Proposal to add a Community Category on the forum

This post follows up on the June 23, 2022 Community Call where I proposed that SCRF add a Community category to the forum. This post is intended to be the next step in that proposal so that people can add additional insights, requirements, or concerns. I’ll also lay out some next steps and timelines for feedback. The implementation of this category, assuming we have general consensus, would be tracked on the Create Community Section on forum issue.

TLDR

  • This is a proposal for a community category on the forum where SCRF community activity can have a place for the output of those activities.
  • There are several content types proposed that would be part of this category
    • Reading Group
    • Community Guilds
    • Comment of the Month
    • Community Call
    • SCRF Recommends
    • Notable Works and Key Questions
    • Community Roundup or SCRF Embassy
    • Welcome/How To
  • There are a few tags proposed as well
    • Decision
    • Proposal
    • Guild Work
    • Ambassador Report
  • The following questions are proposed to help guide conversations on this proposal
    • Does a Community category belong on our forum at all?
    • Assuming yes above, what feedback and thoughts exist about the proposed content types and tags in the above proposal? Part B, are there additional proposals?
    • What work do we need to do in order to make this a successful category?

Justification

As the SCRF community grows, it needs a space for community outputs. Members of our organization are now forming reading groups, participating in guild meetings to make decisions, and contributing to community grants like Comment of the Month. Some of this work happens through issues and project boards on our GitHub. Others accomplish their work via our chat. Neither of those places ideally facilitates the general goals of our community work, however. For the work our community does, I think creating a readily visible, on-forum, long-tail space for community contribution would support the growth and value of our community. a to include this as well.

Proposed Structure

Part of the rationale in proposing this new category for the forum is there are already activities happening at SCRF that would fall within a Community section. These are::

  • Reading Group
  • Community Guilds
  • Comment of the Month

In my mind, only the Comment of the Month is potentially out of place here because it is dealing with the awarding of a grant. There is the Grant Proposals, Bounties, and Awards category that already exists for this. However, because it is the community that nominates and then votes on the awarding of this particular project, I propose that the nomination and decision making happen in the Community category.

Each of these already have somewhat of a description on the forum as well, but they would likely need to be updated some to help people make use of them on forum. That is a bit of a lift, but I think it’s a small one.

In addition to what we are already doing, however, I am proposing the following also become part of the proposed Community category.

  • Community Call
    • We have great discussions in our weekly community call and we often run out of time as a result. Also, while it is on the schedule of the calendar, it is not always easy to find what the topic of the community call will be unless you happen to catch something in our chat. Additionally, this is a place where links to forum posts and long-tailed discussion about the content of the community call can be sustained.
  • SCRF Recommends
    • There have been several discussion in meetings and in chat about where to start in crypto. As an organization, that is not really part of SCRF’s mission nor are we in a position to really do a better job than many of the organizations out there that do focus on crypto education. However, we do have an organizational interest in making sure people have access to this material and we do have a community of people who are voracious consumers of crypto information. Having a SCRF Recommends section would allow us to put forward such resources for discussion and potential inclusion in a SCRF outward facing location (the thread, website, repo perhaps). This helps us onboard and socialize people new to the space without having to be the primary educators. It also potentially creates collaboration opportunities between SCRF and others.
  • Notable Works and Key Questions
    • The other categories on our forum have pinned posts that collect notable works and key questions. As a member of the Engagement Vertical, I see a lot of value in copying these content types for the community category. Seeing as SCRF is building a community around research and evidence, it certainly makes sense to me that we use research and evidence in co-developing best practices for community activities as well. Notable Works in Community could even be a outwardly useful guide for other communities to refer to. I suspect we would also be collecting the insights from other communities there as well.
      Key Questions in Community would be a location where the types of questions we have on “how to do” in a community could be collected and potentially lead to recommendations. This has both onboarding and culture development benefits.
  • Community Roundup and/or SCRF Embassy
    • During the community call, I had suggested that the Community category would benefit from a roundup of our community discussions/activities. The cadence of this might be weekly or longer, but it provides Discovery and Outreach an opportunity to point to what SCRF is up to as a community. During the call, some great ideas regarding a place for our community to report out and others to report in were raised and discussed. These are still pretty nebulous in my mind, but I’m generally calling this the SCRF Embassy. It might be a place for our cross-pollinators to interact as well. I’m looking forward to how this develops, as I think it is a great idea!
  • Welcome/How To
    • I am less committed to this being on the forum, but it does seem like an opportunity to discuss how to guides/best practices for new community members or potentially a thread that helps new members become oriented to life on the forum. I would also be interested in developing this section with others if they have a clear vision of what this could look like to provide utility to our community.

