[Informal Poll] - Increasing the SourceCred payments

This is exactly what I have been doing with my coworkers to try and get them into crypto/DeFi. SourceCred should be the gateway portal for the future of finance via MakerDAO governance. It is a huge learning curve when you do not even know how the current financial system works. So, I think it is essential to incentivize new users to spend the time to learn the ropes. And after some time getting comfortable with the protocol I am sure they will want to own MKR which is a net positive. SourceCred is not a money-losing scheme, but an investment in the future of this protocol and DeFi more generally.

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I couldn’t agree more. I’m arguing that the current model is promoting the exact opposite by being a zero-sum game.

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Reply continued…

Before diving into concerns and ideas, I think it’s useful to ask the question, what goals of the DAO is SourceCred furthering? I’m seeing a number of different perspectives here.

Is it a tool to retain and expand the community?

In my observations of SourceCred in the wild, it does increase engagement. At the end of Maker’s first 3 months trialing SourceCred, engagement metrics were up, as detailed our final report. Below is a chart of Cred over time (a proxy for work) since Maker began using SourceCred in June 2020. While correlation does not equal causation, engagement appears to be on a general uptrend.

SourceCred also appears to have been a factor in several community members deepening their committment and taking on more formal roles in the DAO.

I have opted out several community members from payments because they took on paid positions in the Foundation/Core Units, such as @hexonaut, @SebVentures and @juan. Did SourceCred help pull them in? Curious if they have reflections.

For some, it provides a sense of belonging.

And consistent engagement over time is key to that.

Is it a competitive advantage?

It seems so.

I have seen similar anecdotal evidence elsewhere. Not just in communities using SourceCred, but also on Reddit subs I frequent, such as r/ethtrader and r/CryptoCurrency, which are distributing ERC-20s based on karma (a reputation system similar to SourceCred in some ways). I regularly see people on these subs report that they spend more time posting there because they can get paid, at the expense of subs that don’t pay. I asked to be opted in, in part because I could feel the opportunity cost, and want to be incentivized to post more.

Does it advance specific goals of the DAO?

Here, it appears there is room for improvement.

Even a contributor doing actions we’re looking to incentivize is skeptical.

I would argue that community for its own sake is valuable. Indeed, in the rapidly evolving DeFi space, community is increasingly viewed as a competitive moat. Anyone can fork a protocol and offer financial incentives. If all you offer is yield farming, you can always be outbid. It’s very difficult to fork real community.

Also, I’ve noticed that this forum has become something of a ‘stage’. It’s well trafficed. Crypto famous occasionally drop in to opine. Reporters are here. I’ve seen Cointelegrah articles in recent months that were clearly just a recap of a post here. That is presumably good for Maker’s brand.

Is it just the morally correct thing to do?

I’ll leave it for the reader to decide (there are good arguments against paying too). However, I do see a general desire among crypto projects to reward its community members, especially when large sums of money are being made. And there aren’t any mechanisms I know of that are as credibly neutral or automated as SourceCred.

In summary, I think SourceCred is all of these things and more. It’s expressive enough to capture a lot complexity and nuance, even with its blind spots. Sometimes I wonder if SourceCred is just automating Maker’s internal political economy :exploding_head:

However, SourceCred is still relatively young, and has downsides and risks as well. I also think Maker has created a very unique, strong community (could do a whole separate post on that), and don’t want SourceCred to interfere with that, only strengthen and grow it. I would recommend Maker moving “at the speed of trust”, as we’re fond of saying in SourceCred. Below I address some concerns and ideas, in the spirit of that :point_down:

Concerns

@MakerMan is one of the few people I know who has contributed in nearly all of SourceCred’s partner communities, and generally offers valuable insights. I suspect they may be right here. At least if we keep the current configuration. I will say that MakerMan is likely representative of many contributors, but not all.

Ah, but what are the real community goals? The 100B DAO question. It seems Maker is still figuring this out, via projects like Project Compass. SourceCred is going through a similar process right now actually as it decentralizes. It’s difficult work. Which maybe should be rewarded?

