amazon, especially as more of the world gets internet access. I mean, there’s still plenty of places in Africa and throughout the world that just don’t have good internet. There’s a lot of people that live there. So as the internet increases, we’re going to need data centers in Africa and Europe, in America. And all of that is very expensive. I mean, I don’t know exactly how much Facebook is paying for, you know, hardware. But I’ve worked at some, you know, relatively large businesses and has some sense of what we spent per month, it was easily in the six figures. And I could see, you know, larger companies spending much more than that. And I so I think that the, you know, the big benefit that I think will get a lot of people to move over, we’ll just simply be that it’s cheaper to use, you know, the blockchain as the backend for your website. Because you’ll have, you know, speedy response times and cheap service anywhere in the world that that data needs to be served. Now, with that said, you know, there’s a lot of other, you know, end user pluses. But I think for me, personally, that’s where I think we’ll see the adoption is from the big, the big businesses, you’ll see Twitter swap to the blockchain and, you know, other, you know, maybe Facebook or other services, just simply because it’ll be less expensive to run their platform.
Yeah. And in addition to that, I would also add that there’s, you know, especially with a graph, you have decentralized network of Indexers. So if one Indexer goes down, you already have another 150 that are ready to take its place. But there’s a certain security or a certain high availability benefit that can be had when you’re spreading work across multiple people. And it just removes a single point of failure. So for large companies like Facebook, or Chase Bank, for example, you know, if they have one data warehouse that goes down, they’ve got plenty of them. And they’ve already had to solve that problem. And it cost them a lot of money to do so. If you’re a smaller company, or you’re a smaller application, you know, you might not have as many disaster recovery resources available to where you’re just relying on your one sole server. Well, now with a graph, the fact that you have multiple Indexers that can be hosting your subgraph, one of their machines goes down, or there’s a weather event or a hurricane or something that disrupts their hardware, and you probably won’t even notice. And so that’s a huge benefit to the smaller players in the world. But in terms of what would Web 3 look like, I would say, there’s going to be a point where you don’t even realize that you’re using Web 3 anymore. But there’s a coordination level and certain functions that that are now available in a website. You know, especially with the payment layer, you look at some of the things that Radical is doing with being able to coordinate on code with projects. You know, you can pretty easily integrate payment on projects all from within the website, have it be instantaneous, and you know, and permissionless which is something that Web 2 just simply doesn’t have the capabilities of doing. So that as a as a function, you know, being able to work provide value and provide a product and receive instant payment. Without having to, you know, go through other hoops is, you know is immensely valuable.
Well, Derek and Graf God, the reason we’re speaking is because you guys have teamed up and you’re working on this thing called Curation Station. And I want to learn a lot more about that. Before we dive into some of the details about Curation Station and what you’re doing within The Graph community. I think it’d be interesting to know, did you both get involved in The Graph with the intention of one day becoming Curators there? Was that the initial draw? Maybe start with you, Derek.
Sure. So I found out about The Graph, just through the Coinbase Learn and Earn, you know, talked about indexing, the Ethereum blockchain. I already had a lot of, you know, affinity for Ethereum, and how it works, but I never learned Solidity. So I didn’t feel like I could participate in it. But I was trying to, you know, when I saw that this was indexing the blockchain, I was like, Okay, I know that there’s a way that I can participate in this network and provide value to it. And, you know, kind of make my mark in Web 3. And so I reached out to Pranav on Twitter, because I saw him post that, you know, he just started with The Graph team. And then I also messaged Yaniv on Twitter. And I said ‘Hey, I am a SQL Developer, and database administrator, you know, what would be the proper role for me in The Graph is an indexing. I didn’t read up on curation, but I didn’t fully understand it at first.’ And the first thing that was pointed out to me was that I should start studying subgraph development. And that would be a great Curator if I was, you know, good at analyzing data sets and stuff like that. So. So I started watching some of the different testnet videos on curation. And I was, you know, all eager to go. But I didn’t yet know that it hadn’t been released yet. So I did all of this study to figure out okay, how do I be a really good Curator? And then I found out that it wasn’t yet ready. Well, that was about a week before the launch the main net. And so that worked out perfectly to where a week later it was ready. So I said, perfect. I’m, I’m ready to jump in. So I started developing my first subgraph. And I didn’t get much past that because curation launched, and then, you know, since then it’s been, it’s been a rocket ride.
How about for you graph? God? Did you begin with the intent of becoming a Curator?
