A Modest Proposal: Swiftly grant me freebie ZEC so that I can continue bribing my friends to use fully-shielded Zcash!

On 2022-07-12, before some other recent thread urged me to rethink things a bit, I mentioned elsewhere that I have given nontrivial free ZEC to friends to induce them to set up shielded wallets. (Close personal friends only.)

I would do it again, because I deeply believe in privacy. I recognize Zcash as the privacy leader, the coin with hands-down absolutely the best privacy. Zcash has the privacy that I have been wanting for the past nine years (since 2013) in Bitcoin. And I care about my friends. They have enriched my life pricelessly, beyond any money in the world! To give them a taste of strong privacy with a gift of fully-shielded ZEC, to get them wallets born fully-shielded, is the least generosity that I could give back to them.

My ZECs are precious to me. But all of money the money in the world is ultimately nothing: My friends are infinitely more precious.


On the other hand, I feel stupid now. I am not rich. I cannot properly afford such antics.

Hie me Swiftly! In “crypto”, the early bird gets the worm.

I hereby modestly propose a grant to myself, to fund my habit of paying close personal friends to set up shielded wallets. Some of my friends have not yet enjoyed this benefit; and I wish to give even more free ZEC to the ones who already have, just to make sure they are still using their shielded wallets. And who knows? Some of my business-savvy, technically-oriented friends may even be induced to request grants for themselves. What could be better than to increase demand for grants?

Community expectations for grants:

Outsider/newcomer expectations—the impression that Zcash is giving to substantially unrelated businesses:

I bet that I already got more shielded wallets set up than that aforementioned $5,000 parachuting video. And after very privately enriching my friends with free ZEC, I can always expand my freebie-ZEC giveaways. In other venues, I’ve got rep as Mr. Privacy. Just think of how many shielded wallets I could get set up, by giving away even a measly $5k—no, $47k—nah, $1m worth of ZEC—better yet, 32k ZEC—best of all, 2% of the dev fund in perpetuity, less lining my own pockets administrative costs to compensate me for my time and effort. (Go big, or go home!)

No really, seriously—is my hereby proposal a satirical reductio ad absurdum, or is it consistent with how Zcash developer-funding seigniorage money is managed?

I really think this is the best use of Zcash’s infamous “dev tax”—especially when on every feature except privacy, Zcash is light years behind Bitcoin Core development. I think that it would be expensive to catch up; that is why I never complained before. Bitcoin Core is entirely funded by voluntary grants. Who needs developer funding at the collective economic expense of all coin holders? It makes no sense for the Zcash community to pay to catch up on development. It would be much more productive simply to give money away.

I intend to make some grant proposals. Open-source development that I think the Zcash community should fund—including, but not limited to a zcashd catch-up to feature parity with Bitcoin Core, undoubtedly a large and expensive project. Funding for other open-source projects from which Zcash benefits. Building up a long-term endowment, in the manner of a university endowment, for future long-term funding from the endowment’s income, without direct expenditure of seigniorage money.[1] Things from which I derive no direct financial benefit—only the indirect benefit of a ZEC holder seeking to increase ecosystem value.

Perhaps I may even someday seek a grant to write some code that helps Zcash users, or that helps to grow the Zcash ecosystem. I have tried before; I turned away, and I didn’t even think about this for five years, because KYC was required. Now, it may also be helpful if my confidence in the long-term future of Zcash were not being shaken.

Here and now, in closing, I wish to remind the community that when financial incentives are provided for altruistic deeds, that tends to lessen altruistic motivations—sometimes necessarily; and more generally, when money is wasted or handed out for the wrong reasons, it is outright repulsive to anyone with the right reasons.

When Zcash “developer fund” money is managed this way, what effect do you suppose that has on Zcash’s reputation with open-source developers who could help to grow the ecosystem?

More generally: Does it encourage a feeling that embracing Zcash would be embracing a noble vision of helping to make the world a better place? And altruism aside, consider honest profits: How does it look to potential ZEC buyers who may have a more cut-and-dry business attitude about this than I do? I myself am admittedly investing largely on the basis of non-financial considerations, including emotions.

Please think of that in the large. For a comparison in the small, on the Bitcoin Forum—the forum originally founded by Satoshi Nakamoto—there is a later-developed tradition of paid-per-post commercial signature advertising. Many people post there only for that reason. In my opinion, it causes spam and massive corruption. Years ago, I turned down plum private offers to put an ad in my signature. Eventually, I realized that it was stupid of me to spend so much time and effort there—when many others are only there to get paid to post. I didn’t take a signature ad. Instead, I participated less, contributed less, and developed some negative opinions of the corruption and dysfunction introduced by some greedy elements in the community.

Maybe I should be so modest as to ask a grant to post on the Zcash Forum? :laughing:

  1. In Bitcoinland, I have made similar suggestions to Bitcoiners who want a long-term philanthropic strategy for funding Bitcoin Core development: Don’t make one huge donation. If feasible, consider setting up a nonprofit endowment fund that generates its own investment income to write grants. With $500k–$1m minumum for a tiny endowment, you could make a big long-term difference. More is better. One-off grants are good, but sustainable open-source also requires paying developer salaries on contract—as MIT-DCI does for a few developers, including Bitcoin Core’s longtime lead maintainer who recently stepped back to a lesser role to promote decentralization. A moderate institutional endowment should think about accumulating at least $50m–$100m in assets. At least. ↩︎

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For the record, in context, I was trying to argue that funding the grant in full ($1.8m) would produce more/better outcomes then the cutdown ($1m) and those saying ZCG can’t afford to fund such a large grant were wrong. ZCG has more then enough funds to fund the grant. Obviously I didn’t explain myself well enough and I apologise for that.