Public Goods vs ENS Ecosystem

ENS Ecosystem:

"Projects that specifically build on or improve the ENS Ecosystem.

Applicable projects are meaningfully building, creating content, or improving the ENS ecosystem."

Would this not also fit the definition and criteria for a “public good?”

Public Goods:

"Projects that benefit the entire Ethereum or Web3 space.

Applicable projects should not be ENS-specific but may include ENS functionality."

Is there an example of a project that fits the criteria for ENS Ecosystem that does not also fit the criteria for a public good?

“Should not be ENS-specific but may include ENS functionality”

But why is this distinction made in the first place? ENS is a public good. Anything that benefits ENS also benefits “the entire Ethereum or Web3 space.” Why have an entire separate Public Goods working group?

Is the intention to give an equal amount of support to both ENS-specific and non-ENS-specific projects?

I can think of many examples of a “Public Good” that would not also fit the criteria for ENS Ecosystem. An example is a podcast, apparently. Why exactly is this appropriate for ENS DAO to fund?

“We are not trying to be Gitcoin.”

If our implied criteria and focus for “public good” means “open source,” it should be called that. Otherwise, public good is practically a catchall term for anything that is non-exclusionary and non-rivalrous. It’s almost a joke that anything public and freely available can be a public good. This post is a public good.

To summarize:

  • All projects that improve the ENS Ecosystem also meet the criteria of a public good, since ENS is a public good.
  • Not all projects that are a public good improve the ENS Ecosystem, and therefore don’t meet the criteria for ENS Ecosystem funding.

All ENS Ecosystem are Public Goods; but not all Public Goods are ENS Ecosystem.

So it will always be confusing to have two distinct criteria, when one can be contained entirely inside the other.

If A:
The intention is to give equal attention and focus to each of the two groups individually, how far does the subjective definition of “public good” apply?

ie - Why does a podcast meet this criteria? Would a bitcoin project? Solana? Would a corporate carbon “offset” grift meet this criteria? I’m not asking as a rhetorical hyperbole. This is necessary and important to define if we want to have accountability for what is funded.

It’s already been clarified that something like funding food banks or providing shelter would not meet our definition of public good. Only online public goods, apparently. Although internet access and use of electronics is absolutely exclusionary, and arguably rivalrous.

Basically - Why would we fund anything labeled a “public good” that does not also directly benefit the ENS Ecosystem?

If B:
The intention is NOT to give equal attention and focus to each of the two groups, why are they two groups? Public Goods could just fall under a broader “Ecosystem” scope.

I think we should focus our funding and concern on public goods that directly improve the ENS Ecosystem. Anything outside of that is too subjective to ethically fund, in my opinion. Gitcoin already exists for that, and does it way better.

Alternatively, make the definition/name less ambiguous.
Examples, instead of “Public Goods”

  • “Open Source Ecosystem”
  • “Web 3 Ecosystem”
  • “Open Source Development”
  • “Web3 Development”
  • “Open Source Community”
  • “Web3 Builders”
  • “Open Source Builders”
  • “Broader Open Source”

These would also include anything ENS-focused, but would at least be less susceptible to use as a catchall or interpreted as a vague euphemism.



The funding intentions are set out in Article 3 of the Constitution. I have copied this article below for ease of reference:

Any income generated to the ENS treasury is to be used first of all to ensure the long-term
viability of ENS, and to fund continuing development and improvement of the ENS system.
Funds that are not reasonably required to achieve this goal may be used to fund other public
goods within web3 as ENS governance sees fit.

The primary funding goal of the DAO is to fund the ongoing development and improvement of ENS as well as grow out the ENS ecosystem. Funds that are not needed for that purpose can then be used to fund public goods in web3.

The intention is not to fund the working groups equally, but rather to fund the working groups in line with the Constitution. To date, the ENS Ecosystem WG has received the lion’s share of funding distributed to working groups; this will likely continue to be the case in the future. For context, the ENS Ecosystem WG received 63% of the total funding distributed to working groups in Term 2 of 2022, with the Public Goods WG receiving 19% of the funding.

