Proposing a New Metric: Pairwise Community Signaling in Retro Funding 4

Pairwise is making voting to distribute RetroPGF simple and fun. We are now pivoting to make signaling RetroPGF accessible to everyone in the Optimism Community! Pairwise is an open-source, off-chain voting dapp (like Snapshot) that streamlines community signaling by letting users select between just two options and then aggregating their choices into a quantifiable result. Pairwise is designed to be user-friendly and intuitive. Pairwise converts simple subjective inputs into objective, measurable outputs, minimizing the cost and cognitive burden of voting.

Pairwise real potential lies in aggregating data from various voters, allowing them to concentrate on areas where they have expertise. This means voters will spend more time in their areas of expertise.

This has incredible potential to increase project discovery and network effects within our community. This is why with this new version, we aim to give more community stakeholder groups the opportunity to participate in RetroPGF. We will amplify the voices of token holders, delegates, RetroPGF recipients, and badgeholders as community signaling.

Community Signaling as a Metric in Retro Funding 4

Retro Funding 4 is all about Metrics and one of the challenges on a heavy metrics result is that metrics can be manipulated and reductionist. Goodhart’s Law states: When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

Dive deeper on this in this post from Owocki.

Furthermore, impact is more than TVL and number of unique transactions. Not every $100 transaction has the same impact. The impact of a project facilitating remittances would be considered by most to be more valuable than a meme coin, even if the onchain data says otherwise.

Pairwise :handshake: Retro Funding 4

We are eager to put qualitative data onchain and give badgeholders the option to factor in community signaling as an onchain metric for Retro Funding 4 and we have a beautiful new version of our app to do it with!

With Pairwise, the community can engage, discover, review, and rank the types of projects that interest them in Retro Funding 4. We will break the applicants into several categories which will contain 15-30 projects and the community will be able to rank the projects within each category, and then rank these categories as well. In this way, each voter can analyze just a portion of the projects and we can aggregate the results into one final ranking.

Pairwise WIP demo

Major V2 improvements:

  • Mobile first
  • Voter feedback
  • Tinder-style filtering
  • Sound effects & background music
  • Pseudonymous account abstraction

Also the community will not allocate a number of tokens to each project, instead they only rank the projects using filtering and pairwise assessment. This greatly reduces the cognitive load of voting and gamifies the user experience.

The challenges to overcome are the tight timeline and engagement. We will launch a marketing campaign to maximize participation with rewards included from our RetroPGF 3 rewards!

Our proposal is to create four metrics, one for each of four stakeholder group; Badgeholders Rank, OP Hodlers Rank, Builders Rank & Delegates Rank. However we also could create 1 metric and give each stakeholder group 25% of the influence of an aggregated result if adding 4 metrics to the voting UI is seen as too much. Check voting power distribution below.

Voting power distribution


  • Link: Optimistic Etherscan Token Balances
    • WHALE: 10M OP, 50 holders, Votes: 100
    • Diamond: 1M OP, 190 holders, Votes: 50
    • Platinum: 100k OP, 1000ish holders, Votes: 25
    • Gold: 10k OP, Countless Holders, Votes: 10
    • Silver: 1k OP, Countless Holders, Votes: 5
    • Bronze: 500 OP, Countless Holders, Votes: 3
  • Snapshot to be taken May 1st.


  • Link: Optimism Tally Delegates
    • WHALE: 2.5M Delegated OP, 9 delegates, Votes: 10
    • Diamond: 1M Delegated OP, 23 delegates, Votes: 7
    • Platinum: 100k Delegated OP, 40 delegates, Votes: 5
    • Gold: 15k Delegated OP, 64 delegates, Votes: 3
    • Silver: 5k Delegated OP, 175 delegates, Votes: 2
    • Bronze: 2.5k Delegated OP, 185 delegates, Votes: 1
  • Snapshot to be taken June 18th.


  • 1 address 1 vote
  • Retro Funding 4 Badgeholders on June 18th


  • 1 address 1 vote
  • Recipient projects in Retro Funding 4

Every one of those stakeholders will have a Pairwise ranking and those rankings will be aggregated. In order for for a bucket to provide relevant information to the collective we need:

  • Badgeholders: 30 participating and at least 5 finalizing each category
  • Recipients: 100 participating and 10 finalizing each category
  • Delegates: 100 participating in Pairwise and 10 finalizing each category
  • Holders: 400 participating and 20 finalizing each category

If one of the groups doesn’t meet the criteria, it will not be qualified to be a metric for voting in Retro Funding 4. At least 1 group needs to meet the minimum engagement requirements or no data will be added to the round.


The app will be ready for community signaling as soon as possible after projects are finalized. We propose to begin the signaling before the official vote begins and end a week before the voting has ended so that the final results are solidified for the last week of badgeholder voting.

Ranking Math

To determine the final rankings, we are debating three potential distributions that will be shared shortly in the comments below. Our goal is to gather feedback from the community on which distribution model will give the ideal distribution.

Reward Distribution for Pairwise Voting

The reward system is designed to promote stakeholder engagement. Pairwise is as fun as voting gets and we want to spice it up rewarding stakeholders signaling their preferences to the collective. We are allocating a total of 4,000 OP from our RetroPGF 3 Rewards, with 1,000 OP designated for each stakeholder group (Badgeholders, Recipients, Delegates, and Holders). Each participant’s chance of winning increases with more categories they vote in.

Raffle Tickets:

  • For every 10 points earned, participants receive one raffle ticket.
  • More tickets mean higher chances of winning.

How to Get Points::

  • Category Participation: Finalizing the first category gives 10 points.
  • Weighted Bonus Points (For Delegates and Hodlers bucket):
    • Whale: +20 points per category
    • Diamond: +15 points per category
    • Platinum: +10 points per category
    • Gold: +5 points per category
    • Silver: +3 points per category
    • Bronze: No additional points
  • Max Tickets: 25% of the total number of categories. Once you have ranked 25% of the categories, you do not get extra points for ranking more.

Note that each stakeholder group has an equal total of 1,000 OP for distribution. A Holder may accumulate more points than a Badgeholder, but this will not affect the distribution among Badgeholders—it only enhances their chances within the Holder category.

At the end of the voting period, 10 winners will be randomly selected from the raffle tickets in each group. This ensures every participant has a chance to win, with active members enjoying improved odds thanks to their contributions to the collective. If a participant is both a Badgeholder and a Delegate, 1 vote will put them in both raffles!

Anti-Gaming Measures and Transparency

  • The Pairwise voting process is not like snapshot, it will be very easy to track how users use the application using traditional analytics tooling to separate authentic users from bots and people who are just clicking through to promote their own projects.
  • If the ballot submission looks like they are only farming the reward or just voting for their own projects without putting in an authentic effort to judge other projects, we will not give rewards to that voter, but we will still count the ballot. For the first round we will count every ballot even if we believe someone is farming the system for rewards.
  • We will maintain complete transparency in the reward calculation and distribution process. Everything will be public.

Join us in Shaping the Future of Pairwise

We would love to hear your feedback and shape this experiment collectively. We’ve received massive support from the collective and want to continue evolving to suit the needs of the community to the best of our capacity. We’ve been working on this prototype that will internally launch on May 15.

You can share your comments here, or DM me at @Zeptimusq on Telegram, where we can go more in-depth and schedule a demo call.


Thanks for this! We completely support the gamification of RPGFs and believe that this will be a good way to go forward. However, we have some concerns on the algorithm behind pairwise selection.

From a game theory perspective, the outcomes are entirely dependent on the order in which choices are presented to voters. In cases where there are no Condorcet winners, a pairwise selection process will not necessarily yield social optimum. Consider the following example:

Voter 1 prefers A (7) > B (2) > C (1)
Voter 2 prefers B (4) > C (3.5) > A (2.5)
Voter 3 prefers C (5) > A (4) > B (1)

Even if the social optimum is A, (13.5), we can reach any of the 3 choices:

  • We can reach A by pairing (B, C) in Round 1, then (A, B) in Round 2.
  • We can reach B by pairing (A, C) in Round 1, then (B, C) in Round 2.
  • We can reach C by pairing (A, B) in Round 1, then (A, C) in Round 2.

