RetroPGF 2
The Citizens' House employs a unique approach called "retroactive public goods funding" (RetroPGF), which believes it's easier to support what's proven valuable rather than guessing what might be useful. Each RetroPGF round begins with a defined funding scope, initially set by the Optimism Foundation and later by the community. Projects are then evaluated by the Citizens' House based on their impact within this scope, determining funding allocations. Optimism is committed to dedicating 20% of its OP token allocation to RetroPGF, and future rounds will tap into additional funding sources. This iterative process blends theory, practice, and community feedback to shape a retroactive funding system that benefits all.
Experiment Overview
The Optimism Collective recently held its second round of Retroactive Public Goods Funding (RetroPGF) in the first quarter of 2023. The RetroPGF 2 allocation of 10 million OP tokens was directed towards funding public goods that promote the development and usage of the OP Stack. The ultimate goal of the Collective is to establish a global system that rewards positive contributions with individual profit. The RetroPGF mechanism serves as an experiment towards achieving this goal of "impact = profit". By funding public goods in a sustainable manner, the Collective can foster a thriving ecosystem and a stronger economy. Overall, this initiative aims to create a positive impact on the world. The Optimism Collective believes that building public goods should be profitable.
Process and Timeline
This is the kick-off for the project nominations of the recently announced RetroPGF Round 2. Optimism’s vision is to build a global system where positive impact to the Collective is rewarded by profit to the individual. RetroPGF is an experimental mechanism to realize this goal of “impact = profit”. For more information, read the announcement post or visit our governance documentation.
  1. Badgeholder Selection

    Badgeholders have the power to distribute OP tokens to projects. They’re instrumental in running an effective RetroPGF round. For RetroPGF Round 2, badgeholders were selected across four different criteria.

  2. Nominations

    Anyone could nominate a project on the forum by providing a name, impact description and link to Github/Twitter.

  3. Project Profile Creation

    Projects had to create a profile where they were asked for general information, as well as a description of their project and its impact. Information provided by Projects can be viewed on the archive page.

  4. Voting

    Badgeholders were provided with a badgeholder manual and asked to evaluate and vote on nominated projects via a voting form

  5. Payout / Funding Distribution

    Projects received rewards based on their received OP allocation votes from each badgeholders which can be viewed here.

Scope of Round 2
RetroPGF Round 2 has a clear mission which is allocate 10 million OP tokens to projects that enhance the development and utilization of the OP Stack. These projects fall into three key categories:
  1. Infrastructure & Dependencies

    Software used to build or deploy the OP Stack / contributions to protocols or standards upon which the OP Stack runs / experiments that support future development of the core OP Stack protocol.

  2. Tooling & Utilities

    Work that helps builders create applications on Optimism mainnet, build on the OP Stack, interact with governance of the Collective, or use applications built on Optimism.

  3. Education

    Work to spread awareness and knowledge of how Optimism works, whether technically or socially.

Nominate Projects
To nominate a project for RetroPGF, visit the designated forum posts for your chosen nomination category:
What is things to consider when nominating a project?
  1. Provide Impact Details

    Describe how the project has made a positive impact within the scope of this round

  2. Choose the Right Category

    Ensure that you nominate projects in the relevant category.

  3. Avoid Duplicates

    Check if the project has already been nominated to prevent duplication.

For people or projects
  1. Read the Project Manual

    Familiarize yourself with the Project Manual, which provides an overview of the process and answers frequently asked questions.

  2. Opt-In and Create a Project Profile

    To be eligible, opt into the round and complete your project profile in the RetroPGF application manager by Feb 21. This profile should include additional information about your project and verification of your GitHub or Twitter account.

  3. Stay Updated

    Keep an eye out for the RetroPGF application manager, set to launch by the end of January. More details will follow soon!

It's essential to clarify that the term "project" encompasses both individual and group efforts. However, collections, referring to projects without a single verifiable entity on GitHub or Twitter, can only be nominated by the Optimism Foundation. Your participation is valued as we continue to shape the future of RetroPGF.
Nominate Template

This is a nomination to recognize and celebrate the outstanding contributions of a project within the OP Stack ecosystem. If you know of a project that has significantly supported the development and usage of the OP Stack, we encourage you to nominate it for recognition.

