Electric Coin Co. (ECC) manages a number of Zcash-focused digital properties, i.e., the z.cash website, the Zcash technical documentation hub, the Zcash Twitter account, and the Cypherpunk Zero site and assets. Stewardship of these projects is a multidisciplinary endeavor involving content strategy, digital marketing, web development, design, copywriting, community engagement, and more.
In June, as part of our efforts to improve the digital footprint of the Zcash ecosystem and lay a foundation for greater community involvement, we launched a redesigned and refined Z.cash. Here’s what we wrote about it:
This website relaunch is a milestone, but it’s also simply a start — a patch of land to grow a garden. In the coming months, we’ll begin working toward fostering greater community involvement with the ultimate goal of transitioning this site and other Zcash digital properties into shared public goods.
As a follow-up to this launch announcement, and Josh Swihart’s recent blog about ECC’s proposals and plans for decentralizing Zcash, the post you are reading now is meant to outline a process (at least the start of one) to reimagine governance of z.cash and other Zcash-focused digital properties.
Our hope is that, together with the larger Zcash community, we can build and enact a model of communal ownership and increased collaboration — transitioning these digital assets and tools into shared public goods, with a greater diversity of contributors and a more representative voice for Zcashers everywhere.
Sounds cool, but why?
We believe creating a decentralized ownership structure, jointly managed by ECC and qualified, independent people and teams is important for several reasons, including:
- Ensuring the long-term sustainability and resilience of the Zcash project
- Encouraging diversity and innovation in the ecosystem
- Enabling more content, more collaboration, and a greater reach
Scope of proposal
This proposal encompasses the following digital properties currently managed day-to-day by ECC. For a full breakdown of constituent parts, corresponding tools/platforms and important dependencies, please see the addendum.
- z.cash domain and website
- Zcash Technical Documentation (ReadTheDocs/Gitbook)
- Zcash Twitter account
- Cypherpunk Zero site and assets
Proposed decentralization process
Broadly speaking, we believe the path to decentralization should be incremental and structured as follows. This is a draft, meant to spur discussion, and we welcome community input on the process and timeline(s) detailed below.
Phase 1 (Aug-Oct 2023)
Establish a transition task force composed of ECC representatives and qualified community members.
Beginning with a formal community application process, ECC will create a transition task force to contribute ideas and guide and oversee the transition. The task force should be comprised of representatives from ECC and up to three key members of the Zcash community. This group of unpaid volunteers will be responsible for prioritizing projects, developing the transition plans, engaging with the community, due diligence on trademark and legal implications, and ensuring a smooth and orderly transfer of responsibilities as appropriate. The task force should reflect the diversity of the Zcash community, ensuring that a broad range of perspectives, geographies, and expertise are represented, if feasible.
Phase 2 (Nov 2023-Jan 2024)
Develop criteria for evaluating potential new ownership structures.
Based on the assessment and desired characteristics outlined in this post, the transition task force should develop clear criteria for evaluating potential new ownership structures for z.cash, the Zcash technical documentation hub, the Zcash Twitter account, and the Cypherpunk Zero site and assets. These criteria will serve as a basis for selecting the most suitable candidate(s), ensuring the chosen structure(s) aligns with community values, goals, and long-term vision. By establishing these criteria upfront, the task force ensures a transparent and objective selection process that is rooted in the best interests of the Zcash community.
Phase 3 (Feb-March 2024)
Engage the Zcash community regarding structure(s).
To encourage community involvement and input in the transition process, the task force will clearly communicate the desired characteristics of the new ownership structure(s). By providing a mechanism for open dialogue and exchange of ideas, ECC can gather valuable feedback and insights from various stakeholders, ensuring diverse perspectives are considered in the decision-making process.
Phase 4 (April 2024 onward)
New structure is finalized; transitioning and monitoring begin.
The new joint management structure(s) is finalized and transitioning begins. To guide the process, the task force and new owner(s) should develop a clear roadmap outlining expectations and responsibilities, including transition milestones. This roadmap should include key tasks such as the handover or opening up of technical infrastructure and the establishment of new governance mechanisms. By providing a structured framework for the transition, the roadmap can help ensure all aspects of the process are carefully considered and managed.
Once the transition process is complete, the task force should formally conclude its work, acknowledging the successful transfer of responsibilities and assets to the new co-owner(s). Following this, a post-transition review may be conducted to assess the overall success of the process, identify lessons learned, and document insights for future reference. This review could provide valuable feedback for both ECC and the new co-owner(s), helping to inform future decentralization initiatives and ensure the ongoing resilience of the Zcash project.
ECC’s recommendations on structure
z.cash domain and website:
The recently redesigned z.cash experience has been modularized to allow for multiple teams to manage various content sections of the website. The associated WordPress CMS, tools, and analytics platforms can be flexibly permissioned according to the needs of the community.