It is certainly true that certain contributors, often devs, can have outsized impacts. However, whether a contributor or contribution is 10x, 100x, or -10x, is typically an individual, subjective judgement. Objective metrics are often worse. SourceCred I think does a good job at capturing the complex, intersubjective reality. However, I do think that currently SourceCred has some blind spots that make valuing (and incentivizing) certain high-value contributions difficult. To increase rewards significantly, I think more customization work may be needed (more thoughts on this coming).

Actually, we used to use posts as a metric, but switched to likes due to initial feedback from Maker–we were seeing contributors with a high volume of low-effort posts get too much Cred. Cred is now minted on likes, then flows through the graph. If you’re curious, here’s a discussion on SourceCred’s discourse about that change. We are encouraging more posts I think, but only to the extent people like them. I haven’t yet noticed significant ‘like inflation’ (the attack vector with this strategy), and the scores are still high quality IMO (open to challenges on this).

We’ve actually tracked an increase in engagement, as explained above. However, we can’t be sure this was caused by SourceCred, and not other factors. I will say we’ve seen increased engagement with other communities as well. I think conflicts of interests can be mitigated by MKR holders ability to defund it.

OK, crashing again here :zzz: Will be back tomorrow to address some of the proposed ideas, and provide context and some recommendations.

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I think I speak for the three of us when I say that it didn’t. We were involved (in a way or another) before SourceCred was implemented.

Looking forward to it.

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I could have not written this any better! Thank you Seth for creating this “Forum Post Breakdown” – so cool.

You know when I think about it–the SourceCred tool provides an attractive and vindicating user reward, that I really think you and your Team are on to something here. Please keep building and creating–you are changing the game for the end-user. Much appreciated–looking forward to new ideas/recommendations.

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Great to hear! And big Thank You to Maker and community members like yourself who took a chance on SourceCred before anyone knew about it, and for being such great partners. It’s had major positive impacts for our community and product.

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For me personally and I suspect most others, I signed up and started posting to learn as much about MKR as possible. The community has been incredibly welcoming and patient in helping newer members get up to speed on the complexities of MKR.

I hadn’t really heard of SourceCred until you messaged me and my initial reaction was that this must be some sort of scam until I saw your name (how many DMs have we all gotten on other platforms about free money in crypto?). I opted in out of curiosity and didn’t check what payments I had received until recently.

After receiving my first payment, I experienced similar feelings to @iammeeoh as to a sense of belonging to the MKR community. As a result, I’ve been spending more time on MKR and less time on other protocols’ forums. If other people are similar, I believe SourceCred is a net positive to the community and protocol as a whole - we want to continue to engage and retain new members of the community and this is an inexpensive way to accomplish that.

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Can’t thank you enough @s_ben for the time and care it took to construct this reply. You know I am a supporter of sourceCred but you also know I am a big fan of data. Nice of you to put the arrow in when SourceCred started. I remember we doubled the SC rewards once (didn’t that happen?!) Could you put in an arrow to where we did that?

I think @AstronautThis had a valid point wondering if we were maybe at a saturation point where more rewards wouldn’t get much more participation. Personally I am all for experiments as long as we are willing to try SC rewards down at some point.

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Reply continued…

In the last two replies, I offered thoughts on SoruceCred governance, gaming, and optimal payouts, and the goals of SourceCred and concerns raised. Here, I’ll address some of the proposed ideas, offer context around what is currently possible, and my personal opinions (not official SourceCred opinions).

Seeing a lot of relevant concerns and good ideas. Before addressing those, a quick primer on the levers SourceCred exposes:

  • Tweaking algorithm weights
  • Utilizing features of the Discourse plugin (e.g. the feature SourceCred built for Maker that allows extra Cred to be minted on topics with certain categories and tags)
  • Changes to payout amount (e.g. the last increase back in Nov 2020 from 2.5k DAI/week to 5k DAI/week).
  • Changes to payout formula (e.g. when we changed parameters to make the algorithm more responsive and pay newer contributors more)
  • Education: more knowledge around the algorithm, which may mitigate accidental misalignment, and give the community ideas for further customizations (hopefully this will help :sweat_smile:)

Payout formula ideas:

One thing to keep in mind here is that the GovAlpha CU (which is funding SourceCred) has, afaik, a fixed budget through June.

