Viewpoint: A blockchain without a community is just a database, a community without a charter is not a community at all

Author: Lane Rettig

Editor's Note: The original title is "Soul of Blockchain Project-Bylaws"

Just as a blockchain without a community is actually just a database, a community without a charter is not a community at all, it is just a group of accidental, unconnected people who happen to be together. The charter is the soul of the community: it gives the community cohesion, as well as affinity and vitality: it allows community members to unite for a common cause and achieve a great cause together under difficult circumstances.

In this article, the charter refers to the "basic system of principles" for conceiving, establishing, operating, and managing projects. Whether these basic principles are recorded in a single document, such as a declaration or a written charter, is just one of many questions. Bylaws may also include spirit, values, mission, goals, stories, visions or other basic ideas, whether written or unwritten, express or implied. This is the basic principle of building a community culture: in other words, the social structure. As with all forms of culture, it is critical to address these issues right from the start, and it is well known that once a culture is formed it is difficult to change.

The charter depends not only on what you say, but also on what you say. Marketing is not one of the topics of this article because it is a manifestation of culture and cannot be used to define culture or bylaws. The best projects have little investment in marketing because their compelling stories are a direct product of culture and they speak for themselves (such as Bitcoin).

  • What is the reason for the story? Who built your community, how and why? Are communities built to fulfill certain missions? Is it based on a common vision, ideology or a set of values? Or was it established to promote a particular product or technology? Or is it based on the founder's personal power, such as worship of the individual? Understanding how communities are formed, why, and conditions is the first step in defining or understanding their composition. (There are reasons why so many large companies and countries have fictitious groundbreaking myths.) The founding story, defined by a valuable mission or vision, naturally gives it a strong charter. A story defined by a product or technology is also possible. On the other hand, an individual-centric community is almost impossible to scale up or keep people following. Be suspicious of any project that puts people above the task.
  • Who is the leader of the community ? Values ​​and stories are important, but all communities also need to be protagonists in the form of one or more leaders. What personal and leadership qualities do they have? For example, are they attractive? Are they respected throughout the community? What is the basis of this respect and its authority? Are they arrogant or humble? Do they exhibit strong moral and moral qualities? What do they represent? What values ​​do they support? How many leaders are in the community? The healthiest communities have many leaders, and although their preferences and leadership styles may differ, they share many common values ​​and put mission and community first.
  • What is the core story ? Will people be excited and believe to follow? Do members of your community feel they are part of something greater than themselves? The mission and values ​​contained in the core story largely connect a community and give it a strong sense of affinity and common struggle. It's not important to motivate people in a bull market, but a strong story can make a community courage to survive it in difficult times.
  • Does the community have a defined mission and a common set of values, goals and principles? Are they implicit or explicit, or are they not said? How do they communicate to new community members? Are there feedback mechanisms through which community members can express their thoughts and preferences for these stories? Some people in the blockchain community, especially in projects such as Bitcoin, which place particular emphasis on liberal ideals and avoid community concepts, will find this to be neither necessary nor worthwhile for the success of a platform. However, personally, I want to connect with the platform or community as long as its values ​​are clear and I align with those values. The human story told by a project and what it represents is that it is different from a centralized super enterprise platform such as Facebook. In the face of increasingly fierce competition from these corporate giants, attracting and retaining talents to attract and retain talent to develop communities, build platforms, and build applications on platforms is also the only way for a project to gain opportunity. This is the only way the project can grow the community and continue to grow the community. Without such a human story, your community will not be united for long.
  • Is there a clear written charter? The "Conservative Moderate Code" bylaws that many people in the blockchain community claim seem to run counter to the idea that "Code is law". In fact, advocates of Szabo law may oppose it, but the project chapter procedures are necessary and can Say this is the best way to set out the basic principles and build the values ​​and principles on which your platform and community are based. Clear bylaws will be a major source of governance legitimacy. The lack of such a document will have a negative impact on the community: it will be more likely to be a victim of division, and it will divide earlier and more often along ideological lines. What's more, newcomers will be confused, don't know what you represent, and what kind of rules and behaviors to accept, value, and expect. Bylaws can also be used to arrange for clear succession and checks and balances. Without these, unstructured tyranny will certainly raise its ugly head. (The next section, "Governance," discusses this topic in more depth.)
  • How does the charter develop? Although values ​​rarely change, if your mission, vision, principles, and other basic ideas evolve as your community grows and your project matures. Are there mechanisms that can explicitly or implicitly recognize this evolution, and can motivated community members participate in the process? If you have a clear written charter, how do you modify it? How do you communicate expected norms and behaviors, and how do you update this communication? Without a clear development mechanism, your community and bylaws may stagnate, fall behind the times, exclude newcomers and cause dissatisfaction, and divide subgroups facing deprivation of rights.
  • What are your values? Values ​​are of course highly subjective and definitely not "one size fits all." It is more important to be clear about your values ​​and maintain internal consistency than to recognize any particular value. However, in my opinion, there is a set of core values ​​that are common to most legitimate blockchain platforms. Here are the values ​​I want to see on a platform:

