Lately projects, companies and organizations have received millions of dollars as contributions. These contributors have believed in the vision and goals of these entities. The problem that has arisen after these contribution periods is simple — the lack of transparency in how the funds are being used. These entities have not been able to be properly held responsible for the way they spend these funds.
We were lucky enough to have over 2400 individual addresses take part in our token sale as we raised funds for the project. In the blockchain space, especially on Ethereum, token sales have been wildly successful this year. With over $1.7 billion raised in total since the beginning of the year, this new type of fundraising has proven very effective.
When projects begin gathering the attention and interest of their audience, it is important that they have something to show. We have seen great variance in how this has been executed. Some already have a MVP — Minimum Viable Product, some more, some less. The MVP at least shows a glimpse of what they’re building. Others merely have an idea that they think they can transform into a product. It is up to the individuals to do their due diligence and make sure that the project is worth their support.
While there are tools and great wisdom can be extracted from the crowd when working on due diligence, there’s almost nothing that can be done after the funds have been raised. Questions can be asked and often the teams will give at least some kind of an answer. How they are planning to, and have used the funds are common questions. But this doesn’t guarantee that what they say is truthful or that they will even answer.
The evolution of transparency would mean greater accountability and efficiency for projects. Which leads to increased security and involvement for participants while generating trust. This should also help ensure that the community filters away non-legit projects and uplifts the transparent ones.
Aragon Transparency Model
At Aragon, we feel obliged to show to our community — supporters, contributors and token holders — that we are being productive, effective and using the raised funds in a responsible manner.
The community is very important to us, they are the ones that we’re building this project for. They support us, provide feedback and ideas on how we can all move forward while catering the needs of the users. In turn, we want to uphold our high transparency standards to keep the community up to date on what we are doing.
This is why we’re showcasing our model for doing things transparently.
We’ll now present you with all the different methods we’re employing. The parts of our project’s transparency model, starting with the new Transparency Framework.
Transparency of funds — Transparency Framework
The Transparency Framework shows human readable descriptions of the transactions that we make. This allows the contributors of our token sale and ANT token holders to see that our use of funds is productive and responsible.
The Framework includes both ETH and ANT transactions from the Aragon Foundation Multisig. It details the value, destination, and justification for each spend from the wallet. There is also a column that shows which owners signed the transaction in case.
It would be very tedious for the multisig owners to sign every transaction. Which is why we’re often transferring a set amount of funds to a single person. In this case, we sent the funds to Jorge who could then transfer them to the Ethereum Foundation as a payment. If there are any funds that aren’t spent for the reason that they were initially transferred for, the remaining funds return to the multisig. This example shows that there were 9 ETH left over and sent back.
There are also some cases where the privacy needs to be preserved. For example, our employees are entitled to privacy of their personal finances and we won’t be showing the individual numbers of salaries.
As you can see in the image as well, we did organize our team’s first Offsite. We all got together for a week, had intense sessions and worked hard. This wasn’t a vacation type of thing for us, but the chance to reap the benefits of the whole team being in one place, working on the product. But more on this later, it requires a blog post of it’s own to show everything we accomplished during that week.
Disclaimer: Please note that the Transparency Framework is still young and some past transactions in the framework could have inaccurate data. So please inform us by opening an issue if you see anything that seems out of place or odd. There is also a known issue where the framework doesn’t currently work with the Safari browser. These issues are all being worked on.
Transparency of funds — Quarterly reports
Besides having the real time transparency framework, we will do detailed quarterly reports. These blog posts will be recaps of our use of funds in that quarter.
Transparency means that we should also let the community know why were the transactions made. The reason we want to do these reports, is to allow us to go into greater detail about the transactions.
Transparency of development — Open source code
All our code is open source and is available at Github for anyone to view.
We have repositories for all the different parts of the project, including the new transparency framework.
Here’s some of our main code related repositories:
Transparency of development — Public Meetings
Community Meetings take place monthly on the first Friday of the month. Team members will produce a write-up of the most important things they have worked on since last Community Meeting, the problems they have found and what they plan to do in the next weeks (that can be a bit blurry, and that’s fine). These write-ups will be published as a blog post for the community to review on Monday before Friday’s meeting.
Meeting agenda will be created based on the topics the team members present in their write-ups and discussion entailed around these topics will take place in the meeting. Live chat audience of the meeting is encouraged to participate and comment on the discussion during the meeting.
Following all the other things in the meeting agenda, an AMA (Ask Me Anything) will take place where the team answers questions by the community. The AMA questions can be posted at a dedicated thread on /r/aragonproject. We’ll also take questions from the Youtube livestream chat if there’s time.
We had monthly Aragon HQ Meetings, but wanted to reduce the amount of time spent in meetings. So they are now integrated into the Aragon Community Meetings as per AGP7: Merge Aragon HQ and Community meetings.
Transparency of development — Quarterly development updates
These quarterly development updates let us present the community with information about what we’ve been able to achieve during each quarter as well as what we’ll be working on in the next one.
The point is to keep people up to date on where the development currently is and where we’re at in our Development Plan.
Transparency of governance — Aragon Governance Proposal system
These public proposals allow us to interactively develop the parts of Aragon’s governance with the community. There will be discussion and debate in the AGP’s comments and anyone is free to take part in shaping these models.
For example, we’ve recently created a proposal for the Ethereum community to migrate out of Slack. AGP 5: Migration to Open Source Messaging Platform has received interest from many projects and sparked public discussion on the matter.
We want to show the people that we care. Each of these measures in our model aims to consolidate a standard and serve as an example for other actors within the blockchain space to emulate. We hope this helps raise the bar for all projects within the Ethereum community.