8th Jan 2023
Milo S-P

Understanding Tribalism In Crypto Communities – Could It Lead To A Blockchain’s Downfall ?

Definition Of Tribalism – a strong in-group loyalty.

I first got involved with cryptocurrency in 2015 and fondly remember selling my crypto January the 3rd 2018. Did I clean up? Not as much as you think but regardless, whatever gains I made were slowly getting swindled by phishing scams and worthless ICOs. Nonetheless seeing the rise of Bitcoin, Opensea, decentralised finance and more recently staking platforms – I have learned a careful set of observation skills when checking out crypto projects. Now fast forward to today, the end of 2022 and one revelation that sticks out to me is that community is much more important than product.

You can take years to come to mainnet and constantly push back your launches but if you have a vibrant Twitter following complete with their own hashtags, NFT collections, unique phrases you ultimately create an incredible loyal following who only need a few updates and engagements from the social team to keep them at peace.

This article is not an attempt to besmirch cryptocurrency communities or it’s users in any shape of form; these are simply an array of observations I have made and would actually argue that the goal of any crypto project is to in fact make it their mission to create a cult or a tribe around their business as it stimulates virality and exponential growth.

The comparison between tribalism and blockchain, in this article, will specifically refer to that of Algorand; one I have been a member of for over 2.5 years. I shall explore how these communities start, what motivates them, how shared interests are developed along with the forging of new terminologies for these groups. More importantly I will dive into the challenging role of a blockchain’s foundation to manage these communities or if they should actually take any notice.


Defining Tribalism

The definition of tribalism to mean, ‘a strong in-group loyalty’, sums it up perfectly. But how do they start and what gravitates members towards them?

In such an interconnected world, no better than a platform like Twitter for users to share short text messages to global audiences in a way that spurs conversation instantly. My own introduction to Algorand came via Lofty, a YC backed fractionalised real estate startup, built on Algorand. Having a background in property I was immediately hooked and thought how brilliant it is. A few social links clicked later and I’m following numerous Algorand projects and my Twitter timeline is echoing $algo #ALGO #algofam hashtags everywhere.

You inadvertently join the algo community as you have to follow everyone in the space to get an edge in the news cycle and to understand as much as you can about the blockchain along with the new startups coming out of it.

Funnily enough, when I joined Algorand there were no dApps. NFTs has just begun and Ab2 gallery was beginning to take off.


To Make A Tribe

So this all friendly and fun, a few people on Twitter sharing Algorand news and each other’s excitement oozing out over the internet- harmless right? Of course, communities and tribes do not have to have a negative connotation at all as it can just be the sharing of ideas in a common place.

Interestingly in my research, tribes are a product of human evolution. We generally do not like big groups and assimilating in large populations. We like having clear identifiable features within our community whether it be our names, NFT profile pictures or shared ideas. We largely like to organise ourselves in groups based on our convictions and devote our lives to it. No better belief to dedicate your life to than a blockchain – a innovative game changing piece of technology utterly redefining ownership and can offer generational wealth opportunities. Many would argue this is Algorand.


How Does Community Turn To Tribalism ?

Tribalism implies the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates one member of a group from the members of another group.


What is it about Algorand that make it so tribalistic ?

Other blockchains have their own vibrant communities who are also convinced their chain is the best… but not like the Algorand community.

The inability to compromise and see any other blockchain’s point of view is impossible for Algorand users as they believe their tech is superior to anything else out there. However, they do have a point. The L1 chain founded by Silvio Micali has no down time, zero carbon emission and instant finality. So one can see that in fact the Algorand community do have a reason to ardent preachers of this technology.

I would refer to this quote by Terrence McKenna:

“Tribalism is a social form which can exist at any level of technology. It’s a complete illusion to associate it with low levels of technology. It is probably, in fact, a form of social organisation second only to the family in its ability to endure”.

Therefore, could their motivations behind the agitations and frustrations possibly stem from the belief that their tech is the best and it should be the market leader. Other grievances include the desire of Algorand to be top 5 on CMC, have a double digit token price and perhaps even be respected by other communities in rival chains.

“You can no longer see or identify yourself solely as a member of a tribe, but as a citizen of a nation of one people working toward a common purpose.” ― idowu koyenikan.


How Do Social Structures Form ?

Communities form from shared interests and likenesses between members, typically from face to face contact. Now how can that happen when this is all done online?


How Do You Identify The Algorand Community?

.algo handles

.algo is the Algorand naming service for users created by NFDomains, one of the most successful products put out in the space with over 3m [Algos] in sales to date. Users typically put their .algo handle as their Twitter display name and also to allow other users to look them up and checkout their NFTs and social handles etc.

NFT profile pictures

The majority of users in the algofam community also have a corresponding Algo NFT to be their display picture on Twitter. These could be the newest collection or timeless classics but this coupled with a .algo domain immediately signals you are in the community and you recognise how great this tech is.


One of the key distinguishing factors when spotting a community is when they use their own language specifically for the term ‘people’ or when they describe themselves.

These are key identifiers and allow users to immediately spot new members and strike common ground. There was recently a poll by Reach co-founder Chris Swenor to actually find out what the best name for the members were is.



Disclaimer: just because you have an nfd, an nft pfp or say algofam does not mean you are in a cult or a tribe. Finish the blog.

