Metagov - Governance of Digital Communities

Logo teal shaded

Hi all. I’m posting an application on behalf of Metagov. We’re a research non-profit focused on governance research in the context of digital communities. We have been around for three years and hope to be able to increase our organizational abilities to have more community support and operational capacity. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Project Description and why it’s classified as a Public Good

Metagov is a laboratory for self-governance on the internet. Our research encompasses both theoretical and applied research, including the development of software and technical standards. On top of our research, we also build research networks and bring together communities through our tools, experiments, and events. We are a public good as all of the work that we produce (research, datasets, standards, research tools, and our community) are all open and public. These outputs are all meant to support digital communities in various ways. We also believe the fact that we focused on governance in digital contexts (online communities, OSS, AI, web3/DAOs) provides valuable knowledge cross-pollination across domains.

Main Project Funding Sources

We have received project specific support from a number of organizations, such as: One Project, the Henry Luce Foundation, EU’s Next Generation Internet, the Grant for the Web, RMIT University, the Internet Archive, the National Science Foundation (via UC Davis), and the University of Oxford / EPSRC.

Additionally, we have received funding from Web3 organizations including the Ethereum Foundation, Aragon, Filecoin Foundation, the Graph, Metacartel Ventures, Gnosis, NEAR, Radicle, Commonwealth, Sifchain, Gitcoin, via Gitcoin Grant rounds, Arbitrum Foundation, Optimism, and ENS.

In terms of overall funding, we have received around $750k over the last three years. As of the beginning of Nov, we had roughly $180k in funds, all of which is dedicated to projects concluding by summer 2024. We have secured some grants from Arbitrum Foundation and Optimism (though those won’t pay out till next year) as well as one from the Digital Infrastructure Fund that will come through in the new year. We recently found one grant (One Project) that is for unrestricted funds, whereas the vast majority of our funds are for specific projects. We are also waiting to see how RPGF3 plays out as Metagov and DAOstar might receive funds.

Seeking project-specific funding or funding for general operations

Metagov has mostly been supported through programmatic grants. This grant would go towards supporting core staff at Metagov. Direct support for our operations would allow us to reinvest in our organizational capacity, reduce overhead costs for our projects, improve training and recruitment, and ultimately increase our impact. The funds would go towards supporting the operational and community infrastructure of the organization. Depending on the size of the funding, we may also be able to seed some new research projects that don’t have project-specific funding yet.

Team Information, including backgrounds and roles

Metagov’s Board: B Cavello, Josh Tan, Nathan Schneider, Michael Zargham, Primavera de Filippi
Metagov’s Executive Director: Eugene Leventhal
Metagov’s research directors:

Social Credibility (development progress, awards, notable GitHub commits, referrals)

We have produced a significant number of academic papers, research projects, web3 standards, and other relevant research related public goods. Metagov began in 2019 around a course and a collaboration that produced the Modular Politics paper. This initial handful of teachers and co-authors has expanded into an online community of nearly 900 people, led by 13 Research Directors (RDs) with expertise across computer science, law, economics, sociology, and engineering. Some of our projects include:

  • a weekly seminar with over 100 recorded sessions
  • DAOstar, the standards body for DAOs
  • DAO Science, a synthesis of open problems in DAOs by domain area
  • Public AI, working towards a new political economy for AI
  • Govbase, a set of research data sets related to online governance
  • the Metagov Gateway, an API gateway for digital governance services, and PolicyKit, a tool for writing and automatically executing governance policies

Links and resources related to Metagov:

Discord contact

eleventh19

Do you have a commitment to open-source (i.e. any open-source license accepted by the Open-Source Initiative) technology and sharing results publicly?

Yes all of our research, standards, and research tools are public

Have you provided transparency about how exactly funding will be used?

Yes. To recap, we will use the funds for operational and community support. If possible beyond that, the funds might be used to seed new research projects.

Are you advancing values of freedom and privacy (no surveillance and handling of personal data)?

Yes. The idea of self-governance is important to us at Metagov and we see ourselves as being value aligned with freedom and privacy.

Are you supporting decentralization in various fields (for example building Web3 projects)?

We are both running some community experiments at Metagov and generally trying to support the creation and application of knowledge relating to decentralization.

Have you provided social media channels to the extent that we can confirm social proof of your project?

https://twitter.com/metagov_project

https://twitter.com/DAOstar_One

https://www.linkedin.com/company/metagovernance-project/about/

2 Likes

Extended Project Description:

Metagov is a community laboratory for self-governance on the internet. Our mission is to describe, support, and expand self-governance in online life. As part of our mission, we produce peer-reviewed research, write technical standards for emerging technologies, convene networks of researchers and practitioners, and develop infrastructure and software products that help streamline the various aspects of governance. Our work is broadly organized around a vision of a governance layer for the internet and a core element of this vision pertains to modular governance. We see modular governance as decomposed units of governance that can be recomposed according to the needs of specific online communities.

