Community alpha: Why we’re building Circus

Community managers and mods are the glue that binds - and builds – communities.

In fact, that’s why we prefer the term “community builder.” It more accurately describes the role of nurturing growth over a sustained period of time.

Because, without effective, consistent management, communities become loosely knit groups of people with tenuous connections. Top-tier community builders maintain a consistent culture, attract the most passionate people and retain the most engaged members.

Community builders are, in fact, the rockstars of web3!

Web2 vs web3: The evolving nature of community management

The definition of “community” has changed forever.

We’re moved from the “walled garden” mentality of web2 platforms, which monetize communities by owning and monetizing user data, to web3 projects, which prioritize community-centric governance and ownership that give users more control of their own communities.

Since modern brands are built on the strength of their communities, attracting the right people is critical to the long-term viability of web3 brands. These are the passionate fans who contribute daily to the communities they love.

And, even if those contributions aren’t rewarded with money, these contributors can be rewarded in other ways:

  • Additional responsibility. The “mod” or “admin” designation gives frequent contributors a badge of honor.
  • Exclusive perks. Being on “the inside” is a benefit that many strive to earn.
  • Community recognition. Earning the recognition of others, even informally, often encourages further engagement.

But, for community builders grinding in Discord every day, it can be impossible to fairly and accurately choose the top contributors.

This blind spot not only prevents communities from reaching their full potential but also risks driving away top contributors, who feel undervalued and thus less likely to stick around.

The ability to maintain “sticky communities” requires a core group of users that contribute consistently while also attracting new passionate members.

The attraction and retention problem lies at the heart of the challenges of community management — and is a problem that must be tackled differently as we move from web2 to web3.

➡️ Web2 vs web3: contribution and engagement metrics

Web2: Engagement is measured with likes, comments, reshares. These are all one-way metrics: a follower interacts passively with content. As we’ve seen with some of the problems plaguing these web2 platforms, the one-way nature of engagement makes it easy to fake. Bots are rampant, trust is low and disinformation is high — a terrible recipe for building authentic communities.

Web3: Engagement is measured by not just these one-way interactions but also by contribution. This is a two-way metric: a community member is interacting not just with content but also with other community members. They’re also likely creating their own content, which contributes to community cohesion. This content could be memes, documentation, videos, GIFs, blog articles, code, product recommendations or fan fiction.

➡️ Web2 vs web3: challenges to building community

Web2: Lasting communities need to not only recognize their top contributors but reward them. But that’s easier said than done, because “Human CRM” is overwhelming at scale. Web2 moderation is damn near impossible because the current tooling for finding top community contributors is inadequate.

First, the primary focus is on message volume and one-way engagement. It’s all likes, follows, comments, and reshares. It’s also driven by subjective recognition, in which creators, community builders, and mods — due to lack of objective measurement — recognize top contributors that may or not be building value.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, existing community tooling is created by platforms that have a vested interest in standing between you and your top contributors. These web2 platforms simply don’t want you to be able to identify these people because they want to keep charging you to communicate with those people!

Web3: Web3 principles are structured for the future of community: ownership and perks to community members based on their level of contribution and commitment to the community. Of course, these could be financial commitments, but the more intangible value lies in the way people contribute their time, energy, and passion to community participation.

Due to the difficulties of measuring actual community contributions, web3 communities have even bigger problems than web2. In order to fulfill the web3 ethos of rewarding two-way contributions and value creation, communities lack the tools to accurately and fairly assign perks and ownerships such as NFTs, airdrops, etc.

So…what’s community alpha?

Today’s web3 communities are frequently targeted by hit-and-run opportunists that join the community, extract whatever value is on offer, and then leave. This decreases engagement and makes community members more likely to become disengaged.

To overcome these challenges, we need what we call “community alpha.” These are the signals that drive successful communities across both web2 and web3 platforms.

This metric moves beyond vanity to help community builders effectively identify and reward top contributors. These are the people that are creating value with their engagement, and not lurking or passively engaging. These top contributors are your community’s alpha -- the insiders that elevate projects to the next level.

The goal of Circus is to give community builders community alpha. These are the signals that help them make smart decisions that ultimately become profitable for the community.

Profitable in the sense that the decisions are additive to the long-term health and vitality of the community. And that’s community alpha: the actionable data that drives the most successful communities.

It’s all about the attraction and retention of top contributors.

These are the contributors that drive your community forward and make it vibrant, alive and exciting. And these are also the contributors that matter most to your community. That’s why it’s important to be able to determine the right criteria for your own community’s unique dynamics.

There’s no cookie cutter approach; community alpha is something that’s defined by each individual community, using the most impactful metrics for that specific moment in time.

These metrics can change frequently, by the way, depending on the community’s needs. For instance, an approaching NFT launch would prioritize a different set of core metrics based on the desired contributions — in this case, it could be finding those that are bringing sustained attention to the launch from longer-term members rather than simply short-term attention or profit seekers.

With community alpha, community builders have the real-time insights to optimize their communities and sustain long-term, healthy growth that never sacrifices trust for short-term gains.

Join the Circus 🎪

Now that you’ve got context on the “why,” here’s the “so what:” we’re looking for our beta communities to be early adopters of Circus.

As we embark on our own web3 journey, we have plans to build a community for community builders — and reward those that have been with us from Season 0. Schedule time to discuss Circus and see if we’re a fit for your community.


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