Platformless Quests: The Missing Piece of the Community Equation
Forefront Journal publishes essays from the frontier of web3 social and tokenized communities. This is a guest essay from Reka.eth, co-founder of Guild, and Jihad Esmail, Forefront core contributor.
The promise of tokenized communities is to build platformless networks.
Tokens have made communities legitimate by formalizing relationships between people who hold the token in common in a decentralized fashion, creating a sense of belonging based on assets.
In other words, tokens today are the keys to your tribe on the internet.
Once we have access, we expect to have a role in these communities. Membership is not simply access, but also a contextualization of our previous and future experiences. A truly platformless membership must be able to aggregate information from across all of the actions that I take to inform how I can interact with communities I have access to.
The problem? The vast majority of spaces where we do stuff on the internet are off-chain, siloed, and not composable, which hinders the contextualization process. The magic of the "platformless community" stops with the collectively held key, the assets. Composability is still in its infancy and the many tools and platforms we use are "walled gardens," locking in data and making it almost impossible to use these tools together in harmony.
Community + Quests = Membership
Today, we're missing the key piece of the equation: platformless quests.
Platformless Communities Need Platformless Quests
Being online is like playing an infinite video game. We are constantly developing our character by watching videos on Youtube, participating in voting on Snapshot, chatting in Discord, reply-guying on Twitter, or contributing to new projects on Github. Every day we go on these "quests," racking up points, skills, credentials, and achievements that are unique to our experiences.
If tokens define our communities, these actions are required to mold our membership in these communities. They help define what we are allowed to do, what we earn, what reputation we build, and how we govern through adding more information to the quality of our membership.
Roles based strictly on assets are one dimensional -- we also need mechanisms to aggregate information around actions you take outside of the community to construct a more complete picture of your membership within it.
Right now, almost all of the data recording these actions is locked up in the platforms they're executed on, leaving our memberships weak, lacking the necessary context to build truly great communities.
Platformless communities require a world of platformless quests. But what might that look like?
Today, imagine that you're a member of a Hamburger Lover community, governed and gated by $BURGER. Whether you're a food critic, a chef, or an avid eater is strictly based on 1) self-assignment of roles or 2) manual assignment from a community manager, considering only the amount of $BURGER you hold.
The ideal situation would be to pull in information about your post history on hamburger-lover forums, maybe your Opendoor reservations that you've given access to, or even your mentions in top chef magazines. That information can be used to contextualize your membership, which could then give access to Google Docs, private Twitter accounts, Github repositories, and more across the internet -- not just a Discord channel.
Platformless quests -- actions taken on the internet that are not locked into a specific platform -- make platformless membership truly possible.
Towards Community Composability
Token-gating enabled community portability -- what we need is community composability.
There's no one-size-fits-all solution to building community composability, but the design space is extremely rich.
For example, Rabbithole has embraced the term "quests" as a specific sequence of actions that a user takes to learn how to use a particular protocol. Users are then given a "credential" that marks their understanding of the protocol.
Layer3 takes a similar approach, enabling communities to create bounties and contests on the platform that can then be rewarded with XP or other tokens.
On the other hand, Guild is aggregating these experiences. Guild allows communities to build simple access rules or entire onboarding quests, bringing together information from Twitter, Github, Google Docs, and more platforms your community already uses, while also providing the potential to gate these sites with memberships as well. Guild gives full interoperability for communities by tying together our experiences to finally be able to build our own internet journeys.
The dream is for the amount of $BURGER you stacked up to be just one ingredient in cooking up your membership in the Hamburger Lover community. You could get a new role if you are also a supporter on social media of Hamburger Lovers and also Hot Dog Lovers. With this new role, you get to collaborate with top chefs on the hot new cookbook in Google Docs.
These are platformless quests, and they turn the entire internet into a playground for our communities.
The Community Equation
Community + Quests = Membership
Every piece of this equation needs to be platformless, composable, and open.
The coolest part of all of this is what it does to the "barriers" of a community. Tokenized communities don't have walls -- every action that we take across the internet can influence our membership in these communities.
In the words of Joey DeBruin, "communities aren't buckets, they're clouds."
The internet is ours for the taking -- let's build the tools to shape the internet we want to see.