Discord griding has emerged as a thriving sub-economy on Fiverr.
Some warn that the use of grinders can hurt the integrity of Web3 projects.
The crypto industry is in a hiring frenzy with companies dangling six- and seven-figure salaries to attract top blockchain talent. But the boom has also extended to the lower strata of the labor market, where people are engaging in a new form of social media engagement known as “Discord grinding” for as little as $5 an hour.
Discord grinding takes its name from the popular platform of the same name, which is beloved by students and gamers, but which has also become an essential tool for Decentralized Autonomous Organizations aka DAOs—loosely organized communities that come together to build or support crypto projects and often finance their activities with tokens.
DAO communities on Discord are composed of volunteers and builders who are passionate about a given project—but in recent months, they have also become places for “grinders” to make a quick buck by hyping something they may not know or care about.
A day in the life
A recent investigation by Decrypt uncovered a thriving trade on the work-for-hire platform Fiverr, where people offer to work as Discord grinders.
On Fiverr, would-be Discord grinders post messages like, “I will staff, mod and be your crypto, gaming or NFT discord moderator or manager,” and “I will interactively chat on your discord server and NFT chat.” Here is a screenshot of some recent postings:
These postings are not surprising given the explosion of DAOs in the last year, and the amount of work entailed in running one—keeping the community engaged, listing members for NFT drops, or awarding compensation. While bots or smart contracts can perform many of these tasks, even the best core team can become overwhelmed and in need of a helping human hand. Enter the Discord grinders.“It’s great grinding on Discord,” Fiverr user Lancerdrey1 told Decrypt. “You meet new people from different countries, making the server lively. It is quite different from traditional marketing.”
Lancerdrey1 (who asked not to use their real name) says that once terms are agreed, DAO leaders will grant them access to their Discord server, where they begin interacting with members by chatting or moderating channels.
Many grinders say they’re Discord experts and marketing or communications veterans with expansive knowledge of NFTs and crypto, and that they can create “real” engagement in Discord communities.
This engagement can take the form of answering questions, providing admin support, setting up lists for NFT drops, assigning roles in the server, or building hype around the Discord server on social media. The cost of these services can range from $5 to $200 per job on Fiverr, while other job boards may offer contract work or even full-time employment.
The ethics of grinding
While Discord grinding offers a new way to make money in the emerging Web 3 economy, some have reservations. They include Roberto Nickson, an app builder who spoke during a recent Twitter Spaces session called “Let’s Talk About Scams// Exposing Fraud in Web3 with Metav3rse.”
“Go to Fiverr and type in ‘Discord grinding’ or ‘whitelist.’ There are thousands of listings there, of professional grinders,” Nickson said. “It’s just some person in whatever country chatting away, grinding away for up to 10 hours a day. It’s a big job right now.”
While it’s standard practice for web companies to hire a social media manager, Nickson warned that grinders don’t really occupy the same role. He said tactics used by some grinders can hurt the integrity of a DAO, which is supposed to be an organic community united by a common passion.
“Discord grinding is dangerous because it is a way for projects to fake demand and desirability,” he said. “A ton of professional, low-paid grinders”—usually in other countries taking advantage of economic imbalances—”filling a server with bots to look large, and grinders to look active.”
Grinders disagree—they see themselves as valuable contributors, helping Web3 projects with the necessary task of managing a Discord server.
“Discord has become the most-used application when it comes to the matter of NFTs, and with leveling included it has become a hectic task for the owners. We are here to help with that,” wrote Briannalexi on a now-deleted Fiverr profile.
Meanwhile, Fiverr Director of Public Relations Abby Forman told Decrypt that Discord grinding violates the platform’s terms of service regarding fake engagement and selling followers.
Since Decrypt reached out the company, Fiverr appears to have removed accounts using the keywords Discord Grinding/Grinder, Discord whitelist, and NFT whitelist.
Meanwhile, several grinders contacted by Decrypt (including Lancerdrey1) have since deleted their Fiverr accounts. It’s unclear if they created new accounts under another alias.