Naming choices: "Isk", "Grain", ...?

Since the early days of SourceCred, I’ve imagined it being a two-quantity system: cred, a non-fungible contribution score, and (OTHERNAME), a fungible “proof of support”.

I love cred as a name. It’s simple, evocative, and sounds good. I’ve never been sure what the second name should be.

For a while, I’ve been calling it “grain”. I liked the idea of “harvesting” grain from your work on the project, and the boosting mechanic (see overview) can be seen as “planting” grain to grow more cred.

Also, cred to @LB for helping come up the name “grain”.

However, I never felt that “grain” worked quite as well as “cred”. And with the new logo and site design, SourceCred has been taking on a more techno/topian cypherpunk aesthetic (which I’m really into). “Grain” feels a little out of place in that aesthetic.

On a whim yesterday, I started using the word “isk”. I’m inspired by the InterStellarKredits (the currency of the video game EVE Online) which is in turn inspired by the Icelandic króna. I like that Isk sounds futuristic and simultaneously abstract. To me, its phonetically complimentary to “cred” in a way that “grain” isn’t.

That said, it’s gotten mixed reviews. Would love any feedback, thoughts, and suggestions!

I like the idea of using association to give it a certain image. In that regard I both like grain and mana spending on what it would have in terms of effect. If it decays when unused and offers one-off benefits I think mana is great, whether that is associated with spellcasting in games or the biblical manna (don’t want to let food spoil, can’t eat it more than once, might want to share it, might want to keep it). If it feels more like a pay-it-forward system or bounty for bugs you want to see fixed, grain or seeds work well.

Isk for me doesn’t have this sort of association. Although it’s a pretty well known game economy to make references to, association wise I think for many people you’ll need to create a mental image from scratch.

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Starting with a term that is a bit more of a “blank canvas” could be a benefit; as we figure out what it means, the word will acquire the right meaning. But I think the associations for mana are all pretty on-the-spot for how I’m imagining it working right now.

:+1:for mana

It makes sense in soooo many ways:

  1. Mana has a super dope and relevant etymology: "Mana is a foundation of the Polynesian worldview, a spiritual quality with a supernatural origin and a sacred, impersonal force. To have mana implies influence, authority, and efficacy—the ability to perform in a given situation. The transition from Polynesian worldview to video game mechanic is intriguing.

  2. Unlike ‘health’ - mana is a more complex ‘stat’ that has unique attributes. In Diablo 2 if I remember, it slowly regenerates over time and higher level spells cost more mana. There’s also a maximum amount of mana that can be held at any point in time - this maximum increases as a character ‘levels up’ - in dnd 5e this is communicated in # of spell slots. As another example, in Larry Niven’s fantasy books - mana is the magical fuel used to cast spells, and is a non-renewable environmental resource; heavy use of magic could deplete the mana in an area.

In Sourcecred, mana is representing an individual’s “support” of a project. “Support” is definitely a more “magical” type of contribution vs. what contributes to a cred score. It’s more subjective, ‘softly’ defined, and mystical because it’s often just the awesomeness of human beings who are building towards something they believe in (not to get all mushy but you know what I mean).

As a mechanic some reflections/ideas:

  • Mana can regenerated when it’s used because it can be generated and calculated continuously by active contributions of ‘support’.

  • It can be capped at a maximum (maybe like in Niven’s books, it IS a scarce resource. Maybe every project has a maximum amount of mana available based on some other variables…).

  • Mana can depreciate / disappear (demurrage) if not used OR just only regenerate to the maximum

  • Contributors can ‘level up’ their maximum mana based on threshold of cred, time spent contributing to the project, or some other subjective reward structure.

  • Mana can be dynamically spent to express “influence” (re: og definition of mana). Just like spells, to exert more influence (i.e. stronger spells) will cost more mana. This will make use of mana intentional.

More thoughts here… but maybe will spin out in a game mechanic thread… Regardless - mana ftw :crystal_ball:

As a non gamer, my first response to “isk” was to misread it as “ick” (not good). It also sounds a little “brittle”, or “incomplete” to me for some reason. Mana is good, though that’s been used a lot of places, including as the token for Decentraland, which is similarly a game playing with cryptoeconomic incentives. Especially if SourceCred starts getting used in crypto land (inevitable), this is going to cause confusion.


I still like Grain. Perhaps it’s just grown on me, but evokes associations that makes sense (growing/producing/civilization). Though not particularly attached to it.

More fun things

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