CredSperiment: Opt-in or default-in?

As part of the CredSperiment, contributors will start earning ‘payouts’, which are redeemable for either cash (via OpenCollective) or mana.

I’d like to discuss who will be participating in the CredSperiment. I see a few options:

  1. Every contributor starts accumulating payouts by default, whether or not they have opted in or even are aware that the CredSperiment is happening
  2. Contributors need to explicitly opt-in before they start receiving payouts, possibly agreeing to some “cred pledge” or “cred code of conduct” while doing so.

The “cred pledge” I have in mind is something like:

I pledge to engage with SourceCred in good faith, and to try to see all contributors fairly rewarded for the value of their contributions. If I find exploits or ways to game SourceCred, I’ll share them with the community rather than exploiting them myself.

I’m slightly leaning towards option 2. right now. I think having people commit to shared norms as part of participating in the CredSperiment can help build a strong community. However, if there are people contributing who “miss the memo”, they may feel pretty miffed that they didn’t get paid for past weeks because they didn’t opt in. So that’s the downside.

If we do go with an opt-in approach, it will be lightweight, e.g. posting on a special Discourse thread.

Split on this.

Opt-in makes sense for a couple reasons.

  1. It gives mana/dollars to people that need it more. If someone is a crypto millionaire, maybe they want the option to give it to other contributors. Or can’t even be bothered to claim it, and it sits in the Treasury unused. If the mana/dollars is redistributed to contributors that opt in, that raise they receive could be the difference between someone being able to commit full-time or not (a key threshold).
  2. There could be advantages to having some kind of “friction” to joining the “community”. Some sort of filter for values. Though this is a very small amount of friction, and there may be better ways to do this (if desired).

Opt-out also makes sense:

  1. It does seem more fair. I can imagine situations where someone “misses the memo” and is miffed.
  2. While the “cred pledge” is good, I’m not sure how meaningful it will be. A malicious actor won’t care, and all well-intentioned actor will probably just click it without much thought. If there’s a filter, I think one based on actions will be more effective. For instance, perhaps a contributor “levels up”/starts getting paid only after their actions have demonstrated they respect the pledge.
  3. Less admin?

Opt-out might make more sense if they’re accumulating mana by default, depending on the relationship between cred, mana and dollars. Perhaps someone that missed the memo realizes they have mana collected and thinks that’s fair.

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Yeah, one approach could be that everyone earns mana by default, and needs to opt-in to get dollar payouts. This would allow us to direct the stream of dollar payouts more directly to the people for whom it may make the most difference, who can then opt-in. Just taking the preliminary week 1 payouts for example: I know @wchargin and I both intend to opt out from dollar payments, and given that, the $250 would go a lot further for the other contributors.

That said, I think there’s definitely something to be said for opt-out. First, it just makes the system simpler; everyone who contributes gets potential payments. Less admin, more potential happy surprise for contributors who learn about it later, and no appearance of an “insiders club” where the people in the know got paid earlier/more/better. We can then have an explicit step where contributors can redeem their payouts to mana instead of $, and can let contributors set an auto-redemption policy, which e.g. I can opt in to.

Given that some proportion of contributors are redeeming, we can then increase the weekly payout to account for it, so the contributors that want cash payouts will still get the increased payouts, but with the (added benefit?) that we’re distributing a higher nominal $ value total.

Not gonna lie, perked up slightly at reading that. Due to getting paid in crypto, pay next month is currently down ~30% due to this epic crash :grimacing: All part of the game, but it’s nice to diversify income streams, and happy accidents (unexpected rewards) are shown to increase motivation.

I think how I feel about this still depends on the relationship of mana and dollars? If mana is the way investors guide the direction of the project, and the project becomes wildly successful, will mana not the value of mana rise over time? Will not the happy surprise from early contributors that didn’t cash out become a happy happy surprise, similar to those that mined Bitcoin in 2011?

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Yeah, that’s an interesting point. At this point the plan for mana is quite vague, so it really could go either way.

Personally I feel like “people who need it more” dynamics creates volatility and a reliance on volunteer work which is not much different from the status quo in open source. Take for example a section of week 1 notebook data with a $500 payout budget.

User Week’s Cred (%) Week Payout Lifetime Cred (%) Lifetime Payout Total Payout
decentralion 41 29% $29.0 1960 36% $143.7 $172.7
wchargin 32 23% $22.9 1948 36% $142.9 $165.8
Beanow 19 14% $13.6 210 4% $15.4 $29.0
s_ben 9 6% $6.3 128 2% $9.4 $15.7
mzargham 2 2% $1.6 124 2% $9.1 $10.7
nayafia 0 0% $0.2 117 2% $8.5 $8.8
vsoch 7 5% $5.0 107 2% $7.8 $12.8
burrrata 13 10% $9.6 85 2% $6.2 $15.8
noman 0 0% $0.0 84 2% $6.1 $6.1
BrianLitwin 3 2% $2.1 77 1% $5.7 $7.7
LB 1 1% $0.8 77 1% $5.6 $6.4

Now removing decentralion and wchargin from the users and “reflowing” the same $500 budget as they’ve indicated being interested in choosing mana instead of $s.

User Week’s Cred (%) Week Payout Lifetime Cred (%) Lifetime Payout Total Payout
Beanow 19 28% $28.3 210 14% $54.3 $82.6
s_ben 9 13% $13.1 128 8% $33.1 $46.2
mzargham 2 3% $3.4 124 8% $32.2 $35.6
nayafia 0 0% $0.5 117 8% $30.1 $30.6
vsoch 7 10% $10.3 107 7% $27.7 $38.0
burrrata 13 20% $19.9 85 5% $22.0 $41.9
noman 0 0% $0.0 84 5% $21.6 $21.6
BrianLitwin 3 4% $4.3 77 5% $20.0 $24.3
LB 1 2% $1.7 77 5% $19.8 $21.5

That’s a massive leap! In the 280% - 330% range compared to the previous table. In relative terms the ~30% epic crash pales in comparison to what would happen when decentralion and wchargin decide to switch from mana to $s.