Actually, no, I got involved with it with the intention of becoming an Indexer. You know, I, when I first heard about The Graph was around the time that launched on Coinbase in December, and I went to their website, I was looking around, and I saw the delegation thing. And I was like, well, that’s cool, you know, and I put my coins there, as like, you know, what else can we do? And I read about indexing, and I thought she, you know, I’m not exactly DevOps Pro. I mean, I can certainly do it. And it sounds like, you know, that’s the biggest skill that you’d need for that, except also having 100,000 Graph tokens. So as you know, that’s my goal, I’m going to get 100,000 Graph token so I can become an Indexer. And so I don’t know how long exactly it took. But eventually, I got to 100,000 coins. And I thought, Okay, well, now I have these coins. So I got to start learning this Indexing thing. And I just got, I just got lazy. I guess at that point. I was like, I don’t know. Like, I don’t know if I should do this, you know, so I kind of sat on that for a while. And I thought, like, I knew I knew I wanted to do it. But I wanted to do it a little differently, I guess is what I should say. Because I saw that there was a lot of other Indexers that had like 17 million tokens and everything I thought she How am I going to compete with that? So I started, so I got a little apathetic and lazy at that point, I started thinking, gee, you know, maybe I should learn solidity. So that can build some kind of index together tool. So my thought was, you know, hey, I’m just one guy with 100,000. But, you know, if we could do this, like delegation and put it, you know, so I started thinking about how we could like work together to make a Indexer team, like a decentralized one. So I downloaded some training stuff and went on YouTube and was trying to learn solidity and, and then, around the time, where I actually started putting in the work curation, while I was putting in for a little bit, but at that time of Curation came out, and I thought, gee, this is great. I spend all this time on Twitter, you know, so I should know everything right? I know about all the projects and everything that’s going on and, you know, so, so I, you know, I got involved with curation on the first day and even though I would like to come back to that index together tool or protocol that I had an idea for, which I do intend to work on at some point next year. You know this this will do for sure for now.
An important question of course, would be to describe what a Curator is and how it fits into The Graph ecosystem. And so what is a Curator? What is the nature of their work? And why is it so important?
So as a Curator, what we do is we ‘stake’ our GRT, which we call Signaling. So we signal our GRT to subgraph, as opposed to how Delegators stake their GRT to an Indexer. And so what that signal does is it provides an indication for Indexers to go and sync that information, that way that queries can start to be serviced on the information that’s being indexed. So an important aspect of this is that this controls the knob of how Indexer rewards are allocated to different subgraphs. So if we provide a lot of signal to subgraph a, then that’s going to have more Indexer rewards that gets split amongst the Indexers based off of how much they individually stake on subgraph A. So since we control this knob, there’s a couple of really important aspects or I would say a couple of value points that we provide a protocol. And the first of which is that we, you know, we help balance the overall reward systems, or Indexers they earn query fees, but right now, they’re very, very heavy on the Indexer rewards. And we, I guess, promote or we reward the Indexers that are taking actions on important sets of information. So by signaling more to a subgraph, that helps ensure that it has more Indexer support and more Indexer resource, which ensures further uptime for that subgraph. And they have better geographical positions, because if you have, you know, 20 Indexers that are spread all throughout the world, and the end user is located somewhere, chances are they’ll be closer to an Indexer if there’s 20 of them than if there’s only one of them. So that’s a a key aspect just in terms of where subgraphs are at currently based off of their historical information. Now, that could all be done by a computer just looking at based off of historical information. This is how many query fees exist, you know, etc. But really, the human interaction is what makes the Curator leg of the network so valuable. So our job as Curators is also to utilize our information to predict market movements. And this is why people who are on social media, you know, play a really important role because they’re keeping in tune with, you know, different partnerships that are happening, new features that dApps are providing that type of thing is important because we can’t expect our Indexers to try to stay abreast of the entire blockchain network. We currently have 150 subgraphs on the main net, you know, I don’t know that anyone could name what every specific subgraph does. And so being able to predict what’s happening with these things, you know, is really important. And lastly, in a permissionless system, you know, anyone can post any subgraph. So there’s a certain aspect of looking at how do we get new subgraphs supported, and really, the way to do that is through curation. Right now we have 150 subgraphs. So that’s, that’s fairly simple to do. But if you look at our Hosted network, you know, we have 20-30 subgraphs posted every single day. And that’s only, you know, that’s only growing at this point. And so has our mainnet starts to support more networks, then we’re going to see more and more subgraphs posted on the mainnet. Now in 30 subgraphs are posted each day, we can’t expect our Indexers to go through all 30 of those and understand what it’s doing, what type of traffic it’s going to have, and figure out which one that they want to say. Instead, that’s our job, we get the opportunity to dig into each of those, and you know, reach out to the different teams and really get a sense of what that subgraph is doing. And from there, we then signal the Indexers to come pick it up. So in a world where there’s 10,000 subgraphs, and the new one is posted, who’s to say that it’s going to get support? Well, Curators are and so that’s a, I would say a really important aspect of what we do.
Well listeners of the podcast know the work in the curation community is definitely getting noticed by the Indexers. And in fact, in a recent interview with a Gary Morrison, Jim cousins, I think they were referring to the work that Curation Station is doing within The Graph community, and kind of being on the front end of everything that’s happening since curations gone live. And so what’s the story behind Curation Station? What is it for those that haven’t even heard of it?
