On Wed Jan 29th, Blockstack PBC announced that we successfully met Milestone 2 for initial network growth. There have been some questions regarding username registrations vs. active users. In this post I will shed more light on the initial network growth and measurement limitations on the network.
Per our announcement, Blockstack PBC has on-boarded over 1 million registered usernames through a mix of collaborations, partnerships, marketing efforts, app growth driven by independent developers, and more. That being said, registered usernames are not the same as daily active users, nor have they ever been presented as such. Back in 2017, when we were setting up the legal definition of users in the self-imposed milestone, we precisely defined a user as a registered username on the blockchain (not active user). The milestone was intended to introduce people to the Blockstack network. We’ve achieved this goal through various channels. Blockstack PBC is not claiming to have a million active users on the Blockstack network.
The privacy focus of our network makes it nearly impossible to measure active users, so by design, there is no way to collect activity data. Given our focus on privacy, most network apps do not include trackers. If an app includes an analytics tracker, Blockstack PBC has no access to that data. The open nature of our network means anyone can register a username. Given these conditions, we designed to measure initial user contact with Blockstack, not recurring use.
In the absence of recurring activity data, username registration serves as a proxy for broader network growth. Username registrations are also very broad and include new STX owners, traffic from various apps, partnerships, and marketing experiments. We acknowledge that we’ve encountered bad actors. We’ve had to fight spam, and we’re proud of the measures we’ve taken, including IP rate limits for our registrar, social verifications, and phone verifications. We restricted phone verifications from Twilio to trusted jurisdictions and carriers, and used KYC processes like the one Blockchain.com requires for their “Gold-level status”. Spam attacks are technically complex to handle for walled-garden networks like Facebook and Twitter; these challenges are significantly harder to solve for open networks like Blockstack.
In conclusion, we don’t claim to have a million active users, nor do we deny the existence of spam registrations on the network. Milestone 2 had a narrowly defined legal definition tailored to the Blockstack network’s specification, and we successfully met that requirement. We’re proud to have introduced a broader audience to privacy apps, to Stacks cryptocurrency, and to a user-owned internet. But a Milestone, even one as significant as this one, is not the end of a journey. Much work remains to be done: The Blockstack ecosystem needs to increase recurring use of apps, grow users, and fight the spam attacks that any successful network must face.
We look forward to what the successful completion of this initial phase will enable Blockstack to do. Stacks 2.0 launch will mark a new chapter for Blockstack. We’re just getting started!
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