Thanks @Kene_StableLab for this proposal. Great to see the first steps towards Aave Grants DAO decentralizing its grants process and the selection process. I’m a grant recipient building in the governance space and have received a grant from multiple ecosystems.
Questbook seems like a good option too. I’ve had a pleasant experience submitting my proposal and receiving a grant through Questbook. Transparent and smooth!
I generally agree with decentralising the ADG to better reflect the ethos of the general crypto community. That being said, I do question the overall process and structure around this proposed change.
a. Are the grants lead and reviewers positions of trust or positions of skill? The token weighed election process points to the fact that these positions are meant to be positions of trust, but the salaries point to the fact that these are positions of skill. Having the right goal and aligning the selection process to this goal is important to ensure the right outcome.
b. Since Questbook compensation is based on a % of the total grants disbursed, it is in QBs’ interests to disburse as much amount as possible, which may not align with prioritising the goals of the AAVE community. In an ideal case, a request for proposals process should be opened up to allow multiple vendors to bid for being the grants vendor for the DAO, so that we get the best bang for our buck!
In all cases, I’d suggest compensating all stakeholders (atleast partially) in vested tokens, such as those enabled by https://hedgey.finance/ to align incentives.
tl;dr - Aave Grants has developed our own tools and processes that have resulted in funding close to 250 grants and becoming known as one of the top grants programs across crypto. This proposal increases costs to the DAO while ignoring the work and spend that has gone into Aave Grants, along with current plans to continue decentralizing.
Electing team members is an interesting idea that should be thought through more and properly structured if implemented based on likely consequences and results.
Thanks for the proposal. It’s good to see discussions around Aave Grants starting from community members.
This seems like two different proposals:
Have elections for team members
Use Questbook (and pay them 5% of all distributions)
Having an election gives the community a say in who should be on the committee, but it doesn’t decentralize AGD. Decentralizing AGD should focus on empowering the community and giving individual community members a meaningful say in how the grants treasury is distributed. In this proposal, the decisions would still be made by a committee. To truly decentralize AGD the process needs to be decentralized, not the team selection. There are a number of things we currently have in the works to create a decentralized and sustainable AGD, including:
Grantee Accountability. You may have noticed an influx in grantees (e.g. BEN, Defi Simulator, and Projection Finance) posting directly on the forum to introduce themselves, explain their grant, and keep the community updated as they progress. Most of these posts are the result of an initiative from AGD to better increase grantee accountability and engagement with the community.
Request for Grants. Introduced a pilot to better direct builders to apply for grants in certain high impact areas.
Entity Formation. As outlined in our most recent proposal and in our Halfway Update, we have been working towards creating an entity for AGD. This will be a big step for AGD’s maturity. It will give clarity and protection to contributors along with increasing operational effectiveness.
AGD Values and Best Practices. Created internal guidelines to help align reviewers with decision making.
I am also hesitant about politicizing the process of who should be on the grants team. It is something that should be carefully thought through. Are the best individuals or teams to serve the ones most capable of winning a DAO vote? If implemented, I would recommend that at least the core team roles are longer term so members can better plan and prioritize work.
Proposed Changes Clearly defined compensation
Compensation is clearly defined in each AGD proposal. We have learned from our experience and changed reviewer’s compensation to be an hourly rate, calculated based on reviews and interviews, as it better incentivizes reviewers and accounts for fluctuations in applications. This may be worth adjusting again in the future.
This proposal would result in AGD increasing compensation as reviewers’ average pay in 2023 has been ~$1,300/month, versus the $6,000/month proposed.
Proposed Changes Transparent Review Process and Tooling
AGD follows best practices from other grant programs like Ethereum Foundation or Uniswap, where reviews are private while grants are made public, along with clear feedback for why a project was accepted or denied. Importantly, we are in control of this process and are able to modify it. This allows us to make updates based on feedback from the community, reviewers and grantees and to easily experiment with different elements of the program.
If the community wants to see changes to our processes, such as having applications public for the community to provide feedback, then we can integrate this into our current process.
2. Use Questbook (and pay them 5% of all distributions).
This reads more like a sales pitch for Questbook to me. I’m actually somewhat familiar with Questbook as we ran a pilot with them earlier in the year. After running the pilot we did not continue with Questbook due to poor results compared with our existing technology stack (Airtable with integrations + automations) and the experience highlighted the value of the set up we had built along with being in control of it.
