P-35: Academy Sub-DAO - 2024 Q1

Academy Sub-DAO - 2024 Q1

Authors: @wolovim, @piablo, @markkos89.eth, @uma


This proposal extends Academy as a sub-DAO of Developer DAO, based on the current DAO Governance Structure, and is roughly the same as the 2023 Q3/Q4 budget, with small contextual updates.

Academy is an educational platform for builders, seeking to onboard DAO members and the wider public into both the DAO and the broader web3 industry by providing quality content, support, and a great user experience. An MVP is available and being iterated on today, while a redesign (”v2”) is also in development.


The Academy team works to fulfill the main mission of Developer DAO: to educate and onboard web3 contributors. What started as a study group grew into a full effort to build a free and high-quality platform to empower builders to make an impact in this industry. The intention is to provide project-based learning tracks that lift developers out of “tutorial hell” and into mid-level skills and beyond. Additionally, there’s an opportunity to plug learners into other opportunities within the DAO at appropriate points along their journey (e.g., hackathons, mentorship, jobs). Academy is fully aligned with D_D’s mission to “Accelerate the education and impact of a new wave of web3 builders.”

Scope of Work

Domain of Operations

The Academy team is building a free-to-learn education platform. Prior to this budget, an MVP has been designed, developed, and deployed. Since the MVP, new team members have joined and continue to work towards the next iteration of the platform.


Academy operates as a sub-DAO of Developer DAO, and as such, operates with a flexible and autonomous structure that allows for experimentation and iteration.


As a team, we task ourselves with delivering and maintaining a robust and meaningful web3 education platform. Together, we have combined decades of professional experience across web development, education & pedagogy, technical writing, product development, and design. Stewards in those core areas:

Product & Design: uma
Development: markkos89
Pedagogy & Content: piablo
PM/Sub-DAO Coordinator: wolovim

The specifics of how each domain performs its functions are being documented along the way as best practices are discovered. Further, there has been and likely will continue to be significant domain crossover between individuals in these roles.

These Stewards, plus two other long-time contributors, Peter and Okhai, form a Core Team and are signers on the Academy treasury multisig. The sub-DAO operates within The Developer DAO Foundation, abiding by relevant requirements.

The Sub-DAO Coordinator role is defined in the D_D Labs team budget and is responsible for ensuring rewards are processed and the sub-DAO is represented and accountable at appropriate Developer DAO internal and external events. Additional rewards for this role have been voluntarily been put on hold until further notice.


The Academy Steward role conveys accountability, not total authority. When a decision in a particular domain needs to be made, it is the responsibility of the Steward to make sure that happens by gathering input, facilitating conversations, and gaining consent from affected parties to move forward with a solution that is “safe enough to try.” New this quarter is the introduction of Coordinape to open up clearer contributor pathways. Stewards are tasked with administering the Coordinape rounds.


Any member of Developer DAO can join weekly meetings or engage in the Academy Discord channels to learn about opportunities to contribute. The Academy documentation is to be kept up to date with more specific and timely context.


Q1 Provide learners with high-quality learning opportunities Owner (Steward)
KR Fine-tune v2 MVP of the learner UX Product/Design
KR Implement and deploy v2 MVP of the learner UX Development
KR Research and sketch ways to highlight other content produced in the DAO (e.g., workshops, blog posts, devntells) Product/Design
KR Publish three beta partner lessons Pedagogy/Content
KR Publish one homegrown lesson Pedagogy/Content
KR Fine-tune and document content authoring process PM
KR Administer project rewards on a monthly basis PM

Budget Request (Including value returned to the DAO)

Stewards: 800 CODE/mo * 3 months * 4 Stewards = 9,600 total per quarter
Reward Pool for Contributors: Monthly: 3,200 / Quarterly: 9,600
Total request of CODE per quarter: 19,200
Total USDC per quarter: $0 + any applicable Preferred Partner revenue split

Stewards are entrusted to figure out how best to leverage the Reward Pool to advance the mission of Academy. That process will continue to be documented as best practices as identified, but the thought process behind the number is to enable up to four additional Core Team members, rewarded in amounts equal to the Stewards. Any D_D member, including Stewards, are eligible for reward pool rewards.

We commit to transparency of allocations and will maintain those in a publicly accessible location. Further, any reward pool CODE not used will be returned to the DAO Treasury at the conclusion of the quarter or incorporated into the next budget request. Note: the 2023 reward pool hasn’t been assigned and distributed by stewards yet, so we’ll reconcile this within the Q2 budget.

Business Model

To start, Academy is based on a simple content sponsorship model. Content is prioritized for the platform in two ways:

  • Internally-driven: the team assesses what it believes to be a well-rounded and high quality user experience, then creates tasks to achieve that end.
  • Sponsor-driven: the team assesses opportunities to add partner content to the platform for a one-time and/or ongoing fee, then creates tasks to achieve that end. Developer DAO “Preferred Partners” initiatives also fall within this bucket.

