Web3 and DevRel: what you need to know

November 30, 2022

Author Olia Dukova

Developer Relations, Experience & Success. Growing web3 @ Hype. LinkedIn | Telegram | Twitter

Web3 and DevRelAs the software industry evolves, the influence developers have on business decisions grows, underscoring the importance of Developer Relations. DevRel is thriving because software drives every aspect of our lives. When it comes to web3, the significance of developers is even more amplified since developers are vital to building and growing the ecosystem. 

As a completely new infrastructure layer of the internet with far-reaching implications across many sectors, web3 is set to inspire new generations of developers — both experienced and those just starting out. The evolution of web3 tech is triggering a rapid shift in what has been thought of as a successful DevRel program and how it should be devised and operated. But what exactly are the developments we can expect to see? 

Motivation

One of the key changes brought by new web3 tech is that a developer’s ability to create value is much greater than any organization’s ability to do the same independently. 

With developers taking an increased stake in the projects they become involved in, we must rethink the motivational factors driving developers’ decisions to commit to a project.

In most cases, those decisions will be influenced by personal beliefs and alignment with the long-term vision, goals and problem being solved. This notion creates the need for DevRel teams and professionals to clearly articulate the value and underlying drivers of a particular project before they dive into the tech aspects to get developers onboard.

When it comes to messaging, the focus is not on what value a developer would get by using/contributing to the tech, but what opportunities there are for the developers themselves to bring value to the community.  

Transparency

Transparency is a key component of the web3 ecosystem, both from a technical and cultural perspective. There is an incredible opportunity to build more trust and honesty between organizations, developers and end users by aligning with web3 principles.

For example, knowing that users can access the source code is valuable even if they never do. As a declaration of openness, it promotes transparency, which is an essential element of any relationship, especially in a decentralized world without custodians. 

Having an open source model as a default is a viable option for newly established projects and organizations and web3 serves to reinforce that approach. There is no doubt that the number of open source companies building on web3 will increase as the ecosystem matures. DevRel strategies should therefore be designed with a transparent philosophy in mind. 

Developer education

Old library interiorBlockchain and crypto developer communities usually span the globe, bringing together people from different cultures, countries and perspectives.

As DevRel moves into the decentralized age, it is imperative that educational resources can reach a global audience. By recognizing that different education and engagement platforms are relevant to different segments of the community, we should celebrate the diversity that comes with it.

Communicating across a variety of channels will give everyone a sense of inclusion and maximize reach. Traditional in-person interactions such as hackathon workshops and meetup presentations will not become obsolete, however, global accessibility of developer resources and educational materials will grow in importance. The challenge here is scaling reach and developer support without leaving behind the individual in the process. 

Community

Abstract network image

A web3 project’s success depends increasingly on developer communities, which are the heart of the ecosystem. As a result, projects and organizations are prioritizing DevRel within their internal structures to manage developer community engagement — emphasizing the value they are placing on the function.

In this golden age of community empowerment, there is no longer a  need to justify an investment in DevRel, which has traditionally been much debated. The value of DevRel is evident and unquestionable. Enabling more developers to join the community ultimately means growing a project.

Community members of a thriving ecosystem are involved in the development of the project – they review the code, offer their insights, and highlight opportunities for improvement. By valuing their communities, blockchain projects are pushing conventional leadership to its limits, fostering a flat structure and new governance model, where market demands directly drive development. 

Developers often vote on decisions made by projects, allowing them to decide how to develop on-chain or what collaborations and partnerships should be formed. This is a significant step forward for building next generation applications and products. 

In the blockchain environment, incentives can be included in code, and tokenization enables all stakeholders to participate. As a result, end users and builders benefit from new business models wherein incentives are aligned more closely. In this creator / passion economy, web3 provides a plethora of tools that enable developers to communicate directly with creators, and support themselves financially. Organizations and projects that embrace Developer Relations as a collaborative discipline based on developer communities’ needs will succeed and accelerate. 

Communication channels

Blue balls with the Telegram logoThe significance of effective communication and sharing with developers can never be overstated. Especially in web3, where asynchronous communication is common and often involves strangers, this should be emphasized even more.

The entire premise of crypto is to create an equal platform where everyone has an opportunity to be heard and benefit, and genuine communication is key to ensuring these principles are followed.

As web3 communities become increasingly vital, more and more devs are using community-centric channels to seek support, guidance, and feedback. Among the most valuable tools for this are Telegram and Discord. It’s fair to predict that developer campaigns will have more success in collaborative environments rather than individual channels.

As mentioned above, Discord is one of the primary communication tools for web3 users and projects. Founders, investors, builders, and end users interact daily on this community-preferred platform. Discord’s primary strength lies in its strong focus on community building. It’s a place for users to discuss research and innovation, NFTs, smart contracts, dev tooling, tokenomics, metaverse, and other aspects of web3 directly with important figures like CEOs, game developers, and artists, as well as fellow builders, creators and web3 tech enthusiasts. In the world of web3, Discord facilitates the dissemination of news, insight, and opinions.

