Core Design Principles for a Prosocial Community

in steemromania •  21 days ago

Core Design Principles for aProscial Community(2).png


From the very first time I encountered the word "prosocial", it was love at first read. I started doing a little digging around to see what is going on with this concept and you can boil it down to behavior that is not just self-oriented but takes into account the needs of the group. Basically, a prosocial behavior is an action that is intended to benefit others, sometimes at the personal cost of the individual that engages in this behavior.

I quickly understood that the foundation for such a behavior is cooperation with an end goal in mind, but to be honest, I did not pursue a deeper understanding of this concept of prosociality. But in the last couple of day is searched for related content and I came across the work of Elinor Ostrom, which is a 2009 Nobel shared laureate in economics. See underwent a major study of communities that need to manage common resources on which they all relay. She was able to observe that only some of the communities were able to do this and work as a group that manages the resources to the benefit of all the members. In her study, she presents eight core design principles that need to be implemented in a way or another for the chances of good collaboration to be maximized.

I would argue that we in the steem community and more precisely in the @steemromania community, are in the same boat of needing to manage a common resource which is the reward pool. If we do a good job, then the whole project advances and all have greater chances of success; but if we do a poor job this could result in all of us losing this major opportunity called the steem ecosystem. I will try to make a simple and short presentation of these design principles in order to ignite a discussion. The way we will relate to these principles needs to be a group conversation and we need to reach a majority consensus on what is fair for the members, as well as for the community.


  1. Group Identity. This means that we need to define who we are as a group, what we want to achieve and how we can use the resources at hand. The rights and obligations of members also need to be to be defined.

  2. Proportional costs and benefits. This calls for a fair distribution of benefits, meaning that members doing the work need to get a biger share of the rewards that the ones that only benefit from the work done. This ration also needs to be discussed and decided on a group level.

  3. Consensus decision making. When decisions are made from the top down, there will be many individuals which do not believe in that course of action and disregard it or follow it poorly. But if we are able to reach a consensus about what needs to be done, then most of the members of the community are in front of a decision with which they agree and this has more chances of being adopted because people will be motivated to work in that direction.

  4. Monitoring. Luckily this is something done very easily done in the steem ecosystem because everything is transparent. But this refers to the fact that many people need to monitor the way things are done in order to avoild derailments.

  5. Graduated sanctions. This refers to the fact that severe sanctions do not need to be used from the beginning, most derailments can be resolved with friendly and gentle reminders. But if this does not work, punishments and exclusion are also an option.

  6. Fast and fair conflict resolution. This means that conflicts need to be addressed quickly and we need to find resolutions that all the parties involved find fair. This can be done with respected members of the group that heard both sides and give an impartial solution.

  7. Local autonomy. This usually refers to groups having their own set of rules in principles and are able to make their own decisions; this is also something easy to do in the steem ecosystem.

  8. Polycentric governance. This refers to a decentralized governance with several centers of decision, but all of them need to follow the same principles in order for the group to go in the same direction.


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If you want to sanction people you first need to have a list of sanctionable offenses that everybody understands


Yep, that is a conversation we need to have :)

Yes, as you mentioned, I think this can be expanded further, but as principles they seem ok.

For the 4-6 points, a sort of code of conduct should be created, which can be monitored and when needed, reminded or even enforced.

The problem I see is we humans often have a hard time applying principles in reality, unaltered. That doesn't mean we shouldn't thrive for better! Maybe at some point we will evolve.


For most of human history, we need to apply principles which were mostly enforced by others and I understand why each individual has the tendency to change the rules. Maybe a set of principles that are a direct result of consensus will be viewed differently, we will see :)


Hopefully consensus is more appealing than some desire to break the rules, whatever they are.

I suppose I'm one of the last to hear the term "prosocial", but better late than never. It seems to me the concept of Cooperative Abundance would fit very nicely here. To put it very simply those who participate in CA are first of all self-responsible and secondly they realize through experience that working together and lifting other up results in oneself being lifted up too. I can see this paradigm of voluntary cooperative effort is the perfect match for Steemit and perhaps one day for humanity. Many blessings.


Yes, brother. I also see this perfect match. We have the possibility of creating a new model of society; and if its good, maybe it will be adopted :)

PS: the term prosocial is quite underground. So it is quite the contrary, you are among the first to use it :)