Name of Project
What is the work being proposed?
We are building Rocket School, an educational course platform and video series designed to hand-hold new Rocket Pool node operators through the process of setting up their node. It offers a complete, opinionated, decentralization-first series of videos on the subject of staking with Rocket Pool, starting with a few general information videos on Ethereum and Rocket Pool staking, and then going through every detail of preparing hardware and software and otherwise becoming a Rocket Pool node/minipool operator, and maintaining it after that point. The intent is to lower the barrier to becoming a Rocket Pool node operator.
Rocket School already received an EthStaker grant of just under $20k DAI in 2022, and has been working with those funds since then. With the most expensive line item now in progress in September 2023 (the video production), once that is complete we will have exhausted those funds. We are here applying for a grant from the GMC to ‘top us off’ and help us finish the project with full polish, as well as to retain some funds for future course maintenance.
Is there any related work this builds off of?
The Rocket Pool documentation is our starting point, and others have made amateur videos of their process setting up a minipool, but Rocket School is intended to be a professional-quality course with high production values and careful educational design, that avoids some of the confusing aspects of the Rocket Pool documentation.
Will the results of this project be entirely open source? If not, which parts will not be, why, and under what license will they be published?
How does this help people looking to stake ETH for rETH?
Rocket School will hopefully help more people become node operators, increasing the capacity of Rocket Pool to stake ETH for rETH.
How does this help rETH holders?
It will hopefully help more poeple become node operators, increasing the number of Rocket Pool validators on Ethereum, and thus improving the long-tail odds that exceptionally high MEV blocks are found and shared in the Rocket Pool smoothing pool, marginaly increasing rETH yield.
How does this help people looking to run a Rocket Pool node for the first time?
Lowering the barriers to running a Rocket Pool node is the entire point of Rocket School. We surmise that the current semi-chaotic state of documentation, with many options and many references to external instructions and sites, and in text-only form, is intimidating to prospective node operators, even if they otherwise have sufficient technical knowledge and the required funds. We believe that a comprehensive professional-quality video lesson series, with friendly, entertaining, opinionated educational content, will overcome some of these challenges and greatly improve the experience for many of the people looking to run a Rocket Pool node for the first time.
By “opinionated”, we mean that our course will cover a single path to running a Rocket Pool node, rather than attempting to cover many different options at once. We have carefully chosen that path to be the easiest one that still meets high security and decentralization standards. Points in the process where a different choice could be made will be called out, without further explanation. Key ecosystem diversity choices like which clients to run are still left up to the student.
How does this help people already running a Rocket Pool node?
It will include several general-information videos on Ethereum and Rocket Pool staking, as well as several lessons on node maintenance. It’s entirely possible that some of this will be new information even to existing Rocket Pool node operators.
How does this help the Rocket Pool community?
It will provide a high-quality site where any prospective new node operators can be directed by the community, hopefully making bringing new people into the community easier, and lowering the burden on the community of supporting people who are onboarding to becoming a node operator.
How does this help RPL holders?
It will hopefully help more people become node operators, and if they don’t already hold RPL, they will need to buy some. It should be noted that pumping the price of RPL is not one of the goals of Rocket School, but rather increasing the decentralization of Ethereum.
What other non-RPL protocols, DAOs, projects, or individuals, would stand to benefit from this grant?
EVMavericks’ ManeNet DAO is the entity creating Rocket School; the DAO (with its very limited treasury) would likely feel it necessary to fund the remainder of Rocket School work if this grant were not to be received, so the grant would benefit our DAO by sparing it the need to use what would be 20-50% of its public-goods-focused treasury in that way. Additionally, our Project Manager is a member of the DAO, and her payment for all of the work she has done is one of the currently unfunded items, and so she would benefit if the grant were received.
Will the resulting project be open source?
Yes. The source code for the site, including links to the lesson videos on Youtube, is in Github and will be open for PRs. The videos will be available for use anywhere in the ecosystem.
Who is doing the work?
A mix of members of the EVMavericks’ ManeNet DAO, and paid contractors. To list the DAO members currently significantly involved (@ Discord handles):
- DoubtStarsAreFire/@ doubtstars (Project manager, scriptwriting)
- Arbora/Interweaver/@ protoplanetary (Grantwriting, general cat-herding, scriptwriting, and Github management)
- @ jtnichol (Video production)
- @ juxta (Node setup screen recording, scriptwriting, contractor interface)
- @shfryn (Site design and quality assurance)
- @ .eyezick (Site build)
- @ ZombieBP#6973 (Grantwriting, scriptwriting)
What is the background of the person(s) doing the work? What experience do they have with such projects in the past?
We bring an extensive mix of skills relevant to this project. Just to name a few, our Project Manager DoubtStarsAreFire is a professional online course educational designer who has worked with many large companies in the past, and has a long history of involvement in the web3 community, including planning HodlerCon, the EthFinance community’s biannual meetup. I (Arbora/Interweaver) have a background in building and writing online educational courses, and am an Ethereum solo staker. JT does professional freelance video production, especially within the crypto/web3 community, most recently for Green Pill and EthStaker. ShfRyn has deep ties to the Rocket Pool community, as well as extensive design experience. We could go on, but overall, our group of volunteers is pretty stacked.
