Polkadot Citizen Media (Strategy & Discussion for 2023)

Hi Everybody, this will be interesting to you if you care about media creation, content strategies, and treasury management through governance.

The following is an offering of a possible strategy, made stronger by your attention and then thoughtful questions and feedback below.

Polkadot Citizen Media is not a brand or organization but a discussion about aligning Media creation and both treasuries with the long term success of the Polkadot Network.

The conversation is also happening on Twitter and Polkassembly!

For your convenience it is summarized here in a 10min video with salient points to follow!

Content of Video:

0. INTRODUCTION

  • Suggestions in this video based on 18 months of making and scaling media with 250+ other tokenholders!
  • This is a suggested strategy specifically for aligning Media creation and both treasuries to the long term success of the network.
  • The goal is to begin a conversation around intentional spending on the creation of media serving three distinct audiences.

1. AUDIENCE

  • Audience One is made up of current users, builders, and tokenholders of Polkadot and Kusama Network.

  • smallest audience.

  • they require media that is accurate, timely, and relevant information so strong communities can form, build, and prosper via informed decisions and action.

  • media serving this audience is always relevant but especially during market downturns (to preserve and support).

  • Audience Two is made up of tokenholders to be – those who are into crypto/blockchain but don’t know or understand Polkadot yet.

  • larger audience.

  • this audience needs media that educates, compares, onboards, welcomes, and shows them what’s possible.

  • media serving this audience is also always relevant but maybe most useful during boring sideways/bottom market action.

  • Audience Three is made up of those driven in by speculation and hype

  • largest audience (also most fleeting).

  • requires media that offers attention redirection, reality based settings of expectation, and firm indoctrination into long term thinking.

  • The Point: without strategy hype/fud cycles will continue to play out, wrecking potential token holders and causing chaos.

  • by strategizing around these three audiences we will grow the core of true, long term, network participants.

2. STORIES

  • stories drive action.
  • media is stories at scale.
  • media determines meta narrative and thus the actions of large groups of people.

3. ACQUIRING TALENT (& Decentralization)

  • “He who controls the media controls the minds.”
  • media decentralization is vital.
  • current onboarding of talent via tips in gov1 or Open Gov is okay but requires duplicated research, acks guidance or knowledgable feedback — especially for non-anglo media, is extremely time and resource intensive… and a little bit lonely.
  • tl;dr high friction and easy to quit.
  • content creation guilds rely on the establishment of communities led by experts.
  • standards are set, feedback is provided, cheaters are snuffed out, resources are shared, education is offered, and the very best are gradually elevated and encouraged with incentives.
  • provide welcoming onboard experience for talent and incentivize with small rewards as they grow an audience and become more valuable to the network.

4. FUNDING

  • “He who controls the media is paying for the media.”
  • tokenholders must pay for media services to ensure alignment with longterm interests.
  • successful media pays for itself by retaining and onboarding users, brainpower, and builders to the network increasing its utility.
  • real world businesses commonly dedicate 10-20% of budgets to media and marketing.
  • in 2022 10.62% of KSM spends were for media and 0.32% of DOT spends.
  • $930k worth of KSM and $125k worth of DOT at today’s market price (30d MA).
  • media benefits both networks, maybe Polkadot more, and there has been heavy general spending of Kusama treasury lately.
  • suggestion: rebalance spending across both treasuries.
  • suggestion: hack Open Gov onto Polkadot by opening spend proposals in appropriate tracks with nominal rewards and the stated intention of spending DOT. If successful, open spend proposal on Polkadot for full amount.
  • not perfect and not necessary but Open Gov is pretty sweet for scrutiny and at least some consensus.
  • we still love our Polkadot Councillors, just a suggestion.

5. BUDGET

  • hard to do! but how much should we spend on a strategy like Polkadot Citizen Media?
  • suggestion: start with a number based on 10% of last year’s total spending (~$5m worth of tokens – $1m from Kusama, $4m from Polkadot).
  • note that treasuries grew by $135m worth of KSM and DOT in 2022 at today’s price.
  • please somebody create an application for more accurately budgeting but ROUGHLY (tool used in vid)…
  • $5m worth of tokens spent on Media in 2023 would kind of (sort of) be 1.12% - 2.61% of the total combined treasuries for scenarios discussed in the video.