For people or projects
  1. The projects name
  2. A description of how the project has supported development and usage of the OP Stack
  3. A link to the project’s GitHub or Twitter
  4. (Optional) Contact info for the project or project lead
For collections

The Foundation may also nominate collections for funding. A collection is different from a project in that a collection may not have a single entity that can be verified via GitHub or Twitter. Optimism’s Support NERDs or the set of code contributors to the Optimism monorepo are both examples of potential collections.

To nominate a collection, the Foundation must comment on a forum thread with the collection’s name, the list of addresses in the collection, the breakdown of how funding would be distributed across those addresses, and a description of how they’ve provided public good to the Collective.

Because of the high risk for fraud, collections will only be nominated by the Foundation in this round of RetroPGF (Round 2).

Voting Badges
Selecting the right badgeholders is like building a dream team for RetroPGF Round 2. We wanted a mix of experience, expertise, and fresh perspectives to ensure a robust and effective round. Here's how we did it
Round 1 Alumni
14 Badgeholders
Optimism Foundation's Picks
21 Badgeholders
Token House Elections
10 Badgeholders
Badgeholders Nominates
29 Badgeholders
Let deep dive more to detail across four different criteria:
  1. Round 1 Alumni

    We welcomed back 14 badgeholders who had previously participated in Round 1 of RetroPGF. Their experience and insights from the first round make them valuable assets for Round 2.

  2. Optimism Foundation's Picks

    The Optimism Foundation had a say in selecting 21 badgeholders, each bringing a unique perspective to the table. Their diverse backgrounds and expertise contribute to a well-rounded group.

  3. Optimism's Token House Elections

    10 badgeholders were elected by Optimism's Token House , adding a democratic element to the selection process. One voting badge will be given to 10 Token House delegates

  4. Badgeholders Nominates

    To ensure community representation, we opened up nominations for badgeholders from the three categories mentioned above. This approach allows us to include fresh voices and new perspectives in our badgeholder team. Each of badgeholders will be able to distribute a voting badge to one community member of their choosing.

Guideline Badgeholders that looking for:
  1. Passion for Public Goods

    We love advocates who believe in the value of public goods, not just in crypto but in the broader world. If you're passionate about the greater good, you're our kind of advocate!

  2. Innovative Thinkers

    Are you someone who can help us improve and refine retroPGF as a funding mechanism? We're looking for creative minds who can advance the process and structure to make it even better.

  3. Domain Expertise

    If you're an expert in any of the categories up for funding in RetroPGF 2, we want to hear from you. Your expertise can be a game-changer!

  4. Alignment with Our Mission

    We're on a mission to support the long-term growth of the Optimism ecosystem and the Collective's mission. If you share our vision and goals, you're a great fit for our team.

