Throughout October, we’re celebrating our Cartesi community. One single month is designated as a time for reconnection, a celebration of what’s been achieved, and support for community efforts. Strengthen community bonds by highlighting some community members, our ambassadors, and our tech community leads. Carlo Fragni is our Tech Community Lead and is mainly found on our Discord Server where he answers your technical questions.
We interviewed Carlo remotely, from his home office in Brazil. We talked about the early days of the community, the type of questions members ask, and the most challenging part of his role.
Can you tell us about the early days of the community?
The tech community started to get active with the introduction of Noether, Cartesi’s staking system, on Testnet. That’s also when I started interacting with the community for the first time. We made Noether available to the public so that everyone could take part and try our PoS staking system for the very first time. CTSI holders had been waiting to make money for holding their CTSI. There was a lot of interest in staking their tokens; within days after Noether launched on Mainnet, millions of CTSI got staked (at the release date of this article, 129.18 million were staked). Community members were executing the very first nodes, and I was there to troubleshoot any issues and collect feedback. Pretty crazy times for our tech department; we were working around the clock. From that period, I started focusing on the community more and more.
I like the diversity, the questions; there’s something magical to be in close proximity to the users of our product.
Can you elaborate a bit more on the diversity of the tech community?
Apart from the fact our community comes from all parts of the globe and is therefore culturally very diverse, there’s also diversity in tech experience. We have members with no prior computer experience and members with multiple degrees in computer science. For me, it’s important to make them all feel at home with Cartesi: no matter what your knowledge level is, each and every person is more than welcome. No one should feel ashamed to ask a question, be it simple or eloquent.
Ultimately, no one knows for a fact what will happen next in blockchain; we must embrace everyone to have as many different points of view as possible.
How do you keep Cartesi’s community channels a safe environment for all?
Community members have many different points of view on blockchain, and they are into it for many different reasons. I think it’s essential to avoid censorship in our community and stimulate debates (while making sure everyone is still respectful). Censorship resistance is a core value in many blockchain projects and really makes a difference in multiple places. Political instabilities can cause extreme inflation on local currencies, and a change in regime often leads to banks being closed as we have recently witnessed in some countries. Blockchain was an option for many people in those places to shield themselves from this, no matter if they are vocal critics or supporters of their governments. It’s part of my job to make sure both ends of the spectrum feel safe to express themselves and focus on contributing on common ground, for example, not having to rely on the inflation of the local currency.
Different cultures have different communication characteristics. Some cultures can have a direct tone; what is bordering aggressive in one culture can be expected in another culture. Paralanguage is often more important in communication than what is said when talking directly with others, but since our community relies on written text, there’s no factor of paralanguage. I always try to stay respectful and kind, no matter the tone of voice, and try to read what users say assuming they are trying to be kind and respectful as well. It’s essential to realize our communities are not culturally neutral but culture-bound. Some cultures can have more indicators of individualism or collectivism than other cultures. Or a more considerable uncertainty avoidance or power distance. The common language, however, is the blockchain belief. That belief is more robust than cultural differences; it really unites people all around the globe. That’s where people feel safe: the belief we’re building together the foundation for a new society, a new economy, maybe even a new world.
Can you give an example of questions the community grapples with?
That heavily varies, even over a day. My day can start with someone expressing issues setting up a node. In those cases, my first question is: what OS are you using? I’ve encountered a user who answered ‘Acer,’ which was clearly the brand name of his computer and not the OS. I know the question comes from a very inexperienced user in terms of tech, and I start from scratch in my answer. But ten minutes later, I get a question from a different user about the Cartesi Machine floating-point instructions capabilities, in which case I can skip all the basic concepts and dive deeply into intricate details of our implementation.
Some community members educated themselves so well on our tech and products, they can answer and help other users. Lately, I’ve seen this in questions about our staking delegation. The answers given by topic experts in our community were all accurate, their knowledge was excellent, and I really liked how they are spreading their knowledge; it’s an excellent sign that we are on the right track towards a friendly and inclusive community.
We love tech ambassadors who can educate others out of a passion for our tech and blockchain in general.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned in your work?
To let go of any presumptions. Over time different things surprised me. I thought, if a user is in with a lot of money it’s generally someone on top of running his node. And if they’re in with a small amount, it means they’re running a node on the side and don’t care that much. That doesn’t have to be true at all, is what I’ve learned. I’ve encountered community members with a lot of money staked who had issues running the node, but who clearly never read the tutorial — not even the first part. It was clear their node was not completed in the setup. We also have the other extreme: people who were on top of their node, babysitting it, but when I looked at the stake it was very small. Those kinds of community members are in for the tech and they make sure to precisely follow the tutorials.
Can you tell us more about the feedback you get?
We get a lot of enthusiasm from our community. Mostly from enthusiasts who have centralization problems. When we launched our Texas HODL ’em Poker solution, poker players in our community said, ‘Oh, thank you so much — I don’t need to trust PokerStars anymore.’ Not that PokerStars is bad, it’s just that there were quite some scandals in recent history with whole cards, delayed payments of prize money, etc., caused by centralized poker platforms.
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I have a pretty diverse background. I am a computer and electronics engineer, but I jumped areas a lot. I used to work in robotics, which was my childhood passion. Then went to Web development and later returned to software development and went back to university to do a master’s in computer networks. I did a lot of research back then, a bit similar to what I do for Cartesi: to dive into an open problem, read about multiple solutions with different approaches and then proposing your own solution and iterating over it until you reach a good one. After my master’s, I worked in different industries, ranging from developing big data solutions to collect and analyze mobile signal intensity measurements to developing novel logistics optimization software for planning fuel trucks deliveries.
When I joined Cartesi, first my focus was on the core technology. I helped put together our first MVP, developed the first versions of the machine manager, and developed part of the code that interfaced the Creepts game with blockchain data and the Cartesi Machine.
Now, most of my time is spent with the community improving processes, monitoring the production systems, and building tools to aid on those tasks. Pretty diverse, just the way I like it.
Something you want to share that the community might not know about you?
At Cartesi, we have a thing called Fun Fridays, where the whole team answers a specific question on Slack about their fav music, books, or places to visit in their hometown. Sometimes it’s also a photography challenge or to answer the question; What would you do if you got a million dollars to spend on 24hrs and couldn’t donate nor invest? I answered that I would build my own maker space, with all kinds of cool tooling, which, of course, would include a chocolate 3d printer.