It also does weird things to the mana value. Suppose table 1 is used to determine how much mana you are eligible to. So decentralion can receive $172.70 worth of mana. Call it 17270 mana? Now because they and wchargin didn’t take the dolars, the remaining cred scores become worth about 300% in terms of payout. Does that mean decentralion’s mana shouldn’t have been 17270 but 3x that amount, in other words ~51810 mana / ~$518.10 worth?

In short I think this reflowing of remaining budget causes all sorts of warping of the value of cred and mana. It may be better to choose either $ or mana and not reflow. So if $300 worth of mana is taken, only $200 is payed out from the $500 budget. Over a few weeks time, the money that was not payed out can warrant increasing the budget instead maybe to $800 or $1000 per week.


With regards to opt-in vs opt-out.

I think a deadline to indicate preference between mana or $ is necessary. Because otherwise, a potentially substantial amount of unclaimed value starts to accumulate and an ever-growing financial reserve needs to be maintained for the day they come claiming it, if they ever do. The financial and legal headaches of functioning as a pseudo bank account for a long period of time I believe warrants this deadline.

The easy default option when their payout goes unclaimed for too long would be to go with mana. Of course because this solves our legal and financial woes at no cost. But also because mana itself can be made to decay. Meaning that people who never take any action towards their payout nor spend mana, will eventually lose all these benefits. Which I think is important, as it prevents someone passively gathering massive amounts of mana and being able to single-handedly take over the community incentives by dropping some incredible amounts of mana on things they care about using mana accrued over 5 years of inactivity.

The same idea should apply to going through the process of submitting an expense on opencollective to receive your $s when you’ve indicated this as your preference. Although this is solvable in the future with more automation here. For now it should probably have another deadline like, any $s not claimed by Feb 1 2020 will default to mana.

So some arbitrary values that make sense to me would be:

  • 4 weeks to indicate preference (e.g. in week 5, your week 1 payout will default to mana).
  • 4 weeks after the end of CredSperiment to submit an expense for $s you indicated preference for.

This relatively short deadline makes it similar to an opt-in system. Any pledges can be added at the preference indication step, and/or spending mana step, whichever comes first for that person. As that makes more sense than the submitting of opencollective expenses step and mana still has a real influence over cred and currency flowing to people.

Future stuff

Once someone actively indicated a preference for mana or $, that should probably be renewed after some time, for the same reasons. For example annually or bi-annually. CredSperiment won’t run that long, so I think this renewing won’t be necessary yet.

For scalability, you would probably want to provide automatic payouts over an x$ threshold. As I could imagine being a “nomad” that contributes to ~10 projects a year. Do that for 5 years and you now need to check 50 projects per week for payout details and claim currency from.

In the same line of thinking, a standardized format so you can aggregate cred and payout details and easily do the (bi-)annual preference renewal of those 50 projects in one personal dashboard would be really useful.

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Agreeing with most of this.

While the extra $$ is meaningful to me right now, enough to perhaps make me contribute more, as it makes it more financially viable, it does feel off somehow with the mana…though don’t have a strong opinion, as what mana is is still up in the air.

Yeah. A lot of crypto projects are finding this out the hard way. E.g. EOS burning $167M worth of EOS set aside for workers because they had no way to decide how to spend it (obviously a very different case, but a cautionary tale).

This makes sense. I can imagine being a nomad as well.

Also will note that being paid in crypto could simplify a lot of this down the road.

As a resolution: For the 2019 CredSperiment (which ends at EOY), we’ll make it opt-out, everyone gets payouts by default. Along the way, everyone can withdraw their payouts at any time (paying their own transaction fees). Afterwards, we’ll reach out to people and they can choose to cash out (paying tx fees), donate to SC (earning mana) or donating elsewhere (many small payouts can pool together to minimize tx fee overhead). Four weeks after the end of the 2019 CredSperiment, any funds that haven’t been claimed will automatically be donated back to SourceCred (earning mana).


I support a mana protocol that rewards early participants and aligns player incentives to create value for SourceCred. If the value of SourceCred is captured/represented in mana, then those who earn mana will want to contribute more to SourceCred. As those players contribute, the value of SourceCred will increase. As the value of SourceCred increases, the demand for mana (in a perfect world) will also increase. The price of mana should reflect the increase in value. This aligns incentives for all parties involved :slight_smile:

This is a very good point!

On the other hand, if I “play the game,” but know that my contributions will lose value over time, then it feels like life is stealing from me. Inflation is more fun because we all “feel” like we’re getting richer even though the real value of the pie has not increased. With depreciation it feels like I’m losing. What’s the point of being an early contributor and doing all the work to bootstrap the system if my work is only going to fade into the sunset and whoever comes along later and contributes when things are easy is going to earn more than my future self?

Is SourceCred chain and/or an ERC-20 token on the Cred Weighted Roadmap?

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(Note: I’m going to start calling ¤ “grain” instead of “mana”, for reasons discussed here).

I want to move grain from a “redemption model” (SourceCred redeems grain for $1=100¤) to a “purchasing model” (Protocol Labs buys grain for $1=100¤). This more clearly manifests the idea that the price of grain reflects how external parties currently value the project.

I’m now committed to making grain a digital currency, so it will be fungible and will not evaporate.

The Cred weighted roadmap will operate over every proposed initiative. So far, no one has written an initiative about making grain into an ERC-20 token. I encourage you to propose it.

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Much rejoicing! This is wonderful news :slight_smile:

Let the games begin!