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Azure Heroes from Microsoft
Azure Heroes recognises members of the technical community with digital collectable badgers for meaningful acts of impact. Visit aka.ms/azure.heroes for more info.
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Microsoft's Launches On-Chain Heroes for the Azure Community.

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

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

Since launching as a pilot in December 2019, the program has expanded globally, being used at various major events, such as Microsoft Ignite and Create: Frontend.

"We wanted to create a meaningful new way to engage with our Azure developer community and recognize their contributions. With blockchain-based badges, we are able to offer something authentic, provably limited, and unique."

Sherry List, Microsoft Azure Developer Engagement Lead

The Azure Heroes NFTs

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

Contributions are recognized with badges across a number of categories:

  • Inclusive Leader badgers are awarded to those who actively support inclusive, diverse events and communities.
  • Content Hero badgers highlight developers who document their experiences, share lessons learned, and create original content like sample code and learning resources to help others build on Azure.
  • Community Hero badgers can be earned by active members of the community who help organize and share knowledge at conferences, meetups, and other relevant events.
  • Mentor badgers recognize those who help the career development and skill-building of others by routinely sharing their knowledge and empowering more junior members of the community through guidance and coaching.
  • Maker badgers recognize those who are a source of innovation, embody the maker spirit, and demonstrate tech intensity by using digital tools for problem solving and societal improvement.
  • Builder badgers can be earned by completing specific challenges at OpenHacks, bootcamps, hackathons, and workshops, and doing hands-on, unguided work with Azure.
  • Green Contributor badgers are given to developers that support the growth of the sustainable software engineering field by building sustainable software and helping educate the community through content and resources.
  • OpenSourcer badgers recognize those who contribute to a robust open-source environment, with impactful technology and an engaged community.
  • Kudos badgers recognize those who demonstrate great community spirit, passion, and commitment to teamwork.
  • Learner badgers are given to those who seek to improve their knowledge by attending Azure technical seminars, meetups, and conferences.

Each of these recognitions has a limited supply that can be verified on the Ethereum blockchain, with the potential to create new badger designs and categories across different seasons as Azure and its development community continue to grow and evolve.

Badgers > Badges.

.Net Conf 2021 Badge
This badge is awarded to champions who have tested their knowledge of building modern web apps and services with .NET 6 and Azure to complete the .NET Conf 2021 Cloud Skills Challenge.
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The Azure Heroes Tech Stack

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.

"A new and fun way to earn digital collectibles for inclusive behavior and meaningful impact in the technical community."

Sherry List, Microsoft Azure Developer Engagement Lead

Unlike typical digital assets, Azure Heroes are created as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the 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.

Enjin Platform: Create & Integrate NFTs

At its core, the Azure Heroes program is built on the Enjin Platform, a software-as-a-service that allows Microsoft to mint NFTs via a simple web interface.

To date, over 32,000 badges have been created under the Azure Heroes collection.

Verifiable proof was a key reason the Microsoft team decided to utilize blockchain for Azure Heroes.

To provide a seamless experience for searching and verifying the authenticity and scarcity of badges, Enjin created a custom, Microsoft-branded version of its blockchain explorer.

Enjin Beam: Scan to Receive NFTs

With solutions for creation and verification, distribution was the next hurdle. How would Microsoft get their badgers in the hands of nominees and event attendees?

Enjin Beam, a QR-powered blockchain distribution service, allows Microsoft to distribute all of their NFTs for both individual nominations and large-scale events with thousands of attendees.

"We’re able to offer a rewarding token distribution and acquisition experience for Azure Heroes that end-users can participate in, while enjoying all the benefits of blockchain without the added complexity."

Sherry List, Microsoft Azure Developer Engagement Lead

Like the Enjin Platform, Beam QR codes are generated via a simple web interface with just a few clicks.

Azure Heroes Showcase: Share Your Achievements Globally

In a community-driven program, Microsoft needed a way to represent and connect their global communities of Azure Heroes program members, while encouraging new nominations and participation.

The Azure Heroes Showcase provides a visual representation of badges claimed in countries across the world.

To join the Showcase, users can opt-in by linking a social profile (LinkedIn or Twitter) and connecting the Enjin Wallet app where their badgers are stored.

"I’m thrilled to have received these recognitions! The #AzureHeroes badge in the category of Inclusive Leadership arrived in my inbox while I was volunteering in Vietnam. I was teaching at an orphanage for children with disabilities, so receiving this badge for Inclusive Leadership at that particular time really meant a lot to me. Receiving this badge, feels as a recognition, as well as motivation for my future activities."

— Isidora Katanić, Voices of Azure

Reveal Codes: Receive Physical Swag with Digital Badges

Swag is frequently used by the Azure team at events, conferences, and meetups.

In the midst of a global pandemic where virtual events have become the norm, how would Microsoft continue to rewards their communities with physical swag?

"Reveal Codes"—codes embedded within NFTs—allowed Microsoft to give away holiday gift packages to members of the developer community.

Using a newly minted "Courier Badger," the team randomly selected members of the community from the Showcase Page, sending them NFTs that could be directly redeemed online for a gift box.

NFT Personalizer: Choose Your Badger

As a core value of Microsoft, inclusivity was important to consider in both the badger design process and program as a whole.

Alternate designs were created for a variety of tokens, with an in-app customization feature developed. This allows users to select the badger that best reflects their personal identity, right from their Enjin Wallet.

Enjin Wallet: Manage Your Badgers

The Enjin Wallet serves as a digital backpack for Azure Heroes, allowing users to safely store and manage their badgers.

To tailor and improve the user experience for Microsoft, Enjin added a Showcase page button, so users could link up right through their wallet. Enjin also implemented pending token status to ensure users see their assets in the app immediately, even before the transaction has processed on the blockchain.

Proof of Token: Claim Additional Rewards

For community members who receive multiple badgers from the Azure Heroes collection, Microsoft sought an automated way to provide them with additional benefits at events, such as swag or tickets.

Enjin developed a "Proof of Token" system that allow users to prove their ownership of certain NFTs by scanning a "Proof" QR in the Enjin Wallet.

Event organizers simple select the assets required for a particular benefit and generate an associated QR code via a web interface. Upon scanning the Proof QR, a user's inventory is automatically verified, so the event organizer can provide them tickets, merchandise, etc. based on the NFTs they have acquired.

Next-Gen Digital Experiences

Drawing on the success and lessons learned through its ongoing work with Azure Heroes, Enjin is building a full-service stack that will allow companies like Microsoft to rapidly create and deploy their own token economies.

By providing the tools and services needed to easily harness this technology, the goal is to help organizations find innovative new opportunities for marketing and community engagement, as well improve customer retention and acquisition tactics.

If you're interested in exploring similar opportunities and solutions for your own project, Enjin would love to learn more about it and invite you to get in touch.

“We’re able to offer a rewarding token distribution and acquisition experience for Azure Heroes that end-users can participate in, while enjoying all the benefits of blockchain without the added complexity.”
-
Sherry List
,
Microsoft Azure Developer Engagement Lead
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