Credible Neutrality in the Gitcoin Ecosystem

A mechanism is credibly neutral if it does not discriminate for or against any specific people, treating everyone fairly, to the extent that it’s possible in today’s diverse and complicated world. ~ Vitalik Buterin

I believe that credible neutrality is very important to public goods funding in the 21 century.

Why? Public goods are relative to the values of the communities they serve.

In a tribalistic and polarized world, it is impossible to serve all of the memetic tribes at the same time.

For example:

  • some communities will want a DEI round. some will think that is woke BS.
  • some communities will want to fund open source software. some just won’t care.
  • some will want to fund local public goods. some digital.
  • some are okay with an oil company giving them money. some are not.

This is a fundamental tension in what Gitcoin Grants is trying to do. The realization and acceptance of this tension was a profound moment for me, and it is part of why we decided to refactor Gitcoin Grants from a company/product to a DAO/protocol: Communities should be sovereign to decide their own values. They should be able coordinate on credibly neutral protocols which do not discriminate or rent-seek on them. We should be able to fund public goods regardless of whether the red team or the blue team is in power. We can accomplish this by building credibly neutral institutions for funding public goods.

Different memetic tribes will have diff public goods according to their value-sets. Criticism from tribes a about tribe b value-sets isn’t as legitimate as criticism from within that tribe.

Which brings me to a point about decentralization & credible neutrality within the Gitcoin ecosystem.

I feel like the DEI controversy in GG17 (beta rounds) + the shell controversy in GG18 misses that Gitcoin is now a DAO with several parts:

  • the dao contributors themselves.
  • products are credibly neutral protocols now.
  • its programs which run rounds on the protocols (shell deal + daphne thing happened here)

By design, if u don’t like the Gitcoin contributors politics, or the politics of anyone else using the protocols, you can still use the protocol… you can fork the programs and make binance grants, avalanche grants, grants for people into knitting, grants for shiba inu sonic 69 fans, or any community you want.

Here is a visual of what this looks like.


I’d say it’s potentially even worthwhile to consider separate branding.

My observation is that the purpose-driven orgs & credibly neutral infra get lumped together as “Gitcoin” by people who aren’t already in the ecosystem, or who operate in other ecosystems where these distinctions are well understood.


Yep, the existing Gitcoin ecosystem is a house of brands (see below)>. This, if adopted, will be a continuation of that strategy.


Just to drive the point home about credible neutrality in a more tangible/less abstract way.

  1. There are people who you disagree with that use Ethereum…
  2. There will be people you disagree with that use gitcoin protocols (like Shell Oil).
  3. Ethereum is credibly neutral. As are well-designed products & protocols built on top :bulb:


Very nice way to put this into layman’s terms. I am learning a lot.

Understanding of credible neutrality is important when building in the web3 space.
This discussion has given a clear understanding of the meaning and how it can be implemented in a project.
I’m going to be listening :ear: for these words when I hear people speak in the future!

I am assuming that most often people will start off by creating something that is purpose driven and migrate towards a model that is more credibly neutral.

It occurred to me that credible neutrality also comes with its own risks as well. The open permissions of an all inclusive system does not exclude bad actors in a truly decentralized ecosystem. That is why tools like GTC passport help to increase the credible neutrality of the network. Is that correct?

IMO one of the goals of Gitcoin is to make it EASIER to create something that is purpose driven. If you have a community of purpose and you can build in QF/Grants Stack as a way of coordinating capital to those people… Then it should in theory make it easier to build your purpose driven network/ Impact Network.

I dont think that everything needs to be credibly neutral one day (esp since decentralization comes with some amount of inefficiency/overhead. if it doesnt have a strong WHY keep it not-credibly neutral and not decentralized ). Some things will remain purpose driven and thats okay.


Thanks for your response… Very helpful feedback! Appreciate the insight on all of this!

Huuge value being created here for sure.
Important to design collaboration incentives too

Else everybody wants their own country/island.

Like the House of brands architecture- It is a great connector

Adding to the Credibly Neutral side of the system

Suggest an experiment to issue individuals with votes which they can use to vote for which projects are the most ‘interesting/ credible’ from an objective outsiders perspective.

Could even run this retroactively to serve as an indication of how well QF and Cluster Matching is serving the community.

Getting the votes in the wallets of credibly neutral observers could be done by involving the companies providing matching funds. Individuals in the company would receive a wallet address and undergo the passporting process as well as ETHsign a document declaring that they have no conflicts of interest.

We would receive credibly neutral signalling and participants would be educated in how to use Ethereum as well as how blockchain could be applied to their own business processes.

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Credible neutrality was our motto back in the old FD :four_leaf_clover: days and I actually had a hard time understanding that myself when I was worked there, I just didn’t know how to wrap my head around the idea of “credible neutrality” at a protocol level. Thanks for this refresher about what it in this new era, it completely makes sense and I hope to see Gitcoins protocols used by more “bad rep” corporations so they can get “Green pilled” and converted to regen. If we got converted from regen to degen, it should also work for organizations, or at least some of the actors there.

Maybe Gitcoin can leverage this in a positive way in the future. A little healthy competition between tribes shouldn’t do any harm :smiley:

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