Upcoming Retro rounds and their design

Based on Round 3 learnings, Retroactive Public Goods Funding (Retro Funding) is transitioning from broad scoped rounds to more narrowly scoped rounds; you can find out more about this transition here.
To provide more transparency into the Retro Funding design process, in line with Optimism’s path towards Open Metagovernance, we’re sharing plans and considerations for Retro rounds for all of 2024. You can find the announcement of upcoming rounds here.

Scoping & Sizing retro rounds

Scoping retro rounds

The scope of a retro round outlines the type of impact that is being rewarded. Feedback from Retro Funding 3 suggests that narrowly scoped rounds can lead to significant improvements of the builder and voter experience. In scoping retro rounds in 2024, the Foundation aimed to identify the types of contributions which are most impactful to the Collective and where Retro Funding is best suited to support. The detailed scope of each retro round will be announced 8-12 weeks before its start.

Sizing retro rounds

The aim for sizing round rewards is to provide OP rewards which accurately reflect the impact within the scope of a retro round and provide a strong incentive for contributing to the Collective. The amount of rewards for each round will be announced 8-12 weeks before its start.
The Foundation will size Retro Funding 4 & 5, and will proposes round sizes for Retro Funding 6 & 7 to be ratified by the Citizens’ House. In the future, the goal for this process will be to gradually transition to be more community-led, which may involve the creation of a Budget Board, or similar, in future Seasons.

Citizen workload

While the number of retro rounds is increasing, the goal is for individual citizen workload to not increase and possibly be reduced. In previous retro rounds, citizens’ provided feedback on the time intensive labor of participating and shared concerns that increasing the number of rounds will increase the required time commitment of individual citizens. Retro Funding is actively exploring designs & experiments which enable an increase in the number of rounds while not impacting individual citizens workload.

More rounds, more experiments

Running multiple types of rounds allows us to run different experiments on the best ways to scale and improve Retro Funding. Below you find an overview of the experiments planned for 2024.

Measuring impact

One of the obstacles citizens faced in Retro Funding 3 was the challenge of evaluating different types of impact using the same approach. Not all impact is the same, and different types of impact are best measured via different approaches. Below you find a summary of the framework which the Foundation applies to explore appropriate approaches to measuring different types of impact.

Contributions to Optimism can be categorized as either upstream or downstream of Optimism blockspace.

  • Upstream contributions improve Optimism itself, this includes improvements to the OP Stack and Optimism Governance
  • Downstream contributions improve the experience of Optimism users, such as builders and consumers.

Upstream impact is measured via the aggregate utility of Optimism users

To evaluate impact which is upstream, we need to understand how the contribution has increased the aggregate utility of all users of the Optimism Platform. With the goal of understanding how a particular contribution has increased the aggregate usefulness of the Optimism Platform. Measuring this utility, and proving causality, poses a significant challenge.
Example: how do you measure the impact of a particular protocol update of the OP stack?

Downstream impact is measured via the utility derived by individual Optimism users

To evaluate impact which is downstream, we can gather and analyse signals from individual users which express the utility derived from a contribution. E.g., how has the contribution benefited builders and consumers?
Gathering and analysing these signals presents significant challenges, such as sybil resistance and vanity metrics.
Example: see downstream impact, a metric in which dev libraries are evaluated based on the output of the builders on Optimism which use them

Upcoming Retro Funding experiments are designed to best address the different nature of upstream and downstream impact:

Experiment 1: Impact Juries :man_judge:

  • Thesis #1: By sorting badgeholders into smaller groups dedicated to evaluating a specific set of applications, impact measurement is improved.
  • Thesis #2: Sortition, the selection of public jurors by using a random representative sample, allows us to effectively scale citizenship

In Retro Funding 3, citizens requested a more focused evaluation experience. Sorting citizens and projects into groups has been a popular suggested solution. Impact Juries will be used to reward upstream impact, as this category can benefit from a qualitative approach to measuring impact.

Experiment 2: Metrics-based Evaluation :abacus:

  • Thesis #3: 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 projects.

In Retro Funding 3, badgeholders voiced that non-standardized impact metrics added difficulty to the voting process and expressed desire to directly vote based on metrics. Examples of this approach include Buidl Guidl’s impact calculator and OpenSource Observers impact vectors. Metrics-based evaluation will be used to reward downstream impact, as this category can benefit from a quantitive approach to measuring impact.

