Decred 2019 Marketing Report
Bitcoin gamified time-stamping. Decred gamified decision-making and formed a digital collective, a technology-enabled experiment in human organization. The core infrastructure is under construction; the same holds true for Decred communications.
BY DUSTIN LEFEBVRE ON FEBRUARY 26, 2020
Bitcoin gamified time-stamping. Decred gamified decision-making and formed a digital collective, a technology-enabled experiment in human organization.
The core infrastructure is under construction; the same holds true for Decred communications.
Last year, Politeia enabled direct stakeholder sovereignty over much of the marketing spend, the Contractor Management System (CMS) was introduced to track spending, and Decred iterated and experimented with new marketing tactics.
The following is a summary of 2019 spending, an evaluation, and a call to arms to think about and grow Decred differently in 2020.
Total marketing spend for Decred in 2019 was 785K USD, similar to 2018.
- The majority of 2019 marketing expenditures were directly approved by stakeholders.
- Decred successfully aligned on messaging, cultivated and trained spokespeople, and raised awareness in 2019 within the crypto community.
- Decred experimented with competitive pitch / hired Ditto PR (highly engaged Politeia proposal).
- Decred successfully generated excitement around the Decentralized Exchange (DEX), launched Privacy, and entered conversations on governance, staking, DAOs, privacy, Lightning Network, DEX, and new ways to organize work.
- Decred generated high quality research in the public interest.
- Decred poorly coordinated multiple efforts, failed to use established tools of coordination such as GitHub, and delivered late on the new website and reporting.
- Umbrella proposals centralized marketing and events.
- The hiring of Ditto bifurcated the contractor pool, de-motivating community members.
- Targeting those already in crypto was somewhat ineffective, as existing bags and dogma yield cognitive dissonance.
- Marketing proposals will be decentralized and made by geographic leads to align responsibility with authority.
- Decred must now focus messaging on something different than competing with Bitcoin and Ethereum. It must imagine what this human experiment in organization can create and enable, and how that can improve people’s lives.
- Decred must break the bubble to grow its movement beyond those already in crypto and find new users.
- Decred must leverage the power of every individual within the decentralized community to make this happen.
- Only time, experimentation, and the collective intelligence of the community’s efforts, will determine exactly what Decred means and represents.
The journey to date
In early 2014, a group of Bitcoin developers splintered off to create a new coin, Decred, to build upon Bitcoin’s social contract. Decred’s design system set out to evolve Bitcoin and solve three key issues in the crypto space: Security, Adaptability and Sustainability.
The solution employed a hybrid consensus system to make Decred more secure and enable a digital collective where decred holders could opt-in to formally control the direction of the project, both on-chain and through project level budgeting on Politeia.
After four years, the self-funding Treasury totals 13M USD and gives Decred a huge advantage when it comes to enabling the sustained development and iteration of a fairer and more inclusive financial system.
Decred is a project with values and vision, guided by the founding principles of the constitution, a living document that compels the project to “develop technology for the public benefit, with a primary focus on cryptocurrency technology.” All of this has been developed and achieved for just 7M USD to date - it’s unprecedented in the crypto space.
Now 4 years old, this thinking has created the most pound-for-pound secure crypto project on the planet, introduced formal decentralized governance, and enabled an entirely new class of ‘work’.
Let’s not forget how revolutionary this is:
Bitcoin demands your work.
Decred rewards your creativity.
An emerging collective, unrestrained by the pressures of the existing financial system.
This is a superpower.
My journey into Decred started in the world of marketing services, where I helped financial service, retail, and hospitality companies send highly targeted, data-driven communications to acquire new customers and maximize their lifetime value. I saw firsthand the amount of personal data forfeited in the name of “rewards,” and the disgusting perpetuation of vapid consumption that fuels the economy, destroys the earth, and makes people no happier.
I have no doubt capitalism and fractional reserve banking have created tremendous wealth and dramatically improved standards of living, but I want to live another way.
I prefer to own and control my money and my personal data, not be subjugated to bankers, surveillance, and a feeling that just because you’re rich, means you get to be right. I want to help create a world where the prevailing game is turned on its head, where I can set my own rules and not be constrained by the forces of social norms. Consume prudently, retain privacy, help to build a better system.
Every community member and contractor has their own story; many mirror the desire to live and organize their lives unconventionally and participate in the living organism that is Decred. The power to re-shape the rules, work for the blockchain, and participate in a digital collective creates the stories that should drive Decred’s narrative. These stories illuminate this experiment and will become the catalyst for an expanding ecosystem and a beacon of hope for communities around the world who are outside of the mainstream and looking to challenge the status quo.
