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Gitcoin Criticized as Pro-Ethereum Twitter Account Raises $11,000

Community split over grants to media influencers.

A pro-Ethereum Twitter account managed to secure the third-largest Gitcoin grant to date, prompting debate in the community. Vitalik Buterin shares his position, highlighting issues with quadratic voting.

The latest Gitcoin Grants results were confirmed recently, with a funding pot worth $200,000 distributed among various projects and entities within the Ethereum ecosystem. Funding was distributed with a $125,000 matching pool going to tech projects and a further $75,000 pool dedicated to media projects.

However, the fact that a Twitter account managed to secure a grant worth over $11,000 has prompted heated debate in the Ethereum community, leading co-creator Vitalik Buterin to weigh-in.

Gitcoin exists as an Ethereum-based platform aimed at crowdfunding for open-source software projects. Gitcoin Grants set aside a dedicated pool of funds and allows anyone in the Ethereum community to participate in voting for their favorite projects to receive the funds, similar to donation matching.

The voting is performed using a mechanism known as quadratic voting, where the cost of a vote increases the more that are cast. This is designed to help offset the risk of plutocracy. Voters pledge to match the funding from the Github Grants pool, thus increasing its value.

Not a Typical Twitter Controversy

Since its inception in early 2019, Gitcoin Grants has facilitated the distribution of more than $1 million in funding to various Ethereum projects. This time around, the biggest winner was Tornado.cash, which received over $27,000.

However, it’s the runner up in the newly created “Media” matching pool that has caused some heated discussions among Ethereum’s Twitter community.

Within a few days of the funding round opening in early January, the leading ‘project’ in the Media category was the Twitter account @antiprosynth, which aggregates news and updates about Ethereum. At one point, funding for @antiprosynth looked set to exceed $20,000. By the time voting closed, the award was over $11,000, which was still the third-highest value of any award in either category.

On the one hand, this was the result of a vote, indicating that many in the Ethereum community believe there’s value in the tweets shared by @antiprosynth. However, some Ethereum users took exception, sharing their belief that sending funds to a Twitter account goes against the spirit of Gitcoin Grants existing to further the public good, particularly through technical development.

Now, Vitalik Buterin has published a post on his blog outlining the drama. In it, he shares his own thoughts on the outcome of the Gitcoin Grants awards and points out some potential flaws in the quadratic voting process.

These include the inability to cast “negative” votes, and the lack of any mechanism to prevent a quid pro quo arrangement between projects and votes (even though vote trading isn’t permitted). The post is broad in scope, drawing parallels between the governance around Gitcoin Grants and political systems in general.

Buterin’s intervention doesn’t yet appear to have calmed the debate, which continues to rage at the time of writing.

Addition Feb. 6, 2020, 14:00 CET: For interested parties, please find @antiprosynth’s Gitcoin grants’ page here

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