Community Engagement

Eduardo Abreu
My First DAO
Published in
6 min readSep 15, 2023

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Source: Midjourney

Summary:

In this blog, we discuss how a duly constituted DAO Council can address flagging community engagement. In particular, we discuss:

  • Deciding which community to engage
  • How to engage the community for feedback
  • How the DAO Council will act in its new capacity

Part I: How it went down

This week, the My First DAO (MFD) DAO Council met to tackle the challenge of declining community engagement. This is a pressing topic for any DAO, and should be considered an ongoing task.

In the case of MFD, over the past several weeks, and since the DAO Council was elected, engagement has declined. The decline was noticed through both lower engagement levels in the DAO’s Discord channel as well as a decline in attendance at the weekly streams. We went from an average for 150 attendees per weekly event to about 30–40 attendees per weekly event. As the DAO Council was constituted to address community concerns, addressing the decline was a natural first priority.

During the Council’s first meeting, we went over:

  • My First DAO’s Mission
  • Feedback and what to improve on for My First DAO
  • Goals for MFD Council
  • Next steps and key takeaways

In the week following the first meeting, the Council refined their approach to engage the community and arrest the decline in engagement. The council settled on a survey, designed to reduce friction on the respondent, that would not only reveal engagement preference but also guide the Council on how to best re-engage the community.

The Council recognized that a survey is an imperfect tool. The chief concern is that the survey can influence the respondent by the nature in which a question is asked and which answers are presented as choices. To contend with this concern, the Council decided to include free-form questions that would enable the community to respond and reveal their preferences. The benefit of revealed preferences is that the community might suggest courses of action that were not previously considered during the construction of the survey.

A concern in distributing the survey is that the most engaged members, the ones that are still showing up week after week, will be the only ones to respond. As this biases the results to individuals who are accustomed to the current state of affairs, the Council was guided to specifically target individuals who were engaged initially but who have been less engaged now. This might be possible with MFD as the platform on which most of its streaming occurs can tie wallets and email addresses.

Another concern in securing engagement is how to motivate community members to complete the survey. To incentivize members to fill out the survey, we gave each member a badge after completion. If members have never missed an event they would get a special badge. Incentivizing members is a low lift way to get people to take action in the community.

Our outreach plan which utilized Twitter, Discord, and a tweet from our boss, effectively leveraged multiple channels for promoting the survey. Twitter provided access to a broader social media audience, while Discord allowed direct engagement with our community members. The involvement of our boss who has a large social media audience added credibility and extended the reach of the survey to a different network of followers. This comprehensive approach ensured that the survey received increased visibility and engagement, ultimately enhancing your chances of gathering valuable responses and insights.

Part II: Validation from an outside perspective

Community engagement is one of the most important elements of DAO structure and longevity. DAO’s, even if they are created for a specific purpose, are created by and for its members. It is no surprise then, that many DAOs hire for the role of “community manager” or assign those duties to team members.

In some of the DAOs with which we were involved, we witnessed thriving communities implode. Some, as discussed in prior posts, were due to failures in planning and an inability to generate a self-sustaining, aligned community. In another, the challenge they were unable to surmount was a misalignment of incentives and engagement — this DAO’s community did not exist absent compensation such that the contributors, and the hopefuls, were the community. Lastly, and the one on which we will focus today, buckled under the weight of its own mismanagement.

When we joined this particular DAO, the community was thriving. There were community events nearly daily, and in fact there were often more than one event per day. There were also several touch points with the core team, and community members would assist new joiners to the point that they were often confused for members of the core team. Soon after joining, however, the DAO founder decided to “get more involved” in the running of the DAO.

At this point, the founder began to cancel events under the guise of aligning with community desires. This argument did not hold water as the events that were eliminated were precisely those that were heavily favored by the community and coincided with the largest community turnouts. Newly proposed programming, which took the DAO in a different direction, did not resonate with the community — it neither garnered the attention/interest of the members that attended the cancelled shows, nor did it attract attendance from a different segment of the community.

When the community voiced their displeasure with the new direction, the founder gaslit the publicly vocal members and adopted a position where anyone who voiced a viewpoint that was not aligned with the founder’s direction was branded a problem member. When the community approached individual team members, they were also greeted with mixed reactions: some team members towed the line while others attempted to escalate the community concerns to no avail. What the community may not have realized was that some team members fought, and lost against, the new direction before it was ever presented to the community. The team members who raised concerns on behalf of the community were also branded as being problematic and the founder began to openly attack and ostracize one team member while exhibiting the same behavior to other team members in private team channels as well as even more vindictive behavior toward that one team member.

Further, in what must have been an attempt to appease the community and convince them that they still had an illusory say, the founder reminded the community that if they did not agree with a change or direction, that they, the community, could pass a DAO resolution that would force the DAO to abide by the community decision (aka feedback). When two resolutions passed, the community quickly learned that they did not have a true say in the DAO. In one instance, the founder purported to accept the result and publicly proclaimed that the community’s voice was heard and that he would reverse his decision. In reality, there was a hollow attempt, at best, to reverse the decision and the community member tasked to support the now-community-run event was not incentivized to actually support it. In the other instance, after the community’s voice was heard, the founder “revealed” the existence of an additional governance body that had not been previously disclosed, whose role was not understood, and whose composition was vague. This additional committee not only had veto power, but they exercised it against the community-approved resolution.

The egregious part, however, was that for all their talk of community being first, and despite their focus on providing value to the community, the new direction and actions were clearly divorced from the community’s desires and slowly choked the life from the once-thriving community. All of theses behaviors, combined and individually, led to an exodus of the community’s highest context members as well as several team members, including us. We recently stopped by that DAO’s Discord Server, and we were greeted by a mostly quiet community with a sparse programming schedule.

Conclusion:

Community engagement is one of the most, if not THE most, important elements of DAO structure and longevity. Without a thriving community, a DAO, in essence, ceases to exist. A new DAO founder would do well to learn from the mistakes of others and take pains to nurture their community. New DAOs should but establish mechanisms to receive community feedback and input while maintaining a transparent dialogue. It is also a fine balance to manage this alongside the ability to act in the best interests of the DAO while not being subjected to the vicissitudes of ephemeral viewpoints.

Disclaimer:

Disclaimer: The above represent the personal opinions of the authors and should not be ascribed to any affiliations thereof. Further, the above does not constitute a recommendation or solicitation to purchase or sell any assets that may be referenced herein. As of the time of this writing, the authors may or may not have positions in any above mentioned assets.

This article was collaboratively written by Eduardo Abreu and Monica Rojas.

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Eduardo Abreu
My First DAO

Crypto enthusiast. Passionate about bringing crypto’s disruption to traditional finance. Background in corporate strategy & business development