Upcoming Retro rounds and their design

To me this is the biggest miss. I’m guessing that they are tentatively including in an as-yet-unannounced Round 8 (or something like that), and the foundation didn’t want to commit to more than a year of rounds at a time. But the result is that a lot of important projects are getting left out (or at least the least very confused) for a full year.

My recommendation to the foundation would be to expand the criteria for Round 4 to explicitly include user facing apps and tools that are not necessarily deployed onchain, and make a commitment to a “community” round (events, education, etc) in the future.

This is a related but independently important issue. The tradeoff of going with smaller focused rounds is an increase in the amount of administrative overhead to run them, which in this case has resulted in some categories being left out for a year. That’s pretty painful especially for projects that provide value in a time-sensitive manner (like events) and not in a way that can compound over time (like software).

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The fact that being a badge holder has added any extra stress into your life is a clear sign that something is wrong. :expressionless: We would gladly take the role knowing that at least someone else doesn’t have to suffer so much but also have second thoughts :thought_balloon: about being both a badge holder and a project in the round.

Optimism has always been a bit ahead of itself when it comes to trying new things before refining the old ones.

We believe it would serve the collective better if our most honorable builders and delegates were able to be part of this decision making process for the round design of RPGF.

The way that the badges have been distributed also appears to be an issue. COI is obviously occurring on some level due to those who are part of competing teams or products. Some suspicious activity was reported when the badges were distributed during the last round which led to our project being threatened with a round of reports to try getting us suspended.

There is no way to tell whether someone is voting :ballot_box: with malice. It does appear that we were targeted in this way by certain individuals who purposely chose to give us low scores in order to reduce our rewards in round three. Sabotaging others progress and opportunity to get the funding they deserve and sometimes desperately need for operations to continue.

This has turned into a political game of strategic chess play and Darwinism where only the strongest will survive.

Who made the decision to let badge holders receive funding beyond getting paid for the work they are performing for the collective as a token house member to review projects in a non bias manner?

Imagine seeing the Optimism collective from an outside perspective. You see folks who are allocating funds to projects they favor the most and are also receiving a large amount of funding for their own projects due to the high visibility they have over other projects that are not participating in the round as a badge holder.

The marketing and advertising gimmicks need to be dropped completely in order for this program to work properly !

It’s time to revise, redefine, and realize many of the things that are fundamentally wrong with the way that the design for the round has been implemented in the past for us to move forward with grace throughout the future.

Hopefully :crossed_fingers: there will be further revisions and resolutions between the foundation and the collective members to continue on.

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I would echo @lefterisjp sentiments here.

In particular, the loss of a ‘Excluding educators, events and user facing apps/tools’ round is very sad to see. In my view, Optimism’s brand was its commitment to the broad concept of public goods funding in the wider Ethereum ecosystem, including many long-serving projects offering real value. I picked out a random few that I think would no longer qualify:
ZachXBT
EthBerlin
MetaGov
Zero Knowledge Podcast
Sassal
…and probably I could pick 100 more that I personally think rock.

Dropping this wide concept narrows the culture quite a bit, an insular turn of sorts.

I understand that a major target of this new round was to eliminate various grifts associated with what is seem as the more qualitative world of education and culture. But the answer surely is to explore better ways to assess culture. Since Optimism was really the only RetroPGF game in town we now close off the exploration of how to do that (longevity seems one obvious means to disrupt fly-by-night culture/education grifts). And so what we see is the grift is cured, but we had to kill the patient to make it possible! I have seen this in many DAOs, good folk are collateral damage to the ultra-focus on the bad folk.

A few other observations:

The timing of this - during the rise of degen financial nihilism - is particularly disheartening, effectively eliminating a pillar of the Regen vision that Optimism pioneered, RetroPGF. Now, to my eye, the Round is virtually indistinguishable from any other L2s, except with slightly unique retroactive part.

That this decision seems to have been mostly dictated by the Foundation - unclear to me if this is what happened - should be a red flag for the Token and Citizen’s Houses about how the big decisions are really made. This is one of THE biggest decisions that could have been made, right at the very core of Optimism’s identity and by extension image to the rest of the ecosystem.

Metric, qualification, bureaucracy…you have to be careful about these. As a University lecturer I have seen how pernicious these can be with - and note the topics - education and community completely distorted in the name of gamification.

