House of Guilds: a new funding mechanism for Guilds

This post introduces a new funding mechanism for Guilds. As chronear posted, we’re all hoping to help the Guilds program thrive on its own and without any NF direct support. There are really 2 major categories necessary to do so -

  1. Funding - how do Guilds get paid for doing good work?
  2. Operations - how do Guilds get onboarded and supported through their journey via technology, legal support, payments support, etc?

DAOs often get pretty bogged down in reactive decision-making and, tbh, it’s often just too much work to participate effectively. I’d like to roll out a simple structure, called the “House of Guilds”, designed to start lightweight and gradually grow to help address the full spectrum of problems with both funding and operations. We’ll focus on how to get Guilds funded but also use it to trial a new kind of ecosystem funding.

Goal

The goal of this is quite simple:

  1. The Guilds ecosystem is self-sufficient and valuable by end-Q2: This means Guilds overall are entirely financially and operationally self-sufficient (no NF direct involvement), and that individual Guilds who produce the most value for the ecosystem are best funded.

That’s it. Everything else is “how”.

Principles

The “House of Guilds” proposal operates with these simple principles:

  1. Minimum Viable Governance: We’ll start with the “benevolent dictator” format for non-funding decisions to begin with and gradually layer in more participatory governance as things get stronger. We’ll also focus on minimizing the necessary participation from voting members and Guilds so they don’t have to be on call all the time to vote.
  2. Maximum Velocity of Funding: do whatever we can to streamline payments such that Guilds get paid regularly and rapidly. This is a key innovation with this proposal.

The Proposal Basics

Rather than lay out an entire in-depth proposal here, inline with principle #1, I’ll just lay out the very basics:

  1. Funded by a $NEAR endowment: There is an NF-provided endowment of tokens which earn staking rewards and, each month, those rewards are unstaked.
  2. Guilds are funded, not task proposals: This provides funding for Guilds themselves, not any individual proposals for what those Guilds do. A Guild makes a single funding ask per month.
  3. One monthly funding vote: There is only ONE monthly vote for funding. During that period, voting members just make one decision: what % of this month’s staking rewards should go to which of the eligible Guilds? Guilds just need to convince them they’re worth funding.
  4. Governed by Guilds: The voting members are themselves representatives of Guilds.

There are lots of details, but these are the important parts.

How is this being implemented technologically? Doesn’t matter. We’ll solve those problems. We’ll probably do as much as possible manually at first and move to using Astro-based tools.

Goal timeline:

  1. End-March: Have initial Alpha voting members and eligible Guilds in place and run the first vote with a nominal amount of tokens. Manual.
  2. End-April: Have the Endowment funded and earning staking rewards. This month’s vote is funded by staking rewards. Expand to slightly more eligible Guilds.
  3. End-May: Continue to expand the set of eligible Guilds. Build out the more operational roles needed to support this. Start layering in DAO tech like Astro.
  4. End-June: The full set of Guilds is onboarded, layer in basic governance roles too
  5. End-Q3: Phase out 90% of the Benevolent Dictator responsibilities. Fully tech-driven (not manual anymore)
  6. End-Q4: Phase out all Benevolent Dictator responsibilities so the structure is fully community-driven. This timeline may be optimistic.

Next steps:

  1. Check in with a handful of early Alpha guild participants and key ecosystem members, both as voting members and recipients. This post is the start of that!
  2. Publish the governance wiki with more details for this proposal, but remember that the principles above are the guiding ones and everything else is implementation detail.

Outro

Feel free to ask questions, but I do want to note that the intent here is to be deliberately light on details right now and to focus instead on the spirit and principles of the proposal so we can “ship and iterate”.

I hope this will allow the Guilds ecosystem to be self-sustaining, self-sufficient and stronger by the end of the year. Plus we get to test-drive some cool new stuff, which, if successful, provides a template that we can use for significantly larger funding initiatives :slight_smile:

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Super cool! Looking forward to seeing this plan live!

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In my name and in the name of Incubadora DAO, I have to say I’m super interested in seeing how this will all unfold, and how can the guilds/daos in the ecosystem grow into some sort of maturity.

Excited to see this happen, :star_struck:

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Also for us at CUDO DAO, we are very interested to see how all this will develop and excited to be part of these changes. This ecosystem has helped us grow and we trust that together we will go even further.

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Hi Erik, thanks for your proposal!

