Guild types and onboarding thoughts

Switching up naming only furthers confusion, it’s been hard enough to distinguish (and relate) Guilds and DAOs. I would prefer to keep referring to the community organizations as Guilds and referring to DAOs as their tooling.

Regardless of what value a Guild is providing (growth, service, or the other vectors @hitz mentions) they can be held to the “grant” payment model. Before doing work, a Guild needs to provide:

  • Desired funding amount (up to X, have heard 10,000usd in NEAR)
  • A meaningful metric and estimated numbers against it.
  • Plan of action to back up the estimate.
  • (if not the first time requesting funds) a report including the measurement numbers and what was learned, whether the numbers were met or not.

This simple but effective framework enables Guilds of all kinds. It’s flexible enough to accommodate wild experiments and rigid enough to ensure value is generated every month. It also provides managers and auditors a clear template to check.

Edit: I contrast the “grant” payment model where funding is provided ahead of time with a “bounty” payment model where work is rewarded after it’s complete. “bounty” model works in any increments including streaming.


Firstly thank you @erik.near for starting this discussion and to everyone for sharing thoughts, insights, concerns and suggestions. I largely echo the sentiment in this thread but would like to share a few thoughts too:

  • Whether it is a service Guild or a community building Guild (two broad categories as put forth by @erik.near above), every Guild should ideally have an on-chain presence in the form of DAOs. If not for receiving or disbursing funds then for governance or facilitating transparency and macro-level decision making.

  • I am not averse to the idea of streaming payments as suggested by @illia to Guild DAOs. If the application of similar tools already available in the ecosystem can help make Guilds more responsible and transparent, let’s use them!

  • We need to let the Guilds decide which organisational structure works best for them while making sure that it adds maximum value to the ecosystem. Agree with @shreyas that some Guilds are comfortable working in a closed team-like structure while others prefer opening themselves to the community to join and participate in.
    To assess the former (closed team-like guilds) we should look at the impact they make and experiments they undertake. While those Guilds may not have open membership, they can certainly undertake activities or do experiments that entail the involvement of the larger community to be considered successful.
    To assess the latter (open membership Guilds) we are already tracking the number of new members who sign up or join those Guild communities.
    In short, instead of just looking at the number of people who join a telegram chat or fill up membership forms to assess the impact of a Guild, we need to also look at the number of people engaged or opportunities/experiments initiated for the community to participate in. This in my opinion mitigates the “one size fits all” approach and allows more flexibility for people.

  • Agree with @starpause on retaining the “Guilds” naming for all guilds instead of getting too caught up in a nomenclature exercise UNLESS it is required to make things easier for the Foundation, Community and all ecosystem stakeholders in terms of compliance with laws or different regulations.

  • Guilds are NEAR’s competitive advantage over several other ecosystems in my opinion. What we need is the optimisation of existing guilds infrastructure instead of drawing hard straight lines of distinction between two broad types of Guilds, which to some extent dilutes the idea of Guilds we have now - which is inclusive and representative of all groups of community contributors now.
    That being said, I am not opposed to classifications if it brings more efficiency in oversight and reduces suboptimal dispensing of community funds WHILE retaining the inclusive nature of the existing guilds infrastructure where anyone with an idea can organize a community or build a team around.

  • There also needs to be a discussion around “onboarding” and what it means in different contexts. If a person is onboarded by a Guild, it must be made sure that the Guild follows through and encourages the person to use NEAR’s tools, explore the opportunities etc and most importantly engage. Lurkers in Telegram chats or Discord groups don’t add much value to the Guild or larger ecosystem if they are not actively participating, learning or contributing in some way.

  • The point @David_NEAR makes about taking into consideration the off-chain membership is very important. We don’t really need everyone to be on DAOs or holding NFTs to prove membership BUT we do need communities and contributors to have an on-chain presence (ideally DAOs) to make it easier for them to govern, organize and align their group while exploring the vast expanse of web-3 and the open economy.

