Thoughts on 10 Random Optimism Retro PGF Projects

Thomas Jay Rush
9 min readMar 17, 2023

I am a badge holder for the amazing Optimism Retro Public Goods Funding Round 2.

I am also a project participant with TrueBlocks. If you’re a badge holder, please consider our project for inclusion in your voting.

Too Much to Learn About

In this screed, we report our findings given a small experiment we conducted. We randomly selected ten Optimism projects from the Optimism Retro Public Goods Funding website using an amazing bit of AI-generated python code provided by an amazing programmer. (We could have rolled a one-hundred-and-ninty-six-sided dice.)

Here are the results, which are NOT advice for you to vote on projects. Nor are these words meant to be critical of anyone’s project. We’re just reporting stream-of-consciousness style what we saw. Use at your own risk.

Agora

These comments are for my own personal use and in no way should be construed as either an endorsement or a negative review of this project.

Github Stats — 3 contributors

Voting/delegation management platform born in Nouns DAO (https://nounsagora.com/). Used by Optimism, ENS, Nouns DAO.

Looks very polished. Started Twitter account in 2022.

Not much activity on GitHub since four or five months ago.

Mostly typescript code, which (to me) means FrontEnd code, which (to me) means website-centered work, which (to me) means it has almost a built-on “client-server” based world view, which (to me) is less appealing as per the public goods aspect of the work. Websites are excludable.

Upshot: Less interested

BlockScout

These comments are for my own personal use and in no way should be construed as either an endorsement or a negative review of this project.

Github Stats

Long-time project in the Web 3.0 space. I remember this group from 2017–2018 discussion of “Decentralize the Data, Now.”

3,106 Twitter followers since 2019.

The provide “blockchain explorer as a service.”

I’m not a fan of any “as a service” in the blockchain space. I probably will not vote for this. I believe that “as a service” teaches end-users to be lazy. How will we ever accomplish “self-sovereignty” if people are lazy? Sovereigns ain't lazy.

“As a service” allows people to “offload” the infrastructure when, in fact, if we want to be truly decentralized, people will eventually have to run (at least part of) the infrastructure themselves. (The infrastructure should be in the operating system). These things won’t happen if “as a service” predominates in the web 3.0 space. There will be no need.

Notwithstanding my bias, many chains are using this service. It’s a very popular project. That’s not a bad thing, but is it a public good?

Is this project important? Yes.

Is it impactful? Yes.

Is it a public good? I don’t think so.

Will I allocate to them? No.

Excellent project. A great business model. Not a public good.

Open-source code. GPL 3.0 licensed (does that make it a public good? Maybe?)

A very high-quality project. Not my cup of tea.

Cryptocurrency and Friends

These comments are for my own personal use and in no way should be construed as either an endorsement or a negative review of this project.

Website: https://cryptocurrencyclass.github.io/

Educational initiative for researchers, developers, and technically-minded folk. (I love technically-minded folk!) Looks like a totally legit single-person project. A one-person project. (Not a downside, just an observation.)

Produces in-person classes, online classes, papers, and blog posts. The project does not appear to be OP specific, but that doesn’t matter to me.

Works full-time at Infura. Apparently, has no other support for the project, although as recently as two months ago, the attached wallet had a 51.00 ether balance.

It seems to me that their impact has been relatively small, although this is impossible to measure.

The wallet (0xafaba30769374ea0f971300de79c62bf94b464d5) has no transactions on Optimism. Not that many transactions on mainnet.

Activity Data (created with TrueBlocks)

First mainnet transaction: Nov 11, 2019

This is a nice project. Not a HUGE idea, so maybe not a large allocation, but possible allocation. Seems to have had a small prior impact but deserves notice and perhaps a small allocation.

Eneagon by zenbit.eth

These comments are for my own personal use and in no way should be construed as either an endorsement or a negative review of this project.

This looks like a fairly active group. Winners of at least one hackathon prize (vendor prize). They seem to have about $60,000 US of recent income. Three developers.

Active websites, but not at all clear that the referenced project (Eneagon) is currently live (so little to no impact). Uses the word “Public Good” in throughout the website. The description of the OP project page is very confusing (which may reflect my inadequate understanding of the terms they are using). Not at all clear what this project is about.

323 mainnet transactions. There has been a balance of less than 1 ether throughout the address’s lifetime. First transaction: 2020–09–22.

Number of times the wallet called the following functions:

5 disperseEther
6 cancel
6 commit
6 registerWithConfig
7 batchExec
7 mint
8 burn
8 disperseToken
12 transfer
22 approve0
28 claim
61 safeTransferFrom2

This is not a “HUGE” idea. Not so interesting to me.

Flexible Voting

These comments are for my own personal use and in no way should be construed as either an endorsement or a negative review of this project.

This project was founded by our friends at ScopeLift. While we have no conflict of interest, we choose to abstain from reviewing this project.

I will make one comment, however.

This is one of at least two projects (the other is Umbra) from ScopeLift. I wonder if it’s fair for the same small group of developers to propose multiple projects. TrueBlocks (our project) could have four or five separate projects if we wished. We only seek funding for the main project. Allow groups to have multiple projects seems like a bad idea.

Admittedly, this project seems to have a significant prior impact and also has an interesting future.

