TriForce: What We’ve Learned, and a New Path Forward for Contributor Programs

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POKT Network
Nov 19, 2023
TriForce: What We’ve Learned, and a New Path Forward for Contributor Programs

At Pocket Network, our mission to progressively decentralize has always been about our workforce as much as our technology. We believe that every contributor, whether a core contributor or a member of the broader community, matters and deserves to be recognized and rewarded for giving us their time and attention, especially in such a fast-moving space.These values led us to develop a new way to engage our community and reward them for their contributions via TriForce. For those of you who are not familiar with the program, TriForce is a Pocket DAO-funded initiative where contributors lead the launch and growth of new blockchains within Pocket Network and earn ongoing income as part of working groups.TriForce launched in late May 2022 and currently supports 5 blockchain networks (with 2 more preparing to launch) managed across 7 external contributors. While we’ve enjoyed these early successes, TriForce has proven to be a challenging program to scale against current resources, conditions, and priorities.Due to the complexity of coordinating chain launches with external owners, Pocket Network, Inc. has made the decision to pause the TriForce program in favor of exploring more manageable and accessible ways for contributors to participate in Pocket DAO and Pocket Network growth activities moving forward.

The Cost of Coordination

Ultimately this decision comes down to an evaluation of three main coordination cost variables:

  • Recruitment
  • Expectations
  • Security

Each of these factors adds a layer of complexity to TriForce, particularly as the program begins to scale. We will unpack assumptions made vs. the reality of managing each one of these aspects to provide more transparency into our decision-making process.RecruitmentPocket Network is a complex platform and protocol that attracts technical and entrepreneurial contributors. We consider this a “secret sauce” and a key market differentiator for our brand. Given the sophistication of our community, we wanted to extend our internal activities to our community in a way that would be attractive and intuitive to them.In working towards this goal with TriForce, we found that some of the requirements for program participation (e.g., expertise in another chain ecosystem) did not quite align with our community's most predominant core skills. For example, while we could recruit DevOps members from node runners eager to support our growth, finding Marketing or Business Development counterparts required us to expand our reach far outside our existing audience.As a result, the time spent on recruitment, education, and sales proved to have a low ROI compared to some of our other focus areas. The further we went outside of our community, we encountered a complementary challenge to recruiting from our existing community: the high-touch communication required to convey the Pocket value proposition and details of how things worked to prospective members proved to be far too expensive, both in time and run rate.

TL;DR - Without a less resource-intensive way of educating interested participants, the current investment required for recruitment is too high.

ExpectationsIn addition to the recruitment requirements, the general expectations for participants created a high barrier to entry. The ever-evolving market conditions and cognitive load of launch requirements were turning away many potential contributors.This is a challenge that is amplified by the fact that, given the importance of quality of service and the need to scale to harden the network ahead of V1, Pocket Network cannot compromise on expectations regarding new chain launches. To provide the quality of service that both our node runners and applications expect, we set expectations for external contributors that aligned with the expectations that we have for ourselves with internal chain launches.As a result, chain launches with external contributors require dedicated internal oversight and ongoing asynchronous communication and task coordination between internal and external contributors. We quickly learned that contributor education is not just in the recruitment stage, but is required throughout an entire chain launch process. For example, you may be an experienced business development leader, but there will still be a large learning curve in getting up to speed with how Pocket Network initiates partnerships with chain foundations. Learning curves like this contribute to the cost of coordinating with external partners.

TL;DR - Given the need to focus on revenue-generating and network stabilizing activities such as portal monetization, we do not believe the coordination costs of fusing the community so closely with our internal activities is where we should, or where the community wants us to, invest our efforts at this time.

SecurityIn line with our mission to provide unstoppable infrastructure to anyone, we believe in providing the best quality of service for all network participants, which includes guaranteeing uptime, correctness, and security.As part of bootstrapping a new blockchain, DevOps members are required to provide backup infrastructure in the form of altruist nodes. An altruist node acts as a source of truth for on-chain data correctness but receives no rewards. When an altruist node is hosted outside of Pocket Network, Inc., there is no visibility into performance details — all that can be known is if an altruist is on or offline.Without easier ways to monitor externally hosted altruist nodes and to guarantee that they are always online serving correct data, we cannot properly externalize this aspect of blockchain integrations with Pocket Network. The cost to contributors is also quite high, but without this infrastructure, rewarding DevOps contributors would be less justified.