Decred is becoming increasingly decentralized, and the tools of Politeia and CMS allow it to increasingly operate as a headless brand, where central planning goes out the door and the community of users define the organism in a permissionless manner. Bitcoin did this first, and Decred needs to, once again, iterate Bitcoin. Anyone who cares about Decred should care enough to spend the time to understand its history and actively participate in determining what it becomes and how that is communicated.
In 2019, I proposed and passed two proposals on Politeia in an attempt to make much of the existing project spending transparent and formally approved via the stakeholders. For reference, here are the Marketing and Events proposals, which summed to a budget of 490K USD. The following report represents all spending within the domain, including that which falls under those proposals.
As CMS builds functionality and all expenses become linked to specific proposals, reporting detail will improve. In order to obtain more detailed reporting data, a solution will need to be implemented. This could be achieved via the use of sub-tokens for each Politeia proposal line item to track specific tactics, or via umbrella proposals that fund another implementation of Politeia.
In this case, high level budgetary funds could be approved via the stakeholders within a domain on a regular basis, and a sub-stack implementation of Politeia could be used to make specific allocations within domains. This layer two system would strike a balance where contractors have autonomy and responsibility, but stakeholders retain ultimate authority and don’t become overtaxed with dozens of proposals to adjudicate. Whichever direction this takes, there will be an increasing amount of reporting data automated into the technology.
2019 Marketing Expense Summary
Below is a summary of all marketing expenses in 2019. The total expenses were similar to the total 2018 expenses.
|40K||North American Bitcoin Conference|
|40K||Other Latin America|
|35K||Other North America|
|276K USD||Community Organizers & Management|
|21K USD||Decred Assembly|
|40K USD||Website Updates & Explainer Video|
|15K USD||Decred in Depth Podcast|
|40K USD||Decred Journal Production & Translation|
|56K USD||Misc. Marketing Admin, Content Generation|
Brief Summary of Deliverables
Decred’s event presence in 2019 was robust, geographically diverse, and varied in form.
The most costly events took place in North America (North American Bitcoin Conference, NYC Blockchain Week/Consensus, Talentland) and Europe (Web Summit). The Latin American team participated in 37 different events in five different countries, while Decred attended at least six large scale events in Brazil, including Campus Party events and Bitconf. Decred expanded its presence in Africa, attending three significant events, and @dominic and @changhugo represented Decred at a number of the most important events in China.
In total, events and meetups were held in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Uganda, United States, and Uruguay.
Reports were prepared for a majority of the biggest events from 2019, which can be found here. The number of events and total cost exceeded the budgeted proposals, but all were discussed publicly in chat in #marketing or #events.
What we learned:
- Event success is difficult to measure.
- Presence is a signal to the wider community that Decred is strong, and events provide an opportunity to meet with and build relationships within the crypto community.
- Proper planning and scheduling helps maximize impact.
- Frequently, the benefits of events are not seen for months or years.
- Booths were generally found to be low value because they require staffing and lack targeted engagement.
- Conference attendance is, in many cases, unnecessary, as value can be extracted by coordinating meetings outside the venue and attending concurrent meetups and events.
- Decred T-shirts provide good branding around an event.
- Most events are for-profit entities that cater to deep pockets such as corporations and VCs. These events are irrelevant to Decred.
- Events should be proposed and passed by geographic leads, rather than a central proposal.
Community Organizers & Management
The bulk of the work of community organizers has been published in the monthly Decred Journals, and in event reports.
A formal guide was created in 2019 to help direct activities, set expectations, and standardize practices. The goal for community organizers is to build global awareness and adoption of Decred through education, and to help make Decred a robust and thriving ecosystem. This is accomplished via local meetups, relationship building across the wider crypto ecosystem, and recruiting potential Decred contributors.
What we learned:
- The variance in contractor output is large.
- Decred-specific meetups are a poor allocation of resources because they speak to the existing community and generate few new users.
- This work should be directly proposed by geographic leads and voted upon by the stakeholders. This process has already begun via proposals from Latin America and Europe.
- The community could strongly benefit from new community leads in Seoul, Tokyo, Russia, and San Francisco.
Decred Assembly rebooted in 2019 featuring Dustin LeFebvre and Jake Yocom-Piatt as co-hosts. After initial format tinkering, it returned to the original “Deep Dive” format to showcase developers discussing their work and new releases. Episodes can be found here, and include:
May, 2019 DA: Distributed with Elian Huesca, MX & LA Community Manager
June, 2019 DEX with Jake Yocom-Piatt
June, 2019 Africa with Akin Sawyerr
September, 2019 Decentralizing the Treasury with Marco Peereboom
October, 2019 Decred Privacy with Josh Rickmar
November, 2019 1.5rc1 with Dave Collins
December, 2019 Lightning Network with Matheus Degiovani
What we learned:
- The Deep Dive format enables developers to discuss new features in depth and with nuance, helping to support software releases.
