Open Web Governance Challenge


Build better communities

View the Project on GitHub metagov/open-web-challenge

This is the portal for the upcoming Open Web Governance Challenge, part of the Open Web Creators and Communities Hackathon. The challenge will begin on May 14, 2021 and end on June 6, 2021.

Latest news

We’d like to thank all of the participants of the NEAR hackathon who decided to partake in our challenge. After three weeks of hacking, we got to read about and see some great projects. We’re now excited to announce the winners of the Open Web Governance Challenge.

1st place - Stateless Art - cooperative blockchain art protocol. 2nd place - Catalyst: NEAR Community Fund Edition.

Honorable mentions.

We also are happy to announce the following winners of our various challenge areas and bounties.

Re-imagine the NEAR Community Fund

Better DAO frameworks on NEAR

Experiment with PolicyKit and the Metagov Prototype

You can learn more about the Metagov community here. Stay in touch!

Key details and dates


All events will take place on the hackathon’s main Airmeet stage. All times are EST (GMT-4).


Plus $10,000+ worth of bounties—-see below.

Challenge areas and bounties

To help you scope out your projects, we’ve identified a range of governance challenges motivated by the real issues faced by Web3 communities. Challenge areas in bold are funded, meaning that you can earn additional bounties (whether or not you win a prize above) for submitting a proposal that answers that challenge. The winner and runner-up of each funded challenge area described will be awarded $1,000 and $500, respectively. In the meantime, watch for additional bounties that will be announced closer to the start of the hackathon!

Starter week

This hackathon is a bit special: we’re running it entirely through DAOs. That means you’ll need to register through a DAO and that the vast majority of hackathon prizes will be awarded through a DAO on NEAR to a DAO that you create. To make that prospect sweeter, we’re encouraging people to get onboard early with $5,000 in prizes to be distributed in the first week. To qualify for a 30 NEAR payout (~ $120 USD), all you have to do is register a Sputnik DAO for your project, have a council with your team as voting members, and submit a 500-word draft proposal to the Metagov DAO within the first week of the hackathon. If you already ahve a Sputnik DAO, that works too. Remember to have set the payout target for your proposal to your Sputnik DAO, NOT your personal NEAR wallet! In addition to the direct payout, a submission will also qualify you for a round of special prizes. Note that there’s a finite prize pool for payouts, so proposals will be answered first-come-first-serve.

New to DAOs? Take a look at this excellent, up-to-date review of the DAO phenomenon.

Propose your own challenge

Are you facing a problem but don’t know what the solution should be (or how to build it)? If so, consider submitting your own governance challenge to Metagov. Challenges must (1) be relevant to the governance of blockchains, DAOs, and other online communities, (2) expose a concrete problem or opportunity, (3) not duplicate existing challenges, and (4) be clear and accessible to other hackers (and not just yourself). The description of your challenge should come with a “hook” of ~100 words (use the challenge areas above as examples) and be between 500-1000 words. If your challenge is accepted, your challenge will go on the list above, and you’ll get 20 NEAR just for writing the challenge and 100 NEAR if ANYONE (including yourself) answers the challenge.

Note that “propose your own challenge” proposals do not count as project proposals for the sake of “starter week” payouts (see above).

If you want to take this option, write a Discourse post describing the challenge (follow the how to enter a submission section below) and submit a payout proposal to the Metagov DAO within the first week of the challenge (May 22nd). Note that there’s a finite prize pool for “propose your own” payouts, so proposals will be answered first-come-first-serve. The challenge organizers reserve the right to decide whether a project sufficiently answers your challenge.

Introducing the new tools of governance

We have a ton of special governance workshops, events, and opportunities for you to train and build skills for the hackathon. We’re also curating access to a range of tools that might help you expand your experiments.

