Sat 30 Jun 2018 5:14PM

Alternative proposal to UBI - revisiting RewardDAO

KI Kris is Public Seen by 253

Just gave some feedback on the UBI doc, after listening to the gov call & fireside I missed plus reading a lot in Reinventing Organizations.

Sharing some of my thoughts here as the consequences of changing to a (lower) UBI + eth-dishing system are quite big for most of us. Based on this I'd like to make two proposals. All thoughts very welcome.

I think we should definitely experiment with the eth-giving, directly in the DApp, so first of all: 100% in favor of doing this ASAP!!
My proposals are however to slightly change the approach so that it is maybe less disruptive/distracting and more in the spirit of what we actually are building here, which will be a tool that is less about funds/money and more about accountability and transparency.

By placing most of the regular unicorns on an incentive-based structure you do not fix the accountability (see roles tension loomio by Lindsay), you do create however extra risk of

  • Subjectivity (You will tend to give more to people & projects you know well or like a lot)
  • Stress (Will more introverted people or less communicative people be able to 'sell' their projects? Does a lower basic income be stimulating or instead have a paralyzing effect?)
  • Unneeded competition (incl possibly quite some noise to promote YOUR Milestones)
  • More admin/overhead (Every week you create your Milestone of work done + extra Milestone(s) that you then need to get funded and then also still realize).

After understanding better how Teal organizations (which we aspire to be) work effectively I read more than once that working with incentives is apparently quite counterproductive, as it takes away trust and creates a scarcity mindset.

  • When you read the chapter on 'compensation and incentives' in Reinventing Organizations it states that most people (esp. in Teal organizations) are actually not at all motivated by money. None of the researched ones work with incentives. "From a Teal perspective, it is almost insulting to believe that someone will work hard just because you dangle a carrot in front of their face."

  • One of the most heard discussion points at Giveth is actually the low salaries. None of us have the ambition to get rich off of Giveth. But it should not be on our mind at all - this system could create extra money worries instead of less. It creates an atmosphere of scarcity which makes no sense, esp. in an abundant environment (crypto, Aragon collab). You cannot grow & evolve with that mindset.

Do watch this talk Griff shared in the very first medium post on Giveth, in short, it focuses on daring to invest in the people who work in nonprofits , as you need them to stick around and feel safe. Some quotes: "We have a visceral reaction to the idea that anyone would make very much money helping other people." "If we can have that kind of generosity -- a generosity of thought -- then the nonprofit sector can play a massive role in changing the world for all those citizens most desperately in need of it to change."

Proposal I: FORK The RewardDAO


  • For some people we currently depend a bit too much on the RewardDAO. The idea of the RewardDAO is to invite people into our organization, it should not be a bounty system or a replacement for a salary. It's just a rather small token of our appreciation and invite to do more.
  • Rewarding regular contributors via an incentive-based payment system is actually not 'Teal' at all (see above) and has a counterproductive effect according to the 'Reinventing Organizations' book. It would also (most probably?) exclude the DApp team itself, which would be a pity, as they are building it, as they'd have to agree to a base salary of 450€/week as well. The DApp Campaign could give weekly bonuses to compensate, but that kinda defeats the purpose of the exercise.
  • We want to onboard people and experiment with the DApp ASAP to make it fit our audience and bringing in complete outsiders or orgs at this point might be a bit too early.

- We keep our pointsbot only for the small tasks and for newbies, larger projects we invite on the DApp with Milestones to existing campaigns.
- Keep regular contributors on reg rewards (but change that system, see proposal II)
- BUT do experiment with the DApp by actually really onboarding new people. When contributors who have already been rewarded earlier via RewardDAO and now want to take up larger tasks (social coding initiatives, text writing by eg adam for the dapp, visual identity or website dev, …) we whitelist them and they create a Milestone for their task, they put an amount on this.
- These tasks get funded by all regular contributors who receive a weekly or monthly 'allowance' to spend on projects. During the monthly Unicorn meeting we discuss how funds were spent and what we learned from this. Contributors are very welcome to attend to.

- Both internal & external people play with the Dapp and we evolve the DApp for the people who are working on Blockchain for Good projects, not just ourselves, we actually open it up more in this way. This means onboarding NOW. Not for big projects but for people, as it is meant to be.
- We create strong ties with contributors as they set their fee - they get rewarded properly and self-regulate. (=also more teal)
- We do not create an unneeded extra layer of complexity for reg reward people to get paid. We focus on the power of the DApp and create great use cases by doing so. Focus on the accountability & transparency instead of

Proposal II: Create clear and ever-evolving roles plus a combo of peer-based self-set salaries for reg rewards


  • Right now most people (except the DApp team) are paid 600-650€/week for various amounts of work. This has been creating tension among many people ever since I started. The proposal is now to reduce this amount even more with the UBI + eth incentivization process. As stated above this is not 'teal' at all, creates imbalance and an unneeded scarcity (see intro + proposal I).
  • Cost of living is also quite different for some people as some pay upto 50% of taxes on what they earn, others pay zero. This, together with the responsibilities taken by people plus actual relevant work should be taken into account.