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Its is my understanding that Citizens were not looped into discussing or decisions on round design, timelines and scope. While it is understandable to gradually decentralize and so on, and Citizen’s main feedback about workload was heard, I think it would have been useful to have their input heard along this design process.

Specially taking into account this Retro Funding will apply for the rest of 2024.

Especially curious to learn more of the specifics on the selection of public jurors: will they be sorted into groups by expertise and then randomly sampled?

Would also like to echo this, if not as a badgeholder as part of the Collective Feedback Commission.

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need to spend more time thinking through this issue, but one thing that jumped out at me:

unfortunately, longevity doesn’t strike me as an effective filter. many of the grifts (which, if i had to guess, represent cumulatively a large amount of the overall bounty distributed) have longstanding track records of prolific grant hunting and more often than not are heavily entrenched where they tend to operate.

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Harsh but necessary words. What bothers me is the fact that there was no evaluation of community sentiment to legitimize this change. Disappointed to see you leave as a badgeholder, but you must do what you think is necessary.

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Hi everyone! Thanks for the engagement; it’s always reassuring to see how much our community members and contributors care about the Optimistic Vision. Addressing a few questions on the governance side below. @Jonas will respond to specific questions about round details and design in a separate comment.

  • There is no change in support of public goods. While we’ve updated the brand and changed the shorthand for Retroactive Public Goods Funding from “RetroPGF” to “Retro Funding,” there has not been a change in commitment to supporting public goods. The refreshed branding has no impact on the inclusion of public goods within scope. If the scope were changed to exclude public goods, governance input and approval would have been requested.
  • More clarity around the types of public goods that will be rewarded. In Retro Funding 3, badgeholders and builders requested more clarity around the types of contributions and impact that will be rewarded. Category-specific rounds provide clarity on the specific types of contributions (including open source, public goods) that will be rewarded in each round, and do not change the nature of Retroactive Public Goods Funding.
  • Sharing this plan is a step towards more community involvement, not less. Open sourcing our Retro Funding design plans for the next year is a step forward in terms of transparency and insight into how and why the Foundation makes decisions about these parameters (see Phase 1 on the Path to Open Metagovernance.) The next step in the transition towards community-led scope setting and round sizing will be to ask the Citizens’ House to ratify proposed rounds (ratification of round sizing begins in Round 6), followed by Citizens making these proposals autonomously. We are still fully committed to these being Citizen responsibilities, and continue to follow the gradual approach outlined here.
  • The same process will apply to the parameters pertaining to Citizenship. @optimistic_emily, our Product Lead for Citizenship, is conducting the foundational research required to develop an informed strategy on Citizenship. As part of Phase 1, you can expect Emily to continue open sourcing this work on Citizenship, which will eventually include the path towards governance-set Citizenship criteria.
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  • There is no change in support of public goods. While we’ve updated the brand and changed the shorthand for Retroactive Public Goods Funding from “RetroPGF” to “Retro Funding,” there has not been a change in commitment to supporting public goods. The refreshed branding has no impact on the inclusion of public goods within scope. If the scope were changed to exclude public goods, governance input and approval would have been requested.

This statement makes no sense to me. It’s contradicting what the original post is saying.

The fact you rebranded RPGF to RF alone and threw so many projects under the bus speaks volumes on the intentions.

On the rest of the points … I know the foundation is trying to listen to feedback.

Then please listen to this. Stop deciding everything. This is supposed to be a DAO? Then let it become one.

We have been waiting years for this to happen and were patient. This rebranding away from public goods is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.

I know the foundation has good intentions. I don’t think you mean bad in any of the things you do. I truly don’t.

So please if you listen to anything from me, listen to this.

Step away and let Optimism become a real DAO.

And this goes for everything. From RPGF, to token house, citizen house governance. Everything.


I think your voice is very much needed here.

You can’t imagine what it means to me coming from you @joanbp. Thank you.

I personally have had enough. When I repeat myself more than a number of times on a few things and see no change I then choose to spend my time better elsewhere.

Optimism is lucky to have you, Brichis and all the other awesome people. Knock some sense into them and build this into the awesome system it can become.

There is so much potential here. Don’t let this energy go to waste.

