Most OS projects don’t have a token associated, and so it’s harder to implement vote-based governance (without getting Boaty mcBoatFace-d).
If SourceCred launches Grain for each project, they have a token now:)
SourceCred makes that much easier; also for crypto projects, having weighted voting that mixes tokens and cred would enfrancise contributors and not just investors.
This assumes that the contributors are not also investors. I get paid in DCR, for instance, and have the ability to stake and participate in governance. But yes, by quantifying contributions (work) and creating a token, contributors will likely have a new tool to leverage in negotiation, increasing their sovereignty.
For projects that don’t yet have much in the way of governance, SourceCred can act as a neutral default.
The heart of SourceCred’s value proposition is that it is as objective and neutral as humanly possible. In most cases, the scores just make sense, even if you just use the defaults. It’s “in the neighborhood”, most of the time. However, even assuming the scores are relatively neutral, introducing a governance mechanism based on those neutral scores will never be neutral, as they are applied in a context that is by definition not neutral (as it lacks an objective way to measure contributions). It’s changing the game. Re-valuing some contributions over others. If money is already being distributed to some contributors, adopting SourceCred to change those distributions will be a non-neutral political act.
For projects that don’t yet have much in the way of governance, SourceCred can act as a neutral default. I had a conversation a few weeks ago with @mikeal about why people see funding open-source projects directly as a bad idea compared to supporting individual contributors. Basically, he said that many OS projects have really bad governance, and so giving money to the project is a mess. If SC does a reasonable job without much configuration, it can give a way to route around this problem (just distribute the $ via SC) while also giving input for better governance (since it creates legible status).
Wholeheartedly agree. In fact, having a reasonably simple, robust governance layer as part of the SC “stack” would increase its value I think, and perhaps spur adoption. Most projects do not have the bandwidth to implement such governance systems. This governance layer could materialize in the form of a partnership/integration with a crypto project focused on governance, such as Decred or Aragon.
Thoughts on the big picture Qs:
For projects using SourceCred, how will SourceCred interact with their own governance?
It will act as an input, which will drive decision-making around what to prioritize, with an emphasis on money (presumably, though there could be other big use cases).
How will projects using SourceCred govern their usage of the tool (e.g. parameter choices)?
I keep coming back to MakerDAO. One strategy to governance, which Maker has proven IMO, is to limit the scope of what is voted on to a manageable set of parameters, which are expressive enough to drive the system. In Maker, that is the stability fee (interest paid on loans), debt ceiling, which coins get added for collateral, etc. In SourceCred, there are some obvious parallels. High-level parameters which are expressive enough for the community to express its will and values. For instance, increasing the weight given to pull request reviews is a way to incentivize, among other things, new contributors. Pay for PR reviews, and they will increase in number. Another important variable (possibly the most important, like the stability fee in Maker) is the one determining how to value older vs newer contributions.
Stepping up a level, projects will probably want to weight some repos in their org higher than others. Possibly via some governance mechanism. For instance, to incentivize development of projects tied to certain goals. In Maker, this could have for instance been used to incentivize development of Multi-Collateral Dai (MCD). If the Maker Foundation was displeased with the output of the MCD repo devs (which they were for a long time), or didn’t agree with its direction, it could have lowered the wieght (and therefore money flowing to), MCD developers. Something like this could have potentially avoided the Purple Pill controversy, where developers (crypto anarchists that didn’t want to be directed by a corporate entity) did not respond well to the incentives provided by their traditional employment contracts. It was a binary proposition. Follow marching orders from a corporation (and feel you are compromising your ideals) and continue to receive a fat paycheck. Or don’t, work on whatever the fuck you want (see anarchy) and eventually get fired by an entity that felt misled (which they were apparently), setting back project goals for months or years. If the Maker Foundation could have simply lowered the money going to MCD devs according to measurable progress towards KPIs, instead of firing them, a much healthier negotiation could have occured, via voting. After all, the work had some value. The value of those devs to the community definitely had value. In this scenario, money freed up by giving the anarchists a pay cut could have been allocated to devs that did want to work directly towards the foundation’s goals.
More generally, tokens created based on cred could be used as “governance tokens”, whatever the mechanism (and there are many live experiments happening in crypto right now proving out these ideas). This could be just non-binding polls of community sentiment, binding voting to direct funds or make policy decisions (such as happens on Politeia with DCR), or other mechanisms.
Or, they don’t bother with governing, letting SourceCred (or projects using it) simply provide a service (e.g. distributing donations). SourceCred provides “governance as a service” (GaaS).
How will the two above influence demands on SourceCred itself, and for governance of SourceCred?
Real usage of SourceCred generally will presumably influence its development in some way. If SC feeds into governance mechanisms, projects using it for that purpose may ask for certain things based on that usage (e.g. a new parameter that captures something SC currently does not). As for the governance of SC itself, I just spun up a DAO on Araon. Just as an experiment. It only took a couple hours. It distributes ERC-20 tokens (SCCs) every block according to cred scores, as input manually by me (for now) every week. These tokens can be used to vote in SourceCred community polls that anyone can create, using an easy-to-use voting portal; they have a full stack of voting and governance now which is pretty sweet. A message has been sent on GitHub to each contributor, explaining the project with instructions on how to claim their tokens and vote (check your inbox).
Is he joking? Lol. yes.
Or am I?