Almost by definition, decentralization depends on communities. Whereas centralized systems hinge upon the actions and decisions of a select few people, decentralized systems delegate power across a far more dispersed group.
In blockchain projects, these communities can vary in the nature of their role. However, each of them has the potential to make or break the success of the project. Arguably, in a truly decentralized blockchain, no community can function without the others.
Developer communities build and maintain the technical elements of the blockchain itself. Mining communities keep the blockchain going, by verifying transactions through whatever consensus mechanism the network uses. Investor communities keep the funds pumping through the ecosystem. The broad supporter community plays an active role in promoting and marketing the project to a wide range of potential investors, miners, and even developers.
Warring Communities = Dire Consequences
In a decentralized system, the challenges of successfully building a cohesive community shouldn’t be underestimated. Although all participants have their role to play, the developer community has perhaps the most influence over the direction of a project. However, if they apply their weight against the wishes of the other groups, they have the potential to bring about chaos.
Bitcoin Cash is a prime example. It originally came about because of a rift over block size within the Bitcoin developer community. A hard fork in 2017 split the developer community, and the Bitcoin blockchain itself, into two separate cryptocurrencies. A further hard fork of BCH into BTABC and BTSV in November, also as a result of block size disputes, descended into all-out war, with no clear winner. Some are speculating that this dispute has caused the current crypto market crash.
Community Building Done Right
Thankfully, not all blockchain projects have the same problems as Bitcoin Cash. There are some projects with cohesive and supportive communities, where the project founders and community members themselves take active steps to nurture further participation. Here are a few examples.
Qtum also has a large and fast-growing community, having amassed more than 1.2 million followers in its first year. The team puts an intense focus on community building initiatives, including running a global hackathon which attracted more than 1,000 participants from 75 countries.
The Qtum Foundation has also recently launched its Ambassador Program. The program is aimed at fostering and expanding offline communities. While the project’s origins are in Asia, the Ambassador Program hopes to bring together physical communities from around the globe, through meetups, at conferences, and in other face-to-face events.
The program will be led by a team of Qtum ambassadors. Anyone can apply to become an ambassador, and once selected they will be responsible for hosting offline activities, meetups, and hackathons. They will also livestream events wherever possible, to increase accessibility to other Qtum communities around the globe.
The Qtum Foundation's commitment to community building and information sharing has now resulted in its selection as a Gold Label Partner by the Binance Info project. This project aims to help users obtain trustworthy information about cryptocurrency projects.
Dash has a huge community, which is also renowned for being one of the most friendly to newcomers in the cryptocurrency space. Dash communities are available across pretty much every social channel you can think of, covering a wide variety of topics related to the cryptocurrency.
This year, the team rebooted their community engagement efforts, which included relaunching their blog with a rotating roster of writers from the Dash team aimed at decentralizing the communication effort.
It’s these active community engagement efforts that recently led to Dash conducting a successful stress test. Dash users enthusiastically embraced the opportunity and put the network through three million transactions in a single day. It’s the largest number of transactions ever processed in that timeframe using a cryptocurrency originally based on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Dash CEO Ryan Taylor stated of the stress test: “The Dash network is a permissionless network, so anyone willing to pay the fees is free to process as many transactions as they want. Once the community got hold of the tool, it just quickly became this viral thing.”
Dogecoin is possibly cryptocurrency’s most unlikely success story, all as a result of an enthusiastic community of users. It started life as a kind of crypto joke, a coin based on the Japanese Shiba Inu meme. Launched on the BitcoinTalk forum with the announcement "Dogecoin – very currency – many coin – wow – v1.1 Released”, it’s now regularly found in the top 20 cryptocurrencies.
The Dogecoin community was responsible for creating the Dogecoin Foundation, a non-profit organization aimed at promoting the use of Dogecoin through goodwill and charitable activities. These activities include donating $30,000 worth of DOGE to the Jamaican bobsled team in the 2014 Winter Olympics, and another $30,000 to a clean water initiative in Kenya.
The coin’s subreddit is widely acknowledged to be one of the most fun and friendly cryptocurrency communities around, providing you can understand Doge-speak, of course.
Community to Thrive
Contrasting the ongoing wars of the Bitcoin Cash developers with the community spirit of Dash, Qtum, and Dogecoin illustrates that a vibrant and engaged community is one of the factors enabling a project to thrive in the crypto ecosystem.
Whether you’re a developer, miner, investor or just an interested party, finding a project with a cohesive and engaged community should undoubtedly feature on your list of indicators for future strong performance potential.