Process Discussion Authority Node Operator Selection After Action Report

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#1
Hello Everyone -

Please find the after action report for the previous Authority Node Operator selection round (#3) here. Of particular note, please refer to the spreadsheet embedded in the document for a list of issues highlighted as part of the ANO selection round #3 review.

We will begin working on these items to improve the process for the future ANO round #4.

Please ask questions / highlight concerns using this thread.

-Factom (R) Protocol Guides
 
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#2
The concern is about due diligence.

It’s too easy to simply write a nice application in order to get elected.

We also had some current operators voting maximum/minimum marks without reading applications, like throwing darts at a board.

What are we really achieving by mandating extra operators at this fragile stage?

I think we should go through a round of replacement of incumbents rather than letting obviously AFK operators continue to take from the protocol without giving back.

An ANO slot is an incredibly valuable promotional tool to pull talented teams into Factom.

We should be giving these slots to Hackathon winners, universities, corporations, marketing agencies, social media managers, government agencies, influencers etc. Skills and connections we need to grow the protocol.

What we don’t need is any more random sysadmins running infra nodes.

We should be proactive rather than reactive in our approach.

Let’s think about who we ideally want to add as ANOs and reach out to them. Let’s give them the tech support to run nodes successfully.

Let’s not have rigid election timeframes. Let’s be flexible enough to offer a slot when the opportunity presents itself.

Let’s take a chance on these ideal candidates, rather than be stuck picking between A4 applications from internet folk, who we have no way of properly assessing.
 
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#3
What we don’t need is any more random sysadmins running infra nodes.
The social media consultants and marketing team should be running the servers instead, perhaps the ideas guy too :)
Who would you call in the middle of the night to triage a downed server: The ideas guy or the sysadmin?

Should the entire integrity of the protocol be outsourced to unconcerned and easily corruptible third parties across the planet while ANO's are taking big chunks off the top for their undisclosed/partnership/potential deal/NDA activities?

We are talking tiny amounts to bribe 17 outsourced people who manage hundreds of dedicated servers at once. I hope people think about that and what it means for the protocol before regarding the job as simple grunt work to be done by some stranger that we all happily hand over the keys to the castle for them to do as they please.

What value do people put on rewriting a factom block if we go down this path? Because I reckon it would be surprisingly cheap. Marketing has it's place, so does the maintaining the integrity of the entire system. These things should be balanced.

The grant process is far more efficient for both determining value and outcomes rather than the lax oversight of ANO's and their ability to change efficiency on a whim/forum post.

Perhaps there needs to be a database of claims made ("we spent $x", "we are running in the red for months now", "we don't take a cent except to pay tax". etc) and whether there is any proof of those claims.

As far as I can see, not a single ANO provides open details on their internal structures. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt but this is the cryptocurrency industry with an already terrible reputation worldwide, we need to rise well above those sorts of shenanigans to stand out. Trust but verify. This should be the default.

Otherwise as a consultant I've learnt the hard way to not make bold claims until they are a reality, it looks incredibly shady from the outside when groups who mint FCT and sell on market to fund their operations are out there on forums making big claims, surely the inherent conflict of interest is very clear to everyone involved and doesn't need explaining.

High efficiency should be the norm. There's plenty of opportunity for people and organisations generate concrete outcomes from grants rather than extract large sums from the protocol quarterly with not a single entry burnt in their name. Longer term grants offer a lot for anyone concerned about the short cycle.
ANO's are under no pressure to deliver or even make verifiable claims, in fact not delivering is in their interest as they can draw it out more.

Factom Inc. and Factomize seem to be the only groups actually generating usage right now and I think they should be held up as champions of the current state of the system. There's a lot of busy work going on but in the end the real output is FCT burnt and entries made. This should be the main KPI, what can you generate in usage/sales.

Very few seem to be stepping up to the plate to actually use the protocol. Hopefully that changes.

My two satoshis on the matter anyway. Cheers!
 
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#4
I think there's many decent things to glean from the writeup here, glad it's finally public.

To summarise from the earlier wall of text:
Truly struggling with the concept of getting people with zero experience administrating servers to go hire "random sysadmins" who have no incentive to preserve the integrity of the protocol. How is that a good idea long term?
People running auth nodes need to be directly and seriously affected by adverse events, an outsourced race-to-the-bottom "employee" couldn't care in the slightest. I hope all parties consider this.
 
