Core content curation for the Blockspace hacker house series

This post aims to gather insight from developers and ecosystem agents to align on the narrative and people we put forward at WebZero’s upcoming hackerhouse series.

Webzero is set out to launch the Blockspace hacker house series at some key web3 conferences throughout 2024 (ETHDenver, ETH Global London, Consensus, ETH CC, Permissionless and Devcon). These events aim to engage developers to get started with or continue building in the Polkadot ecosystem.

Our driving narrative is to highlight what Polkadot is to other web3 audiences and help developers get started with building in our ecosystem. Each event is dedicated to host a combination of:

  • 20- 30 minute talks that introduce what Polkadot is, it’s underlying technologies and other related topics
  • 45 minute - 1 hour workshops on selected topics
  • a set of challenges and bounties for attendees to complete using what they’ve learnt from a workshop

In addition to talks, challenges and workshops, attendees can form teams to participate in an event-specific hackathon and compete for prizes.

This post is about sharing the devrel team’s approach for curating the core content we plan on repeating at each hacker house and gather feedback from the community. We will use these ideas to create a content bank and work with experts in our community to ensure that content is accurate and delivered by knowledgable presenters.


  • Schedule should always contain a set of core talks: always have at least one talk from a “learn fundamentals” category and one from the “start building” category. Optional category and nice to have: “featured topics” (see below on Types of Talks).
  • Workshop-heavy: we want people to be able to gain practical experience with selected topics and leave a workshop with having done something practical
  • Diversity in content: no repetition of similar topics and also offer workshops that don’t require programming experience
  • Expert representation and technical expertise: select speakers and presenters with deep knowledge in the topics they’re presenting, ideally from the Polkadot Fellowship, PBA alumni and Hero program mentors

Types of talks

  1. Learn fundamentals” category. This is really just material you’d expect to have for Polkadot newbies, yet fairly high level narrative-type talks. Examples: What is Polkadot? by Bill, Polkadot and its Architectural Design: A Technical Introduction | Sub0 2023 by Radha, Polkadot as a Global Supercomputer (Decoded 2023) by Gav, The complete guide to becoming a substrate developer (Sub0 2023) by Bader
  2. Start building” category. Talks that hone in on more concrete topics around the Polkadot tech stack and ecosystem. Examples: Solidity To Substrate by Branan (sub0 2022), The backbone of a multichain future by Shawn (Decoded 2022), Substrate Tooling (sub0 2023), SBP (sub0 2022), Get Your Project Funded (sub0 2023) by Santiago and Seraya
  3. Featured topics” category. Talks that feature a specific topic or that extend from the “learn fundamentals” category. Examples: Polkadot OpenGov explained by Bill, Polkadot OpenGov - What to Expect by Filipo, Agile coretime by Gav (Protocol Berg 2023), Polkadot: Kernel/ Userland by Rob (Decoded 2023)

Types of Workshops

Workshops should always be geared to getting the audience to participate and leave with new practical knowledge which they could apply towards a hackathon project or bounty. We want workshops that have minimal overhead in terms of set-up and prerequisites so that a maximum amount of participants can actually follow along. Some example workshops:

  • Intro to Rust for Substrate (Learn Rust basics and common patterns of how it’s used in Substrate)
  • Polkadot for contract dApp builders (Intro to ink! and options for deploying smart contracts on Polkadot)
  • Build a light client powered application (Build applications that don’t rely on 3rd party RPC providers)
  • Using Polkadot: wallets, dapps and the network of appchains (Get hands-on experience with using Polkadot: set-up your Polkadot wallet, mint an NFT, vote on your first proposal and more)

What I would love to hear from the community:

  1. Talk and workshop topics you would like to see delivered as part of the core content, outlining key takeaways
  2. Which speakers you want to nominate to deliver specific talks (self-nominating works too)

:point_right: Please complete this short survey to help us gather this information. Feel free to use this thread to post your feedback and ideas directly.

The proposed workshops above are really all “beginner” workshops. I welcome any more advanced workshop ideas you think would work well at these events. Same goes for talks.

Looking forward to working with the community to provide the best content and experience for everyone attending our hackerhouses :rainbow:

Note: The proposed types of talks and workshops are meant to form the core content that we deliver at each hackerhouse. There will be always be slots open for additional talks and workshops that fall outside the scope of the “core” content. If you are an ecosystem team interested in suggesting talks and workshops outside the core content, please submit your requests using this form.


The Technical Education team at Web3 Foundation is happy to support in its capacity with the hacker house series! Especially in delivering talks and workshops.

Regarding the topics, I would like to see more sessions centered around parachain developer experiences, outlining what it takes to develop and launch a parachain, what are most common pitfalls, what are the best practices, where to find relevant docs and support etc. It would be great to see parachain teams participate more in these events!


Definitely love the idea of creating more centralized pools of knowledge for anyone to take from - especially if we can produce resources that anyone can reuse if needed.

I think the build/workshops could themselves even be divided into two categories - one focusing on core development, while the other focusing on application development, where we also showcase what various parachains do, how to build on them, and how they relate to Polkadot.