  • I can see that the vast majority of opinions being shared here are by Foundation members or NEAR Core members and only a handful or even few by community members. I thus felt it necessary to voice my opinions. I am also open to jumping on calls with any and all participants in this thread to discuss all ideas in length. If a community representation is needed for such deliberations around community, I am always available!


Previously, we’ve classified guilds into

  • Theme based guilds- NEAR Music Guild, Cypherpunk Guild etc.
  • Service Guilds- Legal, Design, etc.
  • Regional/Language guilds- NEAR Russia, Vietnam etc.
  • Project guilds- Aurora, Ref Finance etc.

Agree that service guilds are similar to Raid guilds like communities- the pitch has always been that you come in with an existing skill or a real interest in learning and honing a specific skill and there will be a guild where you can do that while contributing to the wider NEAR ecosystem.

IMO, the others, except for project guilds, can be categorized into meetup like communities, based on their niche and audience. Communities of practise (COP) or communities of interest(COI).

Turning an existing community to a “NEAR based” with a few clicks- what would that look like?

I would frame this as “Contributors” as there can always be new contributors. The community doesn’t cease to exist if the owner exits.

What would that look like?

I feel like with most of the guilds, we’re a long way from getting here. Initially, it requires a lot of hand holding as even in the case of service guilds, most of them are collaborating and working together for the first time and they dont already have a working relationship. This means that there needs to be a place where they can rely on getting the support for a period of time, before they become independent. Most of the members in these communities haven’t worked together before and it’s really difficult for them to come together from day 1 and push forward.

Community commitment curve

We can think about more specific names that better reflect what they’re doing- like service, theme based guilds etc., but I think partners as a term can be confusing especially given that these are community members. We also don’t want the community to be misrepresenting what they’re doing.

We can set up an incubating model for service guilds and help them get “independence”. In this context, that would mean working with them on a timeline as well as steps to assess their value proposition, make introductions to potential “clients” who would pay them for their services etc. as the hand off stage.

Will also check out and review Roketo. cc @Jessica , @jcatnear

Completely agree.


The Guilds represent a strategic component of Ecosystem development and growth. I am proud to have seen the growth we have experienced in our Ecosystem in the last six months, and I realize that the conversations we are having now are triggered due to that growth.

I want to thank everyone for their input. However, I feel we are only scratching the surface by pointing out symptoms and going straight to the prescribed medication. I think we missed the problem definition and, more importantly, the source of the problem.

The problem is not the ‘naming’ but something else. @hitz input was guiding us in that direction. A way to better define the issues around the sub-communities, groups, or guilds. The problems and/or source of the problem could be pointing to funding, reporting, commitment, value-creation, trust, empowerment, opportunism, judgment, governance or lack thereof, etc.

The community team started working on a Tiering system to define the conditions better and support the development of the different types of Guilds. Such Tiering system is to be communicated and posted in this forum.

  1. Tiering these groups may help address problem areas that are more specific and relevant than a one-fits-all type of approach.
  2. After the tiering system is in place, funding will follow next, funding according to the tiering system.
  3. To implement an effective rewards mechanism, a Governance structure is required.
  4. A Governance will allow active community members to participate in the decisions that affect our Community.

All the above items are work-in-progress and will be shared with the Community for feedback and iteration. We hope that this multi-level approach to a diverse set of challenges resulting from the growth and maturity of our Community finds its way to bring some light and pave the way for further decentralization.

The Community team constantly measures the strategies and execution approach to see how they fit our values: Ecosystem first. Don’t forget what brings us here.