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#5
Why do you assume a respectable organisation will be corruptible but a random off Discord won’t be?

Why do you assume a respectable organisation can not operate a node?

As I said, the idea is to provide support to initially get them going. To lower the barriers to entry for teams that will otherwise be a great win for the protocol.

There is no value in us continuing to decentralise the protocol at this stage whilst many operate purely to dilute the grant pool.

After a certain point, there is extremely diminishing returns in added ‘decentralisation’ against what it costs.

As David posted, we need to be far more sophisticated in who/how we elect.

This is the problem - we chose people we didn’t actually know at all, over someone we did. And look what happened. When are we going to learn?

I’d rather work with connected and respected people/organisations who have reputations on the line, and are actually capable of providing value, than random internet folk making bold claims in a PDF.
 
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#6
@Mitchell Berry
I agree with the accountability stuff.
We are talking tiny amounts to bribe 17 outsourced people who manage hundreds of dedicated servers at once. I hope people think about that and what it means for the protocol before regarding the job as simple grunt work to be done by some stranger that we all happily hand over the keys to the castle for them to do as they please.
How do you come up with 17? There are way more people involved.

Also you mentioning only 2 entities that generate usage might be a bit misleading to the casual reader that come by here.
BIF (which is the Sphereon people (us), deliberately choose a separate entity for many reasons) is bringing most usage and clients. There are several ANOs that I know of working with real clients.

If the answer is provable usage instead of clients:
  • Factomatic
  • Factom Inc
  • BIF/Sphereon
  • Factomize
Alos
Truly struggling with the concept of getting people with zero experience administrating servers to go hire "random sysadmins" who have no incentive to preserve the integrity of the protocol. How is that a good idea long term?
Please point out that type of claim to actual examples. I have been saying that during the different rounds. Experience in securing and running nodes is vital. Why do you think the question about the amount of years of running production servers ended up in the questionnaire?
 
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#7
Why do you assume a respectable organisation can not operate a node?
Saying a respectable organisation who simply outsources the responsibility is putting the entire protocol at risk, can find you a sysadmin to work for a penny and they will happily roll and then inject malicious code for 2 pennies. The incentives currently exist to encourage prospective ANO's to find the cheapest employee to do the job.

It's incredibly ironic to demean "random sysadmins" while simultaneously encouraging others with very little IT experience to hire completely unknown sysadmins who have full access and control over an auth node server. How are those people in any position to evaluate what their employee says about network and node status? We should simply trust them it's all good? Unless it's an established company with a track record it seems very risky.

This cuts the very heart of the federated server network and it's concerning to see such a blasé attitude to the fundamentals of the protocol. I stand by my statement.

Unless the person administrating the server will directly suffer serious hardship and reputation loss from an adverse event the entire system is easily threatened by outside actors.
 
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#8
How do you come up with 17?
(32 / 2) + 1

But upon reflection it's 30 ANO's and so only 16 servers that need to be corrupted isnt it?

A recent elected ANO just announced they’ll be AFK for most of the year.
Guessing this means us at Kompendium. Andy is a Commander in the Marines and has recently been called up for deployment, he's away for a month with unspecified communication times, I get the concern by some but perhaps respect the ambiguity required here. Can't speak for him but this was made incredibly clear with me as a possibility of happening in the beginning and have no problem with it whatsoever.

Personally, I'm here constantly on multiple channels (Factom, Pegnet, FAT, TFA) and willing to help out on testnet duties which is seperate from our remit as an ANO.

So yeah, this sort of claim is plainly false. I work as a software consultant and currently have no contracts. Eventually will have to go back to work but have plenty of time/space for the foreseeable future and am very much free compared to others in the ecosystem, I'm on call 24/7 for putting out digital fires and happily interacting on forums daily.

Would anyone seriously claim Kompendium is AFK(Away From Keyboard)? You can find me stirring the pot in many places as usual :)

Also you mentioning only 2 entities that generate usage
I do know there's more but for anyone browsing these are the two that appear the most.

