Cardano's rapid growth relative to Ethereum has not yet evolved the same level of comprehensive support for our open (CIP) standards as Ethereum has maintained for its own open (EIP) standards.
Robert Phair has volunteered as a CIP editor for 1 year already. Paying editors for their time will retain an experienced CIP team so Cardano can satisfy users familiar with the EIP standards process.
This is the total amount allocated to Community CIP Editor: 1 year budget
Background: What are CIP's, why do we need them, and how is the author involved?
Cardano Improvement Proposals (CIPs) follow the standard of other blockchains (e.g. EIPs or Ethereum Internet Proposals) to allow developers, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, or any user to propose standards, processes, or information documents that the rest of the community can follow: to avoid producing the same resources or methods repeatedly, so errors and miscommunications are kept to a minimum as the blockchain increases in size & complexity.
The CIP Editor group was born under the oversight of the Cardano Foundation with the publication of CIP-0001, in which the original CIP editors outlined a process for posting, editing and approving these suggested standards according to open-source procedures: with a GitHub repository which can be "forked" to create new CIP documents and modify existing ones.
Current CIP editors are those with write permission to this repository. Though all original members of this group were employees of the official Cardano sponsoring companies (IOG, Emurgo, and the Cardano Foundation), in keeping with open source tradition (and to support impartial governance) the members have looked for membership outside those companies. I was the first of these "community" editors to be added (in Q3 2021) and so far (in June 2022) the only one.
Perception of problem: How is the CIP process doing, and where is it going?
There has been a workable division of labour in this group, with community acknowledgement of an effective process with a growing body of standards material... but the workload on all members has been increasing. Two of the currently active members are highly technical architects of Cardano with multiple job roles within their own companies, and have found that CIP duties have taken an increasing amount of their professional time.
My own role on the editing team has been focused more on community outreach, advocacy, and documentation, and I have observed the same thing, as the rate of new CIPs and CIP changes increases geometrically while the number of editors remains fixed. We are all at the point where standards of both recruitment and remuneration are needed to keep to a high standard of work that the community can depend upon.
Short term solution: Payment for uncompensated editors (remuneration)
A successful Catalyst proposal from the last funding round was a first step in solving this problem:
Since my own proposal is from the point of view of an editor with no company affiliation, securing funding would ensure that anyone with skills and passion to support Cardano standards will be able contribute fully to the growing CIP process, regardless of their employment status.
From both perspectives: during the period in which they are funded, editors will be free to allocate their time exclusively to CIP editing responsibilities. This will quickly reflect in the time & difficulty that CIP authors face: a factor that can be easily measured by the community through the CIP repository on GitHub.
Long term solution: Recruitment & retention of new editors
This part of the strategy is beyond the scope of this proposal, although if a standard for remuneration is developed in the short term, it will incentivise the community to produce and validate new, committed editors from a variety of sources.
Paying these editors through Project Catalyst would also help ensure this part of the Governance process becomes more decentralised, and remains so, by avoiding the potential conflicts of interest that might result from the Cardano Foundation paying editors directly to manage its own repository.
Anyone who derives value from Cardano remaining an open-source blockchain, whose standards can evolve in a decentralised manner not dependent on any company in particular. The evolution of the Internet and the emergence of blockchain have shown us that open source standards in both design and governance lead to:
The particular goal for this Challenge is to increase the number of projects that migrate from Ethereum to Cardano. Many Cardano Improvement Proposals, especially recent ones, have shown:
An efficient open source standards process in Cardano will facilitate businesses & developers in Ethereum dominated market sectors to develop on Cardano as well as, or instead of, Ethereum.
Challenge: can the Cardano standards process be made more efficient?
Ethereum has a significant head start on Cardano in the development of a standards process: about 4½ years, as measured by the GitHub submission dates of the first EIP before the first CIP. This extra experience has led to a well-developed standards process for Ethereum with high expectations of community governance.
Official lists of finalised proposals, Cardano vs. Ethereum:
Roughly speaking, Cardano is inviting all Ethereum's business while maintaining less than ⅒ of Ethereum's standards infrastructure. Note this is a very rough estimate because, for instance, there tend to be more deprecated proposals with time; the difference in numbers only serves to illustrate the expectations of a project migrating from Ethereum which will depend somehow on the prior work of others... as most of them will.
