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.
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.
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
- Focus on the governance of online communities, blockchains, and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).
- $25,000 USD in prizes, with $5,000 to be released in the first week!
- Entries do not have to be technical.
- Three weeks of workshops and events from May 14 to June 6.
- All events will take place on the hackathon Airmeet; go there for the latest schedule of events. Note that regular office hours will be held in the “lounge” area of the Airmeet, at the Metagov table.
- Looking for team? Join our Telegram, or post a draft of your idea on the forum with the “looking-for-group” tag (see “How to submit” below). Alternately, find an existing proposal and reply to the post!
- Interested in using PolicyKit or the Metagov Prototype? Attend the Metagov & PolicyKit Workshop at 1pm ET on Saturday May 15th.
- More questions? Join our Telegram, reply to our forum post, or join the NEAR Discord.
All events will take place on the hackathon’s main Airmeet stage. All times are EST (GMT-4).
- First place: $5,000 USD
- Second place: $2,000 USD
- Honorary mentions: $500 USD
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!
- Re-imagine the NEAR Community Fund. NEAR’s Community Fund is a 5M $NEAR / 1.5M USD fund that supports DAOs, councils, and communities building on NEAR; it’s also the main entity funding this hackathon. It’s currently run by a council of ~7 people using simple up/down voting on Discourse proposals. In this challenge area, teams will propose improvements and/or completely new mechanisms for making distributions from the Community Fund. We’re especially interested in proposals that can make the process more decentralized and more participatory.
- Govern the Rainbow Bridge. The Rainbow Bridge is a new relay between Ethereum and NEAR, but we need to incentivize people to operate it. In this challenge, area you will submit a socio-technical design for a new Rainbow DAO to govern the Rainbow Bridge, incentivize contributions, and protect its future. Feel free to adapt the existing proposal, which you can find here (see “Incentives”).
- Better DAO frameworks on NEAR. You’ve probably heard about Sputnik DAOs by now—but as far as DAO frameworks go, Sputnik is still pretty basic. In this challenge area, teams will spec and build out a new feature for Sputnik DAO. Alternately, they might port over an existing DAO framework such as Aragon or Colony (perhaps over the Rainbow Bridge, see above) or even invent their own DAO framework on NEAR. Do whatever you like, as long as it helps people build new and better DAOs.
- Develop the NEAR Metagov Plugin. The Metagov Prototype has a rudimentary NEAR plugin that can make view and call RPC function calls to a single NEAR contract. For this challenge, you will extend the NEAR Plugin to make it more useful. We’d be really excited to see someone implement a listener for reacting to on-chain transactions. This may require building or running a NEAR Indexer, or using an existing tool like Figment’s NEAR Indexer REST API. This would support governance policies that are “triggered” by on-chain transactions. For example, supporting a PolicyKit policy like: “when my community passes a proposal in our SputnikDAO, reward the proposer by granting them a specific Discourse badge on our community forum.” Other improvements to the NEAR Plugin (or new NEAR- or SputnikDAO-specific plugins) will be considered for this bounty as well. Some possible areas of improvement are around security, accounts, and implementing a Metagov governance process backed by NEAR.
- Experiment with PolicyKit and the Metagov Prototype. In this challenge area, teams will propose PolicyKit policies that address governance problems for communities that exist on 2 or more governance platforms (DAOs, Discourse community forums, SourceCred instances, Open Collective collectives, and so on). Take a look at the PolicyKit Policy Library for examples of policies that use Metagov. We’re hoping to see some creative proposals that address real-world governance problems – it’s okay if they aren’t technically possible with the current PolicyKit and Metagov features and plugins.
