How to Onboard Non-Programmers

Hi all!

I wanted to start some conversation around how to help non-coders find their niche in the Ethereum ecosystem. I think this is a different conversation than helping coders find things they can help with/contribute to/etc., though that it is open for discussion too.

The ecosystem needs a host of non-coding things done. How can we help ensure that non-coders looking to contribute to Ethereum can find their place?

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Hi @wschwab have you seen https://onemilliondevs.com/#/ and gitcoin quests ?

Hi @wschwab (and everyone else)!

I’m a non-coder who came to the Ethereum Magicians site for the first time today and saw this topic and was inspired to create an account and post.

I’m not sure how much or where I can contribute but I’d like to contribute and go a bit deeper into this stuff and learn more than you can on Reddit (which is great too and serves a much wider group but has a different purpose I think).

I don’t have a technical background - I’m a technology and finance lawyer with a background in litigation, regulatory disputes and risk management. Although I’m very comfortable with technology and have done a lot more than most non-technical people (have been on the Internet since the early 90s, installed Linux on my home PC in the mid 90s, can more or less explain what “sharding” is in layman’s terms etc).

I’m pretty experienced at talking to coders and getting them to think about legal issues and risks for their project from an early stage, and achieve their goals while minimising legal risks (and I had quite a few discussions like that at Devcon in Osaka).

For now I’ll keep reading and learning and maybe poke my head over the wall and comment sometimes - any suggestions on how I can help and get involved appreciated.

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@Ashaman Welcome! I’m glad you joined the conversation. I think you’re a perfect example of what I’m talking about - the ecosystem certainly includes demand for legal positions, as you yourself point to with your experiences by Devcon.

In terms of resources, ethereum.org has redone its website, and has some links that may help you dig deeper, though I’m part of a group that is researching what we can do to help these processes. If you have any feedback about anything you think could be done to help, please reach out!

These are great resources (I’m surprised by how developed the Quests are, for sure), but I feel like there’s a big emphasis on the programming development of Ethereum. (May have judged too soon, feel free to correct me if you think otherwise.) How would a UX designer know where to look, or what unique UX challenges Ethereum has? Or maybe a:

  • financial lawyer (real life example from this thread!)
  • marketing expert
  • product manager
  • accountant

I feel like we need resources not only to help us onboard developers, but also the other jobs that surround programming. I feel like there’s been a lot of progress with developers, which is totally awesome, but feel like we need to work on the rest of the elements that create a thriving ecosystem too. Thoughts?

Your thoughts are great, thanks for contributing but I think that you should be more specific.
Give me questions that you’re looking for answers to. I was looking at http://ethereum.org/ specifically into sources that are posted there and I found article / source answering every question that I had.
Have you seen page about Developers ? I think that there are so many great resources regarding to it.

If you’re looking for a programming job there are quite a few pages like this one or this one and many more.

Regarding to tools for devs @austingriffith created this amazing tool for devs https://eth.build/

Or you feel like on ethereum.org there are missing resources for UX designers/ marketing experts/ product managers and others?
But from devs side, I feel like ConseSys and ETHGlobal are doing a great job with onboarding new developers to the space :slight_smile:

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Me too.

To be more specific, I’m looking at the process of helping non-devs find their niche. The list I gave were a number of examples - I’m sure there are more.

What can we do to also attract non-coders?

For non-devs I would recommend - go to medium and search for “blockchain” “cryptocurrency” “crypto” “ethereum” and similar keywords and read articles and find what you interest you the most in a space :slight_smile:

There are so many great articles out there, just look for what you’re (or non-coiner) are interested in the most :slight_smile:

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We are developing material that is also accessible for non programmers: https://www.koios.online

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Thanks for the welcome @wschwab !

I looked at the ethereum.org website. It’s a a lot better than it used to be for sure.

For me personally the EF website is unnecessary - in the sense that I know everything that’s on there. I’ve been reading r/ethereum and r/ethtrader/ethfinance on a daily basis for two years, I use dApps, I have a Peepeth account, etc. I’m not really the target demographic for the site, but that’s just me.

But if it’s being targeted at people new to Ethereum then I think it is much improved. My main comment would be that it divides everyone into a “developer” (who can contribute to the ecosystem by coding) and everyone else who can (impliedly) only contribute by being “users”.

Those are the only two categories on the website. But as you’ve pointed out, the ecosystem needs non-devs to do a lot more than just use dApps (speaking for myself, almost every dApp I’ve seen seriously needs the help of a good UI/UX designer).

