Why You Should Be a Curator on The Graph 

Athsrueas.eth | Thomas Freestone

The role of Curator on The Graph is a role that serves a vital function in vetting the quality and supporting the success of a subgraph. 

A wide variety of skills are helpful, but none are necessary. You can signal on a subgraph with as little as 100 GRT – even less if you're not  first to curate on that subgraph – and the GUI designed by the team is intuitive. In this article, I will talk a little about my own experience becoming a Curator and the skills that I bring to curation. I hope to encourage you to reflect on your own life experience and interests and see where you might have something to offer the network yourself.

Where I Come From

As a teacher of math to 7th and 8th graders, I often find myself having conversations with students about current events and the internet. Many of my students don't think twice about their digital lives and the information and content they are consuming and creating on a daily basis. Yet all of my students dream of their TikToks going viral and getting a slice of the ad revenue they imagine makes it all worth it.

Intro to Crypto

In my own education at university, I was exposed to crypto during the 2017 bull run. I had a Coinbase account, but I struggled to get verified. I ended up not purchasing any coins or tokens and then forgot all about it as the prices tanked. During the rest of my time at university I developed an interest in programming, web development, investing, and all kinds of other things that I would use when I encountered The Graph. My exposure to high-level mathematics at university has been incredibly valuable as I try to understand and navigate the different economics involved with The Graph.

Meeting the Graph

In December 2020, I had a renewed interest in crypto and investing. I purchased a cold wallet and bought some GRT to use on The Graph Network on Coinbase after receiving a few tokens through their earn program. I knew about delegating, indexing, and curation, but I was intimidated by the incredibly large fees to transact on the blockchain. As someone who had never even used a web3 compatible wallet, there was a lot I wanted to understand before I made a leap to participating. My journey to understanding how it all worked began on the various social channels for The Graph. The Discord channel in particular was a great help. Everyone there was incredibly helpful and understanding of my confusion and questions. Eventually I would become a member of the Graphtronauts Telegram group – they were and still are one of the best resources available to all network participants. Before The Graph Academy was well fleshed out, there were several helpful guides online, but even with all this support I was too concerned with fees and the risk of messing up transactions that I didn't try delegation until much later.

Delegation Experience

Finally, in December 2021 I made my first two delegations. I had done a lot of research and even tried to have conversations with different Indexers. This need to go after the information and connect with other community members is something that is even more important in curation. The vetting that a Delegator does for Indexers is not so different from the vetting that a Curator does for subgraphs. One of the Indexers I went with originally paid a very high cut to their Delegators but I ended up giving on indexing costing me extra gas and wait time. They were active on Discord, but I learned that a high yield is often unsustainable and at the very least you must investigate the source of the high yield and use your judgement to decide if the source is one that you want a part in. This is very true of the many scandals that are now common knowledge in the crypto community (Terra Luna and FTX) but also in The Graph ecosystem. Even if your goal is maximum profits, there is good reason to go with dedicated and fair community members over those who might offer a great deal or promotional rate at their own expense or the expense of others. I am still an active Delegator and I add new delegations to different Indexers as well as adding to current delegations. I think that even if you are more interested in curation, delegating is a good idea because it will incentivize you to get to know the Indexers. This is relevant because attracting Indexers to the subgraph is the main purpose of curation.

My Curation Journey 

I minted my first curation shares in October 2022. My strategy is young and will definitely change and evolve over time, but I know that I plan to take a long-term view rather than a short-term view. Bots will always be better than a human at being the first to signal on a subgraph. This is not always a concern (bots are not always active nor do they signal to every single new subgraph) but it is certainly pushing me towards looking for subgraphs to signal to that are generating query fees already, or I believe will do so in the future rather than trying to just be first and then get out when new Curators enter or fees have stacked up. The types of projects that are attractive to me as a Curator are projects that I have heard of or use myself. In addition, I look for projects that have a decent amount of traffic already and have growth possibilities in use as the web3 ecosystem expands. Many of these projects have competition, but on The Graph the main incentive is to curate to subgraphs which will generate fees, not necessarily the project that will “win” or have the most users. Projects which show an interest in decentralization are preferable to projects that just have a lot of users. One of the best ways to know if a project’s subgraph is going to be worth curating on is to directly ask the team how often they intend to query the subgraph themselves for their project. If they published the subgraph hoping others will use it, and they don’t plan to do much querying themselves, I don’t like that as much as one where the subgraph publisher is actively using it. There is a little bit of a dichotomy when analyzing subgraphs for curation. It is hard to avoid the thought that you want your shares to increase in value in terms of GRT. When you are analyzing a subgraph, the hope is that the subgraphs that are a good investment for the Curator are also worth indexing and will provide value to the network and the web3 ecosystem at large. Aligning the incentives of all the participants of web3 and coordinating their work to be not only individually beneficial but also beneficial to the rest of ecosystem is the core goal of the tokenomics of GRT. The role of Curator has significantly more risk involved than delegating, and this creates an interesting test of the quality of the incentive structure.

With that in mind, how does a holder of GRT evaluate the role of Curator and decide whether the role is a good fit? This is a role that really demands an active mindset. While delegation can be a set it and forget it approach, a more passive role complete with reinvestment of yield, curation must be a more active approach. New subgraphs are constantly published and need signaled GRT in order to attract Indexers. The value of your shares can fluctuate wildly with the underlying value of GRT as well as with the amount of GRT signaled on the subgraph in the form of GRT from Curators as well as query fees that are collected. If you care about the quality of your signals on top of wanting to make a profit, a lot of this becomes more interesting. While the value of your shares is unpredictable, the value generated by the subgraph and associated projects is something that can be researched and understood from fundamentals, much like a traditional company. Having skills that enable you to analyze subgraphs such as building relationships with teams and understanding the trajectory of the ecosystem in general will make you a valuable Curator in the space. Everyone belongs to a unique circle of people and has a different background. Consider what skills and connections you have and know that everyone can leverage their unique position to benefit whatever protocol or association they chose to work with, maybe for you, it could be The Graph as a Curator. Being someone who is willing to go after the information, connect people, and make decisions is much rarer and more valuable than many realize. I urge you to try and apply your experience to this exciting work, you might be surprised by your success, and we will be incredibly grateful for your contributions.

If you are already active in crypto, or if you already have a relationship with those involved with web2 or web3, even as someone with the bravery to learn something new having nothing other than the knowledge that you figure it out, I believe that The Graph and curation in particular is a wealth of challenging and stimulating activity. The promise of web3 is to enable all of us to capture the value of our contributions, rather than losing much of it to a central entity. We are pioneering a new way to engage and see tangible results or rewards from this effort. There are real risks but the rewards, both financial and otherwise have been well worth it in my experience.


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