DAI vs MKR

Since the beginning, the community has been split over whether to distribute DAI or MKR. When we surveyed the community for our final report, the split was roughly 50/50:

  1. Do you, or would you prefer to receive MKR through SourceCred rather than DAI?

RESPONSE: (16 responses) 3 for MKR, 3 for DAI, 10 for No Preference, of those No Preference votes 3 advocated for 50/50 allocation, and several references made to leaving it up to users

When this has come up subsequently on the forum, the responses have seemed roughly 50/50 too. Arguments against focus on volatility of payouts, tax concerns, and dilution of MKR. Arguments for MKR generally focus on aligning incentives and increasing governance participation.

Also worth noting that deciding how to source the MKR and implement that could be difficult.

Personally, I think MKR would be better. While I am sympathetic to the volatility argument, especially for contributors with greater financial needs (indeed, working on SourceCred for me is meaningful largely because it pays those contributors), I think it better aligns incentives. If payouts are increased, I think the argument for MKR becomes stronger, because introducing more volatility may deter those posting solely for the money, which could dilute the culture and mission (more on this later). Working for a volatile governance token is a sign of skin-in-the-game. As would putting it in the hat, which could be detected.

There are also ways to mitigate the volatility for those than don’t have the ability to shoulder it. Like pegging to a fixed dollar amount at the time of distribution. Volatility can also, when the price is mooning, catapult contributors into a place of financial security, creating loyalty (psychologically, money earned is valued more than free airdrop money). I have seen this effect firsthand when I working for the Decred DAO for DCR, its governance token.

For the time being however, I think the support for DAI and high costs associated with a switch to MKR may keep us on DAI for a while.

So this is basically what 1Hive settled on. 1Hive is currently distributing $20k/week of their governance token (among other uses) HNY, up to 30 HNY. They’ve revisited this several times when a proposal is up to fund SourceCred payouts. The 30 HNY cap I presume is to protect against the token mooning and the rewards being too high, which risks increased gaming; this did happen last year actually during an earlier moon when rewards accidentally skyrocketed to ~$60k/week. SourceCred was able to work with 1Hive (a tithing partner) to mitigate the gaming and build features to protect against it. But would not recommend trial by fire. Previously, I wouldn’t have worried about MKR mooning, but dayum :rocket: :rocket:

Dynamic payouts

Correct. With a fixed amount, as each new contributor opt ins, the DAI distributed to others diminishes. Indeed, we’ve seen a steady number of optins in the last few months, with a recent uptick due to @Elihu’s outreach efforts. We’re up to 83 now. I have not been particularly concerned about this yet, because of two factors: 1) we have opted out several high Cred earning contributors like yourself, freeing up DAI for newcomers, and 2) a relatively small number of newcomers stick around and earn significant Cred; Maker governance is hard :sweat_smile: I also just spot check the balances going out whenever I do payouts, and my gut feel is that most new contributors are being rewarded fairly. Though would love to hear other perspectives on that.

Personally, I have been surprised that I haven’t felt that zero sum energy yet. And haven’t heard complaints yet, at least not in the SourceCred community. That does not mean it isn’t there. I’m just one perspective, and this is by definition something people might not speak up about.

I think this would be better from an incentive standpoint. I even wrote a post imagining distribution amounts calibrated using the Bitcoin difficulty algorithm, with Cred functioning as hashpower, or Proof-of-Labor (PoL). Pegging 1 Cred to a set dollar amount has also been proposed for payouts in the SourceCred community. One objection to this is that it incentivizes ‘like inflation’, giving the community a way to increase payouts without increasing value delivered. Another is that it just makes budgeting more difficult, as would be the case with Maker.

