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zkLend X Only Dust AMA Recap 30/08/2022

ZEND&FRIENDS AMA Series 3: ‘StarkNet Educatooors’ continues with CEO, Gravity Owl and Tech Lead, Stan from Only Dust. Listen in to find out more about Cairo, dev onboarding and all the cool ways they’re shaping StarkNet.

Full Recording

Listen to the full recording on our Spotify now.


The ‘Why’ of Only Dust [08:09]

Our objective is to help protocols like StarkNet to distribute their grounds to open-source projects. Currently, it is very difficult for StarkNet to incentivise very good developers to work with you, it’s very complicated and there are a lot of mercenary developers who want to rug-pull StarkWare. On the other side, you have a lot of developers who want to help the ecosystem but they don’t know how to do it, or they work by themselves. So we have created a marketplace to connect all the builders with all the developers and the lead contributors will create open-source projects they can recruit some contributors and together they can earn a grant from StarkWare.

It’s very efficient because when the developers work together, not alone, they can get a grant and they know how much money they will earn if they work. This enables better retention and better work, it’s revision and submission to help the protocol create another open-source world since normally if you work open source you don’t get paid but in Web3 you can get paid which is amazing.

The idea we have on how we can achieve that and what we did with StarkNet and plan on doing with other ecosystems. For example, when we first came to StarkNet it was still the beginning, very early days of the public StarkNet ecosystem and while we had learned about Cairo and our first smart contracts to develop the platform itself, we decided to focus at first on education material mainly with the Starklings project teaching developers how to contribute to StarkNet projects and so with this flow of qualified developers our first users to the market place. That’s how we want to approach other ecosystems, first to become good enough ourselves to be able to teach other people with the technologies in place and then help them contribute to live projects in the ecosystem because it will help them get better at the technologies and on the other side it’s a great resource to have people working on projects. When we talk about projects we have in mind people we have talked to who will be able to work on that specific project tasks.

The Onboarding Journey [12:41]

It depends on which way you hear about Only Dust or StarkNet, but what we are doing is to have quick calls with developers which they can schedule on our Calendly and we try to see what would be the best for them where they can learn about Cairo and StarkNet. Most of the time it would be starting to work on the Starklings exercises and once you are confident enough you can start to have some small contributions to open-source projects. Often we’ll also contributions that are not in Cairo, if you are a Solidity developer there is a high chance you may also know JavaScript, Python or Rust that you can use to participate in projects from the StarkNet ecosystem which are not pure Cairo projects, there’s always the need for other skills. This is a good way to get into the ecosystem, you would start with what you already know and see what the project is and gradually get onboarding on the specific tasks in Cairo.

Sometimes we have twenty or thirty calls per week with developers and find out what their objectives are, what is their favourite tech, and what they want to learn.

And after that, I can tell them which project we think they would be a good fit for. Some people just want to learn Cairo, for example, and we have a big game called STARK CONQUEST and we want to organise a big tournament if you are a beginner you can start there.

Learning Resources on StarkNet [16:27]

Material like Henri’s OG Cairo tutorials, Encode Club does a lot of hackathons and the StarkNet CC during the summer we take this as an opportunity to not work on educational material and focus on the platform itself. We think it’s a very good thing for us in a very optimistic way we want these projects to happen and these kinds of materials to pop up and to help us have very qualified developers on the platform. The goal is to have people on the platform, the more initiatives there are like this, the better it is because it will bring more people. Sometimes if you look at the content from Henri, for example, it’s more about having your hands on actual contracts deployed on testnet, Starklings is very theoretical in terms of how Cairo works. If we multiply all the sources of learning it could be better for the developers themselves, in the end, it is a good thing for us and the ecosystem.

Contributors [18:41]

I think there are many situations, and in different cases, we see a lot of developers being brought to the platform from the interest they have in the product themselves. For example, if we talk to the lead contributors of a given project in StarkNet, people will get to our platform because they are interested in the project itself and if they want to contribute they will get in touch with the people working on the project and will be directed to our platform. The other way, is for graduates from Starklings to get in touch with the team and we invite them to go to the platform to try to put into practice what they’ve learned on Starklings I think the more and more people just visiting the platform not having worked on Starklings but being confident enough to try a small contribution on the platform and in the end getting more and more contributions, getting involved in working in these projects.

There is quite a range of different tasks that qualify as contributions. Usually, when the projects start putting contributions on the platform they’ve already started. Usually, they will not start with core contributions or features, they will start with some bug fixing, library updates, or lack of documentation. And once they get confident with the platform and the developers working on the platform they will bring more and more interesting contributions. For example, that is the approach that Astraly and Starknet.js took, it’s normal, you need some initial feedback from the first contributions to get confident with the quality of the work from the platform developers. For us, we use our platform to develop the platform itself which is very convenient because when we have some teachers that popup or when we have an urgent need and we don’t want to disturb the flow, we just put a contribution on the platform and we are sure there will be someone interested in working on it.

For example, we were missing the Braavos wallet connection and were only compatible with Argent X wallet and we did not have time to develop this connection it was not a core feature for us, we wanted to stabilise the platform and work on the back end. So we opened a contribution and I got on a call with a developer living in Brazil who wanted to get into the ecosystem and learn how to code in Cairo, he knew a bit of JS. He took the opportunity to integrate this wallet which he had done before on another project, it was a win-win situation. For us, it was life-saving to have this compatibility that was pretty much mandatory for our users and it was also a really good opportunity to get in touch with the team and onboard the project.