We should create a tallyboard, from my experience with teams in large.co simply creating a visible kpi works wonders, people will compete even when they don't have to.
 
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#9
encouraging others with very little IT experience to hire completely unknown sysadmins who have full access and control over an auth node server.... Unless it's an established company with a track record it seems very risky.
What are you talking about? No one said anything like this. The entire point of the post you didn't read was to take established, reputable organisations, and proactively reach out to them. Perhaps point them towards documentation and instructions, and be understanding that they are new to crypto.

How about giving bigger, trusted teams such as Sphereon, Inc or DBGrow a third server - allowing them to run the additional node, whilst allocating the FCT payouts to attract non-tech people in. Crypto influencer, marketing specialist, social media managers, community activists, business development, politicians, charities, universities, alliances etc.

The exact problem we have now is too many lonely sysadmins without skills to actually further the protocol.

We have enough independent operators for this stage - We are decentralised.

There is not a single client/investor in the World who is waiting for further operators before joining Factom. Therefore it holds little value. The US Gov is happy with it, the Chinese supreme court is happy with it, the EU commission is happy with it - Maybe we should be too.

Let's not repeat the mistake of taking in yet more lonely sysadmins at the expense of actual progress, whilst incumbent operators continue to quietly extract FCT out the ecosystem without returning any real value.

Let's make sure we see real action take place, or proof of track record and capability, before electing someone. The grant pool cannot take much more stretching from additional ANOs at this price.

An A4 is simply not a good enough measure of a team, and has caught us out numerous times now, and we are stuck with them. There are at least 5 that need immediate replacing. That could be 10 nodes ($70k/month) used to attract and pay for non-tech skills.

Or we can keep throwing it down the drain while claiming it's money well spent.
 
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#10
So to summarise:

Let's start taking away nodes from incumbents, and handover the tech side to trusted established ANOs. The node payout is then used to attract and pay for the skills/efforts/connections this community sorely needs.

Replacing the 5 worst performing ANOs - will free up 10 nodes ($70k/month) that can be used to drive real value.

We need to stop the madness of spending so much money on 'decentralisation' every month whilst the whole thing crumbles around us due to lack of resources.

We simply cannot afford to keep spending humongous sums of money on token 'decentralisation'. What we need are dedicated teams who are capable of delivering something.

Think of this as a business decision - would you spend your last money on more 'decentralisation'? Each notch of decentralisation costs us about $14k a month at todays prices. Money that is desperately needed elsewhere. Maybe there's a better balance to be found during these early start-up days?

'Decentralisation' is a luxury we can afford when we're rich.

You wouldn't buy a Ferrari to drive for Uber. Let's not go and buy a second Ferrari now! One Ferrari to drive Uber, and the other for dropping the Kids off. I understand you like Ferrari's - but it's madness and it's killing us.

How much money are we wasting through income/state/corporation/sales taxes? $100k/month? How much are we wasting on unnecessary server costs and gaggles of sysadmin salaries? Another $100k/month?

We could have the biggest and best marketing, development, events and investor outreach programme run by experienced professionals and agencies or we can have a extra few notches of decentralisation.

We need to take a good hard look at where 73k FCT's are going every month and what real value is returned.

Time to change course, toughen up and put the protocol, and its progress first.

Stop listening to the Ferrari salesman - It's time to sell the Ferrari. A Lexus will do the job just fine.

Infra + Governance = Ok.
Infra + Community = Ok.
Infra + AFK = Bye bye.
 
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#11
(32 / 2) + 1

But upon reflection it's 30 ANO's and so only 16 servers that need to be corrupted isnt it?
:)
Yeah, but you need to hold feds to be able to fork or whatever. Then you also need to have the guides included as well. At least 2 guides are seperate entities from ANOs they are affiliated with (and have also shown different voting behavior in the past from these ANOs). Then there is the fact that all ANOs are more than one person. I am not getting why you are changing the direction of the convo here, whilst everybody knows the decentralization is still in bootstrap phase. The whole idea is to have 65 spots (or more if everybody chooses to do that). That doesn't mean 65 fixed entities at all. The whole idea of competition is that you can get in and out of the auth set.


