Using Otterspace to build your community’s membership structure
Emily Furlong
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Lifetaped
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January 4th, 2023

Badges are a new kind of NFT for internet-native communities.

Although they are similar to NFTs, Badges are different in one crucial way: they cannot be bought and sold. Badges are earned NFTs that communities use to represent nuanced aspects of membership.

Communities are not homogenous, and neither should the tokens used to represent their membership. Badges represent things like levels within a community, tenure, elected roles, and sub-community membership. Sub-groups within the community might have their own membership Badge - the Engineering Guild Member Badge - for example.

Engineering Guild Member Badge
Engineering Guild Member Badge

There may also be specific role Badges, like the “Engineering Guild Lead” Badge, or project-based Badges like the “Translation Project Member” Badge.

Engineering Guild Lead
Engineering Guild Lead

By bringing these characteristics on-chain through Badges, communities can automate access to spaces like Discord channels, resources like Google Docs, and voting via Snapshot.

Expiring Badges can be used to represent seasonal membership
Expiring Badges can be used to represent seasonal membership

The open-source Otterspace protocol is a secure way to bring community membership on-chain. Badges can have expiration dates to match the end of the season and be revoked in case of abuse.

Keeping track of community membership is manual, messy and off-chain

If at all, community members are usually organized via role tags in Discord. While automated assignment via bots is possible, roles quickly become stale and need to be manually removed by community managers in order to preserve community integrity. It is easy to lose the oversight of role tags and corresponding channels, especially in large communities.

In addition, dormant members who maintain high levels of access through Discord roles can present a security vulnerability, especially if Discord accounts are unused and hacked.

Beyond issues around manual assignment, one key challenge with the status quo is that off-chain roles are tied to the platform on which they are issued, and cannot be utilized across other Web3 spaces and apps. Web3 communities that aspire to an on-chain, decentralized culture rely on off-chain roles belonging to a web2 walled garden.

Why Badges for community membership?

Badges are a publicly declared, automated, and trusted representation of a community member’s role, level, or affiliation within a community. As NFTs, they are a visual representation of someone’s membership, worn with pride across Web3 spaces. Since they expire instead of being burned, Badges can be used as a record of history to display roles and memberships previously held. This allows them to be used to infer someone’s reputation, experience, and skills.

A delightful, clear, and simple membership system is essential to community coherence and member experience. Members receive a digital object to represent their affiliation and display it across Web3 social profiles.

Bringing membership on-chain is also important for philosophical alignment between community practices and values. The full potential of the decentralized internet can only be realized once important roles, affiliations, and experiences can be connected with your on-chain identity.

The more complete a community’s on-chain membership, the more permissions, powers, and perks can be automated. Assigning Discord roles based on Badge holding is table stakes, but Badges can also be used to boost governance power over specific decisions, grant access to resources or receive funding. Coordination within the community can be automated with the help of Badges.

Subscribe to read more about how to improve coordination with Badges.

Or join Otterspace to try Badges in your community.

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