Upcoming Retro Rounds

Retro Funding 4: Onchain Builders

  • Scope: Reward onchain builders for driving the adoption of Optimism
  • Timeline: May 2024
  • Impact category: downstream
  • Experiment: Metrics-based evaluation :abacus:

The Collective is focused on growing the number of active onchain builders. Onchain builders introduce new users to Optimism, drive protocol usage and network effects. In the Superchain vision, onboarding a new user to an OP chain benefits the Collective as a whole. By rewarding these contributions, Retro Funding can further differentiate Optimism’s offering for developers in the highly competitive market of EVM blockspace. This scope is closely aligned with Collective Intent 2 “Grow the Superchain”.

Retro Funding 5: OP Stack

  • Scope: Reward contributions to the OP stack
  • Timeline: Aug 2024
  • Impact category: upstream
  • Experiment: Impact Juries :man_judge:

The Optimism Collective must continue to make progress on its core value proposition to provide resilient, decentralized, scalable compute. By setting the right incentives, many companies, teams and individuals can join the mission of building the most OverPowered Stack.
Rewarding contributions to the OP Stack is closely aligned with Collective Intent 1 “Progress towards technical decentralization”

Retro Funding 6: Governance

  • Scope: Reward contributions which improve the capture resistance and resource allocation of Optimism Governance.
  • Timeline: Aug 2024
  • Impact category: upstream
  • Experiment: Impact Juries :man_judge:

Optimism Governance secures Optimism blockspace, via the Security Council and Protocol Upgrade votes, as well as allocates resources, via Retro Funding and Token House Missions. Thus improvements in governance are core to improving the quality, and driving the adoption, of Optimism blockspace. Rewarding contributions to Optimism Governance is closely aligned with Collective Intent 4 “Improve Governance Accessibility”

Retro Funding 7: Dev Tooling

  • Scope: Reward developer tooling for supporting Optimism builders.
  • Timeline: Oct 2024
  • Impact category: downstream
  • Experiment: Metrics-based evaluation :abacus:

The Collective aims to empower onchain builders by providing a world class developer experience. Equipping builders with the relevant tools and resources is key to achieving that vision and has been one of the key focus areas of Retroactive Public Goods Funding from the very beginning. Rewarding contributions to Optimism Governance is closely aligned with Collective Intent 2 “Grow the Superchain”

Please note that timelines are subject to possible changes and adjustment.

Outside of retro round scope

Contributions which fall outside of the scope of upcoming retro rounds include consumer facing tools, education initiatives and events. The Collective can still support these contributions via Token House Missions.

Whats next?

For each retro round more details on scope, timeline and governance design will follow. As, always, these considerations will be shared with the community for feedback as well as with the Feedback Commission.

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we’re sharing plans and considerations for Retro rounds for all of 2024. You can find the announcement

here

:slightly_smiling_face:

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Contributions which fall outside of the scope of upcoming retro rounds include consumer facing tools, education initiatives and events.

Hopefully, these important contributions may also be elligible for later retro rounds - just not in 2024?

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Sounds like August is going to be busy… hope you didn’t have anything booked for the school holidays anon…!

Otherwise, this looks great, really excited to try out the more focused rounds as it should make comparisons a bit more rational if everything is roughly under the same category.

Also, any teams to get fraud proofs or validity proofs deployed before round 5 is going to be rolling in OP!

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Interesting! I’m eager to learn more about these experiments. It’s lovely that we decided to create batches with dates. It will be awesome to explore this kind of mechanism :sunny:

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Hello, first of all i’d like to say that i’m very excited to see how RPGF 4 has been shaped, and i hope badge holders will have the required amount of time & assessment frame to ease their life.

However I’d like to share my disappointement based on 2 contributions that were rewarded in RPGF3 that won’t fit in any of these 4 catégories following my discord discussion with @Jonas.

The Optimist : The #1 media about the Superchain.
Deeply recognized media in the superchain ecosystem, acting as the gateway between Projects, Superchain chains and End users, investors, other general media.

With 12k subscribers with people like cointelegraph, spartan Group, Ouroboros capital, and so on, our work is necessary on both sides: new Projects to get more recognized, end users to understand how things are working on the Superchain.

This media seems not to fit in any of the 4 catégories, and there is no mission request where we could apply as well.

Last note: The Optimist is being delivered in 12 languages & has always been free, acting as a Public Good. We rely on RPGF to pay the 20 team members.

If there is any Category where our media will fit, happy to discuss this here.

2- Subli: External BD consultant.

I’ve been acting as a Superchain Business development, which is outside my role of Optimism Ambassador, connecting new projects to chain project team, connecting projects to other projects of the ecosystem, connecting chains to the superchain team, networking, guiding projects about grants and other governance or building frameworks.

This work being rewarded for RPGF3, i continued doing this (which i can tell you takes a large amount of time but has significant impact too not only for OP, but for the whole superchain-ask the mode team) in view of RPGF 4.

I understood as well that this contribution doesn’t fit in any of the 4 categories.

I’m seeking confirmation to this too, ir if there is a Category that fits this work.

Thanks again for reading me and clarifying the above.

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While it been said that educator works are hard to measure.

Many dapps and chains get users because educators.
Our hard works turned into on-chain stats for devs.

Can you imagine Microsoft, Intel, AMD, Facebook without marketing?

I love that we now finally seperate round for each categories. Just wish that there is round to reward our marketers.

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clear proposal on what is being considered for this round. But the Education and Media exemption is a low blow, hope they are considered for the next round.

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Could there be some elaboration on this? It seems to contradict the next round of retroactive funding which includes:

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I think in principle this is a great change.

The one area i’m unclear on – there’s content in this that describes value accruing to end users within Onchain Builders. I think this would squarely include consumer-facing apps, so I’d like to hear more about why this class of builders wouldn’t be directly in scope here.

I think my skepticism wrt bloat and misspecification is well-documented here – but if you’re talking about rewarding contributions that add value to users or draw in users, why wouldn’t consumer-facing dapps fall into this category? Why not include them in the general category of builders who bring other builders and users? I can think of a few reasons for this but curious whether the Foundation’s thinking is along the same lines.

I"m not necessarily suggesting a material change, just hoping to get clearer definitions and motivations.

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This better articulates what we were asking. Consumer-facing dapps seem like they should be included since there’s a whole tranche devoted to funding new user acquisition. Which seems like it depends upon consumer-facing technical products for those new users to interact with Optimism.

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Hey all, first of all - super happy to see the foundation listening to feedback and putting in work to try and improve retro funding rounds. This is generally a good step in the right direction.

I have some qualms however with the lack of clarity and/or exclusion of certain types of projects which are entirely legit and add value to the optimism ecosystem

For “dev tools” - it says the following:

But later, it is explicitly mentioned education initiatives are excluded from this design. As a RPGF 4 participant through LearnWeb3 - this is a bit sad for me personally, as we put out a lot of resources and spend a lot of time educating users on the OP Stack and Optimism adjacent technologies (Base and Farcaster, mostly) and have got thousands of devs to build on there.

Even apart from personal motivations, projects like Lefteris’ Rotki seem to be excluded under the new design - because they don’t build “onchain” but build an app that is off chain and surrounds the optimism ecosystem

Could you please provide some clarity on the contradiction mentioned above and why it is the way it is?

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I have mixed feelings…

–First and foremost, it’s sad that this was not voted on, at least part of it, by the Collective ( by the Citizen House). @lavande and co are designing one of the best and most exciting DAO experiments ever, now bicameral.
What’s the point of putting so much energy and care into decentralized Gov, if it’s for the Foundation to impose (practically) all the details of the RPGF for the coming year ? The foundation ‘announces’ the scope, the foundation ‘announces’ the budget (for round 4 and 5)…
I feel like these unilateral announcements are taking us back in time, as if the Collective needed to add extra training wheels (and not, on the contrary, gradually removing them …) I personally believe we now have the tools and the community to do it differently.

–After round 3, there were loud voices saying that education, onboarding, conferences, evangelism, was all but grifting, scammy, etc… These voices have been listened to. Those contributions seems to be explicitly excluded from retro funding.

It will be very interesting to see how Superchain specific educators (the very impactful ones like @Th3Optimist ), conference organizers, ambassadors, will evolve with this.
Will they solicit grants as the foundation hopes (with a one-year lock-in period)? Will they turn to other means of funding (Sponsorship, ads, paywall,:disappointed_relieved: etc…) ?

Beyond the sustainability of existing projects (which, let’s recognize, have been well funded in previous rounds), it’s especially the disappearance of this incentive to attract the next talented educators that saddens me a bit.

I think this category of contributions deserved at least ONE experiment during a specific dedicated Round, even a mini-round, to attempt to do better than in RPGF3.

– I’m also a bit disappointed that this very big RPGF announcement was not matched by a sign of opening and inclusion by announcing, for example, new criteria for citizenship.
This would have brought a bit of decentralization flavor and balanced this top-down announcement.

– But to end on a positive note, the post details the new types of impact evaluation mechanisms (metrics Vs Impact jury) which really constitutes a big plus, I am very curious about the practical implementation.
And very honestly, I remain optimistic about receiving my citizenship one day and being able to participate in this RPGF process.

