Last month, we launched one of the most exciting features on the Async Art platform to date: Blueprints, a Canvas template that allows creators to develop generative projects without coding expertise.
And, not only did we release Blueprints to the public, but three of the NFT space’s most well-known artists created their own Blueprints project to show the rest of us how it’s done. Those were none other than XCOPY, Coldie, and Alotta Money, having released “Grifters,” “DecentralEyesMashup,” and “Thousand Headers Coterie,” respectively.
Preparing for our first generative art project release was unique; like all good crypto-centric teams, we were aware that bots would try to manipulate public sales — scooping all available Editions for the sole purpose of flipping (and leaving genuinely interested collectors and communities empty-handed). It was a priority for both the artists and Async that the Editions end up in the hands of humans — and that our community was protected from scams, bots, and fraudulent communication.
With community support, artist excitement, and launch-day adrenaline beneath our wings, we were ready. (Our team had been meeting specifically to call out potential issues, identifying problems before they could even arise.)
Morning of the public launch, however, we were challenged to make some quick pivots. If you were watching from the outside, you already know our launch didn’t execute as planned.
So, per the request of our community, and for the purpose of full transparency and commitment to our artists and collectors, here’s what went down inside our digital War Room. (And S/O to the Async Art team in its entirety for their contributing insights!)
Our Decision-Making Processes
The morning of our public sale (reserved specifically for our artists’ existing collectors), our website went down and the team identified possible bot attacks. For several hours, we worked to restore the site’s functionality, but to no avail. It was at this point we knew we’d need to pivot.
In the words of a colleague: “We were aware that there was a problem affecting the public sale, quickly explored all options, with resourceful teammates’ help, arrived at the best option available to us, then acted quickly on it.”
Rather than carry out our original plan, which would have given way to botted scams and bot attacks, we decided instead to turn the public sale into a raffle. Using PREMINT (thanks to the suggestion of teammate Terra Naomi!), we allowed any interested participant to submit their raffle information for 15 minutes. In that short window, we received about 18,000 entries — each of which we manually verified for authenticity in the following few hours. (We looked at wallet addresses for duplicates and fraudulent entries, though community feedback exposed a flaw in our Day 1 raffle, which was not to have checked each wallet’s balance to ensure participants had sufficient funds to actually buy an XCOPY Edition. We made this change for days 2 and 3, the public sales of Coldie and Alotta Money, which helped to further weed out bots and insincere entries).
Note: On days 2 and 3, not only did we require that raffle entries have the necessary ETH already loaded into their wallets, but we also leveraged social verification via Twitter. A participant would have needed to respond or share a specific tweet, comment with a funny caption, etc. We updated the requirements each day of the staggered public sale 15 minutes prior to opening to prevent scammers from systematizing their operations in advance.
According to the team, our decision-making prioritized “what was best for the collectors when making these pivots/decisions…even if it meant more work for us [by way of manual entry verification, etc].”
It’s also important to note that we “consulted with a security advisor to best protect our community members. We started this process well in advance of the drop, so we were able to connect with him the moment we became aware of possible exploits [on the day of public sale].”
Ultimately, our community and our artists were satisfied with our decision to make the public sale a raffle, though manual scrubbing and social verification did exclude some otherwise qualified members (e.g., they didn’t have ETH in their wallet because this would have been their first NFT, or they appeared fraudulent on social media for having just registered for a Twitter account the week prior, etc.).
A raffle was the only way to ensure fairness for the community as a whole, having kept as many bots out of the pot as possible. However, we will continue to make improvements to each launch as we progress, keeping our collectors and community our first priority, always.
Maintaining Team Morale
On the day of presale, as well as each public sale (Monday, December 13, and Wednesday-Friday, December 15-17), our marketing team spent virtual time together inside War Rooms, which “helped us feel like we were all in this together.” Another colleague commented that “the team was online at all hours. One was never alone.” (We relieved our developers from needing to participate, to allow them space and time to put out technical fires uninterrupted.)
We were also able to maintain team morale by consistently “sharing positive feedback — and those incredible memes — we were getting from the community.”
It also helped that we “divided up the workload among everyone, so no one person ended up with all the tasks.” Each one of us — regardless of title — hopped into Discord to play the roles of community manager, customer support, technician, and more. It also helped, too, that our team is diverse in geographic location; we have teammates across time zones, so our Discord was never left unattended.
For our launch to be considered successful internally, we needed to do two things: make the best decision for the majority of our people, and then communicate those decisions effectively.
We were active and engaged with both our EN and CN communities (S/O to teammate Danni Shinya Luo, our CN community champion), keeping our members overseas informed and up-to-date as efficiently as possible. One colleague notes that “just like the ethos of the blockchain, we committed to transparency every step of the way.” So, this meant communicating exciting updates (“The moment you’ve been waiting for…here are our Coldie whitelist raffle winners!”) and also missteps (“So…we’re not having a public sale anymore as planned. Yes, we know it’s supposed to open in 15 minutes. Lots happening over here.”)
We shared all aligned information via Discord, Twitter, and WeChat to ensure the highest level of visibility for our community.
What We’d Wish We’d Known Beforehand: Some Advice for Others
Straight out of the mouths of the Async Art team:
- “Plan for and expect a DDOS attack. The bigger the potential secondary sale opportunity, the more likely this is.”
- “Prep + train the team for security threats; make your Discord war-ready. We disabled links and image sharing to protect our community. Better to be safe than sorry.”
- “Prepare buyers for where they can find reliable information if the main site goes down (like a backup site hosted on another server, Discord, or Twitter).”
- “Minting of tokens takes time to display. Bake this into the UX.”
- “[It was a miss on our part] that buyers thought they had to use the Async account that was tied to their email (Magic) to participate. [Clarify the details even for unique circumstances.]”
- “[It was another miss that] buyers had ETH in the Magic account and couldn’t access their funds due to the main site being under attack. [Have a plan B for site outages, especially if it pertains to loss of funds access.]”
- “[Surprising bummer: We saw] a lot of unclaimed whitelist spots. Could be due to hard to access cold storage wallet or multisig. [Make sure you have a fair plan for unused whitelist spots, and possibly a reheat campaign in the case Editions aren’t minted before the allotted window is up.]”
- “Have a FAQ site that gets updated with common questions to avoid that support gets overrun with the same questions.”
What We’re Most Proud of (and Will Carry Into Future Launches)
Knowing what we know now, we’d have done this launch differently. But, we’re so proud of the decisions and quick pivots we made to make this awesome, despite our hurdles.
Here’s what we’re most proud of, and what we’ll continue to do in major releases in the future:
- “Preventing a gas war and saving people ETH.”
- “Pivoting for the community to ensure actual people got these.”
- “Increased community engagement between members and team.”
- “(Hopefully) inspiring other teams to do the same.”
- “War room.” (And everything that came out of it!)
- “Manually combing through these raffle lists to make sure real people got access to these Editions.”
- “Provable random selection from the raffle using blockchain tech.”
Plus, Blueprints is now available for use by all Async Art creators! Our team is slowly approving published Blueprints at this time. Create one yourself with our Canvas tool.