There are a few core questions and concerns that I’d like to explore;

  • A lot of the focus seems to be on the operations and shortcomings of Guilds, while not enough emphasis has been placed on the Foundation, in particular a key aspect - Guilds have been failing because of the Foundation ever changing standards and practices
  • Expanding on the above, I would like to have more context on the complete elimination the Community team within the Foundation and how it relates to the house of Guilds
  • There is something disturbing about having the former NEAR CEO become the new self-proclaimed “benevolent dictator” of the House of Guilds, an entity that has deliberately been designed to reduce the involvement of the Foundation
  • Last year alone, AstroDAO disbursed ~$10m. To be able to disburse similar funding the House of Guilds would need to have $100m endowment. Is it reasonable for the Foundation to disburse such mind-boggling amounts of money to a separate entity wholly controlled by the former CEO?
  • What happens when the required monthly funding is above the staking rewards? Why not distribute the whole amount given to the House of Guilds by the foundation?
  • The Foundation receives 10% staking rewards of every single new block (embedded in code). What happens to those funds after we split off the House of Guilds Treasury?
  • I also fail to understand why the reluctance to continue to pay Guilds for work they perform for the ecosystem when sitting on billions of dollars specifically designed to for community and growth initiatives. What happens to the generous endowment the House of Guilds receives after you cut off all the Guilds and strategically only handing them out the staking rewards? (I’ve expanded on this on my response to Chronear’s post)

Overall, I continue to be sceptical. We should be striving for simplicity and with each new iteration we continue to alienate more community members who are doing honest work (as community members who believe in NEAR and want to do whatever they can to succeed). Being treated as contractors and seeing the bureaucracy gets fatter is disappointing.

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Attaching my response to the original comment here since this comment seems to be a stretch of the same arguments and additional remarks are mostly out of scope. As always, grateful for your vocal opinions and numerous contributions. The House of Guilds Wiki will elaborate on details!

Good evening,

I purpose to use existing Community DAO for all funding decisions, of course, if the final goal is open transparent fully driven by community.

Screen Shot 2022-03-05 at 9.21.06 PM

  • Staking rewards go directly to Community DAO;
  • Community DAO councils review proposals and make decisions (consensus 50%);

Screen Shot 2022-03-05 at 9.23.57 PM

  • we are closing all existing verticals DAOs, councils and advisors go to Community DAO;
  • OWS’s mod, lead team, as well (OWS contributors is able to create a proposal directly to Community DAO);

Screen Shot 2022-03-05 at 9.39.14 PM

  • we are onboarding guilds leaders, NF people (if they want), on councils seats - everyone is welcomed to join any time;
  • responsibilities:
  1. Participation in public discussions on the Forum; DAO votes; number of proposals reviewed;
  2. Timely review and decision on proposals.
  3. Develop the guidelines for proposal submission and guidelines for reporting
  • Community bot will remove inactive councils on Astro DAO every two weeks;
  • devs.near is able to remove inactive in participation in public discussions or timely review councils after voting on Astro DAO.

Screen Shot 2022-03-05 at 10.05.29 PM

  • Community DAO members (with councils) simple majority:
  1. Vote to remove (or not) the individual Council member is found guilty of violating the Community Guidelines;
  2. Vote for all significant changes in Community (like the new funding mechanism);
  3. Propose by pools any bounties, campaigns, anything.
  • as you know, many guilds have same leadership, they can vote yourself many times.

I am not sure, but may be, NF can choose guilds, projects which play significant role in Near Ecosystem like Ru guild, Sankore 2.0, Degens, some service guilds etc. and approve grants to them.

Furthermore, would be great if NF grant’s team will share information with Community about new grantees, because we can approve marketing campaigns for them, provide UX testers from our experienced community, users for their apps etc.

Goal timeline:

  1. End-March: Onboard councils in Community DAO. Manual. Update guidelines. So the structure is fully community-driven.
  1. End-April:
  2. End-May:
  3. End-June:
  4. End-Q3:
  5. End-Q4:
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I think this is a more reasonable mechanism, because just as it has been pointed out by @satojandro, the repeated change of mechanisms as well as standards and principles is what has slowed down the progress and developments of Guilds.

We will look out to see what the House of Guilds will be like and as well continue to contribute as much as we can

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It seems the House of guild and NF forgot the importance of guilds over the years.

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Hello!

@erik.near thank you for this proposal!

Let me share my part, here Alejandro is right, I myself had a hard time this last month with the new payment process it had some delays, I know we are all trying our best, but in order to really improve on the next iteration you have to listen to us, this is a good point here:

Without taking enough time and further discussion with the community, with the Guild Leaders, the final mechanism will fail.

I am very active all around and I really feel I am missing this or not taken into account.