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I posted some longer-form thoughts here but wanted to call attention to one issue in particular:

I am slightly disappointed that there hasn’t been more engagement in the Citizens House and on the governance forum about the question: “what forms of impact should be rewarded most”.

There have been lots of suggestions about improving the process, scoring algorithms, and UI/UX. All of that is good, but in my opinion that stuff is secondary to the big questions around impact. These questions include everything from “what’s the right ratio of upstream to downstream funding” to “do we care more about newer teams or ones that stuck it out through the bear market”. These are inherently political questions because the answers reveal where people think the OP should flow.

In my view, the role of governance is to help steer the ship to where we think we’ll catch the most fish, not to count and weigh the fish in our net. To be fair, things are certainly moving in that direction, but more could be done to force these hard conversations before rounds are announced.

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So I got mixed feelings on this one too. Mostly negative I am afraid. From both my roles. On the positive note I believe this will make it easy to resign from one of the roles and bring clarity and peace of mind to me. So let me start.

Lefteris the founder of rotki – grantee

As a grantee rotki has been favored by the collective in all the RPGF rounds so far. rotki is an opensource public good, user facing project with a copyleft opensource license (AGPL v3). The collective has recognized our impact and rewarded us. Something for which we are immensely grateful. The biggest part of our developer salaries comes from the OP we have received.

We are first and foremost a consumer facing application though.

Contributions which fall outside of the scope of upcoming retro rounds include consumer facing tools, education initiatives and events.

According to this post we are no longer eligible.

This is sad to see.

Yes I can make rotki fit any of these 4 categories with a little bit of massaging and depending on exact criteria.

  • Onchain builders: We decoded superchain transactions for multiple protocols and deal with all their quirks to attract more users using optimism onchain
  • Governance: Rotki is also a blockchain explorer showing your activity onchain and does support optimism governance with all its quirks. And by god there is a lot of quirks we had to work around. Those who build governance dashboards know.
  • Optimism stack / dev tooling: We are decoding all superchain transactions, understanding their data and providing opensource decoders for them that can be reused by any other project. This probably fits more to dev toolign than optimism stack though as we don’t build on the stack itself.

But the point here being that mainly rotki is indeed a user/consumer facing app and massaging a grant application to apply only with specific parts of our codebase (say only the governance stuff, or only the open source code decoding optimism stuff etc.) feels dishonest/scammy and just trying to milk Optimism for more money.

As a project we believe in integrity above all else. So unless explicitly specified and verified by a foundation representative that we would be eligible for a category we won’t be applying.

We want to thank the Optimism collective for all the support so far. Your support has made a difference for us :pray:

One feedack as a grantee would be that all the communication so far has been one of recurring sustainability if a project keeps building on optimism and the superchain. This new development seems to break with this promise and throws projects under the bus.

Lefteris the citizen – badgeholder

Please don’t judge rotki harshly because of my feedback here. Lefteris the citizen, is not Lefteris the rotki founder.

No more public goods

So I find this deviation appalling. I joined the Optimism badgeholders and became an Optimism citizen because I found the model that there is this protocol that gives parts of its sequence fees to public goods, groundreaking and really promising.

I donated (and later got a bit of OP for it) days of my time for multiple rounds to go through projects and determine their impact and/or eligibility.

I joined to help opensource grow and provide sustainable and recurring funding to opensource public goods.

From conversation with other badgeholders the feelign is similar among many.

Having the foundation unilaterally come in and change that suddenly is insane.

So was it just a meme to pull us all in, have good marketing for the superchain and then when that’s accomplished, we just throw the public goods out?

Decentralization theater

This has been optimism governance in general and not just the citizen house. Token house too. But let’s keep things on-topic.

How the heck can the foundation unilaterally make such a fundamental change as to throw the public goods part of RPGF out when it has been for years part of the identity of the chain and part of every single marketing campaign out there?

Are we the citizens there just for show? The token holders? Isn’t this a DAO?

I am not interested in having a foundation use my name to rubber stamp decision they make just to pretend things are decentralized to avoid any legal trouble.

Progressive decentralization and all that sure, but this is a joke. Everything serious in Optimism is just decided by the foundation and both the citizen house and the token house simply rubber stamp it.

Conflicts of interest

I see nothing here about potential conflicts of interest in the rounds. One of the really difficult things past rounds was being both a grantee and a citizen. Even if you can’t vote for your own project or any project affiliated with you it’s a very difficult thing to be both a grantee and a citizen in a round.

I would suggest, especially now with the trend for smaller rounds to disallow people both having a project in a round and judging the round.

Lots of weird dynamics at play and also … as a citizen who was there … it just feels weird and uncomfortable.

