Retro Funding: Moving from broad to narrow scoped rounds

Recently the learnings & reflections of Retroactive Public Goods Funding 3 have been published, featuring detailed accounts of badgeholder feedback and key learnings which the Collective is aiming to address in the next iteration of Retroactive Public Goods Funding (Retro Funding).
One of the key learnings has been that the broad round scope overwhelmed badgeholders and applicants. Among the most popular requests by Citizens has been the transition of the Retro Funding program to more focused and smaller rounds. This post outlines how Retroactive Public Goods Funding will transition from a single monolithic type of round to multiple types of narrow scoped rounds.

What is scope?
The scope of a round outlines the type of impact that is being rewarded. Round scope can be understood as a spectrum, ranging from a very narrow and opinionated scope to a very broad and inclusive scope. Both extremes have tradeoffs:

  • A narrow scope, which drives clarity for builders, requires the Foundation to express a more opinionated view on impact or for Citizens to come to a high level of social consensus on a convex decision.
  • A broad scope, which makes it hard to drive predictability for builders as it’s hard to anticipate what will be rewarded, gives lots of freedom to citizens to shape the round based on their personal opinion.

Learnings from rounds with a broad scope

Previous rounds of Retro Funding (1, 2 & 3) featured a very broad scope, in which all types of impact made to Optimism were rewarded. As the rounds scaled in size, key drawbacks of this approach were discovered:

  1. It overwhelms citizens in their voting decisions: The different nature of applications makes it hard to compare impact and difficult to have focused discussions on specific types of impact or applications. Additionally, broad scope and slow iteration cycles, puts high pressure on the round, leading to single-shot optimisations from voters within the retro round such as proactive reward decisions, instead of behavior which aligns with the repeated nature of Retro Funding.
  2. It adds difficulty to the builder experience: It is hard for builders to understand what is in scope and what impact is being rewarded, in previous rounds builders often asked if their contribution was within the round scope. Creating predictability for builders is core to building the flywheel driving the Optimism Collective.

Introducing Retro Funding rounds with narrow scope

Based on learnings of rounds with a broad scope, the Collective is going to experiment with narrow scoped rounds, which are expected to introduce a number of advantages:

  1. Drive & measure builder behavior: A narrower scope allows builders to better understand what will be rewarded in the future. It allows the Collective to focus marketing efforts on reaching the relevant audience for each round. Further, it enables improvements in the measurement of impact created as a result of a Retro Funding round. Measuring the effectiveness of Retro Funding is key for the Citizens’ House to be able to make informed allocation decisions.
  2. Adapt round design to scope: Different types of impact can be addressed by different types of round design. By leveraging a narrow round scope, we can embrace the different types of contributions and optimize for the most accurate impact assessment within the scope of the round.
  3. Prioritisation: In its current form, Retro Funding has taken an approach where “everything is in scope”, resulting in a lack of focus. Multiple types of rounds allow the Collective to prioritise a subset of impact.

In the following Retro Funding experiments we hope to validate these hypothesised benefits of narrow scoped rounds. Based on learnings in future rounds, we will sharpen our understanding of how best to set the scope of a Retro Funding round. Our goal is that citizens will gradually be involved and take control of the scope setting process.

Prioritisation is hard

In the past, a broad scope allowed us to be inclusive and reward all types impact within the Collective, the transition to narrow scoped rounds requires us to make prioritizations which will result in some types of impact not being rewarded by Retro Funding. The goal remains to reward all impact made to the Optimism Collective, we expect that these short term optimisations get us closer to achieving this goal in the long term.

What to expect moving forward

For the remainder of 2024, Retroactive Public Goods Funding will exclusively experiment with rounds featuring a narrow scope and pause the execution of broad scoped rounds.
To advance the transparency of the design process, the Foundation will open source plans for the proposed rounds in 2024 shortly. You can find more information on our path towards a more open design process here


I would prioritize

  • Revenue, who is driving sequencer fees, doesnt have to be open source
  • Developer Tools, allows developer to build more product pertaininig to OP stack
  • Open Source: open source projects
  • User Acquisition, who has been driving user growth on OP stack
  • Project Onboarding; those driving projects to build on OP
  • Education; those providing education resources that are accessible to everyone

Interesting approach! Makes sense to categorise specific focuses & I’m curious to learn which areas get prioritised. Will all of these categorised retro rounds run simultaneously?


Revenue doesn’t need to be limited to sequencer fees. We should explore other creative revenue sources.


