A SourceCred Values Proposal

This is my proposal for a Statement of Values for SourceCred.

Background

Why does this matter?

Our mission, vision, and values align us. We work in a decentralized manner. In order to get things done, we need to make sure we’re moving in broadly the same direction and with coherence. This post focuses on our values, but I’ll be posting more about our mission and vision soon.

These values are going to be presented as part of the Values Town Hall on October 29th, 2021. For even more values, check out this amazing Miro board that @saintmedusa put together, which we’ll be using to decide on and ratify our values. For more info about that Town Hall (and other related Town Halls,) check out @saintmedusa’s discourse post.

Where did all this stuff come from?

Lots of work has gone into defining our mission, vision, and values at SourceCred. @lotusleaf compiled most of the values listed here (as well as many mission and vision statements) into this document. The values came from a bunch of different places.

My proposal is an attempt to refine what @lotusleaf compiled.


Values

What Are Values?

Values are principles we work to embody. These principles guide our actions & interactions. Our value statement lists the core principles that direct SourceCred & its culture.

  • There’s a difference between embedded values (the values we build into our product) and community values (the things that we, as a community, value). Some will carry over; some won’t. I’m aiming for umbrella values that overlap both categories.
  • This is an attempt to define our values, not to figure out how we are living (or can live) them. I propose we work on the question of implementation sometime soon.

Past Values Proposals:

    - Integrity
    - Transparency
    - Trust
    - Empathy
    - Compassion
    - Leaderful Action
    - Accountability
    - Innovation
    - Collaboration
    - Decentralization
    - Self-Sovereignty
    - Autonomy
    - Combined Labor & Ownership / Anti-alienation from one’s work
    - Fairness
    - Equity
    - Liberation
    - Health & Wellbeing
    - Community-First
    - Impact
    - Friendship
    - Human Coordination
    - Shadow work
    - Consent

My Values Proposal

I propose 6 core values: trust, compassion, self-sovereignty, collaboration, liberation, and decentralization. I have also included sub-values that I believe follow from the core values, but which require special notice. Also, the definitions / value statements I’ve written feel to me like starting points. I’d love more thoughts.

  • Trust: We value both practicing trust in others (within reason) and proving ourselves worthy of trust.

    • Transparency: We value being open & honest about our actions & ideas.
    • Integrity: We value working in alignment with stated moral code.
    • Accountability: We value being responsible for our actions and their impact.
  • Compassion: We recognize that we all have struggles, pain, hardship, and blindspots, and that we’re all trying hard to survive and thrive.

    • Well-being > Profit: We prioritize human health and well-being over profit. This includes but is not limited to: physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual health.
  • Self-Sovereignty: We value each person’s right to be the only one with final say over what they do or believe.

    • Consent: We recognize each other’s self-sovereignty and make space for choice.
    • Leaderful initiative: We value having many leaders, not one (or none). Everyone chooses what projects they work on. Anyone can start a project.
    • Self-awareness: We value being aware of ourselves, including but not limited to our feelings, thoughts, blindspots, hurts, privileges, and strengths. We don’t expect anyone to be perfectly self-aware, but we do ask one another to turn towards themselves, even when it’s hard or they don’t like what they see.
  • Collaboration: We value working with each other. Many hands make light work, and everyone brings a unique perspective to a task or problem.

  • Liberation: We value removing barriers to access created by marginalization.

    • Equity: We recognize that due to many life factors (especially but not limited to marginalization), not everyone starts on the same footing. We value giving people what they want and need to succeed and live well.
  • Decentralization: We value sharing power, information, and work between our many selves.

10 Likes

Ezra! This is such an excellent write up! Huge gratitude and props to you, the recent team, and past contributors for distilling such a complicated topic down to a potent, thoughtful, and accessible description!

A few thoughts that came up when I read through this:

Small nitpick change: “Integrity: We value acting in alignment with our stated moral code.”

Another way I’ve thought about this that adds a shade of nuance:

“Wellbeing Over Profit: We recognize that sustainable wellbeing and sustainable profit are both important priorities to the success of a project; however we choose to never prioritize profit at the detriment of the wellbeing of people (contributors, community members, or users). This includes but is not limited to: physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual health.”

  • Integrity: We value working in alignment with stated moral code.

A suggested addition to the compassion section:

“Empathy: We value imagining and relating to the experiences of those we’re in conflict with to the best of our ability in order to improve our motivated biases. Note that this does not contradict being angry, hurt, or honest.”

"Respect: We strive to be compassionate and respectful in our communications and actions in order to honor the inherent basic dignity of all people. We do not employ degradation, false claims, or weaponized shame in order to communicate. Note that this does not contradict being angry, hurt, or honest. "

Nitpick: “Consent: We recognize each other’s self-sovereignty and protect a participant’s right to choose what situations, experiences, interactions, or relationships they do not wish to participate in.”

I feel it’s somewhat important to define that consent is less that you get to make any choice a reality, and more that you have a right to step away from any situation that you don’t like or is harmful to you.

This one feels like it’s pointing at something that is very true for us, but I find myself craving more clarity or nuance. Does “Everyone chooses what projects they work on” contradict defining membership for a circle? Is it meant to defend entry into any group, or is it meant to emphasize that people are encouraged to follow their talents rather than being pigeon-holed into a role/field?

