The idea of Community

I just watched the Dev Fund 2.0 video, and while there were very interesting ideas about devfund alternatives, there was one question that kept popping through my mind:

  • Who is “the community”?

It did seem everyone on this call genuinely believes they are working for the good of “the community”.
The problem I think, is that everyone has a different idea of who or what “the community” is, and as long as this is not clarified, explicitly and unambiguously, Zcash will always be plagued with the same issues.

Now I honestly don’t think we’ll ever be able to define this clearly, because at its core, “community” is merely an idea. Which means thinking of “the community” as a single unified block cannot and will probably never be productive.

If you ask the builder, he’ll probably want to build more cool stuff
If you ask the guy who invested 100$ in ZEC, he’ll probably ask to go all-in on marketing
If you ask the shopkeeper, he’ll probably want a focus on payment integration
Etc etc

Besides, let’s imagine the community is composed of exactly 50% builders and 50% investors, and we asked them whether to keep the Devfund or not. At the end of the vote, all builders voted “Yes”, and all investors voted “No”.
Do we talk some more, and do another vote? What if it’s still 50/50? Coinflip?

What if the builders had a machine that let them predict with 99% certainty the outcomes of both decisions, and they knew that keeping the DevFund would result in ZEC at 200$, and not keeping it would result in ZEC at 10$?
Even if perfectly orchestrated (selecting 100% of all the persons interested in any fashion in Zcash), a community vote will not always result in the best possible outcome.

Some might say a community vote is still worth it, because the alternative is centralized power, and centralized power puts us at risk of placing it in the wrong hands. But do you know of many, or any company that succeeded with decisions being made by community votes and without a leader and his vision? I did some reasearch out of curiosity, and the only succesful company I could find with a very flat and community-centric structure is a tomato paste company. Not exactly cutting edge stuff.

In the end it’s quite simple:
Decentralization works with Bitcoin because Bitcoin is pretty much fully “codified”. It’s a finished product.
Decentralization would never work with something like SpaceX, because SpaceX needed a leader with a vision willing to take risks and do what no one thought was possible before.

If Zcash wants to be fast and agile, it needs centralized power. The more this power is diluted, decentralized, the slower the machine becomes.

I think Zcash is already complicated and innovative enough on the tech side, that we shouldn’t make the project even more difficult by trying to innovate on the “decision making” side. The Dev fund decision should not result in even more organisations being guaranteed funding. Even though I’m against the idea of continuing with a DevFund, if we HAD to keep it, I would say 100% of the fund should first go to a single entity, and then this entity would dispatch the funds to other orgs. Hard coding different wallets at the protocol level does nothing more than encourage a degree of complacency.

We could have multiple captains, but we can’t have multiple directions
When ECC wants to go east and ZF wants to go west
When builders want to go south and investors want to go north
It’ll be 2028 and Zcash will still be in the same spot.

I liked the metaphor of Zcash and the DevFund being in a marriage.
But if you’re unhappy in your marriage, and you’re hoping for more, you need to get over your fears, and file for divorce.


Even though it isn’t in my proposal, I like this concept. I’d recommend that all block subsidies go into the ZF, who then conducts further distribution via either direct subsidy, through their own grants program, or to ZCG and then through their grants model.

Increasing funding into the FPF is also a growing priority in my mind. I’d like to see some results first though before really leaning into that org.

To the topic of “community” you’re right in many of your points, it is a grand challenge to determine who is the community, and what does that cohort want.

  • technical builders
  • board members
  • managers
  • media creators
  • network users
  • merchants
  • miners
  • investors
  • social media opinions
  • direct coin weighted voting
  • transaction volume weighted voting

the list could be much bigger

As I mentioned in my part of the discussion, unfortunately we can’t directly affect the market for the most part. The halving will impact supply emission, but it isn’t a guarantee to churn up any new demand. The day to day work going into Zcash products/ protocol features/ education/ marketing/ et al are what have the chance to impact demand.

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