Committee Lead Funding - On-chain or Off-chain?

I have no issues with moving the funding of Committee Leaders on-chain. I’m equally happy when we keep it off-chain. For me, it makes little difference.

  1. The foundation has never pushed an agenda to me. I can work collaboratively, yet independently on those initiatives that contribute the highest value to the network. On-chain won’t change that, but if it eases people’s minds, sure why not.
  2. I understand that the work I put out as committee leader will be open to the criticism of all, I accept that. I know it won’t always be pretty, but in the end, I stand for my work, and I believe quality will be recognized in my work. I don’t expect going on-chain will be an issue for the continuation of my contributions to the network.
  3. The ultimate goal (long term) should, IMHO, be to move on-chain. The foundation is here to steward and accelerate us. To help us build the structures we need to be effective and efficient. When the time is right, we should move to self-organization. I guess the big question is if the right time is now? I’m up for the experiment, especially as the foundation has expressed it will serve as a backup.

Dumdidum - Education committee lead

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To echo what Brendan has already mentioned, I have no objections with either option - onchain or offchain. The Education committee leads are focused on creating value and producing educational content for our community regardless of the source of funding.

We believe that the community wants accountability and transparency into our efforts, and if moving onchain will help support this goal, I am happy to do so. We will continue to work with our members and any other parties - Enigma or Secret Foundation - to ensure that our committee priorities align with upcoming product and marketing initiatives, and what serves in the best interests of the Secret Network.

Couple questions to consider and be discussed if this is brought forth:

  • Will moving payroll on-chain slow down or accelerate progress? Add or reduce community scrutiny?
  • How will committee leads efforts be evaluated and who can accurately assess these efforts?
  • What is the time-frame for each proposal? How often are contract renewed?
  • What happens if a committee lead is rejected? Is the committee disbanded or will the lead position need to be filled?
  • How should committee charters be amended to support this change?
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As I mentioned in the call (flan on discord), moving the funding on-chain seems like the best thing to do in principle (and it is a good first step towards increasing decentralization). However, a lot of details are left to iron out on how to structure the funding. Uncertainty could potentially cost us losing committee leads (nobody wants to work for free, nor go to sleep thinking they’ll lose funding every day). Charters and 6 month funding was proposed, and it seems like a good first step.

Whatever is decided should be consistent as well. In other words, all committees should be funded in the exact same way.

Additionally, I would also like to re-emphasize how extremely negative these baseless accusations (to some leads) of a lack of integrity, by suggesting they would never go against what the Foundation wants, are. I would urge everyone to refrain from making such accusations unless they are ready to present evidence. As an outsider, it is specially frustrating because there’s an overlap between certain members who make these implications and those who sit back and do nothing. Either step up or shut up.

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I’m understanding the desire to shift committees to on-chain funding and make them independent from the foundation is because (1) some community members feel the committees are a bureaucratic roadblock to community-desired projects getting funded and (2) there is a conflict of interest with committees being funded by the foundation.

(1) With regard to committees being a layer of bureaucracy that hampers project funding and execution:

In my view, committees are not, and should not, be a layer of bureaucracy that prevent anyone from getting a project funded and executed. If someone wants to get a certain project done, there should be nothing stopping them from submitting an on-chain proposal for it or a SNAC for it.

Committees, in my opinion, should exist to potentially help the project along by making community members aware it exists, recruiting people with relevant skillsets within the committee to help contribute to it, and offer other available resources help the project through its lifecycle.

That said, committees are also not an agency you can simply contract out for any/all projects. We must all understand Committees are comprised of members of the community, many of whom are volunteers. If you are submitting a project proposal, there’s a certain expectation that you also have a plan for executing it. But again, I think committees can provide some assistance in this space.

(2) As a Design Committee Lead, I don’t feel, nor have I experienced, any undue influence from the Secret Foundation in my role. Though I understand this experience may vary on a committee-by-committee basis.

While I support decentralization and the sentiment behind on-chain funding of committees, I’m also a bit wary of it, as I understand this to imply community determination and evaluation of committee performance, responsibilities and KPIs.

