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Azure Heroes - a blockchain-based digital badge rewards pilot

In the spirit of our mission to empower technical practitioners of all backgrounds, we created Azure Heroes to inspire developers to learn, coach, and build on Azure and to promote healthy, inclusive communities.

Our cloud developer community is growing fast and we see many enthusiasts and passionate Azure practitioners routinely sharing their knowledge and contributing to a strong and sustainable community. So we wanted to create a meaningful and unique way to engage with and recognise them for their contributions. To do that we needed the capability to offer something authentic and provably limited.

Collectable badgers as proof of achievement
A fun new way to earn digital collectibles for inclusive behaviour and meaningful impact in the technical community

By creating blockchain-based badge(r)s, we are able to recognise the Azure developer community with verifiably scarce and publicly-visible rewards, giving deeper value to their contributions. Community members that have demonstrated their impact can be recognised with unique badges across a number of categories.

A collaborative pilot with Enjin, Azure Heroes recognises developers in Western Europe with blockchain-based digital badges—styled as badgers—for various achievements, verifiable acts of impact, and meaningful contributions in the developer community.

Digital badgers take normal badges to a whole new level—they're cute, fun, and demonstrate recognition in a way that can't be faked.

Unlike typical digital assets, these badgers are created as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the Ethereum blockchain. With verifiable scarcity, maximum circulation caps, provable provenance, and unique IDs, each badger is a one-of-a-kind digital collectible that proves its recipient was hand-picked based on their achievements.

Badgers are awarded to nominated individuals who help improve the Azure developer community and their own development skills in a variety of ways, from coaching and creating demos to organising events, building sample code, and blogging about Azure.

Contributions are recognised with badges across a number of categories:

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Inclusive Leaders are recognised for working to ensure that the communities and events they are involved in are inclusive and have adopted a code of conduct which promotes a diverse line-up of speakers and audience members.

Content Heroes share valuable knowledge at conferences, meetups or other events. Recipients of this award have created original content, sample code or learning resources and documented and shared their experiences and lessons to help others to build on Azure.

Community Heroes have contributed materially by organising meetups or conferences or by sharing content and being an active member of the community.

Mentors are recognised as individuals who routinely share their knowledge and empower the more junior members of the community, guiding and coaching them to acquire more hands-on skills. Mentoring is critical to career development and for building skills and achieving long-term goals.

Makers are a source of innovation who make meaningful contributions to the community. This badge is given to those who embody the maker spirit and demonstrate tech intensity by using digital tools to create projects for societal improvement that solve problems and inspire new creations and inventions.

Builders are given to those who complete specific challenges or for hands-on work with Azure at bootcamps, hackathons and workshops.

Each of these recognitions has a limited supply that can be verified on the Ethereum blockchain. As our development community continues to grow and evolve, we have the potential to create new badger designs and categories across different seasons.

badgers > badges

To deliver these unique properties we chose to use the ERC-1155 (an open source non-fungible token standard on the Ethereum blockchain). After an initial discussion with its creator, Witek Radomski (CTO and co-founder of Enjin), we collaborated on an early concept. The goal was to create a pilot that would make the distribution and acquisition of tokens an experience that anyone - regardless of their knowledge of blockchain - could participate in. Our objective was to create something that shielded the complexities of blockchain from end-users and at the same time delivered on the special benefits that only this tech could provide.

About Tokenisation:
Tokenisation is a way to convert the rights to a particular asset into a token which is cryptographically secured by the blockchain, guaranteeing transparency, immutability and provable provenance. And it has the incredible potential to reduce our dependence on intermediaries, simplify complex business transactions and at the same time make them more secure. Tokenising real or digital assets involves the use of smart contracts to verify ownership and provide participation rights. More interestingly, these digital assets can be created with provable scarcity, a unique attribute that’s typically been provided only by central banks or other institutional custodians. These self-enforcing, self-auditing contracts are executed by a permissionless blockchain without the need for a third party, and are central to governing the issuance caps and verifying badge ownership for Azure Heroes.

Further Reading:
Solidify your understanding of what blockchain tokens are and how to use them to solve your real-world business challenges: Tokenization: Establishing Digital Representations of Value as the Medium of Exchange.

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