I do know there's more but for anyone browsing these are the two that appear the most.
Hmzz, yet Sphereon is the only one with production clients and names on mainnet and one of the most active parties in the ecosystem. So if we then start making claims about only 2 entities it means we sent out wrong signals to others that casually come by here, which was my point.

We should create a tallyboard, from my experience with teams in large.co simply creating a visible kpi works wonders, people will compete even when they don't have to.
Come up with a proposal would be my reaction :)
 
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#12
This is getting silly. Decentralisation is the goal for both node security, legal obligations and most importantly protocol integrity. I'm worried that the entire concept of the whitepaper is being handwaved away here with buzzwords.

Absolutely do not think we should simply create more auth servers and give them existing ANO's, it's just pointless. Are you sure you don't want a SQL database instead?

Crypto influencer, marketing specialist, social media managers, community activists
Yeah I really do think we are talking a different language here. None of those people are desirable whatsoever, times have changed, we should distance ourselves as far as possible from them. As discussed elsewhere on discord crypto is a dirty word, especially for enterprise, please don't bring in the MLM people and the sleazy scammers, they aren't a good look nor do they contribute much, there's real marketing and SEO specialists available for hire, get them to do what they do best, not to run a bunch of linux servers under false pretences.

The exact problem we have now is too many lonely sysadmins without skills to actually further the protocol.
Is this not the argument I made? Why should ANO's be getting paid for vague goals with no consequences of failure? Is there someone magically stopping these exact same people applying for a grant with it's oversight and clear outcomes or does that not suit them? Grants make sense, ANO "crypto influencers" running at 30% efficiency does not.

I'd love for every ANO replying to state how many entry credits they have burnt in the last week/month/year/your choice :)

Kompendium has put ~15,000 entries into the ecosystem in the last week. We are an infrastructure operator who hasn't received a cent from the protocol.
 
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#13
It is not an ANOs job to put usage in as well and let's not create a pissing contest about that (Sphereon/BIF is doing higher than your numbers sustained for almost a year now with real production clients). Usage is highly welcome, but having ANOs incentivised to put usage in, will just generate SPAM (ANOs dedicating a percentage of their FCT on random spam on the network)

I agree with your security/decentralization approach. But you are sending out mixed signals by mentioning ANOs not having to do other things and using grants for these (which I have always said as well) but at the same time wanting ANOs to put usage in.

This is however a thread that is about elections and an after action report. Not about the future of what an ANO should be
 
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#14
This is however a thread that is about elections and an after action report. Not about the future of what an ANO should be
Yeah it's gone off track and I'm certainly in some way responsible for that.

I get some contributions can be intangible, the problem is that there's big promises while giving not much back. An infra node gives a lot back to the community via grants yet many people seem to see that as worthless and thinks little of it.

An ANO's efficiency should be noted, everyone seems happy to lump them in the same basket whether running at 70% or 0%. But in reality, these are two very different organisations contributing in very different ways to the ecosystem.

I'd like to build out a system to watch burn rates, as said before, a scoreboard encourages people in subtle ways :)
 
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#15
Decentralization has utility, and I believe everyone agrees; however, decentralization is a supporting effort, not the main effort in my view. Adoption and usage of the Protocol (and therefore long-term viability) will come through many means: educating organizations to existing Protocol value-adding propositions, development of additional value-adding capabilities and the successful marketing of those functionalities, creation of easy-to-use tools to develop on and with the Protocol, and dependable Protocol stability via the impeccable stewardship of the Protocol's network (ANOs) and our incredibly passionate and dedicated community.

ANOs working collaboratively or independently with unity of mission and focus are powerful a force that should propel the protocol to the fore. IMO, we should all look for those opportunities, limit personal drama that is distracting and unproductive, and try the hardest we can to BEST use our limited resources to most benefit the Protocol and community, align our efforts to prioritized objectives, and contribute, contribute, contribute. We, like everyone are busy at work trying to best bring value to the Protocol and community and are excited to onboard in the coming days!
 
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#16
Once you get past a certain stage, decentralisation has diminishing returns. We are already past that point.

You’re defending an infra node who applies for grants to further the protocol - but that’s obviously not who i’m speaking of.

Continuing to miss the point and put words in my mouth in order to argue is quite disturbing behaviour from Kompendium.
 
