Alternate Nouns Frontends
Nouns.wtf is the reference implementation for interacting with the Nouns Protocol. Users can bid on the daily auction, create and vote on proposals, or peruse the historic auctions. We designed nouns.wtf to be fast, easy to use, and stable. Since the residency of brianj we’ve seen the addition of more thorough DAO information and design improvements. But nouns.wtf doesn’t have to be the full picture, there’s plenty of space in the sandbox for us all to play.
The blockchain ecosystem is built in-part on federation, even if we don’t acknowledge it every day. Technology, design, and finance come together to build systems with standardized interfaces and common languages. Building permission-less and accessible contracts naturally encourages interoperability and building of alternatives.
A federation is a group of computing or network providers agreeing upon standards of operation in a collective fashion.
Projects like Mastodon and other federated microblogging platforms have been building federated alternatives to social media giants for those concerned about privacy or want to own their experience. Rather than having a one-size-fits-all or one-site-serves-all approach, these federated instances have agreed upon a standardized format called ActivityPub for exchanging messages between instances and gossiping between themselves.
A standardized protocol allows different groups to design and build implementations that serve them or their community best. This is where we can build Nounish Federation.
Just like some instances in the federated social media space may prioritize posting pictures, snappy interfaces, or interfaces that accommodate different abilities we can start to build interfaces to the Nouns protocol that facilitate interaction differently through alternative frontends and other people running frontends to the Nouns protocol.
We've already built the first layer of standards in the Nouns Token, Nouns Auction House, and Nouns DAO contracts which are all accessible via any Ethereum node or JSON-RPC provider using one of the many Web3 libraries in various languages.
Why More Frontends?
The Nouns ecosystem is growing every day, as is the DAO of DAO model. As more people join the Nouns DAO directly or indirectly through sub DAOs more people depend on the ability to interact with the Nouns Protocol. The protocol itself is built on Ethereum making it an unstoppable application, but a nice Web3 application makes it much easier to interact with that application. By the nature of the Internet nouns.wtf is a centralized site that we need to keep operational and well configured so that people can interact with the protocol in an easy way.
There are standard availability risks with a single centralized frontend. A single web app run by a group of humans will naturally have some availability issues – even though we aim for the most reliable system we can. It’s likely that everyone has experienced an outage with their bank, an internet provider outage, or some other failure that prevented them from accessing something important.
The Nouns Protocol doesn’t need a centralized frontend though. Anyone can clone the open source reference implementation and run their own, fully disconnected from the centralized instance that the Nouns Foundation operates. The Nouns Protocol is open for anyone to interact with it, we just run one interface.
This could mean that if nouns.wtf were to break for an hour, people could go to alternative frontends and interact with the exact same protocol – the same daily auction, the same DAO proposals, and the same tokens; whether that was an instance that someone ran for themselves or one operated by a group of people.
While insuring against a single point of failure is a great reason for alternative frontends some people may just prefer a different frontend.
There’s no law in the Nouns Protocol saying that a frontend to interact with it must look like nouns.wtf or that it must provide the same functionality. Someone may prefer a minimalist interface that only displays information about the daily auction. A sub DAO may make their website an alternate frontend by including the ability to interact with the Nouns Protocol along-side their internal voting tool within their website. Folks could even choose to trust nobody and run their own private instance with their own Ethereum node – able to control every interaction with the blockchain without trusting anyone else. As the Ethereum network evolves there may be frontends that focus exclusively on some experimental technology. All of these can take place without affecting any of the other frontends and simultaneously making the Nouns Protocol more resilient.
Where Can We Go From Here?
Additional instances of nouns.wtf can be deployed today using the free tier of many vendors. Someone could sign up for a free Netlify account and a free Alchemy or Infura account and deploy their own instance of the Nouns webapp for free.
We’ve built @nouns/sdk to make building an alternative frontend easier as well. With helpers to find contract addresses on different networks, decode images, and to interact with the contracts it’s ready for imagination. Whether that’s a different translation, working with some experimental technologies, or building new functionality the Nouns Protocol is open for experimentation.
If you're interested in running your own Nouns frontend, stop by
#developers in the Nouns discord.