Community-focused channels are just as valuable when it comes to support. The web3 stack can be tricky to figure out and projects that provide 1:1 support will have more chances to flourish. Personal conversations with developer teams are a luxury for a project to provide, however, they lay the groundwork for community development. Developers feel like they are part of building and growing the ecosystem and are more motivated to contribute to the stack, fix bugs, provide feedback and provide input for the product roadmap and product improvements. As a result, this dynamic creates a sense of community, where developers and the ecosystem as a whole benefit from collaboration, learning, and openness within the community.

The ultimate goal here is to provide all the tools for your community members to support each other. Developing successful Discord engagement strategies is an essential competency for DevRel community builders. 

Telegram is another channel that can help you build a developer community. It works very well at the early stages of project development  as it is fairly straightforward and efficient at gathering new people. Telegram is already popular among developers, so the target audience is already there. There are aggregation channels that collect dev-focused posts from many different channels, to which you can contribute. If developers find your project interesting, and/ or are incentivized for getting involved, chances are they’ll share it on their own. Choosing several members outside of your team to manage your Telegram community will ensure conversations are varied, inclusive and rich. Shared leadership and mutual support are the keys to a successful Telegram community group once it grows.

Social platforms such as Twitter and YouTube are still valuable tools in reaching developers. Twitter, for example, is great for identifying thought leaders in particular tech communities. Developer content is still crucial for raising awareness and attracting developers. Interview and explainer videos for example tend to do particularly well in web3, but there is definitely room for DevRel teams to experiment with other formats, such as collaborating with tech influencers.

There are also web3-specific tools that are worth exploring. A good example would be Dune, a collaborative tool for browsing, creating, and sharing crypto data. It is very common for users to get creative with their dashboards, which means the platform can provide a lot of interesting information. In addition, the project places a great deal of emphasis on community, facilitating relationship building. If you’re interested in a dashboard, you can find the creator and contact them directly. 

DevRel programs

There is plenty of room in web3 for traditional Developer Relations programs and activities such as hackathons and competitions, content contributor programs, and meetups. However, some of those programs are evolving in nature. For example, the collaborative nature of most web3 projects almost eliminates the need for official tech ambassadors. Practically anyone can contribute and advocate for a project they relate to and be incentivized to do so without a need for any official applications or interviews. 

Another example is Developer Education programs. Using permissionless and ungated information for research changes the way it looks. It is actually more difficult for developers to find information and educational resources when it comes to web3 tech than it appears. Due to the lack of information aggregators and archeologists, it’s much harder to navigate resources. By engaging in activities such as Discord deep dives, Medium article curating, and bounty discovery, developers become their own aggregators and archeologists. Yet the experience is often fragmented and frustrating.

An elaborate strategy for improving the learning experience is absolutely crucial for Developer Relations programs. Often the answer is to build a complete curated course. Some examples include the Interchain Developer Academy, NEAR University and Moralis Academy. Support, certification, and accessibility should all be considered when creating a comprehensive developer course.

Aside from traditional program development, we can also see new initiatives in Developer Relations. An example of that would be incentivised testnets. 

An incentivized testnet’s primary objective is to prepare for the launch of a production-grade mainnet. Participation is open to node operators, developers, auditors, and ecosystem builders, who get rewarded for their contributions. In preparation for mainnet operation, communities conduct a number of evaluations and test runs to validate the results of developer testing. During this pre-launch period, community members have an opportunity to provide input and feedback thus contributing to the success of the project. These projects should be managed by Developer Relations teams with a lot of planning and communication. 

Another trend we can see in the web3 developer ecosystem is bounty programs. Essentially, a developer bounty is a form of exchange between two parties, where rewards are given to developers for completing tasks. On the road to building a web3 project, bounty programs are a great choice because they facilitate community participation and valuable feedback loops. There are many types of web3 bounty programs, but most typically relate to features and problems on a project’s backlog. By creating a bounty program, projects get an opportunity to attract talent from around the world to test web3 platforms, review smart contracts, or find bugs.

Developers can use bounties to build their reputation and experience. For many it’s an excellent way to build a portfolio of work. Additionally, a web3 bounty network provides a low-risk learning curve for anyone considering transitioning from web2 to web3.

Bounties are an important part of the web3 work culture and are an excellent addition to any Developer Relations program in the space. 

Building in this decentralized ecosystem provides developers with a plethora of possibilities to be creative, innovative, and collaborative. If a Developer Relations program is successful, developers will be empowered to do their best work and the community will have the resources it needs to grow.

DevRel serves an essential purpose, and it’s an extremely exciting time for us to adapt and work together to ensure Developer Success. 

 

 

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