Feedback/Discussion on Eterna Players Alliance and Eterna Commons Proposals

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Since late last year, a handful of players (including Jennifer Pearl, lroppy, Brourd, and myself), with input from the development team, have been working on a plan to create an independent, player-driven organization to help grow Eterna and increase the involvement of players in Eterna's future. This has taken fruit in two proposals which we are now releasing for comment to the Eterna community: the creation of the Eterna Players Alliance, and an implementation of an expanded Eterna Commons.

The Eterna Players Alliance is the player-led organization which we aim to launch later this year. A draft of its bylaws is available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LRY5jYazOMLqWZqF-2xDbNYk7AOZpW5RA41SKc-Wwjg/edit

Eterna Commons is the method by which research groups are able to coordinate with players and among themselves. The draft organizational participation agreement is available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bq0zIc1vHkW7CsEWPWOLhHZ5zNk9xV-bRDgx6-RK_qk/edit

These initiatives will shape the future of Eterna, and will directly affect players. We ask that everyone consider the proposals and provide your opinion on whether or not you approve of them and provide any feedback you may have before we start the process of putting them into effect.
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LFP6, Player Developer

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Posted 4 months ago

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rna-key

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Feedback on the “NEW Eterna Commons Draft Organizational Agreement” at [ https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bq0zIc1vHkW7CsEWPWOLhHZ5zNk9xV-bRDgx6-RK_qk/edit ].

The composition of the Executive Committee includes “a maximum of ten (10) representatives from Contributing Groups”. There is ambiguity in this description. Should there be one representative per Contributing Group? Can a single Contributing Group have more than one representative on the Executive Committee? If multiple laboratories at a single academic institution contribute to Eterna, does that qualify for multiple representatives from a single academic institution?

I would propose removing the mention of a specific versioning system (Git, here) from the Developers paragraph under Governance and Membership. Specifying a specific system here automatically raises the complexity of acting to replace the system, later on. Instead, the “versioning system” phrase itself should suffice. I would make the same proposal for additional paragraphs (such as Contributions).

The “Eterna Platform Management” says, “The representative from the Player Organization can opt to require a majority vote of the members of the Player Organization in order to approve the project at their sole discretion.” This is the sole member of the executive committee specifically addressed in the paragraph, and this sentence describes an act that is internal to the Player Organization. Further, this sentence conflicts with the Player Organization paragraph’s sentence that claims the Player Organization “will be structured and run by its own bylaws as developed by players.”

The Intellectual Property Decisions paragraph, under Governance and Membership, lists “organizational policy” in its first paragraph. Which organization is this? The Introduction paragraph describes Eterna Commons as a collaborative effort, not as an organization. So, could this “organizational policy” be that of the Lead Organization, or the Player Organization, or any of the Contributing Groups or Participating Organizations?

Most of the document uses the phrase, “Lead Organization”. “Lead Institution”, however, appears twice in the document, and is not defined.

In the Distribution paragraph, this following sentence has no main verb, so we don’t know what’s intended to happen: “For commercial purposes, organizations that desire to use, modify, or distribute the intellectual property in original or modified form to provide support to Eterna Commons by means of a license agreement that acknowledges the obligation, addresses risk and use of names, and provides a reasonable mechanism for financial support of Eterna Commons.”

The Eterna Commons Financial Guidelines paragraphs have the sentence, “This list may be amended by a vote of the Board.” The word, Board, appears nowhere else in the entire document. What is the Board?


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Jennifer Pearl

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You make some good observations. Concerning the issue with the “Eterna Platform Management” part the intention is to have the player organization ran by its own set of laws as its own organization. This organization would then have someone appointed to sit on the executive committee of the Eterna Commons to represent the players. This person would have the ability to call a vote of the players to approve a project. I think that this still keeps things separate. It is the equivalent of the player rep having the ability to veto any project. The only difference is that the rep is punting it to a vote of the players. Does this address your concern?
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LFP6, Player Developer

