Notes on time commitments for ZOMG members

There’s some discussion on what the appropriate time expectation would be for ZOMG members. As part of that, ZF asked the ZOMG committee members to send notes on how much time we spend on ZOMG.

I wanted to make sure that all community members–and especially ZCAP voters–had access to the same information I was providing to ZF on a question that’s being actively discussed right now, so I decided to post these notes here and I’m inviting other ZOMG members to post their notes here too.

Where possible, I pulled hours directly from my calendar or used some sort of empirical guide for estimating these numbers, such as the rhythm of my pre- and post- meeting routine, or my previous forum posts.

It’s sort of awkward because the number adds up exactly to 20 hours per month which happens to be @cburniske’s exact recommendation for the compensated number of hours. I hope you can gather from the detail I put into this that I was methodically going through notes and not fudging the numbers to hit the magic number 20!

Even if you’re skeptical, I think you should be able to see that when you take someone like me who is not a professional software engineer or a subject matter expert, but who cares a lot about making the right decisions and doing a reasonably good job in their role, all of these small things will add up and take some time!

Without further ado, my ZOMG hours…

MINIMUM BASELINE - 8 hours / month

This is the inescapable baseline commitment for me. If I operated at this minimum all the time, we would have never been able to achieve what we achieved this year. On a few weeks I’ve done less than this, but I always feel like I’m playing catch up and not doing my best, so I look at that as a mistake and try to avoid it. Most weeks I’ve done more than this, and in the beginning of the year much more.

  • Two ZOMG meetings - 2 hours/month
  • 1 hour (ideally more) reviewing proposals before each meeting - 2 hours/month
  • Write follow up questions, decline notes, or acceptance notes to applicants - 2 hours/month.
  • Between meeting conversation and resulting tasks - 2 hours/month.

Note that the “between meeting” section could relate to any number of small housekeeping issues; approving a time sensitive grant between meetings, approving a grant we’ve already done most (but not all) of the discussion of in order to give the grantee a faster turnaround time, sharing any important posts or controversies that we might need to respond to, adding agenda items to the next meeting, etc. Another way to look at this is, we have a Signal group so that we can make progress between meetings, and it becomes bad form to completely ignore the Signal group, and you can imagine that a group of 5 people will generate some conversation.

UNDERSTANDING GRANTS (18 hours total over ~9 months = 2 hours/month )

Some grant proposals just take some time, reading, and questions to wrap your head around. This means engaging beyond the 1 hour pre-meeting prep I listed above in “BASELINE”. In some cases calls were necessary but a lot of this is forum posts. A lot of the time the time consuming thing is just formulating questions in an informed enough way that it will be clear enough, so you’ll get the answer you’re looking for. This is pretty hard when you’re not an expert, or possibly even when you are an expert in some part of Zcash, given the heterogeneous mix of things we fund. These are all likely gross underestimates. I went through my forum replies and looked for places where I was doing a back and forth with grantees or community members and writing longer messages. In most of these cases I spent at least 2 hours engaging.

  • initial lightwalletd poc proposal (eventually denied) - 2 hours
  • renzec wallet integration (withdrawn) - 2 hours
  • renzec liquidity - 1 hour
  • Arti/Tor - 6 hours
  • Thorchain integration - 2 hours
  • GPU acceleration - 1 hour

ADDITIONAL MEETINGS (27 hours over ~9 months = 3 hours/month)

These were meetings that I could have declined, but it felt best to attend for the sake of staying informed, guiding decisions, and/or supporting others’ work. All of this is pulled from my calendar and likely leaves stuff out that didn’t get added to my calendar or that didn’t show up in a search for zomg.

  • Whitepaper call - 2 hours
  • ZCON - 2 hours
  • Tor/Arti call - 1 hour
  • ZF/ECC/ZOMG extra calls - 10 hours (pulled from my calendar)
  • Extra ZOMG meetings - 6 hours (from calendar + meeting prep)
  • Calls with wallet teams - 6 hours

SPECIFIC PROJECTS / FIRES (60 hours over ~9 months = ~7 hours/month)

There were moments where something simply needed to get done and I was the person best positioned to do it, like the website. There were also moments where some unplanned challenge was happening and it seemed necessary to dive in and give it a lot of attention, so that it wouldn’t get even harder to deal with. All of these were very time consuming, and I soon learned that doing any heads-down focused work on ZOMG was impossible given the time constraints I had; I just didn’t have enough time for follow up. So all of this was pretty minimal. Some of it, like building the website, had to do with our position of being radically under-resourced and in bootstrapping phase, but I think future ZOMGs will end up getting pulled into similarly important projects just in the course of contributing their individual gifts to the effort. So I think this time commitment will be typical and is actually a lot less than the ideal.

  • MGRC diversity discussion post-election - 4 hours
  • Responding to questions about Mario’s involvement in meetings - 2 hours
  • Creating the super bare-bones website - 16 hours
  • Editing and feedback on documents - 6 hours
  • Response to Sarah Jamie Lewis resignation and succession plan - 12 hours
  • Figuring out initial Zecwallet grant - 3 hours
  • Conversations internally and with ZF about ZF/ZOMG relationship and resources - 5 hours
  • Following up on security needs of ecosystem projects (I didn’t complete this) - 6 hours
  • Figuring out escrow for Arti and other projects - 2 hours
  • Arti press release - 4 hours

Thanks for putting this all together @holmesworcester

My own approach came out to 15.7 hrs / month, so I trust your math :slight_smile:

For people considering ZOMG or otherwise interested, I would say my time commitment has been on the lighter side compared to most ZOMG members as I’m not as consistently available on Signal, the Zcash Forum, spin-off meetings, etc.



Kudos, @holmesworcester and @cburniske, for the careful time-tracking and super informative summary.

I would just like to note these figures look very convincing and reasonable to me, for the kind of work you’ve been doing (and contextualized by the experience of the ZF grant committees of olden days).

I see here a very strong case for dialing up the time commitment estimates, and corresponding compensation.

It’s also interesting to see that the quantity of grants had a significant, but not overwhelming, effect on the total time invested, since a lot of activity was not related to specific grants.

How do you think your time commitments would have changed, had there been a high bar on the minimum project size for ZOMG consideration (say in terms of dollar amounts), with smaller grants handled by ZF?


This is a good question. I think a few times we may have gotten stuck discussing the details of a small grant, but usually with small grants the decision is very quick, because we’re willing to go on a quick temperature of the room when not much money is at stake.

As you can see in my breakdown, the time consuming things are bigger grants, special projects, and thorny questions that come up. I don’t think reducing the minimum grant size for ZOMG consideration would make much of a difference, and I think small ($5k-$20k) grants are helpful for starting relationships with new individuals and teams, so I would object to setting a higher minimum threshold.