- Repetition and rehearsal makes for better content.
- Decred could use someone who has expertise in YouTube channel and content distribution management to improve reach and impact.
- These long form videos can be edited into smaller snippets for additional social media use and reach.
The project determined phplist to be the best open-source program, so a template was skinned by design and multiple test emails were sent. The newsletter did not commence because of delays with updating the website. As such, outgoing newsletters will commence in 2020, pending approval of the stakeholders of the next proposal.
What we learned:
- The newsletter would have commenced far more quickly had GitHub been used to create an issue.
- The Decred Journal is ideal source material.
Website Updates & Explainer Video
The website has been converted to Hugo to enable seamless updates and changes going forward. The copy, design and front end are all complete, with translations being the last component. It should be live any day, featuring new subpages that explain Decred’s history and its three tenets: Secure, Adaptable, Sustainable. The new explainer video is complete and will go live with the rest of the website. It features the same tenets and will live as components on each page, and as a whole on YouTube.
What we learned:
- The website would have been published far more quickly had it been worked on publicly on GitHub with the marketing operations team to avoid single points of failure.
- The website has been simplified such that future large scale updates should take fewer than three months to complete from ideation to publication.
Decred in Depth Podcast
Angelo produced fifteen episodes of Decred in Depth in 2019, roughly two per month. The majority of the content is not dated, so it will remain useful. Here is a list of episodes in order of release, which can be found here.
- Jonathan Zeppettini (jz) + DCR 101
- Luke Powell - Politeia + DCR Time
- Joel Monegro - Placeholder Capital DCR Investment Thesis
- Murad Mahmudov - DCR Investment Thesis + SoV Narrative + Crypto Economics
- Permabull Nino - Decred As Strong Accounting + Ticket Metrics
- Jamie Holdstock - Working for the DCR DAO + Development
- Jake Yocom-Piatt - DCR Privacy
- Checkmate - DCR Thesis / Value Stack + On Chain Data + Stock 2 Flow
- Zubair Zia - DCR Security
- Alex Feinberg - Blockchain + Exchange Process
- Liz Bagot - PR + Marketing
- Akin Sawyerr - DCR Africa + Governance
- Richard Red - DCR Research + Politeia + MM Proposal
- Dave Collins - BTC Suite Origins + DCRD 1.5
What we learned:
- Podcasts have been very well received. New community members have consistently noted them as a means by which they learned about Decred.
- There are opportunities to expand the audience by extending the podcasts to explore trading (Rough Consensus), the wider crypto community, and the big ideas behind Decred that could be relevant to those not yet in crypto.
Decred Journal Production & Translation
Well known to much of the community, the Decred Journal is a comprehensive synopsis of monthly news about Decred, plus the most important external news and information. Past editions can be found on the Decred Medium page or on GitHub. The Journal is regularly translated into other languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Polish, and more. Details of translations can be found here.
What we learned:
- The quality of the Journal matches the depth of thought that prevails within Decred, and well-represents the project.
- Readership, likely due to its length, is low.
- The content could easily be repurposed into various shorter forms to increase readership.
- Automation can be employed to make information gathering more efficient.
Misc. Marketing Admin, Content Generation
This is an umbrella category that includes public relations coordination and management, marketing coordination, messaging, content on software releases, and other original content. A few examples include tweet storms, articles, and outputs such as:
- Max Bronstein’s Decred Governance, an Iterative Approach
- Tweet storms to support Decred Privacy and DEX
- Dustin LeFebvre’s Decred Privacy: Taking the Long Road
- The addition of the Articles and Media section in Decred’s Documentation
- Dustin LeFebvre’s Decred’s Name Sucks and I’m Glad
- Anshaw’s Privacy Flow
- richardred’s Politeia Digest
What we learned:
- High quality content is far more important than volume of content. It remains useful longer and represents the community well.
- Content generation, including research (ammarooni, checkmatey_, permabullnino_, richardred, blockcommons.red, cryptocommons.cc), is a major driver of new community members.
- Contractors must move to address operational coordination to maximize impact and reach of their research. This includes building out the content operations, publishing, and editorial through a cohesive and staged process that onboards new talent into the ecosystem.