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#17
Colin, I'm sorry, but I'm not sure what your talking about or who or what is the issue - I thought we were agreeing we should all work together to further the protocol and use resources efficiently and effectively.
I re-read my post above and I'm not sure how anyone could have taken offense, but all is good here and we're happy to work together if afforded the opportunity. Cheers
 
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#20
I'd like to reassert what I stated in another thread.

We need to completely rethink our approach and proactively prepare for the future when there are 65 ANOs. Really, the problem starts to arise with 33 ANOs. I suspect many of us are starting to grow tired of the politics in the ecosystem. But what happens when ANOs start to get voted out despite providing solid infrastructure services?

A. The subjectivity of pledges and efficiency and the drama and politics that result are toxic to the ecosystem.
B. I shouldn't have to worry about people liking me as long as my company is performing well.
C. When we're successful, I shouldn't have to worry about being voted out as the 65th ANO (despite performing well) and my company with 55 employees destroyed after years of hard work when the incentives are finally high enough for huge companies to want a stake. They should need to acquire my company.

The above all create instability in the ecosystem.

The reality is, we all need to become high efficiency infrastructure ANOs. Efficiencies should be the same across the board and set at prices where we profit nicely and have the capital to continue to scale. Do away with all the pledges and promises other than the pure infrastructure. Move the other work to the grant pool. In addition, once there are 65 ANOs there needs to be a small pool of say 3-5 Prospective ANOs that mirror our infrastructure and are also compensated (though at a lower rate) and do not have consensus voting rights. But if something goes wrong with one of the 65 ANOs, then they go to the bottom of the Prospective ANO list, get paid less, and the top of that list becomes a full fledged ANO.

Being removed from the 65 and Prospective ANO list should be possible but because of serious failings as a company / infrastructure provider.

We need to prepare for this now. A higher FCT price of course makes this far easier to transition to and makes filling the "slots" I outline below go much quicker.

We need to be far more sophisticated with how we fill our remaining slots. We must do away with electing the X best of who happens to show up at some arbitrary date we decide upon. All remaining slots should be infrastructure only ANOs and we need to think globally. We should only accept entities where their becoming ANOs is news in itself or reward those bringing serious usage to the protocol by allowing them to nominate an infra ANO. And the criteria should be predefined. If we do the 65+5 I speak of above, then we have 42 ANO / Prospective ANO slots left. We should have criteria like this (example):

Next 15 slots can be filled by any of the below:
1. Entities that made 500,000 or more entries per month for at least 6 months can nominate one infra ANO for consideration.
2. A government / government agency serving a population of W or more.
3. A fortune 1000 company.
4. A top 500 university in a country.

Next 10 slots can be filled by any of the below:
1. Entities that made 1,000,000 or more entries per month for at least 6 months can nominate one infra ANO for consideration..
2. A government / government agency serving a population of X or more.
3. A fortune 500 company.
4. A top 100 university in a country.

Next 10 slots can be filled by any of the below:
1. Entities that made 5,000,000 or more entries per month for at least 6 months can nominate one infra ANO for consideration..
2. A government / government agency serving a population of Y or more not in a country that already has an ANO.
3. A fortune 250 company.
4. A top 50 university in a country that does not have an ANO.

Final 7 slots can be filled by any of the below:
1. Entities that made 10,000,000 or more entries per month for at least 6 months can nominate one infra ANO for consideration..
2. A government / government agency serving a population of Z or more not in a country that already has an ANO.
3. A fortune 100 company.
4. A top 10 university in a country that does not have an ANO.

Once those slots are filled we have a global utility. And if an entity wants a slot, they can acquire or buy-in to an existing entity barring major failings on the part of an existing ANO.
 
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#21
I agree 100% with everything David said here.

We need to have less toxic politics as soon as possible and the way to do this is that everyone becomes an infra ANO with clear guidelines of what is to be expected.

I understand your feelings Collin but w/o a good way to differentiate between the different efficiency, there is almost no way we will be able to have a consensus about what a performing ANO is vs an other. Some might do better, but right now I believe almost every ANO out there is deeply in the red after taking into account : taxes, corporate costs, lawyer costs, maintenance costs, time, etc

What I personally dislike, just like you, are ANOs who got in with X pledges and Y efficiency and just do away with all that w/o any accountability.