Additionally, there are some tags that would be valuable for both the community section and the forum overall that I am proposing here.

  • Decision
    • This tag indicates that the thread includes either a call for a decision to be made or that it contains a decision that has been made. In addition to connecting these types of decisions to our GitHub repos, capturing decision points visibly on the forum can also help people better understand SCRF and the work SCRF does as a community.
  • Proposal
    • This tag indicates that a proposal is being made. This has value across the forum as research content also includes proposals being made.
  • Reading Group
    • This tag will help people readily find information about reading group activities and outputs.
  • Guild Work
    • This tag will help people find information about the output of guilds. For example, the discussion about SourceCred, now that it is in the hands of a guild, would receive this tag. Additionally, this would make it easy to find any newsletter like material that guilds might use the forum to accomplish.
  • Ambassador Report or Community Report
    • I am certainly not fully committed to either of these names. The intention here is that work that reflects the reporting out or reporting in of community, cross-pollinator, or ambassador type work happens in our community section, it should be easily discovered. Please help in naming this if you feel they are good tags to have!

Costs to Forum

A new category on the forum certainly comes with potential costs. As a community, I want to make sure we identify the potential costs and have some discussion on how to mitigate them if we go forward with this category proposal. In my mind, there are two areas of potential concern, but I certainly want to encourage people to bring up additional ones to help me overcome by blind spots.

  • Attention Competition
    • The forum is primarily focused on long-tail discussion around research summaries, discussion posts, and other Web3 problem-oriented content. The addition of community activity to the forum potentially drowns out some of this activity. Deep and thoughtful interactions are difficult; that is why it is so valuable that SCRF is creating a space for that to happen. Community content, while still requiring thought and effort, has lower barriers of entry. I would want to make sure that we continue to be able to highlight the key mission of SCRF and also incentivize the high level research discussion. I am interested in thoughts others have of how big of a problem this potentially is and how we might be able to create a forum experience that mitigates it.
  • Moderation Effort
    • Assuming that the content types above are something we adopt, there is then increased moderation effort needed to help guide people into our content type frameworks and also to encourage and curate the type of interactions we are looking to house in this category. This will take additional staffing or dedication from the staff we currently have. I think this is worth it, but we need to identify those resources and encourage the development of those resources within our community. This also means we have some need for documentation and maintenance as well.

Next Steps

If there was a Decision tag available, I would be using it for this post as I am looking to this thread to produce a decision. There are a few to make here and some discussion to have around it. There are three questions I am particularly interested in exploring here:

  1. Does a Community category belong on our forum at all?
  2. Assuming yes above, what feedback and thoughts exist about the proposed content types and tags in the above proposal? Part B, are there additional proposals?
  3. What work do we need to do in order to make this a successful category?

My general timeline (open to discussion) is that this thread be open to discussion for approximately 10 days to give a reasonable opportunity for people to contribute. I am then hoping we can set up a poll that essentially “calls the question” that either takes on this whole proposal or breaks it out into a series of polls and questions. Those would also be open for about 10 days. Seeing how that goes, then we start to implement what we have worked through.

I am excited to engage in this as a conversation. Obviously, this is something I am incredibly in favor of and think that there is a lot of value add for us as an organization and community by implementing a Community category. Hopefully our community is also aligned here too.

10 Likes

I applaud this idea, I think our forum is a tiny bit stuffy, and now that we have a critical mass of smart cryptonative people we could take some of the energy we have in our Discord and feed it into the forum itself. I highly encourage this and hope people can use the Community category as a place to relax, think out loud about web3, and bat ideas against one another (or even argue!)

