Towards a participatory digital ethnography of blockchain governance
33 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2022
Date Written: February 27, 2022
Blockchain governance occurs through a combination of social and technical activities, involving smart contracts, deliberation within a group, and voting. These processes are significant as they demonstrate how governance of distributed infrastructures is evolving. While typologies of blockchain governance can be constructed by gathering on-chain interactions and formal rules, other aspects are more difficult to observe, including governance interactions occurring inside discussion forums. In this paper we discuss a participatory digital ethnography technique, whereby participants and researchers use a bespoke bot to identify governance interactions occurring within project forums (on Discord). The technique is designed to be used in conjunction with analysis of software for the purpose of mapping and understanding the ‘governance surface’ of different protocols. We describe our tools and methods for understanding automated futures through a case study of the SourceCred community, an organization using, developing and maintaining open source software called SourceCred. The SourceCred codebase is also used by other decentralised communities for various organisational functions, including reputation and compensation.
Keywords: digital ethnography, blockchain governance, Discord, qualitative research methods
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