Is ‘The NFT Bay’ Just a Giant Hoax?

Recently Austrian developer Geoffrey Huntley announced they'd created a 20-terabyte archive of all NFTs on the Ethereum and Solana blockchains. But one NFT startup company now says they tried downloading the archive — and discovered most of it was zeroes. Many of the articles are careful to point out "we have not verified the contents of the torrent," because of course they couldn't. A 20TB torrent would take several days to download, necessitating a pretty beefy internet connection and more disk space to store than most people have at their disposal. We at ClubNFT fired up a massive AWS instance with 40TB of EBS disk space to attempt to download this, with a cost estimate of $10k-20k over the next month, as we saw this torrent as potentially an easy way to pre-seed our NFT storage efforts — not many people have these resources to devote to a single news story. Fortunately, we can save you the trouble of downloading the entire torrent — all you need is about 10GB. Download the first 10GB of the torrent, plus the last block, and you can fill in all the rest with zeroes. In other words, it's empty; and no, Geoff did not actually download all the NFTs. Ironically, Geoff has archived all of the media articles about this and linked them on TheNFTBay's site, presumably to preserve an immutable record of the spread and success of his campaign — kinda like an NFT... We were hoping this was real... [I]t is actually rather complicated to correctly download and secure the media for even a single NFT, nevermind trying to do it for every NFT ever made. This is why we were initially skeptical of Geoff's statements. But even if he had actually downloaded all the NFT media and made it available as a torrent, this would not have solved the problem... a torrent containing all the NFTs does nothing to actually make those NFTs available via IPFS, which is the network they must be present on in order for the NFTs to be visible on marketplaces and galleries.... [A]nd this is a bit in the weeds: in order to reupload an NFT's media to IPFS, you need more than just the media itself. In order to restore a file to IPFS so it can continue to be located by the original link embedded in the NFT, you must know exactly the settings used when that file was originally uploaded, and potentially even the exact version of the IPFS software used for the upload. For these reasons and more, ClubNFT is working hard on an actual solution to ensure that everybody's NFTs can be safely secured by the collectors themselves. We look forward to providing more educational resources on these and other topics, and welcome the attention that others, like Geoff, bring to these important issues. Their article was shared by Slashdot reader long-time Slashdot reader GradiusCVK (who appears to have the same name as one of ClubNFT's three founders.) I'd wondered suspiciously if ClubNFT was a hoax, but if this PR Newswire press release is legit, they've raised $3 million in seed funding. (And that does include an investment from Drapen Dragon, co-founded by Tim Draper which shows up on CrunchBase). The International Business Times has also covered ClubNFT, identifying it as a startup whose mission statement is "to build the next generation of NFT solutions to help collectors discover, protect, and share digital assets." Co-founder and CEO Jason Bailey said these next-generation tools are in their "discovery" phase, and one of the first set of tools that is designed to provide a backup solution for NFTs will roll out early next year. Speaking to International Business Times, Bailey said, "We are looking at early 2022 to roll out the backup solution. But between now and then we should be feeding (1,500 beta testers) valuable information about their wallets." Bailey says while doing the beta testing, he realized that there are loopholes in the NFT storage systems and only 40% of the NFTs were actually pointing to the IPFS, while 40% of them were at risk — pointing to private servers. Here is the problem explained: NFTs are basically a collection of metadata, that define the underlying property that is owned. Just like in the world of internet documents, links point to the art and any details about it that are being stored. But links can break, or die. Many NFTs use a system called InterPlanetary File System, or IPFS, which let you find a piece of content as long as it is hosted somewhere on the IPFS network. Unlike in the world of internet domains, you don't need to own the domain to really make sure the data is safe. Explaining the problem which the backup tool will address, Bailey said, "When you upload an image to IPFS, it creates a cryptographic hash. And if someone ever stops paying to store that image on IPFS, as long as you have the original image, you can always restore it. That's why we're giving people the right to download the image.... [W]e're going to start with this protection tool solution that will allow people to click a button and download all the assets associated with their NFT collection and their wallet in the exact format that they would need it in to restore it back up to IPFS, should it ever disappear. And we're not going to charge any money for that." The idea, he said, is that collectors should not have to trust any company; rather they can use ClubNFT's tool, whenever it becomes available, to download the files locally... "One of the things that we're doing early around that discovery process, we're building out a tool that looks in your wallet and can see who you collect, and then go a level deeper and see who they collect," Bailey said. Bailey said that the rest of the tools will process after gathering lessons based on user feedback on the first set of solutions. He, however, seemed positive that the talks of the next set of tools will begin in the Spring of next year as the company has laid a "general roadmap."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.