In the age of Web3, where decentralised decision-making, mass participation and “memeable” ideas can enable a project to thrive, community-first approaches are vital for Web3 projects to take off. In this equation, reputation plays a pivotal role in establishing community trust, credibility and protection. That’s why enabling members to build their reputation with the help of community credentials (Creds) benefits the individuals and strengthens the overall reputation and trustworthiness of the community itself.
In this blog, we delve into the significance of community-focused strategies, with a focus on the role reputation building plays in Web3. Importantly, we’ll explore how building and nurturing a community by focusing on a reputation-centred strategy can build trust, shape the success and longevity of Web3 projects, and examine the role of digital credentials in doing so.
In today’s interconnected and rapidly evolving world, the community has become a vital ingredient for the success, growth and longevity of projects within Web3 and beyond. Communities provide a sense of belonging, support, and collaboration that is increasingly valued. Community-focused approaches have gained significant prominence as Web3 continues to recognise the transformative power of fostering strong and engaged communities, despite the wider market conditions. However, building strategies to find, nurture and retain members is increasingly difficult for projects during turbulent times.
Focusing on understanding what matters most to community members, acknowledging their contributions and recognising those that stay the course is vital. Currently, community members don’t have a good way of showcasing their contributions, whether this be developers/builders, DAO members, meme-makers or strategists alike. We believe centering a project’s community strategy around reputation-building techniques leveraging Digital Reputation Credentials, AKA Creds is a key ingredient to a project’s success.
“Community-first” and The Power of Community
Community-first refers to an approach where the focus and priority lie in nurturing and building a strong and engaged community as the foundation of a project’s strategy and growth. It entails placing the needs and aspirations of the members at the forefront of the decision-making processes. When built around a community, the project recognises that the community is not a group of consumers to sell to, but active participants who play a vital role in shaping the project’s success. A community-first strategy aims to foster community trust, authenticity, and a sense of belonging, creating an environment where members can connect, collaborate, and contribute meaningfully. By prioritising the community, projects can harness the power of collective contributions, word-of-mouth promotion, and shared values, resulting in a more sustainable and impactful project.
Within a community, put somewhat simply, there are two key parties involved, although the line is incredibly blurred in DAOs and many Web3 projects:
- the members that the community serves, and;
- the project/community leads generally building a Web3 centred project.
Both, of course, have their own goals. It’s reasonable to expect some of these goals to differ, however, for true success, communities need to find the synergy between both.
What does a community member want from a community?
Members of projects are not merely there for the fun and good times, as some projects fail to recognise. Without limitless time to spend on projects they’re part of given other commitments generally taking priority, members need to see a very real benefit in being part of communities. Although some individuals experience’s have been tainted by scams, being a member of a Web3/crypto community can offer several benefits and opportunities, which is what members will stick around for!
1. Advocacy and Ideology
At its core, Web3 remains a space of optimists and visionaries who want to see the genuine change to the status quo. For this reason, many individuals are drawn to the philosophical and ideological principles that underpin Web3 and crypto. These principles include decentralisation, privacy, censorship resistance, and financial inclusivity. By joining the community, members are able to scratch their itch for genuine change and actively advocate for these principles and contribute to their adoption on a broader scale. For this, in return, they want to be acknowledged and recognised… it’s ultimately the early adopters and not the builders themselves that bring products to the masses!
Two good examples of this are Secret Network, with their early adopters being privacy advocates, and our very own cheqd community, that believe that Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) with Verifiable Credentials will revolutionise Web3.
2. Financial Opportunities
This is somewhat related to our first point, in which we talked about Advocacy & Ideology, as certain areas of Web3 are strong believers in the need of creating a new financial system that is more inclusive and far apart from the current existing financial system.
Communities around this belief were formed and we need to recognise that individuals join certain communities as perceiving it as an opportunity for early investment, such as participating in an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) or decentralised finance (DeFi) projects. If a community is aimed at these individuals, they have to find means to offer rewards and demonstrate value for members’ investments in a trusted and sustainable manner that meets the needs of both parties.
3. Education and Learning
By being part of a community members can access educational resources, discussions, and insights from experts, who they may otherwise not have access to. They can learn about blockchain technology, smart contracts, decentralised applications (dApps), and various use cases across different industries, all valuable knowledge for personal growth and career opportunities.
Learning has proven to be a key priority for community members, with the growth of services like Zealy making it easy for projects to build learning journeys around their products.
4. Be Part of a Tribe
Being part of a community allows members to connect with like-minded individuals who share common interests. They can collaborate on projects, exchange ideas, and gain valuable insights from others in the field. Networking within the community can open doors to partnerships, job opportunities, and mentorship. Being part of a tribe means being active in the outcomes of a project. Given many Web3 projects involve decentralised governance models, where token holders have a say in decision-making processes, by becoming a member, individuals expect to actively participate in the governance of projects they believe in, influencing their development and direction. Project must remember this when building, as all too often decentralisation is in name only and not in practice.
DAOs around NFTs such as IBC Frens and the Racoon Corporation on the Cosmos ecosystem illustrate this tribe mentality. These DAOs were formed by like-minded individuals, they wrote their roadmap/whitepapers around their ideas and then launched an NFT collection to recruit more like-minded individuals.
