Struggling with Catalyst fund2 proposals

The Catalyst project is an experiment, I understand that and I continue to participate in it because I want to make a contribution. However, I am now at a point of frustration and I don’t know whether it is better for me to continue in the current phase or to stand down until voting time comes.

My frustration does not come from the process - that was clearly communicated, as were the rules. What I’m struggling with is the nature of most proposals. Not only some, but most. Let me explain.

The challenge statement is this:

How can we encourage developers and entrepreneurs to build Dapps and businesses on top of Cardano in the next 6 months?
This mission is critical because it’s the contributions from developers and entrepreneurs that will determine the value of Cardano.

Clear enough to me as a scope statement. Yet, from the 97 currently open proposals there are only about 10 which, according to my totally unfair, subjective judgement, are even potentially within that scope. Maybe I’m too severe, but what I expected were proposals which aim to create something of use for developers and entrepreneurs. There are some that meet this criterion. The bulk of proposals, however, falls onto one of the following categories:

  • Please fund my startup or NGO. Sorry, this is not a venture fund. According to my understanding, to encourage businesses to build on Cardano does not include paying them to do so.

  • Pay me to create my podcast / video / blog. Obviously you are creating your podcast or video anyway, so you already have incentives. Why should we fund it? What does it provide that the established formats don’t?

  • Pay me to build some SPO tool. I would consider SPOs hobbyists, at most. Neither developers nor entrepreneurs, so out of scope.

  • Information is so scattered and hard to find. Let’s create a centralized <something> (no, really!) or at least some educational content. Usually a video (see above) or education business (see above). In any case, repackaging of something that is already there. Not needed.

So now I’m supposed to assess 97 proposals, of which I believe 90% should be thrown out. All, of course, using constructive criticism. This is why I’m frustrated and stopped giving feedback for now. Tomorrow I guess I’ll spend my energy on the few proposals that I think could make it.

Yes, I am aware that 10% “good” ones is probably an expected rate at this stage.

To end this on a positive note, here are some suggestions:

  • Why don’t we charge a small fee for the right to submit a proposal? The current number is still manageable, but what if there are ten times as many?
  • Create a venture fund. There should be stricter rules than in fund2 and required skin in the game. Profits from funded ventures could even go back into the fund for subsequent rounds.

Hallo @waldmops

Based on the Challenge Statement, I was also a little surprised. Since I am not a Dapps developer and have been running a successful company for two decades, I did not feel addressed. Others should be able to take their chance, invest a lot of time and effort to present and promote their project idea.
I expected projects with a degree of complexity that was worth a roadmap, milestones, etc. Or projects that have already shown some evidence or MVP and are now trying to finance the remaining road.

Where I disagree with you is how you see SPOs.
If most of the infrastructure is only run by “hobbyists”, then something has probably gone wrong, and professional developers and whoever plans to place their catalyst project on it should think twice about whether that can work.

Instead, the SPO “business” should, in my opinion, enable pool operations with margins to finance their ideas and projects, because the ongoing voting, called “stake delegations”, is an expression of trust and agreement with the creative activities of the SPOs. SPOs may not be great programmers, but they should have serious experience in providing highly reliable and secure IT services.

And when you see how this is developing lately for “builder” pools versus podcasts and whale-covered/partnership pools, you may wonder if the 10% catalyst projects you’d like to see will have any chance of being voted on at all. SPO operations, once the money from the main network was in place, quickly stopped counting “kuddos”.

Let’s hope that this experiment will provide some learning effects, soon enough before real Voltaire dramas happen.
ITN was a very similar experiment, and we have missed very, very much to learn, implement and prevent early enough.


“How can we encourage developers and entrepreneurs to build Dapps and businesses on top of Cardano in the next 6 months?” Does not mean 1 thing!

Tools for developers is not the only way you encourage DEVs to build dApps. DEVs have to find out about the opportunity to build things on Cardano, DEVs need to see other dApps that have been built, and DEVs need to paid now to do the work.

And let’s not forget the challenge also wants to attract ENTREPRENEURS. And again entrepreneurs need to find out that Cardano is a place you can build a business, entrepreneurs need to see other businesses that have been built on Cardano, and entrepreneurs need funding to support development.

