TL;DR- This problem mainly applies to NFT collection creators. Most NFT collections are by default frozen- that is, their creators froze the NFTs upon minting. For NFT creators, it’s a good idea to freeze the metadata on all minted NFTs to ensure that they belong to the Ethereum blockchain and not OpenSea or the minting platform. Yes, you have to pay the gas fee- but it means your NFT is on the Ethereum blockchain forever, and verifiable as a token on EtherScan.
If you haven’t already, I heavily recommend getting a hardware wallet like a Ledger Nano to hold your crypto and NFTs! A little bit of spending on security goes a long way in the jungle of a space that crypto is.
Important: To quickly check if your NFT is frozen (most are by default), go the the NFT’s profile page on OpenSea. Look in the bottom left text underneath the image in the details drop down. If the box has an item saying ‘Metadata- Editable‘ then the NFT hasn’t been frozen. If there’s no such thing, then the NFT is by default frozen (was probably frozen by collection creators).
WTF is NFT metadata?
A few things you should/need to know:
- most NFTs (and all top NFT collections) exist on the Ethereum network
- NFTs require the crypto network they’re running on to have smart contract availability
- The smart contract attaches the JSON/NFT to your specific Ethereum address saying you have ownership of the file
- These NFT smart contracts are known as ERC-721 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain
- The NFT’s name (i.e. CryptoPunk #777)
- Description of the NFT (i.e. “CryptoPunks launched as a fixed set of 10,000 items in mid-2017…”)
- Traits (i.e. Blue hair, sunglasses)
- Link to the hosted image
- Image metadata (i.e. 800*1600 pixels)
Note the link to the hosted image is on a cloud computing server. Yes- this means NFTs are in fact centralized*. There’s plenty wrong with the NFT space which I talk about in my ironic ‘I Hate NFTs’ article. Don’t fret though- all NFT collection admins have legal responsbility to always have those hosted images available.
*OpenSea and others store files on an IPFS or ‘Interplanetary File System’ decentralized storage that stores images and art across mutiple computers, to keep with the entire ethos of blockchain- decentralized. Don’t get it twisted, though. There’s one company (OpenSea) that literally owns the ropes for all these NFT collections.
Some NFTs (like Polymorphs or Street Fighter NFTs) have editable traits meaning they can be changed or modified to produce different features. But overall, the metadata for these NFTs is frozen. It’s a bit complicated.
On a non-related interesting note: Some NFTs, like Neo Tokyo Identities, are literally pictures of JSON files. The collection is steeply valued ($60k/item) because owners of the NFTs will actually own those items and all royalties that come with it in the future Neo Tokyo video game. A cool concept- but will it pan out for the people who’re paying $60k for pictures of JSON files?
What’s freezing metadata?
Your metadata will be permanently locked and stored on decentralized file storage when you freeze it, allowing other clients to view and utilize it. This implies that your stuff will be carefully preserved indefinitely and will never be lost or stolen.
You’ll have to pay the Ethereum gas fees every time you freeze an NFT’s metadata, since miners will have to write that data into the immutable ledger. That requires some work. Not justifying outrageous gas fees here- I’m only saying there are fees because nodes on the network have to perform and action.
Once your metadata is frozen, you’ll be able to see your collection token on Etherscan. This means all the metadata now lives on the immutable (can’t alter it) Ethereum blockchain. If your NFT or NFT collection still shows the ‘editable’ property under details on the NFT profile page, this means the NFT or collection has not been permanently stored in its current state.
How to freeze your NFT metadata
Remember, you’ll only be able to do this if you’re an NFT creator, or if the NFTs you hold haven’t been frozen (unlikely).
- Go to the my collections page on OpenSea.
- Go to your item/collection properties, and scroll down until you see the freeze metadata toggle switch. Turn the switch on (blue will show).
3. You’ll be met with the freezing metadata pop up. Click the I understand… box and click submit transaction if everything looks right with your collection properties.
4. Now it’s time to pay the piper. You’ll have to sign the transaction and agree to the Ethereum gas fee with this screen that we all hate seeing (or something like it):
5. Once this is done, you’ll see a note in the details section saying that the NFT file was permanently frozen on decentralized storage on the date. That’s it!