Responsibility is a hurdle.
My thinking on the progression:
- Users = Everyone who shows up
- Members = Residents with varying levels of activity
- Contributors = Citizens with consistent activity
Citizenship as an opt-in feels right. Additional responsibilities become a choice. E.g. contributing to a project, volunteering time as a moderator, joining a subgroup with specific obligations, etc…
A few examples there:
Open source software. You can be a community member without additional obligations. But you can also choose to contribute to the project, volunteering your time and skills. That pulls you closer to the project and closer to being a “citizen”.
Gaming guilds. You can be a casual guild/clan member, joining for the banter and social dynamics. You can also choose to be more involved with, say, guild management (officers) or progression (raids/dungeon teams, competitive/ranked play, etc…)
Professional community. Join because it’s a community for your industry, connect with your peers, attend events, etc… and choose to take part in mastermind groups or training & certification programs.
In each case, there’s the base level of membership, with additional layers of commitment for joining certain groups.
Going back to the original point of local communities: I think most people have the mindset of being a resident, rather than being a citizen.
They’ll pay their taxes because they have to, but beyond that, they’re not participating in things like, say, town hall meetings, or (unfortunately) voting in local elections.