Kusama RFC: Pay what you want

Value for money

In general people agree that common good treasuries should spend on something - so far so good.

Sadly, beyond that it’s a free for all of subjective opinion.

Most contentious of all is the funding amount - if you want to trigger people, just set your request to anything above $10k and watch the treasury guardians implode.

  • How much should an event cost?
  • What is your code worth?
  • Are we underpaying or overpaying for media?

The same debate has raged around almost every proposal - ultimately everyone sets their own prices, everyone bargains their own product and its chaos… chaos that will get a lot lot worse if we don’t figure out alternatives…

Is there another way to value contributions retroactively?

Pay what you want (or PWYW, also referred to as value-for-value model [1][2]) is a pricing strategy where buyers pay their desired amount for a given commodity. This amount can sometimes include zero. A minimum (floor) price may be set, and/or a suggested price may be indicated as guidance for the buyer. The buyer can select an amount higher or lower than the standard price for the commodity.[3][4] Many common PWYW models set the price prior to a purchase (ex ante), but some defer price-setting until after the experience of consumption (ex post) (similar to tipping). PWYW is a buyer-centered form of participatory pricing, also referred to as co-pricing (as an aspect of the co-creation of value). - Wikipedia

Council tips in Gov1

In version 1 of Substrate governance the Council had the ability to submit tips in a Pay What You Want manner per discussion in Kusama Direction:

A group of Tippers is determined through the config Config. After half of these have declared some amount that they believe a particular reported reason deserves, then a countdown period is entered where any remaining members can declare their tip amounts also.

After the close of the countdown period, the median of all declared tips is paid to the reported beneficiary, along with any finders fee, in case of a public (and bonded) original report.

In OpenGov, this system was deprecated in favour of tip tracks, where a proposer would select some low value amount and then send this to a public vote - the tip amount is set by an individual assessing the relative value of the work.

This makes things simpler, but it also reduces the potential collective intelligence of the group as a whole.

In Rainbows

In 2007 Radiohead self released In Rainbows, their first since splitting from EMI.

One of the most interesting aspects of the launch was their approach to how they sold the album.

Rather than setting a fixed album price of say £10, fans could Pay What They Wish for the digital download.


The Pay What You Want gov experiment / coordination game

I’m currently finishing off a document which condenses 12 months (36 month if you consider Edgeware) of active ecosystem governance research and applied development into my own homage to In Rainbows.

Referendum 236 which failed recently was a test, that led into this next phase.

I was actually surprised it almost passed, since it was (purposely) obtuse in its invoice request.

It was fascinating nonetheless, since it gave new insights into how treasury funding / voting games are working in practice, rather than the theory.

The next version will be much more concrete and aims to bring together a bunch of my writing on this forum into a cohesive whole - context for where we’ve come from, where we are and also where we might be headed.

It’s not a roadmap, more a direction.

It will include a bunch of recommendations, some approaches for solving recurring issues and hopefully something approaching a unified vision for how we can align incentives towards common goals rather than perpetuating the same zero sum games we see now.

How the document release works (hopefully)

The aim is to hack together an approach where we merge elements of Gov1 - amount set by median of council tips, with Gov2’s open tracks and referendums.

The document will be behind an NFT paywall on a dedicated website.

The treasury (aka token holders as a collective) will be the entity unlocking the document.

You can view some elements before hand - try before you buy to give voters a flavour.

Then holders will have the literal option to Pay What You Want through the interface which also simplifies the overal governance experience.

The WIP idea - a proposal will involve two stages in a batch transaction.

We will submit a spending proposal to the treasury but the ‘amount’ requested on the Treasury track (no upper bound) will be the average of all those who vote who have the opportunity to act as a spending hivemind adding a System Remark to their vote.

  • Think it’s junk - some elaborate grift, then set your price to 0. You still get to read the doc. Win.

  • Think its interesting, but you prefer Messari’s reports, then set it to $25k - 25% of the price the Polkadot treasury pays for an annual report arrangement.

  • Love the work and the idea, then hey, you can vote for a $200k price.

Just as with Gov1 council pallet, the amounts will be averaged and we get the eventual price the treasury request is submitted for and voted on.

When the proposal is approved and confirmed, this will trigger the unlocking the document for all to read and download irrespective of what you think its worth.

It will be a limited run of digital documents and some appended soulbound NFT that you get, just for being involved in the experiment.

I might even print out good old fashioned hard copies for those who want that (but that will be a separate proposal probably).

Hopefully this gives you a flavour of the idea, there are a number of ways to approach this experiment - and it’s mostly me just hacking these ideas together, so I’m sure there will be much smarter brains than me who can also suggest how it might also work via existing gov infrastructure and processes.

So that’s it for now, there’s a bunch of stuff to figure out, but its a heads up for what’s coming.

Anyone interested in helping / hacking / improving / advancing the experiment please comment in the thread or say hello on element @lightbulbwelsh:decent.modular.im