Boosting is a mechanism that allows people in the community to express that they believe a contribution is undervalued; that is to say, that a contribution is receiving too little Cred. In order to boost something, the booster must have Grain. They can then “plant” the Grain in order to Boost the contribution. That causes the Cred of the contribution to increase, in proportion to the amount of Grain that was planted.
The fact that Grain was planted is crucial; it means that Boosting is expensive, so that it serves as a credible signal that the contribution was undervalued.
The Booster has gone out of their way, and used their own Grain, to tell the community that something was undervalued. Therefore, they get a reward. The reward is a small share of the Cred that the boosted contribution earns.
For example, suppose you spot an extremely important Initiative which you believe will be very helpful to the project. Others haven’t yet seen its significance, so it doesn’t have much Cred attached to it; let’s say it currently has 10 Cred.
You decide to Boost it, planting (say) 10,000 Grain. Suppose this creates 100 new Cred for the initiative. Now that it’s worth a lot more Cred, someone is more likely to come along and Champion the initiative.
Becuase you played an important role in prioritizing the initiative, you now receive a share of its future Cred. If you were right that the initiative will be very impactful, you may earn a lot of Cred, and eventually, earn more than the 10,000 Grain you used to boost it in the first place.
Boosting creates a prediction market on the future value of contributions. It incentivizes people in the project to seek out under-appreciated contributions (or promising ideas) and then boost them to signal their importance to the community.
Boosting Use Cases
There are many reasons to Boost.
Boosting promotes downstream engagement, but boosting also increases the cred that will flow to the booster. This creates a prediction market on ideas. Community members are incentivized to boost content that they feel is “valuable,” where “value” describes content they think people should (or will) explore. It’s a signalling mechanism for content curation with economic incentives built in. If a mechanism was created that rewarded early boosters/commenters more than later ones, it would incentivize more people to comb through the depths of the community discourse to surface the most interesting stuff.
Boosting can also act as a bounty mechanism. This is possible via the initiative system. People can boost things that they want worked on, and then as people contribute to those things they will get lots of cred. This would be great for things like working on documentation or research/design related things. How these initiatives connect from Discourse threads to GitHub Issues is an open question, but it’s being developed. This will flow cred all the way from ideation to the shipment of an idea, rewarding everyone who contributed along the way (I specifically made a comment on this and a discussion ensued, but I can’t find it atm because there’s so… many… conversations… lol).
This idea was just brought up in the Champions and Heros thread. Essentially, there’s a dichotomy between declaring championship and earning championship. Boosting allows someone to signal intent towards an initiative. From there, however, we want to incentivize ongoing and increasing participation. Threshold boosting would give a boost to contributors who pass the threshold contribution of an Initiative (say 20%). This incentivizes people to keep contributing as more people also contribute. This allows people to both declare that they intent to champion an initiative through boosting, but then also earn “champion rewards” for following through on that commitment and contributing throughout the lifetime of that initiative.
If you create an Initiative for a vote, and then need to stake Grain to vote in that Initiative, then you could have a system where the “winners” of the vote have their Grain converted to a Boost (staked into the Initiative) while the losers can exit. Since SourceCred is retroactive, this creates skin in the game where the people who stake the most Grain (and thus have the most voting weight) then have to tie their Grain to the outcome of a decision. If the decision results in future endeavors that have lots of Cred then that Cred will flow back to the decision and all those who boosted it with Grain. If the decision results in negative Cred, however, then Cred will not flow back to boosters and their Grain will essentially be burnt.
This would have a few benefits:
- People are incentivized to engage in governance because if they contribute to discussions that lead to positive outcomes Cred will then flow back to the discussion around a decision as well as those who voted on the decision.
- People who vote have skin in the game where their Grain is tied to the outcome of the decision. This makes decision making a prediction market on what will create the most Cred in the future.
Aligned incentives! Yay
“Cred Historians” and Curators are the main agents who are expected to be using Grain to boost things.
SourceCred in 5 minutes explains Boosting from a high level.
SourceCred UI Design and Development explores how users might interact with the Boosting mechanism.