There are other metrics, easily linked from GitHub and counted, which support roughly the same conclusion:
... of Cardano vs. Ethereum. Project reviewers should feel free to request these metrics in comments, though I believe this detail is less meaningful than the subjective conclusion that Cardano's backlog of standards work is increasing.
This is an excellent opportunity for Cardano to encompass the same body of standards as already covered by Ethereum: if only those growing queues can be kept to a minimum relative to the size of the whole. Avoiding bottlenecks and delays in our open standards (CIP) process will also encourage new types of applications to be documented there whenever possible.
Challenge: would a better utilised Cardano standards process support more market sectors?
As a case to consider this, from the above list of CIPs we can see the standards supporting Cardano NFTs were developed relatively early (CIP-0025, CIP-0027). Today the number of NFT businesses basing on Cardano is impressive compared to other blockchains including Ethereum.
It's a question for the reader to decide if these CIP "standards" (voluntarily adopted) have created the NFT market, when literally it's also true the other way around: that the market has created these standards. The overall truth is that a growing open-source, less centralised industry needs both standards and applications to grow together.
Conclusion: Any improvements in the Cardano standards process will lead to better Cardano Cardano adoption.
Our CIP editing process is improvised, as it was in the early days of Ethereum, but now that Cardano has also become a mature blockchain with many commercial applications, those applications are creating a workload of standards and governance for which Cardano has had little time to evolve an infrastructure.
All users of, developers on, and investors in Cardano must therefore place a high value on our standards framework every time we measure ourselves relative to the "competition" of Ethereum. Documented standards are as much a part of Cardano's overall infrastructure as nodes, networks and transactions... ultimately these help determine cost, ease of use, developer friendliness, and the quality of working in a supportive community.
The "risk" of this project will be low because, if I were not performing my duties as a CIP editor, it would be apparent to all other editors well within a month's time. Since I understand the audit cycle of Project Catalyst is also monthly, this would leave adequate time for auditors to note my non-performance and cancel the project; and if payments were also made monthly, this would lave little or no risk to Catalyst of payment for undelivered work.
If I were to suddenly quit as a CIP editor, were dismissed from that role, or became unfit for the role, the observed effect in the worst case would be the same:
The CIP process is mostly cyclical, with tasks loosely allocated between CIP Editors, each editor accepting the tasks they feel most qualified to deal with.
The CIP process goes in bi-weekly cycles according to our BiweeklyMeetings schedule. All pending tasks are added to an agenda on the Discord > CIP Editors Meetings server (invite) and each person responsible for that task leads a brief discussion. The conversation of this meeting determines the goals that are set for the next 2 weeks: in which actions taken for each CIP related pull request or issue are documented publicly on GitHub.
Tasks - regular
Since each pending new or modified CIP has a GitHub pull request, my activity schedule and that of other CIP editors is email-driven based on subscription to the Cardano Foundation's Github repo (note any GitHub user can subscribe to this). Editors, CIP authors, and sometimes community members will tag each other when a response is required or a code review is requested on the CIP document.
All editors are expected to be aware of the status of open CIPs, and not to move any proposal forward without the appropriate indication of consensus. Generally it's necessary to read CIP related email from GitHub every day to stay ahead of the work others are doing, while we each document our own work with GitHub comments.
If more discussion is required than what can take place on GitHub, we make a note on the Discord where all editors can see it, for the attention of the CIP Editors Meeting chairperson, to add an issue to the agenda for the upcoming meeting.
Tasks - special (as required)
Other tasks are spontaneously generated and generally self-imposed, most typically:
Baseline time estimates, from reports of other editors:
1. F8: Open Standards & Interoperability > CIP Editor time Sebastien for 1 year has quoted & obtained an annual budget of US$20,000 for 1 year of CIP editor's time. This is based on a current minimum requirement of 2 hours per week gradually approaching 8 hours per week over the course of the year, during which the CIP workload will continue to increase: with any apparent overpayment justified by Sebastien's prior work as a CIP Editor for 2 years without explicit payment.
2. Another editor has stated, off the record & after this week's CIP meeting (2022-06-28), that his time spent on CIP issues has already reached "several hours every week."