Perhaps reorganizing the site categories? “Users” and “Contributing to the ecosystem”, with “developers” as a subcategory and other ways of contributing as subcategories? I’m just thinking aloud - it doesn’t have to be exactly like this - the idea is just to make it clear that it is possible to do more than just be a user and contribute more without being a dev?

It doesn’t have to be prescriptive pathways - just examples (or case studies maybe - could do it for devs too - of how people got involved with contributing to the ecosystem). “This is Dave, he’s a designer who worked on the UX of [dApp]” or whatever.

@anettrolikova - I pretty much did what you suggest two years ago and then went a lot deeper. I’ve done some (legal) work relating to Ethereum in the last 1-1.5 years, but it’s only after attending Devcon this year and meeting a ton of people that I’ve started to go to the next level and get more involved.

It’s a decentralized system and I’m not suggesting anything prescriptive like a fixed career path but I certainly think more can be done to a) identify areas in need of non-programmer contributions (I can think of a bunch off the top of my head); b) highlight the need; and c) publicize how it is possible to get involved and contribute.

(Lots of ideas - for example, a discussion forum or something to match up devs working on a project with non-dev skills they need and vice versa?)

EDIT: Just to add. I came to this forum out of idle curiosity. I happened to see this thread and decided to create an account and post, but if I hadn’t seen it, I would have just thought “I don’t understand most of this stuff - there’s nothing for me here” and gone on my way. How many people is ethereum.org (for example), losing due to a similar dynamic?

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You brought up a lot of good points, @Ashaman. I find it a bit ironic that you mentioned the ethereum.org website, since one of the things that prompted me to post this was information-gathering in order to try to add something filling precisely this need - this very conversation might help that problem get fixed just a bit more!

Also - if you keep an eye on https://smartcontract.codes - we are planning to release categories soon, which will show beginner friendly templates and we will add a community chat so people can reach out and get support and we will help them to get started.

It’s our goal to help lawyers, accountants and similar non-programming professions to make the transition and eventually use easy-to-use smart contract tools to one day replace templates or excel sheets they were using in the past.

The preview we offer is meant to immediately display a contract in a familiar way (people know how to use and submit forms on the internet) :slight_smile:

Any feedback is welcome. The templates will be published in the next days or week or so.

Btw. we are hosting regular free meetups and codecamps around the world and encourage people to start their own and we can give support to make it maintainable and build a community of like minded peers to learn together :slight_smile: …because programming cannot be learned in one weekend or event

If you want to know more background, check:

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@Ashaman, welcome to the Magicians’ Forum!

There are certain clusters of individuals who are in the same field and exploring Ethereum, lawyers are definitely one larger example. I set up a subreddit looking at law as it relates to Ethereum, I have only been posting links to this but check it out:

https://www.reddit.com/r/ethlaw/

Overall each field needs organizers in the community, and you are welcome to do that on our Forum and at events where Ethereum people gather. Some “birds of a feather” rings include the Education Ring and the Data Ring.

Thanks everyone.

@wschwab - happy to help or give feedback in any way I can. I just saw someone asking on Reddit about resources to learn more about Ethereum (as a dev) and saw they were directed to the website, so it does seem to be happening.

@serapath - I saw the site (it looks cool) and read the Medium article. If I understand correctly, it’s meant to be an easily searchable resource of smart contract code for devs? Both for newbies to learn examples of good basic code and more advanced people to find examples of more advanced code? With the idea that (eventually) non-devs can learn enough of the basics to do some simple smart contract coding for their own purposes?

Is that about right? If so, I’m not sure where to start - should I wait for the beginner friendly templates and look through them (when they are released)?

@jpitts - thank you, good to be here.

I looked at r/ethlaw - it’s a great resource of useful legal developments (and I like the focus on Ethereum, because otherwise the discussion can lose focus and become more about Bitcoin or other cryptos - that’s not necessarily bad, but the higher level the discussion, the more vague it tends to get).

You posted the EU Blockchain Observatory report on the legal framework for blockchain - I just saw them present it in person at the Convergence conference in Malaga this week.

On this point - yes, I’d definitely like to help with this (or organize it if no one is doing it already), if I knew where to start.

If I understand correctly, “birds of a feather” rings are basically interest groups? And the Education Ring and Data Ring are categories of interest groups, and an “Ethlaw” group (so to speak) might fall under one or both of those?