Going forward, I would be in favor to reaching out to organisation as you said and make it a marketing event to distribute the remaining nodes with maybe a "trial period" of 6 months. It is not because you hand out a server to a prestigious team that it is going to be better than choosing a random one. We already tried that with MC.
 
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#22
I agree with David as well. Have been saying we need infra ANOs and do almost everything from the grantpool from the start. Recent events of several entities lowering efficiency or dedicating what would be grantpool funds to parties that have not made the cut only reaffirmed my view on how this should work. As well as parties getting in based on pledges and then later changing to infra. If these entities would have applied as infra they would not have made it. I know @Tor Paulsen also has similar views and would be happy to work out with Tor and/or David and/or others a new approach
 
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#23
I largely agree with Davids plan as well. In the long run that makes sense to me.

I think we have to be careful how we approach this though. Off the top of my head:

1. Moving to such a system, we will have a ton of entities that are currently paying for efforts via ANO funding that will have to decide whether to stop their activities, or start putting in grants. We may see some work dropoff there just due to extra overhead of submitting grants.

2. It means we will have way more grants to sort through. This makes it harder for voters.

3. We should really define as a community what those base ANO expectations are, because with this framework with every ano having the same efficiency, there will be an expectation that work above that base will be rewarded through the grant pool. Thus, having that base effort expectation is necessary.

4. Historically, while less organized, I actually think we have gotten a higher average return from ANO revenue than with grant spending. 50% efficiency ANO's are bringing in 3k FCT per grant period, 25% ANOs bringing in 4.5k FCT per period. A lot of that right now would be going toward servers/admin/corporate costs/etc, yet historically a ton of work still gets done on top of that.

The difference between an IANO at 60% and a "development" ANO at say 25% is only 35%, which is a bit over 2k FCT per grant period. A 2k FCT grant is a small grant by current standards. Compare what a 2k FCT grant would return vs 3 months of, say, TFA's ANO contributions.

If we make all ANO revenue equal across the board these hyperproductive ANOs will likely shift this work to the grant pool because otherwise it feels like truly uncompensated work compared to other ANOs being paid the same ANO revenue and not putting in that effort. I think we would need to pair such a change to our system with a redefinition of expectations, and a better process for community review of ANO performance to remove lower performing ANOs.

I believe that there is some sense from high performing ANOs that they are building standing and will be compensated for their efforts to some extent in the future when they still have a lower efficiency but FCT may have increased in value at that point. We lose that incentive mechanism with this proposed framework.

5. It will be harder to compensate certain types of work that are extremely valuable for this ecosystem, but less strictly defined. I'll take the LRWG as an example because I am so familiar. Hundreds and hundreds of hours spent reading legal and regulatory documents, writing bylaws, taking calls trying to sort things out. Not a cent taken from the legal grant to cover salaries, or even cover costs beyond outside law firms. Right now we can sort of just say "its covered by ANO revenue", but in actuality that portion of ANO revenue doesn't nearly cover the work. So when we remove the ability for an ANO to justify the work they are putting in by feelings its covered by their ANO revenue, I worry that everyone putting in extra effort, from work on legal research, to for example all the above and beyond work defacto were putting in outside their grants, even to something as simple as the effort put into this conversation by Colin and Mitchell, will now be directly comparing their "ANO efforts" to the least productive ANOs making the same amount, and feel disincentivized.

That may be a good thing in that it forces us to really pay attention to lower performing ANOs and address those issues, but it comes with downsides and risks as well. We need to make sure that such a changeup in frameworks doesn't cause more harm than good. How do we go about this in a way that protects us from those risks?
 
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#24
Btw, I think one very good direction we are going that will help in the above framework is an automated and streamlined grant system thanks to Factomize's new grant. Are there other alterations to the grant process that will make it easier for entities to put in small grants for activities, and easier for voters to sort through all of those grants and still easily conceptualize all that they are voting for and where protocol money goes? Things like maybe integrating tags for what type of grant it is and creating a nice visualization tool to understand how much protocol inflation is going toward what types of tasks?
 
