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The establishment and stability of decentralized communities are inseparable from economic incentives, but they cannot lack the reconciliation of interpersonal relationships and the decentralization of rights.
Original title: “Guide to Building a Decentralized Community”
Written by: pet3rpan
Translation: Gu Yu
The decentralized community is one of the most important driving forces of the encryption industry. More and more projects are beginning to devote themselves to building a decentralized community, but there are many difficulties and misunderstandings.
MetaCartel founder and 1kx team member pet3rpan wrote several articles about how to build a decentralized community. Chaincatcher translated the full text of its latest article, and combined the contents of the previous articles to supplement this article and elaborated on it. How should a blockchain project build a decentralized community?
Decentralized organizations enable work to be distributed to community members, rather than being driven entirely by a top-down decision-making hierarchy. Although tokens financially coordinate participants to contribute value to the network, the leadership and ownership of the grassroots community makes the long-term success of the token network possible.
Ownership is not cultivated through financial incentive design, but through long-term attention to community building. If there is no sense of ownership, it will be difficult for you to attract the necessary contributors to different areas of the decentralized protocol operation, such as the governance of the token network.
We can regard the community building process as a stage funnel, which brings potential members from the community discovery stage to continuous active participation. When constructing this funnel, community builders should strive to do the following:
Create opportunities for intrinsically motivated contributors to discover the community
In the early days of the token network, most of your focus should be to generate “top of the funnel” awareness to attract community participants.
This work may include:
Community branding and communication
Content creation in media publications
Traceable token distribution and airdrop
Cooperation and partnerships with other relevant communities
Community events, such as hackathons, group discussions, and community conference calls
Conduct one-on-one external promotion with potential contributors
Your goal here is to attract primarily internally motivated community members, not purely external reasons.
Intrinsically motivated network participants are driven by intrinsic reasons, such as being consistent with the project’s spirit, mission, and even other personal or professional goals. Intrinsically motivated community members form a strong community that can maintain their participation even when the currency is uncertain.
Extrinsically motivated network participants are usually driven by external rewards, such as financial gain or attention, and are usually optimized for short-term self-benefit. Externally motivated community members form the basis of a weak community and expel other participants who are more intrinsically motivated. This is especially common in a bull market. In a bull market, you will notice that people with extrinsic motivations pour into your communication channels driven by changes in the token price.
Although people are often motivated by various reasons, the goal here is to attract and retain long-term internally driven participants.
The biggest mistake the project made here was to over-market around token incentives, such as token liquidity mining plans or price changes, which attracted the attention of mainly externally driven participants.
Instead, focus on creating awareness around the differences in the community: from the way the product is built and designed, the way to participate in the community, the existing contributors in the community, the people behind the project, its mission and values, narratives, memes…
Build relationships with new community members to cultivate the smallest viable contributors
The next goal after attracting community members is to understand what they want to achieve, and then guide them toward their goals to achieve the minimum viable participation.
In the early days, new community members are unlikely to be willing to invest a lot of time or energy, so they don’t know that their efforts will be well utilized. The goal of minimal viable participation is to cultivate a relationship from which further trust and participation can be built.
This process looks like:
Self-signals of community members
It is often impractical to build relationships with every newcomer in the community. Instead, you want to focus selectively on those who want to participate meaningfully. One way to bring these people to the surface is to enable people to express their intentions by themselves.
This can occur organically through simple “introduction” or “I want to contribute” or “what do we need”, etc., where community members can express their willingness to participate and express how they want to participate. This may come in the form of rewards to attract open source contributions or create structured grant programs to cater to developers or professional network contributors, such as liquidity providers, stakeholders, governance participants, etc.
For example, grants are more useful for people who want to contribute but don’t know how or where to start. The grant plan determines the work to be done and minimizes coordination costs for those who want to participate directly.
The key is to make sure to issue a call to action for the different community contributors you want to attract, such as Gitcoin’s Stewards program.
Build relationships and success of community members
Once you have identified the community members you want to participate meaningfully with, you want to better understand their goals and needs.
What made them come to the community in the first place?
What is their encryption journey like?
Do they know the different opportunities for participation?
Are they particularly interested in it?
Are they doing other things themselves?
The goal here is to first focus on building relationships, and then you can better understand where someone can fit into the community and how the community can help them achieve their goals. This can be achieved through a “new contributor” community induction meeting or a one-on-one phone call with the most active community members you identify.