Example A: Entity X could manage content for the Learn section of the site, while Entity Y could separately manage content for the Ecosystem section. ECC could continue maintaining the overall site experience, site security, associated analytics, and web development. Representatives from all entities could jointly sit on an editorial board to ensure cohesive content strategy and consistent quality. Funding could come in the form of Zcash Community Grants, a renewed Zcash Development Fund, or some combination of the two.
Example B: Entity X could work with ECC to develop translations for z.cash content in languages other than English. Funding could come in the form of Zcash Community Grants.
- Web development and design currently costs ~$2,500 per month through outside agencies.
- Web hosting and application security cost ~$20,000 per year.
- Hotjar currently costs ~$250 per month.
- Ahrefs currently costs ~$199 per month.
- WordPress plugins cost in aggregate ~$250 per year.
- Google Analytics is free.
Zcash technical documentation management:
The existing Zcash technical documentation is hosted via ReadTheDocs and is in need of updates. Ideally, a separate entity could oversee the platform, independently or in conjunction with ECC, with funding from Zcash Community Grants.
- Copywriting and community management resources costs TBD.
- Hosting costs ~$50 per month.
@Zcash Twitter account
We would like to see an entity or individual (other than ECC) assume social media management responsibilities (inclusive of content strategy and production) for the @Zcash Twitter handle. Funding could come in the form of Zcash Community Grants.
- ~$250/mo for Sprout Social.
- The cost to design visual assets (ie. animated GIFs and videos).
- Copywriting and community management resources.
Cypherpunk Zero site and NFT assets
Ideally, the Cypherpunk Zero world could be transitioned to an independent team who could facilitate wider community participation and contributions. Perhaps this could follow a transition and ownership model similar to the proposal for z.cash. In addition to the site and NFT collection (~2,000 pieces), ECC has three completed comic book scripts that need to be illustrated and packaged. This project was put on hold in 2022 for budget considerations.
- Web development and design currently costs TBD (ECC is currently spending $0 per month).
- Web hosting and application security cost ~$4,000 per year.
- Gas fees for transfer of NFTs ~10 per asset.
Disclaimer: Any estimated costs are based on current ECC infrastructure and configurations. There are other hosting and support service options that could cause the operational costs to be higher or lower.
Current questions, realities, and constraints
There are a number of known (and unknown) issues that we would need to address with the help of the community. Notably:
- The ideal funding source(s) for entities that help manage Zcash digital properties is to be determined. Funding could come from Zcash Community Grants, a revised Zcash Development Fund, or some combination of the two. We are open to suggestions from the community.
- The existing Zcash Trademark Agreement and License Agreement may need to be amended to accommodate individuals or entities other than ECC.
- Some other projects (such as Ethereum.org) have the luxury of relying on large communities to crowdsource much of the day-to-day management of their digital properties. By virtue of the Zcash community’s small size, we believe a narrower, more controlled management approach is needed while the project is in its infancy.
- The ideal governance structure is to be determined and may require experimentation.
- The ideal role of third parties (and the community’s ability to hold them accountable) is something that would need to be explored and codified by the proposed task force.
- A shared Digital Property Roadmap, Style Guide, and Design Principles (including content and brand guidelines) will need to be developed and agreed upon to ensure Zcash is represented in a consistent and appropriate manner.
Other important considerations:
ECC currently relies on the z.cash domain as its Google Cloud Provider primary network for a number of pieces of critical infrastructure (e.g., nodes and build procedures). Any change of domain management must account for a ~6 month grace period to allow ECC to transition off the z.cash domain.
In March, we requested that the Zcash Foundation provide ECC with time and space for community engagement on this topic at Zcon4, with an intent to begin approach and planning efforts in August. That request was officially denied in June (and again earlier this month), so ECC is planning to host a side event, during the Zcon4 dates, and we invite the community to participate. Stay tuned for details on time and venue. If you want to be sure you don’t miss this conversation, feel free to email me at [email protected], and I’ll keep you in the loop. We are excited to hear from you directly and to work with qualified members of the community on these efforts!
After this workshop, our hope is to kick off the task force selection process mentioned above and detailed here.
This proposal encompasses the following digital properties currently managed day-to-day by ECC. Below is a breakdown of constituent parts, corresponding tools and platforms, and important dependencies.
Note: If you or someone you know has a dependency that is not listed below, please submit this form by Aug 16, 2023.
- Z.cash domain, dependent infrastructure, and website
- Domain name registrar (currently via Google Domains)
- @z.cash email (currently via GSuite)
- Google cloud services for important ECC-managed infrastructure
- Z.cash website frontend
- WordPress CMS
- Tools and analytics
- Google Analytics
- Z.cash web hosting (currently via Pantheon)
- Z.cash website and application security (currently via Cloudflare)
- Zcash Improvement Proposals subdomain (zips.z.cash)
- Technical documentation (ReadTheDocs/Gitbook)
- Zcash Twitter account
- Tools and analytics
- Sprout Social
- Tools and analytics