$30,000 USD to fund an ecosystem collaboration to improve validator governance through community organizing, as part of a co-funding round led by many validators and proof-of-stake blockchains. This grant will only proceed if we receive funding from at least three different chains, i.e. total funding > $90,000.

What we’re building

The Validator Commons is a non-profit coalition of aligned validators and allies. We believe that governance matters. This grant will help support three concrete activities of the Commons:

  1. Community Organizing. Intended to increase the quality and quantity of validator participation in governance, including
    1. proposal juries to save validators time, enable validator specialization, and improve proposal quality
    2. a peer review system to evaluate the governance participation of validators within the Commons
    3. a tooling co-op to support sharing of in-house tools and research developed by Commons members,
  2. Policy Research. Focused on generating discrete proposals to improve governance within specific PoS chains, including two fully-developed proposals specific to each participating chain, and
  3. In-Person Workshops. To build community, educate validators, and explore the future of PoS governance.

How will this benefit my chain?

For $30k, we will (1) make it easier for validators on your chain to participate in governance through quality-of-life improvements like proposal juries and shared tooling that save validators’ time, (2) increase governance participation generally through validator-specific community-building, (3) improve the quality of that participation through educational activities for validators (ref. the events we organize), (4) produce a well-researched governance proposal specific to your chain, and (5) establish a direct line of communication between validators on your ecosystem and others in the ecosystem.

Concrete deliverables include proposal juries, town halls, in-person events, and at least one governance proposal specific to each participating chain. (See the section on deliverables below)

In the long-term, we lower the costs and barriers for validators to do governance well.

Finally, to ensure value for money, the grant will be disbursed in stages by a set of trusted community members based on successful delivery of milestones.

What will happen

If you vote YES, then your chain will grant the equivalent of 30,000 USD in your chain’s token to a multisig controlled by a set of trusted community members from each contributing chain; the representatives from your chain will be to be determined when this proposal goes on-chain for voting. When the multisig receives greater than 90,000 USD, then 10,000 USD of your chain’s token will be released as startup funds to a wallet controlled by the Commons. Future disbursements will be contingent on delivery of milestones articulated in the grant proposal.

If you vote NO, then nothing happens.

Why did we decide to build it?

In short: effective governance and effective decentralization.

Foundations and core teams on most chains exert outsized influence—not only through the voting power they wield, but in their expertise and their capacity for action. In proof-of-stake, validators are incentivized to provide infrastructure services, but they are also expected to serve the chains they run as the final authority for chain-level decision-making. In practice though, validators rarely set chain priorities, ceding that role to centralized and often opaque core teams. Many chains are effectively single-party systems run by a foundation or core team. This effective centralization is a threat not only to good governance but to the underlying business model of the chains we all support—plain assertions of a core team’s authority often lead to backlash and community breakdowns, e.g. as happened recently in Kava Proposal 96. Many foundations and core teams don’t like the current situation, but right now there’s no else in these ecosystems who has the comparable capacity, expertise, or incentives to lead.

Validators and other delegates need to provide a viable leadership alternative to core teams and foundations. But to lead, we first need to build more capacity, more expertise, and more effective decision-making processes. To lead, validators need to organize. That’s why we’re building the Validator Commons, and that’s why we think the Commons—or something like it—is critical to the evolution of blockchain governance.