The process for selecting and delivering each is another iterative process being documented as we learn over time. The team is committed to finding a healthy balance between homegrown and sponsored content, acknowledging that revenue is required to be sustainable, but that over-prioritizing sponsored content may result in a lopsided product.

The Academy team recognizes that Developer DAO will be a primary source of contributors and learners, while leveraging its brand and reach. Seeking to be robustly regenerative, Developer DAO will retain 19%* of revenue generated by Academy. The remainder will be used to pay expenses, reinvest in the platform, and reward contributors. Contributor rewards beyond CODE are to be determined in the same manner as the Reward Pool.

*19 is a “happy prime” number, with nearby options if we want to adjust up or down in the future, e.g., 13, 23.

Value Proposition

  • The team will continue to build an education platform, helping Developer DAO to fulfill one of its core missions: providing free education to web3 builders. Academy is an open source public good, available to learners within and beyond the walls of D_D.
  • As Academy grows, the platform can plug into other areas of the DAO. When users finish a learning objective, they may be encouraged to join a D_D hackathon, become a mentor, write for the blog, apply for a D_D job, and so on. This may be a primary differentiator as a learning platform.
  • Academy can tastefully promote D_D’s preferred partners (e.g., a preferred wallet or data provider) where it makes sense within the content.
  • Finally, Academy will allocate 19% of revenue back to the Developer DAO treasury, recognizing the importance of the DAO as the primary source of contributors and learners, and as a message amplifier via the power of its brand and following.


The Academy team would receive 19,200 CODE tokens and any relevant share of Preferred Partner revenue over the course of the quarter.


A lot of love for the people in this team and respect for continued work on the project, pleased to see the budget app in :saluting_face: General feeling it’s time to get academy V2 shipped to the benefit of the world/members, some points I like to see discussed and addressed to support this:

  1. A clear (and aggressive) timeline for launching V2, with a discussion and agreement on next course of action if those timelines aren’t met.
  2. A cultural focus to shipping and generating revenue for the team/DAO via grants, partnerships or both. Willingness to make decisions in support of this goal - not let great be the enemy of good. There is a lot of value for members and the ecosystem on the table here.
  3. Empower more members to support (and get value from) Academy either as builders or content/course authors - would love to see a world where a member who is knowledgable in a topic have a low friction way to create content including opportunity to get that content funded via ecosystem grant programs.

On point 2 and re the above, curious how this approach is working at the moment?.. and how maybe giving authority to Stewards to make decisions in their domain might help with shipping :ship:

On point 3, I appreciate I voiced resistance to opening contributions up given the ops over head of that from a payroll and contracts standpoint. Probably shouldn’t be a free for all but happy to do what is required from my side to enable more, and maybe more flexible, contributors.

Happy to offer any help I can in the above: facilitating tooling, discussions/brainstorms if useful.

intended to circle back and give a frank self-evaluation after posting; your feedback and patrick’s alternative proposal were a good kick in the pants to get this done and also have some very candid conversations internally. will use your prompts to share how i see things.

agreed. to be frank, we’ve failed to deliver what i’d hoped to have live by now. worth noting that there has been a lot of important work done that is less visible, e.g., ironing out the first iterations of pedagogy guidelines, a lesson planning form, editor workflows - most captured in an operations doc here. additionally, some important content updates to v1 have occurred, but they haven’t been marketed, with v2 always just around the bend.

we handicapped ourselves by trying the operationally “simple” route of a few consistent core team members. while competent individually, project momentum occasionally ground to a halt when several of us inevitably got pulled away by other obligations, got sick, etc.

the team has agreed to try a radical shift here to open up contributions and reward those contributors via coordinape.

my expectation is that the role of stewards will need to pivot to focus on empowering others to contribute to and build Academy. in each domain, this could mean making decisions about what to build, writing and grooming tickets, reviewing and merging PRs, writing guidelines for content, and other playbooks for others to be successful. this is its own skillset and will take some practice to get right. my hypothesis is that doing this well will better result in your #2:

Re: #1,

cant plant the flag on my own, but i want to see the v2 mvp go live this month. the accountability component has been notoriously difficult/absent throughout my dao experience. i’m genuinely interested in practical suggestions in this domain.

psychologically, the sub-dao + static core team makes it feel like Academy is exclusively our little thing, when i’d really prefer to feel more shared ownership by members of the dao. (since you’ve offered help,) i’d love to find ways to take advantage of more expertise and bandwidth of members. opening up via coordinape feels like the obvious first step, but maybe that also includes a closer coupling to Labs, given we already rely on the same bizdev efforts. marketing help comes to mind too. open to explore.

i’ll save the Argo vs. Academy thoughts for another night.