Sure. So Curation Station is a Telegram and Discord group that is all about graph curation. Curation is complex, it’s not something that you can just go to a website, click a couple buttons and be done. And even for me, who has been involved with The Graph, since the Coinbase, listing in December, I was even challenging for me to handle on my own. So the story of the Curation Station is that Graph protocol released, you know, mainnet and curation. Now, you know, people could, you know, finally you do every little job that will exist for now, at least on The Graph protocol. So when curation launched, all of a sudden, all of these subgraphs were coming on to we’re coming on to the main net, and you could go on to the site, and you can see Wow, are they has a subgraph on, you know, the mainnet? And who else was it Ethereum Name Service, and USDC coin, and all these projects, and I’m thinking to myself, This is insane, with the share prices are so low, so I just started buying everything because how, why would I not? It’s so inexpensive, like what I thought it should be sick on two. Now, of course, at that time, I didn’t know a few things, number one that they were not legitimate. And number two that I really didn’t know how to, at that time, properly value, a subgraph. But I just thought, you know, this is an Aave subgraph with, say, 70,000 tokens, that’s less, you know, that’s not really that much money in this game. So I just decided to buy. And after I bought, I bought everything I was tweeting about it like crazy, like every five minutes. I’m like, Guys, you got to get into this thing. I’m typing as fast as I can. There’s so much money to be made. Like, just by this, you know, I’m getting all excited, and I’m riling people up, and I know, like I had people DM me, like, how do I do it like real quick, so I can get in. And it was just this mad dash to subgraphs. And then, you know, I started poking around, because I was like, Alright, let’s, you know, take a look at their site and see, you know, how they’re getting information out of The Graph. Or, you know, where these GitHub links that are in the subgraph description go. And I started to look at everything, and I thought, hmm, I’m starting to think that maybe these are not legitimate, but it would have been far easier to notice one or two illegitimate subgraphs it was far more difficult to realize that literally everything I was looking at was fake, with the exception of course, you know, the first eight or 10 subgraphs that were launched, you know, with, right, so I sort of was talking this out live on Twitter to no one in particular, just like, you know, I, I’m starting to think this is not legitimate, I’m just gonna sell everything. Maybe I’ll miss the boat here, but I just need to take a second and, you know, really see what I mean by in here, and then it hit me that, you know, and I wasn’t even sure I was right. 100%, but it hit me. I don’t think any of these new subgraphs are legitimate. And then so I started posted on Twitter saying, hey, look, guys, you got to really exercise caution, because, you know, it’s hard to tell in some cases, that these are not legitimate subgraphs and it was around that time that I got a tweet from Tegan. And she said, you know that she agrees like, you know, everyone should do their own research and, and it’s hard and she said that, you know, people that are interested should join forces with other Curators to build a tribe. That’s what she called. She called it a Tribe. So I was saying that I almost as soon as she made that tweet, I was like, yeah, you know, I’m a part of the Graphtronauts. And, you know, and so I know that there are, you know, communities for user communities for The Graph. And, you know, and of course, they do a great job, but they’re, this is more of a general buy and hold group. You know, they talk about delegation for the most part. And I thought, gee, you know, I can make a Telegram group, and I can invite, you know, and I thought maybe I’d get, I don’t know, 10 or 20 people, you know, I didn’t expect anything major, but I thought, you know, hey, maybe if I can convince 10, or 20 people that got into this, I felt bad too, because I actually made money, when that that happened with all those fake subgraphs I sold out, when I wasn’t quite sure if things were real or not. And then I started tweeting about it. And I don’t know, I don’t think I’m that influential, but it wasn’t too far after I started tweeting that, you know, a lot of these started getting dumped pretty heavy. And I felt horrible, because I knew I probably convinced some people to jump in, and they lost money. So I thought, you know, this will be a great way for us all to learn together and to help people and we can do this as a community. I thought, you know, I have my skills, other people have theirs. And so that’s grown quite a bit. So we’ve gone from a couple of people. Of course, we had some, you know, people that were really contributing and standing out like Derek. So we actually didn’t know each other before The Graph and curation. But once I made the Curation Station, so many people joined, it was more than one person could handle by far. And I was spending considerable time on the Telegram and Discord channels. At first, I think I, you know, I think the first week I was more or less a wall at my job just sitting at the house, like, oh, boy, you know, let’s talk about curation and everything, you know, and that was probably not very responsible, but that’s what I did. So there was some people that would stand out, you know, I would, you know, we would say someone would say, Hey, you know, we should ask on the projects, Discord, you know, if some new subgraph comes out whether it’s legitimate or not, and so we didn’t want everyone to bombard their Discord. So let’s say let’s have one person in charge of it. And I think actually, that was Derek that had done that sort of wrangling and saying, like, yeah, we need to, like manage this properly. Let’s have one person talk. Um, I kept looking at the Telegram channel, I kept seeing Derek talking, like, more or less doing admin stuff anyway. And I was like, well, gee, all right, well, why just, you know, give him admin status. So he can actually, like, have some, you know, whatever authority you get from being an admin of the Curation Station, I don’t know. But anyway, so I made him an administrator. And he’s been easily at least half of the Curation Station, as far as you know, running things ever since, you know, so, and there’s, of course, been some serious, you know, people that have really stepped above and beyond to help out. So there’s, you know, obviously don’t know everyone’s name, one of the folks is X00000 from, from Telegram and Discord. He’s helped significantly in building the GG bot that we have that runs there. There’s also Flintpropolis, from the Discord who runs the equivalent bot on the Discord, because, you know, the GG bot only runs on Telegram. The old software that I used for it only had built in Telegram capability. So it says, All right, well, yeah, I’ll get around to Discord. And by that time, you know, Flynn had already built that bot. So I thought, I won’t step on his toes, we can, he can have that.