Review times took longer and we did not see any engagement from the community. With the current amount of applications we receive (~30 a week) the Questbook UX was not a sophisticated enough tool to manage the tracking, reviewing, and interviewing of applications.
Let’s look at each of the proposed benefits outlined:
AGD does this through the above mentioned links and other updates. While there are reasons AGD has not enabled public applications, if there is demand from the community then we can implement that within our current system.
This does not appear to be any different than how AGD currently operates.
Pseudonymity / Anonymity
AGD currently welcomes anon builders. There is actually more privacy with our system as applications are only seen by the review committee unless accepted, compared to all applications being public.
Turnaround Time (TAT)
From my experience, this is an odd thing to optimize for. Grants should optimize for effective and impactful grant decisions and support, not record decision time. 48 hours is not realistic for complicated, multi-phased grants that could receive $100,000 in funding. Time is required to properly research, communicate with other reviewers and engage with the team.
Increase in the number of high-quality proposals
Let’s be clear, Questbook would benefit far more by being able to say ‘Aave Grants uses Questbook’ than AGD would from any increased traffic.
If AGD starts using Questbook, then they will leverage the relationship to start working to manage other protocols’ grants programs. If AGD is on Questbook, our grants and applications would suddenly be alongside other protocols and grants.
To highlight a few things with our current system:
Created and iterated on a process over the past 2+ years - usually making several changes each month in response to applicant, reviewer and community feedback.
Have an experienced team in place to make changes quickly - see the integration of RFGs and introduction of video interviews into our application process as recent examples.
Processed 1944 applications with an average turnaround time since inception from application submission to grant decision of 9.6 days. This time frame has decreased significantly over time.
Achieved an NPS score of 83 based on responses from 78 grantees - the average response to “how likely are you to recommend AGD?” is 4.7/5.
A few other important points from my perspective:
This proposal will increase costs to the DAO. It essentially brings on a new service provider at $9k/month.
Since inception, AGD has awarded $4,852,753 in grants.
If Questbook had taken 5% of this, the total cost would have been over $242,000.
If this progresses to a Snapshot vote, the options need to be better defined and worded. Who in crypto doesn’t want to further decentralize something? No one in crypto wants to be stagnant. The options in the Discourse poll are not an accurate representation of the situation. Given the limited usage of the Discourse poll in Aave governance, this seems like an attempt to quickly gather the illusion of community support.
AGD will be sharing a new proposal shortly. This will include an update with details on the legal entity we are forming, more of our plans for decentralization and other updates. AGD has been prudent with spending since our last proposal and as such will be asking for a reduced amount to continue the same quality of operations.
This proposal would add more overhead by creating an election and increasing costs (over $100,000 per year in fees plus higher reviewer compensation) without addressing the core issue of how to empower everyday community members.
@Oztlab Thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments. Really appreciate it. We believe that active community participation in selecting the members of the AGD and reviewing their performance is essential to the success of AGD. Furthermore, a transparent review process will help the community members to get an insight into the nature and type of accepted, funded proposals and the evaluation process. This will make the AGD grants team members accountable to the Aave community.
If the performance of any member of AGD is not up to the mark, the community can vote to replace them. In our proposed structure of the AGD, all members of the AGD including the Grants Lead will be elected through self nomination and community voting process.
@EzR3aL Apologies for the confusion. We agree that we shouldn’t restrict the election process to only folks with prior experience with running grants program. Although such experience is valuable, as outlined in the proposal, interested community members will be required to provide details of their relevant experience along with specific details while nominating themselves to be a part of the review committee. We will provide further details regarding the self-nomination process after seeking community inputs and inputs during community calls. Overall, the opportunity to apply and self-nominate for the review committee will be open to everyone, and the committee members will be elected from within the community.
Additionally, we will request a member of the existing AGD team to share an overview of the existing processes and facilitate a seamless transition for the newly selected grants committee, chosen from the Aave community.
@Hazbobo Thank you for your comments and feedback. Really appreciate it! We will wait for more feedback from other community members and are open to separate the two focus areas based on the additional community feedback.
@jengajojo Thank you for sharing your comments and acknowledging the need to decentralise AGD.
As specified in our proposal, the grants lead and reviewers should be experts elected through a self-nomination and community voting process. Self-nomination outlining the expertise of the interested candidates takes into account the expertise and community oversight, while community voting ensures the ethos of decentralisation and community involvement in the election process.