- Experiment with DAO-to-DAO interactions. There’s a lot of excitement right now in building DAO-to-DAO interactions. Just take a look at recent research produced by the PrimeDAO / Curve Labs / Block Science team. In this challenge area, hackathon team will propose and build some new DAO-to-DAO contracts, e.g. a contract that NEAR’s Community DAO can use to fund a Metagov DAO to organize a hackathon, or a contract that transfers an Aragon DAO on Ethereum into a Sputnik DAO on NEAR, or a contract that sets up a cross-platform, cross-platform DAO (kind of like a multinational corporation). We’re hoping to see some really creative entries in this category!
- Make Web3 billing more secure and more convenient for contractors. The Web3 space is still in its infancy, particularly in terms of methods and best practices. This makes estimating design and development work nearly impossible. More often than not requirements and methods are being developed as products and primitives are created and tested. However, the predominant means of funding for work in DAOs and blockchains is a grant-based system where funds are unlocked in lump sums based on proposals approved by the community. This creates a risk vector for contractors, particularly if the billed amount surpasses the unlocked funds. The contractor at this point is faced with a choice between stopping work while waiting for additional funds to be unlocked, possibly suffering a loss in reputation and/or subsequent work with said community, or continuing work with the potential risk of not having the community sanction additional funds to cover extra work. To ensure rapid growth within the DAO space and to attract more competent contractors there needs to be a method for allowing continuous funding for project within the DAO framework. Challenge courtesy of Magic Powered.
- Build a tool to track “decisons” and “insights” directly on top of Telegram or Matrix. For the last 9 months, members of the DADA art community have been collectively creating a new socio-economic system for the arts called The Invisible Economy. Our governance process consists of continuous collective deliberation through sense-making sessions that take place on Google Meet, complemented with a Telegram chat. We don’t need a voting mechanism to make decisions. We need better, unified tools for deliberation that would make it easier to record decision making, organize ideas and insights, and weave a rhizomatic narrative without disrupting the natural flow of the conversations. A better tool for deliberation would: (1) Be able to open a decision, track its deliberation and record the result. (2) Easily search and find open decisions and closed decisions and their results. (3) Include a simple way to highlight an idea, insight, or reference. (4) Create a narrative of insights / ideas across channels. (4) Mirror as much as possible the natural flow of human conversation so that topics are more easily tracked and followed. For more, see DADA’s presentation on the idea. Challenge courtesy of DADA.
- Draw significant insights from a governance data set. For all you data scientists out there, we’re not leaving you in the lurch. Do you have a data set you’ve been working work that you think could change how people govern themselves? Are you interested in looking at some existing data sets and making a guess . Governance is all about making decisions, and helps us make informed decisions. To help you out, we’ve organized some existing governance data sets that you can take a look at. See below.
- 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. 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. See below for more details.
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.
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.
- Sputnik DAO: NEAR’s premier DAO technology, Sputnik DAOs offer an easy, accessible platform for collective decision-making on the blockchain
- 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.
- 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.
- SourceCred: SourceCred is a reputation algorithm helps communities measure and reward value creation.
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.
- NEAR’s ecosystem has a number of relevant data sets, including ecosystem stats, more graphs, and NEAR’s weekly analytics updates
- Snapshot is a common polling service in blockchain. Check out their API.
- 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
- The MakerDAO governance subgraph includes all the data on voters and votes for MakerDAO. Data
- The Cryptovernance Governance Assessments include a range of qualitative survey responses to a comprehensive governance questionnaire. Data
- BoardRoom tracks a number of governance proposal processes across different blockchain projects. Service
- DeepDAO has tracked key indicators for a range of major DAOs. Data
- 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
- 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
- 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
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:
- Impactful: does the project solve a specific problem, generate meaningful information, or benefit a wide section of the open web ecosystem?
- Creative: how is the project different (and better) from previous alternatives? Be audacious.
- Realistic: is the project do-able, whether commercially, technologically, or politically? We know things can be complicated. But tell us how you plan on overcoming the obstacles.
- Collaborative: does the project interact with other projects, NEAR Councils, or DAOs? Engage with the ecosystem. Do your research, and tap into what other makers have already built.
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.
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.