Rethinking incentives with coretime bounties, collectives and recoupable loans

Note: the following is part of an emergent grass-roots development process, that you’re witnessing/enduring. Apologies for all the mess.


There has been a steady, but accelerating move towards rethinking treasury financing (see @agyle’s Incentive Pools) and various stake/cashflow models but none focus directly on driving direct demand for the essential resource being offered by the protocols and therefore will all continue to have minimal / detrimental effects on the basic incentive design of Kusama/Polkadot.

Coretime focus

With the arrival of the more focused product of coretime NFTs, we have the opportunity to collectively unlearn a bunch of stuff and focus ecosystem resources towards more effective models for driving adoption, awareness and impact across every aspect of ecosystem convention.

Status quo: Project bounties aka domain based treasury strategy

Currently individuals or teams present proposals to the common good treasury in the form of bounties that pay out with relatively subjective deliverables or against KPIs unrelated or detached from the essential resources provisioned by the network - namely coretime.


Individual off-chain teams structured around a project or within subjectively defined domains e.g. infrastructure, marketing, research, user interfaces.


Money cashflows experiments and there is no expectation of return. Risk falls heavily on all involved.


Effort and resources are external to the protocol resulting in scattergun targeting, low conversions, high cost, lots of duplicated effort and often capital flowing to incumbent data monopolies.

Results: depletion of shared resources, popularity contests, degradation of culture, loss of talent, people are busy (burned out) but not effective, limited financial upside and often downside.


impossible to objectively define, assess and reward in a generalisable way.

Future facing: Coretime bounties aka direction based treasury strategy

By identifying coretime demand as the primary benchmark for assessing spending effectiveness we can rethink treasury financing, project development and organisational structures from the ground up.


Anti-disciplinary (full stack) on-chain collectives partnering ecosystem native talent with external creators and patrons organised optimistically via pure proxies to deliver coretime impact and sharing in upside together.


Money advanced (like a record deal) and recouped against income generated by coretime collectives.


Effort and resources are driven into the protocol resulting in more focused targeting, higher conversions, lower costs and capital staying within the emerging economy as it is recouped from successful experiments.

See YouTube’s 2012 ‘Original’s initiative’ where they advanced funding to creators and recouped against advertising revenues. It was a huge PR, awareness and adoption success that was followed by a second year incubator.

Results: conservation (and expansion) of shared resources, meritocratic contests, elevates culture, recruits talent, people work smarter, opportunity for large financial upside, downside capped with treasury taking risk.


Possible to objectively define, assess and reward in a generalisable way.


By establishing the essential purpose of common good treasuries as Coretime Bounties, we can begin to better design, develop and evaluate impact based proposals whilst encouraging collaboration between existing ecoystem contributors and external talent that can create positive rather than zero sum games.


Related work with Introducing an alternative financing strategy, structure and partnership for maximising the potency of Kusama’s treasury


good writeup, I appreciate the graphics.


  1. Increasing coretime demand is very high in the hierarchy of possible goals, but not the only one; for example the advancement of Web3 or the delivering of value to humanity as a whole might align with the core values of Polkadot, but not be directly measurable in coretime usage.
  2. There are more immediate goals that can be argued to feed into increased coretime usage, but might not immediately measurable or only indirectly correlated. For example, initiatives working to improve the developer experience in the ecosystem will arguably lead to increased coretime usage in the future, but will have only minimal short-term impact. Initiatives working towards the establishment of value-adding collectives might increase short-time usage, but could be hard to measure in a direct way.
  3. As a next step, it would be useful to more explicitly lay out how “coretime collectives” can be imagined.

Sorry to be blunt but right now ‘Web3’ is just a bullshit marketing slogan, so before we bang on about delivering “value to humanity” we should probably just focus on making the basic system work.

As Ghandi famously said…

Be the change you want to see in the world

Yes people are discussing a lot of stuff, and yeah maybe this will have some impact in the future, but its irrelevant because it’s all subjective.