As stated in reinventing organizations: "In the absence of bosses, the process to determine who gets to take home how much money must be peer-based."
What we could do is create, together with the Aragon Team (for their expertise), a salary committee. We could do a combination of two existing systems that are Teal and have been proven to work: a mix between peer-based and self-set salary. Steps in this could be
1) we have the roles discussion, you write down all the roles you are currently taking up + linked accountabilities
2) you propose a salary for yourself with good arguments on why
3) you fill in the simple survey that lets you rank colleagues contribution + indicate which people are the best to evaluate your proposed salary.

A simple algorithm crunches through the numbers and together with colleague feedback the committee gives feedback to the regular unicorn. More info in the book on page 129 & further

Funding for these higher salaries can come out of the Aragon DAC funds as this is a huge experiment for DACs and can be developed in close collaboration with them and if needed even an external expert.

- We create an environment of abundance and take the money discussion fully out of the equation.
- We create true balance as we allow the other Unicorns to do the same what the DApp team did: propose a salary that makes sense to yourself.
- The focus can now be fully on making people accountable for their work through regular and thorough role discussion meetings
- The defining of these 'mini-roles' - which is indeed not about people but about tasks - will create loads of stability, and personally I have to say I currently crave some stability and clarity 🙂 I'd love to start preparing this with some people, but as Griff said, we'd need some buy-in for this role doc this time around.
- We help Aragon with an experiment that turns us more and more in a real, decentralized and fully Teal organization


Griff Green Sun 1 Jul 2018 1:51AM

I think there is a misunderstanding... Where is the incentive piece? The idea is that the UBI is unconditional and that the people receiving it are only accountable for being around enough to not get voted out of it (this part is still be thought on.

If you participate in the UBI (it would be opt in, not mandatory) other campaigns inside of the DAC would create other milestones for unicorns on top of it. Those can be either weekly salaries, milestone based incentives or whatever, and then with the other 1/2 you can donate to other people's milestones so you can steer the direction of the giveth galaxy.

There are no carrots or incentives built into the Unicorn Basic Income, and it does not mean you can't get other money thru a rewardDAO mechanism or anything else. I would imagine that it just lowers the cost of hiring Unicorns in a campaign to fill a specific role. So for instance, if Kay needs 700 a week minimum, he could get a UBI for 450, a gov campaign salary for 250 and thats his 700, but then he can make milestones to do a bunch of other things and depending on what donations each milestone receives, he can decide what to do this week, to collect those bounties. He can also get dished unicorn points and we can do a unicorn RewardDAO

The guaranteed money in the unicorn basic income DAC is less... but I'm in the US right now and that is higher than minimum wage... in India, you can live like a king! AND you are in a very comfortable position to get more funds... especially since everyone gets 450 to dish out, that need to go somewhere.


Griff Green Sun 1 Jul 2018 2:07AM

Proposal 1
one small correction:
"we whitelist them and they create a Milestone for their task, they put an amount on this."
Any one can create a proposal for a milestone, they just can't create their own communities or campaigns

This sounds like the UBI proposal, with the exception of not creating a new DAC so the reg rewards have to come from the same campaigns and they don't get this bonus subsidy from an outside campaign, i think pulling €450 from the UBI DAC will make it easier for comms and gov especially to assign roles modularly to unicorns without burdening the campaigns as much having to guarantee a full wage to several people every week.

The UBI is structured as a separate DAC to easy the stress of campaigns like Comms that might have trouble raising funds on their own from having to get donations to pay the full wages. Instead, the twitter role can get $80 a week, the reddit role $50 and every medium post $75 and we can know that if someone has a bad week and just doest get anything done, the people that donate to the Comms campaign dont have money go anywhere, but the Unicorn still gets a living wage.


Griff Green Sun 1 Jul 2018 6:45AM

Proposal 2
Its hard to depend on the Aragon DAC existing this month (i would say we are likely to make it happen, but its not guaranteed, and when it gets funded is up in the air as well.

A lot of progress hopefully will get made this next week hopefully... but remember we got a yes on the grant in Cardona and haven't received a donation yet. Setting up the Aragon DAC will take time and then it still has to get funded... its likely this can't really happen fully until September. This is an ambitious idea and I think there are chances here, but its not worth waiting for.


Satya Mon 2 Jul 2018 10:21AM

Very good points about risks @krisd, hadn't thought about it, but now that I do I don't feel this is the direction I would want to see us go.

But as far as I understood, this UBI thing is ON TOP of your current regular reward. So in that case it is safe enough to try I guess :-)

You'd get 600 + 450 and another 450 to distribute to other campaigns.
Sounds like that would actually relief a lot of tension, not?