Hello! @prose11 here again from MakerDAO. I was reading up on @decentralion’s post about SourceCred Salary Caps and their thoughts prompted me to create a broader topic, again anchoring itself in MakerDAO since that’s where I have the experience of using SourceCred and am currently tasked with researching and exploring areas of improvement. While such a discussion has obvious benefits for me, I hope SourceCred platform users will also find the questions and thoughts surrounding it to be meaningful (and helpful) to your own journey with scaling.
I believe tacking the scaling question will be critical for SourceCred (both internally and for test communities like MakerDAO). Fundamentally, this program is attempting to revolutionize the way contributors are compensated, and as the thread I linked to above explores, the motivations for how an organization might want to use SourceCred are diverse and user specific. However, at its core SourceCred has to be able to pay contributors a non-trivial amount of currency if it is to be implemented in a wide variety of organizations.
I am noticing a particular potential issue of “double pay” at MakerDAO. The community has addressed this and by and large has stated that members getting paid by the Maker Foundation (or eventually the DAO itself) still deserve to be eligible for SourceCred distributions, barring a few members whose fundamental job is to post on the Maker forum. I agree with this decision, however I don’t think the Maker community has quite worked out the “fairness” of SourceCred to the point where it actually encourages new contributors to join.
The base issue, IMO, is that it is very hard for most new users to be incentivized to get involved with Maker. I imagine this is a common problem across DAOs as without a hierarchical structure in place, it is not always apparent how a new user is to get paid for their time. SourceCred seems like an obvious solution to this problem as it seeks to pay users based on the meaningfulness of their contribution, but in practice (at least for MakerDAO) this plug-in gauge of meaningful contributions is not aligned to the real-world value.
One issue Maker has to tackle is that the top earning SourceCred contributors are also being paid handsomely by the Maker Foundation. So while it is not directly the job of someone on the Smart Contracts team to post on our forum, the work of creating the code is the real meaningful contribution (for which they are paid b the Foundation), but are again paid by SourceCred for posting about it on Maker’s forum. For reasons I am about to get into, I do not think this is a Maker-specific issue, but rather one of the SourceCred algorithm that makes it fundamentally hard to scale at organizations.
I highlighted the issues of using a salary/hourly pay in conjunction with SourceCred above, and will explore that in more detail later, but one concern I have about pushing more grain distributions into SourceCred is that it creates a feedback loop that ends up resembling a hierarchical structure rather quickly, once you have an “old guard” of users established. The way SourceCred is set up (for sure at Maker, but from what I can see here as well), users can create multiple cred streams from a single idea. In practice this looks like getting cred for proposing an idea, more cred for presenting the work that the idea proposed, and even more cred once the implementation goes on-chain/executes in the real world. From an incentive structure this makes sense, since contributing at any stage of this development is useful to the organization and in theory can be done by any actors in the community. But what happens when we compare the cred flows along that path for an established vs a new user?
The big issue I see is that “old guard” members have much more of a following. As such they will receive more “likes,” links, and replies than a new member, even if they both contribute something of equal weight. Part of this is because of social constructs that are hard to counteract, but I think it gets to the deeper issue proposed by @elie in Building SourceCred for the Wider World: SourceCred was designed to break down patriarchal power structures with regards to compensation, but with society still favoring contributions from privileged members, instances that generate Cred will be skewed toward existing power structures. In my example it is an established community member vs a new one, but it could just as easily be a contribution from a man vs one from a woman, or favoring contributions from a neurotypical individual.
Ideally, the community using SourceCred would be aware of these biases, and even have programs in place to help prevent them from entering the workspace. However, it’s worth noting that even if all users were hyper-aware of this phenomenon, SourceCred favors interactions with more established members of the community. In other words, individuals will receive more grain from engaging with privileged members of an organization, economically incentiviezing them to do so over an equal opportunity to engage with someone with less privilege at an organization. In practice, that leaves a user stuck between doing what is right and what will get them paid, a tangential reason for SourceCred’s creation.
Because of this phenomenon, it is unlikely that an organization would be able to exist without having some method of paying contributors outside of SourceCred. Otherwise important ideas (and even ones fundamental to building a more just organization) may not be incentivized. I am curious if the SourceCred community has reached the same conclusion, or if there is something to refute the logic I’ve put forward. Barring that refute, IMO the only way to engage paying a community that is also using SourceCred is to invert the entire concept of paid work. I believe for SourceCred to scale and work effectively, organizations will have to shift their salary/hourly compensation entirely to new/unestablished members. With something like a trial-run or organizational cap on how much can be paid to new members, people wishing to contribute to an organization will be paid until such point that they can be considered “established” already with a body of work within the organization to fuel future contributions.
By greatly increasing grain distributions and factoring some sort of cap/tax as discussed in @decentralion’s post, an organization would be able to function at scale using SourceCred as the primary way to pay its members. While there would undoubtedly be funds lost to “new” members that don’t work out/just join to game the new member pay (probably would have to figure out something to prevent Sybil Attacks as well here) I would posit that they could be controlled to be no greater than the amount already being “wasted” by double paying paid community members for their public posts (after all can you really contribute to a DAO without showing your work to the public?).
If this has already been discussed I do apologize, but from some brief snooping I do not believe that to be the case. Curious to get community reaction on this and if there’s any hope at implementing at scale. I would also like to note that the critical tone of this post is a show of admiration from me. I truly believe there is nothing out there functioning anywhere near how well SourceCred is for its stated purposes. While there are a lot of hard ideas to tackle, I think being over critical of how the program can fail to meet its objectives is what keeps the march of progress toward a world where SourceCred is commonplace; I think this would be a much better world to live in.