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Contribution measurability

Overview covering the importance of contribution measurability
Recorded contribution outcomes can help with verifying peoples contribution efforts, impact and performance measurement and also for making historical comparisons to better understand how contribution performance and outcomes are changing over time as an ecosystem evolves.

Making contribution efforts measurable

Execution scope
Isolating the type of work that is being completed is one way to increase measurability. Keeping a contribution log focused on a certain skill set can help make it easier to compare and understand how different contributors have executed similar outcomes as other contributors. The challenge with trying to make the execution scope more measurable is that each idea being executed is usually different from other ideas and thus can require different skills and expertise to execute them and those ideas can also produce very different execution outcomes. Infrastructure and protocol development for instance could have a lot of variation in how the different problems are solved and how the code is developed.
Time
Contribution outcomes could be recorded within a certain time period so that there is more consistency in the amount of work that is completed in each contribution log. This helps to increase measurability as now individuals can be more easily compared based on the same duration of contribution time.
Number of people
If the contribution outcomes from multiple people are combined into the same contribution record this would make it more difficult to understand who did what and how performant and impactful each of their contributions were. Keeping contribution outcomes recorded separately makes it easier to measure the differences between one contributor's outputs with other peoples.
Individual monthly contribution logs
Keeping contribution logs focussed on only one person and setting the time period to monthly records helps to make the history of someone's contribution efforts more measurable. This is one of the simplest ways to make contribution outcomes more measurable. In terms of execution scope the measurability could potentially be improved in these logs by recording the different skills used over the course of a month separately in the same submission. Design and code contributions could each be separately tagged with the different skills that were used or alternatively they could be written down separately in different skill based sections.
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Recording contribution outcomes

Automatically recorded contributions
Some contribution efforts can be recorded automatically and provide evidence of what a contributor has worked on during a period of time. Many of these contributions could be quantifiable and verifiable such as code contributions, designs, articles, blogs and documentation changes. Online recorded meetings could even be eventually automatically transcribed and verified to check someone's attendance and contributions towards a discussion.
Manually recorded contributions
It could be challenging to make automatic recordings for every single contribution someone makes. In person events, meetings or other forms of mentorship and leadership could be more difficult to capture without adding a manual record of the contribution effort. Contributions that are added manually by the contributor or community can benefit from having attestations attached to those claims. Other community members would be able to vouch for the contributions made by others. This can be a useful approach to cover the other types of contribution assuming the identities of the community members giving the attestations can be verified and trusted.
Observationally recorded contributions
Contributors that work with other contributors are able to observe some of the contribution outcomes and impact that another contributor generates. Existing corporations may sometimes use this approach where they aren’t actively recording the contribution efforts of each individual and instead a manager is observing the efforts and outcomes that people are generating over time. The problem with this approach is if the person doing the observations is given much of the control to do all of the performance and impact measurement they are given a large amount of influence over determining someone's total contribution value. If contribution efforts can be logged and owned by the individual who made them there is higher utility of that information for the contributor as they can then more easily prove their competencies and value to others.
Measuring recorded contributions
All the approaches above could be used for recording and measuring someone's contribution efforts. Automatically recorded contribution outcomes are the most desirable approach for capturing this information as this provides the strongest evidence about what a contributor has actually worked on. It also helps with removing the risks around incorrect or exaggerated manually recorded contributions and would also reduce or even remove the time needed for a contributor to record any evidence about their contribution efforts. Manually recorded contributions are an important addition to automatically recorded contributions as they can fill in the gaps for areas that cannot be easily recorded automatically. Manually recorded contributions can help to provide the full evidence about someone's contributions. Processes are needed that have the right checks and balances with the right incentive design to make sure these self recorded contributions are verified correctly. There will always be a risk that someone tries to game the system in an attempt to unfairly improve their own perceived reputation and future chances of receiving funding. Making it easier for individuals to record their contribution efforts has a large opportunity to reduce ambiguity about how much contribution effort someone has made and how performant and impactful their contribution outcomes have been for an ecosystem. More effective tools and processes will be needed to properly record and verify the contribution efforts someone has made. Contributors can benefit from building up a history of contribution logs as it can help to give them more control and ownership over their reputation by making it easier for them to demonstrate their contributions, competencies and overall experience.