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Just getting to addressing these (great!) points.
The composition of the Executive Committee includes “a maximum of ten (10) representatives from Contributing Groups”. There is ambiguity in this description. Should there be one representative per Contributing Group? Can a single Contributing Group have more than one representative on the Executive Committee? If multiple laboratories at a single academic institution contribute to Eterna, does that qualify for multiple representatives from a single academic institution?
Reworded to clarify that it's one per contributing group. Each laboratory is a Contributing Group, so by proxy yes there could be multiple representatives originating from a given academic institution (and that was the intent).
I would propose removing the mention of a specific versioning system (Git, here) from the Developers paragraph under Governance and Membership. Specifying a specific system here automatically raises the complexity of acting to replace the system, later on. Instead, the “versioning system” phrase itself should suffice. I would make the same proposal for additional paragraphs (such as Contributions).
Fair point, changed accordingly.
The Intellectual Property Decisions paragraph, under Governance and Membership, lists “organizational policy” in its first paragraph. Which organization is this? The Introduction paragraph describes Eterna Commons as a collaborative effort, not as an organization. So, could this “organizational policy” be that of the Lead Organization, or the Player Organization, or any of the Contributing Groups or Participating Organizations?
I think this was brought up before and was just never directly dealt with... It is definitely ambiguous, and actually comes from another document which this is derived from. I believe it is intended as (and how we read it was) Lead Organization policy - I've changed it to that.
Most of the document uses the phrase, “Lead Organization”. “Lead Institution”, however, appears twice in the document, and is not defined.
This was changed at one point, and thought everything was updated - it should all be Lead Organization. Changed.
In the Distribution paragraph, this following sentence has no main verb, so we don’t know what’s intended to happen: “For commercial purposes, organizations that desire to use, modify, or distribute the intellectual property in original or modified form to provide support to Eterna Commons by means of a license agreement that acknowledges the obligation, addresses risk and use of names, and provides a reasonable mechanism for financial support of Eterna Commons.”
Bunch of stuff moved around there and I guess the verb was left to the side. Should be "For commercial purposes, organizations that desire to use, modify, or distribute the intellectual property in original or modified form are expected to provide support to Eterna Commons..." Fixed.
The Eterna Commons Financial Guidelines paragraphs have the sentence, “This list may be amended by a vote of the Board.” The word, Board, appears nowhere else in the entire document. What is the Board?
Should be Executive Committee. Fixed.

Thank you so much for your astute observations!
(Edited)
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Gerry Smith

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As an eterna member, I have had conflicting feelings/views about EPA/Commons structural development.  But after listening to both the EPA presentation and David Magus’s thoughts, I am now a supporter.

The keystone for my view shift was when David suggested that we should think of ourselves/eterna as developing a new type of community.  For me, the notion of being in and developing a new type of community gave all the structural development efforts meaning.

There are five existing fundamental principles/features to eterna which I believe our community strongly supports, but that I haven’t heard spoken of explicitly. These aspects are both rare and integral in protecting eterna from problems that arise within communities that lack them. 

The fundamental problems that our community is currently relatively free from are:

1.      Principal – agent problems

2.      Mission drift

3.      Lack of Resiliency

 

Key Existing Eterna Principle/Features:

1.      Idea meritocracy[1]

2.      When consensus cannot be easily reached, we use believability weight decision-making.

3.      Transparency

4.      Resilient systems[2]

5.      Focus on discovery and what is novel

_______________________________________________  

[1] Idea Meritocracy: An idea meritocracy is a decision-making system where the best ideas win out. In idea meritocracy, people commit to doing these three things:

1) Put their honest thoughts on the table for everyone to see.

2) Have thoughtful disagreements in which there are reasonable back-and-forths in which people evolve their thinking to come up with better decisions than they could come up with individually.

3) If disagreements remain, use agreed upon protocols, such as believability weighted decision making, to get people past disagreements in idea-meritocratic way.   (source: Ray Dalio, Bridgewater)

2] https://applyingresilience.org/en/the-7-principles/

 



 
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Gerry Smith

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Dr Magnus’s presentation also significantly changed my view on the importance of another eterna function – players voting on what research to pursue and not to pursue.

This function could become an integral and highly valued part of public governance/participation in how to pursue science and how to get public’s involvement and approval of.  One of several ways, but very important and valued by research organizations, governments and the public.

(Edited)
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rna-key

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In the “Eterna Platform Management” paragraph mentioned above, I propose that the entire sentence about the representative from the Player Organization should be struck out of the “NEW Eterna Commons Draft Organizational Agreement” document.

The accompanying “Eterna Players Alliance Bylaws Draft” document calls this person the Eterna Commons Representative, who is a member and an officer of the Alliance’s Board of Directors. The bylaws draft document describes the rights and responsibilities of Alliance members and officers in much greater detail. I think the Eterna Commons Representative already has the right to call a vote within the Alliance on a project, and that such vote is already a majority vote as described under Alliance member meetings.

The Alliance representative to the Commons thus already does what the Commons Agreement sentence says. The sentence in the “Eterna Platform Management” paragraph thus becomes superfluous. And being stated in the Commons Agreement, this superfluous sentence is out of reach of the members of the Alliance, should they themselves desire to further refine their representative’s responsibilities on their behalf.

If all members of the Commons Executive Committee have veto power over projects, then the representative from the Player Organization on that Executive Committee has that power already, too; although my interpretation is that it is a majority of the Committee who have veto power, not any single member.

It’s appropriate here to say that all this is just my opinion, developed only from my own experiences.

And as an added item, since the Eterna Players Alliance will have assets at least in the form of annual dues, their bylaws should have an article about future dissolution of the alliance. Putting such an article into the bylaws at the birth of the organization prevents many headaches later on.

