Everything that's wrong with Catalyst

Since there has been a lot of talk about the results of the latest Catalyst Fund9, I’m going to summarise what in my view is wrong with the Catalyst system as a whole.

EDIT: Post #33 in this thread has a poll on two (meta) questions how to go on. Please click it! Thank you!

Assessments are Broken

Assessors could be anyone.

We don’t know who the assessors are. A proposal could plant favourable assessors and if they are just smart enough, nobody, not even a vPA could really detect it. There are a lot of very high and very low assessments that made it through the vPA vetting that could have very well come from such bought assessors.

But also for honest assessors, we do not know how qualified they really are to answer the assessment questions, which diligence they exercise when checking if a team is really able to execute what they promise, if they know enough about the technological basis to assess a proposal in depth (some even honestly say they are not in their texts, but their stars are worth exactly the same, nevertheless).

And also for honest and qualified assessors, we do not know if they employ a comparable scheme for the scoring. In the end, nobody has the time to read all these walls of text and only the average score in comparison to other proposals counts. And since assessors seem to only use four or five stars for not totally unacceptable proposals, it is more or less random if a proposal gets assessors tending to give four if not perfect or assessors tending to give five if not really broken.

This is all made worse by the fact that the payment for the assessments incentivises to assess as many proposals as possible. You do not have to give a very good assessment, just enough that it passes the vPAs.

vPA phase is intransparent.

We do not know which assessments have been filtered out for what reasons. There are a lot of projects complaining that their good assessments have been disregarded. On the other hand, the much discussed “Daedalus Turbo” proposal only had five star assessments left after filtering. Was there really not one assessment that saw how hardly implementable it is?

At the very least all assessments including the filtered ones have to be public after the vote, so that the community can see if there is something suspicious or just going wrong in the process.

vPAs can’t fix everything.

Even if the vPAs do the best they can, don’t make obviously wrong decisions, … they can only work with the assessments that are there. If they look at it, see that the proposal should have gotten much more critical assessments, but there are only 5 stars, there is nothing they can do to express that.

A comparatively small UX issue is that nearly all assessments are “good” (the others being “excellent”), which a naïve user would think means something like “above average”. You have to click through a bit to learn that there is no vPA meta assessment grade between “good” and “to be filtered out”, so “good” really means “just enough to not be filtered out” and not “above average”.

Scores are not fit for the purpose.

Even if the process would not have any of the previous problems, it would not be fit for the purpose.

The scores finally decide in which order voters see the proposals. Even if they do not simply do “high score, I’ll vote for it”, proposals with mediocre score are buried in the middle of too many to grasp. They will not even be seen by voters.

But the assessment does not answer the question: “Should this be funded over all the competing proposals?” It answers three questions – “addresses the challenge”, “experience and plan”, and “sufficient to audit” – weighted equally as far as I can see.

An honest assessor does not have any possibility to express: “Yes, this proposal fulfils all of the three points, but this other proposal is much more worthwhile, although it lacks a bit in auditability.” They would have to abuse the “addresses the challenge” section for it and exaggerate at it to counter the equally weighted auditability.

dReps won’t fix it.

dReps just shift the problem. The question on which proposals to vote for and against becomes the question which dRep to delegate to. We cannot know beforehand how a dRep would vote in detail, what their stance on certain details is, to what extent they will follow the broken assessments (if they are also done in the new system), …

Popular dReps would become an easy target for corruption. It does not actually have to be bribery. It is already enough if the dRep has some favourite proposers in a certain area, has just some biases that are not completely in line with the principles they think they are following and I expect from them.

Fix Proposal: Combinable Public Recommendations

Instead of PAs, vPAs, and dReps there should be public recommendations on how to vote by a diverse range of people.

