By Adeola
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ArWiki: The Reward, Challenge and Altruistic Effort To Build An Operations Manual for Arweave

Christopher James was excited to learn more about Arweave in March 2021, after listening to a podcast by its founder, Sam Williams about the vision of the protocol. Discovering Arweave, which was in its third year at the time, and projects built on it, was one of James’s early contacts with cryptocurrency.

James’s enthusiasm was dampened when he could not find content that clearly explains the intricacies of Arweave and the projects built on it for a novice like him.

It was really difficult to find out how the applications actually worked, James told Arweave News.

“Everything was either a high-level metaphor or written for people who could code. I felt frustrated and lost.”

However, in an exchange on Twitter with Williams, he was introduced to ArWiki, a decentralised application built on the permaweb where members of the community are paid Wiki tokens to contribute technical information. ArWiki works like Wikipedia but contents are not on regular databases like traditional websites, every content is a transaction on Arweave which means it is permanently stored.

When I first found ArWiki, I thought ‘fantastic’ this would be great[…] ArWiki is a wonderful collection of information about Arweave, James said.

Launched in August 2021, ArWiki was conceptualised by Williams to provide a central knowledge base where all information about Arweave can be accessed. It was to function like Wikipedia but on a decentralised platform that stores contents permanently. Williams gathered a team of developers to build the project that launched in August 2021.

A lot of knowledge about Arweave has been generated for a long time but the need for a central point where people could easily find all the information was a big need that ArWiki wants to solve, said Ricky Guzmán, main developer at ArWiki.

Getting contents published on ArWiki requires an author, who has some Arweave tokens to submit content and a proposed fee to moderators for approval. The moderator, a well known member of the ArWiki community may accept or reject a submission after reviewing it. Submissions become transactions on Arweave if they are accepted and published.

A contributor loses the Arweave token if the submission is rejected. A new version of ArWiki, when released, could feature a ‘dispatch’ function which would make publishing new pages free, ArWiki said.

The Wiki token’s use case does not end with it being a means of payment to authors and contributors and for regular users of ArWiki to sponsor pages.  It also plays a governance role by being an instrument to keep contributors and moderators in check so they do not act contrary to the project and its community. While newly minted tokens paid to contributors are locked in the vault until Arweave transactions in a block reaches 4,200, moderators are required to have the value of the page they reviewed in their vaults.

We need to lock the new tokens in case someone is cheating. Community can punish other members if there was an agreement. Locked tokens could be slashed. This is done through voting by the community, Guzmán said.

In contrast to projects in which revenues are shared among token holders, ArWiki has a modified contract that uses tokens as a means to secure the platform, ensuring that the Wiki token is required before pages are approved. ArWiki’s business model of providing free services makes it rely on donations from users to reward members of its profit sharing community.

The motivation for being part of the ArWiki community is not in the profit being shared, as there are little guarantees that users of the service will donate and gratification from rewards for authors are delayed. Members take pride in contributing to the Arweave Protocol and being published by ArWiki confers somewhat a special status on an author.

To share and perpetuate knowledge, we are working for a bigger objective which is to provide a useful Arweave Wiki for everyone, Guzmán said about the motivation for ArWiki’s community, adding that “I think it is altruistic work.”

Already, this selfless service has resulted in 43 articles being published in English, Spanish, Chinese and Korean and the website got 167,000 impressions and 2,670 clicks from people in Europe, North America and Asia in 16 months.

However, achieving this feat has not been without challenges and one of them is security.

ArWiki uses smartweave contracts and blockchain is well known for being a delicious target for hackers and pentesters. We try to confront this by being open in our activities. The ArWiki source code is open, so anyone can take a look to see how our code is made. Another interesting challenge is that blockchain technology is pretty new and constantly evolving, Guzmán said.

Keeping contents technically useful to users, especially developers, is one of ArWiki’s major goals, yet, this could alienate users who do not have technical background but are drawn by Arweave’s popularity.

The information is still not organised in a way that makes it simple for new people to find accessible. In my opinion, it is not yet a useful onboarding site for brand new people – but it certainly can be, said Christopher, who described himself as an Arweave enthusiast. But he admitted that the platform is a “work in progress and that the work they do is really important. The apps themselves will help onboard most of the users and that is the way it should be.”

He suggested that ArWiki should create new and distinct sections for persons new to Arweave. Also, latest articles to help with navigation and presentation could be improved with more graphics and less text.

Yes, our docs (contents) are highly technical because ArWiki wants to offer the best and more detailed documentation for Arweave users, but yes, it would be more healthy for our ArWiki if we have more varieties, Guzmán said.

ArWiki makes important contributions to the growth of Arweave’s ecosystem and it is increasingly serving as an operations manual for the protocol. ArWiki’s effectiveness in solving the dearth of knowledge about Arweave, which could be a pivotal link between a new user to the protocol becoming a permanent user.

I think it is essential. We absolutely need ArWiki to help bring all the information about Arweave together in one spot. I only use Arweave News and Only Arweave for non-technical information and I really enjoy their contents, James said.

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Adeola is a journalist at Arweave News. As a former freelance journalist, his works were published by Newlines Magazine, The Continent and the Mail and Guardian. He has interest in the intersection of technology and human lives.

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