It actually seems like there are 3 categories since they’re meaningfully different:

  1. Service Guilds / Partners / Consultancies – as above, treat them like service providers that happen to be community-oriented/open in how they recruit members but otherwise are able to contribute in clear, accountable ways
    a. TAM: ~1k’s of people
    b. Who should be accountable and responsible: Ecosystem Success team.
    c. What they should do to support: Identify and test-drive high quality service providers (whether communities or consultancies, shouldn’t matter) to match with startups in ecosystem (including NF) who need services. Should be demand-driven not supply-driven.
    d. Current challenges: unstructured expectations around what these are and how they work means low quality work and high quality work aren’t really differentiated.
    e. Examples: Legal Guild, 4nts Guild

  2. Guilds – essentially crypto-aware communities that engage with NEAR or projects on NEAR as a way of doing the normal stuff communities want to do – learn, earn and/or play together. They would exist anyway without support but the support helps supercharge them.
    a. TAM: ~1M’s of people
    b. Who should be accountable and responsible: Community team
    c. What should they do to support: provide funding to bootstrap the communities (the equivalent of pizza and beer money for meetups), knowledge/workshops, recommended infrastructure/tooling, routing of new members into the communities,
    d. Current challenges: it’s quite unclear where communities are and where someone’s “home” could be to learn, earn or play together with like-minded people
    e. Examples: NEAR core discord community, Vietnam

  3. NEAR-based communities – web2 communities who don’t care about NEAR or blockchain but can benefit from being tokenized and DAO-ified. The full Open Web vision – how does every community on or facebook have a token and a DAO?
    a. TAM: ~100M+ of people.
    b. Who should be accountable and responsible: Astro team.
    c. What they should do to support: build the best and smoothest tooling out there to uplevel vanilla communities to slowly use crypto primitives to engage their members, provide necessary legal underpinning to do so (eg recommended legal paths when communities start hitting KYC needs), evangelize the heck out of web3-ifying your community and elevating success stories of communities that started using the (NEAR-based) web3 stack, major partnerships to drive this top down.
    d. Current challenges: This doesn’t actually exist at all because there’s still no basic way for web2 communities to tokenize.

The core question under all of this is how active of a role should the community team/fund or other funding orgs take in funding each of these stages. I’d argue the answer depends heavily on the goal:

  1. For funding communities to get them going, it’s “as little as possible to help develop and bring these communities to sustainability”
  2. For funding activities that should get done, for example running NEARCon 2.0 or driving 100k new social followers for NEAR or building a Udemy course to teach 10k people how to dev on NEAR, it’s “whatever we’d pay a consultant to do the same thing” (since this is pay-for-work-done and NOT a charity act for the purpose of bootstrapping a community)
  3. For funding orgs that give grants themselves to grow an area of value, for example Cypherpunk Guild, which is both a community and a grant-giving organization, it’s “whatever the Funding team would do normally if a nonprofit came in asking for the same ask to accomplish the same goal.”

It seems that these pieces are being all blended in ways that reduce clarity. I hope this helps create some clarity.


Thank you all for such a helpful discussion, which definitely brings clarity to me. I hope more community contributors like @chronear voice their perspectives.

I think NEAR-based communities can be called guilds if they want, and we all benefit from the structure of NEAR Guilds rooted in various languages and regions.

As a member of the @Community-Squad, I believe many squads of the NEAR Community Guild(s) are coordinating projects and contributors with Community DAOs. We will need more local and global community managers, forum sherpas, and moderators for Telegram, Reddit, Discord, wiki, etc.

I’m hoping to further experiment with a Community DAO that includes other Community DAOs / Guilds in specific groups, according to their proposed tiers and / or categories.

To summarize: I believe our Community Guild empowers communities to support ecosystem development by helping anyone find ways to get involved.


Thanks for the mention @jlwaugh

Looking forward to working closely with you and the NEAR @Community-Squad as we usher into the new era of “regionally-rooted, globally connected” communities of contributors. Count me in to contribute to all multi-faceted experiments pertaining to community governance, reward structures and inclusion impetuses.

One suggestion: Including a more diverse set of ecosystem participants, say Projects and Research Groups to the mix will expand the scope of the experiment/s exponentially and provide deeper insights on best practices, special cases, blockers, information exchange and engagement standards across the board.

Absolutely agree with @shreyas that this will be an evolving conversation and process as we continue to grow together and build our Community Commitment Curve. We can’t move processes too fast. What ignites quickly burns out just as fast.

I think the Proposed structure for Community-driven DAOs along with the thought-provoking discussion in this thread are significant steps in that direction! :trophy: