Carl Cervone

Impact evaluations for 158 Gitcoin Grants - and the 30 I chose to fund

January 21, 2023

This article was originally posted on Mirror


This is my first attempt at creating a series of modular, oracular impact assessments for Gitcoin Grants.

Each assessment is modular because it is derived independently, is self-contained (within a round), and is easy to combine with other assessments. Each assessment is oracular in the sense that it is automated and built on top of public datasets that capture real-world events.

Communities of projects and funders can benefit from better feedback mechanisms and finer-grained tools for allocating resources.

In the long run, I’d love to see a large, decentralized ecosystem of impact assessments. No single impact assessment can capture the full impact of a project. Nor should any one assessment be relied upon for 100% of resource allocation decisions.

We need many credibly neutral, open, and forkable impact assessment methodologies working together.

Think of how Rotten Tomatoes combines expert and amateur movie reviews. Maybe there could be something similar for retrospective grantmaking?

My own impact evaluation should be viewed as nothing more than a single data point. I happily concede that the metrics I picked are pretty easy to game. Per Goodhart’s Law (when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure), I expect some if not all of these methods to be laughably insufficient at predicting future impact - especially if people start to think that they are useful predictors of impact or funding.

You can view my processed dataset here on IPFS. You can also see a Google Sheet with the output assessment scores.

I hope this inspires you to create your own, better assessments!


The 158 projects currently on Gitcoin Grants have been deployed across three rounds:

To get the data on the projects, I queried the subgraph for each round and extracted the metadata blobs from IPFS. The metadata contains information about each project including its wallet address, main Github repo, and Twitter handle.

Next, I ran some scripts to gather additional public data about each project:

On-chain: I checked if the project’s wallet address has an ENS domain or Lens profile registered. I like seeing projects commit to building an on-chain reputation. These are two of the most popular web3-native identity protocols currently.

Github: using the basic Github API, I gathered metrics on when the repo was created, when the last commits were made, and how many forks/stars it has. These are reasonable proxies for the longevity and activity of a project. My impact assessments for projects in the Ethereum Infrastructure and OSS rounds were heavily weighted by Github metrics.

Twitter: using the Twitter API, I pulled metadata about each account, including follower/friends lists. Then, for the projects within each round, I constructed a network graph and determined which project nodes had the most centrality. (Yes, this is basically a popularity contest.) Mutual support is a common theme in web3 communities, particularly the ReFi / climate community, so this is a reasonable approximation of which projects are having the most impact at least in terms of meme propagation.

Once my datasets were ready, I normalized the indicators and created ranking formulas for each round. For example, Github activity is weighted more heavily in the ranking formula for Open Source Software projects than for Climate Solutions. You can fork or play with the data here (IPFS) and here (Google Sheet).

Finally, I selected the top 20% of projects from each round (for a total of 30 projects).


Climate (10 projects):

ETH Infrastructure (4 projects)

Open Source Software (16 projects)