Finally, (I would say this even if they weren’t my friends!) I can recommend this team highly. Donations to this team will be well-spent, well-managed, and delivered. I will not be allocating funds to this project, but I will be allocating to Umbra.

Infinity Wallet & Web3 Browser

These comments are for my own personal use and in no way should be construed as either an endorsement or a negative review of this project.

No transactions on the attached wallet for either Optimism or Mainnet.

“Infinity Wallet is the first all-in-one non-custodial wallet ecosystem and Web3 browser of its kind on a desktop, launched in 2019, and supporting hundreds of thousands of users.”

When I came upon the word “ecosystem,” I questioned what they meant by that. How could something be both non-custodial and an ecosystem? Then I came upon the words “web3 browser” and “on a desktop,” and my interest reignited. Being launched in 2019 didn’t hurt. Impact++. Hundreds of thousands of users. Impact++. (Although, if the project is so popular, why haven’t I heard of it?)

“Enabling developers to leverage our free-to-use infrastructure to deploy & grow OP applications for use in a more natural and user-friendly way.” These are audacious claims. “Free-to-use” is either too good to be true or utterly not well explained. How is that possible? If I had time, I would dig deeper.

No activity on their wallet.

They claim to have never raised. They have a seven-person team. Sounds a little bit too good to be true for my liking.

https://infinitywallet.io (Very nice website).

Minimal activity on GitHub. Is the wallet itself actually open source? (Maybe I missed it.)

They have 49 followers on GitHub. The wallet software does not appear to be on GitHub.

55,000 Twitter followers. Not my cup of tea.

TurboETH — Web3 Build System

These comments are for my own personal use and in no way should be construed as either an endorsement or a negative review of this project.

This looks like a single-person, self-funded project by a prominent person in the space. I do not know this person, but I’ve heard of them. They came from the Pool Together team (an interesting project, to say the least).

Developing tools to help people get started with web3 application development. Not sure why it’s in the Education category. Education seems like it would be a collection of articles or something, but this appears to be a collection of tools.

I wish I knew more about Solidity development. Seems very nice. Project names that I’m familiar with. This will be on my list of projects to allocate to.

I’m getting tired. Taking reviewing shit is fun, but it takes a lot of time…

Where has the OP Gone?

These comments are for my own personal use and in no way should be construed as either an endorsement or a negative review of this project.

A single-person project. Appears to provide a periodic discussion on the Optimism forum about the various grants and how the grant money is being deployed and/or spent. Seems to have been quite busy and very informative during Oct, Nov, and Dec 2022, but then dropped off a bit (as these things do).

Super informative.

Impactful: Yes.

Sustainable: Not sure.

Could be automated: Not really, given the in-depth nature of the analysis.

I love that this project is here. It’s a nice idea. I question how it can be made to be sustainable.

Perhaps an allocation would help incent the person maintaining it to either (a) maintain it or (b) fund a person or two to put out a weekly post.

I question if the best way to publish this is through the Forum. I guess that’s okay, but it seems to be a limited audience — although maybe there is only a limited audience.

I’ll put this on my “Might re-visit if after exploring other projects if I have time” pile.

Not bad. Not amazing. Not a “HUGE” idea.

The attached wallet has on the order of 50 transactions on Optimism. 150 on mainnet. Appears to have a full-time job. Does this project on the side.

Mainnet wallet balance has been below 1.0 ether throughout its lifetime.

Perpetuals Dune Abstraction

These comments are for my own personal use and in no way should be construed as either an endorsement or a negative review of this project.

A confusing name. Apparently, there’s something called a perpetual. Who knew?

The project “standardizes the trading data amongst all the perpetual trading platforms on Optimism and makes them all accessible in a single table, called...”

Upshot: it creates a database table in a Dune dashboard.

This seems like helpful, useful work. It may be interesting to some. Not a “Massive, Huge” idea. Seems like the type of thing that eventually falls fallow.

Is it a public good? (Dune can “exclude” it if they want to). There is no obvious long-term sustainability model.

This is too niche for what I’m looking to allocate to. Not a big enough idea.

Minimal activity on GitHub.

L2Beat

These comments are for my own personal use and in no way should be construed as either an endorsement or a negative review of this project.

Github Stats — 51 Contributors

“A website dedicated to providing research and statistics about the very exciting layer 2 technology on Ethereum.”

Extremely interesting. Probably quite impactful (I’ve heard of this project before). People tweet about how useful it is.

Unfortunately, I‘m convinced that no web 2.0 website will ever be a public good. If this project gets to the point where it is truly important/impactful — and someone has edit permission on the website — the obvious outcome is that someone will modify the website to monetize the audience.

Is that fair? Yes, of course.

Is it a public good? No.

I think Retroactive Public Goods Funding should go to projects that have shown that they are not only “committed in the future to public goods” but have already built something that is demonstrably a public good (such as the TrueBlocks project).

Is it a good project? Yes.

Will I allocate to it? No.

Support Our Work

TrueBlocks is funded from our own personal funds and grants from The Ethereum Foundation (2018), Consensys (2019), Moloch DAO (2021), Filecoin/IPFS (2021), our GitCoin donors, and, of course, The Ethereum Foundation (2022).

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Thomas Jay Rush

Blockchain Enthusiast, Founder TrueBlocks, LLC and Philadelphia Ethereum Meetup, MS Computer Science UPenn