[REVIEW] [GF: Phase 1 Proposal] Agora

Project Name: Agora

Author name and contact info: Charlie Feng (https://twitter.com/charliecfeng; charlie@voteagora.com)

I understand that I will be required to provide additional KYC information to the Optimism Foundation to receive this grant: Yes

L2 recipient address: 0x0e2cd794602152772a19c5eb7bf221ccafdabd9d

Which Voting Cycle are you applying for?: Phase 1

Grant category: Tooling

Is this proposal applicable to a specific committee? Yes. This proposal falls under the Tooling/Infrastructure committee.

Project description:

Agora is a new set of features natively deployed to further enhance the Optimism governance infrastructure. We’re building a tool to extend governance functionality specifically for the Optimism ecosystem to enable a new set of features for delegates that weren’t possible before – liquid delegation.

Our goal is to unlock and better empower the most important segment of stakeholders: highly engaged delegates, large token holders, and funds. Furthermore, our code base will be open-sourced to allow future builders in the Optimism community further build on top of these capabilities.

optimism-demo-live

Agora aims to make governance participation a frictionless and transparent process. We believe a robust governance process is key to attracting higher quality contributors, better ROI proposals, and ultimately what enables an ecosystem to grow and thrive. We’ve seen success in terms of increase in participation rate and new delegates from our experience helping Nouns DAO. However, each DAO is unique in its own ecosystem. As a result, we plan to implement a feature-rich experience that’s tailored towards what Optimism’s ecosystem needs.

Core Deliverables:

  • Enabling liquid delegation features: proxy contract that unlocks features like partial delegation, re-delegation, time-bound delegation, override & voting permissions to unblock funds and whales who are unable or unwilling to delegate today. [detailed scope below]
  • Governance activity feed: highlights of delegation, ownership change, voting, and other governance related activities. Goal is to increase the transparency of proposals and governance processes for various stakeholders in the community. [detailed scope below]
  • Enable KPI tracking: research and implement MVP of project tracking. Surface real-time and historical metrics publicly via Google Sheets or API. We believe this will enable other stakeholders to run analysis (e.g. run pivots) and better understand outcomes and ROI by tracking goals vs. actuals. [research & investigation process outlined below]

Detailed roadmap & specs:

Workstream 1: Liquid delegation

  • Partial delegation – where instead of delegating all your tokens, you can choose how much to delegate, and how many people to delegate to. (currently researching the best implementation here)
  • Re-delegation: allows your delegate to delegate to another person, up to x times. (this will enable delegates to step down, or others to step up)
  • Time-bound assignment: empower a voter for limited duration, votes are automatically revoked at the end of the period.
  • Tokenholder override (co-delegation): allows token holder to temporarily use the votes without un-delegating (enable token holder to step in on issues they really care about without undelegating, thereby reducing the risk of delegation)
  • Learning touch points: Provide update on feedback from delegate/users research of most desired features and their use cases

Workstream 2: Governance activity feed

  • Detailed activity feed: highlights of delegation, ownership change, voting, and other governance-related activities
  • Real-time API access: surface this data feed real-time via Google Sheets or API - this will enable anyone (delegates, stakeholders, or other builders) to access this information, make visualizations and run pivot tables on top of it.
  • Easily accessible delegation and voting data (including historical)

Workstream 3: Research process around KPI tracking

  • Week 1: research and interview key stakeholders (delegates, builders, Labs team)
  • Week 2-3: design 2-3 methods of tracking and measuring key metrics
  • Week 4-6: build MVP of top voted method of tracking
  • Week 7-11: deploy, implement and operate the MVP (ideas are only as good as the level of execution)
  • Week 12: measure and submit public post on retroactive, learnings and results.

We believe that composable advanced features will open up a whole set of new opportunities. Where engaged delegates can run their own, quick, pivot analysis and builders can create visualizations and toolings.

Ultimately the goal is to reduce the amount of coordination and trust it requires to delegate, therefore increase delegation, and ultimately empower OP delegates.

Project links:
Website: TBD (We will be creating an Optimism specific website upon approval)
Twitter: TBD
Discord/Discourse/Community: N/A
Please include all other relevant links below: Examples of community links for Nouns (https://nounsagora.com/, Twitter: @nounsagora)

Additional team member info:

Argo brings forth a team of builders and operators with deep operational, product and development experience. Our team has led large and complex organizations as an executive, while also having half a decade of experience in crypto contributing to over 30 projects.

  • Yitong – Product lead & design: co-founder of Vector DAO, and previously design + product at Coinbase.
  • 0xcaff – Engineer: Built the v1 of Agora, previously engineer at Coinbase.
  • Tom Taubkin – Protocol Engineer: Contributor to several defi projects, previously engineer at Coinbase.
  • Charlie – Operations and community: prev. co-founder of Clearco ($2.5B fintech startup backed by Softbank, scaled from 0-600+ people in six years).