I can see a potential reality where someone uses this value to force entry into a circle or team they are in conflict with or don’t have the expertise to contribute to. Maybe that’s a situation we want to be able to have, so that no one can be excluded from a working group. Maybe we want to prioritize the ability for a group to be aligned in their work and execute on ideas despite dissenting opinions. Either way, it’s good to clarify.

I personally would prefer to encourage circles to have the option to define their membership in some way (while still being transparent about their work) and keep the effectiveness of alignment on ideas, methods, and personal values. However, to ensure that ideas/work doesn’t become siloed or gatekept, I want there to be a strong culture of being able to spin up different groups working on the same challenge/idea/feature. This was always a strong part of the original SourceCred vision – no one could be pushed out due to bigotry or conflict of ideas, instead it would be easy to fork the idea/group/project in order to create a different vision of the same thing. This is something we’re actually pretty bad at right now, but I want in our space.

I think what this “leadershipful initiative” line is trying to get at is super important for us to convey. It feels like a huge part of the shift from capitalistic work environments to the decentralized web3 environment.

Ideas I feel like this line is trying to convey:

  • We are decentralized and want to encourage the idea that no one person is in charge of everything either in responsibility or authority.
  • We value the ability of participants to choose their area(s) of interest/talent, and don’t confine a person to a particular field of labor because of their identity. We also allow inter-field cross-pollination and do not confine participants to only one area of interest/labor.
  • We discourage the ability of any group within our decentralized org to say that another group cannot form to work on its ideas, even if it is a repeat of an existing effort. I.e. no group can gatekeep an idea, effort, or field of labor – only their own membership.

I also feel that portions of this value would best fit in the “Decentralization” section rather than the “Sovereignty” section? Less worried about that than clarifying the intent.

I think this section could also contain:

  • Curiosity: We value pushing ourselves to think differently and be open to the ideas of others, even when we don’t understand them at first. We do our best to evaluate our biases and how they impact our reasoning, impressions, and perspectives.
    • [See the book “The Scout Mindset”]
  • Experimentation: We value trying new ideas/methods (even if just temporarily) in a controlled and thought through way in order to learn more from both successes and failures.
  • Iterative Labor: Because of our decentralized environment, we value creating contributions that are transparently recorded, well defined/contained, and easy to build on. This allows us to easily change areas of focus as individuals and/or decentralize our projects.
  • Effective Feedback: we value improving our ability to provide feedback that is kind, honest, respectful, and useful. We value being able to receive feedback with grace and critical thought (even if we decide not to use it).

That’s all for now! Amazing write up, thanks for making it so easy for me to plug in and provide opinions, additions, and feedback!

7 Likes

Into it.

I appreciate the nuance! I’m definitely going to incorporate this edit.

I really appreciate this framing of empathy.

I also enjoy your addition of respect. I want to tweak that first sentence, since it comes out a little recursively definitive. How about: "Respect: We strive to honor the inherent basic dignity of all people through our communications and actions. We do not employ degradation, false claims, or weaponized shame in order to communicate. Note that this does not contradict being angry, hurt, or honest. "

Yeah, I’m into that.

I feel you; this one definitely needs work. Here I’m trying to point towards an idea that @s_ben has articulated (and I would love to hear him articulate again/more!) It’s definitely not meant to say that anyone can enter any group. It is meant to communicate that we encourage people to step up and be leaders, to stretch themselves and take ownership of their work, and that we aim to create a space rich with leadership without hegemony.

I definitely do want to convey this somewhere in our values statement. I think this point could be a great part of the “decentralization” definition.

To me this feels like a related but separate value from “leaderfulness”. It’s funny – I feel like this happens so naturally at SC that I didn’t think to explain it. What would you call this value?

This seems like it fits well under both “self-sovereignty” and “decentralization”. I’m trying to think of a succinct word for this value and failing. Thoughts?

Love these!

Thank you for the feedback! I really appreciate your contributions. I’m definitely going to work a lot of this into the version I bring to the Town Hall.

2 Likes

The first time I heard ‘leaderful not leaderless’ was in a tweet about decentralization. I think we could put this under self-sovereignty (the two concepts overlap a lot), but perhaps this is better expressed under decentralization?

I’d suggest not getting too deep into the how (tactics, membership criteria, etc.) and stick to the high-level values. I do like that we’re getting as specific as possible here. It feels like we’re doing good work imagining how these values exist now, and how they could be put into practice. But being too prescriptive could make it harder for everyone to align.

I think if we can live all of these proposed values, and create containers and support systems that foster leadership, we can have a ‘leaderful’ culture. Doing that in practice (more than we are now; I’d argue we already do this pretty well compared to most projects), will require more work on MVV, governance (e.g. effective, inclusionary membership criteria), and potentially tokenomics (e.g. allowing aspiring leaders to permissionlessly request funding, and not be blocked by incumbants tempted to monopolize resources).

Thank you @LB, I dig into words and enjoy when others question language too!!! I wanna share what came up for me when I imagined altering the same sentence.

If I changed “working” it would be to “behaving”. For me it has to do with accountability and people owning that they will be accountable for thier own behaviors as well as the impact of them. This isnt to say someone is responsible for how someone else may feel about what they say, but more so the nuance of being self aware of our own shadows, biases and motivations when we make the conscious decision to speak.

To me in a literal sense acting is faking/ performing, while behaving is grammatically and energetically more honest in this context. I believe the words we use are all spells and should be thought of as the magic within linguistics. I attribute this ideology in part to spending time in indigenous spaces and hearing of the spells that have been cast on society and how the colonizers tongue was responsible for influencing such horrible atrocities.

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