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How Will Blockchain Technology Empower Online Communities

If you travel back in time to the early ages, you find tribes. Almost everyone belonged to a tribe. They worked for the common good. It’s still encoded in our genes. The only change being tribes are now called communities. You are part of different communities. You are an iPhone/Android fan, you may belong to a religious or an atheist community.

Wikipedia/Linux/Bitcoin/Ethereum were built by communities. Even profit organisations take community building seriously. Go to support forums of Apple/Google, your questions are answered by people like you and me. Communities are at the heart of every organisation. Communities played a major role in building the internet we have now.

Credits : xkcd

In order to motivate people and improve the quality of contributions communities incorporated gamification. Points, badges, titles, etc were given. Loyalty points, top writer on Medium, most viewed writer on Quora are some example. These, however, hold no monetary value. It may have a social value. That depends on people, a few might recognise it.

Open Source contributors are hardly compensated for their work. Some put a buy me a coffee page. If it’s a bigger organisation they give support to enterprises in order to make revenue .

Almost a year ago, I was part of Stanford crowd research. The mission of the community was to explain complex research papers in simple terms. In other words, making research accessible to all. There were a lot of perks for participating in the program. You get to network with similar minded people. You have direct access to people who work at Stanford. They will help you with a recommendation letter when you want to apply for college. Even a chance to co-author a research paper with them. We were part of a slack channel. When you make contributions community members rewarded you with points.

Some would have benefited from these perks. But, it wouldn’t benefit me much. I left college long back and I am not very keen on writing a research paper. What if I could trade my points with someone? Of course, they can’t co-author a paper or give a recommendation to someone they don’t know. However, a Skype session or few hours of consultation seems fair. Earn allows you to contact VCs, CEOs, Blockchain Influencers, Go/HTML/Javascript Programmers for $5–$100.

Communities can create their own tokens with Ethereum. For eg, the Kubernetes project by Linux Foundation can create a token called HLG. They can code a smart contract in the open Blockchain. That is if a developers pull request is accepted issue him 10 HLG tokens. Now the developer can use these tokens for a consultation with a senior Linux engineer. Or he can exchange the token in a token exchange for an SCR token from Stanford Crowd Research. In order to get an hour of consultancy from a Stanford lecturer. I hope you get the idea. People can even cash our their tokens. Earn is working on similar lines. This doesn’t have to be restricted to open source communities. Any online communities can incorporate tokens into their system. This will incentivise community contributors for their hard work.

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Thank you for coming all the way here. Follow us, HackerNoon and me (Febin John James) for more stories. I am writing a book about Blockchain. If you wish to get the pre-release version sign up here. I also recommend one book with every story I write. For this story, it’s Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World. Reading is invaluable. (If you don’t have time for reading please checkout Mentorbox).

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