Decentralized communities are one of the most important driving forces in the crypto industry, and more and more projects are committed to building decentralized communities, but there are many difficulties and misunderstandings.
Pet3rpan, the founder of MetaCartel and a member of the 1kx team, has written several articles on how to build a decentralized community. Chain Catcher has translated his latest article in its entirety, while adding to this article with the content within the previous articles, detailing how a blockchain project should build a decentralized community.
Decentralized organizations allow work to be distributed to community members rather than being driven entirely by a top-down hierarchy of decisions. While tokens financially coordinate participants to contribute value to the network, grassroots community leadership and ownership make the long-term success of the token network possible.
Ownership is not fostered by financial incentive design, but by a long-term focus on community building. Without a sense of ownership, you will struggle to attract the necessary contributors to different areas of decentralized protocol operations, such as the governance of the token network.
We can think of the community building process as a funnel of stages that takes potential members from the community discovery stage to ongoing active participation. In building this funnel, community builders should aim to do the following.
Create opportunities for intrinsically motivated contributors to discover the community
Early on in the token network, much of your focus should be on generating awareness of the ‘top of the funnel’ to attract community participants.
This effort may include
Community branding and communications
Content creation in media publications
Retroactive token distribution and airdrops
Collaborations and partnerships with other relevant communities
Community events such as hackathons, panel discussions and community teleconferences
One-on-one external outreach with potentially relevant potential contributors
Your goal here is to primarily attract intrinsically motivated community members, rather than purely extrinsic reasons.
Intrinsically motivated network participants are driven by intrinsic reasons, such as alignment with the program’s ethos, mission, or even other personal or professional goals. Intrinsically motivated community members form strong communities that maintain their participation even in the face of monetary uncertainty on the upside.
Extrinsically motivated network participants are typically driven by external rewards, such as financial gain or attention, and are often optimized for short-term self-reward. Extrinsically motivated community members form the basis of weak communities and drive out other, more intrinsically motivated participants. This is particularly common in bull markets, where you notice an influx of extrinsically motivated people into your communication channels, driven by token price movements.
While people are often motivated by a variety of reasons, the goal here is to be community-centric in order to attract and retain long-term intrinsically driven participants.
The biggest mistake projects make here is over-marketing around token incentives, such as token liquidity mining programs or price changes, which attracts the attention of primarily extrinsically driven participants.
Instead, focus on creating awareness around what makes the community different: from the way the product is built and designed, the way the community is engaged, the existing contributors to the community, the people behind the project, its mission and values, the narrative, the modalities ……
Building relationships with new community members to cultivate minimal viable contributors
The next goal after engaging community members is to understand what they want to achieve and then guide them toward their goals to achieve minimum viable participation.
Early on, new community members are unlikely to be willing to invest significant time or effort, so they don’t know that their efforts will be put to good use. The goal of minimum viable engagement is to cultivate a relationship from which further trust and involvement can be built.
This process looks like.
Self-signaling by community members
It is often impractical to build a relationship with every newcomer to the community. Instead, you want to be selective and focus your efforts on those who want to engage meaningfully. One way to bring these people to the surface is to enable people to self-express their intentions.
This can come organically in the form of a simple ‘introduce yourself’ or ‘I want to contribute’ or ‘what do we need’ where community members can indicate their willingness to participate and express how they want to be involved. This could come in the form of rewards to attract open source contributions or the creation of structured grant programs that cater to developers or professional network contributors such as mobility providers, stakeholders, governance participants, etc.
For example, grants are more useful for those who want to contribute but don’t know how or where to start. The grant program identifies the work to be done and minimizes the coordination overhead for those who want to participate directly.
The key is to make sure you put out call-to-action language for the different community contributors you want to attract, such as Gitcoin’s Stewards program.
Building Relationships and Community Member Success
Once you’ve identified the community members you want to engage meaningfully, you want to better understand their goals and needs.
What brought them to the community in the first place?
What does their crypto journey look like?
Are they aware of the different opportunities to get involved?
Is there anything they’re particularly interested in?
Are they doing anything else on their own?