So, Jonah got involved, and he built the prototype for the curation dashboard. And so we all kind of got together and said, Hey, you know, there’s been some feature requests for GG, but that really just don’t make sense. A Telegram bot to do and really would be much better off on a website. And we had been talking about maybe building something getting something together, and some people offered to help. It was awesome. But it looks like early next year, we’ll have a whole curation dashboard, you’ll have, you know, charts and how much you could make if the subgraph goes to a certain level of signal and, you know, just all kinds all kinds of information. You know, so that’s sort of the background of the Curation Station, where we are now and where we’re going soon.
So Derek is one way to think about Curation Station is Graphtronauts is to Delegators as Curation Station is to Curators.
Yeah, I mean, I like to think that they’re pretty similar, but ours is, you know, obviously more curation related, you know, kind of a little backstory on how I got into the Curation Station was largely due to the, you know, permissionless nature of The Graph, which is, which is a feature not, you know, not a bug. And with that feature, you know, anyone can operate within it. And it is a trustless system. And so anyone can post a subgraph, whether that’s from the project themselves, or if they forked that code off of, you know, off of GitHub and posted it. And so pretty quickly when we realized, okay, some of these, you know, have intended use, some of them do not have intended use, whether it was published with malicious intent, or because they’re just a third party dApp that wants to use it, and they’re a little bit smaller, it’s important to understand what the subgraph is doing, what its intended uses. And that that was something that I picked up pretty quickly. And I saw other Curators jumping in and, you know, in signaling on things where I was like, hey, this person is not only created the Uniswap subgraph, but they also created two other dApps. Like, I don’t think that this is coming from Uniswap. And so as that was progressing along, I started, you know, I almost feel like I was barking orders at people at times, but there is a little bit of confusion, you know, people running around, like chickens with their head cut off. And so I wanted to get some structure in place to say, when a new subgraph is posted, you know, here are the steps that you can take to verify: Is this something that has intended use by the depth that it’s indexing? Or, you know, just understanding what is it indexing. And so, I quickly realized that this is not something that any one person, and that’s, you know, for me why I joined the Curation Station and why I tend to stay pretty active is the network as a whole benefits, if we all understand, we can provide smarter signal to the subgraphs. And that will then provide smarter, smarter signal for the Indexers, which makes our leg of the network stronger, that makes the Indexer leg of the network stronger, that helps Delegators which keeps Delegators happy and you know, grows the strength of the token, and all in all the whole networks operating better. So from that vantage point, I was like, okay, we need to have a place where we can coordinate. But also I knew that you know, and like The Graph got mentioned earlier, if we had all, you know, however many 1000, Curators jumping into other dApps, Discord and Telegrams and you know, spamming them saying, Hey, is this your subgraph? Yeah, that would be a turnoff that most people, how many phone calls do we get about, you know, you’re extend your warranty? You know, I didn’t want The Graph to turn into that, because we are very professional service. And we provide a great product for Web 3. So I wanted to maintain that. And you know, I work as a community member, but as someone who’s in the role in the community, that’s something that we have to keep in mind. So I wanted to put some structure into place so that someone already had a relationship with a developer for a project, they could just be the person for that. And, you know, we could all kind of funnel our communication through that person. And so the Yes, to answer your question, it largely is like Graphtronauts, but for curation, there isn’t necessarily an intended structure, there’s just kind of, there’s a little bit of structure that came into place, out of necessity of just understanding the subgraphs that are posted on the main net?
Well, in both of your answers, you hit on what I think is really the crux of the issue related to curation for anyone that’s interested either in participating as a Curator or just understanding this part of the network. And it’s when you talked about, you know, these non-legitimate subgraphs that arrived really early on. And before I asked you the question of, what are some of the things you guys learned on the front lines, as curation went live? I want to ask two questions related to the fundamental nature of curation. The first one is, like you said, Graph God, how to properly value a subgraph. That’s pretty loaded, because I know there’s a bonding curve and things like that. But how would you describe Graph God, this idea of how to properly value a subgraph?