Things Decred did well in 2019
The community began the year agreeing to foundational messaging and its target audiences. This discussion was inclusive and expansive, and when complete, it enabled the global network to talk about Decred in a consistent manner.
Community building was successful in various markets, particularly in San Francisco, Australia, Mexico, Latin America, Brazil, and Africa. A guide to these activities, including best practices for hosting meetups, was assembled with input from various community managers. This helped share best practices and set expectations across the world.
San Francisco hosted multiple events at Blockchain Capital and Coinbase Custody, the Australian group made progress working with the corporate community seeking applications for dcrtime and Politeia, and Elian Huesca did an exceptional job identifying and recruiting additional contractors, including francov_, pablito, and the DCR Comic team to help grow Decred in new communities throughout Latin America and globally.
Identifying and getting spokespeople to talk. Most of the Decred community prefers to spend their time behind a computer, particularly the developers. Pulling spokespeople out from behind their screens against their will was no small feat, but many community members stepped up in 2019 for the greater good. Project Lead, Jake Yocom-Piatt was more visible and vocal than ever, participating in podcasts, giving interviews, and delivering presentations at various events across the world. Jake traveled to Brazil for Campus Party, represented Decred at ChangeLogs at Consensus, and traveled across the United States in support of Decred Privacy.
Akin Sawyerr emerged as an exceptional spokesperson. His background spans continents, consulting, corporate and public sectors, and his experience at the IMF and in global remittances gives him a well-rounded perspective to expound upon the virtues of Decred. Akin’s focus has centered on decentralized governance and use cases in Africa. His appearance on Pomp’s Off the Chain, his CES panel discussion on Libra, and his participation in the Wharton Governance Council all promoted Decred to quality audiences as a decentralized project with inclusive governance.
Marco Peereboom took center stage at Web Summit, where he definitively answered “no” to the question, “Can you trust your bank?” with the zinger, “They don’t refund my social security number.” Luke Powell appeared on numerous podcasts and expertly explained why hard forks matter on POV Crypto. Other community members stepping to the mics and cameras included richardred, joshuam, eSizeDave, elian, davecgh, matheusd, and more.
Checkmatey appeared on the scene midyear and supercharged social media efforts with the #DecredChallenge, asking the world to explain why Decred shouldn’t be in the top 5 by market capitalization. Checkmatey generated significant attention and gained a fast Twitter following that also saw him appear on multiple technical analysis videos and POV Crypto podcast, before publishing multiple research papers on Decred. The most shocking appearance of the year came with the release of Decred Privacy, when Jonathan Zeppettini broke the story on Laura Shin’s Unchained podcast.
The Decred team has momentum and demand for its perspective. Previously, it was difficult to speak at events or appear on podcasts without paying for such privileges. In 2019, the team delivered a compelling message and helped solidify the project as a creator of quality news and content. Critically, it is now generating more opportunities in a decentralized manner.
Twitter can be a cesspool of dogma, but it’s also the most widely used platform for crypto news and conversations. After some hesitancy, the project embraced Twitter as a means to engage and educate about Decred. The Social Media Engagement Guide was produced and published, enabling everyone within the community to understand best practices and how to represent Decred. Efforts were made to encourage the community, and to leverage the reach of the @decredproject account to amplify the message. The monthly impressions count has grown immensely, and the content provided for releases such as the DEX specification spawned significant articles in second tier publications. These efforts have made a real impact on awareness and signaled to holders that it’s time to promote Decred publicly.
The Decred Journal, started and managed by @bee, has evolved and decentralized this past year to include roughly a dozen contributors from across the community.
Research became a vibrant tool for education, while demonstrating Decred’s commitment to ideas that benefit cryptocurrency. Much of this research evaluates and explains the robustness of Decred’s ecosystem. For example, richardred has written extensively in Block Commons and Crypto Commons on Decred’s working system of governance, and on many other projects across the crypto ecosystem. This work is high quality, unbiased, academic work that benefits the entire crypto ecosystem and would go unfunded without the Decred Treasury’s sponsorship. Other researchers have delved into the on-chain behavior of Decred, helping to make a direct argument to join the Decred community, and demonstrating the rigor and range of thought present within it. This collection of research presents an indirect argument that will beget more curious minds and enrich the project.
The release of Decred Privacy was a significant success that has injected Decred into the crypto privacy conversation. Perhaps because there was time to prepare, all hands were on deck to promote this release years in the making. Project Lead, Jake Yocom-Piatt primed the audience by Surveying the Privacy Landscape, then shared details of Decred Privacy one week later. jz broke the news on Laura Shin, then articles came out in The Block and other news outlets. Meetups were held all over the world with a consistent message and presentation.
