MGP (Nov 2021): DeathGuild - Phase 2

DeathGuild<>MolochDAO Funding Proposal

Project Title



This grant will support the ongoing operations of the DeathGuild Dialogues project, initiated in August 2021 with the support of a MolochDAO grant.

DeathGuild is an outcropping of Guild #1, the inaugural guild funded January 2021 to address the operational necessities of MolochDAO that have now blossomed into the ReallyBoringGuild. In contrast to the more mundane purpose of the RBG, DeathGuild is a dedicated divergent research guild of MolochDAO, having identified the need for visionary inquiry to elaborate the pertinent and prescient topics involved in expanding the Web3-DAO ecology. DeathGuild is dedicated to advancing the prerogatives of Ethereum-based social products through radically experimental approaches, making innovative use of practices borrowed from tech-adjacent institutions and industries whose fertile resources typically are neglected within the technosphere.


We sense that certain approaches are over-applied as dogmatic methods, rather than people pausing to interrogate whether a certain approach or practice achieves their goals. This calculated logic needs to be brought into proportion with gestalt thinking-practices to avoid constraints upon innovation.

We have been trained in centralized, linear, rational, top-down, hierarchical control protocols. How might we unlearn the dogmas of methods and re-train ourselves to apply these methods anew or rearrange them toward the creation of altogether new methods? We must adapt towards distributed, granular, intuitive, middle-out, diffuse, hybrid self-reliance strategies.

Scaling, privacy, governance, and resource management are interrelated concepts that cannot be cleanly disentangled. We will isolate elements into their constituent parts while restraining to prescribe a unified product. Decentralized research is granular. We will look at each particle as a fluid node in a modular lattice network of liquid associations.

The death in DeathGuild signifies the end of a world, but not the world. We are aligned behind optimism, maintain hope that we might actively manifest a new way of worlding, and will never stop asking-after better questions.


Research is currently focused on pragmatic problem solving. There is no platform for contemplating the looming philosophical issues at play in the Web3-DAO ecosystem that are inclusive to non-technical perspectives. The community needs a forum to publically ruminate upon the complexity of this pivotal moment of global coordination successes and failures. We need to meditate upon what we are optimizing for to understand the values being perpetuated by our mechanics and to ensure they don’t get thrown under the bus.


DeathGuild is dedicated to articulating and preserving a dialogue for radical contemplation, refraining from the temptation to offer quick solutions in order to stay with the trouble. Through carefully nuanced Socratic inquiry, DG will trace the origins of concepts to the foundational desires they are built upon, to the source. DG is dedicated to asking better questions. Asking questions in different ways allow for a shift in our patterns of mind, instigating an ontological shift of our perspective.

Product Features

Phase 2 will be Moloch-centric. DeathGuild serves as a funnel for non-technical communities to find a new way of entering into the Web3-DAO space. The strategy avoids widespread rapid generalized onboarding in preference for very delicate and deliberate guidance through the complex labyrinth of Web3-DAO problems. We are motivated to craft communities full of subtlety and nuance through a sustained meditation on how and why we build.

Phase 2 topics:

  • Ruminations on Ethereum based on Vitalik’s prompts of retroactive public goods funding interpreted to a larger non-technical audience.
  • Deep dive into Kevin Owocki’s post-doomism solar punk utopian ethos.
  • Exegesis of Scott Alexander’s Meditations on Moloch in relation to contemporary philosophical discourse on similar subjects.
  • Correlations to Benjamin Bratton’s The Stack, ruminations on AI vision and knowledge making, and the speculative vision of total automation.
  • Development of a theory of blockchain epistemology:
    • How does information on-chain shift our relation to history?
    • How are our models of governance perpetuating an inherent visual and cultural bias?
    • How can we use transmedia artistic research to shift our perspectives?
  • Coordination as a choice that begins with the individual: corporeal coordination, eye-hand-heart coordination.
  • Gathering perspectives on NFTs from the legacy artworld:
    • Curated contributors from the California College of the Arts (San Francisco), the School of the Art Institute (Chicago), and the LungA School (Iceland)

Additional Features:

  • This project serves as an entry point for onboarding new high quality thinkers and makers into the Web3-DAO space, using MolochDAO as a funnel

See Deliverables section for more details


Phase 1: Discovery Phase - 3 months Completed

DeathGuild will explore the problem space where the primary research objectives intersect. We will conduct heuristics into member interests and clarify the complex mechanics that result in project failure.