Time limited payouts

My initial reaction is no, even though some communities do seem to be discovering SourceCred’s primary utility for them is recruitment. However, I think there could be value in giving people an ability to express their preferences, either explicitly with actions or implicitly with inaction. Perhaps people that completely check out and don’t care could have their DAI/MKR balance displayed or used differently. Perhaps those with more financial resources would be happy to put their balance to work earning yield for contributors with less resources. Just spitballing, but I suspect introducing friction and illiquidity could actually be useful here somehow.

Reducing payouts

It would be an interesting experiment. Have not seen a community that started flowing rewards using SoruceCred turn it off.

Distribution infrastructure ideas:

Our gast costs for the last batch distribution were $470 in ETH :grimacing: We’ve recently started exploring L2 solutions as part of a larger design to distribute DAI directly from the protocol, but this is at a very early stage, and wary to jump into L2 wars before we have a clearer picture of the engineering limitations.

This is on the roadmap:) SourceCred doesn’t have an actual roadmap yet, but we’re looking to start work on this in the next month or two. Likely starting on mainnet though, and gas costs could limit frequency.

Obsessed with streaming payments. Sablier was a Maker dev gran recipient, which is pretty cool. I know Superfluid is on xDAI now as well and doing interesting things. The main concern there (aside from smart contract dev bandwidth) is security. Currently, a human (typically me) has a chance to review Cred scores and payouts before sending them out. This provides and opportunity to catch gaming. With real-time streaming payments, and distributing large amounts, a gamer could potentially siphon off a lot of money before being detected. Not only that, it would make gaming into a hella fun game :slight_smile: Which is partially why I want to see it. But Maker is maybe not the best place to try it first.

Algorithm tweaks

Creating separate one-time Cred instances could be easier operationally actually. I kind of like this idea. Programming different goals into a single instance can be tricky, as it’s more difficult to evaluate the desired outcomes in the scores.

We’re currently investigating using the category and tags minting feature developed for Maker to incentivize governance actions. This will allow us to apply a multiplier on Cred minted on topics with a given category or tag. The has been delayed due to some unexpected quirks in Cred flows in simulations, and a recent upgrade of the core algorithm. Hoping to present the SourceCred working group with some options on this soon.

This is the way.

I wonder though what the optimal (and sustainable) growth curve is for the community. Is the growth prediction @Planet_X made in the post that started it all coming true?

Does the Maker governance community have the bandwidth right now to onboard new contributors, execute on its larger decentralization plans, Core Units, etc. and create a governance process around changing SourceCred parameters? To be honest, I hesitate to bring all this up, as I know from experience how much work it can be, and I know there’s a lot of other important priorities right now competing for scarce attention :sweat_smile:

This could be happening weakly already due to the badges? Do people engage more with those with lots of badges? There is precident for this from different angles. The Friends With Benefits (FWB) community, which was running SourceCred, required I believe 3 FWB tokens to get into their Discord and get Cred and FWB distributions using SourceCred? (cc: @Cooopahtroopa). 1Hive I believe requires that you have 1 HNY to have a certain role on their Discord, which allows your reactions to mint more Cred. MetaGame gates their community (and therefore Cred) according to consistent activity OR holding a certain amount of their token, SEED.

These implementations though are either gating comms platforms, or giving people with certain roles more power to influence the Cred graph. I can’t think of a community using SourceCred that has tied governance actions directly to Cred issuance (though it could totally exist). One interesting comparison is a recent proposal on r/CryptoCurrenty to distribute 20% more MOONs (the ERC-20 they distribute according to karma) to users that keep their MOONs in their Reddit Valut, where tokens have to be to vote on governance changes in the sub (i.e. their hat). Karma is a reputation score similar to SourceCred in some ways. Reddit and Discourse are both forums. Could be good lessons there. As a side note, have been impressed with the ability of these subs to govern their tokens and communities. Makes me bullish on the idea.