They should state their general principles. – “I’m going to vote for projects with a proven track record of providing essential technology for the ecosystem.”, “I’m going to assess the proposals of newcomers very carefully.”, “I don’t believe that Metaverse/NFTs/SSI are a promising use case and am going to vote against them.”, “I will put an emphasis on ecological sustainability.”, …

And they should give a whole slate of votes also considering the comparison between proposals, optionally with rationales for single proposals. – “This does not seem auditable.”, “We cannot continue without this.”, “I’ve looked at the proposers in detail and don’t think they can do it.”, “This seems to be one of the killer applications for Cardano and the team already showed they can deliver.”, “This would be nice, but it requests too much money and the other proposals in the challenge are more important.”, …

A voter could then choose multiple of these recommenders who they think are trustworthy and the voting app would give them options to automatically vote if they agree, show the proposals where they disagree, override on single proposals where the voter has a strong opinion themselves, …

Having them public will hopefully also spark much more discussion before the vote instead of the host of “I had no idea! Why didn’t anybody tell me beforehand?” we have now. Additionally, if a recommender followed by a significant share of the voters is publishing something that is not okay in the view of the public, it can be called out, discussed, and hopefully corrected before the recommendation becomes relevant in the voting phase.

Of course, there is ample source for potential conflicts here, but better have them publicly before the vote than half-publicly in assessment QA and only really publicly after the vote when it is too late.

If we think that a monetary incentive – like for PAs now – is necessary, it could be given by letting the voters distribute their voting power among the recommenders they found particularly helpful and distribute the recommendation rewards according to the cumulative voting power shares.

Results are Invisible

There is no central website, where we can see all the previously funded projects and their results. There is just some Google Docs spreadsheet with the progress reports and check marks if someone in the Catalyst team thought they are enough.

A public, accessible, well presented result overview should have been there from the start for at least three reasons:

  1. It is indispensable for marketing. If we want to show the general public how good this Catalyst thing is, we have to show what comes out of it. Obviously!
  2. If “the community” funds something it should have easy access to the results. I want to download the software that was programmed, watch the videos that were created, read the documents that were written.
  3. To assess if a proposer should get money again, it is very much needed to see how well they fulfilled their promises in previous projects if there are any. We don’t want to give money to hot air producers again and again!

Ideally, there should also be a community vote if those projects were worth it. The yes/no decisions if a progress report is sufficient done by very few Catalyst team members at IOG cannot grasp all the aspects going into “Would I vote for it again?” from the quality of the results to the cost efficiency.

Voting System is Bad

We have to exaggerate and down-vote.

At the moment, a variant of score voting with scores +1 (Yes), 0 (not voting), and -1 (No) is used. The proposals are sorted by Yes-No, i.e., the sum of all these scores.

It is well-known (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tactical_voting#Score_voting) that the best strategy for these types of voting system is to up-vote your favourites up to a certain threshold and down-vote all others.

If the other voters don’t do it, you exercise your voting power more efficiently than them. If the other voters also do it, you have to do it to not have a disadvantage compared to them.

Given the sorry state of the assessment system above, there are also a lot of legitimate reasons to do so. If a lot of proposals that you deem very essential for the ecosystem got mediocre scores, but a lot of proposals you deem nice-to-have or (worse) outright bad got better ones, you want to do everything to make sure the essential ones get funding. And that includes down-voting even the nice-to-have ones, since they are a risk to the essential ones.

Thresholds are inconsistent.

One of the two thresholds that a proposal has to pass to be considered “approved” is that the sum of Yes and No votes, the total votes given to the proposal are more than 1% of the registered voting power.

This has the consequence that a number of proposals only got approved and a number growing from fund to fund also got funded, because people voted No on them.

This could simply be fixed by a threshold not on Yes+No, but on Yes or Yes-No.

This has been discussed in more detail in this thread:

Fix Proposal 1: Highest Median Methods

Voting systems that do not use the average or the sum of the votes, but the median of grades given by the voters (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highest_median_voting_rules) have the advantage that there is much less incentive to exaggerate down-voting.

They also have a nice voting experience: Voters give grades – “Excellent”, “Good”, “Okay”, “Bad” – and the result is the grade, where half the voters gave a better and half the voters a worse grade. The more detailed result/ranking is then given by a fractional part expressing how close they are to getting a better or worse median grade. (There is some choice in how to do this exactly.)

Grading proposals instead of having to decide between voting for or against them seems much more intuitive. And the chance to hurt your favourites by not giving the competition the worst grade is much less.

Fix Proposal 2: Condorcet Methods

Since we want to have a ranking of the proposals from funded first to funded last, Condorcet methods (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condorcet_method) are a natural choice. Each voter gives a ranking of the proposals from first to last and the method ensures that a proposal ranked above all other (remaining) proposals by a majority in pair-wise comparisons will also be the (next) top-ranked proposal in the result.

The biggest drawback of such methods is that they tend to be very complicated and therefore not necessarily transparent to the voters/users.

Fix Proposal 3: Plain Approval

If none of the less known voting methods are acceptable for the community, plain approval – only voting for certain proposals with no option to say “No” – is still better than the current system.

It at least removes the strategic decision between abstaining and down-voting, just leaving the question if a voter should vote for an okayish proposal if there is a risk that it could harm their absolute favourites.

Voting Power by Money is Problematic

A lot of the discussions in the previous days were around possible illegitimate influence of whales on the results. We cannot conclude much about it from the data that is public. We do not even see if the wallets voting Yes or No were larger on average, just if the wallets voting on a proposal at all were suspiciously large.

And it’s not easy to decide, when the vote of a whale becomes illegitimate. If I have a million ADA, why should it not be okay if I vote for my own proposal or that of a friend? And also down-vote the competition, since the used voting system incentivises me to? How little do the results of a project have to be to diagnose a deliberate cash grab and not just a very badly executed project?

Only if we have proof enough that it was never planned to honestly do the proposed project, that it was planned all along to just get the funding, fake some progress, and give the whale a share of the profit, it would be enough to exclude from further funding. And we need a process for that, too – a process where voters can see that it gets employed, where the results are shown also if they are: “We do not see fraud here for this and that reason.”

Unfortunately, we cannot really fix the grossly different voting power. Voting power by ADA is the only thing we have. “One person, one vote” cannot be reliably ensured with the tools we have – and, no, the SSI pipe dreams won’t bring a solution anytime soon. And even if it could, is it fair if people with just a couple of ADA, with very little skin in the game, get the same voting power in “our” ecosystem? “One wallet, one vote” would simply not make any sense, since large amounts of ADA can be distributed arbitrarily to wallets.

The hope can only be that better assessment and voting systems mitigate a bit of this, that the larger influence of whales is not that detrimental anymore.

Technology is Intransparent Patchwork Rug

Presentation of proposals on Ideascale – a paid third-party service, where most of the functionality is not even used, since we do the voting elsewhere (at least there is no mandatory account registration anymore and it can be read by all voters), registration for voting on Cardano with the wallet app of your choice, voting with a mobile-only voting app (more on that below), which submits the votes to an opaque voting system using an abandoned blockchain prototype – Jormungandr – running behind closed doors at IOG, voting result evaluation and tracking of project progress in some hand-woven Google Docs spreadsheets.

This is only made a little more graspable by third-party services like https://cardanocataly.st/ or https://www.lidonation.com/en/project-catalyst/projects.

The very, very least should be that the votes can be audited publicly by the community. That they are published in a way that I can check the signatures of the voting keys whose registration I can see on Cardano proper. Maybe, this can only be done after the voting has closed – since there could be strategies when knowing other peoples’ previous votes – but after vote closing it simply has to be done.

“Don’t trust! Verify!” – We cannot wait years for one of the basic features of cryptographic solutions … and be left with something that from the voters’ perspective could also be Google Forms regarding verifiability.

Ideally – meaning months, not decades – it has to be a system, which is integrated up to the result presentation already mentioned above. This cannot be impossible to achieve. And it has to be open to third-party clients, where it makes sense. We, you, IOG know how to do it. We can choose with which wallet app to manage our ADA. We have to be able to choose with which voting app to scroll the proposals, plan and submit our votes, track the results.

User Experience is Underwhelming

The voting app is a joke! Honestly!

For a task that is as complex as voting for hundreds of proposals, there has to be a desktop version. Period.

If you carefully deliberate your decision and plan it, you probably have it prepared somewhere in https://cardanocataly.st/voter-tool/, your own spreadsheet or whatnot. You have to have the possibility to import that. Having to click hundreds of times to put that into the voting app is simply not acceptable.

Import (and export) of votes is also indispensable for voting with several wallets. At least, we don’t have to deinstall the app anymore to do that (was an even bigger joke). But it is also something that just has to be possible to replay the exact same votes with your second, third, and fourth wallet with just a few clicks.

It has to be visible in the (challenge) overview if a vote was already given for a certain proposal. It is just really bad UX that you can only see if you have visited that proposal, but not if you have actually voted on it and already submitted the vote.

And all of these UX improvements have to be available to anyone in the standard voting app. It does not help if there are some technological work-arounds if you really know your way around cardano-cli.

The bad UX actively influences the result. Just look at how many more wallets vote in the challenge that is displayed first in the app. It is not more important or more interesting than the other challenges. It is just displayed first and the voters give up after going through it.


Altogether, this is “back to the drawing board” broken!

In my opinion, the entities holding the keys necessary to distribute the treasury funds should not allow another round to be distributed, before a significant part of the above points is addressed.

I understand that with the switch to the dRep system, some improvements are planned. The CIP-62 draft does look like a lot of it shall be shifted to dApps, but other than that not much is known about the plans. We have to get the chance to have a thorough look if it really solves enough of the problems. For that it has to be presented and discussed in detail (in written form and by a variety of people, not just by some insiders).

And, no, this is not solved by “Come to our town halls, let’s talk about it and build together.”! I know a lot of people fed up to the back teeth with this derailing – “We are working on it.”, “It’s still an experiment.”, “Just write a proposal on how you would fix it and maybe you are gonna get funded and extra-maybe the powers that be will even use it.”, …

This system is distributing millions of USD/ADA right now. It needs to be reworked completely with community input through a lot of channels. Channels open also to people who do not have the time to use their Wednesday evening talking about how a-ma-zing this Catalyst thing is.

Obviously, this cannot be fixed by one or two people responsible for it at IOG. The best time to put a lot more manpower into it and at least fix the obvious things would have been before Fund1. The next best time is now!


  • Show us all assesments! Also the filtered out ones.
  • Show us the number of Yes and No voting wallets! We want to see if only a few whales pushed a proposal to funding.
  • Show us the raw data from the voting chain! We want to see the signatures of the voting keys.
  • Start a process to repair this! A process not just among the hardcore Catalyst bubble, but with the whole Cardano community.
  • Do not start a new funding round, before this is fixed!

And now:



Oh boy! Firstly: @HeptaSean you are worth your weight in gold to this community. Not just for this post but for all your posts. You take on the difficult topics in a well meaning, constructive, and motivational manner.

Next a confession: I have an ideascale account and have visited the site and read proposals from fund 2 timing onwards. But I have given in and didn’t read any proposals in the last 2 rounds. Furthermore, I have never voted in any of the rounds. I can’t vote because there is no desktop app and a mobile phone is a “no can do” for me. I even looked into installing the catalyst app in Anbox on my computer, but how will I get the app (in Anbox) to scan a QR code? TOO HARD! Isn’t Cardano supposed to be decentralised and permissionless? If so, why do I need to use a tracking device (mobile phone) to register and vote?

I agree with almost everything @HeptaSean said. But for me, the main hurdle I see to getting broader involvement is the time commitment. We need a way to delegate voting power (which I know is planned). Maybe we could take some ideas from how companies use shareholder voting to elect board members responsible for making company decisions?

However, I do think that voting should be anonymous as it is for Govt elections. Votes should not be link-able to particular wallets, no matter how big they are. Being able to identify how some individuals voted is a recipe for community division and in-fighting.

What particularly blows my mind is how I have read about IOHK having researchers that are experts on voting systems and game theory. Even if Catalyst is only partially implemented, how did we get it designed this way?


Hello @Terminada

Here is a video from 2 years ago that explains why they made it this way. Long video, so I pasted the link at ~12 minute mark where it starts explaining about Catalyst implementation.


Thank you! And this is actually one of the less friendly posts. I am really kind of fed up by all the “We here you.”s and “We’re working on it.”s surrounding Catalyst. Hence the bluntness.

I have addressed the current plan – decentralised representatives (dReps) – shortly in dReps won’t fix it. We are basically creating another class of voting whales, there. Maybe, they will compensate the other whales, but it is also possible that they are just as bad. It is really hard to assess beforehand whom to delegate to, if they will really vote in a way suiting the voter, …

My counter proposal is in Fix Proposal: Combinable Public Recommendations. It uses public recommendations instead. You can combine multiple recommenders and cross-check what happens with your vote to the extent that you want and your time allows. The recommendations being public before the vote gives some degree of assurance that really problematic things will be discussed before the vote. Compared to “real” delegation, it would still be necessary to login, select the recommenders, check the vote, and submit it. I hope this would be an acceptable time commitment.