Sure. So it’s a big question that you really have to hit a lot of points to really answer. So I suppose the first thing would be to determine whether or not the subgraph is legitimate. And I think having watched the community grow, and how we validate and verify one of the most effective tools is something that, you know, Derek has been a big part of, and that’s simply asking that community, usually via their Discord, Hey, is this legitimate? Now, the problem that we that, you know, we’ve noticed with that is that, you know, you don’t always get a response right away. So then it becomes well, do we to take the risk and, and, and signal to try to be early and get the bonding curve boost, you know, or do we wait, and be sure, and in the early days, waiting and being sure, would basically cost you a good spot because you either you know, if it was legitimate by the time we had confirmation, you know, a subgraph, most of the early days, the subgraphs, were already signaled to 100k. By the time we could confirm or deny whether or not that was an appropriate signal, I don’t know why in people’s headspace that we came to this 100k number, but it sure seemed like a lot of subgraphs, we’re running up to that number, and then we would just sort of wait to see whether it was legitimate, and then it would go from there. So that actually prompted the creation of GG bot. So I’m a back end software engineer, I work in Web 2, mostly. So you know, I noticed that and I can’t talk about how we, how we validate and verify and the GG bot creates a score. So you might have a validation verification score of anywhere from one to 10 or higher, but it’s a weird scoring system. But basically, the way it works out is if it’s a 10 or higher, it’s probably legit, you know, at least as far as what we can tell by looking at the subgraph. So I can’t talk about this specific so much, just because if I do, some of the scammers may say, Okay, well, I’ll just, you know, make sure I do all these certain things, right, but, but, you know, there’s a lot of things that, you know, not legitimate subgraphs will do, that we can check for that the community has decided, we also the bot will also look at the Ethereum address that deployed the subgraph, to see what kind of transactions that they’ve made. Typically, some of the things I will talk about at least a little bit. So one example might be a Ethereum address was created, funded from Binance, and then publish the subgraph. Almost any time you see a subgraph published in that way, it’s not legitimate, you know, but you can’t always tell and it’s not 100%. But, you know, if you look at some, like the Badger subgraph, I can talk to you specifically, if you look at the address that that published the Badger subgraph, you’ll see that it was funded, you know, somewhat recently, before the subgraph was published. As far as transaction count recently, that could be a year before whatever, but it was within the last couple of transactions was funded by the Badger Treasury. So you could look at the Ethereum address and say, well, they got money from the Badger Treasury. So unless this is a hacker, it’s probably legitimate. Yeah, you know, and you think some hacker capable of busting into Badger DAO might, you know, find better uses for his time and money? So that one was pretty quick to say, all right, well, you know, and that was, that’s one of some of the things that that the GG bot will look at. But the intention was, was to, you know, anything that, you know, we could automate away so, so we can focus our human talent on things that humans are better at, that was sort of the idea. So, of course, you know, nothing that I write is going to be 100%. Perfect. You know, it may say that a subgraph is legitimate or illegitimate, and it’s the other, you know, whatever, but it’s how I could contribute most effectively, quickly. Plus, going back to the Graphtronauts comparison, they had a cool Telegram bot. So obviously, the Curation Station needed a cool Telegram bot with, with reputation and that sort of stuff, which was the first function.
Yeah. And to add to that, that, you know, there’s the the first aspect, which is, you know, figuring out if a subgraph has official support, or if it has intended use by the dApp that it’s indexing. And then the second part is figuring out you know, what is the expected use, and you know, what would be a proper or fair amount of signal place on etc. So a really key point to know is that depending on how much you do or don’t signal, that’s going to determine how much Indexer rewards are allocated to a subgraph and then split amongst the Indexer sync. So your signal is very important. And it’s not good for us to over signal in a subgraph, that’s not going to have as much use just like it’s not good for us to under signal something that is going to have a lot of use and deserves more Indexer support. How exactly that’s determined is something that the free market still somewhat determined. You know, from a very mathematical point of view, you can look at, you know, what your intended return is on, on your signal, how many shares you’re going to get based off of the number of shares that you’re going to get, you know, and what percentage of that is? How much is that in percent compared to the total shares, and then look at that query fees it’s been receiving and whether you expect the project row and how fast you expected to grow. And then you have to make an estimation of where you expect the query fees to be in the future. And this future concept, something that’s really important Curators is because this is where our value comes into the Indexers in addition to helping subgraphs bootstrap is signaling to the Indexers when we’re expecting that a project is going to grow. And so that’s, that’s where a lot of Curators come into play with our, you know, how we’re doing on social media and keeping into different projects and understanding where things are at. But these are some of the, you know, kind of core concepts of how to evaluate total signal. But I would say that our leg of the network is intentionally very query fee driven. And so that we have to look at what volume of subgraph is going to produce in terms of queries, and not only the number of queries, but also the complexity of queries, because tougher queries to service may warrant a higher query fee. So something might have higher query fees, even though it has slightly less traffic, those are the types of things that we need to be looking at, is what’s going to drive more volume to the network and thus strengthen the network compared to where is it where it’s at. And that will determine whether or not your shares will appreciate with the query fees proportionally speaking.
This is all very interesting information, very helpful to try to understand, you know, all the early work in these two really critical ideas. So could you Graph God maybe give us an example, or conceptual idea of how one might go about valuing a subgraph?
Yeah, absolutely. So let’s take an example subgraph, let’s say that the GRTiQ podcast made their own subgraph, because they’re selling their podcasts now, your podcast as NFT’s. And you need a website to run all that. So you create your website, and you want your data from your smart contracts. So you create a subgraph. So we’ve got the GRTiQ subgraph, right, and let’s say that your website gets, you know, has a how we usually look, as we’ll look at Alexa ranking, to try to decide how many unique visitors per month your website might have. So let’s say for example, that we look up GRTiQ, and you have Alexa ranking of 5000. So you’re this super popular website. And of course, this is all just estimation and guesswork. To be clear. But let’s say that you have, you know, we figure you have a million unique visitors per month, okay. And on the homepage of your site, you may have three queries that run to The Graph main that your subgraph. And so based on that, you know, if you say, okay, you have a million unique visitors per month, let’s assume that each one of your unique visitors, goes to your home page one time, loads it, and then says, All right, I’m out of here. And they close the page, right? So a lowball estimation of what your visitors may do. So that means that per month, your subgraph would receive approximately 3 million requests. Okay? Now, if we assume that those 3 million requests are all coming in at the average cost per query, now, the average cost per query is 0.0001, GRT per request to be cleared, it’s not dollars, the cost that you know, the hardware that that costs money to serve this information, all of that is in dollars, but the query cost itself is in GRT, which is something that even I did not know right away. So it’s worth mentioning, right? So let’s say okay, that means that you got 3 million queries per month, at 0.0001 GRT per query, your subgraph is generating approximately 300 GRT per month in query fees. Now, if you break that out to a year, that’s 3600. So if you have 3600, GRT per year that this would generate, but keeping in mind that, you know, curation only receives 10% of the total query fees. So if you had a subgraph that was signaled with 100,000 GRT. And it’s only making 360 GRT a year keeping in mind that curation and only receives 10% of the total crazies, you would have percentage of query fees versus total signal at about 0.36%, which would tell you that, hey, you know, this is actually pretty well over signaled, and you might consider selling things off. So, you know, you have to look at this in the context of delegation rewards being at around 10% or so per year. So, you know, there’s definitely some value in curating versus delegating, being that you are able to buy and sell right away, you know, whereas with delegation, you are locked up for a 28 day thaw period. So there’s some value that’s going to be priced in there. So you might be looking for, you might consider an 8% or a 7% being the threshold rather than the 10% since you can sell right away, but To see a subgraph that signal to the point where it’s only receiving 0.36% would be something that you know is way over signal the way overvalued in comparison to what you might earn as a Delegator.
