Moving the Dev Fund discussion forward

From what I understand, there are several possible paths for the dev fund, and the survey needs to thoroughly represent each one in a neutral manner, so that the survey data can clearly point to the path the community wants to follow.

Before a survey can be designed, all the choices available to us need to be acknowledged and clarified. Without that, the survey will be biased. This is my attempt to understand what’s going on, so please bear with me, and correct me if I’m wrong/fill in missing pieces:

At the highest level, there are two options.

Option 1: The dev fund goes away. ZF and ECC wallet addresses are removed from the protocol, and 100% of mining rewards (instead of the current 80%) goes to the miners.

Option 2: The dev fund is renewed. A percentage of mining rewards goes into a new dev fund to be invested into the development and promotion of Zcash. The community needs to agree on the percentage, duration, and how those funds are allocated. There are two possible paths and decisions for each. I’m going to call them Default Recipients model and Grant-Based Funding model.

Default Recipients (direct funding model)
Addresses of an X amount of recipients get baked into the protocol and receive guaranteed funding for Y amount of months/years. A percentage of mining rewards goes directly into each wallet. These are some of the questions we need to answer using the survey data:

  • What % of mining rewards should be allocated to the dev fund, and how long does the guaranteed funding last for each recipient?
  • How many recipients? Which organizations/individuals? Who decides this? Who wants to be included? Who decides who is nominated to be included?

Grants-Based Funding (non-direct funding model)
A percentage of mining rewards goes to a multi-sig wallet for Y amount of months/years. A community-elected body of representatives and/or groups of builders and community members decide on the allocation of the funds. These are some of the questions we need be able to answer using the survey data:

  • For how long should the multi-sig wallet receive the funds, what percentage of the mining rewards should it receive?
  • Which individuals/groups get to vote on fund allocation and how? How can individuals/groups be added or removed from the group of decision-makers?

As we break down the main options into decisions that need to be made for each path, the survey logic and flow will emerge. The first step could be to simply vote on whether or not the dev fund goes away. If the data says that the majority of respondents doesn’t want the dev fund to go away, the next step would be to run a survey that will decide how the funds should be allocated. Given what I understand, the choice is between “Default Recipients” and “Grants-Based” models. There may be other proposals, like pure coin-holder voting.

Before we design any survey, all these options need to be flushed out. Ideally, a document outlining and explaining the options should accompany the survey, so that the community members can make fully informed decisions about all available paths. A summary of pros and cons can be contributed by the advocates for each option. These conversations are still in progress. There’s still much to be discussed, so I would wait before running any survey, even a test one, as it can introduce sticky biases that linger and corrupt the data. This topic is too important.

The questions and multiple choice options need to be worded in a neutral language that doesn’t lead respondents down a particular path. The questions and the multiple choice options also need to cover all the possible paths forward, not merely give an illusion of choice by omitting some of the options. A survey is a very powerful tool. In addition to gathering feedback, it can present new ideas and educate. It can also be a subtle way to manipulate data, mislead and misinform. I know that’s not what we want here.

Today, the dev fund decision is the most important decision we are facing as a community. How things get funded in the ecosystem determines the future direction of Zcash. Do we want more of the same? The words of my econ professor stuck with me for life as one of those fundamental truths: people respond to incentives. The incentives of the current model are screwed up. We can all see the results of that. This is an opportunity to create a better system of incentives. One that fosters healthy competition, rewards innovation, and holds leadership and receivers of funds accountable, leaving power in the hands of the community. We have a real opportunity for positive change here. Let’s not screw this up.