Of course, I don’t insist that this is implemented. Only thing, I am insisting on is that we need a discussion about this that is broad and open enough that it could be considered.

This is in charged relationship with the goal of being decentralised and permissionless. Maybe, something can be done with end-to-end auditable voting systems, but that would need a lot of work.

Also: There is not really a link between a vote and the person, just between a vote and the wallet, but I don’t know if that is pseudonymous enough and could well understand if not.

Community division and in-fighting could also be a problem for the public recommendations proposed above, but is it so much better to have hidden conflicts, uproars after the fact when it is mostly too late?


I did think that was a great idea. As are many of the other ideas in your post.

I want to clarify something. I think anonymity is critical for general voting. However, where there is delegation of voting power involved, then I think it is important to be able to verify how your own voting power was actually voted.

The time commitment is a major hurdle. The proposals need to be culled to only 20 or so at most or the burden for the average person is too high. Then there needs to be an easy way to vote multiple wallets simultaneously.

I think breaking things into categories, as is currently done, does help because people can opt to vote in only categories that interest them. Like thinking individuals could then use a divide and conquer approach combined with delegation or importing vote recommendations. However, it seems that if voters don’t review and vote on every proposal in their chosen category, then they effectively abstain from voting on many, which can lead to perverse outcomes if others use negative voting.


Just wanted to add that, if showing the otherwise filtered out assessments, we should also be shown the rebuttals that caused them to be filtered out.

Background (declaring my own bias I guess): My proposal in the last funding round (F9) had 6 reviews out of the 19 submitted which showed either bias against my project’s premise (open standards: a F8 funding category itself) or that they didn’t read the proposal. I don’t think it’s coincidental that these were the lowest scoring reviews, so I found it easy to dispute them and in fact they were all filtered out. I also had about the same number of 4-5 star reviews filtered out by vPA’s: which, when I went back to read them in full, sounded a bit glassy-eyed :rofl:

In the general case I think the only way to factor out accusations of bias is to recognise these accusations themselves may also be biased… so any complete governance process must make the whole trail available to the user. I am sure this counteracts the design goals of their lowbrow Google Sheets based system, but a proper object-oriented database should be able to link every category of review data, to make it available to the user on request or to analytical apps imposing different filtering & rating criteria. :face_with_monocle:

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I have already written about my own concerns regarding the voting, and I really appreciate the effort here on suggestions to improve the voting on Catalyst. That said, even with my concerns, I would like to see how much evidence there is of any bias occurring. If we can improve, great, but I would like to order the improvements for the most impact with the least controversy and least cost. I hope that at least “Desktop Voting” fits that bill soon. :grinning: But let me add my thanks to this well thought out thread.

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Your observations are spot on! Unlimited “No” votes are what killed our proposals in CF7 & CF9.

To “Fix Proposal 3: Plain Approval”, I would add spending “No” votes as a potential solution. There should not be unlimited “No” votes because it is being egregiously abused as you rightly point out.

Cheers to you! I hope action is taken to resolve all these devastating problems.

Edit: I feel strongly the filtered out assessments should NOT be shown. Most are straight up ridiculous, incoherent, or (dictionary meaning) ignorance. Clearly many regular Joe and Jane CAs should avoid categories they know less than nothing about, yet they add their 2 Lovelace anyway. :face_with_diagonal_mouth:

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I’ve been around for long enough (but haven’t had time until now to invest effort into getting proper effort). I do agree that there needs to be big rehauls, and there are many many more issues than the ones you’ve listed (plenty more can be found here: Catalyst TODO for fund10 - Google Docs)

My one sentence answer regarding the underlying problem is that too few people are willing to put in the effort to fix things. Unfortunately, in two consecutive rounds the community haven’t been willing to find Challenges that would allow people to compete to work on this full-time. It’s a bit of a catch-22 at this point. This would’ve been the decentralised way of running Catalyst but now it seems like IOG will have to centralise, seeing that there simply aren’t enough community members being engaged be it through doing PA and vPA work or otherwise (it hasn’t been called CA/vCA since April). I recall in fund 7 being virtually the only one volunteering and offering feedback and comments to new proposers during the feedback stage for example.