Things to aware
The information that badgeholders and citizens should know about the RetroPGF's process and rules.
  1. Holding a voting badge for one round does not guarantee voting rights in subsequent rounds; Citizenship criteria may change in the future.
  2. Voting badges in RetroPGF 2 are recorded as a simple attestation in the AttestationStation, not as a soulbound token, allowing for flexibility in future iterations.
  3. Badgeholders are expected to adhere to the Optimism Delegate Code of Conduct.
  4. Accepting a voting badge is optional; if an eligible person declines, the badge won't be distributed to someone else.
  5. Badgeholders with any participation or ownership stake in a project up for vote in RetroPGF 2 are expected not to vote in favor of that project. Detailed conflict of interest rules will be provided in a forthcoming Badgeholder Manual.
  6. Getting a badge for RetroPGF 2 doesn't mean you're guaranteed permanent participation in the Citizens' House or future RetroPGF iterations. Our citizenship criteria may evolve over time. The responsibility for citizenship distribution ultimately lies with Optimism's two-house governance system.
Retroactive Public Goods Funding (RetroPGF) fuels the growth of the Optimism ecosystem by allocating capital to those who've contributed positively. With hindsight, it identifies builders who've provided public goods. This investment supercharges Optimism's tooling & utilities, education, infrastructure & dependencies, making it a premier crypto ecosystem. In the Optimism Collective, positive impact earns rewards. RetroPGF Round 2, the second experiment, had 69 out of 71 selected badgeholders vote on allocating 10m OP to support OP Stack usage and development.
Nominated Projects
Projects Awarded Funding
Median Funding
22,825 OP
Top 10% of Projects received over
140,000 OP
Overview Allocation
In this second round of RetroPGF, 195 people and projects were nominated for funding, and all 195 were awarded funding by the badgeholders! While going above and beyond in assessing project impact these badgeholders allocated their votes among 40 different projects on average. The funding was evenly distributed by badgeholders across three categories which are education, infrastructure, and tooling & utilities.
Infrastructure & Dependencies
3,706,329 OP
Tooling & Utilities
3,229,011 OP
3,064,659 OP
See the full list of all RetroPGF 2 recipients with details through archive page, or through the sheet here.
Voting Rationale
While badgeholders are not obligated to reveal their voting choices, some may choose to share their voting rationale here. This transparency can provide valuable insights into the thought processes and considerations that guided their decisions, fostering a deeper understanding of the evaluation and allocation of Retroactive Public Goods Funding in Round 2.
This is an example of a thoughtful and balanced voting rationale for Retroactive Public Goods Funding (RetroPGF) Round 2:
Thomas Jay Rush
See on the forum >
My criteria is (1) impact (of course), (2) potential impact (is the idea sound), (3) current funding status. I weigh these things in order 3, 2, 1. If a project has raised money (through either token or VC), most likely I won’t be voting for that project. If a project has a great idea but is just starting to see impact, I will vote for them with the thinking that supporting a great idea is a good thing. And hopefully the support will help that team to execute on the idea in the future. (Yes, I know this is supposed to be retro-active, but see below…) If a project has already had impact, I think that’s excellent and deserves support, but many times early impactful things fade in the long run. Use Yahoo as an example. It had a huge impact in the early Internet, but it faded to insignificance. I’m not sure past impact is a good measure. Also, there’s a winner-take-all aspect to all of this. Everyone votes for “well known projects” and then “well known projects” become more well known because they have a marketing budget, spiral, spiral…
For these reasons, I think I’m going to do something similar to this.
  1. Identify project that I won’t be voting for due to already existing funding through VCs or token raises. Allocate 0% to those projects.
  2. Identify the 10-20 projects that either have great future potention and growing impact or past impact and a really good idea. Allocation about 50% of my vote to those project split up in a way that makes sense.
  3. Use the remaining 50% of my vote to vote evenly across the remaining projects in the belief that even 1% of my vote (or whatever it works out to) is a significant amount of money, and especially for small projects, any amount of money keeps them going and is a huge encouragement.
If you're curious to learn more about how other badgeholders are approaching their voting rotations, feel free to check out the discussions on the governance forum. It's a great way to get insights from the community and see the diverse strategies people are using!
Infrastructure & Dependencies