Although Decred is not yet listed with Coinbase or Kraken and it isn’t integrated into BTCpay, Decred did have success in 2019 with listings and integrations, including Trust Wallet, Exodus, Uphold, Vertbase, EXMO, Bittrex, and more. Listings, particularly fiat on-ramps, are particularly valuable, as they make it easier and lower the friction to acquire Decred. Integrations are important to Decred’s path to becoming money, and they increase the network effects by connecting Decred to the greater crypto ecosystem.
Reality check. What went wrong? Truly Decentralized Organizations are new. There are no experts. They involve trial, error, iteration based upon learnings.
The established standards and practices within Decred are to be taken very seriously. When people celebrate the lack of meetings at Decred, it’s probably best to not create a slew of regular meetings.
However, coordinating with others within the marketing domain really does matter, and it happens differently than it does for developers.
The idea of some entropic chaos as an invisible hand is enticing, but promoting the release of new features or supporting new media content requires tools of coordination. To that end, various rooms in Matrix are exploring the use of an open-source calendar function to improve coordination. This should help reduce issues of redundancy and increase the impact when content is published and disseminated.
One of the primary means of coordination, even for non-dev work, is GitHub. Fluency on GitHub is critical to being able to work well in Decred, and avoiding it as a tool removes one from much of Decred’s workflow. @bee has been incredibly kind and helpful, creating the Matrix room, #git_help, for challenges and support. Decred was started by a community of developers, and that history drives this practice. GitHub is a powerful tool that enables global collaboration where anyone can contribute to an issue at their discretion. Finding the right repo and creating an issue is often the most expeditious, transparent and inclusive way of getting things done, and it relies upon the collective, not the individual.
The website, a central tenet of the Marketing Proposal last year, is still not live. This is a massive frustration, and it likely could have been avoided if the work had been done more publicly in GitHub. Working in public ensures transparency and provides implicit pressure to get things done. Plus, it enables contributors to fill a void and jump in and perform work if it isn’t being done by someone else. After all, Decred offers a flexible contractor model, and this practice ensures the resilience of decentralization. The website is frequently the first place newcomers and journalists go to learn about Decred; it’s the top of the adoption funnel. The community could have likely grown larger in 2019 had the revised messaging and webpages been completed and published more expeditiously.
When empowered by the community of stakeholders to work for the blockchain, reporting back on one’s work brought is important. This is important for events, as well as general work within proposals. The technology stack within Politeia and CMS will help to address this by making information available sooner and more simply this calendar year. The event reports in GitHubperform this function well, and this reporting format could also be expanded to include community management, marketing, and other functions until further infrastructure is built. In time, it would be ideal to have all this data contained in one location within Politeia. Monthly reporting was done on Marketing and Events in the Decred Journal, but more can and should be done in the future to keep stakeholders updated.
Setting Expectations is important, as there are no job descriptions in Decred. Without any context for what the community expects, the range of possible deliverables is vast. Some contractors dramatically out deliver their costs, while others have done the opposite. For this reason, a series of guides was created to help set expectations, including the community organizer handbook, events guide, and social media playbook. All of these documents have been reviewed by the relevant community members, and will help align actions.
Lessons from Politeia
When the Marketing and Events Proposals were made last year, the hope was that the community would help manage and enforce the guidelines laid forth in the proposals. For example, various community members could suggest conferences at which they would like to speak, and the community would opine on the value and issue a rough consensus opinion.
However, the amount of participation under that umbrella fell short of expectations. In short, the blanket proposal involves responsibility without authority. No one is going to make someone speak about subject X at event Y, respond to a message, or do something they don’t want to do.
Additionally, the proposal ownership created a dynamic that was undesirable and counter to the spirit of decentralized decision-making. Perhaps people looked to the proposal owner to centrally execute the plan and make decisions. This is impossible to do on a global scale, as no one has that degree of knowledge or bandwidth, nor is it in line with community values. As such, the scope of proposals for 2020 and beyond is best limited to the things one can directly execute, plus the components trustworthy contractors have asked to be included on their behalf.
One of the major differences from 2019 to 2020 will be the treatment of Community Organizers. Geographic leads should make individual proposals for their given regions because they are more in tune with markets, they can better lead on the local level, and they will be directly responsible to the stakeholders that approved their work. Elian has already passed his proposal for Mexico and Latin America, and additional Politeia proposals are in the works for at least four other geographic areas. This will make the community more nimble and resilient.