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So outside of these two really important concepts that you both just so brilliantly described that of the, you know, illegitimacy of some of the early subgraphs that were deployed and the learning curve associated with that, along with this idea of how to properly value a subgraph, I would love to hear both of you just talk a little bit about what are other lessons you learned, or other things that you saw that might be helpful for members of the community to know?
You know, the, the value of, you know, just having good communication skills. I mean, I’ve talked to probably 30 different developers from different projects, since we launched the main net. And that’s, you know, I’m now working on a subgraph with a project that they don’t have a subgraph on our hosted network yet, so I’m working with them on building their subgraph, which has been, you know, very exciting for me, but just having good communication skills with the people that you’re working with, because in our network, you know, we want to really maintain our professionalism, you know, as a service, you know, I’ve found that I’ve been able to get in touch with people pretty, pretty easily, because, you know, I don’t mark it at them, but I talk to them and try to help them resolve their issues. It’s not only new to us, but it’s also new to other developers. And so, you know, being a helpful community member to make sure that they can publish their project and not run into bugs or issues are, that, you know, they tend to have questions, things like that, in terms of, you know, specifically the frontline day one type of stuff, we got pretty, we learned pretty quickly, some of the different things that you can do to verify, you know, verify the subgraph, which we’ve touched on quite a bit. And that’s been really important. But then also, I would say, another thing that I picked up is just kind of the community feel around The Graph community. And that’s, that’s one of the things that really has kept me here is because, you know, if you look at other blockchain projects, you get kind of this hype driven, you know, Diamond hands type of mentality, which is not what we’re about, you know, we’re about providing legitimate value, and servicing other projects to make sure that they succeed. And when you’re really value driven, it makes this project an easy one to buy into. And it makes it a lot more fun to interact with people here, because they tend to be people who are, you know, very intelligent people. And it’s just something that I’ve really enjoyed being a part of.
I think I’ve learned two things from you know, having been involved with curation and specifically the Curation Station one is just the total amount of skills that come in handy to help validate and try to evaluate the value of a subgraph, you know, you’d think, you know, I’m sure most people would think, well, you shouldn’t need to be some kind of a coder or something. And if you’re not a coder, then you have no idea what’s going on. But, you know, if you’re like a marketing person, or if you’re like, some kind of, you know, there’s just so many different skills that that come in, and are valuable within the community. You know, because a marketer, or an SEO person, or something like that might be able to look at a site and say, Oh, I know how much traffic that site probably gets every month, you know, and that is incredibly valuable to figure out because you can take Okay, unique visitors to a site and then load up their homepage and see how many requests to The Graph service get made, you know, per page load. And that’s something that I’m sure a marketer or some SEO person could do. It’s fairly simple, few clicks, and right away, you would know and if you’re, you know, a software engineer or a networking person, or just any person involved with technology, even a little bit, those skills that you have will be valuable. If you’re a communications person, you know, you might get involved with the Curation Station and help to reach out to different dApps and see if you know they need help with their subgraph or if there’s someone that you could get them in touch with to help them out. You know, so it just that’s been amazing to me, number one, and that ties into the second thing I’ve learned which is just the power of people. I’m just I’m constantly surprised by the people within the Curation Station and what the level of information that they give away for free, solely with the intention of helping others, it’s just amazing, you know, so you’ll have people that say, Hey, I’m involved with this project, and they’re saying that they’re going to release their subgraph tomorrow. So get ready to make some money. Everybody knows. So everyone in the Curation Station will be like, wow, that’s, you know, and we, and so we’ll look at it and we’ll say, Alright, well, is it worth buying and, you know, then people will jump in. And it’s just nothing replaces having. I don’t know, if the subscriber, I think we’ve got about 300 people in the group somewhere around that, at this point, the value of having 300 people in the group is just amazing. You know, there’s so many helpful folks that spend a lot of time giving away information for free, and the group and that’s really emblematic of the crypto community as a whole. We’re all in this, you know, together. And it really shows.