Openness: Is the community open to everyone, regardless of their background, experience, expertise or resources? Does the community feel there is something worth learning for everyone? Are active and passive measures taken to ensure openness and accessibility? Can anyone easily download software, mine or buy tokens and start trading? As emphasized in the community, does the community welcome newcomers or does it have significant barriers to entry?

No license required: Does the user need someone else's permission to mine, purchase or pledge tokens? Contribute to a code base; deploy applications; conduct transactions; participate in governance, protect network security or value creation; or interact with the network in any other way? Please note that this refers to both explicit forms that require permission, such as heavy legal paperwork and KYC / AML processes, as well as implicit forms, such as requiring someone to sell you tokens before you trade, or requiring obscure Knowledge of where and when public meetings take place.

Social impact: Does the platform directly or indirectly promote human development in some way, for example, by making progress in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals? Does it support such applications? Are such indicators considered in the design, engineering, and governance of the network?

Modesty: Do members of the community find the platform "better than other platforms"? Is the community willing to exchange knowledge and ideas with other communities in a meaningful and constructive way? Is the community willing to adopt good ideas from other projects and communities, even those that are seen as competing or inconsistent values? Does the community acknowledge openly when it needs help and actively seek professional advice, or does it arrogantly consider itself omniscient and does not need outside help? Welcome or reject new talent and ideas? Most importantly, are the project leaders and contributors in order to beautify themselves, or do they put the interests of the project and the community above their personal interests?

Transparency: In my experience, transparency is difficult to achieve, which is why it is important to consider transparency as a basic principle from the beginning. Many community members and contributors, especially those with more company experience than open source code, often feel uncomfortable in public debate or decision-making, and they are more willing to return to trusted friends A small private group. Unfortunately, such decision making runs counter to what the blockchain represents, especially the values ​​described above: openness and permissionless innovation / participation. If it is not clear how or why the decision was made, by whom and on what basis, many people, including current and potential community members, may consider the entire project illegal and refuse to contribute, or Worse. All decisions made on behalf of the community, especially those involving voting or other formal decisions and the allocation of resources, including funds, should be completely transparent. Records of these decisions should also be archived where everyone can access them for free and indefinitely.

Accountability: This principle is as important as transparency and must be in place from the start. Irresponsible governance is no different from private territory: the leader of a project can use a project and a community to gain wealth and value for themselves and their cronies, without being responsible for anyone's actions. Needless to say, the lack of accountability is also the opposite of what the blockchain represents. The point of building and trading on an open, decentralized platform is that Facebook will never be accountable to its users, and we must be accountable to them. To whom are platform managers, developers and other core stakeholders responsible? Is accountability clear? What checks and balances exist? Are the leadership and core stakeholders ultimately responsible to all community members, token holders and network participants? What is the mechanism of accountability? (The next section, "Governance," discusses this section in more depth, especially the key question "what else or who is ultimately responsible for others?")

  • How to measure progress in all aspects? Clear goals are one thing, and progress towards these goals and tracking and sharing that progress is another. The ideas discussed in this section are "fuzzy" ideas that are difficult to track, which is why it is more important to set clear goals and milestones. Has a clear KPI been established to track the platform's compliance with its principles and progress towards its goals? Is this data public and available for comment? Who might be sanctioned for deviations or failure to deliver?
  • Is the project open source? As mentioned in Decentralization, open source code helps recruit talented and diverse contributors. From a charter perspective, this is one of the boldest signals you can send as a community. To be open source (and allowed to use), your code must be convinced that, even if you can withdraw completely at any time (for example, a fork), you still believe that your community will unite, and in the current leadership system and Stay united under values. By protecting the freedom to exit, the open source code base helps keep project leaders honest and accountable.
  • Is the plan in line with the charter and is it easy to accept criticism? Even in challenging times, do people have inherent consistency and honesty about the current situation, or are there hypocrisy, denial, and ostrich effects? Are dissident voices respected or suppressed? Should everyone follow the established route, or is there a health debate on how to improve it? Projects or communities with internal disagreements, or communities that do not accept constructive criticism, will stagnate as contributors with different opinions move elsewhere.