Please link to any previous projects the team has meaningfully contributed to:

Previously, Agora was customized and deployed for the Nouns community. Over just under 1 month, the platform has become the default platform for delegates with 19 statements from delegates representing 127 nouns (>25% of all votes!) and 25 statement submissions from builders who are seeking delegation.

On an individual level, Yitong and Vector DAO have done over 30+ projects in web3 (protocols, NFTs, DeFi).

Relevant usage metrics:

  • Default app used by Nouns for delegation (representing >25% of all votes)
  • 25 statements from Nouns builders who are seeking delegation, later completed successful delegation race with 952 votes cast for 21 new delegates in under 4 weeks of progress

Competitors, peers, or similar projects:

Sybil.org, Optimism Gateway, Boardroom, Karma can be broadly classified as similar “governance tooling”. However, we see toolings like Boardroom, Karma and Optimism Gateway as not competitive in any way, but complementary to Agora and will further enhance the ecosystem experience together.

Agora is less focused on analytics and more on enabling new on-chain capabilities in order to unlock specific delegate use cases to open up a new segment of participants.

Our goal is to continue building on top of the governance ecosystem and make the stakeholder and delegation process a frictionless, first-class experience.

Is/will this project be open sourced? Yes.

Optimism native? Yes. Similar to our project with Nouns, what we build for Optimism will be deployed, hosted, and implemented specifically for the Optimism ecosystem’s specific use cases. We will also have dedicated engineering and product resources for continuous development.

Date of deployment/expected deployment on Optimism: 4-6 weeks post approval

Ecosystem Value Proposition:

What is the problem statement this proposal hopes to solve for the Optimism ecosystem?

  • We’ve been fans of the innovations Optimism has made in its initial delegation flow at the time of OP token claim. However critical to the functioning of the DAO, this project has only been a one time effort to respond to the token event, versus an ongoing effort to invest in delegate tooling. As a result, we’ve heard feedback that the current structure of delegates sometimes feel like it’s frozen in place, with no way to highlight inactive voters, and no way for new qualified delegates.

How does your proposal offer a value proposition solving the above problem?

  • We view Agora as extending the project of delegation, specifically focused on reducing friction and increasing transparency to drive participation. Our vision is to create liquidity around vote delegation such that over time, token holders can learn who the best delegates are, and funnel more votes to them so that decision making power is always held in the hands of highly engaged and qualified participants.

Why will this solution be a source of growth for the Optimism ecosystem?

  • We believe that high-quality delegates is critical to the future of a vibrant ecosystem. “Show me the delegates, and I will show you the outcomes.”
  • However, in order to foster an ecosystem of high quality delegates, supporting infrastructure is required to help enable and empower these delegates to act independently, yet in a controlled manner such that it’s trusted by the broader voter base.
  • Success to us means that Optimism DAO has a vibrant and high quality contributor ecosystem. We believe reducing friction and improving the governance and stakeholder experiences is where we can help support that vision.

Has your project previously applied for an OP grant? No.

Number of OP tokens requested: 50,000

Did the project apply for or receive OP tokens through the Foundation Partner Fund? No

If OP tokens were requested from the Foundation Partner Fund, what was the amount? N/A

How much will your project match in co-incentives? We will not be able to provide co-incentives as Agora does not have a token.

Proposal for token distribution:

How will the OP tokens be distributed?

  • We are requesting a grant to support the build, implementation and servicing of this project and do not plan to distribute the tokens. Tokens will be used towards engineering and product implementation build a native solution to Optimism. This also includes the cost of dedicated product operations to maintain and engage the Optimism voter ecosystem.

Over what period of time will the tokens be distributed for each initiative? N/A

Please list the milestones/KPIs you expect to achieve for each initiative:

  • Voter participation marginal increase: 20% (We measure this by isolating the marginal voter participation via the proxy contracts we deploy to show the impact of Agora rather than other reasons)
  • Number of Votes gained
  • Marginal votes gained as percentage of total votes
  • Number of Delegates participating
  • Number of New Votes delegated using these features
  • Percentage of New Voting power delegated to these features
  • Number of Net New Voters on Optimism
  • Net New Voter participation as percentage of total voter base

In order to isolate the impact, we will track all of these via our contract (tracked on-chain, we will publish a Dune Dashboard) and client-side usage. This will help measure the marginal impact Agora is bringing to the table.

