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The communication, the community and you
thinking about a (decentralised) PR/outside communication structure for the HENC community project.
Table of Contents
- Problem/Initial Thoughts
- the life and times of … information
- info gets born
- Discord (HENC):
- Discourse/community forum
- Proposals/working docs/Figma
- Discourse/Community forum
- info rests in peace - or does it?
- Introducing: The Blog
- combining the two best things in life: working groups and everyone's opinion
- Alas, what a beautiful chaos!
- the Blog in practice
- Introducing: The Wiki Archive
- conclusion: going with the flow (of information)
A big, diverse community that wants to start a collective project will at some point need a clear, accessible, transparent communication to the general public. Since we as HENC aim at decentralization, the question about who communicates what is getting more important the more we decentralize.
[side note: My personal opinion is that a lack of communication around the original project “hicetnunc” was a huge problem: Info was not properly announced, the vision was only vaguely layed out, not transparently documented, thus creating huge discrepancies between the founders vision and roadmap and the expectation of the community, contributing to growing frustrations among the community and probably one contributing factor to the toxic environment of (general) discussions. in my humble o, we should try to avoid that as much as possible by listening to each other, empathizing with other people's opinions and being patient - and staying as transparent as possible.]
the imbalance of knowledge
Currently, a lot of discussions are “trapped” within our discord. People that are more active on discord have lots of advantages: the more time you spend keeping track of pages over pages in the discord, the more power will your voice have there as you have access to all the info. We can't expect everyone to keep track of every part of discord though.
so we need to document the discussions better, streamline the places where what kind of info has to go and make sure people that don't have access to discord can take part in the discussions and get the relevant information from all the working groups.
one thing that could be witnessed around the announcement of the last voting stages for the new name was that official announcements from the community via twitter and recap posts had a huge time lag: since the process schedule did not work out, no info was going out into the public (as in the non-discord realm) at all.
looking at the official info channels for HENC it looked like development came to a halt completely while inside the opposite was true: people were working on getting the vote to work. Ideally, updates and news should be posted even when there is a slow down in certain areas, updates need to be frequent, accurate and should reflect the process. it was suggested to have the (currently forming) pr team posting small tweets regularly. waiting for (a general) consensus on every post seems problematic.
we currently have no protocol or team to take care of outside communication.
(de)centralised attention economy - why everyone should be able to write up
having writeups and recaps by dedicated volunteers is a starting point but it poses the risk of “centralised attention economy”: if one person gathers all the info and sums it up, it cant reproduce a discussion fairly and objectively. the recaps end up being opinionated, people might feel left out, voices possibly drown.
so the question is: how can we set up a “trustless” system of communication from the initial discussion to “official” update posts/recaps that are shared with the public on official communication outlets (i.e. twitter, a blog, the main website) that is still fast enough so infos get to the public channels in time?
the life and times of … information
In order to set up a proper structure, let's first take a look at the “lifecycle” of the info that needs to be distributed/delegated/communicated. Which channels need to be synced? where should we put which info? Where does it come from?
info gets born
currently we have the following spaces in which discussions and development happens:
The “root” of every discussion: since it is a way to directly communicate, really important and well thought out info will stand next to shill posts, general help questions, quick ideas, brainstorming sessions etc. while all of the above is very relevant to the community it gets increasingly hard to find specific infos.
- suboptimal accesibility
- chaotic/hard to find info
- “too fast”
- personal/irrelevant discussions dilute the discourse
In addition to Discord, we have our community forum as a place for discussion acting as a “community soapbox” so to speak where people prepare more thought out texts and “speeches” to contribute to the discussion. Here, every idea or topic gets a specific post thread which helps with keeping track and finding the right info. it also is in the hands of the community - as opposed to discord which is run by a third party company (discord, duh)
- less white noise
- better for longer, thought out thoughts
- better documentation
- owned by the community
- not everyone knows about it
- doesn't really work that well for “official announcements”
- people tend to discuss more on discord
- only short format
The community agreed that for constructive discussions, ideas and proposals should be layout in form of shareable documents (google docs, pdfs, figma pages) so they can be commented on, shared, discussed, linked in forum and discord, worked with. While this helps with increasing the constructiveness of discussions it also needs to be managed: just having a bunch of documents does not magically put those in context, making them accessible. They must be posted to discord as well as the forum, put into context by the community and stored somewhere accessible. I would propose a page on notion (s. below) as i think the proposals belong to the project management side of things.
Notion is a project management system. We currently have a page there with a WIP roadmap. it seems to work pretty well but only a few people have access to it (write) while the pages can be viewed publicly. I think it would be a good working space for a (future) project management/roadmap team to gather info (like working docs, proposals) and voting related info for everyone to get insight into the project status.
from the discussion, info spreads to the public (hopefully more accessible) channels
Twitter is a fun and sometimes toxic place. But regardless of its issues, it is currently undoubtedly the number one social platform for everything related to NFT. If we want to stay relevent we have to communicate there. Currently, a handful of community members have shared access to it via tweetdeck and send out updates, announcements and news from the community rather sporadically.
Twitter is useful for outside communication: getting infos out to (almost all of) the NFT crowd (idk how many countries have restricted access to it, maybe that sentence in itself is a false assumption?).
- great reach
- info can get viral, spread organically
- people expect infos here, so they will look at the twitter profile for updates
- controlled by third party
- hard to share access
- no edit function (important for controversial wording)
s. above. Currently the only “official” info resource by the HENC other than twitter
Github is the standard for tech building and shared development. on the old hicetnunc project github was not only used for tech dev but also for hosting community related help and about pages. While some think this is the way, I personally think github should be used for the dev side of things, non dev people find it hard to handle i think and something like a blog and or wiki could potentially have better accessibility and better UX.