What is the breakdown of the proposed work, in terms of milestones and/or deadlines?
We are fairly far along with the Rocket School project. Thus far, we have designed and made an initial implementation pass on our course platform’s website. We have created a comprehensive course outline and written approximately half of the scripts for the video lessons. Video production is just beginning and is expected to run into November. This has all been volunteer work or funded with our previous EthStaker grant.
Going forward, major milestones will include completion of a mobile-responsiveness pass on our site, as well as finishing scriptwriting, and the big one, finishing video production on our video lessons, of which there will be fifteen, in the 3-10 minute range each. We also anticipate needing to do some graphic design work on diagrams featuring in the videos, possibly some additional polish work on the website, as well as a final outreach program to ensure that Rocket School is known about in the community.
How is the work being tested? Is testing included in the schedule?
We are performing quality assurance work on the website after each major implementation iteration. The scripts and videos will be run past additional Rocket Pool community members for accuracy before being finalized. Our final user-testing plan is to find some new prospective node operators and have them go through the course, to let us know any pain points they encounter that we could fix before we consider the project to be released.
How will the work be maintained after delivery?
The site is on Github, so we hope to solicit community PRs for any technical improvements that can be made. As far as keeping the video course up to date, any funding left over (especially from this grant if we receive it) will be used to update videos as the technicals of how to set up a Rocket Pool node evolve over time. The EVMavericks’ ManeNet DAO will retain responsibility for noticing the need for and implementing/contracting for these video updates.
Payment and Verification
What is the acceptance criteria?
See the next item.
What is the proposed payment schedule for the grant? How much USD $ and over what period of time is the applicant requesting?
We would like to request a total $20k grant, with payment in two lump sums.
The first portion, of $5000, would be paid immediately upon grant approval. This portion would allow us to make additional course platform site improvements needed to reach a professional level of polish, as well as to hire educational or motion graphic designers to create educational visual assets for our videos. It would also allow our Project Manager to be at least partially paid for her work. The acceptance criteria for this payment would be that we have already demonstrated the ability to design and create the Rocket School website, as well as to design the course and begin scriptwriting and video production. The evidence for that can be seen here:
The second portion, of $15000, would be paid upon release of the Rocket School course. This portion would allow us to fully pay our Project Manager for her work (we agreed to a $4-5k total payment when we brought her on as project manager at the beginning of 2023), and would provide us with funds to ensure Rocket School stays up to date far into the future. We might also use a small amount (<$2k) of this portion of the grant for marketing to supplement our grassroots outreach, to make sure the staking community knows about Rocket School. The acceptance criteria for this portion would include the completion of our planned syllabus of 15 high-quality lesson videos, available on the Rocket School course platform, which implement the full course outline linked above. It would also include the Rocket School site being complete to an acceptable standard of quality, including on mobile devices.
Note that lesser grant amounts than $20k would also be very helpful, but we feel that this is the number that would allow Rocket School to reach its full potential and have a long lifespan.
These funds would be managed by the Rocket School multisig, which currently is a two-of-four multisig consisting of myself (Interweaver) and three other respected EthFinance/EVMavericks/EthStaker community members (The-A-Word, ZombieBP, and Austonst). If there are any concerns about the makeup or size of this multisig, we are open to expanding it.
How will the GMC verify that the work delivered matches the proposed cadence?
The proposed payment plan does not feature a specified cadence of work; the first portion of the grant would be paid on the basis of work already completed which shows our commitment to, and ability to implement, the Rocket School vision; while the second portion would be released upon release of Rocket School, whenever that happened, although it should be noted that we are aiming for a winter 2023 release according to our current schedule.
What alternatives or options have been considered in order to save costs for the proposed project?
The current alternativies to save costs going forward include our Project Manager role switching to being a volunteer role rather than the previously-agreed-to paid role; foregoing any further site polish or improvements; creating lower-quality educational diagrams for our videos ourselves (none of us are professional infographic designers) or skipping them entirely; and either making low-quality amateur replacement videos in the future when updates are needed, or skipping them entirely. These would largely represent a diminishing of our vision of Rocket School as a professional-quality source of information for new node operators, although we would still be able to release the course in this situation.
Conflict of Interest
Does the person or persons proposing the grant have any conflicts of interest to disclose? (Please disclose here if you are a member of the GMC or if any member of the GMC would benefit directly financially from the grant).
@ShfRyn is on the Grants and Bounties Management Committee. He performed the site design for Rocket School, and was paid for this work. He has also been doing QA for us on a volunteer basis. At this time, we don’t have further paid work planned for him, so he would not benefit financially from this grant.
Will the recipient of the grant, or any protocol or project in which the recipient has a vested interest (other than Rocket Pool), benefit financially if the grant is successful?
EVMavericks’ ManeNet DAO will not benefit financially from this grant, except in the sense that it would no longer need to consider funding Rocket School itself. Of the team of DAO members individually working on Rocket School, our Project Manager, DoubtStarsAreFire, would personally stand to benefit financially if this grant were successful, because she would be able to be paid for her work.
Thank you for your consideration, and go Ethereum and Rocket Pool!