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Snitches get riches: Hop Protocol mulls over airdrop farming tipoff reward

Snitches get riches: Hop Protocol mulls over airdrop farming tipoff reward
Hop DAO voting to reward sybil hunters with token airdrop if a new proposal passes.
  • Crypto bridge Hop Protocol airdropped its governance token HOP last year.
  • On-chain detectives helped Hop Protocol save $315,000 from going to those who tried gaming the system.
  • Hop DAO wants to reward them — with the tokens they saved.

Crypto bridge Hop Protocol mulls over plans to reward those who helped prevent $315,000 worth of its governance token HOP being claimed by aggressive airdrop farmers last year by giving them a quarter of the tokens they helped safeguard.

DeFi protocols give away tokens — or “airdrop” — to early users and supporters in a bid to spin up decentralisation autonomous organisations that steward the protocol development. In an effort to create Hop DAO, the crypto bridge airdropped $3.5 million worth of tokens last year.

The project, however, detected thousands of addresses that tried to game the system through what’s known as sybil airdrop farming, where individuals create numerous wallet addresses to interact with DeFi protocols to gain a greater share of the airdrop. Hop Protocol enlisted the help of sybil hunters to identify and filter out these aggressive airdrop farmers.

DAO members now have until 31 May to vote on a proposal put forward by Hop Protocol co-founder Shane Fontaine to distribute $78,750 worth of HOP tokens to 35 addresses.

Hop Protocol’s co-founder Christopher Whinfrey described sybil airdrop farming as “an industry, not a collection of scrappy hackers.”

“I’d suspect there are sophisticated operations using multiple exchanges and randomising behaviour to make sybil addresses indistinguishable from actual users,” Whinfrey told DL News.

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Whinfrey added that one of the goals of the airdrop “was to get as much HOP as possible into the hands of individual users.”

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As such, the protocol needed to filter out these aggressive airdrop farmers.

“Without filtering these accounts out, the actual users of Hop would have received far less while a handful of sybil farmers would control most of the supply,” Whinfrey said.

He added that failing to filter sybil hunters could have a “devastating effect on DAOs.”

“Sybils tend to dump on the market immediately at the expense of the actual users,” Whinfrey said.

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One of the sleuths involved in the Hop investigation stated that one sybil airdrop farmer tried to bribe their way out of being filtered out of the airdrop, according to a post on the protocol’s GitHub repository for sybil airdrop farmer submissions.

“I was contacted by someone admitting to control 35 addresses in this list, who offered me a bribe to delete this report,” a pseudonymous sybil hunter Rotate.eth stated in the GitHub repository.

Despite the success reported in its own tussle with airdrop farmers, Whinfrey said sybils have an edge.

Hop Protocol's total value locked, a metric for investor deposits in DeFi

“Unfortunately, I think it’s a losing battle and sybil farms are likely beyond detecting at this point,” Whinfrey told DL News. “I’d estimate Sybil farms have taken in hundreds of millions of dollars at this point.”

DAO members are currently participating in an off-chain vote to gauge sentiment within the community. Hop DAO will move to an on-chain Tally vote to ratify the proposed airdrop if this first vote succeeds.

Hop Protocol was among one of the first DeFi protocols that sought to remove sybil airdrop farmers when distributing tokens to early adopters.

Early crypto project airdrops overlooked sybil farmers and simply rewarded any active wallet address.

But recent distributions have taken steps to filter out airdrop farmers, prioritising genuine users and reducing tokens obtained by such individuals.

NOW READ: DeFi users pile into Ethereum zero-knowledge chains in hope of airdrop riches

Projects like crypto wallet solution Safe and blockchain Arbitrum reportedly adapted Hop Protocol’s sybil detection techniques during their respective airdrops.

The Optimism Foundation, the organisation behind the eponymous blockchain project, even led a campaign to disqualify many recipients deemed to be sybil farmers two years ago.

“Optimism is for the people, not the sybils,” said the Foundation at the time.

With more airdrops on the horizon, crypto projects will continue to contend with aggressive airdrop farmers and their cluster of wallet addresses being deployed to receive high-value airdrops.

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