In a decentralized community where no one is responsible, everyone needs to take responsibility. The act of hiring Ditto delivered a reliable, organized and professional service that did not exist within the project. Ditto media trained at least two dozen community members, and garnered a fair amount of media coverage, even if it did not live up to its monthly retainer.
However, their hiring may have created an environment whereby community members felt that much of the outreach had been outsourced and that two levels of contractors had been created. If that is the case, it was a massive mistake that negated the biggest advantage Decred has: the collective intelligence, passion and voice of its community. This is Decred’s greatest advantage; it must be harnessed via every individual’s initiative.
Outlook for 2020 & Beyond
The awareness isn’t there yet. As Decred insiders, much of this community lives inside a bubble. Within that bubble, much of the community exhaustively examines every new feature, piece of content, and research. In practice, there are miles to go to destroy the technical information asymmetry.
Remember, Decred is not currently one of the top 5 coins today by market capitalisation.
Uphold community values. Much of crypto sold out long ago to VCs, oracles, or greed. The world of AML/KYC and centralized exchanges is threatening to turn crypto into surveillance currency, where everyone is assumed to be a criminal until proven otherwise. Decred must stick to its values and cypherpunk roots as it builds a permissionless and fairer financial system. Sticking to this vision and project principles will prove wise over the long run, as other projects die or become tools of the state. The DEX is coming, and Decred is sustainably funded.
Imagine the Possibilities of Decred
Educational awareness goes far beyond technical details and product features. The larger, and frequently overlooked question, is what does this digital collective become, what does it produce, what movements does it spawn, and how do we get there?
Using sustainable funding to the public’s benefit.
Obviously, a cryptocurrency with various features is a critical technical component. The larger questions are what culture takes shape and what can be imagined and achieved by a decentralized community with sustainable funding that seeks to create ideas for the public benefit?
Decred has developed tools for atomic swaps, privacy technology, is working on a DEX, and all of its code is open-source for the world to learn from and build on.
Similarly, Decred can do the same with ideas and research to help bridge the known to the unknown. BlockCommons is the right platform to deliver unbiased research, news and information about the crypto ecosystem with editorial independence, bereft of conflicts of interest and for the public benefit. richardred has started a movement, s_ben has contributed, but this community and others can step forward and create and deliver accurate and newsworthy information that is not driven by greed or self-interest. Don’t like the game? Create a new one. Have a new perspective? Share it.
The Decred technology stack can enable more and more people to opt out of the established game and live their lives another way. The quality of content will attract more contributors and strengthen the community, just as it has to this point. This is a movement.
Decred is about People
Decred loves code, and the community indulges in exhaustive analysis of its ecosystem and on-chain analysis, but that loses track of the actual stories. The stories of Decred are what people will remember and what will drive adoption. The friends made at meetups, the fabric that knits the Decred community together, the universal traits that bind. They are what will be retold and shared, what will resonate, inspire and endure.
The fact that contributors, real identities and pseudonymous, work remotely across the world and converge in Matrix and on GitHub to participate in this experiment, serve the community, and that they get compensated for their contributions, is a compelling story.
AGNFAB’s artwork is compelling. He created from personal passion, and various community members purchased his work unsolicited, across oceans, paying for them peer-to-peer with decred earned working for the blockchain. Decred is in use by people, and it’s making their lives better. The Decred community needs to focus on stories of real people and tell them often. That includes the origin story, which is very cypherpunk.
Find the memes.
In the long run, everything converges to Decred. Skin in the game. Unforgeably scarce. All roads lead to Decred. Decred is sound money. The tacotime trinity: Bitcoin, Monero, Decred. Stakey. Not your keys, not your money. Magic internet sovereignty. Armored Chameleon. There’s only 21MM Decred. The best hedge to BTC.
Decred was designed intelligently to align interests and make it more secure, adaptable and sustainable. That’s great, but the argument will fall flat to the hardened bags of any Bitcoiner who already believes they have found the ideal form of deflationary currency.
Anyhow, these traits lack sex appeal, involve nuance and explanation, and only prove themselves over the long run. Their success will be as the result of other activities that make these memes believable.
The right memes.
The Decred community needs to find better memes about what these traits enable. What will be built over the next hundred years, how will DAOs transform the ability to organize around ideas and shift global centers of power? What Oracles can be removed, and what does that empower? How can this movement change people’s lives and make the world fairer and more verdant? When sustainable funding is no longer beholden to venture capitalists, foundations, or benevolent donors, what does that enable? What can be created or advanced?
The answers to these questions define the new memes that must be identified, iterated, and employed. And they must be reductive to simply and quickly appeal to people who want to help define and grow the community. Find the memes that resonate and mercifully pound on them. Do this. Repeat.