5 Likes

I think this is an amazing idea! A community category would help us have a specific place to discuss things that you have listed. For instance, I would love to have more discussions on the Impact Networks book that we read in the reading group for June, but the group meeting is over and it seems tough to find like-minded people. I think a community category would make it easier to have those conversations. Also, conversations stemming from the community calls can be continued here, if created.

On the flip side, how do we organise/moderate conversations? Would a community section on the forum duplicate what could be a channel on the chat? Would it be possible to have a parking space for less formal (research-related) conversations?

To try to answer these questions

  • I think yes, a community category belongs on our forum, the potential pros seem to outweigh the cons.
  • I also think the proposed contents types and tags look good, however, I’d like to suggest a little veering off the serious track to allow the posting of memes :sweat_smile:
  • There may be a need for the engagement team to initiate conversations pending when community members become more familiar with the category. The engagement team may also need to be able to track people’s interests and tag them to conversations that may be of interest to them.
6 Likes

Great observations about what the engagement team will need to do to get this started. I generally agree with you that will have to be an effort by the team to direct people to this category. My long-term hope is that this section of the forum becomes “owned” by the SCRF community and onboarding teams. and that also there will be an onboarding element to this category as well.

The idea of memes has come up in the past in chat also. For the forum, I’m a little less interested in having there be a lot of meme-type content because I think that is antithetical to the type of discussion that SCRF is trying to support and build. Maybe some in the chat? I am curious, however, what the value of meme content is for our community? To me, there are several places on the internet that support that well and we’re just not going to be able to or maybe even want to compete with those spaces.

4 Likes

Thanks for proposing this idea. I think adding a Community Section would be a great addition to the forum. I like the ideas that you outlined - it’d be great to find what version of bringing the community calls to the forum that makes sense/gets people excited to interact.

I agree with @Tolulope that it’d be great to keep the conversation going on Impact Networks and future reading groups.

One question is about the decision tag. If the goal is to signal something needs to be decided, how is will that be delineated from proposals. Will all posts that need a proposal tag also need a decision tag? Also, if there’s a desire to link to github, how would that be operationalized?

I think getting some kind of community report that highlights external communities and research arising/being discussed would be great. That ties into some of the work being done on the Cross Pollinator side - @Hermes_Corp @Hazel_Devjani it’d be great to get your opinion on that.

One area of thing to think through would be when we start doing more research oriented community events, where would that content go. E.g. if we’re discussing research summary x in a live chat, would that need a community post or would any relevant forum convo get captured in the summary post?

Excited to see where this goes!

4 Likes

Great questions!
For the first question regarding the decision and proposal tag, they may actually be redundant. All proposals will need some type of decision, so the presence of a proposal tag should also indicate that a decision is happening there. I suppose my original thinking was that something like Notable Works or Key Questions would also come with decision tags, providing that tag with utility across the forum. Threads like the SCRF Terms Glossary and Content Tags might also benefit from a decision tag so that people could filter by the decisions that the SCRF community has made over time. Perhaps to start with, just the proposal would make sense.

Regarding the second question about research-oriented community events, I think the key here is to make sure we are highlighting research content above all else. I am interested in seeing the success of this community category, but it is a support category to help us produce more research content. If we have a live chat about a research summary, I think that the output on the forum would be best categorized as a content type in the appropriate research category. For example, a live chat on cryptography would go in the Cryptography category. Even a reading group that focuses on a core cryptography paper should probably have output in the Cryptography category. Perhaps the planning of these events could be facilitated by the Community category discussion, but the output itself should be in the research categories if possible.

Thanks for the opportunity to do some thinking through those.

2 Likes

I’m in strong support of adding a community section to the forum. I hope it will open the door to a lot of discussions that don’t currently have a home and help make our community more tight-knit.

The proposed content types are fantastic. I’d also love to see room for ‘speculation’ or theorizing in the community section of the forum. I think a lot of great science often starts as conjecture and having a place to make guesses together is really valuable. What do you think?

