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What Is Farcaster and How to Get Started With Warpcast

4.2
| by
Joel Agbo
-

What Is Farcaster and Warpcast?

Farcaster is a decentralized web3 social protocol that is the backbone for social apps like Warpcast. Farcaster Frames are one of the reasons for the protocol's surge in popularity, as they enable users to run small apps that run inside of posts on Warpcast.


Key Takeaways

  • Farcaster is a decentralized social protocol built on Optimism, a Layer 2 scaling network., allowing developers to build diverse decentralized social media applications using pre-developed features powered by its smart contracts.

  • Farcaster has welcomed over 200,000 users since its launch according to data from Dune Analytics. Notable users include Vitalik Buterin and Base network founder Jesse Pollack.

  • Farcaster Frames are one of the key drivers for the protocol’s recent surge in popularity; they allow users to develop small apps that run inside of posts on Warpcast, enabling them to mint NFTs, subscribe to newsletters, play games, and more. 

  • Warpcast, an interactive social media platform with a concept similar to X (Twitter), is the most prominent application built on Farcaster.


What is Farcaster and Warpcast

We have reviewed a few decentralized social media applications, including Friend.tech on the Base network and Stars Arena on Avalanche. Decentralized social media applications claim to offer a censorship-resistant platform where users can interact without any control or censorship by a central administrator. Such applications have seen a growth in users, usually as a response to the increasing centralization of mainstream social applications and the general media. Farcaster is a rising star in the space, offering Crypto Twitter an alternative that lets them mint NFTs and access other mini apps from within Warpcast.

The Farcaster protocol was launched in 2020 and has been in private development for the majority of this time. However, it is currently gaining steam amongst web3 enthusiasts. According to data from Dune Analytics, over 200,000 unique users have signed up for a Farcaster account since its initial launch in 2020. The protocol recorded its highest growth in usage in February 2024 with the launch of Frames on Warpcast.

Farcaster DAU Dune
Source: https://dune.com/pixelhack/farcaster 

Farcaster and How It Works

The Farcaster protocol claims to be ‘sufficiently decentralized’. It is a social media protocol built on Optimism and developed to serve as a base layer for diverse forms of interactivity platforms, allowing anyone to create a decentralized social media application. 

However, the bulk of user actions (such as posting a new public message, following users, or reacting to posts) are performed offchain through a peer-to-peer network of servers called Hubs, where security is achieved by relying on signatures from onchain systems. Actions are only performed onchain when security and consistency are critical, such as creating an account, paying rent to store data, or adding account keys for connected apps. By minimizing onchain actions, Farcaster can keep costs low and improve performance.

Farcaster Architecture
Source: https://docs.farcaster.xyz/learn/architecture/overview

On October 11, 2023, Farcaster co-founder, Dan Romero, announced the opening of Farcaster to the public, allowing anyone to create an account on the protocol and use applications built on the protocol. One of these applications is Warpcast, which is where all the action takes place on Farcaster. Warpcast was launched on February 23, 2023, and accounts for a majority of activities on the protocol.

As of February 2024, Farcaster now supports Solana, where Solana users can verify their addresses on Farcaster, linking their Solana addresses to Warpcast through compatible wallets.

What Is Warpcast?

Warpcast is a social media application built on the Farcaster protocol. Warpcast’s features share a similarity with traditional social media applications like Facebook and X (formerly Twitter). Users need a Warpcast account in order to interact with Farcaster, and users of the application are known as ‘Warpcasters’.

Warpcast allows users to share short posts (also known as casts) of about 320 characters with their audience. These are public messages that can be plain posts or posts with embeds like photos or links. Users can also follow personalities or public channels of interest, and gaining 200 followers will earn you an “Active” badge next to your profile. 

Reactions are gestures made on casts such as “likes”, reposts (recasts), and gifting warps, which function as an in-app currency. Warps can also be used to start a new channel, or to connect your account to other clients or apps. Users can also opt for direct casts, which function like direct messages to specific users as seen on other social media. 

So, what makes Warpcast so special? One thing that sets Warpcast aside from other web3 social media is its Frames feature, which lets users build small apps that run inside of casts.

What Are Frames on Warpcast?

Frames, a feature of the Farcaster protocol, was launched on Warpcast on January 26 2024. Frames allow users to access another app from within their social feed, improving the user experience. For example, you can mint an NFT, subscribe to a newsletter, purchase an item, or even play a game on an embedded mini app without leaving the Warpcast application.

Frames on Warpcast
Source: https://docs.farcaster.xyz/learn/what-is-farcaster/frames

Frames also improve user security. Clicking a link on most social media platforms redirects you to an external website or application. While social media applications may open an in-app browser, users are still leaving the social media platform and will only return to the platform when they close the window. The only known precaution taken by some social media platforms is a security warning. 

 According to Dan Romero, the founder of Farcaster, Frames protects users from known security risks associated with interacting with third-party applications and websites, especially wallet drain and spoofing. This is because the EdDSA authorization system doesn’t give away users’ keys, and Frames do not allow direct access to Ethereum wallets. 

Frames are a built-in feature of the Farcaster protocol; it is powered by Farcaster’s EdDSA authorization system and can be utilized by applications deployed on the protocol. In fact, according to Farcaster’s co-founder, every application built on the protocol automatically inherits the EdDSA authorization system that enables the Frame feature.

Anyone can create a Frame on Warpcast. Apart from individuals experimenting with Frames, projects on Warpcast are using Frames to improve their brands and reach out to users in better ways. Here are some Frames available on Warpcast.

Paragraph Frame

Paragraph is a platform for creators, boasting over 10,000 creators including writers and artists. The Paragraph Frame on Warpcast allows you to subscribe to a Paragraph blog on the platform without having to visit the blog on Paragraph. Users can read Paragraph blogs online, inline, or subscribe to them without leaving Warpcast.

 Paragraph Frame Warpcast

NFT Frames

NFT projects on Warpcast are also exploring the applications of Frames. NFT projects and their communities can create frames that allow collectors to mint or purchase an NFT on Warpcast without visiting the minting portal or the marketplace. Warpcasters can simply click the Mint button on the frame to run the minting operation on Warpcast.

Mint NFTs on Warpcast

Farcaster Ecosystem Tokens and NFTs

The Farcaster ecosystem consists of more than just decentralized social media applications, with the launch of tokens and NFTs related to Farcaster. There are multiple tokens and NFTs that aim to reward active community members of their channels on Warpcast. 

Degen

Degen on Warpcast

Degen is a meme coin minted on the Base network. The project, which sits at a $38 million market cap at the time of writing, was first airdropped to the Degen community and subsequently integrated for tipping on Warpcast. Warpcast users are given a daily allocation of DEGEN which can be used to tip other users’ casts; however, giving tips will not reduce your DEGEN balance. 

In Degen’s Airdrop 2, users earn points on Farcaster by receiving tips from others, where certain channels offer boosted tips. In the first airdrop users earned points for contributing to the Degen channel, with the highest points allocated for having a cast recasted in Degen or a cast liked in Degen, with boosts for owning NFTs including Farcaster OG and Farcats. 

Farcaster OG

Farcaster OG NFT on OpenSea
Source: https://opensea.io/collection/farcaster-og-1

Farcaster OG is an NFT collection minted on Zora, where holders are regarded as early adopters of the decentralized social media protocol. As Farcaster OG was dropped to 900 out of 20,000 free users on Warpcast (before it became a paid service), the NFT serves as a badge for early and dedicated Warpcast users. New and existing projects associated with Farcaster offer additional boosts for their airdrops to Farcaster OG holders.

Following Farcaster protocol’s rise to popularity, Farcaster OG NFT has seen a surge in value and trading activity with the floor price rising to 2.5 ETH and over 440 ETH worth of the NFT traded at the time of writing.

Farcats – Mascot for Farcaster

Farcats NFT on OpenSea
Source: https://opensea.io/collection/farcats

Farcats is a collection of 1661 unique digital images of “fashionable, fanciful, furry,f***ed up” cats, also minted on Zora. The NFT collection brands itself as the mascot of the Farcaster protocol. Farcats NFT collection has also seen significant growth alongside Farcaster and other associated applications and projects, with the floor price rising to a high of 0.69 ETH. The floor price sits at 0.3ETH at the time of writing with over 285 ETH worth of the NFTs traded on OpenSea.