Why will incentivized users and liquidity on Optimism remain after incentives dry up? N/A

Please provide any additional information that will facilitate accountability:

As a governance platform, transparency and decentralization is key to our belief. We will take measures to maintain transparency and avoid centralization of power by taking the following measures:

  • Make Github repo public within 1 month (with proper documentation to come over time)
  • Publish all data monthly to public google sheets, or equivalent (such as API or on-chain mirror)
  • Long-term commitment towards being a neutral party: current Agora team members added together will commit to not represent more than 2% of voting power.
15 Likes

Cool idea. I didnt quite understood, your team has already implemented what you are proposing here with Nouns, right ?

Nice proposal, Agora Team. It seems well thought out and would add robustness to the functionality of Optimism’s voting system.

A question: Who will be responsible for maintaining future upgrades, bug fixes and system integration tweaks, going forward after the grant funding (50k $OP) runs out?

3 Likes

Apologies, fat fingered and pressed ‘enter’. Great questions, adding some thoughts below:

@FilterBySpam Appreciate it! Yes, we’ve implemented for Nouns last month and starting to see some good adoption and metrics there.

With Optimism, there will be quite a few fundamental differences such as: ERC-20 vs ERC-721, Snapshot vs Compound Governance, and the two orgs are culturally quite different from how existing workflows work. As a result, it’ll be quite a different build and white-gloved implementation for this to be effective. However, we will certainly be taking a lot of lessons learned from Nouns to help us shortcut takeaways there to be more effective for the Optimism ecosystem.

@Ovetta. :pray: thank you, we believe it’ll help improve participation and unlock new blocks of voter base.

We will be responsible and have budgeted in time to fix bugs and add changes post-launch, as it’s critical to adoption and a successful implementation. Longer term, we hope to develop a relationship with Optimism to maintain and continue building future upgrades as we want to be an active contributor here to stay. However, in the case that does not work out, this is why we believe in composability and making this open-source. So that others can pick up and continue to build on top of it as well.

3 Likes

Thanks for this well written proposal. I’m super excited about liquid delegation in particular and think the amount requested is reasonable especially for what it can unlock for Optimism governance.

I am an Optimism delegate [Delegate Commitments - #37 by linda] with sufficient voting power and I believe this proposal is ready to move to a vote.

2 Likes

I am an Optimism delegate with sufficient voting power and I believe this proposal is ready to move to a vote.

1 Like

This unlocks so much for us and I suspect facilitates a lot of other interesting work due to the public repo and API. If this proposal didn’t exist, my hope is that at some point Optimism governance would’ve done an RFP for something like it regardless.

Would it be possible to bake in a few touchpoints as well to gather some delegate/user feedback on what may or may not be desirable/useful?

4 Likes

@linda @GFXlabs Thank you and appreciate the support!

@jackanorak we’re big believers of composability and building in the open as well. That’s great feedback, thank you.

We were intending to do user research with delegates and participants to inform our roadmap and product design, however, this is great nudge – let us add that formally to the proposal as well where we’ll add an update to summarize our learnings:

  • Workstream 1: Provide update on feedback from delegate/users research of most desired features and their use cases [updated]
1 Like

Just chiming in to say this looks like a sweet tool and a welcome addition to gov tooling. Excited to see what your team can build!

3 Likes

This is a great tool! This can definitely elevate governance in general and I look forward to seeing this being implemented in Optimism.

2 Likes

I’ll also add that I think this is extremely cool! I look forward to seeing the impact that this tool has on Optimism governance!

1 Like

In the past, we have been hesitant to support Governance tooling to add unnecessary clutter.

Agora seems to add new, innovative functionality to increase the voter / delegate UX.

In particular, we are impressed by the ability for liquid delegation - adjusting more parameters to empower token holders; sub-delegation, vote limitations, and expiration dates, to name a few.

Reducing friction in the delegation process will lead to greater rates of Governance participation.

2 Likes

Agora brings such a useful tool. It could be a step forward in decentralized governance. I am curious to see (if it is the case) how it would be adopted !

2 Likes

Thank y’all for the support :heart: we’re also very excited to see adoption and how it might influence behaviors

3 Likes

@zcf first of all, thank you for a well-prepared proposal, it seems like a tool that can unlock hidden potential in the DAO governance. I’ve read it carefully and it sparked some questions that I’ve listed below:

  1. Is the work that you’ve done for NounsDAO open source and published already?
  2. Could you summarize briefly what is already done and what still needs to be done/rebuilt for Optimism?
  3. You mention, that the requested funds will be used to “support the build, implementation, and servicing of this project” - could you specify what exactly you mean by implementation and servicing? I’m guessing it means hosting and maintaining the service yourself - if that’s the case, it would be great if you could specify how long can we expect this service to be provided as included in the grant amount and what you expect to charge for maintaining it afterward (just so that we’re fully aware of consequences of adapting it).
  4. You provided the detailed work plan for Workstream 3, do you have a similar work plan for the whole project?
  5. Do you have in mind any breakdown of the requested grant amount? Even in high-level bricks, how exactly are you planning to spend the grant?
  6. What exactly do you mean by KPI tracking? Is it tracking the KPIs of the governance process or KPIs of specific projects handled by the governance? Not sure if I understand what “key metrics” refers to here.

