Gitcoin Grants Stack x Polkadot OpenGov

I would like to use the Gitcoin Grants Stack with Polkadot OpenGov to more efficiently allocate funds to Polkadot projects and improve conditions in the Polkadot ecosystem. Here is a proposal that I drafted:

Gitcoin Grants Stack x Polkadot OpenGov Proposal (draft)

This is motivated in response to Brushfam is leaving polkadot and this from seunlanlege, while getting depressed at having substrate-etl on perpetual Treasury welfare, watching dozens (hundreds?) of people complain here and in Matrix chat rooms about OpenGov … which is just amazing but is just missing a few key things about humans. But rather than get depressed, I think we can do something truly systemic about this:

We can replace a lot of the cruelty of OpenGov’s binary outcomes (read: REJECTION) with graduated outcomes enabled by Quadratic Funding. Before you rush off and code up a Rust pallet, this funding has been made real by Gitcoin Grants in a completely usable way this summer. Here is what graduated outcomes looks like from Summer 2023:

Gitcoin Beta Round Revised Final Results V2 from Spring 2023

Blog Post - Beta Round Results and Recap

This Gitcoin Grants Stack x Polkadot OpenGov proposal aims to replicate this kind of breadth above for dozens of fundable Polkadot projects that need a little financial support to get to profitability and the sustainable Polkadot 2.0 future we all seek.

OpenGov is as amazing as everything else in Polkadot, but does not address (at this moment) several human things that Quadratic Funding addresses:

  1. Quadratic Funding addresses the human fear of rejection far better than OpenGov’s present system. In QF, if your project is great, you get capped – but if your project is ok, you don’t get rejected, you just get Uber/Doordash driver money. QF replaces “Will you marry me?” ==> “NFW, what is wrong with you?” with “can we go out for dinner?” (thinking: can I get a kiss?) with a hug and if you’re pretty good, lots of kisses. A hug can turn into a kiss, and later you can get married. You shouldn’t have to leave the Polkadot ecosystem in disgust like Brushfam, go closed source like seun, waste your life doing political data analytics figuring out where these Nays or good heavens, figure out how to bribe them to get their conviction votes with slimy side deal that makes you feel like SBF. QF takes the bullshit away!

  2. Quadratic Funding does NOT require a large voting community to GET your project, you just need a few fans/users who do – crowdloan contributions had this feature, it was great. In OpenGov’s Aye/Nay system, 51% Nay you death (more accurately, a few whales who add up to 51%) and you go work on Ethereum L2 instead. In QF, if you’re working on something that only 5% of the community gets, QF wins HANDS DOWN over 51% Aye/Nays system – you get that hug and kiss from that critical 5% and can live for another day to maybe get married later.

  3. Quadratic Funding requires a LOT less cognitive load on a human voter. You don’t have 100s of things to vote on every week, you allocate your gcDOT to the few things you actually want to vote on and understand once a quarter. No committees of “experts” and gatekeepers with Level X status, no military industrial complexes. Its, er, decentralized. Much better for humans.

I hope the Polkadot community is smart enough to look past any irrationality of “anything has to be a Rust pallet or we look dumb, it was not invented here” or some perverted “if we do QF, it has to be done entirely in Substrate, never with that … Ethereum thing”. The pragmatic thing to do is fight your inner NIH and recognize that there is a 50x larger number of DAUs there, a LOT more contributors, a lot more projects. Cut out the tribal NIH stuff. Everyone knows we’re dying to see new users, new projects, new people JOIN this ecosystem. If any non-Ethereum community should do it first, it totally should be Polkadot.

There IS a place for Y/N type systems – you either upgrade or you don’t, or you either let someone into your status hierarchy thing or you don’t. Funding a project is NOT required to be a Y/N decision. If I get less funding for my Substrate project, I work on Ethereum more, or I spend just my Sundays on it instead of every waking hour. Our time is fungible.

What’s my incentive here? I have to pay for some serious cloud bills to keep a bunch of projects running – I want do a lot of obscure things in Polkadot 2.0, but the fam is questioning why I am spending time here. But I don’t want to do something just for me and my team, I want to do something for everyone, even better than for just a Polkadot Data Alliance bounty or a technical committee.

Please attack it so it can be improved and we can learn how we can make it work best – here is the link again:

Gitcoin Grants Stack x Polkadot OpenGov proposal draft

Thank you so much for your comments, questions and ideas for improving this idea – if you have the badge of honor of having a 51% rejection, you are my hero, please consider being a curator.