As the Design Committee Lead, to me, this seems like a complex and delicate issue with pros and cons.

On one hand, yes, the community should have input into the larger efforts of the network and how funds are being utilized.

On the other hand, I don’t necessarily believe large swaths of non-designers should be setting the expectations and direction of design within the ecosystem. Especially for a space that doesn’t necessarily have clear KPIs.


Ultimately, I’m not sure I see making committee funding on-chain, and subsequently, their responsibilities and KPIs beholden to a larger, pure (and possibly misguided) network democracy as being the best or most appropriate solution to this issue with project funding and conflicts of interest.

In my view, a more appropriate set of solutions might be:

  • More clearly defining committee roles and responsibilities, so that they do not behave, nor are perceived as, a roadblock to projects getting funded and executed

  • Creating more clear, accessible, and open avenues for anyone to pursue, receive funding for, and execute their projects

  • Providing tools and processes for the community to adequately address conflicts of interest if they emerge

Lastly, I also want to give a friendly reminder that committees are made up of members of the community. You are always welcome to join a committee you are passionate about to better-ensure it continues to work with the best interest of the community in mind.

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I would just like to echo support for this view. Committees being as independent and empowered as possible is an excellent outcome. Committees have been an integral part of coordinating the community, and I am excited to see where things go with committees in the near future. Thank you for everyone that has contributed to committees - your work is deeply valued by the Secret Network ecosystem! I’d also like to say thank you for everyone who is part of this important discussion. It is always so encouraging to see the community engaging so actively - we have an unbelievably strong community, and its threads/discussions like this that continue to prove in my mind that we have the best community out there in the blockchain domain.

Carter

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I wholeheartedly agree with Brendan on these points. I have not been here anywhere near as long as most of you, but I have seen a lot of infighting in the time I’ve been here. Conversely, there seems to be a lot of people working towards progress and the betterment of the ecosystem. From my perspective, that’s one of the beautiful things about this community: it’s open. Committees aren’t some shadow cabal, anyone can join a committee or committee meeting and take part in the betterment of this ecosystem in whatever way their skillset allows them to contribute. Moving to onchain funding better supports the efforts of those trying to build and grow because it requires a direct approval of these efforts from the community and requires their support. Whatever we can do to empower the community members who are bringing value to the ecosystem, that’s what we should do. From my perspective, a move to on-chain funding would increase accountability to the community. And this is something that many have stated a vehement desire for: transparency & accountability. If these are our aims, this is a very practical solution.

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I fully support committees going on chain and becoming accountable to the community. I also support the people working hard to help drive the network forward and appreciate your work. This is not a personal attack on people as much as a power structure. I would like to see a cultural shift in the way the committees operate so we can judge failure/success more clearly. My goal is to move us toward a pay for performance culture. As someone else said on call, moving the funding, but keeping the same system is superficial.

I’ve used words like nebulous, or middle management, because without these clearly defined outputs/KPIs these are just entrenched positions of ‘authority/leadership’ bestowed by the foundation. To combat this, I believe committees should move to product or project focused work the rest of the community is held to (SNAC, On-Chain Proposals). In the meeting yesterday many people claimed their committee don’t actually produce their titled work, they help organize around it. This tiered system of participant is structurally toxic to the community.

As I mentioned on the call, the project pmuecke and I just got funding for (via SNAC) was brought up months ago in awareness discord. He and I were the only two that engaged on the topic. Now that we have SNACs, we will accomplish outside the existing structure. I would like to see all people participate in the system to the same level of standard. With that said I believe there are a lot of good things within the foundation structure that can be turned into more specific projects: Secret Agents Program, Analytics Site/API, Website, etc. I think it’s up to each committee to find what their product/output is, but I personally won’t vote yes to any committee which doesn’t have a product that they’re hanging their hat on.

Side Note: The transparency report left off how much money committee leads/co-leads make which increases my frustration with the lack of accountability. I’m not trying to operate from a scarcity mindset, I want people to get paid, I just want everyone to have the opportunities, to the same pool of resources with the same standards.

