Who gets let into your DAO?
Ensure your DAO has the best vibes by designing for who you let in.
DAOs are about vibes and vibes are about people.
It is arguably then, that the people who are accepted into your DAO are the people that add to or take away from the vibes in the DAO.
Vibes aka culture is built over time and reinforced through even micro actions. It has become standard best practice across startups and big tech companies to have very rigorous multi-round interview processes. They want to make sure each person they add to their organisation adds to the culture they are seeking to maintain. As such, they want to make sure lots of people already employed give a ‘hell yes’ to the new person.
This applies to any organisation growing their tribe, whether it’s through hiring employees or accepting new community members. While this process takes a lot of time, organisations that value this willingly put in the effort. The constant rigour and standard builds and maintains the vibes they want over time.
Vibes at CCS
CCS is a unique organisation at the intersection of tech and society. We want unique people at that intersection to be a part of the community. We want the type of person who thinks critically while being optimistic, is willing to contribute to the community and build its lifelong brand.
At CCS, we have made a conscious decision to close the Discord server and thus the DAO to the public. We want to build an institution that will be around in hundreds of years to come. That takes time and we are patiently pursuing this goal.
Vibe check while scaling
As the organisation grows, we have to figure out how to do this at scale.
While interviewing everyone is the best way to know whether they fit our vibe, it was near impossible with the time and resources we had to do this given the number of applicants. We knew that would be the case, so instead, we asked two broad questions while seeking intentional answers in our application form. The community team read through every single application that came through answering these two questions:
Tell us a bit about your background & interests.
Why do you want to join CCS? (Tell us more about your interests in the space and your intentions for joining CCS. What are you looking to get out of the community?)
If you are interested in looking at the application form or are curious to join semester III, you can do so here.
Reading through applications is a long and arduous process. One is susceptible to bias, both in the sense of people’s ability to express themselves well in written form as well as to people who are more like us. And we have to be careful to not fall into the traps of unconscious bias when admitting people into a community, especially one where we want to celebrate diversity. If you are interested in bias reduction to enable a more diverse community, here are some resources from the world of recruitment and admissions on practical bias mitigation techniques.
Reading applications is also a fun process because it sparked inspiration for the types of conversations I might have with certain learners. If you are in a DAO that takes in applications, allow yourself plenty of time and space to do so. You want to minimise getting tired and giving some applications less attention over others.
Connecting learners based on interests
While reading, I also started to think about connecting learners. Having similar interests with others is a great way for people to have common ground to start bonding. As such, I wanted to find ways of bringing people together with similar interests.
We were zapping Typeform answers to Google sheets using Zapier. As I was reading applications, I would pick out certain keywords and add them to new columns, I would then use an Excel formula to read their answers and flag ‘Y’ if they spoke about that topic in their answers as an indicator of their interest.
There were some minor data collection issues I had to overcome e.g. community and communities mean the same so I searched for ‘communit’. There were many ways to flag for EdTech interests including ‘edtech’, ‘ed-tech’, ‘learning’ etc.
Halfway through this video you will see that the formula becomes dynamic - referring to the cell with the interest rather than hard ‘coding’ the term in. I got smarter about it and the process got faster.
As you can see there is no hard and fast nor perfect rule in the process of doing the match. I could have done this for longer and refined it, or I could do a very quick version one, get it out there, test its value and then refine it.
Here is a table that shows the number of people interested in the top topics. People can have more than one interest so the total does not represent the number of applications. We also had a massive tail end of topics with less interests and some people had zero interest flagged.
This process not only allowed me to think deeply about how we can streamline and use automation to help with community connection, it also gave me a better understanding of our community makeup. I imagine being able to iterate on this process for future semesters, getting much better about the data and the ways to match people with each other.
Feedback from learners
While writing this retrospective series, I shared my drafts with some learners and one provided interesting feedback. He suggested we could use this to ask learners of the community what other criteria we should include on the application form so the culture continues to be consistent over time. He believed learners with positive experiences could speak to “who enriched their experience and thus might have an interesting point of view on what other criteria could help filter for those kinds of people”.
That is all I have for you today. I hope this helped you think about all the different ways you can come into your role as a community manager. In my next post, I will be writing about orientation week.
See you then!