So the challenge doesn’t say “how do we create tools” it is about encouraging development on the Cardano blockchain. And that will take marketing, examples of other dApps and businesses that have been successful, and tools for DEVs and entrepreneurs to use. It is not a one way mission challenge statement :slight_smile:


The Catalyst management are attempting to be inclusive which is why the many proposals arguably not meeting the challenge statement, got left in. Which is better than censorship. At least it’s left to a democratic vote and That’s a positive thing.

But the problem is with the restrictive mission statement that got concluded upon by an unelected management. (The common problem in all of Cardano which i hope but doubt Voltaire will fix)

In my opinion it would have been better to start with a Dapp fund and bring together ideas and developers. Not turn this in to a ‘finance your small business’ exercise as it has become.

Let’s be honest. The majority of proposals are people trying to make a wage as their fundamental goal. It’s Snake oil salesman time.

And ‘Entrepreneurs’ sucking monetary value out of the system and creating arguably little value for Cardano in return, is why people including myself are frustrated again, especially when it’s marketed as some huge success by the management teams congratulating themselves again.

This is absolutely what I see is happening here and I see it as a threat that we need to address: Professional fundraisers trying to game the system by exploiting the fact that voters are deciding about what is essentially seen as “not my money”. Anyone who was involved with The DAO four years ago will recognize similarities.

What can help are at least two elements:

  1. A list of simple criteria that gan guide us to make good voting decisions. Something like a weighted checklist that helps us to make an objective decision and avoid certain psychological biases. E.g.: Is it something people want? Has a MVP already been developed? How is success measured? Is the scope reasonable and well defined? Who will receive the revenue? Who owns the product? Is there a measurable ROI for the community?
  2. Have mechanisms in play that assure that both the proposer and the voters have skin in the game. For example if the risk is high we could require that the fund never pays 100% of the budget. Or we could make it so that a proposal that is accepted has a cost for voters who voted yes or maybe even all voters so that we avoid deciding exclusively about “other people’s money”. There should also be a small fee for the right to submit a proposal.

Of course, the fund’s goals and mission should ultimately be decided by the community. Until that is the case I will happily play by the rules the catalyst team made up, even though that team is not elected. If it weren’t for them, we couldn’t even have this discussion now. We are at the beginning of a process and need to try out a lot of things, fail fast and achieve less reliance on unelected bodies in every iteration.

My long term vision is to have some kind of structured, community-controlled tender process in which a Request for Proposal is developed to which suppliers can then answer. But that is a vision for the future and I’m fully aware that fund2 is something else.

Seems pretty straightforward to me:

  • Community advisor who see a proposal that doesn’t address the challenge are guided to give the proposal a low score.
  • Regardless of community advisors, vote only for proposals that address the challenge.

If voters and community advisors are consistent, proposers will learn from Fund2 outcomes to make their proposals better aligned with the community intention.


Who selects ‘community advisors’?
Who decides what are good traits in community advisors?
Who selects who selects community advisors?

Who decides upon the future challenge statements?

Is this process liquid democracy. Is that the aim?
Or is the aim to keep a power hierarchy, which sooner or later will corrupt.

Meeting the challenge statement is subjective and therefore bias will always be a problem. I’ve seen plenty of bias in the Catalyst chat group - and if some of the most vocal there are to become the community advisors, I’m potentially going to distance myself from this project.

Another thought. What if the majority of proposals are voted no more than yes: Do the funds still get thrown to the least unpopular.

“Let’s be honest. The majority of proposals are people trying to make a wage as their fundamental goal.”

Yes :slight_smile: lets be honest! People have to get paid to work on stuff, whether they are coding, designing, promoting, or whatever they are doing to build things on Cardano.

The whole goal is about bringing in DEVs AND ENTREPRENUERS to build DAPPS AND BUSINESSES! DEVs need to get paid, ENTREPRENUERS need to get paid, so it makes sense they are asking for funds to get paid while they build stuff to make Cardano USEFUL.

Dcfunds are going to be used to pay all kinds people salaries to work on making Cardano’s ecosystem better.

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Dor replied to my questions here for anyone interested:

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Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

You didn’t address that last question:

  • Is it possible that a proposal can get funding, despite having more No votes than Yes’. I.e. Can the least unpopular get funded if there are many proposals with more nos than yes votes.

It’s interesting that community advisors are volunteers currently, but if and when they are paid, surely there will need to be a selection process.

