Web3 is a vision of a decentralized web that uses blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs to empower users to transact, connect, and organize in new ways.
Web3 will have huge ramifications for entrepreneurs and companies, including WordPress. In fact, there have already been WordPress projects and plugins created using web3 technologies.
To help you prepare for how web3 will shape — and already is shaping — WordPress, we attended Dave Lockie’s session “WordPress and web3 trends (disruption, challenges, opportunities)” at WordCamp Europe 2022. We will include insights from this session as we explore what web3 might mean to the open-source content management system and its global community below.
Web3 and WordPress
Lockie, a Web3 Lead at Automattic, defines web3 as “decentralized digital technologies that give people new ways to organize and collaborate.” These new ways unlock possibilities for how WordPress is used and developed.
For example, these technologies can impact how site owners protect their content, how visitors buy tickets, courses, and other products, and what data users have to share when logging in or completing another activity. They also present new ways and incentives to develop for the platform.
Lockie believes that web3 is fundamentally aligned with WordPress’s mission of democratizing publishing and commerce. “Web3 gives us the freedom to transact…and tools for borderless coordination that we’ve never had before,” he explained during his WCEU 2022 session. Together, this freedom and these tools can “give us a way to collaboratively scale transactions and meaning in the same way that the web gave us the idea to scale ideas and communication," he said.
To understand some of the possibilities of web3 and WordPress, let’s look at examples of WordPress projects and plugins using web3 technologies below.
WordPress Web3 Examples
To help you understand how web3 works and how it can align with WordPress and open source software in general, we’ll look at some opportunities that Lockie presented during his presentation as well as examples of projects run by Web3 WP. Web3 WP is a community of WordPress enthusiasts and businesses that are on a mission to introduce the WordPress community to the decentralized future of the internet (which Lockie is an advisor of).
One way that WordPress could embrace web3 is to allow content creators to mint their articles as NFTs, like the web3 blogging platform Mirror does.
By enabling bloggers to do this, they can not only publish their content. “They can also instantaneously assert their rights because it’s time stamped on a blockchain and they can also make it for sale,” Lockie explained. WordPress could make it possible for users to mint the whole article, or a picture, video, or podcast embedded in that article.
“For me, this is one of the most fundamental things about web3: it supports creators to create in a way that they can’t now,” Lockie said in his WCEU 2022 session.
Using NFTs to Support Creators on WordPress
“NFTS are popularly stupid pictures of monkeys, but they can also represent anything you want to be scarce or unique, ie. non-fungible," Locke said. So an NFT could represent proof of a charitable donation, of completing a course, of rewards for completing tasks, patronage of creators, and more. While this presents opportunities to incentivize and support members of WordPress sites, it also presents opportunities to better support creators that use WordPress.
This is essential, according to Lockie. “Because everything derives from [creators]. If people have a better experience using WordPress, then all our businesses and work becomes more important,” he said.
NFTs present a great opportunity to provide this support because they enable creators to program in royalties, Lockie explained. “With NFTs, you can program in royalties so that every transaction with that NFT on whichever marketplace between whichever participants provides the creator, or anyone, with a cut of that. So you could program it to get 1% of sales forever or the 10% of the first five transactions, for example,” he said.
Another exciting opportunity for web3 and WordPress is token gating, according to Lockie. Token gating, also known as wallet-aware or wallet-first experiences, refers to the “idea that you can unlock experiences, both online and in the real world, by connecting your web3 wallet and various experiences depending on which tokens that wallet contains," he said.
As just one example, Lockie said that ecommerce businesses could give these tokens to loyal customers or other community members to provide access to products, pre-sale periods, discounts, or even product customizations.
Token gating would also solve the problem of bots in ecommerce settings. Many ecommerce businesses face the challenge of releasing exclusive products, which are immediately bought up by bots. "Using token gating, you can define who can buy your stock and how many they can buy, which is difficult for bots to replicate," he explained.
Wapuu NFT Collection
Wapuu is the (un)official mascot of WordPress. While Wapuu swag has been created and collected at WordCamps around the world since 2011, Web3 WP took it a step further, creating 2,222 unique Wapuus that can be minted as NFTs. These NFTs can be collected and traded by the WordPress community on the Ethereum blockchain.
