I am going to unpack this further because I believe that we cannot simply define a balance of powers between 3 overlapping groups. Not only can groups collude, but actually the density of the community may actually accumulate in the overlaps which creates built in collusion, even if it’s not nefarious. In this post I will further unpack the overlapping groups tendency to accumulate ‘mass’, building on the groups @decentralion has proposed.
a. Current Cred Contributors who are also high lifetime cred. These are ostensibly old guard but if the categories are defined by behavior then someone who is still laboring extensively to improve sourcecred is different from someone has previously done a great deal of work and wishes to steer future work or community decisions without continuing to provide labor. When I was researching the feedback dynamics for time based cred versus the snapshot view of cred it became clear that the timeline cred parameters could have a large effect on persistent past contributions are. As we dive deeper into the question of balance of power it is important to note that being high lifetime cred and high current cred will not be uncorrelated, it is very likely that inner circle community members will be both. We might think of these as maintainers, there is an old brainstorming thread about that here: Maintainers User Stories discussion.
b. Current Cred Contributors whi are also Grain Holders. Assuming one is not also an old guard contrubutor this group represents an entrant to the community who is providing both capital and labor. Such a person is unlikely to be in need of payouts to cover their expenses and thus their contributions could be seen as magnified. Their labor will result and cred which will accumulate over time and eventually they may also become high lifetime cred. This could be increased by boosting work that they intend to do themselves (as @decentralion suggested above). Additionally, lacking a need to cash out to cover expenses, their level of grain may compound significantly faster than other new cred contributors. This to me feels a bit like joining a MMPORPG but buying your first character level ups and gear. In some ways this could be good, we’re all one team here, that contributor can have more impact faster and they put more on the line. However, we still want this power leveling mechanic to be muted enough that this accelerate onboarding is balanced with the other community members.
c. Old guard cred holders who are also grain holders. It is extremely likely that old guard cred constributors will also be grainholders. In fact even with the limited history of the credsperiment this is already visible: Week 7 Grain Distribution … Distribution for Weeks 9 & 10 . @wchargin is the canonical example of this group. One of the original core developers, he is responsible for no small way fort the existence of sourcecred as we know it today. Second in lifetimecred and Grain accumulated only to @decentralion. His week to week contributions are modest but valuable and come largely from code reviews and feedback thanks to his deep experience in the project. I think this role has reasonably balanced power today in ‘level one’ but i think it is important to note that many old guard contributors are likely to be grain holders.
d is for @decentralion: old guard, current top contributor and highest grain holder. This category today contains only one person, but it’s important to note that they are carefully distributing power. If @decentralion were an AGI, this would be a computer aided democracy. The benevolent dictator discussion has been constructive, but here I we should ask: in 5 years when 20 people are the old guard + core contributors + top ranked grain holders, do we have a plutocracy? What can the other 6 categories do if they don’t like the direction this group is bringing the project? Forking is of course the governance of last resort, but that’s also a form of breakdown because it represents unreconcilable differences within the community.
Within the discussion of balance of powers i propose we discuss power balance in terms of 7 categories (sorry to make it so messy), but then observe where the ‘mass’ if the distribution is likely to accumulate, and make sure the balance of power appropriately enfranchises all the subgroups in the partition. I mocked up a sample of the visuals I would find most useful for reasoning about the flow of power in sourcecred over time. Caveat: this has not been matched to our data, it is meant to demonstrate visually the dimensions of sourcecred stakeholdership. Choosing the metric for the partition would have a non-trivial impact on the qualitative interpretation of the results.
I hope this helps with the discussion!