I also really appreciate you sliding in those proposed tags for the overall forum. I think they would be a great addition

2 Likes

Thanks, @UmarKhanEth.
I am interested in your speculation idea, as there have been some side discussions in chat about being able to highlight that something is a think piece or speculation. I agree that can be good for science overall, but I’m not sure about if it is good for SCRF at the moment. If it is in the Community section, then it is somewhat of a free-for-all on topics of conjecture. That’s not really where SCRF is providing value. If the speculation happens in the content category it is speculating on, I think that has more value, but it does potentially drown out the research content. We would need to carefully distinguish between speculation and summaries. I think at the end of the day, I would want them associated with content type, but do you have ideas of how to keep the research more clearly distinct?

I am on the verge of calling the question on this proposal, would you be opposed to continuing a discussion about where think pieces, speculation, theorizing fits post the section vote and potential creation?

3 Likes

Why don’t we add this to the Discord rather than the Forum? I’m not sure a community section makes sense on the Forum when we have a better community-focused tool. Let the Forum be content. You’re going to start diminishing the quality of the Forum itself when we begin using the Forum for everything and the kitchen sink.

If we want the community to interact for ‘community things’, let’s use the community tool.

I do see the tags proposed as valuable enough to organize content without needing a full Community Category. Serve the same purpose and would avoid the duplication of a category and tags if they achieve the same outcome.

We could add several Categories and Channels to support this:

  • Rename the “community” channel to “general”

  • Add Category: SCRF Embassy

    • Channels: Community
    • Notable Works
    • SCRF Recommends
    • Research DAOs

As the other channels on Discord (Chat) follow, this would have a #start-here.

Thinking the cross-pollinators can really own and design this section.

6 Likes

Hello @zube.paul,

I’m happy to keep the discussion going after the vote.

To keep the research distinct, maybe this is another use-case for tags. We could have a tag for ‘thinkpiece’ separate from a tag for ‘research’ and maybe require the appropriate tag be a part of the topic title. I also share your perspective that this sort of conjecture may not be where SCRF is providing value, although I think it could be fun and lead to connections between researchers who are able to be a bit looser with their thoughts.

I’m also keen to see what happens in the community section. I think it may be easier to just see what happens and correct or reverse if things go wrong than try to predict and prevent.

It would be so exciting to see researchers on the forum hypothesizing in the open and coming up with questions that may turn into serious research forays or papers. But even without this sort of speculation, I’m excited for a community section that helps connect people.

3 Likes

I like your recommendations for what we could be doing in the chat. There are some places where we could definitely enhance chat to support the type of content being discussed in this thread. I would be particularly interested in what @Hermes_Corp and @Hazel_Devjani would add for the embassy idea. Based on their most recent presentation, I no longer would argue for a content type being called an embassy, but would want to work with them to design a hub for output of cross-pollinator activity.

I still believe that a forum category is warranted, however. To me, the chat has an ephemeral quality and is not particularly valuable for long-tail discussions or output. I agree that we do not want to diminish the content quality of the forum, but I would argue the type of output that would be in the Community Category would augment, as opposed to diminish, forum quality. As an example, there are the beginnings of some great discussions that are generated by the Community Call. Having a place for a long-tail discussion where people could also bring some research into the discussion. I suspect it might end up looking something like the various Smart Contract Summit posts from 2021.

This category also helps to create a history of decisions and thought processes that is seemingly more accessible than having community output live in GitHub, which would be the other platform that we have that might be able to capture this institutional knowledge. There are some UX considerations we could add here to help people navigate that knowledge, but doing the “work” of community on forum gives us the ability to accomplish those goals. I believe that the chat is a valuable place to brainstorm and connect, but it is not particularly good at housing output. That’s why I think the forum would be a good location to have a Community section.

3 Likes

There has been some good discussion here that I greatly appreciate. I do think it is time to call the question though. There is a lot in the original proposal, but I think that the best course of action is to vote on whether to have the category or not. Following the vote, we can build out content pieces if approved or put in no effort if not approved by the community.

Adding a Community category to the forum vote
  • Yes, I support adding a Community category to the forum
  • No, I oppose adding a Community category to the forum

0 voters

5 Likes

The proposal passes.
Thank you everyone for your input and discussion. Follow the Create Community Section issue as we implement this section and the proposal.

2 Likes