This post by Alexey Akhunov makes some interesting criticisms of CLR and Gitcoin Grants. It’s worth discussing them here.
Paraphrasing his criticisms:
Donations should not go to recipients immediately because they can be recycled in the same round.
clr.fund addresses this directly via MACI, since funds are only distributed when the round ends.
Sybil attacks are a problem without a scalable solution.
clr.fund believes BrightID actually is a scalable solution.
CLR doesn’t actually create collective intelligence; it’s just a popularity contest with people donating to what they already know about.
This is an important criticism. As I see it there are two main problems:
As @auryn suggests, a lot of this can be resolved with better recipient curation. Keeping out non-public goods, spam, etc.
A structural problem where certain types of projects, by virtue of having a more direct communication channel with the people they benefit and therefore a built-in platform to ask for donations, have an advantage over projects with a less direction connection to the people they benefit.
It gets worse. Often times the latter type of project is infrastructure, tooling, or middleware. Those projects benefit everybody, but they directly benefit only developers. Users of applications created by those developers also benefit, but indirectly (how many DeFi bros know that ethers.js exists?). And because there are many more users of applications than developers, even if a dev tooling project delivers the same overall value to the community as, say, a podcast, the valuation of the podcast will be split among all its listeners, while the valuation of the dev tooling will be concentrated among the smaller group of developers. The podcast will therefore get a larger CLR match, resulting in a mis-allocation of funds.