You say you are ‘listening to the community’ in regards to making decisions but ‘the community’ opinion can’t be concluded by reading feedback.

For example: Those most vocal in Catalyst telegram group are certainly not representative of the whole voting community.

And any ones perspective of what the community wants is subjective and will always be biased with own opinions.

Which is why I am disappointed with ‘stewardship’ decision making, and this kumbaya culture in the Catalyst telegram group.

I dreamed of a democratic voting process which would:

  • have a list of community problems
  • have a list of community solutions to those problems
  • Vote on the problems to determine priorities and importance.
  • vote to choose the best solution
  • vote on who will solve the problems if a community led solution can’t be established
  • Rate the outcome
  • have a historic rating system for those who solved problems to eventually establish accountability
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We are prototyping a process like the one you suggest here:
Still early stage, but yes, we are ramping up to provide the community full control.
Would be great to have you involved as we evolve this process over time.


BTW there are incentives to community advisors - you can read about it here:


About your last question: See

“A proposal must have 15% more Yes votes than No votes to be eligible for funding. E.g. a proposal receiving 10 Yes votes and more than 8.5 No votes would not receive funding. A high level of participation in the voting is expected, so 15% of community approval is quite reasonable value for the threshold.”

Regarding vocal members having more influence - we are negating that by sending feedback forms everyone can fill. We are prioritizing issues that are repeatedly reported by several members of the community. We will eventually move this process on-chain to give fair representation to voters.

Overall - it’s surprising how much we think alike and want similar things.
I think the main difference is that Catalyst is taking a step-by-step approach, while maybe you are expecting everything to be ready and fully decentralized right away? (Asking)


Other than development time restrictions, once a voting system is implemented, I can’t think of a good reason why things can’t be decentralised fully.

I don’t understand why we need to be herded/guided as if voters are unenlightened.
I hoped there would not be a hierarchy or power structure in Voltaire.

For example:

  • I don’t see the need for the community advisors role. The voters can make their own choice whether they want to vote on something or not. Whether a proposal meets an arbitrary overly broad brief is unimportant.
    Giving ‘community advisor’ power to some is not decentralisation.

  • I understand the need for a brief if it was more specific like for example if we voted that the website needs to change, so the brief is ‘solutions to change the website’, which can then be voted on. Then it’s quite obvious which proposals do not meet that brief.
    But choosing a really subjective broad brief resulted in this domino effect and the thought that community advisors are needed. When really the problem is the brief, and/or the obsession with meeting an arbitrary broad brief.

  • There have been too many stages in my opinion. A public discussion stage and a voting stage is enough. Voters gave good feedback in early stages. We don’t need yet another stage where paid volunteers with a title give more feedback. I’ve already lost interest and I’m waiting to vote.

I appreciate you are looking through feedback to gauge community opinion and if that is a temporary thing then fine, but it’s not decentralisation and is open to bias/corruption. For example how do you prioritise from two or three community issues - YOU the centralised decision makers use your bias to what you think is most important.
We need a voting system.

While I am not in agreement with your analysis. I do agree that it’s currently a mostly centralized process, and we are working towards making it less so over time. It’s very clear from other projects (See Dash) that the approach of just letting everyone propose, discuss and vote without(or with very little) structure doesn’t produce impactful outcomes. I know this from many years of working in decentralized governance and doing a PhD on a related subject. If you are looking for external evidence for that it’s pretty simple: Can you give me an example of a process working like that that is effective? From countless examples we see that the process of innovation, governance and execution requires a structured approach. All you need to do is look at organizations around the world who are managing to bring impact and achieve their goals, and ask yourself what practices are they using to achieve impact? Collective intelligence doesn’t emerge on it’s own, it requires a mixture of following best practices and experimentation.
I am open to change my mind, but would need some evidence that supports your claims in order to do that.
I think it might be interesting for you to read: it has some insights about the importance of coordination mechanisms to produce good outcomes for collective intelligence.


Good debate.

The various proposals under Catalyst can re-apply as i understand many times, whilst that may cause some frustration, and will mean that in some cases time lost, it may be the price they pay to ensure acceptance and funding.

For people to succeed in anything quite often you have to overcome many obstacles, and it’s in overcoming challenges quite often creates a drive and determination that moves a project forward faster.

De-centralised is something i think we all want.
If we rush, we could ruin what is a great project.
The stages of launching Cardano, Shelley etc. are still very much early stage, it will take time to get it done.