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dl2007

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I think that players inventors deserve portion of the revenue in case of commercial use of their molecules, it can be great additional stimulus to players work and can attract many more talented players to Eterna and improve overall Eterna working results, such measure will only underscore open and truly collaborative nature of Eterna.
In case of modding, i think , authorship should be split 50/50 between author of original not modded molecule and aurthor of particular mod.
I hope that you consider my opinion and it will be good for all Eterna project eventually.
(Edited)
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Jennifer Pearl

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@zama

In response to your question about input from non-member players. The EPA is not replacing the current player/developer communication paths. It is adding an advocacy group for the majority of active players to bring their issues to the Eterna staff. It is also intended to be a path through which the Eterna player-base (both member and non-member) can interact with other organizations if needed. If you are a player of Eterna and you want a feature added or have an issue you should post about it in the getsat as always. It is recommended that you continue to do so since it is the issue tracker for Eterna.

In response to your question about lab rounds it is the number of lab rounds not the number of unique labs.

Please let us know if you have any questions.
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LFP6, Player Developer

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@dl2007 A big issue is that we have no way to ensure that the original author is known. There is nothing stopping someone from copying a sequence, modifying a couple bases outside of Eterna, and pasting it back in, bypassing any mechanisms that track the ancestry of a design. While we'd certainly hope that no one would do that maliciously, and would want to properly credit original designers, it is possible that users might do this as a way to get around revenue splits. Beyond that, I know that some players have tools outside of Eterna that they just use as a part of their workflow, so it's not even attempting to be subversive.

On top of that, I do think it's a slippery slope that if the potential for royalties is involved, that people are less likely to share (since it is for their own benefit), and it to some degree undermines the point of Eterna as doing the work for the common good. However, these are things you could argue me out of - but there's no way around the fact that we have no way to ensure proper attribution.
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dl2007

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If you think that royalties is bad idea then probably any prizes or scholarships should be proportional and scaled up to commercial income connected to particular Eterna project and we need exact definition what to count as "extraodinary" contribution.
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Brourd

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Extraordinary contributions would most likely result from extremely difficult projects where a player or group of players do far above the expectation, where the genesis of an algorithm or idea may be easily traced. It's an unprecedented concept, and I would argue that it's a difficult to even be able to prove in most cases.

As for prizes and scholarships, I would envision the use of scholarships to fund Eterna players for school, and may be more of a general monetary endowment for educational purposes.

For Eterna players who are interested in spearheading the research (formal development of the protocol, data analysis, writing summaries of the findings, and publishing papers), I would say that it may be possible to have research fellowships that fund the players while they are performing this work. However, there will be expectations of results, and so it won't be something that every or any player could do. Furthermore, the monetary amounts that would be awarded may not be enough to make the player self-sufficient.

Finally, there is always the possibility that players could be hired to do freelance work with the codebase, or possibly freelancing for graphic design, marketing, or other work related to promotion and development of the site. Again, it's not going to be something that allowed a player to be self-sufficient, and may be more of a token compensation for their volunteer work.

Ultimately, I agree with LFP6, that we shouldn't be promising monetary awards for speculative labor. It's unfair, and while it may drive a sustained player base vying for the chance for pennies worth of money, it will most likely cause more harm in the long run. However, the goal of the Eterna Players Alliance is to act in the best interest of players, and if there is more than a substantial excess amount of money being generated from IP on the site, it may be our prerogative to then bring money back into the site and to players in one form or another. However, I have considerable doubts on that occurring.
(Edited)
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JR

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I think you are headed in a interesting direction.
You may want to separate for profit funds from non-profit funds. 
You can do this by creating the alliance that uses for reseach only funding for the eterna platform,
and when you find something that might make a profit, separate it from the basic research 
funding as a new project that pays rent back to the main eterna platform from the owners of the project.
The main eterna platform could be a partner in any of your profits.  
Players would have a choice of which projects to participate and at what ownership level.
I think you may lose reseach funding if the eterna main platform is directed towards for profit projects. 

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Preston Zen

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I transcripted one of the talks from eteRNAcon and was now able to post it as a comment document. I think that an aspect to really motivate long term players is have a system similar to a vested ESOP program so that there is seniority on players that have been playing longer and have a deeper perspective on the general direction of the game. An idea that would mitigate the lack of sharing of information due to a monetary prize would be to have groups that would share in the prize and compete against others. Yes there would still be a non-sharing competitive aspect although there would a huge push for progress due to the rewards of scientific credit and financial rewards (royalties, etc.) No matter how I see it I sense that eteRNA is going to end up moving in a direction to produce profitability especially once Eterna creates it's first viable medicine. This will really set the stage for eterna's progression to the next level. 
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1T_cK8hK2eCgyrc2WA1VrbDV1U5cFKEl3ufJRGWwxKWM/edit?usp=sharing