Metagov began in 2019 around a course, Governing Virtual Worlds, and a collaboration that produced the Modular Politics paper. This initial handful of teachers and co-authors has expanded into an online community of nearly 900 people, led by 13 Research Directors (RDs) with expertise across computer science, law, economics, sociology, and engineering. Some of our projects include:

  • Govbase, a set of research data sets related to online governance

  • the Metagov Gateway, an API gateway for digital governance services, and PolicyKit, a tool for writing and automatically executing governance policies,

  • DAOstar, the standards body for DAOs, and

  • Public AI, working towards a new political economy for AI.

On top of our research, we also build research networks and bring together communities through our events and experiments. We have hosted over 100 public seminars, organized academic and industry conferences, and hosted hackathons and tech residencies.

Hero Message

Metagov is a community laboratory for self-governance in the digital age.

1 Like

Hi all. Sharing the same update I posted in discord.

Providing an update since we applied for the last epoch (and apologies for missing the community call - have had a standing conflict then but might be able to join starting later in the month) Our biggest updates since we last applied include a website redesign (https://metagov.org/), that we won some project specific grants, and that we formed the Grant Innovation Lab (which included hosting some relevant events). Project Specific Grants

  • Transition Calculator: we received a grant from the Digital Infrastructure Fund (a collab between Ford, Omidyar, and Sloan Foundations and Open Collective) to work on an OSS transition calculator. This project will explore a calculator that helps understand the long term sustainability of open source projects.
  • Deliberative decision making RFP: we received a grant from the MINA Foundation to run a small grant round to support deliberative decision making tools such as Polis, Talk to the City, MAPLE, and other tools. We’re tech agnostic and most of the existing tools are non-web3 and we will not be requiring a web3 component. More to come in April.
  • With support from ENS Public Good Grants and Gitcoin, we are working on a V2 of the State of Web3 Grants Report and are working on 3 case studies of projects that are focused on retro funding (Optimisms RPGF, DAO Drops V1, and Gitcoin’s Citizen Rounds 1&2).

Grant Innovation Lab

  • We have 8 people who are interested in working together on research, tech standards, and community building around granting and impact measurement
  • We hosted our first quarterly grant operator call with around 20 programs represented
  • We hosted the first Web3 Grant Summit (which James attended and alluded to in a governance post relating to impact for Octant Grants)
  • The first day of the Summit was focused on grantees
  • The second day was focused on grantors, especially around coordination and impact measurement
  • We had 2 non-web3 projects represented there and are working towards learning from and collaborating with non-web3 programs
  • We are planning events at ETH CC and Devcon and will work on a series of virtual events as well

Other Updates

  • Our community is almost at the 1,000 mark of governance researchers and enthusiasts exploring digital governance broadly (we are not exclusive to web3)
  • We are working on proposing a governance+art fellowship and a public goods funding fellowship
  • We will be presenting at and hosting events at a mix of web3, AI, and academic conferences throughout the comings months
  • We hosted a new seminar format that was a 4-week discussion/series of workshops on AI governance

Let me know if anyone has any questions / I can share anything else for now!

1 Like

Thanks for sharing these @eleventh19! Do you have any metrics around attendance of the programs/summit you hosted?

Appreciate the prev detailed update btw

1 Like

Let me know if it’d be helpful to share anything else. We honestly don’t do a great job capturing the headcount at events, I’ll make conservative estimates below:

  • DAOstar Brunch - 45 registered+3 teammates, roughly 35-40 made it
  • 2 bouldering meetups in Denver - ~10-15 people came to each
  • Web 3 Grant Summit, Grantor Day - 39 registered, ~20-25 people came
  • Web 3 Grant Summit, Grantee Day - 252 registered, 70 accepted, ~30-35 attended
  • Nathan Schneider’s book launch party - roughly 20 guests
  • 2 small dinners (one on grants with operators, one on the future of DAOs) in Istanbul for roughly 15-20 people

I wasn’t at the events in ETH Denver the year before, but I believe they had 10-25 people each across 5-6 events. I believe AI Palace had 20-30 people. We also supported events like DAO Stanford and DAO Harvard, which each had 100+ attendees.

We’ve hosted 130+ seminars, and we have anywhere from 15-20 people on average join on a weekly basis and you can see the recordings here.