ON_Discourse is committed to bringing together experts who know how to disagree with each other, listen actively, and prioritize ideas over scoring points. That is, we participate in what Amanda Slavin calls genuine discourse.


  • Web3 represents an opportunity for genuine discourse—but we need to grasp the differences between disagreement, engagement, and discourse
  • Real discourse involves give and take, active listening, and participation (not reactivity)
    • Levels One through Three involve building trust by combating disengagement, confusion, and distraction
    • Levels Four and Five allow for small calls to action and answering, “What’s in it for me?”
    • Level Six involves critical engagement—this is where discourse begins
    • The Seventh Level gets us to literate thinking, clear values, and reciprocity
    • Getting to Level Six requires recognizing and moving through the other levels first
    • Moving through the levels is easier when you know your own Seventh LevelThe Seventh Level framework helps us move from disagreement to discourse by focusing on relationships:There’s a lot of hype about how Web3 can change online interaction—specifically, that Web3 will enable us to move beyond just disagreement and get to actual discourse. That possibility is real, but here’s the problem: we’re currently stuck in a paradigm that substitutes “engagement” for discourse.

    Right now, there’s no clear path that will get us from disagreement to the genuine, productive discourse we want. Web3 represents an opportunity to increase discourse because of the ways it enables community. But to get there, we need to first understand what discourse is and how to bridge the distance between disagreement and discourse.

    In fact, many of us don’t even know what real discourse looks like. We’re not taught how to participate in discourse at school or at work. Formal education often assumes that if you can follow directions and connect that to a good outcome (like a job), you’re set. There’s no need for critical engagement. Once you enter the workforce, you might not have the time, resources, or energy to devote to pursuing higher levels of engagement or thinking on your own.

    True discourse involves a genuine exchange and active listening, rather than looking for opportunities to lob your next argument or score the next point. The ability to synthesize information, ask good questions, and participate (rather than merely react) are all key skills for engaging in discourse.

    This is where the Seventh Level framework comes in handy. The Seventh Level helps you see what’s really going on at each stage of conversation. It’s about measuring distance and forming relationships. The Seventh Level is the tool we need to get us from disagreement to discourse.

    To create real discourse, you need to have first engaged with your own Seventh Level. You need to know your own beliefs and values, your why. Only then can you move through the other levels with someone else to get back to Level Six, the space where genuine discourse begins.Let’s walk through the Seventh Level framework and I’ll show you what I mean.

    Levels 1-3: Building Trust

    There are some significant challenges to creating discourse, and many of them occur between Levels One and Three. For example, jargon-laden discussions and us vs. them approaches (like calling people “normies”) alienate the very people we want to have discourse with—which is why getting clear on your values and crafting clear, concise messaging at each of these levels is so important. Failing to set good parameters for discourse keeps people locked in the lower levels. Not only that, but if you can’t identify who you’re speaking to, where, or how, people will be unwilling (or unable) to move to higher levels of engagement.

    Level One is disengagement. At this first level, it’s not even possible to have a relationship—much less real discourse. Someone who’s disengaged is avoiding the interaction because they’re disinterested or bored. If you’re at Level One, you need to start by identifying who you’re trying to talk to and where, otherwise they will overlook your attempts at communication.

    Level Two is unsystematic engagement. Level Two is characterized by confusion. You’ve gotten someone’s attention, but jargon and confusing terminology are getting in the way. This is where we’re stuck in the current Web2 paradigm: so focused on indicators of growth (likes, comments, follower count) that we don’t see how we’ve been conditioned to be reactive, angry, and stuck in our filter bubbles. If you’re at Level Two, focus on creating clear, concise messaging rather than on achieving speed and growth.

    Level Three is frustrated engagement. At Level Three, someone might be interested in your message, but lose interest or get distracted easily. Think of a time when you were trying to watch a video and an annoying ad started in the middle—if you clicked away from the video entirely, that’s frustrated engagement. Disruptions, annoyance, and lack of control are your problems at Level Three. Focus on setting good parameters and reducing distractions.

    Levels 4-5: Taking Action

    Once you’ve earned someone’s trust by demonstrating that you know who you’re communicating with, that you’re going to converse in a clear, concise way that welcomes them into the conversation, and that you’ve set good parameters, you can move to Levels Four and Five. Here, you can start focusing on interactions.

    Levels Four and Five involve interactions with those you might consider your audience: Twitter followers, newsletter subscribers, and people I describe as NFT flippers—those who see NFTs as profitable, but who aren’t interested in higher levels of community engagement. You can move people through these levels and toward Level Six, where discourse happens, by focusing on simple calls to action and identifying the “What’s in it for me?” factor.

    Level Four represents structure-dependent engagement. Someone who’s at Level Four is likely to respond to your instructions or questions, as long as you keep the bar low. At this stage, the person you’re talking to won’t take the initiative, but they’ll respond to a task. Your job is making responding as simple as possible—and not confusing “quantity of responses” with “quality of engagement.”

    Level Five is self-regulated interest. At Level Five, you’ve started to generate excitement, but need to keep in mind that the excitement is driven by self-interest. To keep moving towards the next level—real discourse—there’s a key question that you need to answer: “What’s in it for me?” Once you’re able to show someone how the engagement will benefit them, you’ve got the foundation for even more meaningful exchanges. You’re ready to move on to discourse.

    Levels 6-7: Beginning Discourse

    Level Six is where discourse happens. The first five levels are a process of building trust, meeting people where they’re at, and building engagement as you go—but discourse only happens at the end of that journey. You have to create the right conditions for discourse before it can exist.

    Level Six is critical engagement. Discourse creates opportunities for inspiration and perspective shifts that can catalyze someone to set transformational goals. This is where real discourse—a genuine exchange of ideas with back-and-forth discussion, active listening, and authentic sharing of values—takes place. At Level Six, you can focus on fostering that discourse, setting goals, and starting to make change. Members of a DAO are often at Level Six.

    But Level Six isn’t where the process stops! The Seventh Level is literate thinking, and it represents the true end goal of Web3 discourse, where things become reciprocal. At the Seventh Level, you’ve achieved loyalty and a values alignment that leads to action.

    The path from disagreement to discourse requires paying attention to the relationships we’re building. We have to be willing to put in the work to move through every level of the Seventh Level framework, and to recognize how current ways of thinking about engagement are distracting us from creating opportunities for discourse.