6. CONCLUSION

  • this strategy can serve 3 types of audiences.
  • stories drive human behaviour.
  • centralized media is dangerous.
  • it’s important that tokenholders fund media that’s in their long-term best interest.
  • good media drives or retains attention, users, brain power, and builders to the network increasing utility.
  • Kusama and Polkadot can share funding of media.
  • we began a budgeting discussion for the next 12 months.

These and any points are up for discussion below! Thanks for your care and attention.

Please, when in doubt, feel free to ask questions and build your understanding of this proposed strategy! Is there anything that was missed? Please begin a conversation below! Your feedback is essential to finding the best strategy for aligning Citizen Media with the long term success of Polkadot!

11 Likes

Great post, and great conversation starter for 2023!

regarding “hack open gov onto polkadot”, you mean driving the discussion and voting onto kusama open gov for dot spends, and “settling” the transaction via concrete proposals on polkadot? This sounds convenient but other than a gentleman’s agreement, how do you propose on enforcing this? If you were to convince council members to show preference to pre-approved proposals then that signals centralization which is something parity definitely does not want to do.


Some additional unmarshalled thoughts:

  • Does Polkadot/dotsama also include substrate based solo chains? Whilst this confuses the messaging somewhat, it has often been the perfect retort to the “relay chain extracts rent, at least cosmos provides true sovereignty”. However given substrate adds yet another word to the dotsama-lexicon, it is often not well understood and dismissed.
  • Audience 1 & 2 could be served better with podcast based content - currently there may be the occasional team on a multichain pod (like gensyn, chainflip) but they have tended to be solochains and not part of the parachain web. There is a surprisingly large audience segment that listens to crypto pods whilst jogging.
  • The type of voice I’ve always appreciated is the biased-investor (Harry Yeh / Erik Voorhees / Jose Maria Macedo), who are able to speak with passion and detail on the projects they attributed to. Shilling your own bag is perhaps the reductive take on them, but skin in the game is not a bad thing. I haven’t heard any/many of these voices for dotsama outside of Asia, it would be nice to have regional diversity.
2 Likes

Kusama and Polkadot are separate networks and I think this should be reflected in the content that is put out. Until now Polkadot has been been a free-rider to the media treasury spends on Kusama: while the Kusama treasury paid the bill, the Polkadot network benefited from essentially free content.

Going forward I think both networks should pay for what they get. Kusama content should imo be funded by the Kusama treasury, while Polkadot content should be funded by the Polkadot treasury. Some content creators might prefer to produce content for Polkadot while others could be in favour of Kusama. Those that wish to create content for both networks should imo still create separate proposals for each network to be evaluated by the respective governance bodies on Kusama and Polkadot.

1 Like

Hey tim, thanks for taking a look and a thoughtful reply!

re: “hack open gov onto polkadot” this is meant as a lighthearted suggestion and by no means binding or necessary. I just personally love the way opengov allows many opinions to converge on a great outcome and the idea of proposing the media spends of our own teams to a council again feels a bit sad. It would be useful for leveraging the collective wisdom of Kusama holders and would be a data point for councillors is all. Hopefully the least interesting part of the video!

  • The Polkadot/dotsama story is vast and can include anything substrate touches including other ecos. Especially useful for interacting with Audience Two imo. Interesting thought!

  • Podcast content is great is this is a fantastic point. At The Kusamarian we have a podcast with 80+ Episodes called Space Monkeys which is our second most popular show. There’s also a Spanish Language one coming up called Dotcast and of course Parity’s Relay Chain Podcast. More needed!

  • I enjoy these sort of media makers as well. Though, in regard to the treasuries, we need to be careful to avoid price and speculation talk. It’s possible, imo, that DOT was specifically designed to resist being a vehicle for speculation following 2019 guidance from the SEC to morph securities into software. While speculative content does drive short term attention, it doesn’t exactly promote a sustainable userbase and may hamper it. All that being said, the cool thing about incentives from the treasuries are that Skin in the Game is built in. :wink:

Thank you again for your consideration of the post!

1 Like

Thanks again Gabe. In my experience it would be very difficult to separate these stories as you are suggesting.

Take a news show for example: it wouldn’t be possible to predict how much news it would cover of one network or the other. It would also be an incomplete show without covering both!

The stories between the two networks is also very fluid. The story of a single project very frequently starts on Kusama, then moves to Polkadot, or constantly has interactions between them – stories bouncing from one to the other. It would be strange to suddenly stop telling the story or only pick up the story in the middle if the creator didn’t have the credits from the appropriate treasury to cover it.

