Free FIP-2

June 27, 2024

Farcaster has high ambitions of being a protocol that can play a major role on the Internet long-term, and I think there is a key, unexplored part of its architecture that could be a big part of its growth: FIP-2.

FIP-2 discussion screenshot from GitHub

At the time that FIP-2 was proposed, the observed problem on Farcaster was that users weren't always being served content that was relevant to their interests. Under the hood, FIP-2 allows casts to reply to an arbitrary string, similar to a cast replying to another cast(referenced by the parent cast's hash).

You might be wondering, how does replying to an arbitray string help with serving relevant content to users? This is where things get interesting.

Long before Channels were introduced, one of the most compelling ideas for FIP-2 was to have an exclusive chat for your community. For example, Dan had mocked up a PurpleDAO feed (below) where the parent_url every cast replied to was Purple's contract address. Not only did this begin to show how FIP-2 could bring communities together, but it started to hint at what the meaning behind the actual parent_url value could be.

(Note: funny enough, I referenced this same picture in a rather related article this time last year called "Focus on What Doesn't Scale")

The actual FIP-2 parent_url value for most of today's channels belong to a TLD that Warpcast controls, but think about how many other types of links/URIs that value could represent:

  • a live event like a sports game or a stream: if every cast replied to the URL of the one-time event, then you'd have a live ephemeral chat for that event
  • a site/article that you're browsing: what if you could comment on the web and see what your friends said or tag them? the parent_url could easily be an individual website or one of its articles/subroutes

There were a few others experimenting with flexible FIP-2 values in the past, such as Opencast allowing users cast a reply to any URL and Buidler(below)'s Chrome extension for commenting/viewing comments on any website, however it seems lately the vast majority of FIP-2 attention has gone towards querying data from/posting casts to existing channels.

the old UI for social commenting on FIP-2

Two things stand out to me about the current state of FIP-2:

  • nobody seems to be building it: personally this shocks me given how much I think this enables -- hopefully being to able to shed light on it more through posts like these will help or inspire others to build on it!
  • this could be one of those unlocks that onboards more general-purpose users: if FIP-2 makes more users/developers think about Farcaster as a commenting & identity platform for whatever they want to make, then they can focus on great experiences that abstract away the need to be in a crypto-native community.

I'm really hoping that there's a still bright future for innovation on top of FIP-2 and if this is an area you're interested in, I'm always happy to chat about it on Farcaster!

1. This piece is a part of the Farcaster Writing Hackathon
2. I also made this FIP-2 Primer video last fall if you're interested in learning more about FIP-2!