In the Blockchain industry, we always hear the word “community” as a reference to the body of players who are supposed to be the stakeholders that care the most about the said project. It could be any project. The first question is always, “How big is your community?”
It has been used during all cornerstones events that I can remember or think of, earliest that comes to mind was during the BTC fork with the community debating about block size, right up to Ethereum hard fork. However, have you pondered upon, what does the word community in this context mean?
Definition of Community (Sort of)
In its truest sense, or according to my humble interpretation the main function of Community in the blockchain industry is to determine the future of the public Blockchain. They achieve this through decentralised governance and consensus.
At the heart of a truly decentralised blockchain lies the consensus decision making function which is the direction that the said public blockchain is going to go. The majority decides while the minority follows much like true democratic societies around the world.
The underlying theory is that all stakeholders wants the best for the public blockchain, would make the best decision for the direction of the blockchain. Thus, with this power to direct, the community body as a whole is truly important as it also represents governance in the public blockchain.
However when I took closer look at the existing top 3 public chains in the context of their community, I found that the deciding community is small subset of a larger ecosystem. Delved deeper I found that there are actually a few layers. The deciding community are usually made up of the “inner circle”, the founding members of the chain. Most of the time, these “insiders” would tend to have more knowledge on the technical aspect, and thus have the “advantage” over other members. Their influence are more far reaching and their actions ultimately decides where the blockchain would be headed.
Here comes the important question, “if the blockchain is supposed to be decentralised, then should there be a hierarchy in the community?” Herein, to my opinion lies the contradiction.
Before coming to a conclusion, to the question above, bear in mind a blockchain project starts out very different when compared to a traditional business. Traditional business have to first have a product, then sell it to their customers / end users. These customers then form the community for the company. The traditional company then employs different tactics to grow its community and create loyal fans. In the blockchain projects, it seems it is 100% the opposite.
You start with building a community / core supporters, get them to trust in your project then come up with the product before selling to the masses.
A few years back, probably about 3 -4 years ago, the majority of the people in the crypto space were largely developers, exchanges and miners. However, fast forward to 2020, the demographics of people in the industry have changed a lot. There have been a large influx of venture capitalist, institutional players, speculators, scammers and most important of all a lot of the common folks are getting involved. Those who once thought Bitcoin was a scam are the same people asking me how to buy some Bitcoins.
It can be concluded that the industry is getting the attention of more mainstream users, and the constitution of the community has changed along with it.
Here is a depiction of the above.
These has been demonstrated during Ethereum hard fork decisions and Bitcoin block size arguments. Almost in all the situations, there both such communities, but the ones that made the decision are from the smaller subset. For Bitcoin, we know for a fact a certain mining company (the one which failed to do their IPO) controls more than 50% of the mining pools, while during the ETH Carbonvote there were only 1.3k unique address which voted.
Therefore, coming back to the question now, why are there hierarchy in the community ? To me this is certainly unavoidable, due to the nature of blockchain projects. I still personally think that for blockchain projects to progress, they have to start of more centralised before they can be truly decentralised and have no hierarchy.
Ecosystem approach in WENX
Juxtaposed to the example in Figure 1, the controlling subset in a centralised exchange is made up of the owners of the exchange. While WENX is a centralised exchange, it is also a part of the bigger WEN Ecosystem. The ultimate goal is to benefit the community in the WEN Eco system and for this community to ultimately have a controlling voice in the operations of the exchange.
In all of the centralised exchanges, the larger ecosystem, which is mainly made up of the users do not get a say and are powerless over the direction of the exchange. Some exchanges do give some sort of “say” to the holders of their tokens, but that is an entirely different mechanics, they do that to give more utility to their platform tokens. These users, therefore, have little choice but to place their trust with the owners of the exchange if they require to use them.
In WENX, this is very different because the major shareholders are the WEN Foundation and WEN Ecosystem. The WEN Ecosystem is an established one with many piratical solutions already developed. Just to name some, it currently has wallet applications, online marketplace, incubation center, blockchain research center and etc. It is fast evolving and full of potential to bring blockchain to mass adoption.
So in the initial stages of WENX, a professional team will be brought in to run the operations for it to serve as an integral part to support the WEN Ecosystem. Eventually, once the platform is stable and profitable, the decision making would ideally reach a more balanced state where community leadership and ecosystem inclusion work together to strengthen its longevity and sustainability potential.