As specified in the proposal, this proposal is open to utilising other grant tools based on community inputs to enhance transparency and community participation. Because Questbook has been trialled and tested across many reputable ecosystems such as Compound, Arbitrum, Polygon, and TON and offers a transparent way to run and manage grants programs on-chain, we believe that transparent software will help AGD strike a balance between transparent review process, accountability and community participation in the review process.
Pretty interesting topic, organization-wise. Some points of mine (generally about AGD):
I tend to agree with @fig that the focus should be less on the participants in the review, and more on the general organization.
Public election of reviewers will give 0 value and will create more problems than it solves. Candidates will lobby for some kind of weird exposure and expertise will drop.
What Aave needs for grants distribution is impartial, competent, and Aave-expert people.
However, I agree the lead of the program should be elected, presenting credentials, conflicts of interest, etc.
Even if some grants definitely gave/give value to the ecosystem, I tend to think that there is an important disconnection between AGD and general vision, or even forum proposals.
E.g. I saw multiple grants related to the Safety Module optimization (incentives, composition, etc), while 1) the community has made movements in that direction (Llama, TokenLogic) 2) service providers rarely (sometimes yes) have been included in the conversation; and honestly, they have no obligation to do it, as AGD is a compensated program.
That reflects a clear problem.
The budget allocated for grants is enormous. Without having perfectly optimal operations, definitely too high. I keep seeing grants of +30’000 for items like building Aave v3 adapters, which at this stage, sounds a bit ridiculous.
Let’s be clear, this is a really big problem because it creates some “contagious” effect where criticism of other budgets opens to reflections like “Well, AGD awarded 50k for projects that were not even delivered”.
Using an extra tool taking an important fee is nonsense, without really optimizing everything else before. From my experience in the past as a reviewer of AGD, definitely tooling was not really a problem.
Elaboration of RFPs should be exclusively the job of AGD if going that direction, and their own responsibility to detect any kind of misalignment with ongoing projects, by contacting other contributors.
Personally, I got requested to participate in the RFPs elaboration, but 1) it requires time, which I don’t have 2) it is work of AGD, and if there is a lack of expertise, it is not up to me to provide it.
Generally, over time the responsibilities of AGD have expanded (e.g. some kind of dark marketing role and sponsorship), which is over-extending when there are doubts about the grants themselves.
What the Aave DAO needs is an entity distributing grants, maybe an entity to organize events, maybe another for marketing purposes; not a big conglomerate taking everything and ending up tackling nothing.
Could you elaborate @0xbilll on why a legal entity is required? How would the transition of controlling members would work?
Thank you @0xbilll for sharing your thoughts and comments. Really appreciate it!
While we appreciate the efforts of AGD to decentralise the grants process, it is worth noting that the discussion started almost 2 years ago. ~50% of the existing members of AGD have continued to be a part of the committee over 3-4 terms without clear performance reviews, and without extending the same opportunity to the broader community to participate in the review committee and contest for those positions based on their expertise.
Moreover, a key point of concern is that the initial set of reviewers appear to be nominated and selected by the proposer/grants lead. There seems to be a lack of clarity on the process for electing, replacing, and assessing the expertise of reviewers after their nominations are submitted. This process has been discussed in various places, such as here, and here, but some community questions on this topic have remained unnoticed and unanswered in the past, as highlighted here.
Through this proposal, we aim to ensure that key community members and experts have an equal chance to contribute to the AGD and participate in funding quality proposals that significantly influence the growth of the Aave ecosystem.
We believe that decentralisation should not be looked at in isolation. It is essential that AGD balances decentralisation with expertise and speed of decision-making. Requiring every proposal to be commented, and voted on by the entire community can result in voter fatigue and low participation. Instead, proposals that fall below the threshold can be approved directly by community-elected experts, reducing the burden on the community while reserving the community voting process for proposals that exceed the threshold and require broader community input.
In relation to entity formation, we would appreciate more clarity on how this step contributes to enhancing community engagement within AGD. It seems to raise concerns about bypassing community voting for the selection of AGD members altogether. Critical information such as internal guidelines are important artefacts that require broader community insight and transparency to help community members get a deeper insight into how proposals are evaluated and their alignment with Aave’s roadmap.
We believe that both Aave community members and experts should be given an equitable and unbiased opportunity to contribute to the AGD and participate in funding quality proposals. This can be accomplished by implementing mechanisms such as community oversight and well-defined success criteria.