Topics: Governance modalities, treasury management schemas, privacy as autonomy+anonymity.
Consultants: non-technical academic (humanities) researchers.

Phase 2: Design Phase - 3-6 months This proposal

Pending the results of Phase 1, DeathGuild will begin generating designs to detail recommendations for a comprehensive program. This might include the crafting of user stories, userflows, information architecture, and supplemental audio/visual deliverables deemed necessary to communicate a minimally viable solution/strategy.

Consultants: Web3-DAO technical researchers and non-technical humanities researchers.

Phase 3: Implementation Phase - Variable Q3 2022?

Details determined by learnings from Phase 2




Grant Request $

  • Work will begin in February 2022 and extend to approximately July 2022.

1hr interview
8hrs transcription/editing
1hr polishing/publishing
= 10hrs per text installment

1hr audio review & prep
8hrs editing/mastering
1hr publishing/posting
= 10hrs per audio installment

= 20hrs @ 150/hr = $3000 per installment x 25 installments =

  • $75k for the content

$100 per interview x 25 interviews =

  • $2500 for contributor compensation

  • $2500 for podcast/audio gear, content hosting, travel

  • Total = $80k

What the Funds Are For: Deliverables

Text Component: Blog

  • 25 installments
  • 1+ season recap/overview

Audio Component: Podcast

  • 25 installments
  • 1+ season recap/overview

For Phase 2, we will enlist a sound artist and theoretician to handle the conversion of the interview content into an experimental podcast format. One podcast will be produced for each interview, amounting to 25 podcast installments. This will be overseen by Curtis Tamm (bio above).

Help Requested

In addition to the grant, DeathGuild would greatly benefit by being included in MolochDAO marketing, outreach, and PR via existing social channels. We hope to have the content generated from this proposal hosted on the MolochDAO website to further the explicit reciprocal relationship between DeathGuild<>MolochDAO.

Additional Resources, Links, Portfolio

DeathGuild Dialogues Phase 1 Archive

Curtis Tamm Portolio

How to Make One’s Self into a Siren: An Acoustemological Mix

1 Like

Having been on a few calls recently with Travis and while recognizing his seriousness of purpose and unique perspective, I think this is a good proposal. I would vote for it. I’d like to hear the interviews especially if Travis brings his own particular “philosophically-oriented” viewpoints into the conversation.

1 Like

I support the concept, but the cost seems high.

1 Like

Thank you for taking the time and I appreciate your response.
Would you prefer to see fewer installments?
Phase 1 will amount to 18 installments when completed in a few weeks, consisting of 15 dialogues, 2 panel discussions, and 1 comprehensive overview compiled from 4.5 months of work. If Phase 2 repeats this structure, that would be:
$54k for the content
$59k total

Hey Travis,

I am confused by a few aspects of this proposal and have compiled the following questions & comments. There are three main problems and questions I have with this proposal:

Problem 1: The cost/hourly rate seems too high. This 2nd Death Guild proposal is requesting a 3x increase in the hourly rate from the first proposal, yet:

  • Death Guild seems to be >50 days behind schedule in delivering the proposals from the first grant.
  • Death Guild has yet proven itself to have sufficient community engagement with the articles it has released in the last few months (at least not much that can be observed publicly).
  • Death Guild’s end-goal seems unclear to me based on this Phase 2 proposal, so it is difficult to understand how to value this work (see next problem).

Problem 2: The proposal is generally unclear.

  • It is confusing what the ultimate end-goal is - does Death Guild intend to become a product team, as Phase 3 implies, or is it more focused on dialogue/media?
  • Also what is the ultimate goal of Phase 2? Is there going to be another grant request to fund the user stories, userflows, and information architecture? The proposal describes a podcast, yet it also says the following in the Phase 2 region:

Pending the results of Phase 1, Death Guild will begin generating designs to detail recommendations for a comprehensive program. This might include the crafting of user stories, userflows, information architecture, and supplemental audio/visual deliverables deemed necessary to communicate a minimally viable solution/strategy.

Problem 3: I believe that autonomous guilds should lead their own marketing. If Death Guild intends to act as an autonomous guild, then I think marketing is something Death Guild needs to sort out, budget for, and manage itself as opposed to rely on Moloch DAO’s operational budget for it’s primary marketing activities. I see a budget to create a podcast that has only taken into account production, yet not outreach. Why do you think it makes sense to leverage Moloch DAO as the primary marketing body for Death Guild’s outputs?