Thank you for your input @radha and @bader :pray:

Agree, this is a good topic to include. For our audience (i.e. Ethereum native and Ethereum L2 centric folk), what should be the learning objectives for this topic in your opinion? I think two pieces could come out of this topic: one would for people who already have some experience with Polkadot, who have already launched their chain on Rococo for e.g. or tinkered with Substrate and want to learn about common pitfalls in maintaining a chain, upgrading / migrating storage, preparing nodes for relay chain runtime upgrades etc. Already a little advanced. The other would be solely about launching a chain: configuring your runtime, preparing your chainspec, connecting to Rococo, etc. Something that can be super exciting for newbies to Polkadot and doesn’t require too much background knowledge. I think this type of content would be a wonderful extension of what the Tanssi team are doing. Portico soon, too :heart_hands:.

[cant-find-appropriate-emoji-to-share-my-excitement-for-this] Yes! What I maybe haven’t communicated very clearly here is that one of my objectives is to start curating a content bank of core talk and workshop outlines with clear learning objectives that can be used as guidelines/checklists for speakers, peer-reviewed by experts on the topic.

Indeed. The separation I make here is: core content is for understanding Polkadot as a metaprotocol, tech stack and key features. Everything else falls in the category of building on Polkadot’s application layer, opening the door for parachain teams to shine light on their SDKs / frameworks etc.

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Update: during ETHDenver 2024 WebZero and I put together a week-long series of talks and workshops building on this foundation of “core content curation”. In this post I wanted to share a recap along with some thoughts on how to continue delivering quality educational content to audiences new to Polkadot.

Big thank you to everyone who helped and contributed to this effort so far, in particular @filippoweb3 with helping me put together the Nova workshop; @bader with putting together the introductory content on the Polkadot tech stack and Rust workshop; @albertov19 for stepping up with content on Moonbeam and Tanssi; @phillux for his presentation about coretime; @radha for sharing his slides on some of the topics I presented; and @bill_w3f for delivering his latest content on comparing Polkadot to other blockchains.


Here’s a list of the talks and workshops we hosted, with the hyperlinks to the video recordings of each session (6 talks, 5 workshops and 1 panel):

Core content :anchor:

Featured content :mag_right:

Note: I found that devising content simply between “core” and “featured” makes more sense: the “start building” category can apply to either type of content.

The content curation for this Blockspace edition was the result of carefully thinking about what topics to present at a new-to-Polkadot crowd. Drawing insight from W3F’s tech ed team to devise material under the “core content” stuff, we created outlines that then turned into the talks and workshops delivered. For all other “featured content”, I strived to include a range of material that extended from the core content topics.


This was a very positive experience in this first stab of trying out my approach. Working alongside the W3F’s tech ed team proved that we can (and should) align on the topics we present at these types of conferences. I think the topics we chose and how we delivered them resonated well with our audiences too, which would not have been possible without it being a collaborative effort between educators.

I’d like this thread to focus on that last part.

The goal here isn’t to amass a mountain of recorded content for later viewing. To me that’s just an artifact of the preparatory and ongoing maintenance work behind ensuring we as a community are putting the right people and content infront of new audiences learning about Polkadot.

Rather, the goal is to get experts in the community to align on what topics are delivered at these types of conferences and what important information to include in teaching them. For example, I would love to do a workshop on utilizing coretime but I know there are people who have more knowledge on this topic than me. So I would rather rely on them to help create an outline that we can work on together to ensure it’s top notch in terms of factual information, tools being referred to and any depth-knowledge shared. Then, anyone with sufficient domain knowledge would be able to go and deliver it.

It’s a lot of work to do both content curation, creation and delivery. But as I’m sure anyone who’s prepared slides for a conference knows, delivery is actually the not-so-hard part. The harder part is identifying and meeting a set of relevant learning goals and providing content around them. And especially in the context of teaching non-Polkadot-native audiences, imo getting this first part right is contingent on gathering knowledge of experts on a given topic. A lot like how we launched the curriculum and material of the PBA.

This is also not about catering to one-off speaking opportunities on very niche topics. Rather, it’s to provide a platform of knowledge and educational content that can be reused by anyone hosting a meetup or side-event. Ultimately, this initiative is about providing more people inclined to do developer advocacy for the Polkadot ecosystem with the resources to do so.

Next steps?

The goals here can be summarized as such:

  • Crowd-sourcing knowledge from experts to help create content for talks and workshops, beyond the introductory core content created in this first experiment. This entails identifying what topics we as a community want to promote and teach as well as the material we’re using to do so.
  • Creating an open commons content bank for the community to use at conferences and meetups. This could become a content bank similar to the PBA’s but for delivering talks and workshops at events hosting non-Polkadot-natives.

Reaching these goals will only work by collaborating with experts from various knowledge domains within the Polkadot tech stack. If we need to add incentives, that’s not hard - I’m open to ideas. Reach out to me.

Curious to hear from any other educators in the ecosystem who might have opinions on whether these are goals worth pursuing. Full disclosure: I’m not getting paid to try this out, I’m just driven by the belief that with the right people we could create something that could become a public good for the community.