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rangerranger summa it up pretty good and I have the same opinion tbh

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I couldn’t make most of the call. But I totally agree with RangerRanger here

I do agree with what this. It seems like a lot of people’s views here are very conservative in that they want to minimise spending as much as possible. We won’t learn what appropriate spending looks like until we spend and review.

Project-by-project funding is not desirable in my opinion. It starts to create this sense of urgency in the community to keep conjuring ideas which may not be the best just to ensure that they can continue being funded after their current project.

I’m of the view that periodic funding is appropriate. Not every committee should be paid the same, some may do significantly more than others, we don’t know how it looks so far.

We could potentially create a quarterly structure where each committee gets paid what they request (bar any concerns raised by the community). Should any concerns be raised, they can be resolved early in the quarter but by the last fortnight of the month, every community should comfortably know what they’re going to get in the next month.

At no point should a community have to worry about the uncertainty of their funding in the next quarter.

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This is not what I’m implying, and as far as I read of RangerRanger’s post, this is also not what he is saying. Please don’t fill in the blanks on this delicate matter and steer the conversion by framing what others are saying.

I acknowledge we all want the same:

  • Transparency
  • Decentralization
  • Accountability

“Project based funding” (for me) is nothing more than having a: clearly defined (1) goal, (2) timeframe, and (3) funding. All of which is obscure in it’s current form.

Lastly, I’ve been hearing a lot about funding talent and getting projects done. This is all great, and everyone will applaud this, but the current system is flawed by paying for coordination, drawing up processes, and chairing meetings. While similarly expecting volunteers to put in the effort to produce products and work for free. Reward all efforts, and I can garantee you people are much more inclined to put in the hours.

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Couldn’t agree more with the last paragraph that you drafted.

Well, the argument you’ve made in your final paragraph is sound. I agree - paying all volunteers SCRT as opposed to “Secret Agent Points” might see greater uptake.

However, all of that can be resolved just by changing the existing Activity Trackers for Committees to pay SCRT for completion of activities.

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Please, this is again not what I’m saying. No one (at least not me) is suggesting that is unnecessary. I acknowledge the work the leads put in and I’m totally fine with the leads getting paid for their efforts. Just like I am fine with paying all other efforts/work by anyone else in the community.

I got plenty to say about funding community effort, but let’s do that at a different time and place. Let’s keep this topic about lead funding, and to finally re-iterate on Tor’s point:

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I am fine deconstructing committees in their current form and rebuilding them with purpose. This is my intent. Wasting human capital is everyone looking to the foundation/committees, shrugging and saying “they’re being paid to do XYZ, so I will just sit back.” Then you ask the committees and they’re actually not paid to DO, they’re paid to ORGANIZE doers (that work for free). How is paying middle management and expecting free work sustainable? I will be happy to support any committee lead who comes out with a charter that defines the final product they produce (secret agents program, defined marketing campaign, a tool, a website, etc). This is all I ask for accountability, and equal opportunity for all participants. I do not like the currently tiered system of participant. That is the point I want to make absolutely clear.

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It is not about “expecting free work”, but rather about onboarding new people to the ecosystem to eventually become larger contributors. Has there been a single instance where free work has been expected? This is part of what my intent behind the Secret Agents program was to begin with: To allow people to come into the ecosystem, learn about the protocol and community, contribute, get paid for their contributions, and then outgrow the program to contribute to the network in more substantial ways.

Lots of people, including myself, contributed via the ambassador program from 2017-2021 before a dime of compensation was ever available. I’m not saying everyone has this desire, or that it is a fair expectation to have, but there are definitely people who enjoy being a part of a community and contributing to a project they believe in (and they likely have bags of). We’re blessed to be in the position we are now as a growing network to bring in more people, and to get them compensated for contributions. This has always been my goal behind the Secret Agents program. If you look at the reward structure that was just announced this was done with an estimated number of hours in mind it takes to achieve various ranks.