Death Guild seems to have evolved into something that has deviated from whatever I thought it was going to be when I championed the first proposal (understandably so, as we were supposed to work on the project together).

I want to see this project succeed, but some of it seems kind of hand-wavy to me now and not planned to the level that I am personally comfortable with. Why a 3-6 month timeline vs. giving oneself a better target completion date? Is it a podcast? Is it a product? Is it an autonomous guild or more tightly coupled with Moloch DAO?

The articles that have been released have been intriguing, intelligent, and thought provoking (at least the ones I have read). Thank you for making me think more in different ways and expressing unique views that are new to the Ethereum community.

But I think it’s important to set good precedents in this DAO for what level a project or guild’s maturity should be at before requesting such rates. Scope, deliverables, and timelines and guild goals need to be more clear to me.

I may vote yes and support this proposal if the proposal had a reduced hourly wage (such as $75/hr), a team/budget in place for outreach, and more clarity on the goals and trajectory of the project.

Stellar Magnet

1 Like

Breaking it into smaller chunks helps, but it’s more the $150/hr rate that seems like too much.

Please allow me to address the issues raised by Yalda:

1. Hourly rate seems too high.

  • The first grant award was for $26,650k.
  • By the end of this project I will have delivered 15 ~7 page (~4500 word) reports, 2 panel discussions that explore the main problems raised by the project, and a final comprehensive overview extrapolating the main questions from phase 1.
  • Not including initial research, scheduling/coordinating, and other prep, each installment required ~10 hrs to complete.
  • $26,650k / 18 installments / 10hrs = $148/hr

2. The project is >50 days behind schedule.

  • Due to the loss of my core collaborator, the project needed to be restructured. I began work in August and will conclude by the end of 2021. I consistently release 1 issue every weekend.
  • It has also expanded in scope, from the initial 13 weeks to 18 weeks.

3. Insufficient community engagement.

  • This is certainly true and is being addressed directly. I am in the process of summoning a new DAO - Wordsmiths DAO - an outcropping of RaidGuild featuring the best scribes and marketeers from the RG/MC/DH ecosystem to join forces. I hope to enlist additional contributors, expand outreach, and decentralize the project through these means.
  • There are also plans currently underway to integrate the DG research into the MolochDAO website to further strengthen the relation between DG<>Moloch and attract more eyeballs.
  • I have no plans to hire on a dedicated marketing role at this time, although I am very open to the advice and support that Moloch might offer on this point, as stated in the proposal.

4. The end-goal is unclear.

  • The current goal is to go deeper with the research by interviewing influential figures within the ETH community while continuing to curate in rigorous minds from the arts and humanities.
  • The project is also expanding into transmedia outlets, starting with an audio appendage, to attract a diversity of attention spans.
  • The ultimate goal is to create a legacy of exceptional quality philosophical research for the MolochDAO community, aligned with the ReallyBoringGuild goals of culturally rehabilitating the DAO inside and out.

5. Is DG a product team?

  • This research is useful and should be applied. Phase 1 explored the landscape divergently, paving the way for more convergent thinking in Phase 2. The goal is not to offer a product, but an orientation. UX research tools are useful to convey this information and provide clear recommendations - to reach for metrics for unruly qualitative data. This research will be invaluable for builders, researchers, and community organizers (and others) as the ecosystem matures into itself. The goal is clear visualization of core coordination problems.
  • To put it in the terms of Scott Alexander’s Meditations on Moloch:

A basic principle unites all of the multipolar traps. In some competition optimizing for X, the opportunity arises to throw some other value under the bus for improved X. Those who take it prosper. Those who don’t take it die out. Eventually, everyone’s relative status is about the same as before, but everyone’s absolute status is worse than before. The process continues until all other values that can be traded off have been – in other words, until human ingenuity cannot possibly figure out a way to make things any worse.

  • The goal of DeathGuild is to kill this race to the bottom mentality. Death to Moloch.