I could also see it being quite wasteful to build duplicated brands and audiences to attempt to tell completely separate stories. And since Kusama is meant to be the place where we learn lessons for Polkadot, it would be strange to fracture them.

From a narrative and even practical point of view, Kusama and Polkadot do not seem like separate networks to me. Defining their relationship to eachother is a joint effort in my view.

It would be interesting to hear what other creators with experience building media and audiences would have to say to this idea.

Appreciate the input!

1 Like

Great work, this is an area that truly deserves more attention in our ecosystem. Tech innovation is not enough if people are not aware of it!

Couple of comments:

Regarding targeting, I would suggest adding a profile audience made up of technically savvy people, i.e. software engineers who are into Substrate/Ink, but also those who are with Solidity or other programming languages not specific to Blockchain, who could be attracted to the value proposition of Web3. This is very important for the growth of our ecosystem and Web3 in general.

Content and media channels would need to be catered to this technical audience – educational videos, tech academy, hackathons, How To’s, etc.

The Stories element of your strategy is key, so the creation of content for 1. Polkadot, 2. Kusama, 3. Substrate, 4. Ink, and collaborations with all Parachains in the ecosystem. The definition of the right social channels, perhaps some traditional media for key product launches, matching the timing of major events in the industry, consistent SEO and SEA work, all in tandem with what the Parachains are also working on.

Decentralized content creation will work a long way, but for this strategy you can’t rely only on that. You will need a base layer of consistent communications, and then add to it with the decentralized content creators.

Funding: media buying is not heavy in Web3, so the comparison with traditional businesses budgeting is not really valid. In truth, Web3 brands don’t spend anything nearly close to Web2 startups or traditional corporations. Probably the answer to budgeting for media buying and content creation will depend on good benchmarking, tracking media buying from other Web3 ecosystem or even other startup ecosystems that also vie for software engineer talent.

All in all this is a great first take on this complex topic, and I’m happy to further support.

1 Like

Great conversation starter Jay; the value u provide to this ecosystem is immeasurable.

3 random thoughts:

  • Very intriguing concept to consider “bootstrapping” Open Gov marketing proposal into DOT via a prior KSM proposal. I like the priniciple behind this.

  • I am mulling over the long-term/short-term distinction you draw. I feel like we sacrifice too much if KSM is viewed only as “short-term”, but I understand your point that most KSM-generated treasury initiatives should at least be attempting to lead toward DOT…

  • I think that there exists (or will hopefully exist) a variant/subset of Audience 2 that I would characterize as “I am interested in [insert name of parachain/dapp] and I’m happy that there are other people paying attention to this relay chain/security chain stuff”… the marketing coordination/expectations between direct parachain marketing spend and the relay/security chain treasuries is yet another frontier to be explored over time.

2 Likes

Thanks for the great comments, polkapot.

Good point on the technical audience. I would suggest they make up a huge portion of Audience One. I am aware of two large initiatives looking at media specifically focused at this group in 2023!

Also true that we need large trusted communicators with the support to provide consistant communications.

On the funding point, some nuance would be that traditional Web3 brands may not need to spend as much because they have the luxury of a fanatical speculation cycle every few years to harvest from. Because we can’t promote or rely on that, and this strategy is geared toward growing and maintaining a long-term user base, it may not be the same as a strategy built around hype. It’s a great point though. Thank you!

3 Likes

Thanks shawty! I appreciate what you’re building too! thanks for the comments. I agree KSM shouldn’t be viewed as short term, but only as start-up and experimental understanding that not all experiments last. Some Media makers might try but fail.

On your last point… the emoji incentive power is going to be made available to all local parachains discord. Hopefully we can unlock those treasuries as well and then coordinate with these main ones. :eyes:

2 Likes

Hey Jay, you know I’m a fan of you and the basic WM model. Questions / comments below.

Suggestions in this video based on 18 months of making and scaling media with 250+ other tokenholders!

What are your main learnings?

  • Tech (how has the WG ‘mechanism’ evolved?
  • Content (how has the output iterated / improved / changed?
  • KPIs (what metrics do you consider valuable?
  • Narrative (what do you consider has been unique from a storytelling perspective)
  • Cultural impact (how do you see WM shifting or influencing discussion?