If I’d be a very harsh commentator then I’d say that what the community wants is simple; they want a lower fort investment and not have to put in much time into it. Put in some money and sit back, and see it grow.

I’ve never really hung out on this forum but someone posted this link in Catakyst town hall (which I also haven’t attended that regularly). My main forum has been the Catalyst PA Telegram group due to its low entry barrier nature that led me to write my five cents on various issues I discovered as I was proposing. Forum is great but it’s just less mobile friendly for people who (as I) have very hectic professional lives and just want some simple thing to scroll through on mobile. Anyways that’s OT…

If there was a better dialogue before voting, things would be better. Yes. If there was more feedback to proposer at an earlier stage. Ye. If there was a central place to see all info. Etc. All of these things “just” require a lot of time and effort. Maybe more marketing? (But No marketing or community related challenge was funded this time around either)

I’d love everyone here to take up a shovel and start contributing! First step is to join this discord (just getting properly set up this week) and introduce yourself! Please also share this in your circles so more people can join!

I’m task bounties on dework to work on larger experimental changes to Catalyst for example. Including voting methods, like you mention above.

Lastly, please add me on Telegram. I’d love to have a chat with you about doing some proper work on improving the voting mechanism design (which you seem to have done some research into). Would also appreciate if you could ping me when you’ve responded since I don’t check this forum often!:slight_smile:


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Then there is the Catalyst voting app which also requires a mobile phone.

You are not giving me many options for participation that doesn’t require a tracking device.

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To be honest, I’m a bit wary when individual proposers think they just did not get funded because of the problems of the Catalyst system. If you got very few Yes and/or more No than Yes, there might still be reasons in your proposal and not only in the system.

So, unlimited “Yes”, but for “No” you have to decide, which are the proposals, where it is most important to prevent them? Which includes assessing, which would even have a chance to get “Yes” votes, so that they need to be countered by my precious "No"s.

I clearly said that it’s enough if they are shown after the vote, so that we can see if they all were filtered out for good reasons. Especially for the debate around “Daedalus Turbo”, this is necessary, but also for other proposals, where proposers claim their positive reviews were unfairly filtered out. The only way to get such things sorted out is transparency.

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Discord should be fine on desktop.

Telegram needs a phone and can only additionally be used on desktop, yes.

It seems the voting app problem will be fixed next time, when they move to dApp-based voting.

You need a mobile phone number to register with Discord.

Fair enough, if you don’t have a (not even smart) phone to receive one SMS, they don’t let you in. Probably rather rare these days.

Problem is that there is no clear way how to go about and try to fix things, how changes to the way Catalyst itself is run should be proposed, demanded, … Up to now, IOG develops something and then proudly announces it.

If you mean working on changing how Catalyst works, then I don’t know if Catalyst proposals are the right way to go about it. That a proposal gets funded, is not any indication that they develop what we want as the Catalyst system afterwards. In the worst case, we fund three competing voting system projects, none of which produces something that can be used in the end.

Funding competing projects in other challenges is something completely different. It doesn’t really matter if only a part of them are successful and nobody is forced to use them afterwards. Decisions about Catalyst itself cannot be done in the same way.

It was never decentralised in the first place. The choice of Ideascale, Jormungandr, implementation of the voting app, … all done centralised as the changes announced now with Lace, dApp-based voting, dReps, ….

Part of it might have been kindly discussed in some of those forums frequented by Catalyst people, but definitely not with the wider Cardano community. And there is not even a website, where I could see, where to go if I want to discuss especially these things without having to hear presentations about what a cool posse this or that Catalyst subcommunity is.

Catalyst has formed a perfectly isolated sub-bubble in the Cardano world. But, hey, I could watch hours of town hall recordings to learn how a-ma-zing that sub-bubble is.

Haven’t got the memo … ah, wait … maybe, because there is no authoritative collection of Catalyst resources?

That would have been me.

Forum is the only medium I know in Cardano for longer texts and discussions that should not be gone tomorrow. And especially for Catalyst, Telegram too often feels like screaming into the void. It’s just a chat after all.

