What is Whitelisting? (NFT Terminology)

KEY POINTS

  • In the NFT world, whitelisting typically means that a crypto wallet address, (i.e. a public ETH address), is pre-approved for minting of NFTs on specified dates/times (usually a date/time window).

  • Whitelisting allows NFT projects to reward early supporters with guaranteed slots for them to mint an NFT (or multiple NFTs depending on the whitelisting/project rules).

  • Whitelisting also allows supporters to avoid “gas wars”, which is when multiple people try to mint NFTs at the same time, driving up transaction prices.  The pre-approved users on the whitelist are able to spread out their mints in such a way that they are not all transacting at the same time, hence avoiding a sudden spike in transaction prices.

  • To get whitelisted for a project, you usually need to join a project’s Discord group to learn the criteria for getting whitelisted.
What is whitelisting?

Early in 2021 when NFTs started to take off, particularly PFP NFTs, there was a mad rush of people trying to mint NFTs at the launch of a project.  This rush caused people to try to mint their NFTs as soon as a project opened their contract for minting.

And to try to get their NFTs before they sold out, people increased the upper limit of the gas they were willing to pay (the more gas you are willing to pay, the faster your transaction will get confirmed).

The result was sky-high transaction fees for minting, often called a “gas war”.  These gas wars were (and still can be) truly epic - with transaction fees alone ranging in the thousands of dollars.

However, as we moved towards the end of 2021, and people became absolutely sick of the gas war situation, more and more projects started to adopt a “whitelisting” approach to launching their NFTs.

Whitelisting

The term whitelisting comes from the information technology/cybersecurity world and generally means an “allow” or “safe” list, but in the NFT world it means something more specific.

For NFTs, whitelisting is the process of getting a crypto wallet address pre-approved for a future NFT mint (also called a “drop”).

Since most NFTs are launched on the Ethereum blockchain, the address being whitelisted would be your public Ethereum (ETH) address.

What does it mean to be whitelisted?

To be whitelisted means that you have gone through the process/steps, as defined by the NFT project team, of getting your ETH address pre-approved to mint an NFT at some predefined date and time.

Usually this date and time for whitelisted addresses is set as a window of time.  For example, some projects may allow whitelisted addresses to mint an NFT anytime within a predefined 48-hour period.

What is whitelisting used for?

Whitelisting is typically used for 2 general purposes:

  • To reward early supports of an NFT project
  • To prevent a “gas war”

Whitelisting to Reward Early Supporters

With the large number of NFT projects launching every week, project teams need to find ways to incentivize early supporters of their project.

One way to do this is by offering early supporters to get on a whitelist to mint their NFT pre-launch.

The whitelist not only guarantees a supporter a spot to mint, but could also allow for a reduced price for the NFT (or even a free NFT).

By doing so, supporters are incentivized to stay engaged with the project and promote the project to friends very early on in the project lifecycle.

This can work especially well for a project if an NFT influencer hears about the project and promotes it to a large audience.

Whitelisting to Prevent a Gas War

Transaction fees on the Ethereum blockchain can be enormously high when the network is congested.

The situation is made much worse when a popular NFT launches and thousands of people try to mint at the same time.

In such cases, the transaction (gas) fees alone can be many multiples more than the actual mint price of the NFT. 

This situation is known as a “gas war” since people are competing to mint the NFT as quickly as possible before it sells out (the more gas you are willing to pay, the more likely your transaction will go through before others).

To ease this situation, many projects have adopted a whitelisting approach.

By whitelisting supporters in advance of a launch, the project team can create a window of time that their NFTs can be minted within (for example, a 24 or 48 hour window of time on a particular date).

Since the whitelisted addresses can choose the time they want to mint within that window, people can spread out their transactions - thereby preventing a gas war.

How do you get whitelisted?

There are 3 general steps to getting whitelisted for an NFT project:

  • Find a project before they launch
  • Join the project's Discord group
  • Follow the instructions for getting whitelisted

Find a project before they launch

To get whitelisted for a project, you first need to find projects pre-launch.

This might mean a brand new project or an existing project that is releasing a new collection.

To find such projects, one place to look at the upcoming projects on:

https://rarity.tools/upcoming

Another option, and one that requires more time and effort - but may lead to better results - is to follow NFT influencers on YouTube and Twitter to get the latest on what is happening in the space.

Related: NFT Influencers to Follow

Whatever approach you take, please be careful and do your own research.  There are a lot of scams in this space.

Join the Projects Discord Group

Once you decide on a project, you’ll need to, almost certainly, join their Discord group.  In the NFT world Discord is the main communication tool (followed by Twitter).

Each Discord can be organized differently, but usually you can find information on how to get whitelisted in the “announcements" sections.  If not, take some time to explore the group to see what you can learn (it’s possible that you missed getting whitelisted or they don't have a whitelist).

If you can’t find anything there, you can try asking other members of the group. Usually there is a “general” section where members are chatting about the project or NFTs (or other general topics).

But before you ask, try to do your own research first.

Also a note of warning.  There are scammers everywhere.  Be cautious of any direct messages you might get from random people.  Also be careful of any links people send you.

Follow the instructions to get whitelisted

Once you feel confident about a project and you have done your research, you may want to go ahead and join their whitelist.

Getting whitelisted can take various forms.  

You may be asked to fill out a simple Google form; You may be asked to invite others to the Discord to earn your whitelist spot;  You may be asked to join a lottery system that picks addresses at random. 

The point is that each project is unique and will have its own rules for getting whitelisted - only do what you are comfortable with - there are many other projects out there.

Where do you find your public ETH address?  

Most people in the NFT world use MetaMask as their ETH wallet.

To get your ETH address, open MetaMask and login.

Once you are logged in, go to the top of the page where is says "Account 1" (or whatever you named your wallet) and just click on it to copy the address.

Click to copy your ETH address

You can then paste that address in a plain text editor (like notepad) to double check that it was copied correctly.

Generally speaking, it is not "unsafe" to give out your public ETH address to projects you trust since your public address does not give them access to transfer funds or NFTs out of your wallet.

That said, you still should be careful of scams.

For example, people can (and will) send you bogus/malware NFTs to your wallet.  Do not interact with those NFTs.

Also, never give out your seed phrase/password.  There is no reason for someone to have that information.  If someone has your seed phrase, they have full access to your wallet (and they will drain your funds and any NFTs you might have).

Pro Tip:  Have a separate wallet dedicated to minting NFTs and only keep a low amount of funds in your wallet.

Final Thoughts

The NFT world is a very fast moving space.

The summer of 2021 saw a huge explosion of NFT projects - and people rushed in to grab their NFTs.

As part of that mad rush into NFTs, we saw huge spikes in gas fees - so much so that it started to price out smaller players in the market.

And in response (and quite quickly), whitelisting emerged and has become commonplace.

While gas fees on the Ethereum network is still a major issue, whitelisting has helped.

The point is that the NFT world is constantly evolving and adapting.  

This is a very new space - and if you are reading this - you are very early (well ahead of the majority).

So keep learning … get involved...

And best of luck getting whitelisted for your favorite project!

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About the Author
Ed is NFTska’s lead Editor and Author based in the Los Angeles area.  He fell deep down the crypto rabbit hole starting in 2017.  Ed actively participates in and follows the fast changing NFT scene. Learn more about Ed.

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