TL;DR - We believe that to guarantee the correctness of service and to remove burdensome infrastructure costs from external contributors, all altruist nodes should be hosted by Pocket Network, Inc. until better external monitoring methods are available.

Pacing Down the Program

Given these challenges, we are electing to immediately pause TriForce until more resources are available to manage the program sustainably. Since there are existing contributors and ongoing launches, we will be finishing up outstanding activities and honoring existing commitments through the end of 2022.This means that all existing external contributors will continue to receive income for their chain launches and contribute to growth through EoY. All other TriForce funding will remain with the Pocket DAO.Steps have already been taken to re-route the external altruist node traffic to Pocket Network, Inc. managed nodes. All DevOps contributors have been notified to pace down this infrastructure on their end and start saving on costs.The last chains that will launch with external contributors, for now, will be Meter and Metis. As we reach the end of 2022, TriForce contributor activities will transition back to the Pocket Network, Inc. internal team or be streamlined into one-off incentivized activities, such as bounties (more on that below).

Building Toward Autonomy

While certain activities will continue to be challenging to manage internally, such as effectively marketing every chain launch, other factors have become easier to manage internally, such as chain bootstrapping. We feel this change in project needs enables us to look at other strategic opportunities for incorporating community contributors in our work.In taking a serious look at each of the above coordination costs, we’ve walked away with some valuable lessons that will help us evolve the contributor experience with Pocket Network. Some of those lessons include:

  • We need to better educate at the top of the funnel and invest in accessibility
  • We need to build more robust guardrails to guide contributors
  • We need to build in a modular, experimental, and measurable way to provide the best chance of success on both sides of the contributor/core team relationship

With these lessons in mind, and to help us improve the contributor experience in what we think can be a more effective and efficient way, we are proposing that Pocket DAO funds a bounty program and suggestions board rather than the TriForce program.We have published two forum proposals that outline these initiatives in detail:

PEP-41: IDEAS creates a modest seed fund for Pocket Network, Inc.’s team to experiment with incentivizing community members to provide streamlined feedback in a public Suggestions Board where fellow community members can upvote or downvote suggestions. The most actionable suggestions that influence the direction of PNI’s work will be rewarded with a discretionary amount of $POKT.Simultaneously, we are proposing PEP-42: RAD for the Pocket DAOs consideration, which requests 600,000 $POKT from the Pocket DAO to incentivize the community to contribute to Pocket Network’s growth by supporting key projects such as V1 development, community management, marketing, and more. By fusing PNI and Pocket DAO activities more closely, we can take gradual steps toward realizing our vision of decentralizing our workforce and strengthen our relationships with our talented community members by including them in our core work.

A New Path Forward

We believe that these pivots will allow us to provide paid opportunities to contributors while we continue to learn through small-scale experiments how to optimize contributor experiences and collaborations, including onboarding, payments, and so on. By focusing on actionable feedback and task-level activities (rather than project-level activities) that are complementary to the internal teams' core focuses, we can provide opportunities for community members to engage with us on tangible, actionable, and well-defined work rather than expecting contributors to form their own strategies and narratives that require high degrees of core team support. In turn, we can focus internally on the most high-impact projects that will bolster Pocket Network for the long haul.This change in focus and strategy will develop the strong foundation that is required for coordinating between multiple internal and external contributors and give us the time to build relationships that facilitate trust and interest in contributing to and being compensated by Pocket DAO.

TL;DR - Designing straightforward contributor paths with short-term but impactful tasks will allow us to focus on our most important priorities, get the best ROI on our efforts, nurture relationships, and build toward more complex autonomous projects in the future.

Thank you all for your support as we continue to learn, experiment, and improve our DAO contributor programs!

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