Gitcoin OSS Fund: Round 2’s Radical Results

The winners of $50K towards Ethereum’s open source ecosystem

Gitcoin’s mission is to grow open source. In 2019, we’ve raised over $100K for open source projects via Gitcoin’s OSS Fund, almost entirely within the Ethereum OSS community.

The Gitcoin OSS Fund has had two matching rounds thus far, where $75K in funds were split up amongst Ethereum projects. Projects with the most unique contributors to their campaign on Gitcoin Grants received a higher proportion of the match.

To do this, we used the matching method outlined in Liberal Radicalism (“LR”) — a paper by Glen Weyl, Vitalik Buterin, and Zoë Hitzig — to determine how the funds should be allocated. See here to learn more about LR, but for now, know that the mechanism provides much greater funding to projects which receive many small contributions than those who receive a few large ones.

$275 from 10 people receives a much larger match than $275 from 1 person.

The first round was a $25K round, held 2/1 - 2/15. You can see the results of that experiment here.

The second, a $50K round, ran from 3/5 - 4/19, and set out with the following goals (announced here).

  • $25,000+ in community contributions towards these 42 projects
  • 200 unique contributions by Ethereum community members
  • Top 10 projects receiving at least $2,500 in funding, each

Today, we’re excited to announce the winners and results of round two. Without further ado…

The $50K Match Results!

Highlights of Round 2, By The Numbers

We met almost all of our goals for this round (9 of 10 top projects received $2,000, but all 10 didn’t receive $2.5K) — and are marking it down as a success for the program and the community at large.

A huge congrats to the winners, who will receive over $1,000 to support their open source projects. We’re excited to continue to support them using the voice of community as our signal.

(More) Experimentation With Liberal Radicalism

The Gitcoin OSS Fund serves a double purpose: a) first and foremost, a way to bring money to open source projects and b) a research effort to improve Liberal Radicalism (or other mechanisms) which help allocate funding within blockchain communities.

There were many learnings from using Liberal Radicalism as a matching mechanism which we’re excited to tinker with in future rounds.

On Collusion & Identity

During round two, Vitalik Buterin wrote an article on collusion and identity which best highlights one of the largest hurdles in CLR. From that post:

The ideal goal of an identity system is to make it relatively easy for individuals to get one identity, but relatively difficult to get many identities. In the /r/ethtrader donut system, that’s Reddit accounts, in the Gitcoin CLR matching gadget, it’s Github accounts that are used for the same purpose. But identity, at least the way it has been implemented so far, is a fragile thing….

In discussing this fragility, one project in Round 2 — which we’ll leave unnamed here — originally received a significant portion of the CLR matching via contributions from Github accounts which eventually were proven to be fake, puppet accounts. We were able to detect collusion and manually modded out these contribution. We plan to implement more robust identity solutions down the road.

Reaching Critical Mass

It’s also worth noting that the Liberal Radicalism approach improves as the number of donors increases (since the likelihood of the signal being skewed by large donors decreases).

While we’re extremely thankful for many larger donors to Gitcoin Grants (namely: Web 3 Foundation, MakerDAO, POA Network, and the Binance Fellowship Program), we hope that increasing the number of small, individual contributions in future rounds will improve the matching function even more.

Simply put, we’re aiming for more contributions. A simple vote with $1 from 1000’s of contributors is enough to drown out the noise of larger donations, if these projects are unable to receive other contributions from the crowd. We have some ideas on how to encourage these $1 votes in future rounds.

The Future of the Gitcoin OSS Fund

To become a matching partner, check out Gitcoin Grants or message me on Twitter.

The Gitcoin OSS Fund is just getting started. We see a bright future ahead for funding public goods like open source, starting from blockchain communities like Ethereum — which has helped incentivized 1 million lines of open source code in just 4+ years (see here). As Gitcoin Grants (and the fund) expands, here are some things you can expect from us.

Multiple Pools + Additional Scoping

In the past two rounds, our matching funds (in this case, the $50K) have had a largely discretionary mandate with two broad conditions:

  • Projects funded should be entirely free and open source
  • Projects funded should directly benefit the Ethereum ecosystem

While most projects have met these criteria, some projects at the fringes could be ‘out of scope’ (including, specifically, some Grin projects).

We believe in cross-platform collaboration, but agree that we didn’t properly communicate the scope of Round 2. Thus, we’ll be rolling contributions to Grin projects into Round 3. Gitcoin plans to better communicate the scope of matching funds in future rounds so projects know whether they are eligible for matching funds.

Building For More Contributions!

This round of matching had 214 contributions, which was amazing. We’re very thankful for each person who took the time out to contribute to projects. Our goal for future rounds is to build upon the success, and we have some ideas for doing so.

In future rounds, we’ll be making it easier than ever to donate $5 across a range of projects. It’s important to know that this small $5 contributions is effectively a vote, and manages to move much large sums of money quite quickly. We hope to make using Gitcoin Grants even easier in service of this goal — and to better showcase how far your contribution can go.

A Bright Future For OSS Funding

In the past few months, we’ve continued to build towards a thriving future for OSS, which in turn leads to a more stable, productive internet.

  • Over $100,000 was contributed to 50 open source projects to continue their work in the Ethereum ecosystem
  • We’ve continued tinkering with Liberal Radicalism and learning about collusion and identity solutions, an important puzzle piece to OSS funding
  • Gitcoin OSS Fund will have a round 3, and we’ll announce more soon 🙂

Let’s grow open source, together. 🌳


To learn more about Gitcoin, click below. We welcome you on our journey to grow open source while changing the way we work.