Let me illustrate with an example leading on from the Agilecoretime RFC1

(Agilecoretime)… provides a means to allow Polkadot to capture long-term value in the resource which it sells.

Let’s assume DX is terrible per your point. When is it ‘good enough’?

It’s good enough when there is demonstrable demand for the product being sold - aka coretime.

Now imagine DX makes fantastic strides, everyone agrees that it is fantastic, super easy to use and yet there is still no demand.

Now see an alternative perspective where we assume DX is fine, it’s other stuff that is missing. Now imagine coretime demand is generated through some witchcraft without improving DX. Where does that leave everyone?

Now imagine that people stopped dancing around the problem and focused collectively on trying to stimulate direct demand for the product polkadot sells.

“Usage for your product is like oxygen for ideas.” - Matt Mullenweg

The real elephant in the room, is no individual, team or project has done it yet.
People have tried a lot of stuff, but it hasn’t worked, hence, maybe we should start from scratch.
Driving coretime demand this is HARD.
You either SUCCEED or your DON’T.
That is a meritocracy.
This is a GOOD thing, unless you’re just here to grift whilst the ship goes down.
All else is an excuse for pissing more time, talent and money down the drain.

This future is inevitable

Coretime collectives


You can see some of the early thinking here Outcomes over Activity - evolving Kusama’s chaotic credentials:

Stop thinking PMF (Product Market Fit) and start thinking CMF (Coretime Market Fit).

Think of coretime as some newly discovered resource - like Crude Oil - only before people knew what it could be refined into.

In Mesopotamia around 4000 B.C., bitumen - a tarry crude - was used as caulking for ships, a setting for jewels and mosaics, and an adhesive to secure weapon handles. Egyptians used it for embalming, and the walls of Babylon and the famed pyramids were held together with it.

We are all “Coretime Prospectors”.



To riff a little on the Polkadot City analogy in the coreplay appendix, you can think of a coretime collective as a professional football team.

Right now Polkadot City is a team of great players who don’t yet know how to play as a team, because they’re used to playing for their own clubs in their own leagues (parachains or relay).

Not only that, they don’t even really know the game they’re supposed to be playing.

The team occupies an empty stadium (blockspace) and are funded by a benevolent owner (treasury) that is fast reaching the limits of their patience.

They’re playing in a league flush with money, but very little soul and for the most part, the young fans (token holders) have only known success winning trophies, but are suddenly coming to terms with the fact that they’re in danger of becoming a fading force - without the financial firepower to compete with the biggest clubs or retain their most prized talent.

Everyone kinda agrees that football is a bit boring, outdated and corrupt, but it doesn’t seem like anything will change that.

Into this confused mix a new manager is parachuted in (coretime), a quirky, multi-lingual type, with a strange name and no obvious heritage, who does not fit easily within existing domain conventions.

“who?” ask the fans who expected a marquee name they could trust, not some artistic statement.

With limited resources, the manager sets about dismantling the club’s processes and culture, creating a new training regime, youth development policy, training regimes and encouraging alternative ways of playing.

He introduces yoga to the beer loving players, buys young talent no-one has heard of from countries they didn’t know existed on the cheap. He adopts an innovative playing style that confuses opponents and creates a team spirit based around winning in style by encouraging experimentation.


Initially none of it makes sense and there are lots of complaints from fans, but suddenly the team start winning games (filling blockspace, generating network revenues), the players start playing a new brand of football and they start making the other teams look like relics of a bygone era.

With the shackles of convention released, old players are rejuvenated, new ones rise to become the best in the world - the fans can’t believe their eyes… they’re in football fantasy land…

They have quite literally changed the game

(There is a proper explaination coming, but think of this as a palate cleanser).

(if you were an Arsenal fan c. 2003/4 you might recognise the story).

The league tables are coming, now we need the teams, the games and the results.