Importance Of Standards

Why standards will become an important part of the Catalyst funding process

What are standards?

“A standard is an agreed way of doing things. It can be a product specification, a process for producing a good or service, or a process for undertaking any other form of economic activity such as supplying goods or services.” - Economic benefits of standards, BSI.
The International Standards Organisation (ISO) are one of the most popular general purpose source for standards used internationally.

Example usage of standards

TCP/IP network protocols
The Internet Protocol (IP) is an address system of the internet. The TCP protocol can be thought of as the puzzle assembler that puts the pieces together in the right order and asks for any missing pieces to be resent. It is due to the international adoption of both TCP and IP networking protocol standards that the internet functions as it does today. TCP & IP are widely known and globally adopted open standards.
Crypto wallets
Wallet applications that hold crypto need to follow the applicable standards from a particular blockchain ecosystem. In any one blockchain ecosystem the end user benefits from the wallet applications all needing to use this same standard as this is what allows them to move from one wallet application to another using their seed phrase which secures their wallet holdings. In Cardano this could mean using the Eternl wallet and then being able to moving over to the Gero wallet. If the Cardano network is changed or upgraded the wallet applications may need to be updated to respond to any of these changes. This is so the wallets continue to follow the latest Cardano standards.

Potential areas of standardisation for Catalyst

Proposal standards
Proposals being submitted into the Catalyst process would benefit from following a common standard so that it becomes easier to develop more applications for creating, maintaining and submitting proposals in the ecosystem. Proposal standards could cover what data should be included, the data structure and also how the data could be stored and managed.
Priority setting standards
The community benefits from being able to express which priorities are the most important in the ecosystem and using these priorities to help decide which initiatives to vote on. Priority setting standards could include the data model for recording this information, how the community can add priorities or support existing ones and how this data could be stored.
Proposal assessment standards
The community benefits from proposals being assessed either automatically or by suitable community members and experts so that it becomes easier to rank and compare proposals. Assessment standards could look at what processes should exist for assessing proposals and what data should be recorded. It could also include processes for how assessors are selected and verified in relation to whether they have the skills and capability to effectively follow that the assessment process.
Voting standards
There are many different approaches that could be adopted for handling voting in the Catalyst funding process. Voting standards could involve the identification of which approaches should be used due to the properties they offer to the process. The voting standards also may differ depending on the type of funding categorisation such as whether it is idea based funding or contributor based funding. Voting standards could also cover what processes or networks are suitable for handling Sybil resistance when the community wants to adopt other voting approaches such as one person one vote.
Auditing standards
When proposals are funded there is a need to audit the progress and completion of those projects. Auditing standards could cover the process needed to record that progress and the data which is collected and stored. Processes for auditing milestones or completed projects could also be included with a standardised approach for what data must be included depending on the type of proposal that got funded. For instance an event or a software project could benefit from slightly different auditing processes as they each can have different progress and completion information to report.

Advantages of using standards in Catalyst

Using standards in Catalyst will help with improving interoperability between community made applications. This would especially be the case if proposal and assessment standards are adopted which both can have a large amount of data being generated by the proposers and assessors. Adopting standards will help with increasing pluralism across the available applications in the funding process.
Cost reduction
Adopting standards will help to reduce costs of application implementations. Standards can help with solving important and common design, development and process problems so that a mutual agreed approach can be found. Every team that adopts these standards can then benefit from the work which has already been done in establishing the standard and can build on top of any of these adopted standards.
Those working on the Catalyst funding process would benefit from standards that prevent them from reinventing the wheel when introducing a new application. This can save significant time on developing a new application. If existing applications are open source this efficiency is further increased as those applications following these standards can then be changed and improved to offer the community even more functionality and use cases but built upon the same standards.
Adopting standards in Catalyst will mean proposers, voters and assessors will get a similar experience across applications for the areas where standards are adopted. If the community adopts a proposal based standard then proposers would expect to see a similar format and data structure for the information that is requested across other applications that help with the submission and management of proposals.
Using standards is effective for increasing simplicity in the Catalyst funding process. Having a completely different approach in every application for every part of the process would be both complex and expensive to maintain. Aligning on core principles and approaches to create some shared standards will mean decreasing this complexity and making it easier for participants in the funding process to understand and use the range of applications available.
Mitigating risks
Standards can help reduce security risks by increasing the amount of collaboration and agreement around best practices for processes and data handling in the funding process. If standards help to document and articulate what these best practices are then audits can be made to check whether applications that say they are adopting these standards are actually following them correctly. Interoperable systems that follow standards help to mitigate some of the risk of bad actors as if one application becomes problematic the users of that application should be able to migrate to another application without any friction.
Shared skills and knowledge
The skills and knowledge required to understand and adopt standards into applications and processes can be shared across the Catalyst ecosystem. This makes it easier for developers to try out new things in a new application and then easily migrate to another application if their experiment was not successful.

Reasons not to use standards

Potential difficulties when creating a common approach
One potential problem with standards is instances where there are many different approaches to solve the same problem and that each of the approaches have different tradeoffs. More experimentation might be needed to come to a conclusion on a common approach. When there are many approaches with difficult tradeoffs there will be a higher difficulty in reaching an agreement on adopting a standard.
Maintenance and update effort
Once standards are widely adopted it becomes increasingly important to consider the implications of how that standard is maintained and updated. Higher adoption means there is a higher cost to making changes to the standard. If the standard is complex to maintain or update then the standard itself could become the bottleneck for innovation. Due to this consideration is needed on how any standards would be updated and what processes and checks and balances would be needed to change an existing standard. Backwards compatibility will be another concern if standards change when certain data is likely to be stored on an immutable blockchain.


  • The adoption of standards has been an increasingly important factor for helping international trade and collaboration across important areas of society. Blockchain systems similarly benefit from finding common approaches and adopting these as standards.
  • Catalyst can adopt standards in a multitude of areas such as around proposals, community priority setting, proposal assessments, voting and auditing. There are many benefits to the adoption of standards in the Catalyst funding process including interoperability, cost reduction, efficiency, consistency, simplicity, mitigating risks and sharing of skills and knowledge.
  • Further research and analysis will be needed in each of these areas within Catalyst to help with properly identifying what common approaches exist and how exactly standards could be defined and adopted to benefit the ecosystem.