Sandbox Part 3: Governance

Governing the Sandbox: Part 3.

Part three of the sandbox series, is related to the notion of governance of the Sandbox. The simple recap of where things stand right now can be summarized as follows:

“The Sandbox is being designed to be a digital hub for future contributors in the NEAR Ecosystem to learn, network, collaborate with projects and Guilds, and work to create value in non-technical and creative ways. A system of rolling rewards is going to launch with the sandbox that will see projects have resources to source help, as well as NEAR Core teams posting updated rolling opportunities to get involved. In short, it is a place to earn, learn, and contribute - where benefits only increase the longer you hang around.”

The one area that remains in need of discussion revolves around the governance of the Sandbox. That is to say, how will work be rewarded, and who will be responsible for handling new questions, problems, or updates as time goes on, and the sandbox gets larger and larger? While a Sandbox Council will be used to handle rewards on a rolling basis, the fundamental bread and butter of the digital hub runs around the ideas of inclusivity and win-win collaboration over the long term. This makes governance much less of a hard encoded process and more of a soft-set of rails that the Sandbox can keep around its development.

Inclusivity:

NEAR’s Peter dePaulo helped kick off ETH Denver by introducing NEAR in line with the unique feature of crypto as being highly inclusive. As he explained it then, inclusivity means in a more general sense, a willingness to collaborate and participate without immediate demand for monetary rewards. In short, the people who come to the Sandbox are there to learn, grow the ecosystem, meet people, and develop new skills - and a side effect of doing that, is that they are able to earn rewards. Not the other way around. This should be kept front and center for every new member of the Sandbox.

Long Term Win-Win Collaboration:

Second, the rewards structure of the Sandbox itself is built around the idea of long-term win-win collaboration. That is to say, that the more a user or groups of users participate and collaborate, the more they will be rewarded and the more they will be trusted.

Keeping these two points in mind, let’s look at a blueprint for Sandbox Governance:

Governance Practicalities: The Sandbox Council Processes

The Sandbox Council is in charge of making sure that the Sandbox treasury is not abused, and that contributors are fairly rewarded for the work they do. Notably, this is an ambiguous process that is much more arbitrary than one might expect: New types of engagement with the Ecosystem over time, means that there is a lot of untapped value that has not even been imagined yet. It is the job of the Sandbox to work to facilitate that value.

Practically, every month there will be a drop of rewards for initiatives from different contributors. Once a month, these rewards will be sifted through by the Sandbox council and determined to be acceptable - or suboptimal according to the scheme of series and acts (i.e. series will be evaluated in the range proposed, acts will be accepted or not). It is the job of the Sandbox council to plan for the long term in their governance: New members should be scrutinized more closely, while more reliable older members who have demonstrated quality engagement and collaboration will have more leeway.

Structure:

For Contributors: Post Initiatives and Completed Activities on a rolling basis over the course of the month on its designated gov forum thread.

For Sandbox Council: On the first day of the next month, posted initiatives and activities are evaluated with rewards distributed no later than 10 days into the month.

Random Audits: Because all activities will be posted publicly on the forum, and all rewards will be sent and kept on record, Sandbox council members can audit any activity from any contributor at any time. This also works with feedback from projects and guilds within the ecosystem.

Initial Sandbox Council: 3 Members made up of Guilds and NEAR Core Team Members (set to expand over time as the Sandbox grows).

Sandbox council membership changes every 6 months via vote. Sandbox council members split 10% of the total value of rewards distributed out during their 6 month tenure in the Sandbox (i.e. if 10,000 NEAR is rewarded then 1,000 NEAR goes to the council, and each member is given 200 NEAR for their month to month engagement).

An Informal Mechanism Design:

The design of this governance structure is a form of loose or informal mechanism design. The general parameters for this system can be summarized for the following actors:

Users and Contributors Should Expect Less, Especially Early On. Contributors and users looking to make the most of the Sandbox should embrace the notion of inclusivity, and work for long-term results and rewards as opposed to immediate rewards. The expectation from these actors is that they will be rewarded their fair due for the value they contribute to the Ecosystem - even though it might not happen all at once.

Sandbox Council Looks for More, Especially Early On. The Sandbox Council looking to grow the Sandbox into a digital home for NEAR Related contributions, must look at the long term and ensure that a culture of inclusion and long-term collaboration is supported. This means that reward distribution should be stringent and carefully evaluated at the beginning, in order to vet the valuable contributors who have long - term potential, from those who are looking for quick cash.

Conclusion:

The informal governance of the Sandbox is designed to make the Sandbox into an open, creative, and collaborative hub of contributors and entrepreneurs. We don’t want to suffocate it with rules and structures at the beginning: We want to keep it open for people to be creative and to add value to the ecosystem. The risk in doing this is that some people may not be rewarded as much as they think fit at first, or that some people will intentionally game the system to make a quick profit and exit. To counterbalance such dangers, we are asking everyone joining the sandbox from the start, to align with the principles of inclusivity and long-term growth.