5. Early Access to Innovation
And some just like to be there first! The innovators, visionaries and early adopters who pride themselves on their foresight and ability to see the potential that others can’t. By being part of a community, members can gain early access to new platforms, dApps, or experimental projects, allowing them to explore and experiment with cutting-edge tools and technologies. Communities like the Quant Network, Cudos and Akash Network, are all good examples of this, with active technical and technical groups, engaging deeply in the tech with the belief in its potential. We’d also put the cheqd Community here…
What do projects seek from their community?
In order to leverage the power of community, projects must recognise that their success hinges upon the support and engagement of their community. Project leads have very real needs for an active and enthusiastic community that doesn’t just consume their product or service but also actively contributes, spreads the project’s message, and offers valuable ideas and feedback. Engaged community members have far greater impact on a project’s success than passive users, and superfans, ambassadors, tweeters, and content creators within the community can become instrumental in generating buzz, expanding the project’s reach, and attracting new users. These individuals act as catalysts for growth, bringing in fresh perspectives and actively shaping the project’s future. Generally, the desires from community leads can be considered in three categories.
1. Engagement and Participation
Communities want to see that members are actively engaging in discussions, contributing to product development through feedback, and participating in governance to help decentralise decision-making. Ultimately, this active participation not only enriches the community experience but also enhances the overall value and impact of the project.
Examples of activities that communities run to increase engagement and member participation are competitions (such as memes or sticker contests), quizzes, polls and Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions.
2. Community Trust and Authenticity
As members of a community quickly become representatives and ambassadors for the mission, it’s vital that they can be trusted. Creating an environment where genuine connections are fostered helps members feel safe to share their thoughts and ideas. Community trust is the foundation upon which strong communities are built, enabling open communication, collaboration, and collective growth.
Hence the importance of tools such Telegram, Discord, Reddit, Discourse, and Commonwealth to debate proposals and discuss relevant topics around the project. Platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and Twitch are also heavily used to create trust and enable the sharing of news and knowledge amongst communities. All of these tools however are becoming increasingly difficult to manage, with scams and impersonations rife.
3. Sustainable Growth and Longevity
For a project to succeed, they need both short-term goals to be achieved whilst keeping a clear focus on the longer-term vision. Through building a strong community, the members can become a driving force, spreading the project’s message, attracting new members, and contributing to its evolution and success over the long term.
Creds: Reputation Building with Digital Credentials
With the differing and overlapping hopes, needs and wants in mind, where does reputation come in? In the Web3 landscape, reputation plays a pivotal role in establishing trust and credibility. Reputation is a social currency that allows us to extract value from the relationships we hold. Simply put, the greater our reputation the more likely it is that others will invest in our shared interests. In decision-making processes, we assess, both actively or passively, reputation to determine the likelihood of a social or business engagement to deliver expected outcomes or relative advantage. Therefore, the purpose of building reputation is a means to improve the success or value of social or business engagements.
However, ultimately, for reputation to be truly accepted and valued by individuals and organisations, it has to be portable, it cannot be tied to one platform or ecosystem, as different experiences and knowledge are acquired in different places, in different communities.(Shout out to one of the cheqd community members themselves for their contributions here — @Miinch).
Work generally, whether in Web3 or elsewhere, requires the ability to be compensated based on one’s contributions. This is not necessarily merely in financial terms, but in social respect, responsibility and the potential for more opportunities — our reputation — in other words. However, when thinking about a broad reputation system, concerns are often raised relating to ways in which it could evolve into an intrusive scoring system dystopia; the Chinese Social Credit System commonly referenced.
Digital credentials, or verifiable credentials or in this context can also be referred as community credentials — what we’re calling Creds — are built in a way that ensures these fears are never a possibility. Through using Creds, users are able to build a user-control decentralised reputation. Held in a users wallet, and NOT by a centralised authority, Creds are private by default and only shared when the users chooses to do so, giving them total control and privacy. Further, there is no single ‘score’ for the user’s reputation. Instead the Creds get checked by whoever the counterparty is, when they’ve chosen to share whatever is relevant to the interaction. Through holding Creds — issued by a community manager via a blockchain — users can secure and protect their reputation data, enabling them to build a portable, private and reusable digital identity that they can proudly own as they develop in their Web3 journey and careers.
Enabling community members to build their reputation with Creds amplifies their visibility and recognition within the ecosystems, making them more engaged, trustworthy and loyal members. However, with the current tools available, building a portable reputation which is as flexible as an individual’s curiosity is to explore realms is hard (or near impossible). By earning Creds based on their contributions, expertise, and achievements, individuals can establish themselves as trusted and respected members of the community. This recognition not only benefits the individuals but also strengthens the overall reputation and trustworthiness of the community itself.
In the next blog, we’ll delve deeper into the challenges with community building, the shortcomings of existing solutions and how reputation-credentials can help tackle these to build more engaged and activated communities. Ultimately we’ll share our vision for an Interchain Reputation, enabling greater community trust and a more united Web3 ecosystem.
At Creds.xyz, we’re helping individuals build their reputation and take it everywhere! Join the waitlist now to be first to start collecting Creds and building your reputation!