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OCW: How to be a Github Sleuth 🕵️
Back to some educational content this morning, where I want to give everyone some alpha on how to snoop project github’s to try and find upcoming catalysts (without knowing how to read code). This week I’ll also do a deep dive into an upcoming catalyst for a DeFi token that I found by using these Github sleuthing methods (there are some potential alpha leaks below as well).
Crypto is obviously PvP right now, as crypto natives battle it out for the best short term trades. With smart money bids coming back for alts across the board, catalysts have the potential to set you up for a winning trade, especially if said catalyst is not widely followed by the market. Some example catalysts can be a tokenomics upgrade, a reduction in emissions, a launch of a new product or revenue source, or integration with another protocol.
Now finding these catalysts typically take some discord stalking work (which I can cover if people are interested), but its important to note that you need to narrow down your core project list (~10 or less) before you try to really dig into any alfa in the project discord. But if you are a shorter term trader, sometimes the actual announcement of a catalyst can send the price of a token higher (if people were not following the situation, or underestimated its impact). Using Github is potentially a way to get you free access to these market moving events.
What is Github?
Simply, this is a repository used by developers (not just crypto devs) to store, track and collaborate on a project. Importantly, the website is free to use, so anyone with an internet connection can get right to sleuthing! Two important disclaimers before we start diving in: (1) I am not a developer, so there could be better ways to try and find upcoming catalysts within Github than what I lay out below, and (2) projects do not make all of their “in process” code public, so there can be upcoming catalysts that you won’t be able to track.
How to Use and View Github:
So first you will search for whatever project you are researching directly on Github’s website (below is what comes up for GMX). In the repositories listed, you want to look for “needle movers” or areas where an upgrade or new launch will be located (for GMX, likely “contracts”).
Clicking on “contracts” gives you a view like this - given I am not code savvy, I usually look for 3 things: (1) where the latest activity was on this page, (2) the “Issues” tab and (3) the “Pull requests” tab, to see if there is any interesting recent activity worth looking at.
Ok so looking through “Pull requests”, we see that there is recent activity on GMX’s “testnet” which is being merged into GMX’s master code (close to launch, likely).
But parsing through the code, it looks like they are just updates to the existing GMX architecture, not the launch of something new. If you aren’t sure if something is “new” / incremental, you can always ask the dev section of a project’s discord questions about what the various code segmentation means. In this example, most of these look to be existing code from the original GMX architecture that is just being slightly updated.
Remember, this is just a walk through example of how to find data within Github, so even though it seems like there is nothing here for GMX’s X4 upgrade, keen observers may be able to catch it once any of its code becomes public. Let’s go through a product launch example, using Dopex.
So it looks like all the action for DPX’s product launches fall under dopex-io/sdk. If we go to pull requests → open, you can see what is currently being worked on by the dev team. Below are the files that have “changed”, which would suggest some upcoming product launches from the team (Atlantic Puts, Long Perp Strategy).
If you look through the code, the Long Perp strategy, is likely Dopex’s anticipated GMX integration where they hope to offer “perp insurance” for GMX’s degen traders via Atlantic puts. Our sleuthing here would suggest that this product launch (one of the project’s most exciting) is coming fairly soon. If you see this current “branch” of the code being merged into the master code of the protocol, then the launch is likely imminent.
Digging through “Branches” is another way to find good info on project changes / launches. If you look at the Sushiswap github, and filter by branch, you could find the “xSwap feature” or product, and the corresponding code over time
Glancing through here, you could have seen the “commit” that the core xSwap code was merged with the “Master” Sushi contracts on July 11th, just two weeks before its announced public launch.
Another way to look under the hood is to check the individual developer’s activity to see what they are working on, and how active they have been - this can be used to gauge general activity (maybe something is being worked on in a private repo) and also piece together any interesting code updates coming for a project. You can find the individuals working on the project either under the “People” tab:
Or by looking through individuals putting pull requests and commits on the project:
On an individual developer’s page, you can see recent activity, but also Github will give you a sort of activity heatmap over the past year:
How to put it all together?
When you have a short list of things you are researching a combo of discord + github works best. Being up to date on what protocol upgrades the community/team focuses on will help drive what you are looking for in the actual github activity - like my Dopex and GMX perp insurance example. Large amounts of activity in a private repo could signal that the update you are looking forward to for your project may be in the works, but also you can try to confirm it yourself by looking at individual dev recent activity, the various branches of their github to see anything new coming down the pipeline, and looking through the issues & pull requests tabs.
Knowing the catalyst + when it is coming is only half the battle, as the importance of the event/how anticipated it is will also impact if the price actually moves or not. But safe to say, if it is a major upgrade, usually some level of positive reaction is expected to happen to the token.
This was meant to be a higher level overview of how to get started with finding alpha via Github, and at least lay out a basic framework of how to find interesting things going on there. As mentioned, I will go into a catalyst driven idea later this week, that I found by using this framework. As always, drop any comments or questions below (please remember that I am not a Github expert) and if anyone finds anything interesting in their own Github journey, feel free to reach out.
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.