Audience profiles…

    • Audience One is made up of current users, builders, and tokenholders of Polkadot and Kusama Network.
    • Audience Two is made up of tokenholders to be – those who are into crypto/blockchain but don’t know or understand Polkadot yet.
    • Audience Three is made up of those driven in by speculation and hype

Do you have any data, research or analysis to back up these core profiles? Interested to know why you think these are the right areas to focus.

For example, I tend towards the exact opposite of this kind of profiling given the aim is to really drive meaningful adoption and cultural impact within new domains. In this regard, I would suggest that thinking outside of these boxes might be beneficial.

From the experience so far, and given the Wag name, I think there is a danger that we are ending up with the tail wagging the dog. Namely effective storytelling is being neutered at source by parachain teams dictating what narratives they want to share, which is really just marketing for tokens, that is aiming to retrospectively push back into actual user adoption. Rn users/speculators are the same thing and we should be far more vocal about this issue. I actually believe the machine of WM is great, but the narratives and the inputs that go into bringing alive the ecosystem are just boring, repetitive and lacking any real differentiators.

  • Stories

I agree with you on your media theory stuff, but if we’re gonna dig into this, lets really cut to the meat of the problem… DotSama is lacking novelty, cultural cache and great stories.

From the experience so far, and given the Wag name, I think there is a danger that we are ending up with the tail wagging the dog. Namely effective storytelling is being neutered at source by parachain teams dictating what narratives they want to share, which is really just marketing for tokens, that then aim to retrospectively push back into actual user adoption. Rn users/speculators are the same thing since the primary concern of all teams is runway.

We should be far more vocal about this issue. I actually believe the machine of WM is great, but the narratives and the inputs that go into bringing alive the ecosystem are just boring, repetitive and lacking any real differentiators.

Given the breadth of content created so far, what do you think has been the standout storytelling from WM and the ecoststem teams/treasuries you support?

  • Aquiring talent & Decentralization

I do wonder whether there is a danger here of WM being a massively productive machine, but one that creates a vast amount of low value content which ends up just disappearing into the vacuum of YT etc.

I’ve heard it noted that the aim is for it to be grassroots and then gradually level up the new talent - bootstrapping polkadot influencers, rather than paying through the nose for more mercenary talent who may already have existing audiences and reach.

With this in mind, what is the development path? How does this talent meaningfully level up? What are the creative projects that can stretch their capabilities? How do they learn from more experienced producers, creators, directors and storytellers?

To what end does all this lead? Whats the meta-narrative for WM? Why is this really revolutionary? I still feel there is something missing here… a hole in the plan sotospeak.

  • Funding
  • tokenholders must pay for media services to ensure alignment with longterm interests.

This is perhaps the part I most disagree with and its rooted in my own experience of building large media brands / communtiies / networks / talent across social networks.

The truth is these direct financial incentives actually have unexpected consequences. We see this in the play to earn / move to earn models that people in crypto love. Lets use the example of being incentivised to go for a run by earning tokens. On the surface this seems great - but really it depends what outcome you are optimising for. If you follow the thinking a little further, you see that these direct financial incentives actually lead to the opposite of what you’d hope - namely getting people fit, since the reward not become financial not health.

We see misalignment everywhere in the current internet business models and in digital media - and why I generally think that Web3 as its currently marketed will turbocharge all the worst traits of Web2 by linking the attention model to direct financial / speculative incentives.

If the goal of WM is to create truly objective and independent media, then we have to figure out how to separate out interests and disintermediate the current broken media models - else we will just get more of the same and the model will either not sustain or worse, be corrupted by the incentives it seeks to replace.

funding / budget

You’re suggesting an available budget of $5m a year.

Speaking from experience, we’ve built global media brands like Copa90 from scratch with funding of around $5m, but also created digital shows that became famous around the world for $50-500k. In the end, the magic comes when we match the novel capabilities of the tech with out there creative projects and great storytelling.

Burning through money on marketing / content creation is very easy. It it vital to consider how this content production works in sync with the tech and further, with creative projects that bring alive exciting new possibilities.

We have to get away from chasing trends (NFT/DAO/DeFi/Metaverse) - and start defining them.

  • Conclusion

I love all of your thinking, but the absolutely gaping hole at the centre of this strategy is simply that parachains are just not interesting as a topic save for those seeking some sort of investment returns.

If we are to levearge the WM machine/talent to make real impact then we need to develop creative projects that can become the tip of the spear… this is how we make the tech famous… showing not telling.

Further - we have to be thinking about how we can do this on DotSama native tech and tools. YouTube will reward creators and channels that play the attention game - same for every other Web2 platfom.