Coltron.eth is working on a very helpful funding breakdown that should be posted in the forum some time next week. This post will provide a lot more visibility over the distributions of each working group.

There are many examples — not all ecosystem projects are public goods that are likely to receive public goods funding. In terms of where funding should come from when an ecosystem project is a public good, it is helpful to break down the funding goals of each working group.

Here’s how I think about it:

ENS Ecosystem
Projects that are ENS-specific, or ENS-centric, may qualify for funding from the ENS Ecosystem WG. These are projects that may have a difficult time receiving grants from other major protocol DAOs because of the project’s heavy focus on ENS. Examples of ENS Ecosystem projects include ETH.Limo, ENS Fairy, the ENS Registrations Bot and the ENS DAO Newsletter.

Public Goods
Public goods projects in web3 that are not ENS-specific or ENS-centric, may qualify for funding from the Public Goods WG. These are projects that may receive grants from other major (protocol) DAOs because of the positive and often broad impact the project has on the wider Ethereum ecosystem. Examples of public goods projects that have received or would be eligible to receive funding from the Public Goods WG include Ethers, WAGMI,,, or web3scaffold — all projects that could receive funding from other DAOs.

Any ENS-specific project or initiative, whether it is a public good or not, will likely be funded by the ENS Ecosystem WG rather than the Public Goods WG.

While a podcast can be a public good, I agree that this particular podcast should not have been funded by the DAO as a public good. It is not a web3 project and does not satisfy the criteria for public goods funding set out in the Constitution.

The PG small grants initiative is a work in progress. There are two areas that could be improved:

  1. There needs to be more filtering of projects or people to ensure that nominees are actually public goods or public goods builders for the purposes of the DAO’s Constitution — this is an easy fix and should be improved going forward.
  2. There needs to be education around the definition of public goods for delegates so they know what to look for when voting — I raised this issue six months ago: [link - ENS DAO Small Grants - Public Goods Round 1 - #3 by alisha.eth]

Most of the issues with the PG WG can be solved by providing a clear definition of what a public good is for the purpose of distributing funding. I have been requesting this for a year now in WG calls and on the forum [see link - Have a streaming budget for public goods instead of a fixed one - #2 by alisha.eth].

Any definition of public goods for the PG WG should be complementary with the funding goals of the ENS Ecosystem WG. This will ensure that there is no crossover and each WG knows exactly what it can/should fund.

I am very confident that changes will be made early this Term to resolve the above issues.

Ultimately, this is a decision for Public Goods WG stewards — the stewards could decide to only fund public goods that directly benefit ENS in some way. It is worth noting that most of the large scale public goods projects in web3 do provide a direct benefit to ENS.

ENS is in the fortunate position that the protocol currently generates more revenue than it needs to fund and maintain its ongoing development and expand the ENS ecosystem. If public goods projects are not funded by DAOs, like the ENS DAO, public goods creators and maintainers may be forced to rely on funding vehicles that challenge the integrity and openness of those projects.

Funding public goods, even those that don’t directly benefit ENS, grows the Ethereum ecosystem, supports builders, and improves trust and safety in the space. These are all positive considerations that indirectly benefit ENS and make it easier to onboard new users and build relationships with integration partners. Everything that is good for web3 and the broader Ethereum ecosystem is good for ENS.


I would also categorize The Protocol Guild funding proposal as part of public goods funding, even though it went beyond the WG due to the funding size

I agree with this and I think this is something that @PublicGoods_Stewards should look into developing this term. We can start by curating educational material that would help delegates know what to look for when voting. Starting with what you wrote here:

I have previously written about this [link - Public Goods in the ENS Ecosystem - by marcus] and felt that it’s been a helpful resource; it’s my take on Other Internet’s framework for defining public goods within the lens of ENS DAO.