How to build up the social fabric of a crypto currency community
Crypto hodlers should be making regular monthly donations to developers who are working in the crypto community they care about most. This is a virtuous practice we should be encouraging. I’m personally going to do this with the PegNet community, specifically donating to developers working on PegNet Improvement Proposals. If these projects are something you want to see grow then I hope you will join me.
History of Tithing, Its Functions and Benefits
For thousands of years the practice of Tithing has been a been a part of human culture. The concept is simple, members of a community volunteer to donate 10% of what they earn and donate it to a good cause. Historically this has been about caring for the poor, widows, orphans and other vulnerable members of a society. A social safety net of sorts, long before the modern nation state decided that would be among their areas of control.
Tithing in the context of the Christian Church however goes much further, as it provides the funding for everything related to the church’s functions. Staff, counseling, teaching, benevolence, facilities, missionaries, child care, and so forth all flow out of the generosity of its members. And while its members might individually access these benefits, some members give above and beyond the monetary value of the services they receive, because they want to see others in their community get these benefits, who may not otherwise have access to them. This builds positive social capital among the members.
One of the benefits of tithing is it aligns all the participants in a community and gives them stake in the system. For where your money is, there your heart is also. This dependence on tithing and a free market of choice in communities also provides very clear accountability and governance as a wasteful organizations will quickly find their members going elsewhere. Which is why most protestant churches (who tend to be smaller and operate in a competitive landscape as compared the Catholic Church) tend to be very cost sensitive and thrifty as they rely on volunteers and donations.
Tithing In The Context Of Crypto
I remember one of the first things that brought together the Bitcoin community in 2013 was a desire to fund more full time developers to work on the open source code. Many including myself donated to the Bitcoin Foundation explicitly in order to get Gavin Andresen a full time salary so he and others could focus on the Bitcoin software. This brought together the early Bitcoin companies, investors and developers alike. The Bitcoin Foundation held one of the first industry conferences in May of 2013 in San Jose and an enormous wave of partnerships, businesses, and development rippled out of that event and the network of friends it brought together.
Since that time developers in the Bitcoin ecosystem have been increasingly sponsored by companies as full time employees. However this has down sides as these developers must have their company’s interests first as compared to being focused on the more general needs and interests of the users of the software.
So rather than a centralized Foundation or having companies lead the way in hiring full time open source developers, tithing instead empowers individuals to put their crypto toward a service or new feature they care about.
Tithing As Compared To Bounties
In 2014 I worked with several crypto communities that relied heavily on bounties to distribute rewards to developers. In my experience this had very mixed results. Bounties that were too small or time limited in nature tended to produce very sporadic contributions that just barely met the specs, but then were not supported there after or really fit with the rest of the code. Mostly these system evolved into “monthly bounty” payouts where a set of reliable developers were given consistent payments in order to get the real work done.
Bounties can be useful for finding bugs and doing testing, but important code development really requires someone who has spent many months getting to know all the libraries, dependences, edge cases, history of decision makings and so forth that goes into modern software development. Especially in complex distributed systems work that the blockchain industry is so deeply native to.
So How Is This Going To Work
I’m going to take some PEG that I purchased and set up a monthly pay out to a set of developers that are working on PegNet Improvement Proposals. Other members of the PegNet community are welcome to join me.
PegNet Improvement Proposals can include a PEG address for the developer working on the code in their descriptions and in their repositories and community members can make regular contributions to those addresses as a means of signaling support for PIPs and also of the developers working on those proposals.
This creates a market place for ideas, developers and the community supporting them and benefiting from the features their development efforts provide.
This is going to be a long term experiment and while I might tweak the structure or try and figure out more infrastructure for the payments using smart contracts, I’m committed to this as a fundamental part of how we should be growing crypto communities.
I hope you will join me on this journey. I believe whole heartedly that the benefits will far exceed the costs and return to us a greater degree of freedom and happiness than we have had before.