The opportunity has to be to build narratives on our own foundations - transitioning (Web2) followers into (Web3) contributors.

What publishing platforms are we lacking?

This is the key to unlocking the ecosystem. Until we tackle the elephant in the room, the echo chamber will cintinue and the endless announcements of some new tool… in the end, there are no users, there is no narrative, there is no cultural impact - or meaningful cinnection to the real world.

If we can crack this, then the WM model can scale the stories and everything else will look after itself.

1 Like

I’m somewhat baffled by this response ser, particularly the focus on WagMedia (and some assumptions about how it’s working and what it’s for).

This video is intended to start a general discussion about spending strategy for Media regardless of who proposes to spend. Last year we just collectively winged it.

WagMedia is only one possible answer to the question of onboarding talent, which is important for decentralized storytelling (and avoiding the dangers of centralized media).

There will be a proposal in 6ish weeks for funding the development of WagMedia into an even more useful tool. But it’s important to understand that WagMedia is not an organization driving a narrative. It is infrastructure connecting incentives to a pool of media talent (and providing research, marketing, and learning resources to them too!). It also keeps all incentives transparent.

You may be thinking of Bounty 12! Which was a a bounty mostly distributed by sub curators (we called them directors) via WagMedia to develop early stage media makers in line with their own specific goals. Many of the directors are now applying for their own treasury funding to direct Media Creation. You may look out for their proposals to offer help or even open your own treasury in WM to show others how its done!

But again, WagMedia in itself, is not an organization dictating or developing narrative. It simply allows those with funds to incentivize the creation of Media. In re: to the Kusama treasury It’s a lower friction way to onboard and support media talent than the current spend sroposal structure.

1 Like

Haha i had definitely not intended to baffle you.

You (and WM) have been by far the biggest driver of DotSama content creation, using a smart redistribution mechanism so practically speaking, I think your experience (good,bad and ugly) is key to understanding how a strategy might form.

I mean this in two ways - firstly the obvious one:

  1. You (WM) have been figuring this out, have spoken with many teams and projects, have tried to explain a lot of concepts, have taken feedback from people, have started AAG etc. So I’m genuinely interested in what you believe are your core learnings - since this is really a great starting point for the strategy you speak out - in fact, it is grounded in it.

And less obviously,

  1. Due to the above, and your great relationships within the ecosystem / Parity/W3F your words / recommendations have influence. This can be a good thing and also a bad thing - aka, people may think you have the answers, when really you are (in your own words) winging it - the challenge with this is we never really get to a place where there is a genuine debate and that is really my major point with regard to any media strategy since the first stage of developing a strategy is actually upstream of what you’ve currently recommended.

What I’d suggest is we create and seed fund a Polkadot Citizen Media research, insights and strategy group/org (that may even become an on-chain collective). Note this is again upstream of media creation, distribution and metrics (we simply don’t know what metrics matter right now).

This is closer to your references around storytelling / media theory. This is ultimately the same as having a W3F R&D team who ultimately do the deep thinking that then leads to implementations.

Without this work, we end up funding output without cycling back to first principles and really digging into what a native communications strategy for the ecosystem looks like. It should be call and response, iterative feedback. If we don’t do this, we will just end up spending a lot more money on output and may have more content to show, but this is very different to effectiveness.

If we don’t root back to this stuff, and really dig deep into the issues - which takes time, then people end up arguing over ideas / projects without a shared foundation.

This is what is exciting about your prompt here - opening the door to even discussing a strategy is acknowledgment that there is none…

My main note above, is the machine of WM is really interesting, but perhaps the inputs to this machine (and indeed any other initatives we fund) are lacking some basic strategic foundations.

Does that make sense?

1 Like

So you may be saying that you’re going to contribute a research, insights and strategy group to inform media creation. That would be great! :slightly_smiling_face:

Everything built so far is the result of people seeing something missing and jumping in to fill that gap. The people who build the most shape the most.

Yes - but only once a few more foundational elements are in place, that give a grounding that makes me more confident about being able to tell more interesting stories about concepts, projects and teams that can connect more broadly - this was my main point in the initial response… rn there is a hole there, but things are moving in the right direction.

Happy to chat more - would be up for discussing as part of a wider strategy chat if you wanted.

1 Like

Alright cool! When you’ve got that grounding it sounds like a great addition to what we’re talking about here! :fire: