I have only been watching from afar, but it is frustrating to hear that Jason’s efforts seem to be confounded by a lack of clarity on the next steps. Is it just me or has there been an immense amount of due process already and doesn’t it feel like people are ready to move forward and make some decisions?
Also, I’d like to give kudos to everyone involved and it seems like especially to @aquietinvestor for doing the Lord’s work in organizing this whole process. I’m excited to have a more empowered Major Grants committee soon!
I’m 99.9% sure that I made it clear quite early on that any new wording would need to be reviewed from a legal perspective.
But, whether I did or not, I understand your frustration. Rest assured that I’m not trying to stymie your efforts. This is the first time we’re tabling an amendment to ZIP 1014, which was itself the first of its kind. There is no pre-existing process for this, so we’re effectively breaking new ground, and it behooves us to be adaptable, particularly when doing so avoids unnecessary delay.
My suggestion that we avoid trying to lock in the precise wording at this point is motivated by a desire to get appropriate questions onto the upcoming ZCAP poll, and not incur any delay by blocking on legal review or risking a delay in implementation because we need to go back to ZCAP with revised wording (particularly in light of the frustratingly lengthy delay caused to the elections by the need to get advice on the COI/inurement issues!).
Edited to add: For what it’s worth, I don’t think the effort that you have already put into drafting the ZIP amendment is wasted. The process of writing down a proposed policy helps refine, clarify and improve the proposal because it forces one to clearly articulate one’s intent, and allows others to read it and provide feedback. In this case, it also provides a strawman for us to run by an attorney and ask “Are there any potential problems with this?”
You are. This is the process, right here, on this topic. Discussing, debating, giving feedback, making suggestions, agreeing furiously with one another, and raising good points like:
You’re absolutely right. For the avoidance of any doubt: I agree with you!
So, having taken that feedback onboard, it seems to me that the best approach would be to propose an amendment to ZIP 1014 to provide MGRC (i.e. ZOMG) a discretionary budget from the Major Grants slice, with the amount to be determined by the ZCAP.
I would then suggest that there is a shortlist of three options for asking ZCAP to determine what the budget should be:
1. a “Simple” option:
Should ZOMG have a discretionary budget? (Yes/No)
If so, what should the annual budget be? (e.g. $100k, $250k, $500k, $1m)
2. Jason’s “ZEC with optional cap” option:
Do you support amending ZIP 1014 to give ZOMG a discretionary budget? (Yes; No)
What should the annual budget be? (1% of the ZOMG slice or approx. 1,052 ZEC; 3% or 3,156 ZEC; 5% or 5,260 ZEC; 10% or 10,519 ZEC)
Should there be a cap? If so, what should it be? ($100k, $250k, $500k, $1m, no cap)
3. a “Complex” option:
Should ZOMG have a discretionary budget? (Yes/No)
If so, should that budget be denominated in USD or ZEC? (USD/ZEC)
If USD, what should the annual budget be? (e.g. $100k, $250k, $500k, $1m)
If ZEC, what should the annual budget be? (e.g. 1% of the ZOMG slice or approx. 1,052 ZEC; 3% or 3,156 ZEC; 5% or 5,260 ZEC; 10% or 10,519 ZEC)
If the budget is to be denominated in ZEC, should there be an annual floor (denominated in USD)? (Yes/No)
If there is to be a floor, what should it be? (e.g. $100k, $250k, $500k, $1m)
If the budget is to be denominated in ZEC, should there be an annual cap (denominated in USD)? (Yes/No)
If there is to be a cap, what should it be? (e.g. $100k, $250k, $500k, $1m)
We’d also need to define what “cap” and “floor” means. For example, something like:
A cap on a budget denominated in ZEC would impose a USD cap on the budget, in the event of a large ZECUSD price increase. A floor would allow for the budget to be “topped up” to the USD floor using additional ZEC (over and above that in the specified budget) from the Major Grants slice in the event or a significant decline in the ZECUSD price.
And, as previously discussed, we should make it clear what would happen if ZCAP voted for a floor that is higher than the cap. For example:
If the ZCAP poll recommends a floor that is higher than the cap, we will implement a floor and cap midway between the recommended floor and cap. i.e. If the poll recommends a cap of $100,000 and a floor of $250,000, we will institute a floor and cap of $175,000.
FYI, I would recommend a simple USD-denominated budget because, as I mentioned above, denominating the budget in ZEC would mean that the implementation becomes more complicated, with more scope for confusion, misunderstanding, and/or a mismatch in expectations.
Please note that this is not me vetoing the idea of a budget denominated in ZEC! I am simply providing feedback and advice that is informed by ten months of interacting with the first ZOMG, which included some confusing conversations about the pitfalls of denominating grants in ZEC instead of USD.
I’ve been re-reading this topic looking for potential issues and potential mismatches in expectations, and I noticed this statement:
Funds from the Major Grants slice of the Dev Fund are administered by ZF. ZOMG does not have its own bank account. The Major Grants funds are held in ZF’s accounts. Any necessary USD payments are made by ZF, recorded, tracks and accounted for appropriately, and included in our annual audit (which ensures that the Major Grants restricted donation is being spent only for the purposes for which is was intended).
I really like the constructive discussions that are happening in this thread, one thing that has been asked for a few times that I don’t see a clear response on is, what are these funds to be used for? I’m fully in favor of ZOMG having operational funding, but it is difficult to give an opinion on what is the correct amount without any estimates.
If we could get some input from the inaugural committee on what they would have spent this funding on in their first year if they had it, including ballpark cost estimates for these items I think that would help the ZCAP greatly.
Inputs from the candidates for the next committee would also be valuable.
I agree. I spoke to ML yesterday and she is going to help me get in touch with Chris and Holmes, so hopefully we hear from both of them before the Helios poll convenes on the 20th.
I’ve reached out to Hudson a couple times for his comments, but believe he has been out of pocket the last week or so. I will continue to follow up with him.
I will ping ML now and see if she can can provide some more color.
@Shawn responded upthread, which I’ve quoted below. If he wants to add some additional detail, that might be helpful.
Note that there are examples of what the funds can be used for in the text of the ZIP 1014 Amendment, which I have quoted below. The items I listed came from public and private conversations with members of the ZOMG-ZIP 1014 Independent Review Committee.
This is the key question that I’m also wondering about. If ZOMG had a % budget equal to $500k-1M USD what will it be spent on?
I tossed out the $100k number based on the things we worked on last year when getting ZOMG off the ground. Some things that $100k could have been spent on are:
A more professional website (Holmes and I just used GitHub pages)
A more professional logo (I made the one we have now in Adobe Illustrator, I’m definitely not a pro graphic designer )
Hiring a contractor to help us follow up with grants (now handled by @decentralistdan )
Tweaks and updates to the Grants platform (cost was covered by ZF)
Social media campaigns to raise awareness to apply for a grant.
I’m sure if we would have had a set $ budget we could have come up with other stuff to spend it on too, but we would have added that work on top of the normal Grant review workload. Keeping in mind that anything added onto ZOMG plate takes time and effort to do well.
By adding items explicitly into the ZIP proposal, @aquietinvestor is suggesting what it could be spent on:
Are there some of those that could be served by ZF (Z-confrences, ZOMG support personnel) or by the existing Grants program (research)?
How much time beyond the expected 15hrs per month do the ZOMG members anticipate to be able to manage and organize these items on top of normal Grant review and follow up activity?
And as I mentioned before:
Is very broad terminology equating to a blank check for “Whatever things ZOMG can get the 5 members to agree to”.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against ZOMG having an independent operating budget of it’s own (more autonomy is better for decentralization) but in my opinion there needs to be accountability, realistic expectations for the time commitments required, and tangible benefits for Zcash users.
If it’s anything that attracts more Developers to build stuff on Zcash or drives adoption I’m strongly in favor of it. We just have to be diligent that it’s not an allocation of funds that would have been better spent by giving out Grants to professional full time teams building ZSAs, smart contracts, zkRollups, integrations, wallets, etc… for Zcash itself.
I’m okay not adding items explicitly into the amendment. If someone wants to propose alternative language to include, we can consider that. However, I think that it should be broad enough to not limit the independence and autonomy of ZOMG. At the end of the day, we should be able to trust the committee to make smart decisions that will benefit the Zcash ecosystem. There should be strong transparency requirements, and the community should scrutinize how ZOMG uses the funds and hold it accountable if they’re not using the funds wisely.
$100K may be sufficient. The nice thing about not writing the amount into the ZIP amendment is if ZOMG ever needs to increase or decrease the budget it can always be put to ZCAP for a vote. I feel a lot more comfortable having ZCAP decide what the budget should be rather than me trying to propose a budget/cap combo based on the comments I’ve received and putting that to ZCAP for a vote to approve or reject.
Shawn, I agree with this, but FWIW I do not think that “prior restraint governance” is an effective way to get this. By “prior restraint” governance I mean some combination of (a) explicit terms specifying what MUST and MUSTNT and SHOULD and SHOULDNT be done, and/or (b) some trusted third party who the intended agent has to get permission from every step of the way, so that the trusted third party can prevent the agent from going outside the intent.
(Gordon Mohr once memorably told me in private conversation that RFC 2119 terms like MUST and SHOULD are “governance theatre”. People think they’re getting assurance of the kind of performance that they want, but they aren’t actually.)
Instead, I recommend “trust but verify governance”. You specify the overarching goals and motivations in advance, and then you empower good people to do whatever they think is best for those goals. This empowers them, it signals that you trust their integrity and their judgment, and most importantly it sets them to accomplish things that you couldn’t have thought of in advance. Then, you need transparency, and after-the-fact scrutiny and guidance.
This strategy critically hinges on finding good people! People of high integrity and high skill. In a word: leaders. Fortunately, we’ve now demonstrated by two successive strong slates of ZOMG candidates that the Zcash community can muster people like that. It’s a huge strategic advantage that Zcash has over competitors (e.g. the USD ) and one that we should leverage to the max!
After having taken part in the MINA Snapps Bootcamp & Hackthon last weekend and a couple ETH Global Hackathons over the years, I can confidently say that Hackathons go great lengths in connecting & inspiring builders and even building breakthrough proof of concepts that can be improved upon.
Regarding the discretionary funding bucket, I believe every zat coming from the Zcash block reward is a blessing! which allows the community to shape the future of ZEC as seen fit.
The MINA hackathon had $10,000 in participation prizes to every participant, now we may not want to directly compete with a pre-mined, VC coin in handing out 10 grand to participants, but if we have to make the choice in spending the funds we have access to, we could at least learn from how the other projects are pushing forward as they are our competition to gain investors, users and builders in the zero knowledge category.
Additionally, if we are allowed a discretionary spending budget, if possible, ZOMG members should be compensated from the ZOMG budget, and not be dependent upon ZF reserves. This change could alleviate the possible power issues brought up by @ml_sudo in the last few months.
That being said, I believe setting aside a higher cap of budget would be helpful to not start the discussion around every suggested activity by the limited 100k budget constraints, even the 18k per ZOMG compensation x 5 itself takes up 90% off the budget of 100k. Otherwise, I see the discretionary budget spent on outreach efforts to attract builders, spreading educational material via various social media channels and attending crypto related conferences.
This is not in the scope of the amendment. When I first contemplated the amendment months ago, I considered advocating for committee members to receive compensation from the MG Slice in order to alleviate the financial burden on ZF. You can see an early draft here. However, in the first discussion of the ZOMG-ZIP 1014 Independent Review Committee, it was made clear that the Zcash Foundation’s plan to increase the time commitment (from 5 hours per month to 15 hours per month) and compensation (from $500 per month to $1,500 per month) was well received and not a point of contention, and the scope of the amendment was limited to a discretionary budget.
The list Shawn gave above would be where my list would start too. I’d put special emphasis on #3:
This is solved now by having @decentralistdan in his role at ZF, but it’s pretty normal in the course of things for people to cycle out of roles every 2-4 years, and I think it makes more sense for ZOMG to have the option of hiring for this role directly next time if they want to.
Organizations and hiring are both complicated things, and it’s sometimes difficult to sync up between ZF and ZOMG because people are on different working schedules and there can be different organizational cultures or working styles. Right when ZOMG started, ZF happened to be in a leadership transition from Josh, to Antonie in an interim role, and then to Jack. This ended up delaying the process of hiring support staff for ZOMG quite a bit, because Antonie understandably wasn’t going to take that on when she was about to transition out, and then ZF had other priorities. There’s nothing like this kind of transition on the horizon I don’t think, but it’s still worth planning for by giving ZOMG the ability to hire directly if it needs to.
Another one on my list would be a security expert to help us pursue a strategy to improve security across the work being done by grantees, or an engineer to help us evaluate grant applicants and assess work performed.
Together, both of these make me pretty sure that $100,000 is too limiting. Having full-time support staff plus one or more part time technical experts already goes past $100,000 I think. ~$500,000 seems safe to me, and I think there’s enough oversight of ZOMG in the forums and through the election process to ensure these funds aren’t misused any more than grant funds would be misused.
ZOMG could use the RFP process to fill these roles too, but ZOMG could do that for almost anything, and it’s a bit awkward. If it looks like a staff position, we should handle it that way instead of forcing it to be an RFP; it’s cleaner that way and will be easier to find good people.
Communications about grants and recruiting of new grantees are two other areas where it would have been great to have support.