My own observed time requirements:
1. My actual time spent on CIP issues, as a part of my regular email & messaging routine, adds about an hour to every day (including weekends), especially upon further development of draft CIP-0050 which has been serving as a model for community consensus across a variety of media. Beyond this there are the regular CIP meetings and occasionally scheduled out-of-band meetings which take a total of around 1 hour per week (attendance + proofreading minutes, etc.), for a total of 8 hours per typical work week.
2. As an estimate of the "regular" plus "irregular" tasks, I would currently estimate that the observable GitHub related issue monitoring, commentary, tagging & merging would be 4 hours per week, with the internal (regular) meetings, external (irregular) meetings, Forum & Discord communication & digesting, platform migration, and related software & web site issues, also represent about 4 hours per week... also yielding, by a different measure, a total of 8 hours in a typical CIP Editing work week.
3. In my experience there are 2 weeks at end-of-year where all work in blockchain generally comes to a halt, with another 2 weeks of leave expected for personal affairs: yielding a total of 48 work weeks in each year.
Resulting project budget calculation:
48 weeks per year * 8 hours per week * US$50 per hour = $19200 for 1 year.
According to Catalyst guidelines (as I understand them) and my proposed monthly audit schedule, this would be payable monthly as $19200 / 12 = $1600 payable per month.
As with Sebastien's proposal last quarter, I believe I am also in the same situation where the time I have spent as a CIP editor prior to any payment (about 1 year in my case) would at least balance out any month in which there was a shortfall of the number of hours worked relative to these estimates. In fact it is likely there will be peak periods of CIP activity in the coming year in which more than 8 hours per week may be required.
This project will rely only upon my own work & experience (name: Robert Phair).
Relevant credentials in ongoing CIP & Cardano standards:
Relevant experience with blockchain (as of 2020):
Relevant experience prior to blockchain (pre-2020; see C.V. / Resume)
I believe yes that I would, because the goal of this project is sustainability of Cardano's standards process rather than any short-term objective. Any CIP editor receiving funding from Catalyst, especially one not being paid a corporate salary, should feel comfortable submitting a funding proposal at 1-year intervals: providing an opportunity for annual review by both that editor and the community as a whole.
Primary indicator: CIP biweekly meeting minutes
The list of meeting attendees is always early in the minutes and the speaker's name is next to each transcribed comment: to make it easy even for non-attendees to assess anyone's participation. It's rare for any attending editor to pass through a CIP meeting without something they want to comment about, so the presence of comments in the transcript can be taken as a minimum sign of participation.
Online metrics of direct CIP editor participation on GitHub pull requests & issues
By changing the GitHub username, these will work for any CIP editor (in fact, for any CIP process participant):
For the Pull Requests in particular, auditors should especially look among the comments for code reviews (green checks for passing reviews, white checks for commentary review... we generally don't produce the "red flags" because they might block a PR merge over a subjective issue).
Our simplest goal is also to "merge" as many pull requests as possible: so while merges make an editor look & feel good, keep in mind it's not a race to see which one of us hits the "merge" button first: we all know it's better to wait until there is quorum (if not unanimity) both on- & offline before merging a drafted CIP. If we are successful as a group, this list of unmerged CIPs will remain small:
Subjective metrics of community participation
My username (showing as rphair and/or my organisation / stake pool name COSD) should regularly show in the following channels:
Manual reporting for Catalyst: to be also released on GitHub
My understanding of the Catalyst reporting requirements is to produce a monthly report. To avoid duplication of effort by auditors and community members, I plan to include samples of the above metrics showing the issues I was most notably involved in that month:
I will also create a publicly accessible repository in my own GitHub account where I will post each of these monthly reports (minus any confidential details).
Retention of a effective & coordinated CIP Editor team
If this proposal, and possibly similar proposals from other current or aspiring CIP editors, proceed on Catalyst, the result should be a CIP team where every aspect of open standards in Cardano is matched with someone on the team who has the time and interest to work happily in that area.
Standards & governance model visible to Ethereum community
A positively evolving CIP process— with a solid & growing CIP repository, surrounded by positive experience & expectations in the Cardano community at large— would be attractively visible in the next year to Ethereum-centred developers, companies, writers, investors, and analysts.
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UNIX/Linux systems integrator, project manager, and software standards architect since late 1980's.