A lot of contributors have found a job via the platform. For example, a contributor was a complete beginner and worked on the platform for an open-source projects for 3–4 weeks and after that, a very cool start-up on the StarkNet ecosystem contacted him and got him a full-time position. And he keeps on contributing during the weeks, so for everyone, it was a win-win. — [23:25] Gravity Owl

Selection Criteria & Compensation [24:32]

For now, we select the contributor, we just opened our Github, a contribution to our Github is a contribution to the platform, and activity in our Discord. We have those criteria and I think it works very well if you see someone that is always asking questions or helping other people in the Discord and is active on the platform, for example, they’ve already done three or four contributions and has a good Github it’s a way to stand out and for us to select people. Next week there will be a new release, and the open-source project will select the application itself.

We see a lot of cases where people don’t have that much of a big Github, they may have created it because they worked for a company and did not work on the open-source project so they don’t have a filled GitHub. In those cases, we don’t want to stop people from trying to contribute we will let them try, and assign them smaller contributions so they can prove themselves.

For compensation, it’s important for us if you can earn more money on our platform instead of being freelance. It’s a problem because we don’t want to have some mercenaries, we try to achieve a balance, you can earn a sustained amount of money on the platform if you are an open-source contributor. We help projects design compensation, which is very hard. We are having meetings every week with projects to help them create a fair compensation system. For now, it’s very manual because we want it to be fair, but we think that in the future it will be easier.

StarkWare Partnership [30:03]

This partnership is very important because it included token allocation, and we want to use this token allocation with all the developers and contributors. It’s a way to reward them in the future, it was a discussion with Uri, we want to help our contributors, how can we do that? They said we could have a strategic partnership together and you can use the funds the way you want. So for us, the main objective is to reward the developer community. So if you are not a developer and you are not working on the platform it will be impossible to have an airdrop or reward or I don’t know, sorry for you guys. But if you are a developer, you are involved and you contribute to the platform I think it will be very cool for you in the next months, you should do this because there is a compensation in USD, item compensation, and we want to be very kind with our contributors, it’s our main objective.

Since we want to work with StarkWare in the long run, we need to create stable partnerships. We will open new ecosystems in the future, we will not be exclusive with StarkWare, we will work with other ecosystems. But we want to establish a strong partnership and after five or six open a new relationship in a new ecosystem. But we want to be very careful with this because if you have too many ecosystems you may lose focus or stop bringing value to the ecosystem. Te begin with, StarkWare was our main choice.

StarkNet CC [32:42]

It was organised by Le Journal du Coin and Only Dust, StarkWare was a very helpful sponsor. For us, IRL events are very important because we want to be in contact with all the builders in the ecosystem and this kind of event like StarkNet CC it’s just all the builders in the same venue. I think I have talked with more than 50 developers during this day, in terms of growth for us it was amazing. It’s not our main objective, we don’t want it to be the focus. We want to create a community initiative around StarkNet CC so a lot of the newer StarkNet CC will be organised by new companies. We have big ambitions for this event and we want to create a global brand like ETH CC.

Listing with Only Dust [35:39]

Similar to developers where we get on calls with them, we get on calls with the projects to understand their vision and what would be the first contribution they would want to list on the platform. The main idea is that when we talk with the project they’re very enthusiastic, but the idea of listing some issues from their Github on the platform, think of a part of your roadmap that you can externalise to people outside of your organisation we can find people qualified to work on this and more interesting for the project, we will pay them with the grant. It’s a big benefit for the project because they know they will have some extra development power and they won’t have to organise a teaching phase or wondering we can pay them or how much. They just have to focus on the contributions they want to list on the platform.

We try to tell the project to give it a try with our platform and developers with some small issues to get them in touch with developers and meet some very good developers that they would want to work on a more regular basis afterwards. That’s also a kind of recruitment strategy, it’s a bit like getting to know how to work together almost for free, for the project it’s only a matter of spending time writing the issues and reviewing the work of the developers. For the developers themselves it’s getting paid for the time you spend working on an open-source project. And once you have a good relationship between the project and the developers can start thinking about more advanced issues that you would want to list on the platform.

About Only Dust

What is Only Dust?

Only Dust helps new devs onboard onto the StarkNet ecosystem, simplifying the process of getting familiar with Cairo, finding projects that matter, contributing and getting rewarded through partnerships with StarkWare.

But what does this mean?

Through Only Dust, curious devs looking to learn Cairo and familiarise themselves with the hectic ecosystem of StarkNet can easily find the right resources and web3 guides.

Additionally, projects can list contribution opportunities so devs looking to practice can build things that matter and earn money at the same time.

Projects with contributions listed include StarkNet, briq, Astraly, and many more.

Devs can filter by contribution or by projects, sorting by status, difficulty, technology (language), duration, types (bugs, docs, features, etc) and context (isolated, coupled, intricate).

Grant programs also enable devs to be rewarded for their contributions. In June Only Dust secured a strategic partnership with StarkWare to enable future of Ethereum scaling. See here.

But that’s not all!

Only Dust is also highly prolific in the ecosystem beyond providing an on ramping marketplace for devs and projects, for example:

  • The team was one of the six finalists at the StarkNet hackathon in April
  • They co-organised the first ever StarkNet CC
  • Currently hosting a series of talks, ‘Tech Talk’, with various leading ecosystem players

This section was adapted from our original thread, here.

About zkLend

zkLend is an L2 money-market protocol built on StarkNet, combining zk-rollup scalability, superior transaction speed, and cost-savings with Ethereum’s security. The protocol offers a dual solution: a permissioned and compliance-focused solution for institutional clients, and a permissionless service for DeFi users — all without sacrificing decentralisation.

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zkLend is an L2 money-market protocol built on StarkNet, combining zk-rollup scalability, superior transaction speed, and cost-savings with Ethereum’s security.

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zkLend is an L2 money-market protocol built on StarkNet, combining zk-rollup scalability, superior transaction speed, and cost-savings with Ethereum’s security.