And hey ! I love some parts of the proposal, like this:

And I have been talking a lot that of course we should become self-sustainable asap, but not by the end of the second quarter! That is too soon!

And I am talking from my experience, from NEAR VENEZUELA, where we have a lot of members with full engagement and proven contributions.

We have a translation team working with the Legal Guild and OWS, a Marketing team working with Metapool and Near Hispano, we have a big development team now with several dapps like NEAR P2P going to be launched very very soon thanks to the guidance of @Cristian with Near University!

The dapps will allow us to generate funds in the future and we will become self-sustainable, yes!

We even want to run a Beer company owned by the community and the company will be doing marketing and generating dividends, we talk about this with @David_NEAR and he told us to not rush, that the funding will still be there for marketing, and yeah we are following the advice from you partners, we are now also learning from the Near Certified Entrepreneur program to be able to launch this, we do want to be self-sustainable and generating value for the Near Ecosystem forever, but we still need more help from you guys from NF on our first steps!

So, please please! Don’t rush!

Let’s Talk more about this with the Guild Leaders, let’s invite them to an open meeting to discuss this, 1 to 1 meetings are not enough, meetings, where I can hear what other Guild Leaders have to say. The forum is a great communication channel but why not use other channels in order to exchange all the information possible and generate new information from the interactions.


Conclusion:

I am afraid that NF will share here a (take it or leave it) proposal, that will not match the real expectations or will not work out for the goals the NF has.

When you are hiring someone you also want to hear what are the expectations on you, because everything needs to match, to work out for both.

This should be an open conversation where we shape the NEAR future all together as a community, this is the main idea of having Guilds, little communities forming the big one.

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Indeed NEAR Guilds have been the major platforms that have been marketing for the last couple of years. But let’s see how things unfold

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I support this idea, but spare us a little patience :heart: !

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pls give us time, and watch over our deliveries :relieved:

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Thanks all. Some quick reactions/clarifications and then my action items :slight_smile:

quick reactions/clarifications –

  • "things are changing too fast/often…" - I know it’s been a moving target to keep funding for guilds and I sympathize. I hope this will be a simpler approach overall but I do acknowledge that it’s Yet Another Thing. That’s why I’d rather keep it small and simple at first and just deliver funding quickly. We can expand scope if it’s successful and helpful.
  • "You ran the NF, what’s up?" Part of separating myself from the foundation was to be able to play more actively within the product and community space as an independent (and “on the ground”) member. I’m trying to fix some of the problems I see across the ecosystem with pragmatic solutions and I hope I can help get them implemented, including by using the knowledge and relationships I have from running the NF. Remember that the goal of the NF from the beginning has been to launch the ecosystem then step out of the way (over time). To do that, there has to be something there to catch that burden, so I’m trying to help make that happen. I hope I can help run experiments that move fast, learn fast, and can scale up to support the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars worth of capital allocations the ecosystem needs. You have to start small but think big.
  • "Benevolent Dictator == Full control?" The voting members will be driving the distribution of funds and there’s no direct financial upside to the HoG structure itself (no carry % or anything). During early days, we’ll be using string and duct tape to hold it together so we’ll have to make some centralization shortcuts just to get it going but that’s how everything starts anyway. The experiments should start small enough to justify this and then as we get more controls (aka stronger/broader governance) in place we can scale them up.
  • "This is fixed amount of funding / what about budgets?" Great observation! This is definitely different… rather than just funding a Guild’s fixed $1k budget, it’s pointing (for example) 10% of the $10k monthly staking allocation to that Guild. That works one month, but if the price of $NEAR fluctuates widely, there will be a mismatch between what the Guild needs and what’s being paid. This is the challenge with this proposal - it optimizes for easy decision making but is totally dependent (like all DAOs) on the underlying exchange rate of the currency and the number of eligible recipients in a given period. I think over time we’ll figure out better ways to smooth this out (eg with a $NEAR-based stablecoin) but for now we’ll have to ride the fluctuations and see how it goes.
  • "the NF…" Not commenting on any NF-oriented stuff. That’s a separate thread. This is an independent proposal to help get Guilds funded, and it’s particularly relevant given that the NF working to help Guilds stand on their own at the same time. But I’d rather think of this as a new experiment.
  • Y U No use Community DAO? I think that’s a great proposal and I’d love to run both in parallel to try them as different experiments. Despite the additional complexity of doing so, I think having more options (especially during early days of experimentation) is better than few. Let’s diversify the places that good community efforts can get funded! @Dasha1 what’s the best way to get involved in Community DAO?
  • Guilds can vote for themselves? Yes, I think the benefits of having skin in the game where you must vote to receive funds is better than the disadvantage of having people able to vote for themselves. The algorithm can be simple but effective, eg removing the highest and lowest allocation outliers, rotating members and publicizing votes, to reduce the problem where people vote too much allocation to their own guilds.