And the idea would be for the community organizers to generate discussions in the “Ethlaw” group in this Forum (amongst lawyers interested in Ethereum or anyone interested in the legal/regulatory issues really, doesn’t have to be lawyers only), or Reddit etc, and organize in person meetups if there’s enough interest, at EthCC/EDCON, etc?

Hi all, I’ve poked around at posts on Ethereum Magicians for a while now, but think this is my first post. I think I found it through the Gitcoin communty. My interest in it originally was very much related to this post. A few topics / posts that particularly piqued my interest were about product management in crypto as well as business models in crypto, but as I think is evident from this post those are few and far between so I’m glad to see this discussion.

I’ve been a product manager for ~7 years in non-crypto companies and a pretty enthusiastic follower of crypto for ~3 years. About a year ago, I joined a new company to be the product lead on a permissioned blockchain product and am really grateful to have made the jump and am enjoying the work a lot. Since it took some time to make that switch and I got impatient, I started a podcast with a friend of mine who I used to work with and is a fantastic UX designer with experience as a PM as well. I’ll go into the podcast more below. Sharing all of this to give some context on what I share.

My perspective is that we need (and have needed) more non-developers to jump into the fray in order to help crypto succeed. Not too long ago I hear a similar sentiment echoed by folks like Chris Dixon on some a16z podcast. Bringing diverse perspectives and experiences into building products is essential for any type of product, but I’d argue it’s even more critical in crypto. That’s because the technology is even more complicated than in traditional software products.

I’ll highlight a few bright spots in crypto where I think non-developers are being integrated into growing the space, or at least where I think non-technical topics are getting some love.

First is Gitcoin. While definitely quite dev-focused, I think Kevin Owocki (founder of Gitcoin) has done an amazing job growing the project and being vocal about things like business model innovation. Even the way they have developed their community is worth learning about given how critical community development is to open source and crypto product success. As noted already, Gitcoin Quests and their products in general were necessarily focused on devs, but I know they have ambitions to branch out and we’re already starting to see that.

Second is ConsenSys. They technically fund Gitcoin, at least in part, but they have definitely done some great work in the space to promote thinking outside of technical and dev topics. In particular, I think they have done great work in the design space and recommend checking out the ConsenSys Design website as well as their blog posts on design topics.

Third, though not at quite the same level of depth, I’d recommend checking out Chris Remus. He’s an interesting guy who has been pretty vocal about product management in crypto. You can check out blockchainpm.substack.com and his Twitter account @cjremus.

Fourth is a shameless plug for the podcast that I started and co-host with my good friend Nick. We started it because, as a former PM - UX pair trying to make successful products, we wanted to understand how teams in crypto are dealing with the unique challenges of building with this technology on top of all of the typical challenges any team faces when trying to build great products. There are plenty of resources and podcasts (like Epicenter) focused on technical aspects, but few to our knowledge cover the vast space of everything else you need to get right to have a successful product. So we interview founders and builders in the space to get a more holistic view of how they are building products. Several areas we like to focus on are user research, UX / design, testing assumptions and experimentation, how teams organize and manage their day-to-day processes, go-to-market strategies, business models, etc. In fact, the name of the podcast, Fork the Product, is inspired by the concept that in crypto anyone can fork the code of your product, making it really difficult to build sustainable business models.

We completed and have season 1 up already at forktheproduct.com (also on Spotify, Apple, Google and most podcast players) and we’re planning to release season 2 within the next week or so. In season 2, we narrowed the focus to two topics - Non-Fungible Token (NFT) projects and Decentralized Finance (DeFi) projects. We are grateful to have lined up some amazing guests including SuperRare, Compound, OpenSea, Dapper Labs / CryptoKitties, PoolTogether and more. I’d greatly appreciate if anyone here would give us a listen, share, rate, etc., but also reach out with any ideas or feedback for the show! We’re passionate about this stuff and hope this can become a resource for the whole community, and especially for the non-dev / non-technical crypto community.

Sorry for the long post, this topic gets me energized…

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Hi @zdc - welcome from a fellow newbie.

I’ll go check out your podcast and Chris Remus now.

What I find interesting - from a sample size of two in this thread - is that people who are sufficiently interested in Ethereum/crypto will find a way to get involved even as non-devs - but there would be huge benefits from signposting the path to make it a bit easier and make it clear there are opportunities in crypto (for non-devs) that go beyond “HODL”.

Just to keep everyone in the loop, I’ve opened up an issue and subsequently a PR to add a page to the ethereum.org website. The easiest way to view the proposed addition is probably here. This is an open invitation for discussion about the proposal (if you have comments, you may want to make a GitHub account and post on the PR).