There’s been a flurry of discussion in the forums in the last few weeks related to the structure of the ZOMG. We have an impending deadline to resolve these questions in the form of the imminent elections for the new panel.
I have only one purpose in this post: to propose a deferment of the current elections. After almost a year of working on the ZOMG, and working with the ZF since the new leadership got installed, I strongly believe that deferring the current cycle is the best/only move that we as a community can take to avoid a repeat failure of the next ZOMG panel^.
A summary of the topics that are under discussion:
- Time expectations (need more hours)
- Compensation expectations (rate per hour is not yet determined)
- Relationship with ZF (not good. Belittling and dismissive behavior. Unilateral decision-making). This is a critical problem that has downstream effects on everything else the ZOMG does
- Not many quality grants are coming in
- Support needed (very significant) and ability to direct the support resource(s) (high)
- ZOMG has not done enough (even if it is recognized that the time commitment expectations were wrong)
- Only 1 of the current ZOMG members had intention to run. At this stage, no one seems to be running, or at least they have not posted a campaign post (last i checked)
- Seat rotation / discontinuity from all members standing for election at same time
- Should ZOMG be independent? Why? What level of “independence”? (My personal opinion is it doesn’t need to be, at least not yet - but enough people talk about it to warrant adding it to the list)
- Zcash is facing an urgent threat of irrelevance; the ship for relevance is sailing away. ZOMG was supposed to help with that, they are not doing that
(^^ Sources below)
These are ten (10!) very big problems/outstanding questions that have not yet been resolved. If the ZOMG is truly seen as an important arm of the Zcash community^^^, important enough to receive the lion’s share of the Dev Fund, does it make sense to launch headlong into a set up that needs basic fixing?
Here’s an analogy: there is a humanitarian crisis in the form of an uncontrolled wild fire. The first wave of firefighters went out to fight the fire, and they discovered that the weather/wind forecast was fatally wrong, the evacuees need a lot more help than just getting on a bus (perhaps some are physically disabled), and their contact point with the local emergency supplies warehouse treats them like they don’t know they are talking about (thereby sending them the wrong supplies or sending them supplies without first consulting with them on the on-the-ground conditions).
What do we do? Should we:
- Send more firefighters in, give them a few more hoses, and hope they can fight the fire? Some of the firefighters in the first wave already perished in the fire
- Take a pause and conduct an emergency conversation with the firefighters, the weather forecasters, and the emergency supplies warehouse? Figure out the most optimal next steps, and proceed with a plan more likely to succeed?
I think the answer is obvious. Here are the concrete actions i propose:
- Defer the election for 3 or more months. The grants program can take a backseat for a short time, especially over the upcoming holiday season where it is unlikely that we will receive many major grants. Or, we could convince a subset of the current panel to continue their work on a reduced basis
- Create a special committee to hammer out a coherent recommendation on the best structure for ZOMG going forward, resolving the most important pieces among the 10 outstanding issues. This may or may not involve a revision of ZIP 1014. This special committee should consist of current ZOMG members (voluntary basis), ECC, ZF, and potential ZOMG members
- Validate the recommendation through a CAP vote
- Run a proper election in 1Q 2021. Off to the races, let’s bring privacy and freedom to the world
If we instead stick to the status quo, letting the election run without any real changes, and hoping that things are different because the people are different - that’s the equivalent of sending more firefighters into the fire.
In addition, it’s safe to assume that with so many issues on the table, some of the candidates that would run today are different to the candidates that would run under a better structure - i suspect with a better setup, we would have a bigger pool of good candidates (while noting that I am very supportive of some of the current candidates). At this existential point of Zcash’s journey in the wider crypto landscape, we can only afford to send the very best firefighters.
If you agree with this, please chime in here. Most especially if you are currently campaigning, or considering campaigning. Please contact the ZF and ECC members that you know. Otherwise, I do not think that the main actors at the ZF will voluntarily do this, as there is heavy inertia and a vested interest in the status quo.
PS - Zooko first broached the idea of deferring the elections in his post here (Alarm bells! 🚨 re ZOMG), but I was the origin of this deferment proposal. I have been suggesting that to people at the ECC, ZF, and the ZOMG since a few weeks ago. I say this only to remove potential suspicions about Zooko’s motivations. As to what my motivations are, this post should answer the question.
PPS - Why I am not running under the current structure.
(This section is irrelevant to the main goal of this post, but in case you’re wondering why I care about making a strong stance on deferring the elections to restructure the panel, here are some personal notes that may predict what would happen to other 2022 panelists or the 2023 panel if we go ahead with the elections with nothing fixed.)
- I campaigned for the ZOMG because of a personal passion for privacy and freedom (campaign post: ML for MGRC). I saw serving on the ZOMG as an act of service and contribution. At the token rate of $500/month, my hourly rate has worked out to be $21/hour - the opportunity cost has been very high. A year of service qualifies as having done my part, and I have been very happy to have the privilege to contribute. I would very much like to continue serving the mission of privacy and freedom, but the financial and mental/emotional costs of doing so are too great with the current structure and dynamics
- I would like to see highly qualified and consistently reliable individuals run, so that we can move mountains together. The current broken structure has undoubtedly prevented quality candidates from running (issues: relationship with the ZF, ECC-ZF spats that have the ZOMG caught in-between, determined forum trolls, compensation, etc). Like with any other job, the quality of fellow panelists and social dynamics have a big impact on enjoyment and effectiveness
- I see a success case where we can turn things around in the next year: quality grants, DeFi participation, a Zcash that is better connected with the rest of the crypto ecosystem, better inroads to communities that could live better lives with more privacy. We’re going to need lots of work that looks like the whitepaper strategy document (ZOMG whitepaper v1.0), calls with the community to co-create (What to build?), a way to provide more clarity and fairness for applicants (and for them to engage with the ZOMG more easily), a consistent pipeline of quality grants, more transparency / AMAs with the community, benchmarking ourselves against other grant committees and adopting their best practices… the list goes on. Unfortunately, in the current structure, and with the alternating straightjacket and baby’s bib that the ZF is making us wear, I do not believe this future is possible in the next 1 year or longer
To be very clear, it is not all of the ZF that I refer to when i make the above statements. A limited set of certain actor(s) are creating this dynamic, and perpetuating it even in the face of repeated, well-meaning feedback. I believe there are still good forces that ZF that I / we can have a productive, constructive relationship with. I do not want to single out people because I do not believe that is constructive. It is what it is, and the ZOMG have adapted as much as we can, and we continue to try to engage. I / we (the ZOMG) just want to build a better future/partner.
(^) On failure. I don’t consider the first panel, of which I am a part, to be a failure, objectively speaking. But we have at best achieved 30% of our potential progress in the first year of the ZOMG, and that I personally consider a failure. This assessment does not take into account the fact that we were not set up right. And this is a personal opinion, which I do not think some of the other ZOMG members share.
(^^) Sources for the 10 issues:
- @aquietinvestor’s very well-summarized poll of the issues, which seems to have garnered about 75 responses POLL: ZOMG Unofficial Community Poll 📊
- @secparam’s post highlighting a need to restructure ZOMG for success (@secparam / Ian Miers is on the board at the Zcash Foundation) What's going on with ZOMG
- @zooko’s post pointing out that certain ZOMG members are not running, and opining that the current structure is not set up to be successful: Alarm bells! 🚨 re ZOMG
- @cburniske’s post proposing updates to the ZIP (@cburniske is on the current ZOMG panel) Amendments to ZOMG and Potentially ZIP 1014 - #2 by aiyadt
(^^^) Significance of ZOMG. For what it’s worth, the treatment from / our relationship with the ZF’s main actors has made us feel small and in possession of little agency. If the goal was to subjugate the ZOMG, that goal has been achieved. If nothing changes, here’s a potentially provocative statement: leaving the ZOMG with 40% of the Dev Fund creates undue risk to a fragile system that is vulnerable to subversion / manipulation from inside and outside.