These are just likeness identifiers, what else unifies the Algorand community?

Beyond the shared interest in the chain and love of digital art, there are more unifying traits that I would argue create much stronger bonds between it’s followings.

Token Price

As ALGO is this virtual digital currency it can occasionally resemble a bunch of ‘dispensable fun tokens’ as the investor may be aiming to hold until an unrealistic price and so is much more open to buying dips and spending it on NFTs.

When the community say things like “ALGO is never going to be back below $1…” or “ALGO to $5 by 2023” it can initiate deep feelings of FOMO, drawing the community into buying more ‘dips’ and increasing their position.

But when a recession hits and the token’s price is off 90% from ATH, as we are now, the community will understandably get agitated and take to Twitter to complain! Everyone is down money whether it’s realised or unrealised pnl. This creates a sense of unity as ‘ we are in this together’ and it bring them comfort knowing they are not the only one underwater. But who is to blame for their loss? They think Algorand is the most superior cryptocurrency and have bet the kitchen sink on it going to $10. So why isn’t Algo better performing than SOL or ASA? Why am I down money and they aren’t [as much]?

Enter The Algorand Foundation

Now tribes need a leader to enforce loyalty, obedience and attract new members. I would argue the Foundation is the leader of the Algorand community as they are responsible for relaying news, informing us of protocol updates and are compelled to growing the chain. When distrust and murmurs of mutiny start, within the community, they are tweeting immediately at Foundation.

“Leaders lead when they take positions, when they connect with their tribes, and when they help the tribe connect to itself.”― Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us.

Another common piece of unity amongst the Algorand community is the perceived distrust or lack of faith in the Algorand Foundation. Blockchain foundations essentially manage the chain, deal with projects building on it and are responsible for business development whilst the Inc builds it and improves the protocol.

Over the course of the year there have been various public instances of angst from the community, namely regarding an OTC trade with now insolvent 3AC; a $35m loss to Hodlnaut and various sponsorships. This often leads to open threads being written and directed at the Foundation and its staff, resulting in a myriad of frustrated messages from the community all adding in to each other’s grievances. Personally I would always prioritise private messages over public slander as it could accidentally result in users leaving for rival tribes and putting off future developers and businesses due to the bad online sentiment and a heated community. However Izzy Grinspan brings up a good point,” Try to think of where the other person is coming from, instead of tribalism.” Izzy Grinspan, Harper’s BAZAAR, 17 Nov. 2022. Could people’s frustration in a project just show how passionate they are and how badly they want them to succeed?

In my introduction I said should the Foundation even take notice of the community? The consequence of ‘community building’ and engagement farming is you inadvertently create a cult and tribalism around your product. Whether or not this was intentional or not it is up to the leader to maintain unity, keep their followers happy and loyal in an effort to maintain growth. “Without the leaders building the tribe, a culture of mediocrity will prevail. Without an inspired tribe, leaders are impotent.” ― Dave Logan, Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization

Now, personally I do believe there is a tonne of entitlement from the Algorand community around their communication with the Foundation. Members are consistently dictating and @ing the leadership demanding explanations for matters that have nothing to do with them.

I would in fact argue that crypto has attracted people who are only here for the money and have read stories about millionaires being made and after their research strongly believe Algorand is the next-up coin to make them rich. As a result, when they are not seeing huge gains their anger and frustration rallies up the troops in their tribe calling for answers and regime change at once.

The negative effects of tribalism begin to emerge. All sorts of internet violence can the occur such as insults and doxing. The long term consequences could be very polarising for the blockchain, having a bad reputation and is extremely damaging irrespective of the technology.

Businesses understand the slightest bit of misinformation can be seriously damaging – not only to market cap but also their online perception.

Conclusion: Is It Actually A Tribe?

“A group of high-minded individual moralists, attacking a morally opposed view on social media, is not a tribe. To say so is to insult the subtle and cooperative life of tribal societies.” ― Gerald F. Gaus, The Open Society and Its Complexities

Gaus raises a good point here, perhaps it is a community not a tribe. If members are willing to leave in a bear market or loss of financial gains then they are evidently not an ardent believer of the underlying technology they should be getting behind. The token price is the unifying point of angst for the community, but how can you blame the Foundation when all markets are off? Admittedly some more than others in relation to the price’s all-time-low but crypto markets are deeply correlated with BTC; so when the sentiment changes and buying pressure comes back in ALGO will of course see a move up.

I would have to conclude that the algofam is no ordinary crypto community but due to Algorand’s superior technology, which the community is getting behind – it results in deeply held and unwavering beliefs that this [Algorand] is the most superior chain; you then couple this with a low valuation and slow communication from it’s leaders- an environment of tribalism is the consequence.


This article is an Algorand digital asset purchased through the Tokenblogs.app platform and origianlly authored by Milo S-P

About the author:
Milo S-P

Milo Simpson-Pedler is the founder of tokenblogs is a decentralized blogging platform built on blockchain where all posts are exclusive tradable digital collectibles that readers can own.

*All articles published on the Shufl.app website are the opinions of the author. As opinion pieces they may not reflect the opinions of Shufl Inc. These articles are created purely for entertainment and informational purposes only and do not constitute investment advice. Cryptocurrency and NFTs are highly volatile assets and you should always do your own research before making any investment.