Upcoming Retro rounds and their design

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.