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Hi everyone, although I was only involved in RPGF3, but I have been actively following the project since RPGF2, which inspired me and other Contributors, particularly from CIS, to work for months to promote the RPGF ecosystem and idea.

Why do you so much devalue the contributions of many community members?

Using my example: I’m working on the CIS community by bringing in Influencers, I’m working on the new OP Collab project where I’ve brought together 10 projects and contributors in the last couple months, I’m working on my own audience by creating videos about becoming an Ambassador for Optimism and doing AMA sessions with developers. Not to mention the delegation pool, where we’ve managed to engage over 60k OP of our audience at various times.

Isn’t all this work an indication of the long term outlook of our work?

I’m sad to hear that the work over the last six months since submitting to RPGF3 is worthless to the Collective. And it’s even sadder to realize that those who are now hearning about the next rounds will not physically have time to prepare their own projects in the 1-1.5 month period before submitting to the next rounds.

I apologize for speaking only for myself and my communities, but I’d rather tell you what exactly bothers me with real examples. And yes, I fully agree with the words of @lefterisjp , who courageously defends the interests of all community members.

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With my post I would like to support most of the Optimism community (in particular @lefterisjp)
This is not the first time that a fund acts in some of its own interests, without paying attention to the DAO, which essentially must make decisions, otherwise it is not a DAO at all.
One such case is a token sale (definitely two):

  1. Token Sale – September 2023
  2. Token Sale — March 2024
    We do not know either the buyer or the price of any of these sales.
    What if the fund simply gave itself millions of tokens at $0.01?
    We don’t know this, and the Fund is not going to answer us.
    And the current post tells us that the fund does not take anyone into account when making decisions, and the talk that in the future everything will be managed from the DAO is all just plans, I don’t see any specific actions.
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I’m actually really surprised by the negative reactions in this thread. After reviewing over 600 projects last round, narrowing the scope was absolutely necessary. Events and educational content received the majority of funding last round, so it’s logical to move the focus to other areas temporarily. It doesn’t mean those initiatives won’t be included in future rounds.

Decentralization has to be gradual, otherwise things implode. I’ve experienced working for a Foundation and handing things over to a DAO, which took years and it’s an arduous journey. Optimism governance is doing everything right by decentralizing progressively.

If you look at the feedback from the previous rounds, these upcoming rounds were clearly designed around that feedback. There’s still roughly 800 million OP left to grant to retro funding so let’s focus on the big picture here.

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Obviously a lot of things to say, and I won’t echo what @lefterisjp has said but I agree with most of it.

There is something that hasn’t been said though that I feel is very much worth considering. Different funding mechanisms should be used as tools where they are most appropriate, not as a tagline. Retroactive/retrospective funding for example is really good for supporting existing projects that are contributing to the ecosystem. Often, these are public goods. If we change the scope of Optimism’s grant programs, then I don’t think retroactive funding is the most appropriate funding mechanism, and we should limit ourselves just for the sake of the name. Let’s do some prospective funding as well and get some of the things we really need, this RFP being a great example of that.

All in all, if this is the direction RPGF wants to take, I understand. I wish this had been more of a community decision, and I hope it will be in the future.

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Scope of Retro Funding 4: Onchain Builders
This round is scoped to reward builders who deploy onchain applications across the Superchain, focused on rewarding the impact of driving demand for Optimism blockspace and onboarding new users. That means this round will not include consumer facing tooling or BD efforts.

On contributions which fall outside of the scope of upcoming retro rounds
Contributions which fall outside of the scope of upcoming retro rounds include consumer facing tools, education initiatives and events. This does not imply that these contributions are not important to the Optimism Collective or that future rounds will not support these contributions.
The goal remains that all impact to Optimism is rewarded by Retroactive Public Goods Funding in the long term. There has been no change to this vision. However, reducing scope in the short term allows us to improve the system. You can read more about this transition from broad to narrow scoped rounds here.

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Big picture
All your feedback on these recent changes is valuable, but it’s also important to keep these changes in perspective within the longer term vision.

To date, we’ve had infrequent rounds, which occurred twice a year or less, with a very broad scope. In Retro Funding 3, one of the most popular requests from badgeholders and the community has been to reduce and clarify the scope of retro rounds.