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thanks for the replies. @PSkinnerTech’s proposal certainly spices things up a bit and I think is healthy for driving this discussion - more on little lower down.

Glad to see this acknowledged. re delivered items, whilst good, people can’t see this and it hasn’t brought extra value for members/partners/DAO (though may do in the future/always around the corner as you say). A culture as suggested would likely have seen a path of “accept the funds and figure it out later.” which on balance is better for the DAO imo.

good to know the team are open to more contributors, happy to support. caution against investing to much time in process for new contributors vs just adopting an aggressive shipping and value creation culture - this feels far more important for short-term success imo.

the two biggest drivers of accountability I’ve seen in the DAO are: team collective/individual culture, requirement to deliver on partnerships where you’ve promised an external person/party who will also hold you accountable. (in that order)

I can’t speak for labs at the min ( cc @mannyornothing @Billyjitsu @manny @Narb @Kay ) but the culture I’ve experienced there is “lets take the initiative and risk on to build value quickly, bias towards saying yes and empowering people to own and run with things.” some missteps and wasted $$$ sure, but overall returned a high-level of value imo.

As for Argo vs Academy, the Governance rules from P-21: Simplifying the Developer DAO Improvement Proposal (DDIP) Process:

Conflicting proposals

Conflicting proposals are proposals that are active at the same time and address the same issue.

In the case of a conflicting proposal, the 5-day proposal discussion period can also serve as a time for community members to provide their preferred alternative.

If a conflict still exists at the end of the discussion period, a Snapshot vote will be put forward that includes all the possible options from the conflicting proposals.

Obviously there is clear conflict with these proposals. The rules state once they’re passed the 5-day discussion period, if they can’t come together somehow and agree how this conflict is handled then a vote goes up for the community to choose one.

I personally (other stewards may differ) wouldn’t support elevating these as individual proposals, doesn’t make sense to me to have them co-existing as they are. Before they’re elevated together as one vote, I’d love to see some open dialogue between the teams in case there is a happy path here for them to co-exists, share resources, adopt one or another. This will of course be a topic for the Coordination call on Thursday.

Interested to get more perspectives from members and @stewards

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brief procedural update following Academy’s weekly sync today:

  • as a first step more into the open, call was held in the developer-voice channel. meeting minutes here.
  • january 24th was targeted as v2 mvp release date. imo, this is ambitious but realistic. the scope needs some clarification; in particular, the available tracks on launch day will in part rely on our partners’ availability who are actively creating some of that content.

thoughts on Academy vs. Argo, purely my perspective:

  • there’s a million permutations of learning platforms and its hard to stand out. Argo might be on to something with the modular video focus, but i don’t see that as an especially big moat. any platform, including Academy, could adopt some of that methodology. one of our WIP partner lessons includes video content, so Academy won’t be text-only in the near future.
  • what i see that has the potential to make Academy really special is a tight integration with and dedication to Developer DAO. a platform owned by the DAO/foundation can optimize for a single community and activate members throughout the DAO. for example, at various milestones, a learner could get introduced to a D_D mentor, join a hackathon and form a team with other members, be encouraged to join the job platform and apply to particular roles, share something they’ve built on DevNTell, write for the blog, and so on.
  • Argo, and any independent company, will be pulled in multiple directions. startups are wildly challenging and demanding, and you gotta do what it takes to survive while appeasing multiple stakeholders. despite any best intention, it is not difficult to imagine a scenario where Argo sees an opportunity it can’t resist outside of Developer DAO, or maybe serving D_D just doesnt pay all the bills and it needs to prioritize other opportunities. all the way down a sad-path train of thought: startups shut down every day. what happens to partner content and Developer DAO’s public good in that scenario?
  • in terms of value alignment, i’d really rather see an open source learning platform created by and for members than outsource it. obviously these patterns don’t exist today, but my hope is that Academy becomes something to “do” in the DAO, whether going through lessons together with a cohort or a mentor in discord, or actively building the platform and content - perhaps generating many members’ first-ever open source contribution.
  • if you want to keep Academy on a short leash, i dont blame you. fortunately, you basically get that for free within a budget process that requires a new proposal every three months.
  • again, no shade on Patrick and Argo, and respect for building it out. looks like an interesting product with good progress being made. an unironic ‘thank you’ for delivering a smol wake up call.
  • i also remain open to collab possibilities. maybe Argo lessons could be featured within Academy? personally i dont have any issue with highlighting ‘competitors’ work if its value-aligned. spitballing here; not sure what’s reasonable yet.

This has my support. I would be happy elevating.

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A snapshot proposal has been elevated for this alongside [DRAFT] Argo Academy (An Academy Alternative) 2024 Q1 which begins voting at 12pm UTC tomorrow - see here.

Please make any adjustments to this proposal before voting starts.