I’m using it on mobile all the time. But YMMV of course.

Will do … Let’s see.

(Problem with grass-roots initiatives … likable and decentralised as they may be … they multiply the needed effort – I’ve got a busy non-Cardano life also – because you have to look at so many of them to see how promising they are.)


Of course my point was that I don’t want to be linked to a mobile number because that just packages up everything I do online into a nice little parcel for the big tech giants. Especially since to register a mobile number where I live requires proof of Govt issued identification. You create your discord account with that one SMS and bam everything is linked nicely.

Who knows how the AI algorithms of the future will utilise that treasure-trove of data? I don’t want to make it easy for them.


I’ve been around since Fund 6 and I feel the issues remain the same. As long as we have free money from the treasury where no one feels any pain, it is not going to get any better.

There are only two true votes: with your wallet and your feet. If you like something you join and sponsor it, if you dislike it you leave and take your money away. There is nothing better than skin in the game. A free market works only with the discipline of risk & reward. If you fail you loose, if you succeed you get rewarded.

Catalyst has no skin in the game, Catalyst doesn’t even have constrained resources. The only way that priorities are meaningful is under constrained resources, because you involve opportunity cost.

If you have 1000 ADA, do you have 1000 Voting power? No, you have unbounded voting power! If you vote on 10 proposals you used 10_000 voting power, if you vote on 100 proposals you used 100_000 voting power. The more you vote the more power you have, there is not opportunity cost on voicing your opinion and thus there are no true priorities. The very moment your voting power is constrained, opportunity cost weighs in and true priorities are set. Maybe you vote for a single proposal with 1000 voting power, maybe you vote with 500 for one proposal and with 500 against other proposal. Under constrained resources you can truly measure priorities.

But there are whales, and the rich get richer. It is a rigged game for the late comers and young individual contributors, it should be one person one vote! I don’t yet have a solution for the socialist utopia, yet in an economy your wallet matters more than your soul and with good reason. Whales have the highest skin on the game, they could have put their skin on Bitcoin, Ethereum, …(and maybe they have indeed diversified), thus it stands to reason that they are interested in seeing Cardano succeed out of own self interest. There are more greedy people in this world than sociopaths wanting it to burn.

Who is to decide how we spend the treasury? As a centralized fund IOG, they printed the ADA they have in there, they certainly have the biggest say. How could we unlock community participation? Again skin on the game. Could we first start at the voter registration committing your funds? If N registered voters locked 10M ADA, maybe the fund should only spend 10M ADA from the treasury because that is the true level of community engagement, commitment & investment. Then each voter only has its locked voting power to cast votes. That way you can truly measure how much each individual voter commits to each project. Projects could also get partial funding, maybe they asked for 75k ADA, but the crowdfund of voters only collected 30kADA. How about we give them 30kADA to get started instead of all or nothing(good project managers will prioritize their funding for maximum impact to build a track record for future funding). Voters have their ADA unlocked for all the votes that they didn’t cast immediately. For votes they cast their ADA remains locked until the project is completed. This should be seen as a vesting investment. Voters lock their ADA to participate in funding the project as an investment. Once the project finished they get the ADA unlocked, the return on investment(because there is finite supply ADA) is the same ADA with a higher purchasing power should the funded project have utility and enriched the ecosystem.

What about those free riders that didn’t lock their funds to Catalyst? Those free riders are the ones that come to Cardano because it has some utility, those are the ones that pay fees to fill up the treasury because they use Cardano. Those free riders are precisely the ones that just by joining the ecosystem increase the purchasing power of your ADA, even if they are not actively voting on Catalyst.

Without any opportunity cost on Catalyst, there is no way to correctly set priorities. When your priorities are not clear, you don’t move forward and instead run all over the place without getting anywhere.

  • Voters must commit and lock their funds to unlock the treasury. Funds must remain locked for the length of approved project execution.
  • Votes must be resource constrained
  • Voters need a space to discuss proposals better than ideascale.
  • Voters need a desktop application to review proposals and cast their votes.
  • When voters put their money where their mouth is. Roles like PA & vPA become irrelevant not to say meaningless. There is no 4 star review from an anonymous user with neither reputation nor skin on the game. It is user12 committed 15k Voting Power to sponsor this project after reading and evaluating the proposal. user567 didn’t read but trusts user12 and casted an extra 1k in Voting power for the project. user189 was not pleased with the quality of project and didn’t vote after all.