- very very useful for dev related discussion and development
- standard for devs
- a little hard to work with for non dev people
- a little cluttered UX
info rests in peace - or does it?
One topic that is easily forgotten but imo very, very important is documentation: Not only current info needs to be accessible but also past info. It helps with understanding the community's neds and vision, learning from past issues, preventing misinformation and false accusations and solving legal questions.
Currently there is no dedicated place for documentation. we can ctrl+F the discord channels, the documents, the forum but in my opinion a real hub for documents, past events, archived discussions is needed. i propose a wiki (more on that below)
Introducing: The Blog
UFFFD are currently! developing a Blog for the community as an easily accessible and dedicated place for official announcements/discussion recaps and outside communications. In the discord discussion about it, they made clear it could be the perfect place to “decentralise” the official communication further:
combining the two best things in life: working groups and everyone's opinion
Blog posts could be written by the community and run through a “upvote” system (possibly even on chain) - the post that gets enough upvotes, or interaction gets displayed on the main page (or stays there). that would be the final goal. it would ensure that not a handful of people is talking to the public but the community itself, hopefully reflecting the community better than a centralised approach.
Currently that voting system could be tricky to implement, from a tech side but also hard to get enough people involved for this idea to work out
But it doesn't have to start that way, it doesn't even have to be that way. Another option (especially for the early stages) would be a “blogpost submission form” - the community can submit their blog posts which then get reviewed by the (currently forming, assigned by the community) PR-team. the team could crossread the posts and “spice them up” and fact check them and write their own announcements
We could also repost forum entries that are “trending” or “hot” to bring people to the forum or run the voting system parallel to the pr team announcements (a tagging system for the posts could help here) the more people we get to participate, the better for our vision.
On the Blog, there should be a “comment” section to bring discussions back from the (very public) blog into the community. My current favorite way of doing that would be to create a copy of every blog post on the discourse forum and open up a discussion in the forum thread so the discussions that happen in relation to the blog posts are not spread out but sorted and easy to find in the forum.
this “comment in forum” section could be added optionaly. not every article needs an in depth discussion, for some a normal comment section might be enough and using the forum only for very important articles could help focus the discussions and also keep the forum from being littered with dead threads.
Alas, what a beautiful chaos!
We can have tags for topics but also working groups, authors, genres of text, feelings. the possibilities are endless and the tags will help finding and customizing relevant info.
Qizzio: “An idea would be to also include the author as handle - in that way even the same topic can be posted by 2 authors and the readers have the choice which one they read. Authors would also have the possibility to gain credibility. This could be entered into one big chaotic system (for everybody to read) and the voting could be used to approve the keywords the authors applies for. (Or the PR team approves.)”
the Blog in practice
UFFD has put together the first draft of this article as a blogpost as a proof of concept. you can find it here:
Introducing: The Wiki Archive
The other new site i would like to propose is a public HENC wiki: A place to gather all information and bring them into archival order: saving documents, maybe even OBJKTs (or any artifacts relevant to the history of our community) a whole bunch of people already volunteered to help with documentation. This wiki could be supervised by the archive team, who can just start with bringing in the info and documents while the wiki is open to public edits/additions. the archivists would then order the new entries and crosslink etc.
In order to make sure documents and articles stay accessible and verifiable, the idea of additionally hosting the media on IPFS to decentralize them emerged. This could happen via an “archive” multisig wallet that mints documents for the community.
The wiki could also be the “knowledge base” for more static kinds of infos: tutorials, guidelines, the COC, the manifesto, FAQ sections, read mes, link collections, a timeline of the projects history, …
yeah, but why not do that on Github?
I think a real wiki would have better accessibility, UX and look and feel fit for the Archive project. imo it's just more straightforward to use and navigate. it also would be community owned and not be located in a place for basically every dev project on the internet. In general i think it is no problem to have multiple sites/platforms for different tasks (i.e. notion for project management, the blog for outside communication, the forum for discussion) - as long as we make sure the different places are well linked to each other and people remember what info goes where. managing such a rich and diverse coimmunity with so many different opinions is a complex task and requires a very diverse set of tools and hubs to make it work imo
conclusion: going with the flow (of information)
So how could that look in practice? Let me show you an ugly ass flowchart
We would have a lot of “information islands” that are connected to each other. there are places that are used by the community for discussions and development (blue backdrop) those spaces are of course open to the public but not “official info outlets” and not expected to be the place for announcement (tho for example the discord channel “announcement” should still bring in info from the official announcement channels)
the general public can have their input via the common channels like twitter or maybe the blog (yellow backdrop) bringing in outside discussions into the community.
We’d have info islands that are managed by working groups (green nodes) - managed in a sense that volunteers would oversee that the infos are correct, in order and correctly link to each other. the teams need to be assigned by the community/Org/Dao.
we would have three official info “outlets” (red backdrop):
- the blog - at the center of outside communication - would be supervised by the pr team while also displaying posts directly submitted by the community (or maybe even by the public?) it also can have a comment function which could take discussion input back into the community
- twitter four direct, quick updates from within the community, run by the pr team
- the wiki archive for static info and knowledge, run by the archive team. the place that offers docs, guidelines, tutorials etc
The main site of course is first and foremost the marketplace itself but there needs to be an accessible and intuitive way to access both the info outlets and the discussion spaces. i would suggest putting the info outlets to a more prominent place on the site and the discussion forums on something like an “about section” to guide new users to the official outlets first.