Meet Badger: The Premier Key Issuer for On-Chain Organizations
What is a Badge?
When I started looking for permission management solutions for MetricsDAO in April of 2022, I ran into a wall. At that stage, the organization was managing permissions with a mishmash of Discord roles, email addresses, and spreadsheets of addresses. While this worked, it was cumbersome and left us unable to properly provision access to other DAO tools with token gating features such as Wonderverse, Clarity, and Snapshot.
After spending a lot of time in web2 startups, I knew that this was going to get out of hand quickly if there wasn’t a way to manage organization group policies at scale. I’ve also spent a lot of time using on-chain query tools and realized that if we could query our team members on-chain we would unlock a new level of access, transparency, and efficiency. If we could easily issue NFTs to team members, administrative overhead would decrease drastically and we would immediately have keys that we could use to access token gateable spaces or work streams.
After experimenting with JokeDAO and Guild, it became clear that my hypothesis was correct. Guild is the premier token gate builder in the space and allows you to set up flexible access points for Discord, Telegram, Github, and Google Workspace.
With even more integrations coming, it was obvious that Guild would be the lock maker of choice for MetricsDAO. Guild works really well if you already have tokens for your team members and JokeDAO was a perfect tool to test my use case, but something more robust was needed to manage our organization.
We needed the ability to:
Delegate Badge Issuance Permissions
Delegate Badge Revoking Permissions
With that knowledge, I started diving into the key issuance space to find a solution to pair with Guild.
I was immediately disappointed with my early research.
There was a gap in the tooling market.
Instead of looking for an organizational tool that didn’t exist, I started looking for simple NFT issuers that I could hack together as I had with JokeDAO. I knew at the end of the day, we could use JokeDAO to issue tokens at will and we could change the locks on Guild as often as needed, but the idea of a simple badging tool kept me up at night. Eventually gn0madic helped me out with a basic contract that would allow us to mint Badges and allow members to forfeit their Badges.
MetricsDAO went into Season 2 using Badger v1, we just didn’t know it yet.
Three months later and approaching the next season, I wanted to re-review the state of Badge tooling and try to find a better solution for MetricsDAO. As we continue to scale, layered hierarchies have begun to form and permissions across our tool stack continue to become more complex. Our focus isn’t on DAO tooling and we didn’t spend any time throughout the Season at MetricsDAO thinking about this problem after getting a working version of v1 up. We knew there were other teams working on this problem and figured they would solve it in time for Season 3 in MetricsDAO.
The DAO “Badge” Landscape Today
Even after waiting a Season, there didn’t seem to be any tool in the market that could meet our organization’s needs. Here’s a run through of some of the options we considered and why we ended up developing Badger v2.
POAP — The bookmarks of your life
Proof of Attendance Protocol operates on a shared ERC721 contract using Gnosis Chain. This setup means there is a lack of on-chain identifiers that would be required to tokengate using other tools. To use POAP as an access key, the lock provider would need to specifically integrate with POAP or complete a dedicated and on-going indexing process to determine which POAP falls in which collection. Beyond the technical limitations of this solution, POAP exists in a different class of tools! Patricio has been adamant in the past that POAPs represent a memory — they are more akin to patches on your backpack or bumper stickers from road trips. POAPs represent where you’ve been, not where you’re allowed to go.
Rep3 — Contributor payroll & incentivization management for DAOs
On-chain reputation has been a big topic of conversation over the past few quarters. Rep3 allows you to set up an organization by linking a Gnosis safe and issuing credentials and badges for communities. Rep3 takes a comprehensive DAO tooling approach and enables teams to issue ERC721s on Polygon representing Membership Badges and Contribution Badges as well as manage payroll and project tasks.
Rep3’s platform is promising, but we already have a stack of reliable payment and task tracking tools. Beyond that, the reputation based approach to the Rep3 product roadmap did not match our needs. Reputation determines what you’ve done and may indicate what you can do, but it is not synonymous with access. MetricsDAO manages reputation with a custom contract and it serves a different purpose in our system. The “Badges” from Rep3 are more similar to accolades or certifications than they are to access keys.
Otterspace — Helps contributors find their way in the DAO universe
The future of Otterspace appears to be a Badge creation mechanism for administrators alongside a Badge claiming and DAO onboarding experience for contributors. Otterspace uses an ERC721 administrator token on Optimism that is able to establish ERC4973 (or other nascent standard) badges and make them claimable for contributors. The platform also allows organization administrators to establish an onboarding flow. Contributor experience includes viewing DAOs, clicking through their custom onboarding and “joining” them. Unfortunately, Otterspace’s emphasis on contributor onboarding was not a need for our organization as we generally source Badge level team members directly from our participant networks.
Badger — Give your organization their keys to Web3
Why We Built Badger
Many DAO tools that we’ve seen come into being over the past year have been heavily focused on bottom up momentum. These tools prioritize the contributors over the administrators and therefore make opinionated decisions about how users can or cannot interact with the protocol. Key features that we felt were missing from other options included issuing badges without requiring recipient claim and establishing delegates with the right to manage a sub-policy.
Badger v1 remained in our back pocket if we needed to redeploy but with this gap remaining in the market, it seemed obvious to fill it.
Adjacent tooling felt too opinionated and/or too comprehensive. Tool stacks for on-chain organizations should display the same principles of composability that we see across the on-chain landscape. All we needed was a key issuer — our payment rails, contribution tracking, reputation management, project management, collaborative writing, etc tooling needs are already being met.
Badger allows you to issue Badges representing tiered access gates within your organization. By representing these permission levels with ERC1155s, the organization can immediately integrate with the entire suite of on-chain organization tooling available in the broader ecosystem. Through an unopinionated protocol that enables organizations to define, issue, and revoke Badges, administrators can move their team on-chain and use the tool stack that your organization most prefers. This enables a broader range of primitive-level features to be offered without disrupting an organization’s existing workflow. Organizations can manage key issuance and revoking across a number Badges and define Delegates to manage key functions. These are Badges. These are keys.
As organization operators, we understand what is required to provide an existing team a set of tools to manage their organization on-chain.
What’s Next for Badger
Even though our front end is opinionated to be a simple key issuer, the protocol is highly unopinionated thanks to sophisticated use of ERC1155 that can store an entire badge system, organization, or even an economy inside of one contract. We’ll continue to expose more features on our front end and encourage others to develop on top of the protocol.
Badger lies beyond the frontier. We’re building primitives that enable granular and use-case agnostic features. With this, any Web3 organization can unlock the benefits of a key-locked access model by choosing the features and product extensions needed at an organization level. We’re home for those pursuing the shared dream of better on-chain organizations and credential management.
Badger is the agnostic key provider to past, present, and future Web3 locks.