Excluding educators, events and user facing apps/tools

This seems so random. Yes I am biased as a founder of a consumer facing app. No doubt there.

But seeing the good that RPGF has done for projects like (these are just few of many many examples):

EthBerlin → The impact of EthBerlin is immense for the entire ecosystem. Many projects started there.
Otterscan → As a user I can run my own local blockchain explorer. That’s precious.
Week in ETH News → Educates both newcomers and OGs on what’s happening.

Not saying everything should be rewarded the same or that all rounds should have the same allocations. But essentially removing these 3 extremely impactful categories from any round in 2024 is insane.

Smaller and multiple rounds

Yes this is the way. That’s one good feedback I can give.

Impact juries

That I am not so sure about. Who is sorting the citizens? The foundation again right? So this takes power away from the citizen house and into the foundation.

Metrics based evaluation

We all love metrics. But I think this is a meme. Focusing on quantitative metrics can easily become gameable and in the long run hurt the experiment.

Also who decides the metrics again? As many other such experiments have shown (outside of RPGF) the metrics become the impact and the true meaning of impact is lost.

Measuring impact is hard. And not as simple as getting some numbers for each project. I get it that one would want to resort to the safety and ease of just using numbers. In the long run this will hurt the experiment and make projects focus around the proposed metrics to get a better scoring.


That’s all I can think of right now. May add more if I think of it.

As things stand now I am no longer interested in being a badgeholder. As someone who was attracted into this to fund public goods I feel cheated by both the change itself and the arbitrary way with which it was decided unilaterally by the foundation.

Resigning the citizen position will also help me with clarity of mind and the split between being both a grantee and a citizen in case rotki is deemed to be eligible for any round in the future. Plus as a founder of a company and father of a hyperactive 4-5yo I need to manage my time wisely and cutting down on commitments I no longer believe in is wise.

This does not mean I hate optimism or that I bear any ill will towards anybody here. Love the people here, love the energy but am disappointed by all the things I mentioned above and by the direction it’s going.

Hopefully things can improve and perhaps my feedback above can help for this.

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I think your voice is very much needed here.

Especially because you don’t agree with all of the Foundations decisions.

That is, it seems to me, a very important role.

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If we want RPGF to be the driver of Governance impact funding, it should happen immediately at the end of each governance season.

The season finishes on May 15th, and you need to wait 3 months to apply for things you did during Season 5, and in the middle of Season 6 when S6 impacts it’s still in the making. Who amongst the badgeholders is going to remember COC, ACC, GC, GovNerds, and every governance participant 3 months later?

Not to mention probably between KYC and vesting you will be getting your impact compensation by the end of December. This means the work you do between Jan and May gets funded in December.

I wish every Governance participant could “budget” thinking on RPGF but getting compensations almost 7 months later forces Governance participants to budget OP in advance of their work.

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I’m siding with the sentiment expressed here, but I’m less effected since we can probably still get the “Onchain Builders” round with Kiwi News Protocol. In any case, I want to back up some of Lefteris’ points:

1. Decision wasn’t properly ratified by the OP community

The program was formerly explicitly focused on public goods, and the community hasn’t been given an opportunity to have a say in this switch in the narrative. The switch has been somewhat announced or foreshadowed by the OP foundation, but from what I know, there wasn’t a community temperature check to ratify this change

2. Fighting over what constitutes a public good was actually a productive thing

I personally also thought that the fuzziness of the “public goods” definition and all the controversy it created last round was actually really productive. At Kiwi News, we had dozens of blog posts promoting the idea and we had many people learn something about economics. The public goods part really did a lot of memetic heavy lifting.
I personally built Kiwi News to get as close to the platonic “public goods” ideal, and I did this so intentionally because I liked the idea and because I had faith in getting a kickback from the OP foundation later on. This incentive is now, sadly, gone, and I will also be more inclined to not care for it that much.

2. The public goods framing has actually lead to really interesting outcomes

I actually think that those who dismiss the “public goods” idea as an extension of their criticism that its definition doesn’t work (and they point out “pure” and “impure” public goods) should be ignored here as they are unproductive skeptics.
The point is that some founders have taken the platonic public goods idea, and they’ve attempted to actually innovate on the traditional business stack by taking on new risks and innovating on how to build modern organizations. I believe rotki, EthBerlin, Kiwi News, and others are examples of such organizations that went the unconventional way. They are not doing that out of incompetence but to innovate out of previously discovered impasses. This was a good thing, but this incentive has now been significantly weakened.

I’d welcome the public goods concept back, I think it’s what made the program really compelling and innovative.

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