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#25
To get back to the original discussion, started by Nolan in the first post. Looking at the spreadsheet with the issues, it appears that a good chunk of the problems were technicalities around the actual process (confusing start/end times, wrong links, submission not appearing in the Guide repository, difficulties with PDFs, etc.). These are all smaller problems IMO and in the long-run could either be ironed out by repetition or better yet if there is a holistic website where prospective ANOs could submit their applications, which would in turn allow for some automation. This will also have the benefit of potentially presenting the information from each applicant in a more voter-friendly manner and could greatly facilitate the evaluation, which would be a major step towards more rigorous vetting of candidates. This seems like a good candidate for a potential grant application ;)

A higher severity issue was the one of non-uniform voting. We've had problems with this in the past with grant voting and IMO we should either have very specific guidelines for how to grade applications in order to avoid unintended consequences to the final results or (much better) switch to a voting scheme, which doesn't allow this to begin with.
 
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#26
I'm deliberately posting this as a separate reply, to turn more attention towards it.

The biggest problem with the process IMO is the severe lack of marketing and strategic outreach to prospective ANOs (in this regard, I am curious to hear how/through which channels the candidates and the newly elected ANOs actually found out about the election).

One of my major concerns with the ecosystem right now is that we seem to lack the right connections and resources to attract high caliber ANOs. No offense to existing ANOs or the entities elected in the last batch, but I think the only high-profile ANO we have outside of Factom Inc. is Multicoin Capital, and their performance so far has been extremely disappointing to say the least. We have to do everything in our power to attract strategic ANOs because if you look at some of the competitors to Factom in terms of blockchain protocols/solutions aimed at enterprise clients, they tend to have a formidable consortium/alliance of high-profile companies that at least on paper are interested in using the protocol. We might be building the best tech, but without the right network of companies around the protocol, I am afraid it wouldn't mean much. In line with this, and touching upon some of the discussion above, I believe it will be very difficult to attract such high-caliber entities by forcing them into a predefined compensation schedule, going through the hassle of an application process during a pre-defined time interval, etc.

So, here's a crazy idea: instead of putting barriers for such entities to enter the ecosystem, what if we put a massive incentive for them to join? In the last grant round alone, over $1M was distributed. This is a considerable amount of money and if we spend it on trying to attract a high-profile player, IMO it is enough to get such entities thinking. We could be reaching out to EY (who have a blockchain team in multiple jurisdictions), or a McKinsey, or a BCG, or a government agency, etc. and telling the right teams within these entities that:
  • they will get a significant chunk of cash to augment their budget
  • they will get free technical support for FAT, DIDs, VCs, etc. for any solutions they develop on the protocol for X amount of months
  • they/their clients will not need to touch any cryptocurrency to utilize the blockchain and will have stable pricing, etc. etc.
Why wouldn't they be interested?

In return, we can put some requirements, of course: some reasonable promotion of the protocol, using the protocol for various projects with clients, but also -- very importantly -- recommending other potential ANOs. There could be an incentive structure around this, e.g. for any high-profile ANO that they recommend and help bring on-board a portion of the $500K-1M is getting unlocked (e.g. $100K for onboarding a new operator).

This is obviously a bit of a long shot and has the downside that a considerable amount of funds will have to be allocated towards it, but IMO we only need a couple of these entities to get the ball rolling, and if we are successful, the next high-profile ANOs might be much easier to acquire.

I'm curious to hear what the more business savvy people make of my ramblings.
 
Secured
#27
Wow! This subject has obviously sparked some interesting debate.

Trying to comb through it I can see that we are concerned about:

1 The role of an ANO
2 How to improve the grant process (which is in hand)
3 Spending our money wisely to get the overall results we need
4 Ensuring an appropriate balance of skills and capabilities (Technical, Marketing etc)
5 Effective marketing to ensure we attract the right calibre of ANO applicants for where we find ourselves now
6 Making sure that our voting system is effective in order to select the right ANOs from these applicants

Most of these are important strategic decisions we need to make before an election process begins......which was one of the most significant lessons to come from the ANO selection work and after-action review.

So the challenge is to ensure we use this learning to prioritize what we are doing and work out:

*How do we ensure that we develop and agree the strategic direction we need?
*Once the direction is clear, how do we improve the process?

Can we now move the focus of this discussion onto doing this.....