Sorry if the questions are a bit too in-depth. To make it clear - I think your proposal is well-written and very promising and the requested amount seems reasonable. I just want to manage expectations and make sure that what we are voting for and what you are planning to build are more or less the same thing. :slight_smile:

3 Likes

I fully support this. Very nice.

1 Like

Thanks for the thoughtful questions @kaereste, not at all, really appreciate you taking the time to read through our plan.

Is the work that you’ve done for NounsDAO open source and published already?

The repo is currently public and can be found here. It’s a little messy as we’re in the process of adding better documentation and change log / contributor process to make it more friendly for anyone who wants to contribute or make PRs (should improve a lot over next ~4-6 weeks as we’re in process).

Could you summarize briefly what is already done and what still needs to be done/rebuilt for Optimism?

Here’s our first/implemented version of Agora for Nouns DAO. While screenshots can’t show too much difference, it’s only the client app (I would say arguable not too different from existing comparable like Boardroom and Tally, different UX but similar stuff, I’m a fan of both of theirs).

While client side looks similar, there are some significant technical differences: ERC-721 vs ERC-20 and Snapshot vs Compound Governance that we’ll need to adapt for, which will take ground up rebuilding.

However, what we’re focused on with this Agora proposal is more on enabling the core functionalities of liquid delegation and governance activity feed + KPIs. Functionalities like sub-delegation or time-bound delegation that’s today not possible. Long term, as we’re open-sourced, we hope others will build on top of them in the future.

You mention, that the requested funds will be used to “support the build, implementation, and servicing of this project” - could you specify what exactly you mean by implementation and servicing? I’m guessing it means hosting and maintaining the service yourself - if that’s the case, it would be great if you could specify how long can we expect this service to be provided as included in the grant amount and what you expect to charge for maintaining it afterward (just so that we’re fully aware of consequences of adapting it).

We plan to host the current version of what we ship here for OP forever, fully open-sourced. However, as we’re passionate about governance tooling and ecosystem growth in general, we would love to continue building new features, adding improvements, and help drive participation for the OP community.

We have budgeted around 3 months timeline for this project, with first weeks 4-6 dedicated to shipping, release and bug fixes. And then the following 1-2 months towards operationally driving adoption and engaging the community. As someone who’s come from an operational and scaling background, I strongly believe that building it is only the first part of the work required to get something adopted and used. (As a result, we decided to cover the operational cost ourselves such that it’s not coming from the OP budget proposed here)

We’re hoping to come back to OP after some initial proof of usage points and continue to identify (a) areas and features we can build to better support the OP community and (b) key adoption and usage metrics that we can help drive for a V2.

We’re passionate about improving the governance experience in general for all parties in the ecosystem.

You provided the detailed work plan for Workstream 3, do you have a similar work plan for the whole project?

For the Workstream 1 and 2, our goal is to ship a full build + implementation that’s specific to OP ecosystem/governance process in 4-6 weeks of this proposal passing.

Although, I’m personally a fan of milestones in general, happy to carve out (or more specifically, show you or other interested parties demos and get feedback) check points along the way if helpful – would actually love that if you or anyone else is open to it :sweat_smile:, we just didn’t want to burden nor create an additional overhead to chasing down delegates or folks pre-launch.

Do you have in mind any breakdown of the requested grant amount? Even in high-level bricks, how exactly are you planning to spend the grant?

The full 50K budget is for subsidizing part of the product, design and engineering (as this involves smart contract engineering, that will take up majority of the cost). While we are also planning for 3-6 weeks of operational and governance experiment work, we will be doing that on off our own balance sheet for this v1.

Largely speaking, we forecast the budget for this project to be a loss (or breakeven at best) to prove our ability to execute and build a relationship with the OP community as a contributor.

What exactly do you mean by KPI tracking? Is it tracking the KPIs of the governance process or KPIs of specific projects handled by the governance? Not sure if I understand what “key metrics” refers to here.

We’re starting off with more general governance process metrics and stats. Ones we have in mind are: voting history, highlights of delegation, ownership change, delegation and re-delegation activities, voting data, and other governance-related metrics that we might hear as we do our research (dedicated 1-2 weeks here on gathering feedback).

However, we have intention of getting more granular towards specific projects in the future.

2 Likes

Appreciate the support! We’re starting to do some research already in regards to implementation and are excited to get the community’s feedback.