How contribution outcome logs could be used

Contribution verification
Keeping a record of an individual's contribution outcomes means that these logs can be checked and verified so that an ecosystem can be sure that a contributor has delivered the contribution outcomes they said they have.
Performance measurement
Making it easy to measure and compare the contribution outputs made by different individuals and teams will make it easier to calculate and reward people based on their performance. Accurate performance measurement can help with more reliably rewarding high performing contributors.
Impact measurement
Some contribution outcomes could be more impactful than others for supporting and improving an ecosystem. Knowing which contributors were responsible for each outcome can help with identifying the contributors who have been the most consistent with generating impact for the ecosystem.
Historical comparisons
Making contribution outcomes easier to measure and compare with others means that historical comparisons can be made which could become increasingly useful to an ecosystem over time. An ecosystem could look at how the performance of contributors as a whole is changing over time as different factors change such as the amount of compensation being offered, the tools, processes and infrastructure they use when contributing, the total number of contributors in the ecosystem and the average duration of each contributor's participation. Making these outcomes easier to measure and compare makes it possible for an ecosystem to identify the trends more accurately that are most correlated with improving contributor performance. As one example, if a new incentive was introduced to improve the performance of contributors, having a way to measure the change in output over time will help to produce insightful data that can better determine whether that new incentive was actually effective or not.

Advantages of measurable contribution outcomes

Easier contribution verification
Logging an individual's contribution outcomes makes it easier to verify that a given individual is actually making sufficient contribution efforts towards executing different ideas. If contribution outcomes are recorded every month this also makes it easier to compare those outcomes with other contributors. The more measurable the outcomes are the easier it will be to identify the weakest performers and also the top performers. Support could be provided by other contributors or community members to contributors that need to improve their performance. If the performance of a contributor doesn’t improve or the individual is purposefully being a bad actor then it would be unlikely that they receive future funding due to the evidence shown in their contribution logs.
Improved decision making
Measurable contribution logs can help with making it easier for voters to spot the best and worst performers amongst a group of contributors. It can also help with identifying trends in the performance of contributors as a whole or where certain skill sets and areas are missing or not performing as effectively. This information can help with improving future disbursement decisions about where to allocate more resources and community focus.
Higher self awareness & accountability
If contributors can easily see their own performance against other contributors they are able to become more aware and self accountable for trying to achieve a similar or higher level of contribution output as the other contributors in the ecosystem.
Empowers individual contributors
Being able to demonstrate impactful contribution outcomes is empowering for building a contributors reputation. Competent and high performing contributors that are able to easily demonstrate their capabilities and performance should be able to more easily be compensated for their contribution efforts fairly. Rewarding contributors who are working harder or more effectively than others is an important way that the available incentives can be more effectively aligned with generating impact for the ecosystem. Another way that evidence of contribution outcomes helps to empower the individual is that it provides a public facing record that demonstrates what a contributor has achieved and what skill sets they are competent at. This can make it easier for different teams and projects to verify that a contributor is well suited to help them with their own execution efforts. The easier it is for an individual to prove their ability and competencies the more control and influence they will have on being able to pick the most suitable initiatives for them to work on and also can help with ensuring that they get paid fairly for their skill and competence level.

Measuring contribution outcomes is often inevitable for collaborative work

Many ideas such as applications, protocols, community initiatives and many other initiatives require a number of different contributors to help with executing those ideas as intended. All of these initiatives would need to fairly determine how people involved in that initiative should be paid for their contribution efforts. If contribution efforts are not measured in any capacity it will be difficult to know who has done the most work, who has performed the most effectively when executing the idea and who has made the most impactful contributions.
If the idea is owned and controlled by an individual or small group of people those individuals may be who are responsible for measuring the contribution outcomes of each individual and then rewarding the contributors who have been the most performant and impactful. If the idea has distributed governance then the contributors involved would need to decide between them which contributors have been the most performant and impactful.
In either of the above scenarios there is a high value in being able to more accurately know what contributors have done whilst executing an idea so that the distribution of incentives is fair. Contribution information can help with improving decisions about how future compensation is handled and how any performance or impact based incentives can be distributed. Making it easier to record and aggregate contribution efforts can help with preventing issues such as rewarding people based on popularity contests or misaligned incentives due to biases towards certain contribution efforts.