What you call “middle management” I would call leadership. Any successful project needs strong leadership and processes. Committee leads are not set up to be a hindrance at all. No one is making exorbitant amounts of money either. I hope we can all join together and understand we’re on the same team here. The division that is being created serves no purpose, and hurts growth rather than helps it. Destroying committee structure (which has been very effective) does not move the project forward in any way. What I would ask is how can we reframe this discussion. Instead of attacking committee leads how can we improve the mission of empowering contributors? I think we’re trying damn hard to do so with grants, on-chain community pool, SNACs, Secret Agent Program, etc. I’d be curious if any project out there has more sources of potential compensation than us; especially for brand new entrants into the ecosystem.

I’m proud of what’s being built here, how far we’ve come, and where we’re headed, and this is why I get so defensive and hurt when things come under attack.

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Going to echo what I said earlier. This can easily be changed by adding SCRT rewards for completing activities that are in the tracker. If that was done, where is the value in creating a project-by-project basis?

By fragmenting the committees, I am almost certain we will see less output. For example, all of the infographics I have made for the various bridges and stuff that are going on. There was zero chance I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for the committees.

On-chain proposals are effective for larger projects. Across the three infographics I have made, I probably sunk in 5 hours. If I value my time at £12 an hour, it would be 20 SCRT in total I think.

They all happened at independent times when they popped up on the tracker, do you think it would make sense for me to go to the chain to request even 10 SCRT three times for this? That is an overbearing level of bureaucracy and I wouldn’t do it (even though the reward I get would be higher).

Note that, when I did it - I only did it with the lingering idea that I knew that the Secret Agents programme would have some form of rewards at some point for contributing to the community.

I am impartial on the question of whether we should go on-chain or off-chain, but I think dismantling committees will have detrimental effects.

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Very good input Orageux. Also, the SCRT rewards or at minimum Secret Agent points to open projects is already in process.

Those contributions also resulted in Secret Agent points which in turn lead to rewards. I know you and @Patrick earned Secret Agents of the week and were sent some SCRT.

The rewards announced (and to be put in a blog post soon) are as follows just for people’s reference:

Recruit: Exclusive Access to Secret-Agency Discord Chat, Rewarded Daily-Missions
Informant: $5 in SCRT, Added to Secret Agent Telegram Channel
Handler: $20 in SCRT
SpyMaster: Discount code for $30 in Secret Swag at cryptographix.io
Bagman: $100 in SCRT
Secret Agent: $150 SCRT, Listing on Agents website, Agent NFT

Weekly Point Leader: $50 SCRT

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I hear and understand your perspective; however, this is not community consensus. Many people do support the current system and having people dedicated to established organizational processes in a decentralized ecosystem. This is best practice in many open source and blockchain ecosystems, not only our own. Committees and working groups are not a quirk of the Secret ecosystem; they are a feature of successful and product ecosystems that we are trying to emulate and improve. Other ecosystems have tried many different iterative structures with varying degrees of success (the Zcash ecosystem in particular deserves study, though we’re in a meaningfully different phase of maturity).

There is established community consensus on one point (we established this consensus on this week’s governance call but also in our conversation channels): All committees require charters, leadership, and accountability. There are many committees that will not have easily measurable projects or KPIs (such as Business Development or Design) that are still essential to community organization and ultimate success. I strongly do not favor moving to a strictly project-based approach with no project management or coordination functions.

One improvement seems clear enough from the feedback in this thread, even: introduce better incentives for project-based work. This is already being tried, and it is the intent of SNACs. There’s so many sources of funding for complex projects (including the on-chain and ecosystem pools). Using those sources of funding effectively does not remove the lead for leadership. Committee leads have produced a large amount of work independently in addition to their leadership responsibilities, and I’m sure they don’t appreciate being depicted as rent-seeking middle management.

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And to @orageux101’s point - we don’t want to bog down the chain with micropayments. Committees should be empowered with individual budgets for small-scale initiatives (which we’re trialing with Awareness already). If lead funding transitions to the chain, committee budgets should also ultimately transition (funded in accordance with each committee charter, and with transparency on how budgets are deployed).

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