So given what you know about curation, obviously, you guys know a lot about indexing and delegation as well. Who would be the best member of the community to try their hand at becoming a Curator?
Yeah, so the different qualities or things that I would recommend someone have, you know, if they’re looking into curation, or I guess a better way to say that is, you know, the people who would do best as a Curator and the role of the network, are the people who intend to, you know, take a really active participation in the network that maybe don’t know DevOps as well to run their own indexing node. But someone who is able to keep on the pulse of blockchain, people who use social media, that social media in itself is a huge advantage in the curation network. If you’re seeing when, you know, when things are happening, people who understand information and look at a subgraph and understand, okay, how is this being used? What, what information is it indexing? Who is who’s gonna want to plug into this information? You know, that’s another very valuable skill. But all in all, I would say people who want to have a really active role, and how the network’s operating, you know that that tends to be really good for Curator.
So after the launch of curation, and services went live, you guys were obviously out there doing a lot of early work, which is really cool kind of pioneers in the curation space. The next big thing that happened, I think, from my perspective, was this rabbit hole campaign, which seemed to bring a lot of Curators, at least on this campaign into the space. So what was your experience of that?
Yeah, so that was right around the time where I first started recording videos. And I you know, I have some videos on YouTube on some of the early steps of curation and how to learn on how to become a Curator. And so with the rabbit hole campaign that was run, I had people reaching out to me in Discord saying, Hey, I just watched your video, do you mind if I ask you a few questions, and I constantly have people reaching out to me, which I’m, I’m all for, you know, my, my lines are all open. And so when that first happened, I had a bunch of people reaching out to me and I was like, oh, okay, so now I’m a person in this community. Okay, here we go type of thing. And so you know that that was exciting for me. But it was very cool to see that new people coming in and figuring out, okay, how does this work? Because curation by nature, you know, it’s not something that it’s not incredibly simple. Like, it takes a little bit of study to really understand. And so I, I recommend that people as you’re first getting started, take your time and figure out how it works. Make sure that you understand the different mechanics before you do things. And then you know, you get taken advantage of because you don’t understand, much better to understand before you take action. And that’s another value that the Curation Station has is we constantly have people asking questions about how certain things work. And you know, a lot of us are you either non-technical or newer to the network, where we’re all kind of learning together. And we can share our knowledge and help people get updates really quickly.
I think that The Graph wins via horizontal scaling, meaning that it’s not so important. If you have a Uniswap or a Sushiswapp Aave on The Graph, I think that how you win is to have 100,000, million different services of any size on the platform. And, you know, if that’s how you think The Graph wins, then, you know, you would think that you’d need at least a couple of Curators per dApp, to really have the people bandwidth, I guess you’d say to like really evaluate all of these projects and try to come up with the appropriate signal. So I know we’re early now and we have kind of a smaller relative to say Delegator, or just holder count of Curators, but I think that curation almost requires a just a ton of individual Curators. So I’m not sure how many websites are on the internet. But I would say, you know, maybe around that many folks that should be curating maybe twice or three times that number somewhere in there. And I honestly believe that the curation market will eventually support that level of involvement. Right now we’ve got last I looked about 170 or so subgraphs on the market. And, you know, the last I looked, I think we have 1000 Curators so you know, that those numbers, I guess, makes sense, right now, given the number of subgraphs we have, but I think, you know, as time progresses, and more folks, you know, more projects, get involved in and create subgraphs and put those on the main net, that will, we’ll see that Curator count, you know, climb over time. But, you know, going back to what Derek said about, you know, it’s not hype, this project isn’t about hype. So you don’t have 100,000, Curators all jumping in and doing stuff right now, because it’s about making a product work. And getting this, you know, a system figured out. And then from there, you know, maybe we’ll see some, some marketing. So I think that, you know, there’s nothing wrong with a slow burn up. And I think that’s more or less where we’re at now. You know, and this is something we haven’t talked about yet. But, and this is mostly Derek, when I talk about, you know, him being 50%. He’s at least 50% of this. And there’s several, let’s say, there’s one or more GIP’s that are in process right now to improve the curation process. So we’re still not even we haven’t even still landed on the perfect curation flow. Right? So I think as things are hammered out, and as we get more subgraphs, we’ll see the curation count grow?
Well, Derek, I want to talk a little bit about what Graph God referenced there, which is improving the flow of curation. And you’ve worked on a couple GIP’s that specifically address this, what can you tell us about what you’ve proposed there, and where we’re at in that process?
