The Garden Gate: Self-Service Onboarding for Ceramic

Grant/Project Name: The Garden Gate: Self-Service Onboarding for the Ceramic Community

Proposer’s contact info: max[at]

Grant Category: Community

ELI5 Project Summary: [1-2 sentence summary that a non-engineer would understand]

A self-service, choose-your-own-adventure onboarding curriculum to get potential contributors ready to build on Ceramic.

Project Description:

Beyond a set of shared interests, any community really just needs three things: a way to push progress forward, a way to turn newcomers into public contributors, and a way to sustain the energy for both without grinding the life out of everyone involved. But most open digital communities fail on each of these counts– memes are next to requests for help are next to proposed ideas next to shared articles. Keeping conversations alive, let alone finding the right people to have them with, is pretty much impossible unless you brute force it. For a new community member, navigating this world is a Herculean effort– onboarding should leave them feeling prepared, and with an intuitive understanding of how building in the community works. But the friction of letting newcomers enter an illegible world is stifling community production altogether.

As it stands, the Ceramic Community:

  • Is heavily output-dependent on the support of core Ceramic team members, especially engineers
  • Lacks an onboarding journey thorough enough to leave new contributors ready to build independently, and intuitive enough to inspire new ideas for what Ceramic makes possible.

While no one tool can solve “the community problem”, a low-friction, self-service onboarding journey that leaves contributors prepared and excited to apply Ceramic in new ways would significantly expand contributor interest in Ceramic, make the contributor community more easily navigable, and free core team members to focus on their most important work.

I’m proposing to build the “Garden Gate” functionality from an essay I wrote called Halls, Taverns, and Gardens: basically, the short curriculum all new members have to go through in order to be onboarded into the parts of a community where collaboration happens. The gate might be a short syllabi, a series of lectures, a simple test, and, in addition to helping new members transition smoothly to being functioning community members, doubles as a means of getting their buy-in. The gate’s structure would allow for different paths– consider a technical path specific to ComposeDB, or a product marketing path for content contributors, or even simply a Ceramic 101 for all newcomers– and issue an NFT upon the completion of each, leaving the recipient recognized as a fully functioning community member and unlocking access to inner-community tools full of others who have also demonstrated their interest. This onboarding will be open and accessible to anyone with an internet connection– rather than lock people out who might not appear to be cultural fits, the gate’s syllabi should give anyone interested in buying into the community’s culture the chance to commit to doing so at only the cost of their time.

For the scope of this project, the Gate will be a simple website. A choose-your-own-adventure structure with material to be completed along the way, and connection via wallet. It’ll employ much of the existing Ceramic onboarding curriculum, plus the impending revamp of technical docs the core team has been working on. I’m proposing to build the structural functionality of the gate itself, automating the buy-in process for new members, and to work alongside the core Ceramic team to fill out each curriculum’s content.

Relevant links:

  • Website: maxheald[dot]com
  • Twitter: twitter[dot]com/max_heald
  • Previous relevant projects: consulting projects with Web3 infrastructure such as Livepeer and Ceramic, with 4 years prior in VC at Boldstart and USV
  • Comparable projects or peers: project-specific blog posts // existing documentation +

Ceramic Ecosystem Value Proposition:

  • What is the problem statement this proposal hopes to solve for the Ceramic ecosystem?

Ceramic currently has no low-friction, high-resolution way to onboard new contributors. Instead, learning how to build on Ceramic mostly happens over Discord, taking significant time and staff resources, or via the Ceramic Docs, which aren’t currently thorough or intuitive enough to leave readers ready for independent work, or with an understanding of how Ceramic might be applied creatively. This friction is stunting production in the Ceramic ecosystem.

How does your proposal offer a value proposition solving the above problem? Why will this solution be a source of growth for the Ceramic ecosystem?

A Ceramic Garden Gate would 1) make for a more legible and navigable contributor community, 2) free up core team resources and 3) significantly increase community contributions by lessening the bottleneck of core team support.

By making the breadth of possible Ceramic use cases clear, and leaving newcomers with a thorough enough guide to contribute effectively, a garden gate could increase the output of the Ceramic community, and its diversity of projects, while allowing core engineers to focus on delivering the infrastructure community builders rely on.

Funding requested (DAI/USDC): [$22,400]

How much are you applying for? Make sure to break the amount requested down by milestones

I’m currently on staff as a consultant with Ceramic– so my inputs won’t be counted toward the grant proposal here, but the engineering work of my partner will. With that in mind:


  • Milestone #1: User Journey UX (3 weeks) - [$0 – Internal]

    • [Content Structure]
    • [Assessment Structure]
    • [Progression/Journey Structure]
  • Milestone #2: Design (3 weeks) - [$0 – Internal]

    • [Designing Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style site]
    • [Designing path-based NFTs]
  • Milestone #3: Technical Implementation (4 weeks @ full-time) [$22,400 – 4 weeks @ $140/hour]

    • [Building the site]
    • [Implementing Wallet Connections]
    • [Implementing NFT generation]
  • Milestone #4: Filling out the Contributor Journey (ongoing once Milestone 1 complete) [$0 – Internal]

    • [Working with Ceramic team on each path’s content]
    • [Loading content onto site]

I accept the 3Box Labs Grants terms and conditions: [Yes/No]

I understand that I will be required to provide additional KYC information to the 3Box Labs to receive this grant: [Yes/No]

1 Like

Hi @mheald, thank you for your proposal! We will be in touch with an update once we have completed our initial review (1-2 weeks).

1 Like

Congratulations @mheald, I’m delighted to inform you that your grant proposal has been accepted! :tada:

We would like to award you a Ceramic Builders Grant.

We will follow up shortly with more details via email.

Update #1:

Major Milestones:

  • User Journey UX: complete
  • Design: early stages, working with a talented friend to make it feel more engaging and beautiful than your typical learning module. If people are going to spend an hour or two here, it should be a worthy place to rest your eyes. This should be finalized by the next update.
  • Development: Confirmed likely using Guild for NFT generation, WalletConnect for login, and content structure + backend confirmed.
  • Content: Chatted with the core team-- looks like module assessments are going to be multiple choice Qs for at least this first iteration. Otherwise no progress. I’ll be able to pull most of the engineering track from what we organized for our Alpha Grants Cohort, but about half of Ceramic 101 and nearly all of the Marketing Track will require net new. Ceramic 101 and the Engineering tracks will be completed under the scope of this grant, Marketing may require more work with the core team.

Update #2:

Major Milestones:

  • User Journey UX: complete
  • Design: first cut completed; may make a second push to add specific designs for each content track. Completion NFTs remain to be designed. Very excited about this.
  • Development:: Backend 50% complete, with looks to be completed by the end of next week. In sync timeline-wise with the design progress. Plan is still to be ready for ETH Denver.
  • Content: Engineering Track is finalized, Ceramic 101 is a WIP; next steps here will be creating and finalizing the quiz questions for each module before ETH Denver. Will work directly with the team on the engineering questions.
1 Like

Update #3: Initial Draft Complete!

We’ve got a functioning Garden Gate, now. The design is going to get an overhaul, but the flow and content are there: a comprehensive curriculum for newcomers, and a short “prove your mettle” quiz to credential old pros will allow both earn an NFT that for access to a directory of tight-knit Ceramic Contributors.

Glad to have this iteration finished, and excited to to roll out a revamped one later this year.

Video demo: Screen Recording Small 2023-05-05 at 2.12.41 - Google Drive

Great work @mheald! Love to see the demo in action. Tagging in @christina @Justina for visibility

We will review and send over the final installment of this grant shortly.