Commons Stack Overview

What is the Commons Stack?

The Commons Stack is a growing library of open source component blueprints for governance, funding, the allocation of capital and impact measurement. Our goal is to enable communities to act as platform cooperatives, co-owning and co-managing shared funds as a commons. We are coalescing the grand vision of a Commons as defined by Elinor Ostrom by bringing together the tools needed to enable communities to bootstrap themselves to achieve their goals in spite of insufficient donations, grants, and pro-bono contributions. 

These components can be combined to create intentional, circular, community-driven, regenerative economies powered by continuous funding streams and transparent decision making. They are designed, simulated and tested using token engineering tools & emerging best practices and can be combined as needed to build holistically modeled, dynamically adaptive economies. Essentially we are baking rigorous complex system design into easy-to-fork components for any crypto project or purpose driven community to make use of, customized & tested for their needs.

The aim of the Commons Stack is not to directly launch and manage commons economies but rather to support communities by building the tools and components they need to leverage the emerging blockchain ecosystem, launching their own Commons to grow their impact on a local and global scale.

What is the goal of the Commons Stack?

First and foremost, the goal of the Commons Stack is to build the basic infrastructure to launch continuously funded Commons around an open source commons. This can be research focused such as Token Engineering or infrastructure focused such as building out ETH 2.0. You can find an overview of our phased iteration strategy here.

The ultimate goal of the Commons Stack is to provide digital infrastructure for scalable management of shared resources worldwide, to prioritize people and the planet by enabling regenerative intentional ecosystems. The Commons Stack is not directly solving these problems - what we are doing is scaling human coordination around shared goals, so communities (from the local to the global) can come together to solve their own problems.  We are building the infrastructure to enable that collaboration. This is very long term though, with the current state of blockchain technology, it will most definitely be adopted first by open source dev communities to push forward on digital public infrastructure - a public good provided to the world.

What is Iteration 0?

The objective of this first iteration of the Commons Stack is to stage the cultural and technical initialization tools required to make complex systems succeed. We are focusing especially on the cultural build aspect of initiatives like the Commons Simulator, the TEC and Trusted seed. You can read more about Iteration over here and support by donating here.

Contributions and Trusted Seed Membership

How can I donate to the Commons Stack?

Commons Stack members are able to contribute funds to the cultural and technical build of the Commons Stack, and by doing so will be eligible to participate in the "hatching" of future commons initiatives that are created using the Commons Stack toolset. 

You can financially support our multiple fundraising iterations via the Giveth DApp or directly, you can do this here.

If you apply to the Trusted Seed and are accepted - before or after donating - we can send you CSTK tokens. The CSTK token is a non-transferable 'trust token': next to membership in the Trusted Seed it allows you to participate in future Commons Hatches and certain governance decisions for the Commons Stack.

What is the CSTK token?

The CSTK token represents the skin in the game that contributors have put towards accomplishing the Commons Stack mission. It can be seen as a “trust token” since it’s non-transferable and is rewarded objectively for financial donations and subjectively based on Praise for contributions. CSTK token holders are invited to participate in future Commons Hatches and certain governance decisions for the Commons Stack as members of the Trusted Seed. You can read more about the CSTK token here.

Augmented Bonding Curve

What is the Augmented Bonding Curve (ABC)?

Token bonding curves are a cryptoeconomic primitive that can restructure the way commons are funded by their communities. To combat the downfalls of traditional bonding curve designs (front running, pump and dump schemes, etc), the Augmented Bonding Curve system uses conservation principles and mechanisms to create a robust and controlled environment that aligns incentives and generates returns while managing speculation and subjectivity.  cadCAD, which has been open-sourced through the Commons Stack fundraise, will be used to design, model and simulate our Augmented Bonding Curve. This will result in a full-scale model that can be forked and easily improved upon. The Augmented Bonding Curve will be used in the first Field Test Commons, which will build the foundation for all future Commons. A short explainer on the ABC can be found in our overview article, you can find our technical deepdive here.

Conviction Voting

What is Conviction Voting?

Conviction Voting is a novel continuous decision making alternative to current governance mechanisms. Conviction Voting offers a novel decision making process that funds proposals based on the aggregated preference of community members, expressed continuously. It sidesteps sybil attacks, provides collusion resistance, and mitigates many of the attack vectors of time-boxed voting mechanisms. You can read more on Conviction Voting in our component explainer.

Token Engineering Design

What is cadCAD?

cadCAD is an open-source Python package that assists in the processes of designing, testing and validating complex systems through simulation. It is cutting edge modelling software that researchers and developers can use to simulate the ways that certain types of digital systems might perform under a wide range of conditions.  For instance, cadCAD can simulate the functioning of a particular token bonding curve architecture in order to identify possible failure modes inherent in the design, and to validate (or invalidate) assumptions about how that bonding curve will work in the field.  cadCAD will also be used to model, test and simulate the other planned Commons Stack components, as well as software that is currently beyond the scope of this project. Read more on cadCAD here and discover their new site here

What is the Token Engineering Commons?