Given this, we’d love to have more clarification on the transparency pairwise selection mechanism, and happy to iterate with design :slight_smile:

– Jay, Stanford Blockchain | Twitter


Pairwise is using the Budget Box algorithm, and is very similar to the Elo rating system which is the dominant way of doing this work in the default world (chess, video games, professional and college sports, etc.) Pairwise converts these simple subjective inputs into objective, measurable outputs, minimizing the cost and cognitive burden of voting.

The main difference between the 2 algorithms is that the budget box takes into account the previous comparisons not only the 2 that are facing at that time, giving a more accurate result with less comparisons.

What we are doing for this version is using pairwise comparison to order the list, which users can drag and drop to organize according to their preferences before casting their votes.And then to decide the rankings, we are exploring different distributions that we will share here asap. I love your passion to engage in iterating the design!!

has pairwise been used in previous RPGF rounds?

Hey @jackanorak
Yes, it was deployed on and some users created some
ranked attested lists which if they were badgeholders, their lists were showing up in the RPGF3 Voting App UI

Also, we processed all applicants and provided detailed 31 categories that was done in a very short time window after project validation before the round was started.

Now we are going to have it with a renovated UX based on the feedback we had. Improvements based on the main feedbacks were:

  • Easier and more accessible so we brought it up on mobile. You can pause, and resume whenever you want.
  • Anonymity with a zkProof method.
  • Enhanced BudgetBox-Algo for better distribution.
  • Adding roles like holders, so everyone can vote and make a signal to badgholders.
  • Wheightening the votes based on different roles.

This makes governance more fun, more accurate, and more engaging for all OP community. For better visibility, I added some screenshots, but please don’t miss the PROTOTYPE.

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@Zeptimus while experimentation around Retro Funding voting is always welcome, I want to share some guidelines and concerns around this.

Guidelines for impact metrics:

  1. Impact metrics should be complete, meaning they need to include every project
  2. Metrics need to be reproducible and verifiable
  3. Be ready by June 7th so it can be ingested and experimented with like all the other metrics. We’re aiming to start the final curation of metrics with badgeholders on June 12th or earlier.

Some concerns and risks I want to highlight:

  1. This would create an attack vector for the round, in which projects will aim to achieve a high rank on Pairwise.
  2. The sign up for projects will close on June 6th, so the timeline for reviewing all projects and getting the metric ingested into the system seems very problematic.

Here’s a personal suggestion on how Pairwise could run an informative experiment here. You could explore the research question of how the outcomes of the Pairwise voting system compare to the outcomes of Retro Funding 4 voting using impact metrics.
Retro Funding 4 is experimenting with the hypothesis that by leveraging quantitive metrics, citizens are able to more accurately express their preferences for the types of impact they want to reward, as well as make more accurate judgements of the impact delivered by individual contributors. You could run a Pairwise vote on retro funding projects adjacent to Retro Funding 4 voting and ask the community which voting outcomes they prefer! This could give the community relevant insights into which system produces preferable outcomes.


Thanks Jonas, for your guidance.

The idea of running an experiment to compare the outcomes of Pairwise with Retro Funding metrics is excellent. Pairwise has shown promising results in individual tests, and we are eager to see how it performs on a larger scale aggregating the results.

This would apply to any metric and especially emphasis on quantitative ones they are gameable. What is so strong about Pairwise is that in order to get a high rank you have to be voted. There is nothing you can do as a project owner to raise your Pairwise rank other than do a great job that stakeholders wanna vote on your project.

We can’t get it done by June 7. One challenge we’ve been facing is the reactive nature of our workflow in response to announcements. Let’s experiment with this round and if the outcomes are positive, we can refine the product for future Retro Funding initiatives.