The goal here is to focus on building relationships first, 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 done through a “new contributor” community onboarding meeting or a one-on-one call with the community members you identify as most engaged.
Lead community members to engagement opportunities
As you gain a better understanding of your community members’ ability and preferences to contribute, the next step is to keep sharing and creating opportunities for them to participate and contribute. As each contributor becomes more invested in the community, you need to match those efforts with relevant positive feedback – whether it’s social recognition, monetary token rewards, or more responsibility.
You want to see monetary rewards as a means of recognizing the value that community members bring to the community, rather than as a direct incentive to participate.
Cultivating Community Ownership
Everyone wants to be active in community governance from the start, but the reality is that community members are only likely to develop ownership once they become familiar with the community and invest enough time and energy.
Once you do that, most everything else in between will take care of itself.
Once community members are fully engaged 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
Opportunities to influence and participate in important community discussions, decisions, and key forums. The key here is to ensure that community members feel heard and feel empowered to have a real impact on the future direction of the community.
Opportunities to take on increasing responsibility through community leadership roles such as running working groups, e.g. Index Coop Biz Development Working Group, MetaCartel Paladins.
Be rewarded with vested tokens/network ownership for the work, commitment and value they bring to the community.
Being able to foster this sense of ownership is key to retaining key community contributors and participants.
At the heart of the grant program is the process by which community members are able to request resources, funding and support to carry out activities within the community.
Token networks require a variety of contributions to be effective, including providing liquidity to the funding pool, contributing to open source software development, and even creating modalities.
The core goal of a community resource allocation strategy is to ensure that resources and token ownership are allocated to the most valuable and productive members of the network. Communities can achieve this goal in two ways.
Programmatic distribution is automated based on pre-agreed actions and conditions, such as providing liquidity, governing voting, pledging, or participating in chats / forums. Programmatic distribution does not require much administrative overhead, but lacks human nuance and is often played to the detriment of the community.
Manual distribution requires community coordination and manual decision making to work, such as providing grants, hosting hackathons with prizes, managing contributor pay/incentive programs, and grant programs. Manual allocations are operationally intensive and harder to scale, but need to reward the token network for more nuanced human-oriented contributions.
We can think of grant programs as central to how the token community manually allocates tokens and resources. They are often one of the first functional processes that need to be established within the community before more complex coordination tasks are undertaken.
While programmatic incentives are often needed to direct resources such as liquidity, they are ultimately inherently transactional in nature, and this alone will not foster a community of intrinsically motivated contributors. Without the right balance, programmatic distribution can severely bias the ownership of the network toward short-term value extraction participants, which may discourage other, more active community members from participating.
It is best to think of grant programs as tools that can be deployed internally and externally to build community.
Internal: Use grants to retain existing community members, fund internal initiatives, and establish working groups to address community needs for public goods.
External: Use grants as a way to engage with new potential recipients outside the current community, provide a platform for community members, and elevate recipients outside the community.
Doers and leaders form the backbone of the community, and through a grant program you can actively strengthen their work and ensure their ability to do great work over the long term. Community building is about bringing together the best and brightest people who believe in the mission of the program, and grants can play a curatorial role in the process (distributing token ownership, resources, funding and social capital).
Too often, audience builders are mistakenly thought of as competent community builders. While audience building is a part of community building, it is only one component of the process.
Community is a long-term process. It’s one thing to create temporary attention, but it’s another to cultivate meaningful networks of relationships and rally an entire community to contribute their time and energy over time.
We can think of audiences as groups with “one-to-many” types of relationships and a central figure, while communities look more like “many-to-many” networks of relationships and are inherently more collaborative.
To build an audience, you need to be able to get people’s attention, but to cultivate a community, you need to create something that people are willing to invest their time, energy and effort in.
In the context of token networks, if we build an audience network purely, we could end up with a large number of token holders who remain passive. In most cases, this excessive attention will disappear over time. In the end, those who stick around during tough bear market times are usually the true believers around the ecosystem.
And if we focus on building a community of active contributors, we’ll eventually get a decentralized network that the contributor community can manage and operate.
We’re still in the early stages of understanding how to properly build and leverage the power 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.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/guide-to-building-decentralized-communities/
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