By nature I am a fan of just do it anyway (and work it out as we go) although I’m torn, as well thought out plans properly executed can also achieve great things.

Glad we’re having the debate and trust in the process, having opposing views creates a good healthy forum, evolve and improve

Thanks to all for your input

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I use my own reasoning to make conclusions rather than cite ‘evidence’ to convince those of my claims. If that makes my points worthless/ineffective so be it. Ironically enough i think it makes my claims irrelevant to a collective that value peer review. But I continue with my reasoning anyway:

I’ve experienced enough academia to know that ‘Evidence’ often has so many other variables at play, such that this evidence arguably becomes irrelevant.

For example:
In the chess link you provided the big difference with this chess game, and Fund2 is that in chess it is possible to be ranked as an expert. Chess can be almost objective. So in this example it’s possible and probably more successful (if the goal is winning) to have a group of experts guiding the masses in decision making. There is also no incentive for the experts to corrupt in this example.

As a sidenote: I was rated unofficially about 2000-2100ELO in chess(arguably close to an expert). It’s interesting to read about these games vs the world. I’m interested in collective intelligence.

Whereas in Fund2 or governance it is not possible to be an expert regardless of credentials or past experience. And there is incentive to corrupt, there is conflict of interest and much more cultural bias effect.

Fund2 is most similar to a ‘commercial business loans manager’, of which i also have experience. I was an Economist and I used to be an asset manager. I don’t have a PHD in collective intelligence or any software development experience though, So does that mean I am more or less of an expert than you in regards to the philosophy of this… I’m not saying i am, but I’m not saying I’m not either is the point.

Dash is the closest example we have for sure, but Dash has almost 5x less market cap than Cardano. Maybe that’s irrelevant as active users are probably most important, but I think it’s wrong to assume Cardano will end up like Dash if it was let free. I’m sure there are other reasons why Dash is different.

I don’t disagree with a ‘structured approach’ but that structure doesn’t have to be centralised or what you are specifically doing. And it feels like you hide behind this rhetoric as justification for what you are doing.

Also to assume current ‘best practices’ are the best practices is probably incorrect. The earth was flat for a long time… To draw conclusions, copy or take action based from these past examples may allow one to feel more accountable but I trust my reasoning more.

Which organisations are you referring to that achieve, and how are we aware of their best practices. I think you previously mentioned that from discussion with ideascale you learnt about what NASA etc do.

But most if not all businesses operate with a centralised governance system which makes their best practices irrelevant to us.

NASA is not a bad comparison actually, but running engineering departments is still different from creating a governance system. NASA will still have more objective decisions like the chess example. But I wonder how their ‘policies’ or ‘statements’ are concluded. (How they determine what resources they use for doing what - I imagine it’s still centralised).

I agree with experimentation, but centralisation and stewardship has been done many times before. Any form of centralisation isn’t a good experiment in my opinion (including Holacracy).

My understanding is that community advisor is nothing more than a label assigned to people who choose to contribute to the public discussion about proposals. There is nobody to give power to anyone as a prerequisite to fulfill that role.

While I agree that the label as such is not really needed because voters can decide on their own, I really appreciate the guidance we get from the catalyst team. Is the process more structured than it needs to be? Maybe. Should the catalyst team and similar bodies be legitimized my the community? Definitely, and we will get there.

For the time being, the process works well enough for me and I made my mind up on which proposals to Support, at least for the most part.

Now I’m looking forward to the voting part. Where can I find information on how this is achieved technically?

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Thanks for the response. I wish I had the time to engage with you in a longer, more in-depth conversation! Unfortunately my current job is demanding me to focus on releasing the registration and voting mechanisms for Fund2. I hope you understand.
In the coming weeks we will be releasing more information about our plan on how to decentralize aspects of the system. Stay tuned, curious to continue hearing your perspective, and learning from it.
Just to be clear - we are doing something that is very novel, there has never been such a large decentralized fund in terms of funding, membership and engagement. Clearly there is more that we do not know then what is known. My hope is that over time, with careful measurements, open data, and feedback loops, we will be able to answer whether we are going in the right direction.
Please continue to propose and advocate other courses of action and alternatives that are more decentralized or appropriate for a decentralized fund. There are also several community forums like the Catalyst Discord channel to collaborate with others on these matters.

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