Even in the existing AGD structure, the team members are chosen through a voting process, which, in itself, carries the potential for political influence. The only distinction lies in how these team members are selected, with the current process involving nomination by the proposer or AGD lead, rather than self-nomination.
It is important to offer Aave community members a transparent platform to showcase their expertise and backgrounds, facilitating a fair chance at being elected as part of the AGD team. We are open to further insights from fellow community members on this matter as the AGD grants lead and reviewers might have a potential conflict of interest in an open election process for AGD team members election.
We understand that the compensation framework was outlined in the initial proposals; however, there is a lack of clarity and transparency regarding the precise allocation of hours dedicated by each team member to fulfil their responsibilities. Furthermore, there is limited insight into specific details, such as the reference to a $1,300/month compensation for the reviewer, its associated breakdown and the proposer’s recommendation score.
To enhance transparency and eliminate potential ambiguity in committee compensation, we propose implementing a fixed monthly compensation structure. This adjustment would contribute to a clearer understanding of the compensation process for the community. Additionally, we are open to reevaluating the compensation figures in order to remain in line with the DAO’s fiscal constraints and community feedback.
As active community members, we strongly believe that a transparent review process, coupled with well-defined acceptance criteria and constructive feedback, significantly enhances the proposer’s experience and encourages positive word-of-mouth within the community. This approach not only keeps the community and proposers informed about the review process but also serves as a means to ensure that reviewers adhere to the process guidelines and mitigate potential conflicts of interest.
Overall, implementing a transparent review process with community input can help prevent scenarios similar to the one highlighted here, where proposers are left in the dark about the reasons behind the acceptance or rejection of their proposals.
As previously specified, this proposal is open to utilizing other grant tools based on community inputs to enhance transparency and community participation. We believe that transparent software will help AGD strike a balance between a transparent review process, accountability and community participation in the review process. We are proponents of any software that helps us reach this goal.
Increased Transparency - We acknowledge AGD’s efforts towards transparency and believe there’s significant potential to enhance transparency across the entire submission, review, and grants program performance and analytics. Implementing a transparent review process, coupled with well-defined acceptance criteria and constructive feedback, not only enriches the proposer’s experience but also establishes a robust system of community oversight.
Increases Accountability - The proposed model guarantees that AGD members are elected through self-nomination and retained or replaced via community voting, solely based on their performance and expertise. This structure ensures that AGD members are selected by the community itself, rather than through nominations by the AGD proposer or Grants Lead. The process reflects the community’s voice and prevents concentration of decision-making power in the hands of a few.
Turnaround Time (TAT) - Faster response time and communication TAT are highly valued by the proposers and key contributors. Considering community’s sentiment and Aave’e brand as one of the grants program KPIs, swift response and funding TATs are crucial for the timely progression of Aave’s innovation cycle. High-quality builders and small teams need faster access to capital. A faster turnaround time, both in terms of response and funding, reinforces Aave’s brand and fosters continued growth.
Increase in the number of high-quality proposals - The involvement of a service provider that offers substantial value should be viewed as an opportunity to enhance overall outcomes and key performance indicators. Embracing a partnership that enriches AGD through a transparent tool such as Questbook, if proven beneficial, should be considered a strategic step. The utilization of third-party service providers like Gnosis, Snapshot, and Discourse by numerous ecosystems underscores their value and utility, without compromising their suitability for individual ecosystems that adopt them as part of their workflow.
Furthermore, there is limited insight into specific details, such as the reference to the recommendation score, evaluation criteria, decision TAT, the contributions of funded projects directly to the Aave protocol’s roadmap and KPI, the process for selecting reviewers and grants lead etc. To further improve this, we propose decentralising the nomination and selection process of AGD members and making the entire review process transparent.
This proposal is open to utilizing other grant tools based on community inputs to enhance transparency and community participation. Moreover, the compensation model for Questbook is as follows.
The compensation model is 5% of all distributions made to grantees in a month, if 5% of those distributions exceed $9k, Questbook is capped at receiving only $9k, if 5% of those distributions fall below $9k, for example $7k, Questbook will only take $7k that month.
It is important to note that this can be further readjusted should the community decide to adopt them and take into consideration additional feedback from the community.
Decentralisation should not be looked at in isolation. It is essential that AGD balances decentralisation with expertise, background of decision makers and speed of decision making. We are strong advocates of healthy public discussions and will adhere to our values. We have no intent of creating the illusion of community support and are open to incorporating community feedback into our proposal. As specified above, we would appreciate more clarity on how a legal entity contributes to enhancing community engagement within AGD. It seems to raise concerns about bypassing community voting for the selection of AGD members altogether.
