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What really is Kiwi and why I'm working on it

Some of you probably heard about KiwiNews, the web3 HackerNews we (Tim and I) have been building for the last few months. Maybe some of you have even used it.

But what is it really? The answer is not as simple as it seems.

What really is Kiwi?

Most people think Kiwi is just an app. But it's not - it's a protocol.

Just like Warpcast is a client to interact with the Farcaster protocol, is a client to interact with the Kiwi Protocol.

The difference is that Kiwi isn't built for complex social use cases like Farcaster is. Since it's a backbone of a web3 Hacker News, the design is much simpler. It's limited to submitting and upvoting links.

That's why you don't create your new identity with a username, profile description, followers, and so on - Kiwi Protocol doesn't have an identity component like Farcaster or Lens.

Okay, so what does it mean in practice?

What does being a protocol mean in practice?

Thanks to the fact that Kiwi is a protocol and not an app if someone wants to create an alternative Kiwi client, they are free to do it. So, e.g., someone might have more loose moderation rules and display all links, even if they are not crypto-related.

And it already happened in the early days of Kiwi - freeatnet has been running an alternative KiwiNews client since April. You can check it here:

It also means that all future Kiwi protocol upgrades can be used by all apps built on top of it. Let's say Kiwi Protocol adds a new message type - e.g., comments. The same feature can be used by apps in different ways.

For example, might stay close to the HackerNews content, where people just submit links about tech and nerdy stuff. However, freeatnet might turn his client into a more Reddit-like app that's focused on conversations about memes or stock trading.

Same protocol update, different ways to apply it, and different end-user experiences.

Okay, so what's the role of Kiwi NFT in all that?

What really is the Kiwi NFT?

When you mint a Kiwi NFT, you can submit and upvote stories on, right? Well, it's more than that.

Just like you buy ETH to interact with the Ethereum protocol, you buy the Kiwi NFT to interact with the Kiwi Protocol. So instead of buying some amount of Ethereum's ERC20 tokens, you buy just one Kiwi ERC721 token.

And just like your ETH trades are stored on the Ethereum protocol instead of Uniswap's database, your Kiwi NFT submissions and upvotes are stored on Kiwi Protocol instead of database.

In other words, Kiwi is a protocol, and Kiwi NFT is a ticket that lets you interact with it. That's why your submission will also be visible on the freeatnet's client.

This also means that the NFT's utility might evolve together with the protocol. We've seen it happening with other tokens.

If you bought ETH in 2014, you couldn't do too much with it. But just like Ethereum Protocol was evolving, so were its use cases. Thanks to new standards and upgrades, you could use your ETH to play around with DEXs, NFT art, and web3 games.

Kiwi Protocol might follow a similar path. But why did we decide to bet on decentralizing the protocol?

Why is decentralization so important?

If you read this newsletter, you probably know that most people don't care about decentralization. So why even bother?

There are a few reasons.

First of all, every submitted and upvoted link by our users is stored on the Protocol level. So if you use Kiwi News as a way to bookmark great articles (which I personally do), you know you'll be able to access your links anytime you want.

It is important if we onboard communities. Let's say we start token-gated "subreddits" for Nouns, Gitcoin, or music NFT holders. They can use the main Kiwi client, but they can also create their own UIs, reflecting their community's vibe. And even if we decide to sunset the project one day, these communities can just run their own node and still use the service.

Secondly, if someone (could be us!) builds a "web3 Reddit" on top of Kiwi and users one day decide they don't like the app anymore, they can set up another app and have their own rules. All their links and comments would be accessible on the new app from Day 1. And they wouldn't even need to set up new accounts - they'd just connect wallets.

Thirdly, since the Kiwi NFT contract is based on Ethereum, users don't create their identities from scratch like on Reddit or any other web2 app.

So you can check their address' blockchain history, use tools like Gitcoin Passport and verify if someone's a possible bot or spammer. And we hope it will make it easier to limit spam and low-quality content, which is a big problem if you host your community on Reddit, Discord, or Telegram.

Okay, so if Kiwi cares about decentralization and has the potential to add social features, why don't we build Kiwi on top of Farcaster or Lens?

Why we built our own protocol?

That's a good question. Why has Tim spent months building our own protocol when it takes tons of time and complicates the development process?

It all comes down to our primary use case: being a web3-friendly Hacker News alternative.

If we want to do a great job at curating links, we need to be neutral as possible. We can't curate only links from Farcaster or Lens users - we need links from all over the Internet. So we need also to reach the crypto community that's still spending their time on Twitter, Discord, and Telegram.

And we need to make it easy for them to join Kiwi - that's why you just need to mint an NFT to start submitting and upvoting the links.

Choosing to build our own protocol has its limitations, of course, and our tech is extremely limited compared to Farcaster or Lens, but it's enough for our use case.

How can you get engaged?

As you can see, at Kiwi, we obsess over great content and credible neutrality. That's why so far, we have refrained from taking money from investors, and we've been self-funding the project.

But we're making things up as we go, and we can sometimes be very busy and even swamped. So we appreciate any help: feedback, upvoting, and submitting stories. Or - if you are a dev - doing a Pull Request if you find a way to improve our app.

And if you would like to use Kiwi and at the same time become the project's patron, please consider buying an access pass to Kiwi:


Mac and Tim

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