Artifacts, Activity, and Cred Minting

Currently, we mint cred based on activity. E.g. every Discourse topic causes some new cred to be created. This has the unfortunate effect that:

  • It means SourceCred rewards quantity over quality
  • It means that SourceCred is very vulnerable to “spamming” type attacks

The supernode system gives us some of the means to address this: since the supernodes are manually curated, higher-level nodes, attaching weight to them is more robust than attaching weights directly to activity.

In the case of initiatives, it’s relatively clear how the cred minting can work. When an initiative is completed, it will “unlock” or “release” its cred bounty to its contributions, references, and dependencies. Initially, I will use my TBD powers to set the cred bounties, in the longer-term they will be set by boosting.

However, it’s never been particularly clear how artifact cred minting should work. It’s not as though they should release cred in any particular time interval, since artifacts are long-lasting and not associated with any particular week.

I propose that we have root artifacts which act as “cred annuities”, i.e.: every week, they mint a fixed amount of cred. For example, the Discourse artifact could mint 100 Cred every week. The Discourse artifact would be connected (weakly) to every post and topic in the forum; this way, if a project doesn’t want to set up artifacts, they will get behavior like the current behavior. However, the project can then configure the Discourse artifact to point to initiatives that help upkeep the forum, moderators that help keep it civil, to the most-liked posts, et cetera.

As another example, we could make a root “documentation” artifact, and have this artifact mint 20 cred every week. Each week, that cred would flow to whatever nodes it’s connected to–likely artifacts themselves, like the medium blog or podcast.

Over time, as we add more artifacts and the artifacts become more valuable, their “cred mint-iness” would go up. Possibly we could tie this into boosting too, where boosting an artifact costs a lot of Grain but increases the amount of cred it mints forevermore.

This system could achieve some of the goals outlined in smarter cred minting. If the Discourse artifact is sending 100 cred and there are only 10 topics, then each topic will get a lot of cred (== an incentive or “demand” for more topics). However, once there are 1000 topics, there will be a smaller cred reward “just for being a topic” (but highly influential topics will still get plenty of cred).

If the artifact weights become a principal means of moving cred within the system, we’ll also want the ability for artifacts to have different out-weights at different times. For example, the “SourceCred presentations” artifact might have a strong link initially to my open-source salon presentation, but as that talk becomes outdated, the connection weight would eventually get manually lowered. However, if the talk were being continually updated and refreshed, then we should keep a higher outbound weight.


If we accomplish nothing else, this would be enough. The world needs more “cred mintiness” lol

Overall, I think this is a great direction for further exploration. Would be great if we had Cred Analysis Notebooks to explore this further.

On the other hand, I fear that we might be over-engineering the system. Simple systems tend to work better in practice. No way to find out until we try it, but it’s important we don’t get too used to using our hyper customized version of SourceCred and become disconnected from the experience that new users/communities might have.

That being said, the current SourceCred system is not at all simple. The amount of Cred minted per week is chosen by TBD (right?) and the weights to do so are also determined by TBD. If out of the box there was a recommended weekly Cred minting from the main artifact that would be cool. Also, if there was a set of recommended add-on meta-Artifacts that you could enable (such as Art, Documentation, Support, Outreach, Code, Strategy, or whatever else) then that would be cool too. This would make it a lot easier for communities (including our own) to value, recognize, and reward all the diverse contributions that make projects successful.

Another thought: Boosting in itself provides incentives for the community to find and support valuable things. In a developed community that market based mechanism should be enough to incentivize Cred flow to high value Artifacts. This works once the community is live, but it has a bootstrapping problem: how do you boost if you don’t have Cred, and how do you earn Cred if no one is boosting? This points to a need to have a standard Cred minting process, esp in the boostrapping phase of a project/community.

I dunno… I’m just brainstorming on ideas here, but overall I think this is a good direction to explore :slight_smile:

The amount of grain is chosen by the TBD; however, the amount of cred created each week is the sum of the node weights of all nodes for that week. Thus, if we have a default weight of 8 for Discourse topics, then every new Discourse topic will cause 8 more cred to be minted that week. This is not a robust system, which is why we need to change it.

Yep, as we start to solidify the protocol, we should give a lot of thought to how to make it easy to configure by default. We can have each plugin register some “default artifacts” which cause the plugins to mint cred in a predictable way with very little setup.

Agreed. This is why I propose having artifacts mint cred by default–they will be the “bootstrap” source of cred before any boosting happens.

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