Decisions about these upcoming rounds were made by the Foundation. Now we have announced 4 rounds in 2024, with pre-defined scopes, so that builders know in advance what is likely to be rewarded and when. These decisions were heavily informed by extensive documentation of learnings from Retro Funding 3.

We have launched a Feedback Commission to involve 10 highly engaged Citizens in the design of these rounds.
Citizens will begin to ratify round sizing in Round 6 and can expect to ratify scope as well in the near future. These are all huge steps forward towards our vision, but we are still far from the end state. The Foundation plays an active role in guiding the Collective through this transition, but we remain committed to phasing ourselves out of this role in the same iterative and collaborative way as is always our approach. Nothing has changed in terms of our approach, vision, or commitment to public goods and/or the empowerment of Citizens in this process. Progressive decentralisation is not easy or linear, and can be frustrating. Your commitment to continue to engage and shape the Collective throughout this process is what makes the Optimism Collective so special!

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From my perspective, I’m all for people or products like zachxbt,lefteris getting grants, but it looks like they don’t fall under any of the above 4 categories in this year’s rulebook!

This year’s RPGF looks less supportive of public goods and doesn’t even include the biggest public goods ecosystem in the category of superchains: ethereum

In my opinion

Previous RPGF: make public goods, open source them, make an impact, get a chance to get my funding
Now RPGF: come grow in my superchain ecosystem and I’ll give you funding based on cold, data-driven metrics

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The good the bad and the ugly

The Good

Smaller Rounds

Excellent decision to transition to more narrowly scoped rounds. With fewer projects to review in future rounds, it will be easier to assess the impact for badge holders. This is a great move!

Upstream & downstream

Dividing projects into two categories based on their impact on Optimism is an excellent initial step. This approach could yield a wealth of intriguing data for analysis, especially as various on-chain projects provide distinct metrics in their applications.

Experiments

It would be beneficial to receive additional information on this matter, particularly regarding how juries will be selected or, better yet, voted. By integrating this with the GovScore, we will swiftly gain a deeper insight into the identities of the citizens and their areas of expertise. However, please ensure that this does not result in additional power being granted to The Foundation.

The Bad

Initiatives outside of the scope

I believe that this move will demotivate a lot of builders in different levels. @lefterisjp & @postpolar have just mentioned some great individuals and team who have made greats contributions to the ecosystem.

The Ugly

Decentralization is a joke

I don’t understand why to push 4 new RPGF rounds instead of openly asking both houses if they agree with this move. It could be a great strategy to achieve progressive decentralization, rather than making decisions behind closed doors without temperature check the sentiment of the community and hoping that people who believe in the idea of a “Collective” will be pleased.

I’m agree here with @cp0x-AlexQ:

Seriously, does someone expect us to just cover our eyes and not demand answers?

No more public goods branding

This is probably the biggest mistake here.
It’s obvious that throwing away the Public Goods part is open widely the door to more VC backed projects. One of the major debates during RPGF3 revolved around whether a VC-backed project qualifies as a public good. This move feels like a slap in the face

Impact is not just vanity web3 numbers.

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It’s crucial for all of us to remember that RPGF and optimism collective go hand in hand; they’re meant to support and complement each other, working together to foster the growth of Superchain. Without one, the other will cease to exist and when we evolve, we evolve together. While I do wish to support initiatives beyond public good, it’s evident from past 3 rounds that we can’t afford to distribute funds in a similar manner. I agree and support the changes proposed for upcoming season.

Besides retroactively rewarding, another goal for me is to measure the increase in chain and developer activities. Even after three rounds of RPGF and many round of DAO grants, other chains continue to surpass us in total value bridged from L1. This is onchain proof that a change was needed.

However, I believe renaming just to avoid discussion and confusion about what constitutes public good sets a bad precedent. Regardless of how it’s worded, I fail to see a clear vision behind such a significant change.

My other concern remains, and I hope it will be addressed in upcoming updates.

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I appreciate the thoughtful approach to refining the scope of Retro Funding!

It will create more clarity for builders and creators while focusing on
measuring impact that can grow Optimism’s ecosystem!

However, the exclusion of consumer facing apps and products from ‘Retro Funding’, raises some concerns.

These applications are the bedrock for bringing the next billion real users onchain.

Incorporating them into the ‘Retro Funding’ scope would enrich the ecosystem, ultimately benefiting the entire Optimism Collective.

Educational initiatives also seem undervalued. While it’s challenging to measure their impact quantitatively, the importance of educational initiatives to bring more users onchain cannot be overstated.

There also appears to be a gap in recognizing the contributions of creators and artists. The ‘Onchain Builders’ category, with its emphasis on quantitative measures, may not fully appreciate the value artists and creators bring, especially in the cases when their impact is more qualitative and might not manifest immediately in measurable terms.

Focusing solely on quantitative metrics and channeling resources through the Governance Fund and grants, which I believe enforce a no sale rule (please correct me if I’m wrong), could potentially overlook the value of consumer apps that contribute to the utility of the Optimism Platform but don’t align with specific intents or show rapid growth.

This approach may also fail to acknowledge the essential yet, sometimes, less measurable contributions of creators and artists.

This highlights the necessity for a broader, more inclusive approach to ‘Retro Funding’ that captures the full spectrum of contributions to the Optimism ecosystem.

Thank you for taking the time to review my input. I’m here to help in any way I can!

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Retro Funding thoughts

After digesting the updates regarding Retro Funding, I’ll share my thoughts here.

Retro Funding is now better

  1. Good to see focus on verifiable & objective impact. This is one of the essential areas where we needed to move asap. I’m glad we are walking away from Retro Funding being a popularity contest and vibe-voting approach.
  2. Narrowly scoped and faster rounds are a major improvement for everyone. I expect we’ll see great results from this.
  3. I like to see experiments taking place. I’ll be very beneficial to test out good hypothesis in real life.

The lack of interaction from the Collective in these changes

  1. I agree it would have been more optimal if the Foundation shared this first with the Collective and then we took a decision as a whole. It would have helped a lot with legitimacy. I think this is a mistake, but not a blunder.
  2. In this sense, I consider a good decision the Collective Feedback Commission.
  3. I think most people are missing that all of these changes were actually made based on the Collective’s feedback, discussions and comments. It’s not like the Foundation is doing these changes randomly; they are mostly based on the Collective’s feedback.

Retro Funding re-naming and improving clarity

  1. I consider the re-naming and current framing to be best and most aligned with the Optimistic Vision. It brings clarity.
  2. As a Collective we should be focused on funding results, actual value.
  3. What actually matters is the value projects bring, not if they are inside the definition of a public good.

Other topics

  1. Decentralization: I agree (as most of us would), that the Collective is not as decentralized as the ideal of decentralization is. And that’s ok, for now. We are walking in the right direction. And the Foundation has done an exceptional work.
  2. I think we are still missing a big part of Citizenship, mainly:
    1. How are Badgeholder going to exactly participate in the Collective for the next months?
    2. Updates on the Future of Citizenship. How will new BH be selected?
  3. I think that excluding education and events for the next couple of rounds could be beneficial, but I think these projects would like to know they have not been “put aside forever”.
  4. I have 1 very specific question: If a project does events that bring people onchain, or into governance, can this impact fit into the respective rounds?

Focus in the long-term, we are in a good path. Towards the Optimistic Vision.

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I view these changes as an opportunity to experiment with future rounds. It’s challenging to do things the right way without some trials and errors, and our goal here is to innovate beyond traditional government mechanisms for funding public goods—it’s a big one for society. I deeply believe in this mission.

At Pairwise, we’re excited to contribute to the upcoming RetroPGF rounds by providing dedicated community signaling to help badgeholders make their vote. We’re integrating numerous new features based on your feedback, which you can read about in our growth grant proposal. For the Onchain Builders Round in May, anticipate an experience akin to our prototype, and by August, we’re planning more gamification, such as a voter points system, to deepen our commitment to community engagement and project discovery.

We aim to highlight and support the diverse, innovative projects within RetroPGF, extending their visibility and utility. Beyond funding, we consider the discovery and community awareness of RetroPGF projects as crucial success metrics. Our efforts are intended to embrace and magnify this awareness. The insights we gather will help refine future rounds, ensuring our community efforts remain impactful and aligned with Optimism’s evolution.

Stay tuned for a journey of community-driven exploration and recognition!

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