Empirical evidence from GoFundMe for the original QF paper's assumptions

Part of the assumption of selfishness (or pairwise selfishness in later works) in Buterin, Hitzig, Weyl (2018) is that a project which receives many donations is one which benefits many people: “Individuals make public goods contributions to projects of value to them.”

GoFundMe’s discover page shows more or less the opposite effect. These fundraisers all have many donations from a very diverse audience, and hence would dominate the QF subsidy, but they pretty much all exclusively benefit one person/family. It’s wonderful that these people are getting help, and I would never suggest changing that, but it’s undeniably quite different from the picture of the constituency presented in BHW2018.

Is there anything to be learned from this (Gitcoin Grants hasn’t reached this point yet, but it could happen in the future)? Maybe some ideas, not fully fleshed out:

  • de-emphasize the “donation” aspect of QF and play up the “voting” and “governance aspects”
  • clearly explain that the “match” (maybe “match” doesn’t evoke the right images, see previous point - is something along the lines of “re-allocation” more appropriate?) that the project you’re donating to is getting comes out of the match that other projects would get
  • pol.is at the top level of the round, and discussion sections on each project’s page, to orient people into a decision-making mindset
  • in a similar vein to above, decentralized curation (search algos, feed algos, recommendations, etc all transparent and community-built)


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