POAP, the blockchain event badge app, announced major changes to its business on Thursday night, in a case of popularity outstripping scale.
POAP has taken a step back due to the rapid growth in the number of users, as well as the behavior of “a few bad actors.”
“As many of you have likely seen in the Discord and Telegram, the explosive growth POAP has seen over the last few weeks and months – combined with the behavior of a few bad actors – have left our dev and ops teams fighting a hard battle on two fronts,” says the quote about bad actors.
“This is a sad decision for us,” POAP COO Isabel Gonzalez wrote on Thursday on the POAP Discord server, “but in reality, we need to take a step back and reassess how we approach the various issues that come with scale, including security, assuring responsible issuance, quality, and content moderation.”
POAP (Proof of Attendance Protocol), which was launched in 2019, is an Ethereum-based app that assists event organizers in issuing attendance badges in the form of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) minted using the ERC-721 token standard. It claims that over 2 million POAPs have been minted to date, and that over 400,000 wallets contain POAPs. (In May, Decrypt created POAPs for the Ethereal Virtual Summit.)
POAP is now seeing an increase in so-called “POAP farmers,” accounts that are attempting to game the system by collecting POAPs from events they did not attend.
POAP has even seen “DDoS-style attacks on POAP websites and secrets, which claim all the POAPs using automated systems before true collectors have a chance to,” according to POAP founder Patricio Worthalter in an email to users.
“While we understand that everyone is excited to get POAPs and be a part of the POAP ecosystem,” Worthalter said on Discord, “spamming requests for codes, secret words, or direct links to claim POAPs for events you did not attend will no longer be tolerated.”
POAP had previously approved the vast majority of requests, but “effective immediately,” COO Gonzalez wrote on Discord, “POAP will no longer be approving events by default.”
POAP will be closed for two weeks, during which no new first-time users will be approved, with a tentative reopening date of November. Even after the hiatus ends, only early adopters (called “Early Issuers” by POAP) who have been approved to create POAPs for previous events will be able to request approval through the POAP Discord channel until December 1. New users must fill out a form on the poap.xyz website to submit their requests.
“We’ve come to the conclusion that we will need to seriously pare back our mass-market offering until we’re able to offer a more secure, user friendly, and reliable product,” Gonzalez wrote in a detailed email sent to event organizers. To issuers who aren’t already familiar with the platform, there will be a limit on the number of codes they can request, as well as the delivery methods available.”
Gonzalez did clarify that service for Early Issuers will be disrupted as little as possible, and the changes will not be permanent. Gonzalez says POAP will use a verification program for POAP issuers, including Collab.land, to manage the situation.
Those who received POAP’s email on Thursday also received a code for a “Early Issuer” POAP, which grants them access to a private Discord channel where they can get updates on how POAP will proceed.
“Thank you for sticking with us through this,” Gonzalez wrote in the email’s conclusion, “and I’ll see you all on the other side.”