Break the Bubble
There’s the crypto bubble and the Decred bubble-both shackle the size of the community and must be broken. Decred worked last year to break into the wider crypto ecosystem to build awareness and education about Decred. Success was limited. Existing bags are heavy, invoking a strong cognitive dissonance upon many. Dogma is strong; break it and you might find yourself blocked, banned or unfollowed.
Break dogma, keep an open mind, or lose.
Within the crypto ecosystem, the project must open itself to new ideas and new relationships. It must fight preconceptions, avoid groupthink, question assumed positions and re-examine ideas from an empirical, analytical and outsider’s perspective. If dogma prevails, Decred will be rejected by the Bitcoiners for being anything but Bitcoin, and by the Ethereans for being beholden to some of the strictly constructed ideas of Bitcoin. The reality is that Bitcoin has calcified.
When Decred self-reflects, it can become the best of both worlds by showing another way - a self-sovereign, decentralized organization with the deflationary principles of a superior store of value and the technology stack to enable permissionless decentralized autonomous organizations.
Instead of trying to be a better Bitcoin, or doing DAOs better than Ethereum, Decred should remind itself of its contrarian past and invest in the potential to carve out a new narrative. This is transformative. Decred must open itself to this possibility.
Explore common interests.
To this end, Decred must collaborate with other projects and ecosystem partners to avoid isolation and take the philosophical lead - the public benefit mission gives us a purpose that can’t be bought, no matter how good the dinner conversation. The community needs to cultivate relationships with other quality projects, inside and outside of crypto and participate in joint meetups focusing on topics relevant to Decred’s mission.
There’s more value in attending a Maxi event with some reasonable people than hosting a dozen Decred true believers for a love fest. Find a local event, make connections, and weave Decred into the narrative. These are people who are there are already into crypto, and they’re interested in some concept relevant to Decred. In these environments, conversation tends to be free and open, yielding constructive outcomes.
Since paid media conflicts with the projects core values by paying surveillance technology companies, collaboration with like minded communities and projects - once again, inside and outside of crypto must become a priority.
While crypto efforts must be continued, the Decred community must look beyond crypto to find new believers in self-sovereign money and new ways to organize. The collective intelligence and research within the community must be brought to bear to identify and target these next groups and identify how Decred’s unique technology stack can improve their lives.
This could be a local meetup that curates different advocates for privacy, or a group of activist citizens frustrated with the current state of their political system, looking for ideas to change the world. The community must take initiative and reach out to broaden its ecosystem.
What topics matter to Community Members?
What are the big ideas that knit the community together and motivate action? Decred should be actively involved in any conversation that involves governance, decentralized organizations, privacy, privacy as a human right, a new way to organize globally around ideas, working for the blockchain, a new way to fund work and what different ideas can be funded, individual sovereignty, the hive mind, Lightning Network, staking, blockchain security/hybrid consensus system, DAOs, decentralized exchanges and why they’re important. Get involved and make sure Decred is part of the right conversations.
What are the adjacent areas of interest that the community cares about or that might benefit from connection to the tools the system offers? Broaden horizons and break the crypto bubble.
Find the right minds.
Many community members live in cities home to some of the most well-known research universities in the world, and the project’s ideas resonate well with this audience. The ideas of crypto, and Decred more specifically, run the gamut from economics to finance, social sciences to computer science, offering multiple hooks to solicit interest from a vast range of students and faculty.
Reach out to computer scientists and cryptographers to facilitate events, discussions, and perhaps help identify the next generation of Decred developers or creators. The ideas behind Decred have the ability to transform people’s lives, and the funding mechanism enables the exploration of these ideas. Decred already has some of the best minds, but more can be added by tapping into the world of academia, where professors and students are frequently challenged to find funding that supports their imaginations.
The power of the community, the power of every individual.
Decred is decentralized, which has advantages and challenges. There’s no one in control, but everyone within the community is free and encouraged to act autonomously. The community must maximize this advantage by operating freely and liberally to promote and spread Decred across the world. This is a community of doers.
There’s no need for permission. Complaining about what isn’t being done is counterproductive.
Decred believes in every individuals’ sovereignty and right to an opinion even if they are not an expert, but that comes with a responsibility to become learned and contribute.
The community should follow Checkmatey’s lead and extoll loudly and assertively about Decred, without fear or concern of repetition. The best content on Decred has been curated and added to the docs, which is a great place to direct people looking to learn more about Decred. The community must always retain perspective and focus on educating about Decred using simple language that draws people deeper to learn more.
Different community members care about different aspects of Decred, and Decred is powered by free speech and consideration. The collective will come to define Decred, and the process will involve some amount of chaos.
