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Thinking about the dominant ethical system of the cryptocurrency community

I have more experience in OSS than crypto, and there are some definite parallels. But the more I learn about crypto, the more differences I see.

When I was getting my master's degree, one of the things I studied was the intersection of team size, happiness, and productivity. I was wondering, are smaller teams happier? Are happier teams more productive? If A=B and B=C, would that mean that smaller teams are more productive than bigger teams?

One of my findings was that feedback leads to a boost in productivity. Whether it's corrective or encouraging, feedback can cause a brief burst in productivity. This can have some impressive impacts in the open source software (OSS) community where you may have a ton of people all contributing to the same project. Seeing what other people are doing or getting feedback will be like a tiny explosion propelling a contributor forward.

This can be true of anything built in public, and that's often the way web3 projects go whether they're art, software development, writing, or something else. Building in public means there's an opportunity for feedback, and feedback can spur productivity.

I've been making some mental comparisons between OSS and on-chain development for a while, and none of them have been deeply investigated or researched yet. But one observation that is starting to coalesce is that the nature of feedback for web3 projects is generally more encouraging.

Since I'm not a programmer, I don't have a good way to gather comments on an OSS repo vs. say, comments on Farcaster and perform sentiment analysis to validate this, but what I'm seeing is fewer arguments and more encouragement.

I hypothesize that this is because people building in the crypto community are often working on small, separate projects that have no direct influence on one another. They have an indirect influence of potentially inspiring others or bringing more people into the community, which is a core value for many people participating in crypto. And if you do disagree with how someone is going about their work, there's a lot of opportunity to build your own solution or approach.

In OSS, there's more centralization and you often can't easily go your own way. If you're contributing to a project, you care about it, and when disagreement arises that passion can turn into anger and abuse.

I'm by no means a trained ethicist, but ethics are something I've been thinking more about for the last few years. For me, an ethical system helps us make decisions, and our worldview typically determines the ethical system to which we subscribe.

The ethics typically on display in OSS is utilitarianism, or the greatest good for the greatest number of people, with the "people" in question being the target audience. There are always trade-offs, and the solution that benefits the most people (or the right type of people depending on the target audience of the project) will win.

In crypto, there's more focus on the journey and experience, because everyone can spin up new solutions or approaches on-chain. Different chains are formed with different priorities, and from what I can tell there's not a lot of animosity between different groups. The tribalism appears to be different and more inclusive to me.

All of this might be rose-colored glasses right now; I haven't had an opportunity to form the deeper relationships I would like with people to understand this culture better. But my initial impressions, formed over the last year since I joined CoinDesk, are fascinating to me. I've spent a fair amount of time with authors and artists and observed a higher degree of exclusionary behavior than I'm seeing in crypto. That is to say, it's not that crypto has art NFTs and thus is a nicer space; an art focus doesn't necessarily lead to kinder people. The crypto scene seems generally more inclusive and celebratory, and I look forward to learning why.

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