Guide community members to get participation opportunities
Since you have a better understanding of the contribution abilities and preferences of community members, the next step is to continue to share and create opportunities for them to participate and contribute. As each contributor invests more and more in the community, you need to match these efforts with relevant positive feedback-whether it is social recognition, monetary token rewards, or more responsibility.
You want to view monetary rewards as a means of recognizing the value that community members bring to the community, rather than directly motivating participation.
Cultivate community ownership
Everyone hopes to actively carry out community governance from the beginning, but the reality is that only when community members gradually become familiar with the community and invest enough time and energy can they develop a sense of ownership.
Once you do this, most of the other things in between will take care of itself.
Once community members are fully involved in the community, your next goal is to create an environment where community members can safely express their voice and sense of ownership. This may include:
Have the opportunity to influence and participate in important community discussions, decision-making and important forums. The key here is to ensure that community members feel heard and feel entitled to have a real influence on the future direction of the community.
Get opportunities to take on more and more responsibilities through community leadership roles (such as running a working group), such as the Index Coop Biz development working group, MetaCartel Paladins.
They are rewarded with vested tokens/network ownership for the work, commitment and value they bring to the community.
Being able to cultivate this sense of ownership is the key to retaining key community contributors and participants.
The core of the grant plan is the process by which community members can request resources, funds, and support to carry out activities within the community.
The token network needs a variety of contributions to function, including providing liquidity for capital pools, contributing to open source software development, and even creating memes.
The core goal of the community resource allocation strategy is to ensure that resources and token ownership are allocated to the most valuable and productive members of the network. The community can achieve this goal in two ways:
Programmatic allocation is automatically based on pre-agreed actions and conditions, such as providing liquidity, governance voting, staking or participating in chat/forums. Programmatic distribution does not require much management overhead, but lacks human nuances, and is often played with to harm the community.
Manual allocation requires community coordination and manual decision-making to be effective, such as providing grants, hosting award-winning hackathons, managing contributor salary/incentive plans, and grant plans. Manual allocation is operation-intensive and more difficult to scale, but requires the rewards of the token network for more subtle human-oriented contributions.
We can think of the grant plan as the core of how the token community manually allocates tokens and resources. They are usually one of the first functional processes that need to be established in the community before taking on more complex coordination tasks.
Although planned incentives are usually required to guide resources such as liquidity, they are ultimately transactional in nature, and this alone cannot cultivate a community of contributors with intrinsic motivation. Without proper balance, programmatic distribution will severely bias the ownership of the network towards short-term value extraction participants, which may prevent other more active community members from participating.
It is best to think of the grant program as a tool that can be deployed internally and externally to build a community.
Internal: Use grants to retain existing community members, fund internal initiatives, set up working groups, and solve the community’s public goods needs.
External: Use grants as a way to contact new potential recipients outside the current community, to provide community members with a platform to enhance the status of recipients outside the community.
Doers and leaders form the pillars of the community. Through the grant program, you can actively strengthen their work and ensure that they have the ability to do outstanding work for a long time. Community building is to bring together the best and brightest people who believe in the mission of the project, and grants can play a curatorial role in this process (distribution of token ownership, resources, funds, and social capital).
Many times, audience builders are mistaken for competent community builders. Although audience building is part of community building, it is only an integral part of the whole process.
Community is a long-term process. It is one thing to create temporary attention, but it is another thing to cultivate a meaningful network and unite the entire community to contribute their time and energy over a period of time.
We can think of the audience as a group with a “one-to-many” relationship and a central figure, while the community looks more like a “many-to-many” network of relationships and a more collaborative group in nature.
To build an audience, you need to be able to attract people’s attention, but to cultivate a community, you need to create things that people are willing to put in their time, energy, and energy.
In the context of the token network, if we purely build an audience network, we may end up with a large number of passive token holders. In most cases, this over-focus will disappear over time. In the end, those who persevere in the tough times of the bear market are usually true believers around the ecosystem.
And if we focus on building a community of active contributors, we will eventually get a decentralized network that the contributor group can manage and operate.
We are still in the early stages of understanding how to properly build and fully utilize the capabilities of decentralized organizations.
Your community is the future of your decentralized network. If you haven’t started yet, the best time to start is today.