Find your spot and act.
If someone identifies an area where they can help, they need to do just that. This is the story of Decred’s most successful contributors-they show up and do. Checkmatey ignited a Twitter groundswell, bee launched the Decred Journal, richardred started https://blockcommons.red/, Exitus created videos of event panels and Politeia proposals. Find a place to help and do it!
Home field advantage.
Having a strong connection to a place allows much smaller brands to outmaneuver much larger ones, and in this digital universe, Decred can be local everywhere.
The community needs to act and operate as if it’s home everywhere. Decred is not new or foreign; it has deep cypherpunk roots all across the world dating back to the early days of bitcointalk. It must own those open source roots, values, and ideas and project them with conviction.
If the rules of the existing game around events and marketing are unseemly, then Decred must figure out another way.
Find the Use Cases.
The developers have pushed out some incredible working technology, but they’re not going to find the use cases beyond the monetary evolution. In fact, literally no one in Decred has a job description, let alone one that includes this function. Hence, if community members care about such things, it’s incumbent upon them to identify and pursue leads that will help Decred gain use case adoption. If someone has an idea but doesn’t feel comfortable pursuing it, share it in Matrix in #marketing so others can. Nothing will simply happen; the community must make it happen.
With the launch of Lightning Network on mainnet and Decred mobile applications, there is an opportunity for every community member to facilitate demonstrations and actual use of payments at events and meetups. Start small and build, share and iterate. Share stories of purchasing something with DCR or transfering value to a relative in another country on twitter or in a blog. These tales of choosing to live differently and by a different set of rules are powerful.
Everyone must help create the Decred they imagine.
Producing content in more digestible bits.
Brevity is not the Decred way, is it? Decred savors nuance and explores all the edge cases, but this screens out 90%+ of people. That’s not entirely bad because it ensures cultural fit within the community. However, the community can take steps to produce more consumable bits of content for wider appeal. Twitter is perfect for this via tweet storms, and any longer form piece should be broken down into a series of tweets.
The same can be done for research, and community members can edit videos into segments less than a minute long to gain more views on social media. Exitus has done an effective job of this and convinced the community of its value to the tune of a 92.5% vote in favor of his Politeia Proposal.
One perfect example of this opportunity is the Decred Journal. The Decred Journal only garners minimal readership, likely due to its length, which tends to clock in at over twenty minutes per month. The simple solution for this will be to use the Journal as a repository of information that can be packaged up in smaller bits like Decred Dragon’s weekly Decred Drive, and a monthly newsletter. Smaller bits will reach a wider audience.
Institutional Investors, Exchanges, and Partnerships
Institutional investors, exchange listings, and partnerships have been commonly understood to be jz’s area of expertise. This is a terrible idea. While he might excel on those fronts, Decred neuters the potential of the rest of its community when it relies solely upon him. It’s free riding that centralizes operations, weakens the community and makes it vulnerable to his loss.
Those within the community that can make a case to a16z, Coinbase, or Mastercard should do exactly that. Those who are adamantly against any of those actions are free to voice opposition and articulate their reasoning. There’s no need to consult or coordinate, just do it. The collective voice of our community is much more compelling than that of an individual.
It has been sad that many DCR sit on the sidelines unstaked because custody solutions are not yet in place. This is equally relevant for individuals on exchanges as it is for institutional investors. Decred believes in self-sovereignty, and that one should control their own keys. Many existing community members will never use such a service and oppose it strongly.
However, growing the community by orders of magnitude will involve compromise, much as voting service providers negated the need to solo stake. When a custody solution is implemented, DCR will be significantly more attractive to new users and stakeholders will yearn for the time when a ticket cost 150 DCR. Custody is critical to dramatically expanding the size of the Decred community, it cannot be prevented, and everyone can help find a solution by reaching out to providers.
Summing it up.
This year brings with it enthusiasm and optimism, and a new call to define what Decred can become as an experiment in human organization.
The Decred community has proven intelligent, resilient, and willing to change course when confronted with new information - adaptability courses through it. Resistance to the dogma that has calcified within the wider crypto ecosystem will drive the project’s success. With lessons from 2019 and before, this year is one to continue the path of decentralization, break into new user groups, and a call to arms for every individual within the global community to actively participate and help build Decred.
Many community members cannot write code, but they hold other tools to help build the community. Decred is a digital collective scattered across the world, speaking different languages, coming from different cultures. But it is united and elevated upon an amazing stack of technology that holds few limits. This is a hive. Leverage that power to build and grow Decred in 2020 and beyond.