Bounties for collaborative solutions
We’re becoming global citizens, more and more each day. New technologies are enabling us to connect, work with and learn from individuals around the world in ways never imagined before. And with this comes the exciting potential for evolution, betterment, and collaborative problem-solving.
Enabling this global collaboration hasn’t been easy so perhaps it is time to redesign the process through one of these new technologies: blockchain.
Blockchain-based bounties are a way of incentivizing individuals while enabling self-organizing around small or large issues, regardless of geographical location. UNICEF France, along with UNICEF Ventures and Bounties Network tested out the concept of bounties in early 2019 with a series of prototypes to better understand first-hand what bounties were and how they could be best used. As these were some of the first blockchain bounty prototypes from the NGO space, we’re sharing our lessons learned and a sneak peek into our future plans.
What We Did
We created a digital, non-monetary token, on the Ethereum blockchain called Boost. Our ultimate goal with the Boost Token is to encourage the creation of digital public goods and to make a positive impact; The Bounties for the Oceans pilot was part of the inspiration for creating a token to incentivize people. In order to do the first phase of our experiment, we needed to name and create an ERC-20 token (bounty #1), get a logo for the token (bounty #2) and offer tokens in exchange for “Proof of Impact” (bounty #3).
While the ultimate goal is to incentivize the creation of digital public goods, we thought that we needed to first test out some initial hypotheses, and ETHDenver, the largest Ethereum community gathering was a good place for this. We engaged the community to help us name the token, find a logo, and then during ETHDenver, offered Boost tokens for individuals who were making an impact (either through an act of kindness, supporting the Denver community, mentoring, or building on the Impact Track).
Smaller tasks = larger engagement
From our experience with our own bounties, as well as watching other bounties and their submissions, our initial insight is that smaller yet potentially more numerous bounties that require low complexity garner a larger amount of engagement. For our first bounty, we asked the community what we should call our positive action token that we were planning on minting; we received about 30 suggestions for this bounty. The number of submissions was impressive, with some contributors giving more than one suggestion for the name. For this bounty, each contributor was rewarded with a small amount of ETH.
Once the name of the token was chosen, Boost (BST), we went back to the community to get a logo design. This was far less prolific in terms of submissions; we think this is in part due to the fact that the bounty was significantly more difficult to complete (higher effort and specialized skills required ie. graphic design).
Communication of the Bounties
Since blockchain is still an incredibly novel concept to the majority of people, extensive and clear communication is needed. In order to get the bounties in front of considerable audiences, a concerted effort must be made to promote the bounties across channels. Going into our prototype, we hypothesized that people would organically find out about the bounties and participate; while some did organically find our bounties, it’s important to devise a communication strategy around such efforts. Ensuring you provide targeted messages to your desired audience for a bounty shouldn’t be overlooked. For example, with our logo bounty, we could have shared this bounty with specific design groups to get additional contributors.
Value of the Bounty
The value of the bounty rewards will need to vary depending on the complexity of the task. As illustrated above, the name challenge for the token was a simple action and the reward was ~$3 USD equivalent in ETH. For a more complex task, a higher reward would be necessary in order for the bounty to be worth the effort required to complete it.
In terms of using a new token for our bounties, the Boost token, we believe that rewards in BST will start to become more desirable when there is additional clarity and publicity around what can be gained by being a BST token holder.
Decentralization makes coordination hard and short term bounties can be difficult - at least until they become the widespread means of incentivizing action. Allow time for people to find, explore and fulfill your bounties. When we posted bounties strictly for the duration of one event - ETHDenver for instance - we saw far less engagement than on bounties with a larger life span. Creating bounties for specific events should follow a before-during-after sequence so participants have a chance to get involved.
We’ve had numerous people noticing a bounty but then when they went back to complete it, it had already expired and they were unable to find it.
Jointly, UNICEF and the Bounties Network are looking at broader and more engaging problems to solve with bounties --setting them up for longer periods of time, and with much more accessible tasks that can evolve into more complex ones over time.
Collaborating on finding solutions for larger problems and breaking them into smaller pieces - like the tasks with rewards in BOOST tokens - will help us engage and involve a lot more people. Crucially, it will also enable us to bridge the gap between the NGO sector and the crypto world.
We hope these lessons can be the starting point for many organizations wanting to explore crypto solutions for improving their current processes. Please get in touch to discuss further!