Yeah, so with the different GIPs that we have rolling, you know, I get really excited about it, because I love the concept of creating a better playing field for everyone to operate on, you know, making the user experience easier, making it, you know, well balanced so that we are incentivized for work, all that type of stuff. And so those are the things that I’ve been working on. And it’s not, it’s not just me, there’s a, you know, a handful of Curators that that really understand the protocol, and you know, how blockchains interact, what things can be done, what things can’t be done. And so we’re working on resolving some of the problems to better the playing field for everyone. So that that’s something that’s exciting to me, two of them that are that are moving forward that are nearly completed, I was on a phone call with Edge & Node. And some of the code work on the deploy and signal function is, you know, that code has been completed still needs to be audited then needs to go for a vote. But it’s something that has pretty large support so that when a new subgraph is posted, within the same transaction of publishing the subgraph, the publisher has the ability to signal on that subgraph, which, you know, subgraph developer who’s doing all the work on the project, or if it’s coming from the project themselves, they kind of deserve the chance to be the first on the bonding curve for their subgraph. That’s something that just makes sense. Also, that that helps put a shield up against any bots that might be trying to signal, you know, on the first position, part of the way that the bots behave is that they are expecting to receive a certain amount of shares, by taking the first position and if they don’t get that amount, then their transaction fails. But that’s, that’s something that will help human Curators do a better job and really reward those Curators who are doing their job at verifying and you know, inspecting a subgraph and making sure that it’s something that deserves support. So deploying second all that’s something that I’m super excited for, then the next one that’s coming or should be coming shortly is also the change of ownership, which I’m excited for more on my DataNexus side because DataNexus is in is an LLC and I started to work with another dApp that is working on getting their main net hosted. And they needed help with their subgraph. And they don’t have one that’s on the hosted network yet, they’re just going to go straight to main net. And so I’m working with them. And you know, I intend to be the person that publishes their subgraph. And then once it’s published, I will change ownership over to them. So for you know, people that are within the ecosystem that are subgraph developers and are doing so as kind of freelance work or something that they’re not necessarily part of one specific dApp. It’s a great way for them to obtain work and have a chance to curate on their subgraph and then you know, pass that off to the dApp so that they can make upgrades to it whenever, whenever. But beyond that there’s a couple of it’s a slightly larger, larger changes that are going to be focused more on addressing, you know, how do you properly initialize a subgraph. And make sure that the early stages have proper incentives compared to, you know, staying in a subgraph, that is producing high query fees versus its total signal. And so you know, we’re working on what’s going to be the best, best mechanics for that, keeping in mind, the overall health of the network, and how the gameplay goes out for that. So there’s, there’s been a lot of discussion on that. And that’s something that I’m, I’m really pushing forward. Because, you know, I’m all about creating a fun playing field for everyone, but also for myself, you know, this is something that that I enjoy doing. And I love being compensated when we do good work.
So well, I really appreciate Graf God and Derek, you taking the time to join me today. I’d love to get your perspectives as Curators for your long term vision of The Graph. And so what is your long term vision for The Graph?
Yeah, so The Graph is solving a data problem that exists in Web 3. And Chris Wessel is mentioned on one of the earlier GRTiQ podcast episodes. How, you know, once Layer 2 is being incorporated, as well as Ethereum 2.0, and all the different changes to that block, you know, how the blockchain will look there, as well as all of the other blockchains. You know, these are all different data sets that are storing information in ways that are not intended to be queried rapidly, or they’re not built to be queried rapidly. And so, you know, my long term vision is that we’re providing really the resource for looking at any historical data on the blockchain. And obtaining it quickly, in a way where the user doesn’t even think twice about it. Because there’s, you know, it’s being presented so quickly. So it, I see it as being, you know, kind of a core piece of really any dApp, that has, has a need for historical information, which is essentially, everyone. Everyone needs data. And that’s what we provide. And that’s why The Graph is just an incredibly great position for web brain.
I’ve mentioned earlier in the podcast about how I see basically the web moving over to the blockchain, you know, with tools like IPFS, and, and all that. And, you know, like, like Derek said, without a doubt, we have a data problem. And one of the greatest ways that I’ve heard The Graph described was in a tweet by Eva Beylin, she said that The Graph is a decentralized data market. And that’s, that’s, that’s just it, you know, like Derek said, We there’s a ton of information that’s going to be needed. You know, just to put it into context, I believe that the Sushiswap analytics page makes something like 70 requests to The Graph on one page, just to provide all the information that’s needed on that one page. So clearly, there is a need for an enormous amount of data, and to be able to access that information quickly. You know, that’s only one example. And of course, you know, DeFi is fairly complicated. But there’s plenty of other applications, which typically require access to terabytes worth of data quickly. I mean, if you think about something like Facebook or Twitter, how much information they likely process, every fraction of a second is probably, you know, it’s more than you could read manually, and maybe your entire lifetime. So, you know, we have this problem. And The Graph is the solution. Not only is it the solution, it’s the first solution. So it has an excellent position, going forward being the you know, the first mover, you know, and having that advantage. So, you know, the vision is every site, every service that needs information, is eventually going to use The Graph for it.
Graph God, Derek, thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. This has been so you know, informative, and I love speaking to people that have been early in the community and created so much value like you two, and everyone else collaborating at the Curation Station. So for those who want to follow your work, Derek, you mentioned you’ve made some videos and very helpful how to’s for people that want to participate in the community. What’s the best way to follow your guy’s work and stay in touch?
Yes, so I can be followed on Twitter as Data_Nexus. But probably the best way to reach out to me which I definitely welcome to anyone who has questions on curation is jump into The Graph this word, jump into the Curation Station, and then just you know, message at DataNexus and I’ll be there so yeah, Twitter, and then Curation Station that’s that’s why it’s
You can reach me on Twitter at GraphGod1 and as they’re mentioned also somewhat available on The Graph Discord but most likely you’ll find me on the Curation Station Telegram. And by the time this podcast releases we’ll have our website up in some fashion at least so that you can click on links to join the Telegram and the Discord channels and you can find us at GRT.fyi.
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