To summarize, our proposal advocates for an equitable and unbiased opportunity to contribute to the AGD, alleviating concerns of voter fatigue, alongside implementing a transparent review process with built-in accountability measures enabled by community oversight.
At no point does this proposal bring into question the quality of the reviewers that currently manage the Aave Grants DAO, clearly all the reviewers are high-quality people in their respective roles.
But this proposal is not about that, this proposal is about empowering the DAO to select who the reviewers are, across the ecosystem major DAOs enable and encourage their communities to elect their Grants Lead and Reviewers, this is essentially a best practice of decentralisation.
To effectively argue against allowing the DAO to elect members of the AGD and its lead, you must justify to the Aave Community why the leadership and membership of the Aave Grants DAO must remain managed in a centralised manner, currently, all the DAO has a say in is the budget granted to the AGD, with no access to information, the DAO cannot comprehensively assess the performance of individual Reviewers and the Grants Lead.
Is there a particular reason why this is not the best time to open up the AGD to Community Participation through elections?
This proposal clearly states that Questbook has only been suggested as an initial solution to the transparency issues that exist within the AGD, due to the initial feedback we have received regarding Questbook, the community will have the opportunity to select different tooling options to improve transparency into the AGD Grant Pipeline and the performance of individual reviewers.
When this proposal goes to Snapshot it will provide three options as follows.
Run Aave Grants DAO Elections
Make no changes
If the community decides to simply run the Aave Grants DAO elections, we will put up a thread on the forum where various vendors who have built Grants Management Software with a focus on community transparency will be invited to pitch their products, after which the product selected by the community will be used to run the AGD and grant transparency to the entire Aave Community.
Transparency, accountability, and community oversight within the review process stand as essential pillars of any robust grants program, and the adoption of a transparent tool definitely solves problems related to these.
Embracing workflows and methodologies that enhance AGD’s operations through a transparent grants solution, represents a proactive stride toward fostering transparency and active community involvement. Furthermore, this proposal is open to utilising other grant tools based on community inputs to enhance transparency and community participation.
I do not believe that there is anything preventing highly qualified individuals from nominating themselves and being elected by the DAO as reviewers, taking away this decision-making power from the DAO does not have any significant benefit to the AGD in my opinion, highly qualified people simply need to highlight their experience and have the DAO make a decision through a governance vote.
On the concern of lobbying, under the current system, there is nothing preventing individuals from directly leveraging their relationships with the Grants Lead or Current reviewers to join the AGD as a reviewer, the DAO does not have any insight into how the AGD selects and replaces reviewers, asking for the DAO to elect the Grants Lead and Reviewers is most certainly a fairer way to decide who gets on to join the AGD.
On the point of tooling, the major reason for asking for a change of tooling is to grant the Aave Community more transparency into the Aave Grants Pipeline, and the individual performance of reviewers, considering the size of funds that the AGD is tasked with distributing, transparency is essential, the tool that should be used for this is definitely up for debate, from the sentiment gathered from this proposal we believe that Vendors should be allowed to pitch themselves in a separate proposal and the DAO should decide which tooling should be used to grant more transparency into the AGD’s operations.
With the ACI, we have the firm belief that AGD can be optimized, but we believe the current proposition is not the best path forward for achieving this.
We’re against grant reviewers elections. It’ll lead to “beauty contest” elections not focused on skill, we had precedence with the first aave guardian fiasco. We don’t want to repeat this. The ACI thinks there’s no issue at all with the current committee. We should elect a grant leader and attribute a budget, then this leader should be free to assemble a committee as they see fit.
We’re pretty surprised an entity such as AGD is not a legal person yet, @0xbilll get your ducks in a row asap. You’re managing millions.
we’re supportive of @0xbilll work and trackrecord, the Grant DAO had hit and misses but it seems nominal, the AGD is not harmony grants and hasn’t funded any blueDAO-grade grifters to my knowledge. We noticed recent changes inside the AGD for the best and we welcome the more RFP oriented approach
I have the feeling AGD is a “world” on it’s own. I think it’ll be beneficial for relevant service providers & AGD to meet regularly & have a more direct channel of communication to sync vision and DAO needs. As pointed out by @eboado some grants “miss” could be attributed to a lack of communication & sync.
