SourceCred Boosting: a prediction market on ideas

As described in the incredibly amazing Champions and Heros post, we need to design the “boosting” mechanism.

Boosting is a mechanism that allows people in the community to express that they believe a contribution is undervalued; that is to say, that a contribution is receiving too little Cred. In order to boost something, the booster must have Grain. They can then “plant” the Grain in order to Boost the contribution. That causes the Cred of the contribution to increase, in proportion to the amount of Grain that was planted.

The fact that Grain was planted is crucial; it means that Boosting is expensive, so that it serves as a credible signal that the contribution was undervalued.

The Booster has gone out of their way, and used their own Grain, to tell the community that something was undervalued. Therefore, they get a reward. The reward is a small share of the Cred that the boosted contribution earns.

For example, suppose you spot an extremely important Initiative which you believe will be very helpful to the project. Others haven’t yet seen its significance, so it doesn’t have much Cred attached to it; let’s say it currently has 10 Cred.

You decide to Boost it, planting (say) 10,000 Grain. Suppose this creates 100 new Cred for the initiative. Now that it’s worth a lot more Cred, someone is more likely to come along and Champion the initiative.

Becuase you played an important role in prioritizing the initiative, you now receive a share of its future Cred–say, 1%. If you were right that the initiative will be very impactful, you may earn a lot of Cred, and eventually, earn more than 10,000 Grain.

Boosting thus creates a prediction market on the value of the contribution. It incentivizes people in the project to seek out under-appreciated contributions (or promising ideas) and help ensure that they are justly valued.

Boosting, so far, is just an idea. The mechanisms to implement it have not yet been created. This thread will explore:

  • what is boosting? (boosting mechanics)
  • how to boost? (UI/UX)
  • boosting IRL (development of the boosting mechanism)

Boosting Reference Material


Boosting Mechanics

A few ideas on boosting have been discussed so far.

Speculative Boosting

  • Boosting promotes downstream engagement, but boosting also increases the cred that will flow to the booster. This creates a prediction market on ideas. Community members are incentivized to boost content that they feel is “valuable,” where “value” describes content they think people should (or will) explore. It’s a signalling mechanism for content curation with economic incentives built in. If a mechanism was created that rewarded early boosters/commenters more than later ones, it would incentivize more people to comb through the depths of the community discourse to surface the most interesting stuff.

Bounty Boosting

  • Boosting can also act as a bounty mechanism. This is possible via the initiative system. People can boost things that they want worked on, and then as people contribute to those things they will get lots of cred. This would be great for things like working on documentation or research/design related things. How these initiatives connect from Discourse threads to GitHub Issues is an open question, but it’s being developed. This will flow cred all the way from ideation to the shipment of an idea, rewarding everyone who contributed along the way (I specifically made a comment on this and a discussion ensued, but I can’t find it atm because there’s so… many… conversations… lol).

Threshold Boosting

  • This idea was just brought up in the Champions and Heros thread. Essentially, there’s a dichotomy between declaring championship and earning championship. Boosting allows someone to signal intent towards an initiative. From there, however, we want to incentivize ongoing and increasing participation. Threshold boosting would give a boost to contributors who pass the threshold contribution of an Initiative (say 20%). This incentivizes people to keep contributing as more people also contribute. This allows people to both declare that they intent to champion an initiative through boosting, but then also earn “champion rewards” for following through on that commitment and contributing throughout the lifetime of that initiative.

How to boost (UI UX)

This is an open question, esp since we would (presumably) want boosting to work on Discourse, GitHub, and potentially other platforms as well.

A few ideas…

Browser Plugin

Might be easier to maintain than platform specific solutoins. Would create a common UI and UX flow across platforms.

Discourse plugin

We could potentially write a Discourse plugin which keeps track of every user’s Grain, and gives them the option to Boost a topic from within the UI.


Could help us create a unified UX across platforms.


Fun Fact (rumor): Reddit upvotes were called “boosts” before they were called upvotes.

1 Like

All three types of boosting (speculative, bounty, threshold) I think are valuable and powerful. They should also be able to be used without interfering with each other (i.e. axiomatic).

Threshold boosting is fun because it feels like a game, adds that gamification element. Bounty boosting is a nice way to allow leaders a form of ‘top down’ way to direct of resources. Speculative boosting allows for a move open ended, robust mechanism. This is the one I’m most excited about. It may allow more “pure” game theoretic play. Here, price discovery and “trading” (via general interaction between “investors” (contributors aware of each others’ cred scores)), could be a powerful force.

Today I had a moment on Twitter today that made me wish speculative boosting already existed. See, I “discovered” an up-and-coming music video artist a couple months ago. An anonymous spaceman, Lil Bubble, first burst onto Crypto Twitter (CT) with a parody of Mad World (54k views),

I didn’t catch their “first show”, but did catch their second, bigger hit, a parody of Lil Nas’ All-Time Lows (155k views),

Fucking brilliant. My ‘buy signals’ were spiking. Catchy music, good iconography that tapped into “alt coin trading culture” (I labeled it in my head), cheap production costs.

Seeing their talent, and having a general desire to support artists in the space, I followed them, liked and retweeted all their subsequent videos (even ones I didn’t like as much), offered support in comments, even a little carefully phrased unsolicited constructive criticism. In short, I invested.

A couple days ago, Binance flew Lil Bubble to #BlockshowAsia2019, where they played the main stage and brought CZ up on stage. Presumably this was their first big payday (CZ wouldn’t fly artists to Singapore to play their conference without paying them).

Their followers have shot up to 11k in the last couple days. Future looks bright. And they’re probably taking their “series A” funding and reinvesting in their business/personal brand.

In a SourceCred world, Lib Bubble would have received funding earlier (they were a broke artist and hinted so until recently), and would perhaps already be making a steady living off monthly Grain payments. And I would own a small piece of their future cred. And I would likely be doubling down :heart: :rocket:

@s_ben, the use case you’re describing is actually where the idea for boosting started. I was thinking about music and remixes, supporters “buying” the grain in new songs and new artists, and then getting some flow of value as the songs/artists became popular and got remixed into more content. Even if the flow of value is just the ego boost of being able to prove that you were one of the first people to be into Kanye or something.

Ah, cool. Makes sense. Copyright law is so restrictive and has such high transaction costs that something like this makes total sense. I bet if you got it up and running it would attract capital, but would not want to deal with the music business in any way. Heard too many horror stories.