A total of 43 infrastructure projects received financial support. Notably, the top three recipients in this category were Protocol Guild, geth, and Solidity, reflecting their pivotal roles in bolstering the infrastructure of the Optimism ecosystem. This allocation of resources signifies a strategic investment in the backbone of the platform, ensuring its robustness and scalability.
Infrastructure & Dependencies
RetroPGF 2 Recipients - Infrastructure & Dependencies
Infrastructure & Dependencies
RetroPGF 2 Breakdown - Infrastructure & Dependencies
Tooling & Utilities
There is a total of 82 projects within the Tooling & Utilities category were recipients of funding during this phase. Notably, among these recipients, OpenZeppelin, DefiLlama, and wagmi emerged as the top recipients in this category, demonstrating their significant contributions to the ecosystem's development and functionality. This allocation of resources highlights the commitment to enhancing the tools and utilities that empower the OP Stack, setting the stage for further growth and innovation.
Tooling & Utilities
RetroPGF 2 Recipients - Tooling & Utilities
Tooling & Utilities
RetroPGF 2 Breakdown - Tooling & Utilities
Within the Education category, the Collective demonstrated its commitment to knowledge dissemination by providing funding to a total of 70 individuals and projects. Notably, the top three recipients in this educational initiative were L2Beat, ETHGlobal, and BuidlGuidl, underlining their significant contributions to fostering a culture of learning and understanding within the Optimism Stack and ecosystem.
RetroPGF 2 Recipients - Educations
RetroPGF 2 Breakdown - Educations
Analyzing Results
In conclusion, Results for Round 2 similar to Round 1, there was relatively low variance among the funded projects, with little distinction in payouts between projects of high and moderate impact. However, in contrast to Round 1, Round 2 witnessed a more widespread distribution of tokens. In Round 1, 58 out of 76 nominated projects received votes, while in Round 2, all 195 nominated projects received votes. This difference can be attributed to the relatively small number of badgeholders compared to the allocated tokens, where even a minor allocation by a single badgeholder could result in a significant token distribution to a project.
Table Allocarion Compare
Top Recipients RetroPGF Round 2 vs Round 1
The diversity of projects funded during this round improved compared to Round 1. The majority of the funded projects in RetroPGF 2 were not specific to Optimism but were part of the broader Ethereum ecosystem. Funded projects spanned a wide range of areas, from infrastructure to education, and operated in different languages and regions.
Learnings & Reflections
As we find ourselves at the crossroads of completed endeavors and unfolding experiences, it's the perfect time for reflection. Let's take a moment to appreciate what we've achieved and the wealth of knowledge we've gained throughout this journey.
How Badgeholders Assessed Impact
Scaling Impact Evaluation
Badgeholders Collaboration
Defining Impact = Profit
Voting Tool & Experience
How Badgeholders Assessed Impact
Retroactive Public Goods Funding (RetroPGF) is an innovative approach aimed at rewarding past impact within the Optimism Collective. This concept is grounded in the belief that it's easier to gauge the usefulness of past projects than to predict their future utility. A key challenge in RetroPGF is how to present project information to voters effectively. Let's explore the process and its challenges:
  1. Project Eligibility
    To be considered for RetroPGF, projects had to go through a two-step process: nomination in the forum and subsequent sign-up via the Project intake form. This process aimed to filter out qualifying projects and gather valuable information for badgeholders to assess impact.
  2. Project Nominations
    The community was encouraged to signal which projects had generated impact for the Optimism Collective. However, the nominations process resembled a mini-dilemma of the commons, with few participants feeling responsible or incentivized to nominate relevant projects. Surprisingly, even some top recipients had to self-nominate. However, being nominated was a positive signal, as all nominated projects received some funding.
  3. Project Intake Form:
    This form aimed to collect information that would help badgeholders evaluate projects' impact and potential sources of external funding. Questions included:
    "How do you support the development and usage of the OP Stack? What public good do you provide to the Collective?"
    "How do you sustain yourself? Please list sources of funding and revenue."
    Almost all of projects, information provided by projects was often too vague, making it challenging for badgeholders to assess impact accurately. This was due to the lack of guidance.
  4. Unclear Information & States
    The community expressed the need for a more aligned and structured process
    "Many projects did not provide enough information on the elements they were evaluated on: what is their impact to optimism, and what is their funding situation like,” - Anonymous.
    “The application form for next season should be more aligned with the review assessment process,” - Krzysztof Urbanski.