Action items

Here are the things I’m working to do now. Some days it’s easier to create space to ship but I’m hoping to get all this sorted by end of week:

  1. Gather some small conversations to help answer questions and make this better. I’m working with Chronear to help get an AMA/call set up
  2. Find initial funding for this so we can get some $NEAR in the bank earning rewards for the first alpha vote.
  3. Spin up the wiki with some more detailed information about this

:weight_lifting_man:

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Good morning. Dear @erik.near I believe every community member is tired from NF’s experiments. Give us a chance organize community-driven DAO. One place- Community DAO. No more any not transparent verticals DAO’s , please. Active community members are able to organize effective work. WE SEE PROBLEMS, and understand how can we resolve them. You can join the DAO, as well as community member or council.

Unfortunately, I don’t know who should make the decision, and can I ask @illia ‘s opinion about it.

We can create a poll on Astro DAO and Near community members vote for the proposal.

Thanks.

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Wanted to give my thoughts on this ongoing conversation as we all try to figure out the best way forward for the NEAR community, Guilds and awareness/adoption of NEAR in general.

I have been reading all the posted about proposed changes and systems with a mixed reaction:

  • On the one hand, since starting to be an advisor to the @marketingdao-council in January, I have seen how much complexity there is to the current proposal/funding/report process not only for Guilds, but also for individual community members with their own projects.

  • Streamlining and systematizing operations is a great way forward in many ways.

  • When it comes to Guilds specifically, I do see value in funding the Guilds on a monthly basis and not their individual projects. Would give them more flexibility and freedom to adapt/react to their unique situations as they implement activities.

  • It is unclear to me where that leaves individual projects seeking Community funding – that is probably a subject for another post, so I will not elaborate here. but to say that I think that is a huge issue that is potentially being overlooked.

  • In terms of the Community DAO structure proposed by @Dacha, if the individual DAOs are going to be dissolved (which is sounds like is a foregone conclusion? It’s unclear to me when/how that decision was made) then I see this as a good alternative.

  • That said, I STILL think you are going to end up needing sub-groups (whether formal or informal) within a Community DAO or any core group tasked with making community funding decisions. I say this because the process of fairly, adequately reviewing proposals, reading reports and tracking activity from Guild and community projects and initiatives takes time, familiarity and expertise.

  • Regarding the voting members must be Guild members, I can see your point on this. But I also think there are a lot of community members like myself who are very interested in supporting the NEAR community, but are not part of Guild leadership for one reason or another. I would like to see avenues going forward to allow for more diverse participation.

  • I also think in this discussion there is somewhat unrealistic expectation around how much time and effort is involved in shifting gears and enacting swift, system-wide change. I say that with hesitation, because I do not see the point in doubling-down on a problematic system. But at the same time, from my POV working with the MarketingDAO, we have been working for months to streamline and adjust the proposal evaluation process – hours of conversations, lots of great ideas, but the bottom line is community-driven processes and decisions take time. There are a lot of stakeholders, people have schedules, life situations, timing conflicts that make it hard to change their operations within a week’s time – and when it comes to actual proposals, there is so much work and orchestration that many have underway (events, hiring people, traveling to conferences). I hope as future changes roll out this month, there is consideration for the proposals and Guilds that were expecting to be able to continue and already working toward a certain event, goal, etc., that the changes may interrupt and prevent from happening.

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Yes repeated change of mechanisms, standards and principles has slowed down the progress and developments of Guilds, I hope this would be the solution to that and makes things easier.

Really hope this becomes the turning point to GUILDs becoming self-sustained and independent regarding certain projects

In an event this is going as fast as it seems, there should be special treatment to the proposals already on ground made by Guilds, their proposals should be seen through, that way the fast changing mechanism won’t cripple their activities

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Going through all the reactions - I would like to opine that the House of Guilds is in essence, going to be a Community DAO and any/all experiments that are aligned will be supported!

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This please:

Thank you Erik and @chronear an AMA is 100% necessary, and even more conversations inviting the Guilds representatives, and this should be open, not a leader driven initiative/meeting, but a discussion with decisions to be launched in a Poll

Peace, and cheers :beers:

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Hey! Thanks for your intervention. :star_struck:

Please join our telegram, and you can also join our Friday meeting:

5:30-6pm UTC ~ @CommunityDAO Study Group

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