Every time they are traded, half of the royalties go to the WordPress Foundation. That helps to reinforce the idea that owning a Wapuu NFT is an investment in the future of WordPress.
"One day, they could be used for token gating. But if not, they're just fun," Lockie said.
WordPress Core Contributor Coins
WordPress is an open-source software that relies on a community of developers and contributors to patch bugs, develop new features, and otherwise improve the software. WordPress has already created initiatives to support and reward its contributors, including the Five for the Future campaign and a credits/badge system.
To build on these efforts, Web3 WP is creating limited edition collectable “WordPress Core Contributor“ coins for each of the 41 major historical releases of WordPress, starting with 0.7. Contributors will then be rewarded with this rare collectible. They believe that by leveraging some of the capabilities of web3 technology in this way, they can incentivize core contributions in a way that was never possible before this technology.
WordPress Web3 Plugins
You can already find some WordPress plugins using cryptocurrency and other web3 technologies in the official WordPress directory. Let’s take a look at some of them below.
Unlock Protocol is an ideal plugin for monetizing content on a WordPress site in a permissionless way.
With this plugin, you can drag and drop the Unlock Protocol block in your Gutenberg editor to add a lock to a section of content in a post or page (or to all the content in a post or page). If a reader is not logged in, the block will obscure any content within the block and prompt them to log in to your website using either their WordPress credentials or via a one-click login button linked to their Ethereum wallet. If a reader is logged in, the block will obscure any content within the block and prompt them to purchase a key to unlock the content.
EthPress is a free plugin that automatically adds a button to your WordPress login screen that allows users to securely log in with MetaMask or another crypto wallet that supports WalletConnect.
You can use hooks to add custom logic after a user has logged in with their crypto wallet. For example, you can use the login_redirect hook to control which page a user is redirected to after logging in.
With WordProof Timestamp, you can automatically timestamp your WordPress content on any EOSIO blockchain. You can also show the blockchain certificate pop-up on your website and make it downloadable as a PDF as proof of existence. You can even let your visitors verify when and how your content changed using a pop up below your content.
All of this will help you get copyright protection, provide transparency to your readers, and prepare for upcoming EU regulations.
The LikeCoin plugin is designed to advance LikeCoin’s mission to democratize publishing services. With this plugin, you can register your content metadata to the International Standard Content Number (ISCN), an immutable metadata registry on blockchain that records the relationships between content and creators. You can also store your ISCN-linked content on the decentralized file system IPFS, where it will be accessible for future use and distribution. LikeCoin’s blockchain-based registry can therefore function as a single source of truth for digital content.
This plugin also offers features for rewarding creators and curators who produce and share registry content. Every time their content is liked or shared, creators and curators are rewarded with LikeCoin tokens, which can be changed to fiat currencies or other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or traded on centralized exchanges. They can receive more tokens if “Super Liked” by other users. All this functionality can be accessed on WordPress with the LikeCoin button.
Web3 Donations by DePay is the first free WordPress plugin that allows WordPress site owners to accept P2P cryptocurrency donations on multiple blockchains.
Site owners can easily add a donation button using the DePay Donations block, then customize it with CSS. Users can send their donations using Metamask, Coinbase Wallet, and over 100 other crypto wallets via WalletConnect.
This is a great alternative to the two standard ways WordPress site owners have been accepting crypto donations. One way is using a centralized crypto payment gateway, which limits the number of cryptocurrencies that can be accepted. The other way is providing wallet addresses in plain text, which doesn’t look very good and is hard to monitor.
Here’s a look at how DePay Donations works on a WordPress site:
Web3 and the Future of WordPress
Web3 technologies — namely, blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs — are already changing how some WordPress users complete tasks, like logging in, submitting donations, and copyrighting content. Site owners, end users, and developers can expect more changes in how they use and develop for the platform as we enter a new era of the web.
Lockie closed out his WCEU session by saying: “Web3 is chaotic and risky. It’s new. It’s not for everyone. But I believe a better world lies ahead and I hope you will join me.” Whether or not you’re ready to join him, it’s important to start educating yourself around the possibilities and risks of web3.