Just for the record, I’m just a “normal” community member just like you:) I happen to have decided to try to do something about making catalyst better with my spare time.

Now, I believe you should be able to join dework based on only connecting your wallet (if you want rewards). No tracking beyond that.

But point taken, to meaningfully participate/communicate with the community you need these accounts. That doesn’t mean you need a tracking device. You can use online/temporary numbers to create discord accounts. Telegram I don’t know.

Believe me. I have tried. They don’t work.

I know… and it’s a problem. The question is what do you do in light of this? I chose to start working on what I think would fix it, beyond just writing two paragraphs or one liners as a lot of people do that is! George at PACE have put in considerable effort to try to push for Funding Categories; a great example of how decentralised governance would look like, I imagine. I’ve been working on a few long form proposals to changing Catalyst:

  1. Two stage assessments (objective and qualitative) A 2-stage Catalyst Proposal Assessment process - Google Docs
  2. Tournament selection model for challenges Tournament selection model for challenges - Google Docs

I don’t want to be rude but it seems to me like you are making quite confident claims about how catalyst works and how IOG came to change things, without having been involved much. That’s fine ofc, you see what you see and form an opinion based on your available information etc. But in fast, many (most perhaps even) of the changes that have been made over the past few rounds were sourced from the community. IOG scanned and sought out some form of consensus the best they could and then implemented things that were strongly favoured.

Let me tell you what I did personally. I went to the PA chat, figured out where IOG gathers feedback and then wrote a few long form proposals with proper justification and concrete implementation recommendations after a frustrating fund 7 as a proposer and voter. Quite a few of these smaller UI changes conveyed in long form (submitted to a Google sheet basically) were implemented subsequently.

Moreover, the guidelines have been updated several times and were written by community members and then approved (with slight modification I’ve heard) by IOG. Also, if you’ve been around since fund 6 then you will also know the massive increase in quality requirements of both proposals and assessments that have occurred since then. Albeit the latter is still subpar and questionable in terms of usefulness for number of reasons…

[quote=“HeptaSean, post:15, topic:108482”]
If you mean working on changing how Catalyst works, then I don’t know if Catalyst proposals are the right way to go about it. That a proposal gets funded, is not any indication

I simply meant having full time or part time employees with specific roles that support Catalyst. Right now it’s basically four community sheperd’s at IOG. That’s not enough. CH even explicit said he wished there would be more people directly employed to work on Catalyst and I agree with him that that’s necessary - we need people to guide new proposers, to gather feedback, to analyse, to improve the system etc. and not just volunteers or gig workers.

Regarding system changes, sure we need a process for it but for now Project Catalyst is an experiment. And IOG isn’t (my read) going to give up their control over it until we the community show that we have matured to be able to take that responsibility and make those decisions in a sound manner. That’s why it’s a bit undefined. I think the idea is that it’ll grow organically, for example through the discord and Dework that have been built in the last few months by volunteers from the community!

Anyhow. I’ve now given you the best place I know of to go to for working on improving Catalyst! Hope you join in with a shovel :slight_smile: there’s plenty of work to do (and even some funding from catalyst to compensate you for it)

As mentioned above, IOG have mostly been trying to watch “the community” consensus - which (unfortunately) is what I guess people who haven’t bothered to get involved call “catalyst subculture”. I think Catalyst is inaccessible and I struggle often to find documents etc. i have raised the same concerns as you have and thanks to that there’s at least now a Mailchimp mailing list, and site where you can read all past mail send outs. This is the authoritative Catalyst information source! Point being: I want more ”general” cardano people to join in the conversation!! Over the past few months community driven git books have been set up and the various community groups have been trying to build the infrastructure necessary to make it something other than “IOG sets up a central hub of information and decides everything”. Decentralisation is not binary, and my take in IOGs policies is that they’ve deliberately let the community take ownership on stuff like the guidelines and PA/vPA rules etc, in order to build governance capability and test the waters a bit. Too few have been involved and so now, it seems like they’re giving up a Bit on handing over even these small things to the community…

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