NumFOCUS Donation: Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth is with Regard to Supporting Open Source

NumFOCUS Donation:

Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth is with Regard to Supporting Open Source


  • The Token Engineering Commons believes that web3 enables communities to come together to support the open source resources those communities use
  • The Practice of Token Engineering relies a wide range of open source data science tools, including numpy, scipy, jupyter notebooks, and so much more
  • Numfocus is a non-profit that provides funding and support for the open source organizations which maintain this software, but these organizations are criminally underfunded by the web2 organizations which profit massively by their use
  • The Token Engineering Commons has a unique opportunity to differentiate itself and serve as a guiding example of how web3 doesn’t just talk about supporting open source, we do it.
  • A 25,000 xDAI donation to Numfocus is proposed with the guiding principle of funding small developer grants and special projects aimed at growing the intersection of token engineering and open source scientific computing software.

Proposal description

The TEC community believes that web3 enables communities to come together to support the open source resources those communities use. As one of the creators of cadCAD, and a user and fan of TokenSpice. I can personally say that the Practice of Token Engineering relies on a wide range of open source data science tools, including numpy, scipy, jupyter notebooks, and so much more.

Numfocus is a non-profit that provides funding and support for the open source organizations which maintain this software, but is criminally underfunded by the web2 organizations which profit massively by their use. The Token Engineering Commons has a unique opportunity to differentiate itself and serve as a guiding example of how web3 doesn’t just talk about supporting open source, we do it.

In my opinion making this donation is a matter of showing that we live by our values. While its wonderful that we are funding a wide range of open source research and development projects by community members of the TEC, if we really believe outside communities who use our work products should fund us, then it is necessary that we fund the projects whose work products we rely on. We are particularly fortunate that NumFocus has such a broad purview; the projects they support represent a carefully curated selection of the most critical open source data science initiative. As the TEC we can learn from them.

The funds from this project will be transferred to a multisig under the control of Numfocus with myself and Trent included as additional keyholders in order to provide support as needed. The funds will be used for small developer grants and special projects aimed at growing the collaborative space between Numfocus supported open source projects and web3. Furthermore, I hope this grant will serve as the beginning of a fruitful relationship; the TEC has knowledge to offer regarding web3, but Numfocus has a wealth of experience with regards to sustaining open source.

Additional information to add

For more information about NumFOCUS see:

How does this proposal benefit the community and/or the field of Token Engineering?

NumFOCUS provides fiscal sponsorship, financial support and organizational support for a wide range of open source projects which collectively provide critical infrastructure for the practice of token engineering.

Source: On The Practice of Token Engineering I

Amount requested (Only for Conviction Voting)

$25,000 xDAI is requested

Funds will go to gno:0xD42523C88Aaa2A40Cf48940BC678Ba1FC88b8DdA
Which is a Gnosis Safe multisig under control of the NumFocus Foundation

How will these funds be used? (Only for conviction voting)

These funds will be used at the discretion of the NumFocus Foundation with advice process available from Michael Zargham and Trent McConaghy on behalf of the TEC.

The small development grants program at NumFOCUS has been identified as an existing mechanism for rewarding contributors. To the extent possible funds will remain within the web3 ecosystem.

How will you share progress?

Progress updates will be shared on regular NumFOCUS channels per their existing processes. An overview of preliminary outcomes of this initiative will be posted in the TEC forums after 6 months; further updates will be posted as appropriate.

Project information (if applies)

Team Information

Michael Zargham - grant proposer (Founding Member, Token Engineering Commons)

Travis Oliphant- grant proposer (Founding Member, NumFOCUS)

Leah Silen - grant advisor (Executive Director, NumFOCUS)

Trent McConaghy - grant advisor (Founding Member, Token Engineering)

Thanks to Jeff Emmett, Jess Zartler, and Terry Foor for you your support in assembling this proposal.

Complementary information

Here are a handful of articles from the early days of Token Engineering which helped to define the nascent field. They provide a reminder of the foundational methods and tools that Token Engineering builds upon.


What do you think about turning this xDai into TEC while it’s being held and even dishing it out to people as TEC?


It crossed my mind but its too big of a leap at this stage. We are already needing to educate the NumFOCUS team on most aspects of web3 and assuage a range of concerns. Their initial preference would have been for us to cash out tokens into fiat and just donate fiat, but I made the case that in order for this to be a productive collaboration they should create a Gnosis Safe for self-custody and begin to learn the ropes.

I genuinely hope that there will be a growing segment of talented data scientists and scientific computing open source developers who will become interested in Token Engineering as part of this collaborative initiative, but we need to meet them in the middle by providing DAI not TEC.