Thank you for taking the time and proposing a solution to this current pressing issue. I see the work you do at Polkaholic as very important and think you have the right embedding into the ecosystem to care about its success. I empathize with everyone who feels the stress of everyone who delivers value and feels the uncertainty of if it will be properly rewarded.

I see two fundamental issues with the presented proposal:

  1. The proposal, as I read it, bribes voters to vote “AYE” and effectively receive an ETH airdrop. This is not acceptable, as we cannot differentiate if AYE voters intend to participate in voting later or not.
  2. The proposal tries to solve the problem of allocating funds to projects in an all-or-nothing manner. I am sure there are better ways, graduated outcomes can be a way. But I think we should rather focus on solving the root problem instead of outsourcing the allocation.

If we collectively think we do want to try this out, I think we should start with a smaller allocation to test the waters first. 1m USD sounds too much for an experiment.

To who?

  1. The proposal ABSOLUTELY bribes voters. That’s the point. Its a game. Like the rest of crypto.
  2. What is the root problem in your estimation?
1 Like

@alice_und_bob Thank you for diving in! The gcDOT is a voucher for the < .1% of DOT addresses who participate with an AYE to:

(a) participate QUARTERLY in GGR19/20/21/22 rounds, which gets 50% of the DOT => ETH – used in the matching rounds and received directly by Polkadot projects. AYE voters do not get this.

(b) receive an airdrop of the remaining 50% ETH, where AYE voters can use this to be Gitcoin Grants Donor (and the remaining can be used for whatever)

Literally, an AYE is a commitment do (a) and get (b), and its directly proportional to voting power. But instead of a bribe, you can think of this like a pandemic/recession stimulus check (which we US people got in 2020/2008) to people who bother to vote enough to fix the system. It’s as targeted as we can get! The majority of received ETH of (b) would go to the whale AYEs, the minority would go to people like me who need to go pay some bills.

For the minority, I have NO trouble if someone with 10 DOT gets 10 gcDOT and buys a croissant with their ETH. We accept that there are free croissants at sub0 (paid for OpenGov/Treasury) and we accept that some people took their $1500 pandemic stimulus check and go out and probably bought a croissant. Its ok, it was a Polkadot AYE active voter, they are the ones most qualified to make the decision between getting a croissant and like, paying their cloud bills so they can keep their substrate life going for a while. What is unacceptable exactly?

I have no prediction on what whale AYEs would do – they probably are sophisticated enough to buy into the next generation of parachains.

(i) tie the receipt of the ETH airdrop to actually voting in GGR19/20/… I will check if this is technically possible with the Gitcoin Grants team and research it further technically. Voting is supposed to be a civic duty like jury duty, but would this fix it so its “acceptable” to you?
(ii) change the percentage from 50/50 to 75/25 or 100/0, where 75% or 100% goes to (a) and 25% or 0% goes to (b). Would you like 75/25 or 100/0?

GG19 would collect a data point of how much (b) comes in and people like us can go do some analysis and report back to adjust the percentage of (ii).

The goal is not to experiment and give “side job/tip” money but to move the needle and support FT people right now. Some of us are tired of waiting and can’t afford to experiment.

I picked 240K DOT to actually support 10 teams like mine as well as 100 “side job” hackers for real in a small way that can scale in 2024 – giving 10 teams like mine $5K prize money does not work and basically forces them into the “side job” class (more accurately: move to Ethereum right now, shut down Substrate activity in 2024 due to lack of user growth). To move the ecosystem to “we can allocate 500 FT people 30K/quarter” you need 3.4MM DOT/quarter. So 240K is like 7% of that. I think this is a good goal for the end of 2024 and properly impedance matches the size of the Polkadot non-Parity FT load.

If you want Polkadot to look as small as Arbitrum (I do not), you can suggest $100K

I don’t see why Polkadot’s Gitcoin should be Arbitrum small, because I believe there are 5x more projects + people, more hungry teams on Polkadot than Arbitrum. I mean, Polkadot is the L1 here with 70+ parachains and like 200 teams like ours.

I did not pick 1MM DOT because that would be even bigger than the Ethereum rounds in Gitcoin. But by the end of 2024 we should try to get there and to the 500 FT 3.4MM level. If we don’t aim towards this, the ecosystem will perpetually look like it is right now: big Parity, W3F welfare, $5K prize money, and people moving to the system with greater network effects. Think Different.

I don’t think all-or-nothing is a problem. It has tip system, if you overprice bad ideas, you can lower your price and get more yes.