The questbook benefits don’t seem clear enough to favor a migration. we’re against this.
we’re supportive of AGD independence. As @Hazbobo pointed out, a large part of AGD budget & resources are used as a proxy to fund event/merch/marketing by third-party entities, with employees of both structures working for one and then for the other seamlessly.
We believe that section of activities has yielded excellent results and we can’t wait to vibes in Instanbul, but it’s unacceptable, inefficient & create an independence issue that these budgets are not segregated.
The Grant DAO is meant to fund grants, and we will be supportive of a Merch/RaaveDAO proposal but from now on we announce our clear intention to cast NAY vote on any upcoming unsegregated budget proposal.
Disclaimer: Current AGD reviewer, started the OG Aave grants program, previously dev at Aave genesis team. I speak in a personal capacity having been in the grants space and involved in the Aave ecosystem for a few years.
Interesting proposal and discussion (especially the first time posters coming in on this thread!). I’ll try to be clear and up front:
The proposal and discussion leads me to believe that the OP has never run a grants program, participated in a grants program, or evaluated early stage projects (at scale).
The suggestions in the proposal sound logical (and academic), and lack some real world experience of what the impacts or benefits of the proposal would bring.
However there are some interesting points that could be seen as feedback for AGD, which I’m sure will be taken into account by various people.
If we put aside events and merch funding for a second, Grants funding is about providing support to projects and services that help grow the Aave ecosystem. It is not about transparency or ‘decentralisation’ of the process or to have every community member evaluating every project that comes into the pipeline. Grants funding is about providing support to projects, and in turn, helps grow the Aave ecosystem. Due to the nature of grant funding, a lot of the projects are speculative. Yes, some projects may not become successful, but they still add to the ecosystem via knowledge, sometimes open source code, and general awareness. It is easy to retroactively call a grant ‘bad’ when the project has already failed, but it is much more difficult to evaluate projects and support them when their success is not so clear. This requires expertise and experience from the reviewers, who need to evaluate it independently in a non-political manner, without the noise from potential ‘lobbying’ or perceived transparency of a ‘360’ view.
A well functioning grants team only works well if the team is nimble, can move fast, and act independently. Less (processes) is better in this case.
Transparency comes into play during the renewal of AGD’s budget, which Bill (and previously Shreyas) have done a great job with on the forums. If there is more transparency of AGD’s spending or processes, then it should be asked/enquired about at these times. More information while AGD is executing is not necessarily helpful or beneficial for the community, as it creates distractions and requires context and explanations, which would further distract the AGD team and community. Too many chefs in the kitchen… etc
Having said that, OP brings up an important point about reviewer terms. I’m supportive of some type of evaluation of reviewers and more involvement from qualified community members. This, however, is a nuanced topic as has already been mentioned by others (knowledge, expertise, experience, etc). Decentralisation is a progressive process, and like the Aave DAO itself, AGD should be progressively decentralised slowly and purposefully. Adding or removing reviewers, or changing the process of how that is done, should definitely become more clearer for everyone, but it shouldn’t be rushed. I would support a pilot program of bringing on 2-3 reviewers via a new process.
Last point about Questbook (or any other grants software): OP has shilled Questbook to other communities so that makes me question their underlying motives and interests. Besides AGD having already tried Questbook and deciding not to continue with it, why would AGD use an on-chain grants platform? OP mentions Snapshot and other tools, but those tools solve actual real world problems for the DAO. Questbook doesn’t solve any problems for the DAO (although it may for other orgs), and just adds further complexity.
AGD has great custom tooling built in-house. There is no need for extra complexity and layers to be added to the process, let alone extra expenditures. The custom tooling already enables a lot of transparency, as can be seen on Funded grants. If more info on grants is needed, I’m sure the AGD team could implement it, since it is custom tooling and they can move really fast.
First time poster. Disclaimers for full transparency: I (twitter) work at Metagov, a governance research non-profit, and kicked off the State of Web3 grants report that Mashal and I are running and that’s supported by Gitcoin and Rich Brown, a private backer. Don’t have any direct involvement in Aave, ADG, or related companies. I have applied, unsuccessfully, for some research grants and will try again the future.
Also, as part of the research for the report, we did interview @0xbilll to represent ADG and we interviewed someone from the Questbook team who ran Compound’s CGP 2.0.
Jumping in with some points of comparison. In terms of the reviewers being elected, I see two points coming up, though the main focus is on the latter:
Does letting the community elect reviewers = decentralizing ADG more?
Will doing so be beneficial for ADG?
1) Community Voting and Decentralization
On the surface, it would seem so. To decentralize, as per the Cambridge dictionary (the paragon of web3 knowledge…) = “to move the control of an organization or government from a single place to several smaller ones.” However, it can be argued that this view of decentralization is actually distracting from that fact that a) not everyone will vote and b) the loudest voices / most popular individuals might be liklier to win purely due to social dynamics. Don’t want to dwell on this as this is more interesting from an ideological or intellectual perspective, but doesn’t necessarily speak to positive results.
2) Will Community Voting on Reviewers Yield Positive Results.
The boring answer is, it depends. From what I’ve seen on the Compound forums (pitch, update), it seems to have gone well in CGP 2.0 ran by Questbook. I haven’t talked to anyone in the Compound community directly, so can’t speak in detail, just reflecting back what I’m reading.
To the points that @fig and MarcZeller brought up about new software needing to solve a problem, it clearly did for CGP - they didn’t have a program or existing grants software stack so the option of those coming together and being managed externally was a benefit. From what I last read, CGP 2.0 is wrapping up and is one of three proposals being explored for CGP 3.0 - one from Questbook, one from AlphaGrowth, one from Alastor and web3 studios.
If there’s a desire to try and decentralize the election process, one option is to directly allow the community to vote, though some of those concerns were brought up.
Another option (and apologies if Aave has something like this outside of ADG and I’m just showing my ignorance) is to try to build some community committees who have shown expertise in specific areas (e.g. dapps, infrastructure, dev tooling, community, MEV, whatever). Those committees can be tapped for things such as electing reviewers (or at the very least suggesting to the program lead), providing an additional layer of review for appropriately sized projects (or maybe even manage small budgets in their domain), or helping to craft RFPs alongside the current set of reviewers. Or a whole bunch of other options depending on how some would structure it.
It is also important to call out what the likes of EF, and Solana Foundation, and Uni Foundation do. Namely, they hire the teams they see fit with mandates to execute budgets, and those grants teams are expected to assemble the best review team they can. We don’t have enough data to try and claim what works better and what doesn’t and focusing on whether or not they’re decentralized is a different conversation altogether (back to #1 and should be separated from the conversation of what can provide tangible benefits).
At the end of the day, there is no single ‘right answer’ here. Given that Aave is more established, has a good reputation, and manages a reasonable budget, it is understandable to not want to change quickly if there isn’t a burning problem to solve. Change can be incremental, which can avoid missteps and unintended negative consequences. Aave is also on the more open / interactive with community side, which presents an interesting tension if there is a strong push to allow community voting (assuming it stays a binary yes / no, which hopefully if this does go to vote, at least one other option for ‘plan an experiment within some set time frame’ or something else to add more nuance).
Excited to see how this plays out. Apologies if I’m commenting on something y’all have moved on from but seemed like an interesting topic so wanted to jump in. Thanks for being an active community with interesting discussions!
Thank you Marc for acknowledging that the AGD can be further optimised. Really appreciate it.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Term elections for choosing capital allocators from the community is a well-established norm in various reputed ecosystems such as ENS DAO, Gitcoin etc. By implementing a more rigorous and clearly defined set of criteria for selection, an election process would offer a fair and unbiased chance for community members, including those who are new contributors and proposers, to join the AGD team and contribute meaningfully to the DAO. This proposal is open to initiating the election process for the Grants Lead role through this approach and subsequently extending the decentralized selection process to include other members of the AGD team over time.
Acknowledging the efforts of the existing AGD team, we propose that the AGD team incorporate impact metrics with a stronger focus on value creation, such as Total Value Locked (TVL) and new users onboarded in its monthly reports. These metrics give a more objective view of impact created when compared with metrics such as project completion, number of projects funded. As the allocation of a substantial budget is a significant decision, we propose that the DAO should conduct thorough due diligence to evaluate the potential return on investment.
This proposal advocates for a design in which the AGD team’s accountability, and performance is tied to the expertise of the team members, value creation and objective impact metrics. This framework allows for their retention or replacement based on objective metrics, rather than subjective measures such as leveraging relationships, and popularity.
As specified earlier, the major reason for asking for a change of tooling is to grant the Aave Community more transparency into the Aave Grants Pipeline, and the individual performance of reviewers, considering the size of funds that the AGD is tasked with distributing, transparency is essential.
The tool that should be used for this is definitely up for debate, from the sentiment gathered from this proposal we believe that Vendors should be allowed to pitch themselves in a separate proposal and the DAO should decide which tooling should be used to grant more transparency into the AGD’s operations.