It might be possible to encourage the recipients of small development grants in xDAI to consider joining the TEC though. This is a longer path, I think ends up being preferable from a community building perspective because it ensure the people who end up with TEC really want to be part of our community.


That’s a great proposal! This is going to pass a strong message to the tech world at large, and it has all the potential to being a milestone what Web3 can mean for Open Source and Science -which by the way is the cornerstone on which we base our designs.

I’m all in for it, and I recommend that everyone goes all in for it too


Put your tokens where your mouths are :smiley: Gardens


I know this proposal has already passed, but I do want to comment on my disappointment that it has. It speaks to larger issues with the Proposal process & CV, and a lack of communication among large TEC holders to properly evaluate these proposals with the community.

First, if it wasn’t for the social capital held by Dr. Zargham and Trent…I would have evaluated more closely and engaged sooner. If any proposal stated that the use of funds would be used at the discretion of a third party I would aggressively object to that proposal being considered. The first statement removes the possibility for accountability because there are no metrics that can be provided that allow us to evaluate whether that 25,000 xDAI is furthering the mission of the TEC.

I believe that all funds should be justified within a proposal prior to funding. This leads to the second statement which states the purpose of NumFocus is to provide the same function that the TEC is dedicated to providing – support and funding for projects within the web3 ecosystem. Why would it be in the interest of the TEC and TE to use our funds to outsource our purpose to another grant-making body?

Additionally, the passing of this proposal speaks to the (in)effectiveness of our CV parameters, which has allowed this proposal to pass SO quickly with the support of large-token holders. Some of these large token-holders are also associated with the creation of the proposal (which I have no problem with). However, while I consider myself to be highly engaged I did not have time to truly evaluate/comment/discuss this proposal with any other community member or to engage with the proposal creators. This is problematic in my opinion and doesn’t carry the spirit of the cultural norms we have developed within this community.

While the money is gone, and I hope that the 25,000 xDAI is used to further TE and this ecosystem, I simply hope to further this dialogue and create some type of engagement/questioning around proposal processes, large-token holder accountability, and proper evaluation metrics for proposals submitted within the TEC.


Thanks for taking the time to write up your thoughts, even though the proposal has passed. A few thoughts

  • I strongly agree with your concern regarding the parameters. I discussed this briefly with @akrtws and personally came to the conclusion that actually introducing the proposal and allowing it to pass with the support public support of key stakeholders/experts: Trent, Shawn, Danilo, and others who have deep experience with the scientific computing aspects of TE; part of the reason that was sufficient for me was because i felt it would trigger this discussion, which is a good one to have.

  • With regards to whale supporters, this is a very real risk in any token based voting system. For our part TEC has done a pretty damn good job ensuring our whales are not just wealthy bystanders but real experts - in this sense the voting power exercised is representative of both expertise in token engineering and organization building (including relationship building amongst organizations). We should remain vigilant against whales jamming through proposals, but also remember that we designed our system so that the token holdings would serve as a good proxy for expertise. (personally i don’t always vote with my full voting power – if i do it means i believe in something very strongly)

  • Along those lines the proposal funding amount wasn’t chosen at random. It is significantly smaller than what the ‘whale’ voters could have jammed through if so inclined. It was chosen based on the donation scale information provided by Numfocus for a low level partner organization. BlockScience for example donated 50,000 USD to NumFocus (again because we believe in supporting the open source that we depend upon), we’re at the next level in the donation program.

  • One might argue that BlockScience should have donated to Token Engineering Commons instead of donating to NumFocus – or even buy and hold tokens, but its important to note that this would not accomplish our goal of providing financial financial support to the the maintainers of Numpy, Scipy, Pandas, scikit-learn, jupyter, and more tools token engineers use every day. At this stage, BlockScience primary contributions to token engineering come via 1 on1 mentoring, producing educational content mined from our internal process documentation and sharing learnings from our projects where allowed by our clients.

  • I disagree with your assessment that NumFocus can be viewed as competing with Token Engineering. While it’s a non-profit that engages in similar activities regarding creating, maintaining and teaching about open source tools but those public goods are critical dependencies of Token Engineering (not competing methods and tools). The web3 space is already riddled with competitive mindset. In my experience building relationships with entities that maintain our co-dependencies and inviting them to be part of our community, is a far more effective way forward.

  • Note that per the proposal the funds go into small developer grants (and existing numfocus program to which we provided a link), and the goal of keeping them in xDAI and not simply cashing out to USD to give a direct donation is to a) identify crypto-aware numfocus project contributors and make them aware of the TEC as well as encourage existing open source contributors to the Numfocus ecosystem to become aware of web3, the TEC and in particular the opportunities to apply their scientific computing skills in the context of Token Engineering.

