Introducing Open Source Observer: measuring impact of OSS contributions to the OP Superchain

We wanted to provide an end of year update on OSO. There are three parts:

  1. Our evolution from a small project on a large team to a full-time dedicated effort
  2. Completion of our Builder Grant milestones
  3. Retro on how OSO performed during RetroPGF 3

1. OSO’s evolution from a small project on a large team to a full-time dedicated effort

In our Builder Grant, we wrote:

It’s important to note that OS Observer is not a standalone entity. It’s a project currently being incubated by the Hypercerts Foundation and the Network Goods team at Protocol Labs. Therefore, we refer to “founders” in this context as the team who came up with the idea for OS Observer and who have been the primary internal champions for this project.

This was written in June 2023. A month later, we “nucleated” (spun out) from Protocol Labs.

We received a small nucleation package from Protocol Labs to put towards some of our startup costs and we launched an independent entity called Kariba. Open Source Observer is the first of hopefully various things we build together.

So … same mission, same name, same people … new home … and hopefully, more focus, more freedom, more impact!

2. Completion of our Builder Grant milestones

Here’s our proof of work for each of our Build Granter milestones that were due by 1 December 2023.

Project name Milestone Type Milestone Proof of Work Status
OS Observer Benchmark Data indexers completed for Github, package managers, dependencies, and blockchain data (eg, Etherscan, TheGraph, custom indexers) See the OSO monorepo and check out the indexers, all run via GitHub Actions :nerd_face:. Currently includes onchain, GitHub and npm source data. Complete
OS Observer Benchmark Release of first impact ROI metrics, combining on-/off-chain data for any project or team building on Optimism We created an insights repo to house our impact data science work and have been published various reports. For example, here is our report on 8 ecosystem impact vectors. Complete
OS Observer Benchmark Over 500 projects with complete profiles (ie, linked Github organizations and wallet/contract addresses) The easiest place to view all the projects were tracking is also on our GitHub in the OSS Directory repo. We blew through the goal of 500 and currently have over 1000! Complete
OS Observer Benchmark V1 of interactive dashboard and impact evaluation interface released to the public [stretch goal] The V1 shipped in early November, well ahead of schedule. See Complete
OS Observer Critical Release of public API that can generate Lists :sparkles: for RPGF3 impact evaluation We ended up serving static datasets in the form of speadsheets rather than an API. This seemed more useful given the composition of badgeholders and what we learned about voting strategies from our user interviews. Complete
OS Observer Critical At least 15 unique Lists :sparkles: generated on EAS and shared with badgeholders We shipped a total of 9 Lists include one List that was a roll-up of 8 Lists. Our insights repo contains a number of open source List experiments too. We did a retro on our lists here. Complete

3. Retro on how OSO performed during RetroPGF 3

Here is a copy-pasta of our team retro on how things went.

  • Given we were a new project with no website or brand until RetroPGF started, we are very happy with our first impression. We generated significant awareness and pushed data-driven analysis everywhere we could. The value add of this nature of work appears to be recognized by a majority of badgeholders and projects.
  • We built a very powerful indexer, but our initial data warehousing infrastructure was not well-equipped for what we needed to do. This prompted a migration to a new data warehouse that should be more flexible and performant than what we built previously. As result, we dropped the ball on the Collections View feature.
  • We learned that most of the power comes from being able to do custom analysis (eg, what Carl did with his own queries and python notebooks). As result, we want to prioritize getting a data collective up and running that can receive API access and cost-share some of the infra bills.
  • RetroPGF has some requirements and mechanics that are challenging for OSO to accommodate. For example, we don’t have any reporting on non-OSS projects (~50% of all projects). What we view as a single project may choose to represent in RetroPGF as more than one projects (eg, Gitcoin vs Gitcoin Passport). A site like is better for “adding additional comparable fields to the RetroPGF set of projects”, although it has no concept of a “project” beyond how it’s defined during RetroPGF. A lot of integrations and collaborations to explore!
  • The amount of data cleaning work was huge. Getting GitHub and package data is fairly manageable, but we need a better system for tracking contract deployments. This is something we need to discuss with the OP Labs team!
  • No one has any clue how to think about impact measurement. This is exciting because it’s a frontier problem but also means we can’t just ask people “what do you want to see in this box”. There’s a lot of discovery and product testing work ahead of us!

Tagging Grant Council members @Gonna.eth @jackanorak @kaereste who reviewed our Builder Grant for visibility and welcome any feedback or comments :slight_smile: