Lefteris RPGF 3 voting rationale, learnings and feedback


With the round having ended, I would like to write a post where I will outline my voting rationale and methodology for this round. Also what I learned and how I think I can improve as a voter. Finally have some feedback for the process.

My voting

Below I will try to explain my voting rationale and what I have been hoping to achieve by participating in the 3rd round of retroactive public goods funding.


My goal is to divide the 30M OP based on what I perceive the impact/value of each project’s public good has been. I want the result of my funding to have as broad an impact in as many projects/individuals as possible. I believe the RPGF process to have the potential to be extremely impactful on a wide variety of projects and individuals.

The project has to be creating some kind of public good. The definition of a public good is that of something that is open, creates value and can’t be captured.

In some cases I also considered future potential of someone’s work though this mostly to help decide amounts towards the end as it was quite hard.

I took into account not only donations/grants funding but also VC/angel investments and any other form of revenue the project has had. The idea follows the impact = profit guidline, just makes sure to not only subtract the value of the grants/revenue but also investments (with a smaller multiplier as they are not income)

That means VC funded projects are not automatically excluded. It just means amounts and revenue matters in my methodology.


First I started by using a spreadsheet and populating it with the projects of the opensource impactful list I had created (minus rotki of course). I slowly started adding more opensource projects consulting with other badgeholders, and then also checking what people sent me in DMs or other social media mentions.

To those projects I assigned various signal values from 1 to 10 which I later intended to scale according to the number of projects.

Then I started checking various lists and had many discussions with fellow badgeholders on what to include and with what kind of signal values from other categories on which I am not as well knowledgeable on such as education.

In the end I came up with a big list of ~210 projects and various signal token amounts assigned to each depending on their impact.

The final amount was determined by the signal multiplier and the following “equation”: amount_of_impact_generated - public_good_classification - grants_donations_revenue - investment_funding

It’s all quite subjective but I will try to explain how I determined the amounts for each variable.

  • amount_of_impact_generated: How well has it affected my life as a crypto native, how has it affected other people I talked to. What has it given to the ecosystem? This is the impact.
  • public_good_classification: Public goods is a very hard to define term. And in the ecosystem we use it for many different things. I assume every grant application is 100% completely public good. Then look into details and add some minus points in this variable (it can only be negative or zero). Things such as token gated, paywalled, not opensource, SaaS, centralized etc. would add minus points here
  • grants_donations_revenue: This is trying to see if the project has already been compensated by enough grants/donations/revenue for the impact they have had. If yes, depending on the amounts this would deduct points.
  • investment_funding: For better or for worse we have had many well funded projects in the round. Depending on the funding raised and time since the raise I subtract points from here. I tried to take into account the foundation’s guidance and argument that investment != revenue and as such the multiplier for the points here was smaller. What this means is that the value affected only extremely well funded big projects very negatively.

It’s possible that the project got so many negative points that the final amount was negative. In that case I voted with a 0 allocation. What’s more I used the 0 allocation when I saw projects from the same org having multiple very similar grants or something that’s a scam.

Once doing this and finishing allocation for most of the projects that I know, had done research on and had heard from friends, colleagues and fellow badgeholders I was surprised to see that I had more than half the $OP left to allocate.

It was at that point that I really realized how much money it is we are giving out and how much impact this can have.

At that point instead of just spreading the rest among the existing projects I set out to find more projects that could use this funding, had some impact and just did not have the brand awareness / marketing that others have.

Spent a lot of days on this up until the last hours of the submissions where I had to slow down due to technical difficulties. My goal was to try and help as many projects that had helped our ecosystem in some way as possible.

I hope that I achieved this in some degree with this methodology and if I participare in future rounds I would like to refine it and reapply it.


Here I want to write a few things about what I learned as I went through the RPGF3 process during the last month. Some are a bit personal so please bear with me.


Why am I doing this? I have been in this field working for the EF since 2014 even before the launch of Ethereum and contributed in a vast array of projects. People call me an OG. Unlike many of the people from back there who have already retired I am still here. Why? I am an idealist and really believe in this field, in opensource and am a big proponent of decentralization. Making money is not what I care about. I care about making the world a better place … yes I know kitchy as heck but I need to explain it in order for the rest to make sense.

Why do I participate in RPGF?

For the “public goods” part. If this program ever became just a retroactive funding program I would not be interested to be a badgeholder and devote all this time to it. I believe public goods (which are hard to define) need to be funded and that RPGF is in a unique position to achieve this.

Learning 1: Nuance is hard

When discussing things in social media, it’s very difficult to discuss nuanced things. No matter how much you try due to the “drama = clicks” algorithm any argument gets simplified to a black or white kind of argument.

And this is really bad because nothing is only black or white.

For example people were saying that I claim all VC funding is bad. That is not what I was going for, but it may very well be what prevailed as the message in social media due to the above.

Learning 2: People seem to trust me

For lists I noticed that many people were mentioning both in the TG, Twitter and the badgeholder calls that they respect me and would follow my opensource list.

To be quite honest this terrified me and made me feel a very big burden of responsibility. My original intention with the list was to try the feature and highlight some impactful opensource projects I know of and use.

Then as more and more people starting sending me projects I did not know of but satisfied the requirements I had set for the list I made a V2 including more (also including some I had missed from v1).

But then I noticed that the same people later were using the fact that they made it into the list as a huge endorsement and advertising it to all other badgeholders. That’s when I stopped making any more lists and tried to make it clear in the list descriptions that this is not an endorsement.

My biggest learning from this is that probably lists can be quite harmful and that I should be really carefu with any endorsements while the round is active.

Also would like to ask for people to trust me less. I am just another dev and I am flawed as hell.

Learning 3: VCs are not bad per se

Okay this may not be a personal learning. I knew that but I think that the narrative got twisted somehow to the point that I had friends who had raised small amounts, were building opensource and had to fire their people due to lack of funding, DM me.

So let me make this absolutely crystal clear. (VC or otherwise) funded projects can and are building public goods

That can be opensource software(e.g. paradigm), can be an open ethereum RPC that they keep open for all to use (e.g. ANKR), can be a team that builds the most impactful QF mechanism we all use (e.g. gitcoin).

The argument I tried to make during this round is that size of funding matters. Much as we were asked to take into account any grants/donations/revenue I argue we should very well take into account investments also. With a different multiplier than revenue/grants/donation indeed as it’s not income ofcourse.

This is why I specifically called out only 3-4 projects that are literal giants and have raised multiple times the amount of the entire round with the most impressive case being more than half a billion.

I believe that at that point they don’t need the RPGF and that it’s unfair and greedy of such projects to leverage their huge marketing and brand recognition to get many votes in RPGF.

One approach to a solution for this would be to better formailze and apply the “equation” I mentioned in the rationale section taking the amount of funding into account.

But I still don’t know how to fight branding recognition and popularity contest problems. As this is not limited to funded projects. Many bootstrapped projects also have very good branding recognition.

Now all the above said, I have a lot of other issues with the VC model which I won’t go into here (already analyzed many times in Twitter and other writing) but they are offopic to RPGF or public goods.

Learning 4: Sometimes I can be too intense

The reason I gave the background section above was to explain why I am here and why I am doing this.

For better or for worse I can sometimes be too passionate and intense and my tone can make some people feel uncomfortable. I even got a Code Of Conduct violation warning from the foundation for my criticism this round (it was not specificied why exactly, nor was any other action required on my part – just a warning). So I assume it was for my criticism in Twitter.

I stand by everything I said and I don’t believe calling out the truth, criticizing what’s wrong and speaking truth to power is wrong. I will always call a spade a spade. In that respect I do not consider criticism as a CoC violation.

But the tone matters and some times I can be intense. I am a hot-blooded southerner guy. To that end, if I made any of my fellow badgeholders or other people uncomfortable during the round due to my tone I would like to apologize. That is never my intention.

I will keep doing what I do and if I sometimes become too intense please bear with me. Will try to not overdo it.

Feedback for RPGF rounds

In this section I would like to give as much feedback as I can on the round process now that I have it fresh.

Include investment funding

As I asked many times during the round and also tried to explain why we need it above, I strongly believe asking for all funding details including investment is paramount for us badgeholders to make informed decisions.

Individuals versus teams

I am a bit confused when I see individuals having their personal grant and then also teams where that individual works in having another grant. I don’t know what to do in that case. Perhaps we could have different subrounds for individuals and different for teams?

Collections of projects versus projects

In a similar tone there is grants like Protocol guild which is a curated collection of core projects and researchers. Some of those have their own grants. How should we handle those? Voting for both of them makes sense since core development is important but then some projects end up double dipping.

It would make sense to handle such grants in a totally different way but not sure how yet.

Lists seem to be harmful

I am not sure if lists are good. As I wrote in my “learnings” I got terrified of how people used my list. And also definitely saw some people abuse lists, either by creating a single list with the Protocol guild (sorry that’s wrong – no matter how much I like them), or by being a “lazy” badgeholder and just copying lists.

There was also a lot of criticism on lists in the TG with other arguments mentioned.

One many people were afraid of is people blindly copying list amounts

Allow lists without amounts, just recommendations

Not sure if we should have lists as I said but having lists without amounts seem like something pretty obviously missing. Giving amounts to a list preconditions the list reader in a pretty ugly way. It’s much better to leave amounts to each individual badgeholder.

Create local app/browser local storage webapp

We have had too much trouble with Cloudflare and other technical problems. What this entire thing is, is just a spreadsheet that can and should be configured locally and submitted in one RPC call to whatever backend you guys want.

But working on the ballot should not be a roundtrip to the server. Keep it all local. I wasted 4 hours simply modifying the amount and scaling some amounts up/down in the last day.

Allow CSV import

Since many of us worked on a spreadsheet please allow us to just export this into a CSV and import/submit the results via CSV.

Better project application process

I don’t think FFA works. We had so many projects that we needed to have some people do reviews and still we ended up with many projects.

I think the old way of having a nomination based system is good enough to filter lots of spam out. Perhaps there is better ways but free/open to all is not a good idea.

Longer round duration

Even with better application process I guess we will see more, perhaps double the amount of projects next RPGF round. This is something that @kaereste suggested at least once and I think I agree. We need a lot more time and rounds should be many months long to give us ample time to work on these ballots and do this research.

Badgeholder compensation

In the last month I spent 2-4 hours per day, with some days(like today) being a lot more, working on RPGF and either researching the applicant projects, or giving feedback and/or thinking on the process.

Just like the other badgeholders all this is pro bono and we all do it cause we believe in the impact this process can have.

But as the workload increases and the time commitment gets even crazier (which is why the “longer round duration feedback”) we should think of scaling the process up by thinking of some scheme for compensation of all this work.

Brand recognition/popularity contest

This is not an RPGF only problem. It’s in every such voting system. We have seen it very strongly in gitcoin too.

It’s very hard to fight some project’s grant recognition and the rounds often devolve into a popularity contest. People just vote for what they know or have heard of and not necessarily what has had the most impact.

I don’t know a good solution here. If we could find ways to solve it … that would be an amazing achievement.

Using the median of votes

I am curious to see how this round plays out. I understand the median was used so that extreme votes and collusion is less likely. Extreme amounts in either way should not reflect on the final result too much.

But the weird thing with the median is it’s counter intuitive. As I posted here

  • Project A has 17 votes and the median is 150k OP
  • Project B has 90 votes and the median is 145k OP

Even though project B was deemed impactful by 90 badgeholders as opposed to 17 it takes less funding. This is super counter-intruitive.

And for the people who were celebrating their project being in a big number of ballots they don’t seem to understand after 17 it’s not important as the more there is the more possible it is that they include voters who just wanted to give a small amount to a project since they know it pull the median down.

It’s a natural reaction to search for projects you know and without judging the impact give a smaller amount and without wanting to actually penalize them.

Also as abcoathup mentioned in TG, “Projects not making (or not likely to make) quorum are incentivized to promote to every badgeholder so they can get any RPGF.” And this is what happened with the DM/mentions spam in social media.

Still curious to see how this round plays out and all these are things to consider about the methodology.


Lists have made life easier for badgeholders - one click of a button and you have a ballot completed.
Imho, if Optimism introduces compensation for badgeholders, it should also penalize for not completing a ballot. And introduce probably some checks to ensure that badgeholder at least tried to review applications.

Also, lists were the primary tool for co-ordination among badge holders. I am not sure if we can see the votes of badgeholders. But Lists definitely acted as sign of approval and preference from badgeholders.

Lefterist, you forgot you were famous. :rofl: :joy:

Please, pick my project next round. :stuck_out_tongue:

1 Like

Hi Lefteris,

I’ve read through your detailed post on the RPGF3 process, and found your now nuanced views on VC funding a bit surprising. Your perspective seems notably different from the impression given by your Twitter presence, which provides valuable clarity.

Regarding the total grants (even from other DAOs) received by Rotki so far, could you share this information? It’s a relevant inquiry, considering that these grant amounts might exceed what is typically raised in pre-seed/seed rounds, where founders face equity dilution. It’s worth noting that not all founders have the connections and standing that you, as a self-professed OG in the field, might have, which can influence their access to non-dilutive funding sources like grants.

There also seems to be a potential conflict of interest in your dual role of receiving grants for Rotki and participating in grant allocation. Have you considered stepping back from the voting process, or refraining from applying for grants for Rotki, to uphold ethical standards?

In your assessment of open-source projects, how do you distinguish between those that qualify and those that don’t, given the prevalence of open-source elements in the industry, such as smart contracts? Is Rotki entirely free and open-source, or does it have a paid version?

Lastly, for transparency and to address the potential conflict of interest, would you be open to disclosing your RPGF ballot?

Thank you for your insights and contributions to the community, and for considering these points.

Hey Jem,

Thanks for reading. This seems like your first post in the forum so perhaps you are not aware of the RPGF rules. Your questions seem to be a bit focused on myself and rotki and not on any of the feedback or learnings in the post. I will answer as much as I can but would also like to stay on topic.

Your perspective seems notably different from the impression given by your Twitter presence,

It really is not. But as I mentioned social media, and especially twitter, propagates the posts that induce rage and hides everything else, so all nuanced takes get lost there.

Regarding the total grants (even from other DAOs) received by Rotki so far, could you share this information?

All related grants from optimism we have gotten are in the application. rotki has been operating since 2017 and is still here mostly thanks to grants and donations. I can’t really say a full amount as I don’t even know it. It’s over 6 years of operation with a team that’s been growing.

There also seems to be a potential conflict of interest in your dual role of receiving grants for Rotki and participating in grant allocation. Have you considered stepping back from the voting process, or refraining from applying for grants for Rotki, to uphold ethical standards?

Yes this is a disclosed conflict of interest. I am not voting for rotki. I am not the only badgeholder who has connections to projects in the round. In fact … every single badgeholder does as would be expected. Check the relevant post here: Badgeholder Conflict of Interest Disclosures

In your assessment of open-source projects, how do you distinguish between those that qualify and those that don’t, given the prevalence of open-source elements in the industry, such as smart contracts?

As long as it’s opensource, with a valid opensource license recognized either by the OSI or the FSF.
But just being opensource does not really mean much. What other badgeholders and myself measured is the impact of the project.

Is Rotki entirely free and open-source, or does it have a paid version?

rotk is fully opensource under AGPL version. Anyone can copy/fork us and or build upon our code as long as they also opensource. AGPL is a copyleft license. As many other opensource projects rotki is trying to monetize in various ways and has a premium subscription (which just unlocks stuff in the opensource code). Our revenue from that is about $2k-$4k per month depending on usage.

Lastly, for transparency and to address the potential conflict of interest, would you be open to disclosing your RPGF ballot?

I am under no obligation to disclose my ballot. Votes are private. I don’t need to prove that I did not vote for rotki, this is being checked for every single badgeholder by the foundation, not only for me. This is why the results are taking until the 11th of January to be produced.

I hope these answered your questions. If you have any questions about the actual round process and the suggestions for improvement next round feel free to chime in further.



Thank you for taking the time to address my questions. I appreciate your willingness to engage in this discussion, which I believe is very much on-topic, given that it concerns the RPGF round process and your stated voting rationale.

Regarding the total grants received by Rotki, I find it somewhat concerning that there isn’t a clear accounting of these figures. In the realm of business, especially for a venture that has been operational since 2017, having a solid understanding of financial inflows, including grants, seems crucial. This isn’t just about transparency but also about responsible financial management. While I understand that tracking exact amounts over several years can be complex, a rough estimate would still be valuable. This information is particularly pertinent when considering the contrast with traditional early funding rounds, where founders face equity dilution. Given the apparent advantage of non-dilutive grant funding, especially for those with strong industry connections, could you provide an estimate, even if it’s broad, to help understand the scale of funding Rotki has accessed? Is it in the millions of dollars at this point?

On the potential conflict of interest, I acknowledge that many badgeholders have connections to projects in the RPGF round. However, the specific concern here extends beyond not voting for one’s own project. It includes the possibility of indirectly influencing the funding landscape, such as by assigning lower amounts to potential competitors or projects not aligned with Rotki’s interests. The fact that other badgeholders may also have conflicts doesn’t negate the ethical implications of participating in such a scenario. Would not participating in the voting process be a more ethically sound approach to avoid any semblance of bias?

Regarding the disclosure of your RPGF ballot, I understand there is no obligation to do so. However, considering your strong stance on ethical standards and transparency in the ecosystem, voluntarily sharing your ballot could be seen as a positive step. It would demonstrate a commitment to the principles you advocate and could enhance trust in the decision-making process of the RPGF.

Thank you again for your engagement and I look forward to your response.

Hehe … I wish it was. No it’s not. As I said I can’t answer this question with an exact amount at this point.

I do believe in transparency so a super rought amount would probably be between $500k-$650k since 2017 but this is a rough amount and can be way off. Grants and revenue may not be dilutive but unlike investment you pay taxes on them. And taxes in Germany are high (~30%)

If this seems too little for operating a team of 7 devs (we started with 2) then yes it is. I paid myself nothing for most of the years and now just to satisfy German laws pay myself $20k/year. We are a small team trying to survive.

I acknowledge that if we request VC funding information in the application process (which this round did not ask for) we should also have all past grants from all sources though. And oblige the applicants to disclose them. As both amounts, including the time the projects has been operating is paramount to making a decision with the voting rationale I mentioned.

If that is the point you are trying to make I agree.

Would not participating in the voting process be a more ethically sound approach to avoid any semblance of bias?

No. As in that case we would have no badgeholders. As I said every single badgeholder is not only an owner of a project in the round but also affiliated or friendly in some way with others. This is why we have the post I linked above to disclose Conflicts of interest.

voluntarily sharing your ballot

I am not going to share my ballot at this point. There is a very good reason it’s private and that is to avoid politics and avoid negatively affecting every project in the round and have them asking why did you vote for project X more than me and vice versa. If the ballot had to be open I most probably would not participate in the round due to the problems I mentioned above.

Conflict of Interest or collusions is a valid concern. It is the job of the foundation from now and until January 11th to verify all ballots for Conflict of Interest violations and collusion. Also the median method instead of the average was chosen to try and combat collusion.


Thank you for disclosing Rotki’s estimated grant funding. Given your focus on VC funding in the RPGF context, it’s crucial to recognize that most projects, given the option, would prefer $600k in non-dilutive grants over VC investments. However, not every project has the same level of access or influence to secure them.

Regarding the disclosure of your ballot, while not obligatory, it would be in line with the high ethical standards you advocate. Transparent governance, even if it leads to scrutiny or questions, is fundamental for trust and accountability in community-driven ecosystems. As a proponent of these values, sharing your ballot would set a strong example for others.

I would rather see the ballots of highly esteemed badgeholders that spent like 2 seconds on the ballot and posted a “ballot completed” on twitter. I am just curious to know if it is true. Additionally, there is absolutely no way to verify if what @lefterisjp discloses is an actual submitted ballot.