  • Keep in mind that the fact that these tools are ‘critical dependencies’ of Token Engineering elementary for anyone active in modeling, testing, or monitoring token systems. You cannot build a TokenSpice or cadCAD model without them – you cannot analyze data you pulled from the blockchain without them. I framed the proposal the way i did for a reason: it wasn’t about detailing exactly how Numfocus would use the funds in tight detail it was about living up to our messaging: we tell crypto projects they depend on token engineering so they should fund TEC, if we really believe that we have an obligation to do the same for our dependencies.

  • This brings us to a broader issue, the relative lack of technical engineering and scientific computing skills within our community. We’ve done a great job creating a digital social (and economic) space for token engineering to flourish but we have a relative lack of experienced token engineers. By creating relationships with the scientific computing community we give ourselves exposure to experienced scientists and engineers, and the opportunity to educate them on web3 and empower them to use their skills to engineer new economies.

That last issue is way bigger than this particular proposal. We need a broad campaign made up of a bunch of proposals (from different community members) in order to address increasing the overall technical capabilities (for creating, maintaining, and teaching) engineering methods. More than anything i think the TEC needs a dedicated technical leader, someone who is not already working full time (and more) leading their own projects (like myself:BlockScience, Shawn:LongTail or Trent:OceanProtocol).

I will continue to do what I can to further the mission of the TEC using the resources at my disposal, as I am sure all of you will as well. I look forward to seeing how this complex system evolves.



Thanks for the response Dr. Zargham!

I appreciate the explanation you have provided regarding the importance for funding the dependencies on which token engineering relies upon (funding that we are not at this time - able to provide for these projects).

I did not recognize the history of NumFocus (an organization has been doing this for a long-time) and how important they have been in the open-source software community.

I hope that through this allocation of funds we can begin to build a strong relationship with NumFocus to provide the infrastructure for new Token Engineers to enter into the space.

In regards to the issue of whales, I have no issues with our current governance distribution and I am extremely happy that we have experts in the field of Token Engineering leading and curating the priorities of Common Pool funds.

My only request would be that whales should acknowledge the power they have when it comes to voting decisions, and allow more time than would typically be necessary to exercise their voting power. This will allow for the community (most of whom are outside the realm of technical competency) to have sufficient time to understand the purpose of such proposals and be able to articulate it to other non-technical community members (and thereby limiting tensions around Common Pool allocations).

On a side note:

This argument is something I still have not yet been convinced of, and something I believe the TEC, and in particular the TEC economy was designed to solve for. Non-Profits with similar mission statements are (imo) competing over the same pool of available resources (from different sources), providing inferior services to a lesser amount of clients. I believe this is universal within most public-sector industries. The benefit of using the TEC economy for these grants is that it consolidates these efforts into a single economic system that produces a continuous source of funding without the need for this competition. Granted, while we are not remotely close to offering the amount of money or providing the amount of impact that an organization such as NumFocus has, I do believe the integration of the TEC economy within the efforts of these organizations is a step in the right direction to eliminating similar but separate initiatives and a duplication of services within this space.

Thanks again for responding!

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Great discussion about the power of whales in the ecosystem, and the importance of evaluating the parameters of conviction voting. I think both @natesuits and @mzargham have made good points in this thread.

I would also like to add my opinion, that I think this is potentially the most effective proposal that TEC has passed in terms of advancing token engineering for public good. I can speak from experience that in the field of applied token engineering, I personally use on a daily basis the tools that NumFocus supports.

This includes things like numpy, pandas, scipy, and jupyter, but I would also like to draw attention to some of the next generation tooling that can be found in the holoviz stack. You can see that I made a post two years ago, proposing that param, a tool for modelling and engineering parameterized objects (such as bonding curves and CV instances) is the most powerful python library in existence. Due to it’s esoteric and nascent entry into the python ecosystem, libraries like param are often underfunded, which means underdocumented, and not easily available to the wider community. If this funding of NumFocus sees it’s way to one of the core maintainers, testers, or documenters of the holoviz stack, then I am thrilled about the impact that will have for improving the quality of token engineering tooling.

This proposal, has an overarching intention of bridging two of the most promising and distinguished advancements of organizational support for open source software, that is a) The commonsstack model of economics bootstrapping of public goods economies using smart contract technology, 2) The traditional entrepreneurial path that Travis Oliphant has proven through his development of Anaconda Inc, Quansight, and NumFocus.

Here are some of the super heroes that I have felt so much support from in terms of open source Token Engineering tooling from NumFocus. Shout out to all of them who I know are underfunded relative to the incredible work they do and the service they provide, not to mention the community development they have achieved in gathering decentralized momentum around these open source projects. I hope funding from this proposal finds its way to these and other open source super heroes.