    “…ask projects to more clearly submit information that will be relevant to the evaluation criteria (impact and access to funding being the main one),” - Cassidy.
  5. Project Profiles
    Project descriptions and impact narratives were often narrative-driven, while funding sources lacked specific numbers. This resulted from a minimal prompt and limited examples for projects to follow. Projects tended to focus on future aspirations rather than describing their past impact.
Scaling Impact Evaluation
Evaluating project impact in Retroactive Public Goods Funding (RetroPGF) is no small feat. Badgeholders were tasked with assessing a multitude of projects, leading to significant challenges:
  1. Quantity Overload
    Badgeholders consistently expressed concerns about the sheer number of projects to review. Feedback included:
    "Smooth experience, but way too many projects."
    "...this is really about it being unmanageable for badgeholders."
    In this round, a staggering 195 projects were eligible for voting, compared to 76 in Round 1. Most badgeholders distributed their votes across 20-40 projects, with the median badgeholder evaluating 30 projects.
  2. Introducing "Collections"
    To address the issue of evaluating individual contributions at scale, the Optimism Foundation introduced the concept of "Collections." Each collection was a list of contributors with assigned weights for funding distribution. Five collections were nominated, including Monorepo Dependencies, EIP-4844 Contributors, and Optimism Support NERDS, Ambassadors, and Translators.
    The experiment aimed to simplify the allocation of funding to broader groups of contributors, which might have been more complex if individual contributors were considered.
  3. Mixed Feedback on Collections
    While some collections were uncontroversial, the EIP-4844 collection faced pushback from Ethereum contributors. Concerns included:
    Incentive Distortion: Critics argued that collections created strong incentives for work that could be retroactively funded, potentially altering teams' priorities.
    Challenges in Assessment: Assessing individual contributions to determine collection weights raised concerns about biases towards visible work.
  4. High-Leverage Voting Through Categories
    Looking ahead, categories may offer a solution through high-leverage voting. Badgeholders without expertise in a particular area could allocate funding to an entire category, which would then be distributed proportionally to other badgeholders' votes.
Badgeholders Collaboration
In Round 2, 71 badgeholders were entrusted with distributing 10 million OP, a substantial responsibility. To facilitate this complex evaluation process, the Optimism Foundation emphasized collaboration and provided guidance through a badgeholder manual and onboarding calls.
  1. Guidance with Flexibility
    The provided guidelines were comprehensive yet flexible, offering frameworks for evaluation rather than rigid rules. This approach encouraged badgeholders to apply their own judgment in translating philosophical concepts into real-world assessments.
  2. Emphasis on Collaboration
    Collaboration among badgeholders was strongly encouraged, fostering a high-context environment through asynchronous communication on platforms like Discord and Telegram. Additionally, collaborative calls hosted by Other Internet played a pivotal role.
  3. The Impact of Collaborative Calls
    Co-Working and Collective Intelligence, The first call aimed to provide co-working time, allowing attendees to delve into projects with their breakout groups. It provided an opportunity to discuss questions and insights about decision-making processes. This collaborative approach leveraged the collective intelligence of badgeholders.
    “It was really helpful to have sessions like this one with fellow badgeholders to talk about the process, different methods people were using, and the different ways others were approaching voting.”
    The second call focused on feedback, reflection, and the accumulation of ideas for future rounds. Badgeholders found these sessions immensely valuable, and they should continue to be an integral part of RetroPGF.
    “I appreciate the diversity of badgeholders and the work done by badgeholders to collaborate.”
Defining Impact = Profit
One of the Optimism Collective's core values is "impact = profit," a principle that individuals should receive profit equivalent to the impact they contribute to the collective. However, applying this framework in practice can be challenging, particularly without a clear and quantitative definition of "impact" or "profit."
  1. The Challenge of Interpretation
    Evaluating the types of public goods deserving funding is one of the most intricate aspects of Retroactive Public Goods Funding (RetroPGF). Badgeholders widely expressed the need for greater clarity in impact evaluation and philosophical alignment on the types of projects RetroPGF should support.
    "Are we taking impact vs. profit literally?”
    “On the philosophy of impact = profit, we wish there was a clearer definition of what impact looks like.”
  2. Seeking Clarity in Evaluation
    “Introduce better categories and stronger evaluation heuristics for each category.”