In summary, I think Maker could double payouts safely. I think any gaming could be addressed. But personally (again, not an official SourceCred position), I’m a bit hesitant though because of a few factors: 1) we could be overpaying for some contributions, which may have unexpected negative effects, such as delegitimizing the scores or creating unrealistic expectations, 2) we may see more contributors contributing just for money, which could affect cohesion during a sensitive transition period for the DAO, 3) we currently don’t yet have a governance process for the community to reach consensus on protocol changes, and 4) the current budget for SourceCred has been approved through July.

I think increasing payouts will be more feasible once we gather more feedback, gain the ability to target certain contributions we think are undervalued (e.g. through category and tag weighting), and have more clarity around governance issues and the community’s goals.

PHEW, Great thread!

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The biggest flaw of the SourceCred is that my two sentence top of my head comments get similar rewards to posts like this. It should be remunerated with 100x more DAI (or, preferably, MKR ;-))

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This definitely can be true, however one interesting thing I’ve noticed about myself is that when I’d doing research or browsing topics on the forum by checking out older posts, it’s the longer posts that I’ll add a like to because they are often more helpful in articulating the situation. Compared to “real time” forum browsing where I tend to be a lot more generous with my likes.

I do think the “like” model rewards complimentary posts more than critical ones, but I’ve done some reflection and realized that a lot of what keeps me going is the words of encouragement from the community, and it’s likely that the “care work” of building each other up is way undervalued by the DAO at the moment. But to get back on topic:

Since SourceCred is always updating with new likes, it’s my theory (based on my personal bias) that while detailed posts seem to underperform in the short term, their value lasts a lot longer and I suspect that means a lot more impact through the life of the program. For example, the next time we talk about SourceCred this thread will likely be linked and I suspect @s_ben will get a little closer to the amount of likes he “deserves” for all this detailed explanation. That’s one of the coolest things about SourceCred for me, it’s designed to try to capture the shifting value of contributions over time! Though we could just start it off right by giving the posts a little more love :wink:

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Thank you @s_ben for the huge amount of data in your posts.

I think that this piece of data is not really sufficient, if we look at it critically. The crypto bull run is here and we will see more engagement over this period, simply because more people hold MKR, the token value is rising and that will interest people. Our evidence is more anecdotal at best.

To be honest, r/ethtrader became a cesspit of troll posts and spam after their move to monetize karma. The subreddit broke into two communities and the new community r/ethfinance which specifically does not monetize karma is much much better community. Please check both out right now and make your own conclusions on which community is better. The split of that subreddit is a very good counterexample to the things being claimed here and is the closest we will get to an experiment with a good control!

Moreover, the same thing happened with r/cryptocurrency. Moons resulted in a significant lowering of the quality of discussion there. SourceCred is still “under the radar” but when word gets out, I guarantee you’ll see the same issue here.

I think this cannot be emphasized enough. The altruistic posters here - the ones who post with no expectation of reward except the growth and betterment of the Maker protocol - are always gonna be the ones that carry the community.

I would think that this is far more important to try to check if SourceCred is resulting in higher quality discussion here before doubling it.

Finally, I will say that talk is actually cheap. As @MakerMan pointed out, it’s easy to throw out great ideas on the forum. The hard work is implementing that as an MIP, for example. As long as our core protocol is doing well, I doubt we’ll ever have a shortage of ideas, talk and banter on the forum, even if there was no SourceCred rewards at all. If that sounds plausible to you, then we should be asking if this is the right moment to be voting to double rewards.

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the poll has closed

So I just looked at r/ethtrader and r/CryptoCurrency. What I saw was lots of high-quality posts, people talking about how amazing it is to be paid for creating content for a change, posts about people in developing countries getting life-changing payday posting, etc. I also see the occasional posts complaining it’s ruining the sub, but my eyes generally glaze over those. I suspect we’re both experiencing some confirmation bias.

Unfortunately, quality is a subjective judgement. Would love to see any attempts at rigorous analysis of quality, sentiment, etc. in these systems.