Thank you daveytea for your comments and feedback.
StableLab possesses extensive experience in managing and participating in governance for reputed ecosystems like Maker DAO, Hop, Safe, and Balancer. We have made substantial contributions to enhancing the governance mechanisms of these ecosystems and are strong proponents of decentralized decision-making, community engagement, and transparency.
We appreciate the recognition of the enhancements proposed for the AGD and are open to collaborating with the AGD team to implement these improvements.
Thank you for highlighting this daveytea. We also agree that requiring every proposal to be commented, and voted on by the entire community can result in voter fatigue and low participation and is not the optimal approach, However, a transparent process empowers the community to keep on oversight on what proposals are getting accepted, rejected, funded and get a deeper insight into the review parameters and process. Additionally, the proposal does not advocate for community voting on every proposal, but for an opportunity for the community members to participate in the decision making process as part of AGD based on their expertise.
The objective of the grants program is to attract builders who will contribute to protocol’s value creation. However, accepting a proposal, funding it, milestone completion rate although important are tied to task completion. The AGD team’s mandate should be tied to funding proposals that add tangible value to Aave and not merely task completion. We agree that Grants funding is about providing support to projects and services that help grow the Aave ecosystem. These growth parameters should be objective and tied to tangible value creation to better evaluate the performance of AGD, and return on investment.Lastly, the objective of additional transparency is not to be correct with every accepted/funded proposal, but to be less wrong. A transparent process will empower the community to ask the right questions and allow for constructive feedback, thus improving further iterations of AGD. Additional deliberation and community participation is better than having none.
Considering that the grants are budgeted, and funded through the Aave DAOs treasury, transparency should be a default feature of the Aave Grants Program and not a permissioned one. We want to re-emphasis that a transparent process will empower the community to ask the right questions and allow for constructive feedback, thus improving further iterations of AGD.
Thank you for the acknowledgement of having reviewer terms and allowing for additional opportunities for community members to participate in the review process as part of AGD. We are open to sharing our inputs in the path to decentralisation considering that these discussions started almost 2 years ago.
We and other active community members, and delegates have put forth and deliberated various suggestions encompassing the offerings of diverse service providers. This isn’t indicative of shilling. Our commitment to advocating proposals and service providers that we believe will contribute positively to the DAO remains steadfast, and we’re receptive to the community’s input in this regard.
As specified earlier, the major reason for asking for a change of tooling is to grant the Aave Community more transparency into the Aave Grants Pipeline, and the individual performance of reviewers, considering the size of funds that the AGD is tasked with distributing, transparency is essential. The tool that should be used for this is definitely up for debate, from the sentiment gathered from this proposal we believe that Vendors should be allowed to pitch themselves in a separate proposal and the DAO should decide which tooling should be used to grant more transparency into the AGD’s operations.
I’m actually somewhat familiar with Questbook as we ran a pilot with them earlier in the year . After running the pilot we did not continue with Questbook due to poor results compared with our existing technology stack (Airtable with integrations + automations) and the experience highlighted the value of the setup we had built along with being in control of it.
Review times took longer and we did not see any engagement from the community. With the current amount of applications we receive (~30 a week) the Questbook UX was not a sophisticated enough tool to manage the tracking, reviewing, and interviewing of applications.
1. Allowing anyone from the community to comment, and share their views on the submitted proposals
2. Conducting objective reviews through a customized evaluation rubric and rubric scores in a transparent manner before making a decision
3. Empowering review teams to propose, setup interviews with proposers by sharing Calendly links through encrypted comments
4. Performing batch actions such as accepting, rejecting, requesting resubmissions, and making payouts for multiple proposals at once
5. Making milestone-based payouts to accepted proposals in stables, native token directly from the multi-sig safe
While we respect AGD’s decision to not go ahead with us after the pilot, we have made significant efforts towards incorporating their feedback as part of our subsequent version releases and continuous improvements. In terms of scale, TON grants team uses Questbook to manage 30+ proposals per week and the Polygon Grants team used Questbook to evaluate more than 200 proposals per month.
Furthermore, following the pilot phase, we have led Compound Grants Program 2.0 and will soon invite proposals for the Arbitrum Community Grants Program. We are open to receiving further inputs from the AGD team and collaborating with them to fund public goods, and grants in a manner that prioritizes community involvement, transparency, impact, accountability and efficiency.