(Note: I am not speaking for ECC in this post! I haven’t had time to consult with the rest of ECC and align on a shared vision about these issues — none of them have reviewed anything below — and since these issues do not directly affect ECC, I’m going to just fire off these comments to keep the discussion going, but be aware that ECC itself may or may not support all of the following, especially if this somehow starts interacting more directly with ECC’s responsibilities. Also, a lot of the other ECC’ers might have very different opinions and ideas, and their ideas might be better than mine. :-))
Uh-oh! What’s going on!
This, combined with this:
… makes me think the Zcash community should seriously consider making some structural changes to make the ZOMG more attractive and more effective for the kind of busy and skilled people who we want, and should do so before authorizing the next ZOMG to start spending large amounts of the community’s money.
A good next step would be to gather information about what worked/what didn’t from the current ZOMG members, from the first year of grant applicants and recipients, and also solicit recommendations from people who would potentially be good candidates for a future ZOMG, if we can find such people.
Also (as I coincidentally happened to do just a couple of days ago) gather best practices from other organizations that have done this successfully.
If it doesn’t look like the second round of MGRC/ZOMG is set up to be successful (and to my eyes, it currently doesn’t), then the Zcash community should seriously consider putting it on hold while deciding how to improve the structure. It doesn’t make sense to throw all that money into it (8750 ZEC per month which is worth $1,312,500 per month at today’s prices!) when that ZEC could just be stored up in the MGRC/ZOMG Zcash address while we as the community institute a better structure, and then that improved structure would have that much more money.
I’ll be honest: I always thought the MGRC/ZOMG had structural problems that could lead to these kinds of outcomes. (What I’m writing here is largely consistent with what I wrote a year and a quarter ago before the first MGRC/ZOMG had even been elected. )
In my humble opinion, for a ZOMG-type structure to be highly successful the people who do the work need to be well remunerated in order to compete with the other demands on their valuable time, their pay should be incentive-aligned with the ZEC holders (ie when the price of ZEC goes up they get paid more and when the price of ZEC goes down they get paid less), they need their own budget which they have sole control over and can use for whatever they think is best to serve their mandate (eg hiring people, running marketing campaigns like the Ethereum Foundation folks recommended, etc.), and when they step down they need to rotate out incrementally so that we preserve institutional memory and follow-through.
Having four out of five members step down at once means the institution basically has a “stroke” — loses much of its memory and people can’t rely on its behavior next year to be consistent with its behavior this year, or for it to follow through on things it started. On the other hand, if two rotated out this year, and then another two rotated out next year, that would be fine.
(Additionally, having four members step down at once is a red flag which means something is wrong and the community should try to identify the real problems and not just accept the standard “Oh everything is fine but I want to spend more time with my family” line. )
My interpretation of what’s happening here is basically that the structure was flawed, but that the first year was moderately successful thanks to heroic efforts on the part of individuals, notably ML and Shawn. With most of the heroes quitting, that’s a really clear warning sign () in my eyes that we as the community should not double down on the same structure and hope to get lucky twice.
I also think this is a good opportunity for the Zcash community to “think outside the box”. What about setting up a new organization outside the USA? Or setting up a DAO on Ethereum? Or having the Zcash consensus rules donate money to The Gitcoin DAO?
Regardless of anything else, my personal strong opinion is that above all, any changes the the community makes to these structures should increase and not decrease Zcash’s decentralization. Zcash already has excellent resilience and openness due to the current degree of decentralization that it already has, but we can and should continue to improve that.