Truth. Increasing Cred scores for contributions related to implemented ideas is something we’re looking at now. Would be curious to hear any ideas you have around that. For instance, what is your definition of implemented? Only things traceable to passed executives? More general implementations, such as organizational changes, communications, changes to Discourse or rocketchat, changes to SourceCred?

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I’ve noticed this as well. If I post late at night (e.g. now), I’m likely to get fewer likes. I think there is value to those ‘real-time’ likes though. Keeps the momentum of the conversation going, gives the posters more granular feedback, and strengthens social ties. Is this value over credited? Perhaps…

So this topic was just referenced for the first time in another thread, flowing everyone here a little more Cred, including myself :partying_face: I’ve definitely observed, here and in SourceCred (the project) that valuable posts do collect additional likes over time. Though often it’s just a trickle… Better incentivizing retroactive revaluation is something we’ve identified as an issue and are working on.

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Just out of interest, have you checked out r/ethfinance? r/ethtrader split into two because of donuts being monetized (there’s a weird sentence if you don’t know what’s going on!) and r/ethfinance is the non-paying sub that was born out of that split.

You’re right though that there’s probably some confirmation bias involved on my side and subjectivity in measuring quality but in any case, it’s one point to keep in mind.

I’ll definitely have a think and try to pitch in. Your critera actually do sound nice and it’s indeed the right spirit of things but implementing that is the hard part! Basically, I like that we have threads with memes and the odd lighthearted banter (and it really is great for the community) but it would be great if those who do serious work before a post (e.g. an MIP) get a substantially larger share than the others.

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Yeah, know r/ethfinance somewhat. Though wasn’t really part of that community when the split went down. I wrote up a case study on donuts in comparison to SourceCred, which gives a brief (perhaps biased :sweat_smile:) history of the sub, donuts and the community reaction to them. r/cslarson (main r/ethtrader mod, who was tinkering with SourceCred in its earliest incarnation) responded in the comments with some interesting discussion around donut tokenomics and governance.

Aside from r/ethtrader getting more noobs during the bull run, and donut governance posts, it seems r/ethfinance content is very similar. But admittedly, my focus on reputation systems and governance narrows my lens.

Tbh, glad to see the memes here getting Cred. Also happy it’s not getting out of control like it is on r/ethtrader and r/CryptoCurrency. Half their governance votes have been on ideas to keep meme rewards in check.

Looking forward to experimenting with increasing rewards for ‘serious work’. It’s a difficult problem, but the formality of Maker’s governance actually leaves a lot of useful artifacts to work with, so I think we’ll be able to systematize something that moves the needle.

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@s_ben is it possible to put some floor limit on the dai given to participants?

am i the only one seeing sh**ty posts to game the algortihm?

also it would make transfers cheaper :smiley:

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There has always been a 10 DAI minimum to receive on-chain payouts. The SourceCred working group just decided to raise it to 20 DAI actually, thanks to suggestion from @AstronautThis on last week’s payouts post. I’m planning to announce that in the next weekly payouts post.

Have not seen complains about this in a long time. Some context: when SourceCred was originally proposed to Maker a little over a year ago, initial feedback was that spammy posts were getting over rewarded. We made a fairly big change in the algorithm, switching to minting Cred based on likes instead of posts as we were doing previously. That improved the scores a lot. We also implemented a feature for Maker that uses Discourse’s trust levels to determine how much Cred a user’s like creates. So new users mint zero Cred, and long-time, more trusted users mint more. This should generally discentivize spammy posts. However, it is SourceCred’s belief that spammy content, like gaming generally, isn’t something that can ever be eliminated completely, from any rewards system. Only mitigated and discentivized. Additionally, spammy is often in the eye of the beholder. The algorithm is designed to reflect the community’s collective valuation. So some may find a post spammy that others do not. That said, it’s definitely something to look into, especially if there’s intentional gaming. Do you have examples of posts you think are spammy? Feel free to DM me if that is more comfortable.

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@mrabino1 will you be posting a signal request for this?