Some users also offer additional DEGEN tips to Farcats holders, and Farcats can also potentially grant additional airdrop boosts, as seen in Degen. 

Now that we’ve covered some of what Warpcast and Farcaster offers, it’s time to look at how you can get started on Warpcast, the first and main social media application built on Farcaster. 

How to Get Started With Warpcast

The Warpcast application is currently available for iOS and Android devices. You can find these applications on your device’s app store. To start using Warpcast:

  1. Visit the Farcaster website and click on your device’s OS to start the installation process. You can also search for the app directly on your device’s app store.

 Select mobile OS on Farcaster
  1. Click Install and wait for the download and installation to complete.

Install Warpcast application
  1. Open the application to start your sign-up process.

Signing up for Warpcast

  1.  Click Create account to start

The application generates your wallet. On the next page, your wallet’s security phrase will be displayed.

Create account on Warpcast
  1. After writing down your security phrase (ideally storing it offline), click I backed up my recovery phrase to continue.

Back up Warpcast recovery phrase
  1. On the next page, enter your email address and click Continue to proceed.

A verification link will be sent to the provided email address. Check your email and follow the link to verify your email. After the verification process, you will be redirected to your Warpcast application.

Enter email address for Warpcast
  1. Click Create account to continue.

Warpcast has a $5 yearly subscription cost to discourage bots and cover onchain fees.

Warpcast $5 yearly subscription cost
  1. Follow the payment window to complete the $5 registration fee. Click 1-tap buy.

Note that this interface might differ for your device’s OS.

Warpcast 1 tap buy
  1. Your account will be created once your payment is finalized.

On completion of your payment, your Warpcast account is ready for use. You will be required to create your username on the platform and also set up your profile. Usernames can be offchain ENS names that are free and controlled by Farcaster, or onchain ENS names that costs money and are controlled by your wallet. Another key difference between the two is that Farcaster ENS names can be revoked by Farcaster at any time (especially if you are looking to hold onto the name of a prominent crypto personality or app), while onchain ENS names cannot be revoked by Farcaster. 

On the Home page, you can find casts by other users. You can reply (blue), Recast (green), Like (red), gift warps (purple) on casts. 

Interacting with casts on Warpcaster

Click the Post icon from the bottom right corner of your homepage to create a cast.

To view trending casts, click the Fire icon on the bottom menu.

Warpcast homepage

You can follow creators on the platform through their cast. Click the user’s profile icon to view their page.

To search for a user, click the Search icon to open the search bar.

Enter the user’s name to see available results.

You can follow the user by clicking the Follow button beside their profile.

Search and follow users on Warpcast

To access your direct messages and conversations, click the Message icon on the right corner of the bottom menu

 Direct casts and messages on Warpcast

Warpcast’s user interface is intuitive and very much similar to existing social media applications. You can explore other operations on the platform, engage with your favorite creators, build your own audience, and also use other features like tipping and frames. 

Final Thoughts

Farcaster offers a backbone for decentralized social platforms that offer an enhanced social media experience. Mainstream social media is plagued by accusations of centralization and censorship, and also suffers from bots that result in a dip in the quality of communication on interactive social platforms. 

Farcaster, like other decentralized social media projects, is embracing blockchain technology to develop what could be the next stage of evolution for the interactive web. Farcaster’s approach to limiting bot activity and encouraging untapped communication works in the current implementation. Farcaster and Warpcast have both enjoyed a positive reception, considering the amount of users the platform has onboarded since its launch. 

Having said this, it is important to understand that despite the progress made so far, the concept of decentralized social media is still emerging, and modifications may be made in the future. It is also advised to understand how such technologies work and how it affects you as a user. Also, note that this article discusses Farcaster and Warpcast on technological grounds and is not meant to be taken as financial advice. Featured projects and personalities are meant to only serve as an example of what Warpcast and Farcaster are capable of, and should not be taken as an endorsement. 

 

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Joel Agbo
Joel Agbo
Joel is deeply interested in the technologies behind cryptocurrencies and blockchain networks. In his over 7 years of involvement in the space, he helps startups build a stronger internet presence through written content. Follow the author on Twitter @agboifesinachi

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