  1. Sputnik DAO: NEAR’s premier DAO technology, Sputnik DAOs offer an easy, accessible platform for collective decision-making on the blockchain
  2. Metagov Prototype: a unified API gateway that helps developers access and hook up several governance services & platforms. Metagov currently has plugins for connecting to Open Collective, Loomio, SourceCred, Discourse, and NEAR. Metagov is in the early prototype phase; contributions and feedback are welcome! The Metagov Prototype API can be used directly by a backend service or script, or it can be accessed through PolicyKit.
  3. PolicyKit: PolicyKit is a framework for authoring governance procedures and policies directly on top of social platforms. It has direct integrations with Slack, Discourse, Discord, and Reddit. It is also integrated with Metagov, enabling governance policies to invoke any governance services or platforms that are made available through the Metagov Prototype API.
  4. SourceCred: SourceCred is a reputation algorithm helps communities measure and reward value creation.

Using Metagov Prototype & PolicyKit

If you’re using PolicyKit and/or the Metagov Prototype for the governance challenge, we recommend running your own instances of each. That will require setting up a new server, installing Metagov, and installing PolicyKit.

There is also a hosted version of PolicyKit which you can use to play around with Metagov-enabled policy authoring without setting up your own server. You can install this PolicyKit instance to your Slack, Discord, or Discourse community. Once you’re signed in to PolicyKit, go to the Settings page to enable Metagov plugins for your community. Once you have some plugins enabled, you can write policies that perform Metagov actions, Metagov processes, and/or are triggered by Metagov events. See the Metagov Policy examples here.

Participants interested in using these tools are encouraged to attend the Metagov & PolicyKit Workshop at 1pm ET on Saturday May 15th.

Governance data sets

The data science of governance design is an emerging field, with the best examples representing written and software rules from online communities.

  1. NEAR’s ecosystem has a number of relevant data sets, including ecosystem stats, more graphs, and NEAR’s weekly analytics updates
  2. Snapshot is a common polling service in blockchain. Check out their API.
  3. Govbase’s DAOs in the Wild is a table of DAOs and how they are governed. Govbase itself is a comprehensive data set of software projects and organizations in online governance. Data
  4. The MakerDAO governance subgraph includes all the data on voters and votes for MakerDAO. Data
  5. The Cryptovernance Governance Assessments include a range of qualitative survey responses to a comprehensive governance questionnaire. Data
  6. BoardRoom tracks a number of governance proposal processes across different blockchain projects. Service
  7. DeepDAO has tracked key indicators for a range of major DAOs. Data
  8. Fiesler et al. classify the written rules of Reddit subreddits according to their type and subject. One project might try to improve upon their classifier with more recent NLP techniques. Paper. Data
  9. Chandrasekharan et al. look at the actual use of such rules, with data on Reddit user comments that were removed by sub moderators. A feature of this dataset is that many of these flagged comments are annotated with the text of the rule that was violated. One project might build a predictor of which rules will be flagged, and on what grounds. This is the largest and best annotated and documented of the datasets. Paper. Data
  10. Frey and Sumner look at a different domain, self-hosted Minecraft servers, to compare the governance plugins that amateur administrators install with the success that they achieved at building a core group of returning users. It gives a unique perspective into the “folk theory” of governance design: what governance structures people use when they don’t know better. One project might replicate and then creatively extend the paper’s findings. Paper. Data

Judging criteria

Challenge entries must consist of a submission post, a slide presentation, and a GitHub repo with code (where relevant). Entries will be judged on four criteria:

We want to emphasize something: entries do not have to be technical. We encourage a mix of technical and social innovation—remember, blockchain itself is, at its core, a social innovation as well as a technical one!

How to enter a submission

Due: 5pm EST on Saturday, June 5th

Post your submission to the Governance Category of the NEAR Forum with tag “metagov”. Please use this template to structure your post. (Note, if you are open to adding additional collaborators, please add the “looking-for-group” tag to your proposal.)

Add a new payout proposal for 0 NEAR to the Metagov SputnikDAO. The payout target should be your team’s DAO. Include a link to your forum post. Judges will use the link provided to make a voting decision on your submission. The proposal should be for zero NEAR because the payout amount will vary depending on what you win.

Please only use only one forum thread per submission. Posts to the forum can be edited or replied to if you need to add content to a submission.


Joshua Tan Miriam Ashton Eugene Leventhal
Josh Miriam Eugene

Legal disclaimer

We may add changes and clarifications to the rules above. When changes occur, we’ll let you know by email.

Towards better governance

The Open Web Governance Challenge is part of a governance research initiative led by the Metagovernance Project and NEAR.