Context / Inspiration — What got me thinking…
Thanks to our benevolent corporate sugar daddy PL, we are in a very different position resource-wise than many communities who want/need some community credit primitive. In our community we’re essentially using SourceCred to define how to get the goodies from corporate sugar daddy. However, our situation is an anomaly, or at least I hope it is, because I believe we should be building for communities that need SourceCred to get off the ground and to scale—to make self-organizing collectives that were not possible possible—to enable and unlock new forms of human organization through a brilliant organizational primitive.
So how can we better serve resource constrained communities that don’t look or think like us?
Excitement around the Creditor is a major step towards allowing communities to align SourceCred with what they value. Even within our community, SourceCred has worked not because plugins are great out of the box, but because it has the capacity to transcend the plugins. SourceCred can dance elegantly with our values from week to week, month to month. This power is what we should be leaning into as much as possible. But where is this power coming from?
Currently, the only way for communities to specify what they value outside of plugins are the props and did-a-thing special channels in Discord. I haven’t done a formal analysis, but my strong hunch is that without these channels, our cred scores would be majorly misaligned as they would fail to capture all the great contributions that cannot be captured well by plugins. Only a fraction of what we value can be captured by plugins, and it can only be captured so well.
My point here is that the the foundation of SourceCred is soft community consensus (props/did-a-thing) that transcends any hard tokenization of it (plugins). The plugins can be improved with time, allowing us to more precisely quantify contributions in a more automated, scalable way. The floor is the “soft-cred”, and the sky is filled with clouds of great plugins, or “hard-cred”.
So how specifically can we empower communities to align SourceCred with what they value?
Recap: If we’ve learned anything, it’s that communities (including ourselves) need a way to align their SourceCred instance with their values beyond the plugins. We’ve seen that props and did-a-thing can help serve that purpose.
Now, let’s see how these two channels can be better. Right now, they reward popular contributions, not necessarily ones that align with our values. We have been fortunate to be a small community of good faith actors thus far, allowing popularity to be a good signal of value. However, this mechanism is fragile as the community grows and noise begins to dilute signal.
To be hyper clear, we need something that can offer:
- quality signaling about what’s valuable
- quality signaling about how valuable things are, and
- aggregation of information about non-plugin contributions.
How do props and did-a-thing rank?
- Works if Discord populated mostly by good faith, knowledgeable actors.
- Same as (1) but can also suffer from popularity dynamics. What’s most valuable might not be the most popular. What’s most popular might not be the most valuable. More specifically, it has the property that Alice might receive less cred than Bob would for the same contribution. We can do better.
Ultimately, this boils down to two problems we need to solve:
- Drowning out noise for trusted, quality signal.
- Fair quantification of value such that the same contribution gets credited equally independent of who did it.
This was a birds-eye overview of the situation. In Pt 2. I’ll explore how I think we can go about this. But first, please let me know your thoughts so I can include everyone’s wonderful feedback.