The Token Engineering Commons (TEC) is an open-source and collectively governed project that aims to create a token economy that will accelerate the responsible & ethical creation of public goods within the TE community. The TEC is the “Field Test” of the Commons Stack’s Iteration 0. Read more about this initiative here.

Commons Stack Core Components

What is the Commons Dashboard?

The Commons Dashboard will display the impact and operational metrics of a Commons, informing the stakeholders governing it’s evolution. The dashboard will be built on top of  a cadCAD-simulated digital twin, which will process, analyze & monitor the data to discern the health of the Commons. With the Commons Dashboard, we can apply machine learning techniques to analyze the data and determine what metrics are correlated to the impact goals of each Commons. This will empower a new paradigm in Computer-Aided Governance, enabling Commons to do predictive comparisons of the probable outcomes of policy decisions before they are made.

The Commons Analytics Dashboard will be launched in two parts. First as the primary deliverable for Iteration 4 and once adoption is reached and data has been collected, the most exciting features, such as being able to model the outcomes of policy decisions will be a core deliverable in Iteration 5.

What are the various components of the Commons Stack?

The components produced by the Commons Stack will be open source, easily forkable code. The current components are the Augmented Bonding Curve (ABC), the Giveth Proposal Engine, Conviction Voting (CV) and the Commons Dashboard (CD). Our initialization tools are the Trusted seed and cadCAD.

Note: The design patterns used to create them are based on emerging standards in token engineering design. While everyone is free to build their own tools around these standards, we are hoping to remove some of the complexity of 'complex system design' by baking that complexity into these easy-to-use, customizable components.

What is a Field Test Commons?

When both the technical build of a new component and the corresponding community build are complete, they will be integrated into a Field Test Commons that will launch in a live environment. A field Test Commons is a process guided by the Commons Stack team and the Trusted Seed. Since all the components of our library of tools are open source, anyone could potentially deploy a Commons. However, building a Commons is a complex task which deserves careful planning and the Commons Stack is supporting the cultural build, parameters setting, deployment and active participation in the Commons chosen to be in the test field. The first Field Test Commons we are supporting is the Token Engineering Commons which you can participate in by becoming a member of the Trusted Seed.

What is the Trusted Seed?

The Trusted Seed is a whitelist of people who have contributed to the development of the Commons Stack mission and who have reputation and expertise in areas related to the operation of a Commons. Trusted Seed members can also be invited to participate in a Commons Hatch, alongside the Commons’s project launching community. The Trusted Seed as the name suggests, is meant to support future Commons in their initial phase and help them to achieve a sustainable development, which will likely be valuable for many communities experimenting with new economic systems. Read more about the Trusted Seed here and apply here to become a member.

Operating a Commons

What is a Commons?

A commons (lowercase c) is a resource that is collectively owned and managed. Our current economic models do a poor job at incentivizing contributing to commonly owned resources, most notably illustrated by the cultural meme, tragedy of the commons. However the Commons Stack hopes to change this. Using the most advanced token engineering tools that exist today and cultural principles outlined by commons researchers such as Elinor Ostrom and Michel Bauwens, we can properly align incentives around developing and maintaining shared resources. These cause focused communities that will use the Commons Stack’s code base and playbooks we call Commons. The first Commons we will launch will be the Token Engineering Commons.

What are the first implementations or communities you envision the Commons Stack will support?

While we eventually imagine these tools being used to clean up pollution, fund afterschool programs, and much more, the first implementations will be designed and executed by people with an interest in this technology: those in the blockchain space.  The first several Commons using Commons Stack components  will, in one way or another, attempt to drive the space forward. Quite simply: this technology runs on cryptocurrency, and those who see cryptocurrency integration as a value adder will be the first to adopt.

What is a Hatch?

The Hatch phase can be considered the Augmented Bonding Curve’s initialization period. This is where a group of trusted community initiators come together and make the initial decisions on how the Commons will be set up. They will decide the percentage of funds that will go to the funding pool, the exit tribute percentage, and the time hatched tokens will be vested for. Once the parameters are set, Hatchers will pool their funds and receive initial tokens. The bonding curve is then live to be interacted with by participants outside of that initial community.

What is a cultural build?

A Commons is more than just a machine —it has a cultural dimension as well. Too often, practical concerns force tech projects to do a significant amount of coding before they get a chance to observe how users interact with their product. We’ve decided to make a point of working in a way that allows us to build our technical knowledge and our cultural knowledge as we go:  For each component we develop, we will carry out a technical build phase, in which we write the software, and a cultural build phase when the community who will test the component in beta discusses and establishes their Commons’ goals and best practices. In Iteration 0 we are focusing especially on the cultural build aspect of initiatives like the Commons Simulator, the TEC and Trusted seed. Below you can find our technical and cultural build template.