Shaping your Community’s Contribution Zones

Communities in Constant Flux

New digital native cities are emerging: first in the form of digital spaces (e.g. DAOs), and soon as physical expressions of their communities. At Forefront we are developing the port of entry, a digital city unto itself.

As we collaboratively shape these new organizations, we need to revisit old approaches to work and membership. At the same time, we must continue to ensure community members can contribute reliably to the collective vision.

It’s tempting to lean on traditional central planning practices as the pressure to grow and scale increases. However, our constant state of flux means we need new operating models that can respond quickly and effectively to rapid ecosystem changes.

Heading into Season 2 of Forefront, we are introducing the idea of digital “locality” to work. We are calling this Contribution Zones. Like city zoning, each zone will help members better understand where they should focus their attention and invest their time.

How will we zone digital cities? Example Land Use Map: Tallahassee Capitol Center, Urban Plan by Hisham N. Ashkouri for TAC. CC-BY-SA-2.5 (Cropped)
How will we zone digital cities? Example Land Use Map: Tallahassee Capitol Center, Urban Plan by Hisham N. Ashkouri for TAC. CC-BY-SA-2.5 (Cropped)
Source: Adapted from Cambridge Systematics.
Source: Adapted from Cambridge Systematics.

Introducing Contribution Zones

At the outset, everyone at Forefront can see how members are constantly evolving their focus, matching the rhythms of the DAO ecosystem heartbeat. And, as a result of these rhythms, we now are seeing some patterns emerging.

It’s our hope that by clarifying our internal language we can stimulate member engagement and make the contribution paths clearer to members.

Although the community members (ourselves included) aren’t really assigned “jobs”, members seem to be flowing through zones based on energy level, internal work demand, personal capabilities, and preferences.

We’ve identified three main Contribution Zones so far: Casual, Core, & Staff.

Contribution Zones at Forefront
Contribution Zones at Forefront

(1) CASUAL: Signaling, passive activity, varied financial investment.

Casual contributors can participate very flexibly on an ad-hoc basis. They're invested in DAO success and complete available tasks (bounties) when they desire.

(2) CORE: Production, moderate activity, moderate financial investment.

Core Contributors are responsible for getting stuff done within their respective domain. They push forward the agenda, create bounty opportunities, and engage other stakeholders throughout the process.

(3) STAFF: Stewardship, high activity, high financial investment.

Staff members are responsible for enacting the community voice and making high-level decisions around product and vision. In other words, making sure the DAO is pointed in the right direction.

These zones shift the operational focus from a central process of “distinct jobs and activities” to a member-led process based on “commitment and investment level.”

Across the zones we are also seeing specific role categories emerging.

Unlike roles in traditional organizations, these are based on commitment levels and activity types (long-term program steward vs. short-term contractor) - not knowledge specialization (Sales vs. Engineering).

Member Roles at Forefront
Member Roles at Forefront

(1) TOKEN HOLDER: Member has a financial stake in the DAO and may participate in governance. Usually does not contribute to ongoing operations, projects or bounties.

(2) BOUNTY HUNTER: Member may not be involved in daily DAO operations or planning, but actively seeks and completes interesting bounties.

(3) CORE CONTRIBUTOR: Member actively attends DAO meetings, consistently works on larger DAO priorities, and potentially leads projects with other DAO members.

(4) STAFF MEMBER: Member is responsible for the survival and vision of the DAO, treasury management, and other high-level priorities such as Seasonal community guidance.

It’s important to note: Each of these zones and roles is not mutually exclusive, and do not imply “inner rings”. Each member is encouraged to flow between roles to find harmony with the way that they contribute to the DAO:

  • Someone might act as a Staff Member for the whole organization, a Core Contributor for the Writer’s guild this week, and then pursue some bounties in the Growth Guild today.
  • A Token Holder may be a Casually involved and yet have great influence and authority among the community based on their reputation across multiple DAOs.

That being said, there is an expectation that members with higher commitment levels contribute for longer time-horizons: Casual members are expected to participate in important, but ad-hoc, governance decisions, while Staff members are expected to contribute steadily throughout multiple Seasons.

Forefront: The port of entry to web3 digital cities
Forefront: The port of entry to web3 digital cities


As you might have noticed, Forefront did not formally design these zones or roles – they’ve developed organically.

Forefront will undoubtedly change in both language and structure over time. It’s inevitable that new contribution zones and commitment levels will emerge. By listening instead of enforcing we can develop new operating models for our new technology foundation.

How To: Gathering Contribution Zone Signals
How To: Gathering Contribution Zone Signals

We encourage all DAOs to nurture a space for experimentation so that the right operating model emerges for your DAO. Let’s watch our interactions with curiosity, and listen to the Contribution Zone Signals that appear.

Then, we can design new cities to take advantage of the organic structures that are in harmony with our ecosystem.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to leave a tip. It will automatically be distributed to all contributors! Thank you!

Subscribe to Forefront
Receive the latest updates directly to your inbox.
Mint this entry as an NFT to add it to your collection.
This entry has been permanently stored onchain and signed by its creator.