Public goods funding

Public Goods Funding

Namada provides 10% per annum inflation for other non-algorithmically-measurable public goods.


Public goods are non-excludable non-rivalrous items which provide benefits of some sort to their users. Examples include languages, open-source software, research, designs, Earth's atmosphere, and art (conceptually - a physical painting is excludable and rivalrous, but the painting as-such is not). Namada's software stack, supporting research, and ecosystem tooling are all public goods, as are the information ecosystem and education which provide for the technology to be used safety, the hardware designs and software stacks (e.g. instruction set, OS, programming language) on which it runs, and the atmosphere and biodiverse environment which renders its operation possible. Without these things, Namada could not exist, and without their continued sustenance it will not continue to. Public goods, by their nature as non-excludable and non-rivalrous, are mis-modeled by economic systems (such as payment-for-goods) built upon the assumption of scarcity, and are usually either under-funded (relative to their public benefit) or funded in ways which require artificial scarcity and thus a public loss. For this reason, it is in the interest of Namada to help out, where possible, in funding the public goods upon which its existence depends in ways which do not require the introduction of artificial scarcity, balancing the costs of available resources and operational complexity.

Design precedent

There is a lot of existing research into public-goods funding to which justice cannot be done here. Most mechanisms fall into two categories: need-based and results-based, where need-based allocation schemes attempt to pay for particular public goods on the basis of cost-of-resources, and results-based allocation schemes attempt to pay (often retroactively) for particular public goods on the basis of expected or assessed benefits to a community and thus create incentives for the production of public goods providing substantial benefits (for a longer exposition on retroactive PGF, see here (opens in a new tab), although the idea is not new (opens in a new tab)). Additional constraints to consider include the cost-of-time of governance structures (which renders e.g. direct democracy on all funding proposals very inefficient), the necessity of predictable funding in order to make long-term organisational decision-making, the propensity for bike-shedding and damage to the information commons in large-scale public debate (especially without an identity layer or Sybil resistance), and the engineering costs of implementations.

Funding focuses

Note that the following is social consensus, precedent which can be set at genesis and ratified by governance but does not require any protocol changes.

Areas of public goods Namada may be interested in funding

These are intended to permit a great degree of flexibility and are in no way meant to represent strict guidelines.

  • Technical research Technical research covers funding for technical research topics related to Namada and Namada, such as cryptography, distributed systems, programming language theory, and human-computer interface design, both inside and outside the academy. Possible funding forms could include PhD sponsorships, independent researcher grants, institutional funding, funding for experimental resources (e.g. compute resources for benchmarking), funding for prizes (e.g. theoretical cryptography optimisations), and similar.

  • Engineering Engineering covers funding for engineering projects related to Namada and Namada, including libraries, optimisations, tooling, alternative interfaces, alternative implementations, integrations, etc. Possible funding forms could include independent developer grants, institutional funding, funding for bug bounties, funding for prizes (e.g. practical performance optimisations), and similar.

  • Social research, art, and philosophy Social research, art, and philosophy covers funding for artistic expression, philosophical investigation, and social/community research (not marketing) exploring the relationship between humans and technology. Possible funding forms could include independent artist grants, institutional funding, funding for specific research resources (e.g. travel expenses to a location to conduct a case study), and similar.

  • Education Education covers the funding for open and free to use knowledge, compiled and/or produced by educators in various forms. This can include authors of books, blog-posts, podcasts websites and other educational materials. In a sense, this is a type of meta public good, as open knowledge often sparks more open knowledge, although not necessarily

  • Meta Public Goods Meta public goods covers funding for any good that increases the production or existence of other public goods. The management of forums, libraries, quadratic funding protocols, dominant assurance contracts, etc. are good examples of this.

  • External public goods External public goods covers funding for public goods explicitly external to the Namada and Namada ecosystem, including carbon sequestration, independent journalism, direct cash transfers, legal advocacy, etc. Possible funding forms could include direct purchase of tokenised assets such as carbon credits, direct cash transfers (e.g. GiveDirectly), institutional funding (e.g. Wikileaks), and similar.