I think this can be an important metric in the future, but realistically the amount of sequencer fees generated at the moment is negligible compared to the amount of OP being given out in RetroPGF.

The dApp that generated the most fees still only accounted for about 30 ETH - equivalent to around 25,000 OP or less than 0.1% of the 30,000,000 OP distributed.

When we get dApps that are generating meaningful amounts of sequencer revenue then of course this will matter more.


Is there any write up on which web3 sectors OP wants to focus on ?

Have seen the impact=profit meme coming from here but still not clear on what kind of impact does OP seek to maximise !


Welcome to the collective @solarpunkmaxi !Check the Essential Intents!


This is a good way to look at it and ensure that builders from different categories (scopes) are covered. The critical point is creating scopes and ensuring that the scopes address various collectives


I like the direction of narrowing down scope and support the suggestion @plugrel has brought forward. Am I correct in understanding that this essentially means more specific categories for upcoming rounds?


We are seeing talk about more categories with reward amounts allocated for each and the rounds running more often. Which is great :+1: for those who are building retroactively but without knowing the scope of work to head towards this makes things very unclear in the short term or for anyone who has been building blindly since the end of RPGF3…

It would help if we all knew what we needed to be working towards specifically rather than shooting in the dark. Folks have their rewards from the last round and need guidance on what to build.

Let’s not waste everyone’s time & energy by waiting until the last second to inform the collective on what these requirements are and give everyone an ample amount of time prior to the round application phase beginning in order to let projects utilize their resources properly & efficiently.

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Simplicity and direct focus: Makes sense!


This is a valid evolution of the rewards ecosystem. Narrow scope will help projects and badge holders alike to optimize efforts and prioritize higher impact initiatives.

I’d also love to see preliminary qualifier rounds, which weren’t attainable with such broad rounds before. Now the community can be more selective, and funds will be allocated in a more sustainable way.


Interesting direction. With the proper direction, projects can focus specifically on what they love doing with a direct approach instead of just anything(This makes it easier for contribution onboarding IMO).
@plugrel has some good areas to prioritize as long as viable metrics are provided. For me, I believe that the following should most definitely be prioritized:

  • User Acquisition
    -Project Onboarding
    -Developer Tools

When do you think this will be decided? Will their be a council who votes? Or will Badgeholders/Delegates vote?

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I am personally extremely happy to see the RPGF program redesigned, ofc as a former reviewer and as someone who has worked in grants for a couple of years I most def feel the frustration of creating a very inclusive grant program which can become a target to malicious individuals, but also can attract the wrong initiatives because of the broad focus.

Interested in participating in the new design process and I have one question…how will people know what to work on if the program is being redesigned? Like the people that started out after RPGF3 might start working on projects similar to those that got funded in RPGF3 and could in theory do redundant work if the scope of the program changes :smiley:


While I understand the sentiment, this need proactive work during voting, perhaps updating the operating manual to scope and define evaluation matrix.

An existing challange with DAO is one with louder voice gets an advantage over other even if their rational is false; availability heuristic . This gets more complicated when you have to convince very small group of people and even when you have influence on parties involved in that group.

We should and must support projects building on optimism as they are generating sequencer fees; the output, but we also need to focus on input.

Project A- secured 1M $OP in grant generating X amount of fee and Y number of transaction
Project B - self, community funded or without support from our DAO generating half of A

So, should we consider A as having a better impact and hence better reward? Aren’t we double funding A while neglecting B, Shouldnt this be the other way around? I am certian which option to choose unless badge holder operating manual defines the impact valuation framework otherwise.

A diverse group of badge holder, promoting reflection and awareness on the goal of RPGF(during voting, all hand calls are good but also on discord and other social platform) could help tackle challenge one, the second one will always remain a grey area just like the defination of public goods even after a plethora of research, debate and literature are clearly stating its scope.


It’s good idea to run narrow scoped rounds, I think. It’s easier to measure impact exactly.


I would like to see more funding for the Arts.
I am a blockchain artist and sometimes create solidity contracts that serve an artistic purpose but they are also innovative uses of the technology.
For example
I have a contract that creates generative art from code in the contract and mints two on-chain NFTs at once, sending one to the previous minter and the current minter.
I also have a contract that generates prayers and prints them out on a physical device and puts them on-chain.
Also maybe you could fund the publishing of blockchain books and more rounds of Digital Art.

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This seems like a more manageable process for delegates and citizens, which is definitely a step in the right direction before things become way too intense. Glad to see it!