How to Review a Crypto Project’s GitHub Activity and Code Quality

When you evaluate a new coin, you look at market potential, team expertise, and community support. But code quality tends to be an overlooked aspect even though it’s an important step before getting involved (aka investing) in a crypto project. 

For investors, understanding the code quality helps them effectively assess the project's reliability and mitigate potential risks. For developers, it provides insights into the project's development practices, making collaboration and contribution more feasible.

Here are the key elements you should analyze within crypto projects’ GitHub activity and code quality. 

Key Aspects When Looking at Crypto Projects’ GitHub Activity and Code 

The foundation of any software project, particularly blockchain-based cryptocurrencies, lies in its code. Code quality serves as a metric for gauging the writing and maintainability of the source code. High-quality code enhances performance, security, and scalability, thereby guaranteeing the enduring success and sustainability of a cryptocurrency project.

Therefore, you should look closely if the code fulfills details like:

Open-source nature

Many successful crypto projects embrace an open-source development model. Access to the source code allows the community to review, audit, and contribute to the project. Before investing or getting involved, check if the project's codebase is publicly accessible on platforms like GitHub.

GitHub serves as a tool for monitoring both the number of contributors and the volume of code contributions to a project. This offers valuable insights into the project's vitality and expansion, enabling comparisons of development progress among various cryptocurrency projects.

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Extensive documentation

Well-documented code is a hallmark of a quality project. Comprehensive documentation facilitates easy understanding and future development. Look for projects with clear, up-to-date documentation that covers installation, configuration, and usage.

Code reviews

Code reviews are part of best practices in software development in general. Evaluate the project's repository for evidence of regular and thorough code reviews. This ensures that multiple sets of eyes have scrutinized the code, reducing the likelihood of bugs and vulnerabilities.

For example, you can use Etherscan to check the smart contract code of an Ethereum project and find out if the source code has been verified. If you discover that the code isn’t verified, chances are for that project to be a scam. 

Forks 

When a developer forks a repository (repo), they generate a personal duplicate of the repo. This allows them to experiment and make alterations without impacting the original project. If their changes are beneficial, they may submit a pull request to incorporate their modifications into the original repository.

Community engagement

A thriving community is often indicative of a healthy project. Assess the project's communication channels, forums, and social media platforms. A robust community contributes to code quality through feedback and also enhances the project's overall resilience.

For example, similar to the number of likes on social media, users can star repositories they consider interesting or valuable. The number of stars a repo gains is often an indicator of popularity within the GitHub community.

Security audits

Security is paramount in the crypto space. Look for evidence of external security audits conducted by reputable firms. These audits assess the codebase for vulnerabilities and provide valuable insights into the project's security posture.

Developers should always employ secure development patterns and coding to minimize vulnerabilities.  Additionally, they should avoid common security vulnerabilities like reentrancy attacks, DoS attacks, or logic bugs. 

Development activity

Active development is a positive sign. That’s why monitoring codebase activity is of paramount importance. Check the project's commit history, frequency of updates, and responsiveness to issues. A consistently evolving codebase demonstrates a commitment to improvement and adaptation to the evolving crypto landscape.

It also reflects the project's dedication, and it‘s essential for instilling trust in investors. For instance, if the team behind a cryptocurrency didn’t commit a single line of code in a long time (e.g., a few months), you can take it as a red flag. 

Use of best practices

Projects adhering to coding standards and best practices are more likely to have higher-quality code. Evaluate if the code follows established conventions for the programming language used and if it employs best practices for security, performance, and maintainability.

For instance, you should check if the project follows cryptography practices to secure applications and ensure data integrity, uses appropriate programming language (e.g., Solidity is commonly used for writing and deploying smart contracts on the Ethereum chain), and even ensures that the project has a strong and achievable vision.

Additional Tips

Verify DappRadar blacklists

Use DappRadar to crowdsource the identification of potential scam tokens. If you come across one, contribute to the token blacklist on GitHub by submitting the relevant information.

Furthermore, during your token research, cross-reference the blacklist to confirm whether your chosen token is listed. If the token address appears on the blacklist, exercise caution as it may be a scam.

Check token details using a token explorer

If a token isn’t listed on reputable platforms like CoinGecko or DappRadar's Token Ranking, you may be dealing with a scam.

When examining the token on a token explorer, take note of warning notifications. 

Use third-party analysis tools

  • Token Sniffer – this tool conducts an automated audit of the token, also known as smell test. A lower score out of 100 indicates a higher likelihood of the token being a scam.

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  • Honeypot scam check – be wary of honeypots, which are smart contracts deliberately designed with a programming flaw. When attackers exploit the flaw, hidden code is activated, effectively retaliating against the attackers. Regardless of your intentions, it’s advisable to steer clear of honeypots.

Check the token’s presence on crypto exchanges

You should see if crypto exchanges host the token. If the token is exclusively traded on a limited number of exchanges, there’s a high chance that it’s a scam. However, you should further look closely into it as some crypto projects don’t need high trading volumes, while others might prioritize availability to Web3 users over traditional token traders.

That means that generally, tokens listed on larger exchanges tend to have a better reputation.

Conclusion

GitHub activity is a crucial indicator of cryptocurrency projects' vitality and community engagement. However, potential pitfalls, like inflated or manipulated data, can skew perceptions and must be cautiously navigated. 

In the end, looking at a cryptocurrency project's GitHub activity along with other factors like financial stability, partnerships, and market trends gives a better overall view of its health and potential for success.