Participating in the Filecoin Ecosystem: Bounties, Microgrants, and FIPs

Apr 21, 2023

As an open-source, decentralized protocol, the success of the Filecoin network is inextricably linked with the development of its community. It is for this reason that the Filecoin Foundation supports community capacity building, or finding ways to empower the development of individuals, ideas, resources, and solutions within the Filecoin ecosystem.

In order to achieve the ecosystem’s long-term vision, it is important that all community members are empowered to engage with the growing network in a variety of ways. Critically, this includes both technical and non-technical opportunities for engagement. Humanity’s most important data, as well as the vision of a fully decentralized web, benefit everyone. A robust ecosystem must therefore include everyone’s buy-in, allowing individuals to engage with and contribute to the network regardless of their background, skills, or prior experiences.

Recent blog posts have highlighted some of the new and/or revamped community capacity building programs supported by the Foundation. We recap these programs below.

The Storage Provider Bounty Boardis a tool for crowdsourcing work requests. Requests can come from and be filled by anyone. Once a request is successfully completed, the Filecoin Foundation will pay out an agreed upon price (or ‘bounty’) to the person or organization that successfully completed the task. The board was built and is maintained by the Storage Provider Working Groups, though any need is welcome. Potential activities could include building a dashboard, translating materials, organizing Filecoin events, or improving documentation.

Many bounty board tasks are small, quick, and even non-technical! For this reason, the bounty board is an excellent place for folks who may be new to the Filecoin community to get involved for the first time. Aside from helping to address an active community need, completing bounties rewards individuals with FIL and allows them to network with other community members and resources. For more information, see our recent blog post.

Developer Micrograntsare more formal requests for funding. Unlike the bounty board, which pays out a small amount for specified tasks, Microgrants allow anyone to propose an idea and secure up to $5,000 in funding. Microgrant proposals are often submitted by small teams of developers and/or researchers who have already built a project prototype or specified a research question and are looking for additional support in carrying their idea forward.

Larger projects that may need more consistent funding are also supported through Filecoin Foundation Open Grants and RFP submissions. Microgrants are instead designed to bridge the gap between the need for large-scale funding and the efficiency of one-off bounty projects. They are also an excellent way for individuals who are interested in Web3 or crypto to apply their existing skill sets — as social science researchers, developers, engineers, data scientists, or others — by conducting a project within the Filecoin ecosystem. For more information, check out our recent post about Waves 9 & 10 Developer Grants.

Filecoin Improvement Proposals (FIPs)are the primary mechanism through which the entire Filecoin ecosystem is governed. Core implementation standards and protocol enhancements are still needed to ensure that the protocol remains scalable, innovative, and secure. As the Filecoin community develops, FIPs provide a way for organizations and institutions to propose large-scale protocol and operational changes in a way that is both robust and fully transparent.

The FIPs process opens up both the work and implementation processes for these core enhancements by providing the community with the opportunity to ask questions, voice their opposition or support, and make suggestions for the final upgrade. Through the FIPs process, community members can review large technical and operational proposals as they are made, and have the ability to follow their development in real-time.

One way of distinguishing between the different community programs offered by the foundation is to consider their scale. Bounties are small, single items of a limited scope; Microgrants are larger projects that may contribute to the community’s depth of knowledge or ease of use of the protocol; FIPs are often large and complex, with de facto requirements and background knowledge for engagement. Community members have variable interests and capacities, as do each of these programs.

Another way of distinguishing between these programs is to consider their impact. Bounties provide quick tools and solutions to specific, existing problems. Microgrants provide early funding to new tools and ideas, which can later be scaled up if deemed successful. Both of these programs offer financial incentives for adding to the ecosystem in ways that different communities may or may not benefit from. FIPs, on the other hand, fundamentally affect the Filecoin operating environment. As such, they are the largest item in terms of total network impact.

All of these programs to grow and support the Filecoin network are open and fully transparent. They are managed on Github and other public networks, and changes to their operations are always made known in advance. As such, community members are welcome to engage and learn from them even without formally participating. They can review open grants to see what others find interesting in the network, review proposed FIPs to understand how core developers think about protocol enhancements, or practice solving bounty issues privately in order to practice ecosystem problem solving and resource identification.

In summary:

Regardless of which program excites you the most, we hope you find space to leverage your expertise and contribute to the community in one of our available programs. Keep an eye on Filecoin Foundation Twitter and the Filecoin Community Newsletter for information about new programs, new opportunities, and other ways to connect.