Thanks for sharing this Sahil.
There’s been many conversations in small groups and I’ve left extensive comments on the google doc, but for the sake of transparency and acknowledging that all those comments are one click away from disappearing (as my previous rounds of feedback have) I want to share my views publicly here.
I do not support the Creatives DAO moving forward with the current Charter.
The Creatives DAO has a troubled past, one that everyone is eager to forget, calling for the community to ‘focus on the future’. The issue is that the same people who were in charge then are in charge now and the current Charter doesn’t do enough to mitigate similar issues from arising again.
The NEAR Community is at a very dangerous cross-roads. The History of Community Funding is very long and I don’t want to dwell too much on past failures. However, we have to acknowledged the unusual setup we have:
- NF constant changes with community funding have had serious negative impact on community. Resulting in many valuable members and projects to leave, become reluctant to engaging, losing confidence in leadership, among other negative outcomes.
- NEAR Digital Collective has evolved into a once in a lifetime opportunity to the community to self-organise and unleash its true potential.
- A diminished and battered community means that there aren’t many people left to participate in these discussions. Most people that remain are the direct beneficiaries of these programs (myself included).
- This creates a scenario where it requires immense intellectual honesty and humility to acknowledge that we are the stewards of the ecosystem, and even if things work ‘well enough’ now, we have a duty to setup a resilient system that will support 100x more people, long after we are gone.
- Creatives DAO is seeking feedback. And unless we burst the bubble now and invite an open discussion beyond the current echo chamber we will be missing a valuable opportunity to get community governance and funding right.
- NDC is an experiment. Any scandals or failures will have a ripple effect on the rest of the network, undermining all the progress we’ve made so far.
An example of the contrived set of circumstances and variables defined above, and a question that many are asking is: why do the have a Creatives DAO but do not have a Startup DAO or Regional DAO? Both have been discussed, most of us can agree on the need and massive value they would unlock. Because NF failed to deal with Creatives DAO over a six month period, simply opting to defer the matter to the NDC.
The key point and the reason for writing this is - never take things for granted. The opportunity to get things right is NOW, but we must have honest, open conversations.
Back to my issues with the current Creatives DAO Charter.
Most of the issues with the Charter boil down to the Scoring Metric System - 9 points to become eligible for funding.
Points systems can be problematic as they tend to remove the discretionary powers and critical thinking duty from decision makers.
This would not be an issue IF the criteria for granting points is fair and well defined. However, this is currently not the case (see attachments below).
The current criteria lacks any connection to NEAR Strategic Goals and even the parameters mentioned such as the background of the team and previous achievements are then watered by by the ‘Scoring Metrics’. Watering down refers to a scenario where someone that may, using critical thinking, not have the right background or achievements, can still reach the minimum criteria for funding based on points.
Scoring Metric System
It should be clear to anyone paying attention that the current Scoring Metric System has issues that need addressing.
And this is part of the problem - people aren’t paying attention. The few that are paying attention tend to be the ones who would benefit from lax funding guidelines.
The only limitation that the Charter and renewed guidelines seem to impose is limits as to how much money the DAO can disburse and limits to the amount and frequency of proposals. However, lowering the threshold for poor allocation of funds does nothing to solve the issue. We already wasted $2m on the first experiment, no need to burn through another $600k to learn the same lesson.
This is why the Charter, and in particular, Scoring Metrics are so important. In the past, the justification for disbursing funds is that there were no guidelines from NF and no explicit expectations on the use of funds so technically there was no wrongdoing. Just naïveté and poor guidance. We are risking a similar scenario of a troubled bureaucracy but technically no wrongdoing.
As the screen captures above show, there are two main issues to look at to shape appropriate Metrics:
What is eligible for funding? How to justify funding ‘creatives’ in en environment where everything from Wallet, AstroDAO, Regional Hubs, and even Education has been slashed by NF? In an environment where most validators are operating at a loss. Where most builders are struggling to find support. Here the key element missing is more robust connection between Creatives and NEAR Strategic Goals.
Threshold for Funding. If a project or proposal has the required alignment with NEAR strategic goals, what are the objective metrics or guidelines that can be used to approve. We are way beyond mere ‘wallet creation’ or minimal ‘interaction with an app’.
Sadly, what we have right now is a painfully simplistic ‘Scoring Metric’ table hidden at the end of a neatly written 18 page document. What is the problem with the Metrics?
Vanity Metrics. Focusing on the wrong things. Whether a team scores well or poorly on the proposed metrics is not a real indicator of the legitimacy of the project or the value it can create for NEAR. A test for this would be to look at a scam or low quality project which can become eligible and at a great project that is aligned with NEAR and can add value but it nos currently eligible. When there is that much discrepancy, there needs to be revision.
Metrics easy to game. The threshold for meeting the maximum number of points for each metric is so low that, considering the amount of funding available, can easily be achieved by anyone that sets out to do it without much effort. Two of the metrics simply require a number of wallets on an AstroDAO and one metric simply requires to be on a Zoom call. This is utterly unacceptable. I’ve provided several suggestions on how these may be improved (see screenshots above). There are also issues with allocating the same amount of points to all metrics. Showing up for a community call should not be worth the same as the actual substance of the proposal, it’s alignment with NEAR and execution.
There are several other issues that are somewhat covered by the above and that I invite others to point out and add feedback to.
Great effort has been taken to write this post in a structured way that lays out points and feedback in a respectful way. I invite others joining the conversation to please aim for the same. Adherence to Community Guidelines is fundamental.
Final important note:
A healthy community should be able to agree to disagree on some issues. I am not against the Creatives DAO, I have only ever been very strongly against some of the very questionable use of funds in the past. I am willing to support the Creatives DAO going forward if the current framework can be revised and improved. Sahil and I will be meeting next week to discuss further.