When thinking about community, I always stress the value of intentionality. Often people first think of rules and what they don’t want in their community because that’s easy, but I always try to encourage moderators and community managers to reframe that and instead try to identify what they do what. Try to describe the community that you want, that you want to hang out in, by what it is, not what it isn’t. Try to write every point as a positive not a negative. It’s actually harder than you think to do this, but I believe it makes a powerful statement and attracts people who want the same thing as you as well as helping you fine tune your own intentions.
Two guiding documents I helped write that I’m really proud of are the Safecast Code and the Cryptopunks V1 Discord server etiquette.
For Safecast, the environmental non-profit I helped start in 2011, we wanted something for our volunteer community to act as our guiding principals, so in 2014 we published this:
We’ve been thinking about what describes the Safecast project as a whole, and came up with a list of 10 things that we try to incorporate into all of our efforts. This is something like our code of conduct, what are we doing, what we should be doing. We try to check ourselves against this list and encourage others to do the same.
- ALWAYS OPEN – We strive to make everything we do transparent, public and accessible.
- ALWAYS IMPROVING -We can always do better so use agile, iterative design to ensure we’re always refining our work.
- ALWAYS ENCOURAGING – We aim to be welcoming and inclusive, and push each other to keep trying.
- ALWAYS PUBLISHING – Results are useless behind closed doors, we try to put everything we’re doing out to the world regularly.
- ALWAYS QUESTIONING – We don’t have all the answers, and encourage continued learning and critical thinking.
- ALWAYS UNCOMPROMISING – Our commitment to our goals keeps us moving closer towards them.
- ALWAYS ON – Safecast doesn’t sleep. We’re aware and working somewhere around the world 24/7
- ALWAYS CREATING – Our mission doesn’t have a completion date, we can always do more tomorrow.
- ALWAYS OBJECTIVE – Politics skews perception, we focus on the data and the questions it presents.
- ALWAYS INDEPENDENT – This speaks for itself.
I’ve written before about the overuse and redundancy of Discord servers in the web3 space so with for the Cryptopunks V1 Discord I asked that we think of what didn’t already exist, but that we wanted to exist, and explicitly try to create that. I’m proud of these guidelines and think they’ve helped shape a friendly and welcoming community.
- We are inclusionary and you’re welcome here. No matter what you look like, where you come from, what you have or your beliefs; you’ll be treated with respect.
- We are here to have fun but not at the expense of others.
- We celebrate CryptoPunks and Web3 Punk culture in its entirety. We recognise the visionary of our creators, LarvaLabs; the current owners of the brand, Yuga Labs; and all of the wonderful Punk derivatives. We reject repeated, intentionally divisive or derogatory comments towards any in the Punk ecosystem.
- We show respect and positivity because we want to be respected by the wider community.
- We share our interests, achievements and current projects without incessant shilling. In general, if you’re repeatedly bringing up a particular topic without prompt, that could be considered shilling.
- We’re all at different stages of our journey and continuously learning. Teach others about your experiences, learn from others about theirs. All questions are good questions and our chat is an open forum.
- We recommend you turn off DMs and be extremely careful in the interactions you have here. Phishing, impersonation and all manner of trickery are persistent threats.
- If you post a suspicious link, NSFW/NSFL content our mods might act to ban or mute you immediately. If in doubt about whether something is acceptable, it’s better not to post.
- Mods are here to clear away bad actors and facilitate positive discussion. If a mod asks for a discussion to move on, or to an alternate channel, or reminds you of these guidelines; please heed their advice.
- We Punks are ultimately the moderators of our peers. If you see something that isn’t constructive to the community we’re building, say something.
While I’m not trying to suggest these are perfect or pat myself on the back too much, I think these are two really good examples of directional documents that can help a community shape itself rather than just leaving things up to chance. If you are a community steward, manager, curator or janitor I can’t recommend doing something like this enough.