    “More discussion and structure of what the assessment criteria are - what are the goals and criteria that everyone can agree on.”
    “Different people were assessing different ways and had their own criteria for assessing. People were not in sync on the criteria, and how we each determined that based on the applications was unclear.”
  3. Custom Evaluation Frameworks
    In response to the ambiguity, some badgeholders developed their own evaluation frameworks. These often included categorizations and combinations of criteria to simplify impact assessment. Examples ranged from binary criteria like
    "Is the Project Optimism specific [Y/N]"
    "to simplified impact sizing like "Contribution Type [Large, Medium, Small]."
  4. The Dilemma of Future Impact
    With the rise of proactive grant models, considering future impact during evaluation became a topic of debate. Badgeholders engaged in discussions about whether to factor in expected future impact. A Twitter poll by Tim Beiko on Revealed mixed opinions. It highlighted the complexity of making the concept of retroactive funding well-understood.
  5. Addressing the Challenges
    How can we provide better mental models and definitions for impact evaluation?
    How can we support badgeholders in more effectively collaborating on impact assessment?
    How do we communicate the core mechanics of retro funding in a way that preserves badgeholder agency?
    The path to aligning "impact" and "profit" in RetroPGF is laden with complexity and calls for continued dialogue, exploration, and refinement. The collective pursuit of a shared understanding and effective evaluation methods will be instrumental in realizing the vision of retroactive public goods funding.
Voting Tool & User Experience
Round 2 brought valuable insights into the voting process. While the voting experience faced challenges, it also demonstrated the resourcefulness of badgeholders in finding creative solutions. Let's explore the journey and future prospects of voting tooling within RetroPGF.
  1. MVP Voting Solution
    Optimism Foundation opted for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) voting solution instead of a fully integrated voting interface. Badgeholders submitted their votes using a DeForm form with wallet verification. To facilitate the vote allocation process, badgeholders were provided with a voting scratchpad, allowing them to allocate their votes, ensuring they added up to 100%, before copying them into the form. The scratchpad also served as a means for badgeholders to share their vote allocations with the community.
  2. Resourcefulness Amidst Challenges
    While the voting user experience was not ideal, badgeholders showcased their ingenuity in addressing the issues. For instance, Ludens from Lattice developed a script that could export votes from the voting scratchpad and import them into the form. Additionally, in the final days of voting, Vitalik provided a script that allowed for the quick tallying of votes across the ballot using the browser console.
  3. A Call for Better Voting Tooling
    Future rounds of RetroPGF must aim for a smoother and more user-friendly voting experience, eliminating operational issues for badgeholders. However, beyond addressing friction, the emergent behavior observed in Round 2 highlights a significant design hypothesis: RetroPGF should evolve into a permissionless protocol that empowers community members to build voting, evaluation, and aggregation experiences on top of it. This direction deserves exploration in future rounds.
  4. Questions for Improvement
    How can the Optimism Collective provide a more seamless voting experience to badgeholders?
    How can the Optimism community collaborate to develop tooling that enhances the RetroPGF system for all participants?
    The RetroPGF journey is one of continuous learning and adaptation, with the aim of creating a more inclusive, efficient, and community-driven platform for rewarding past contributions.
The Next Journey
Retroactive Public Goods Funding (RetroPGF) Round 2 marked a significant milestone, supporting nearly 200 creators of public goods within the Optimism Collective. Beyond the immediate impact, this round provided invaluable insights into the intricate design challenges of the retroactive results oracle, bringing us closer to realizing Ether's Phoenix.
As we look ahead to Round 3, with an announcement coming soon™, the Optimism Collective is poised to iterate on the core challenges outlined in this piece. These challenges encapsulate the ongoing quest to create a more robust and community-driven RetroPGF
As we embark on this journey, we invite contributors to join us in building the different pieces of the RetroPGF. RetroPGF is more than a funding mechanism; it's a pillar of the Collective, an ever-evolving cycle, an infinite game. When executed effectively, RetroPGF has the potential to transcend Optimism and serve as a model for a new global economy that truly rewards impact. Between the present and that future, there's ample room for experimentation and innovation.
Stay tuned for requests for proposals, and let's continue to shape the future of Retroactive Public Goods Funding together.