6. DG should lead it’s own marketing.

  • MolochDAO could certainly provide much needed community support and the result would certainly be mutually beneficial. IMHO, the goal should be reciprocity. On behalf of DG, I am actively seeking opportunities to identify, generate, distribute, and support increased value creation for everyone, including MolochDAO and the larger ecosystem of Web3-DAO communities. The infrastructure of influence and retention is already in place; no sense in reinventing the wheel…?
  • What is the perceived risk/cost of helping this project (and others) gather more eyeballs? ReallyBoringGuild is actively restructuring our outreach and marketing initiatives towards stronger DAO-to-DAO relations. It will be quite easy to integrate this research into those community streams.

7. DG is not what Yalda expected it to be.

  • Absolutely, by design. In order to attend to the unknown, the project has had to remain agile and dynamic. This is a feature, not a failure.
  • This project might be considered ongoing indefinitely. Why is a firm completion date desired?
  • I hope these answers have provided some clarity on the scope, deliverables, timeline, and goals of the project. I would be happy to respond to any additional concerns that arise.

8. It seems like too much.

  • It is inevitable that the Web3-DAO community will come to recognize the importance of non-technical perspectives and contributors alongside the engineered products and tools proliferating in the ecosystem. If you do not find value here, I would implore you to try to explicate this concern as clearly as possible so that we can attend to it as a community. My approach to fear, uncertainty, and doubt is to address it head on, to shed light into the darkness and put words on the (Molochian) demonic impulses. Together we might discover latent value, or perhaps identify more pertinent and precient pathways for this research to explore. I offer myself up in service to MolochDAO, as a sacrifice to a common war against confusion and poor coordination. Help me identify how to properly value these efforts.

Thank you for your generous time and attention!

A change to the proposal, for your consideration.
I just spoke to Curtis Tamm, the sound artist mentioned in the proposal, and we have decided that we will:

  • reduce the total number of installments from 25 to 20 - for both the text and audio elements.
  • This will amount to 20 weeks of work plus 4 weeks of initial (un-billed) prep.
  • The total scope of the project will be 6 months beginning in February.
  • The adjusted budget will be $65k
    20hrs @ 150/hr = $3000 per installment x 20 installments = $60k + contributor comp/gear = $65k

I hope that further clarifies our scope.

I still have a hard time with $150/hr. And it’s not about technical vs non-technical work. I have objected to high rates for engineering work in other proposals.

Selections from the project:

DeathGuild Dialogues #8
It’s a matter of speed; we have to slow down . It’s also a matter of space and time. We must work together to craft the space and practice the patience to meditate on these concepts longer and deeper, to ask-after who is designing, who is benefiting, and identify the risks in relation to the potential gains.

DeathGuild Dialogues #5
Latency is the third pole of the triangle of definition. The speed that we were able to become aware of the manipulation of the materials and of the intention of the image being depicted contributes to our ability to render it accurately, to exercise an acuity of the precision of the image. If the image that is being stylized is opaque and calls attention to itself more than the thing being presented, we might say that this slows down the viewing experience or maybe even creates a surface that our eyes skim over or are deflected off of, are repelled by perhaps, so that we cannot see the image directly. While an image that is rendered at a very high-resolution and a very high-fidelity may appear crystal clear — we can see that it is a picture of something and we recognize what the something is — the style imbibes so little latency, or we might say that the experience of the image occurs at such high-velocity, that we can scarcely begin to contemplate the style of how the thing is rendered or entertain that there might be a manipulation of the image presented. It is immediately perceived as something true to life , unquestioned.

DeathGuild Dialogues #6
I think that tension is the friction between two bodies that generates the kinetic energy that allows ideas to be integrated into one’s own life, into the reader’s perspective; to include them in the performance, but also to need them to fill in those holes, as a different kind of inclusion. The making of space, composing the negative spaces, is the inclusion.

DeathGuild Dialogues #4
If today we’re still focusing on creating technologies that are trying to solve a problem without putting into question our own position and our own infrastructure creating the very ecological inversion we are trying to solve for, then we’re the same as Thoreau, the transcendentalist, not acknowledging the slavery of his own moment.

I do not agree with this current way of calculating and readjusting the first grant.

I am voting no on this new proposal, since Death Guild should have spent:

18*10 * $50/hr = $9000 with a remaining guild budget of $17,650. I do not believe it is fair to give oneself a different hourly rate than what was specified in the grant.

Since the new grant does not propose to start until February 2022 anyhow, this remaining $17,650 budget remaining can be used until the next grant period, and I will consider Death Guild’s proposal in the next round.

1 Like