Principles of engagement

The post originally appeared on PowPing and we republished with permission from its author, Steve Shadders.

I’ve been reading with great interest some of the thoughts articulated by @RyanXCharles and @unwriter about principles of curating their online experience over the last few days. The online world is a very small part of my typical day as I have quite a few things jostling for my attention. All primarily to do with building stuff. I spend a lot of time working with developers inside of the nChain to help spread the level of Bitcoin knowledge but an area that is dear to my heart also is the rest of the developer community.

Although I prance around in a suit a lot these days and spend time in boardrooms, my roots are as a coder that loves to hack at things and build cool stuff. My first foray into Bitcoin was exactly that, finding a problem no one had solved yet and creating a solution. In my early days in Bitcoin I was a noob trying to learn just like many are today. The Bitcoin culture back then wasn’t exactly friendly, but it was generous and it treated merit with respect so it wasn’t impenetrable if you put in some effort. I remember fondly a few of those generous people who gave me their time and expertise to help me learn. Some of them are names you’d probably know and some have long since disappeared. But without their time I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish half the things I did so that generosity of spirit made a huge difference to me.

This is why I think the developer community at large is important to contribute to. I’ve personally experienced the real benefits of it but it is not altruism. For selfish reasons, I want Bitcoin to grow and for that we need a constant influx of new blood, new talent and we need pleasant interactive environments to give them a leg up so they can become the experts of tomorrow. Unwriter and many others have done an amazing job at creating tools and such spaces. But it is an ongoing effort that needs constant input and some degree of vigilance.

So you’ll see a bit more of me around here doing what I can to help lift people up. The most critical element for capitalism to be the best it can be is opportunity. I’ll also start producing some videos to cover various technical topics and try to share some of what I’ve been taught by those that came before me.

But I’ve thought much about my early experience and what could have made that easier. You see it was a pretty brutal meritocracy back then and I am fortunate that I had the right temperament to find my way in that sort of culture. One thing I often mused on was what ever happened to those talented people who didn’t have that temperament, who found the lack of warmth off-putting? How much talent did we actually lose? And what was the impact of heavily biasing the population of Bitcoin enthusiasts toward the keyboard warriors that survived the initiation??

If I could go back and change one thing about my early experience of Bitcoin it would have been for that culture to have been a bit more friendly and welcoming to noobs and even to old stalwarts. I think the history of Bitcoin might have turned out quite differently.

We have a lot of that already in Bitcoin SV. We have plenty of good people and we’ve seen various forums arise, some faded, some changed and some remain. PowPing seems to have the seeds of the culture that I want to see more of so this is where I plan to spend some of my time trying to help build that. I think the core of it is embodied right there on the top left of the homepage:


It can really be that simple!

On the other hand, I value my time highly and I am kind of particular about what I’ll give my attention to. There are a few principles that illustrate the kind of interactions I value and the ones that I’ll spend my time on. I think this paints a picture of the kind of dev community I’d be happy to be a part of and the basis upon which I’ll curate my own interactions. What results may not be precisely that, but I’ll settle for close enough if it results in a growth of building. If enough people find these principles agreeable then perhaps I’ll change all the I’s to We’s.

Principles of engagement

Be excellent to each other by default. Bitcoin’s incentive model makes this the path of least resistance. I agree with Bitcoin on this point.

Assume good faith until you have a reason to assume otherwise.

Contrarian opinion delivered respectfully and in the spirit of constructive debate is worth some attention.

Bitcoin is a tool. It is apolitical, it is not about personalities.

I believe that your Bitcoin project can have value even in the absence of a viable business model. Even if it’s just for fun, the act of learning new skills is valuable to you and the ecosystem at large.

I do not believe your politics are relevant to Bitcoin neither to do I care or want to hear what they are.

I believe that a welcoming and encouraging environment for new developers to learn and make contacts is to the benefit of all of Bitcoin.

I believe that competition is healthy and can be expressed in a collegiate way. Today’s competitor is someone you share a common idea with, they may be tomorrows partner.

I believe that the value of a voice is derived from the real work put into the what that voice expresses. Experts are not defined by the volume of the voice but by their track records.

I believe in the value of freedom of speech and equally in the freedom to curate who’s speech to listen to. No one is obliged to provide anyone else a platform, there is an entire internet out there to say what you want to say.

I believe there is no wrong way. Experiment, prove concepts, discover something new, learn from failure then succeed. The market is the final arbiter.

If someone tries to discourage you, stop listening (the block button is your friend) and talk to people who don’t. They are out there.

If most of these principles make some kind of sense to you then you’re probably the kind of person I want to interact with. If any of them offend you, you should probably unfollow me.

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