Building a Community That Won’t Cash Out

RPG (RolePlayGateway), a community of game designers, world builders, and storytellers scripting entire universes, is entering its 14th year of existence. And while RPG founder Eric Martindale knows that some members of the community might move on, he’s in it for the long haul. He’s energized by the relationships that he’s seen members of the RPG community build and the excitement behind INK, a Bitcoin-backed digital currency that people within the community are using to tip one another for their creative work, and purchase digital goods.

In this episode, Eric gives a crash course on blockchain, which he chalks up to being a “highly inefficient database.” If you haven’t done your homework on this subject yet, his definitions and suggestions on things to look out for will help get you up to speed. We discuss:

  • The ups and downs of managing one community for 14 years
  • How the RPG community deals with wordiness
  • Three things that every community manager should know about blockchain

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Big Quotes

“Tipping is extremely popular [with my community’s currency]. Users are in some cases donating 5% or 10% of their total holdings to other users because of forum posts and that’s really exciting to me. It shows that people are really appreciating one another and willing to show that appreciation through some form of monetary exchange.” -@martindale

One of the most valuable things that a blockchain can provide is the ability to verify published information without having to trust any particular party. … A blockchain can provide the ability for any participant in a community to know that something is true based on when it was published and all of the other people that have verified that information.” -@martindale

“I would really recommend enabling user-to-user tipping. That has been extremely successful for us because it allows individual users to show their gratitude and appreciation for one another. That’s something that, up until now, has really been difficult. You have to use these official karma points or various tools and mechanisms, whereas, with digital currency, you have the ability to actually transfer real value to show your gratitude and appreciation.” -@martindale

“Any time you hear the phrase, ‘What do you think of blockchain?’ and you don’t put a definite article in front of it, chances are it’s going to be one of the people that are excited about the hype and the excitement of the phrase. But really, just replace that word. Replace the word “blockchain” with the word “database” and see if it makes any sense. If it doesn’t make any sense, then it probably isn’t a very good use case because what a blockchain is, is a highly inefficient database.” -@martindale

About Eric Martindale

Eric is the founder of RPG, an online community of game designers, world builders, and storytellers entering its 14th year of independent operation. RPG recently announced “INK,” a Bitcoin-backed digital currency given in exchange for community-focused work and used for pricing of player-owned virtual assets within their custom “Universe Simulator” game engine.

Eric has been a software engineer, entrepreneur, and community manager for over 15 years, building software for startup companies in a wide number of industries. More recently, he worked as a developer evangelist and open source strategist in the Bitcoin industry, helping several well-known companies in the space with technical communication and community growth. He’s now focused on launching Fabric, a decentralized operating system and communication protocol for building peer-to-peer applications that operate without any central server or authority — a tool he hopes will be most useful in helping communities self-organize without the threat of censorship, abuse, and privacy violations present in existing centralized providers of community platforms.

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