Catalyst SITREP #2 

 August 5, 2021

By  Emmitt Luhning

This is a long overdue Catalyst SITREP (Situational Report).  It's the second SITREP Vital Point AI has published, but the first in what is intended to be a series of weekly reports outlining the progress that Catalyst is making along with short-term goals for the following weeks.

I'm Emmitt  and in the time since the last SITREP was released, I have been brought on board as the Community Integrations Engineer for Catalyst.  As such, I will be publishing these reports from now on. You can find some information about myself at the bottom of the page should you be interested.  

Catalyst and the Open Web Sandbox (OWS)

We've started working with the Open Web Sandbox (OWS) as a use case for Catalyst. The push to launch Catalyst in support of OWS and other communities in the near future continues, and with it, a flurry of new features and ideas.

In the past few weeks, we have been working primarily on two fronts: the introduction of new features for use on launch, and the polishing of contracts and other code in preparation for the move to both NEAR and Ceramic MainNets.

Discussions with the OWS team have given us excellent perspective on the functionality that communities and their users may need, and how the platform may be interpreted and used. Their enthusiasm coupled with our excited anticipation of launch, have instilled vigor in the push to cement the foundations for both short and long-term features.

Some milestones and developments are as follows. As it has regrettably been a fair bit of time since our last update, there is quite a lot to discuss, but I will keep it concise, recent and relevant.

Airtable/Persona Integration

Catalyst now has the ability to quickly integrate the contributor Airtable data currently used by the Open Web Sandbox. Users who previously filled out a contributor form can import their information directly into their Catalyst Persona with the click of a button.  Aim here is to reduce the friction as OWS users get onboarded to Catalyst.

Opportunities and Skills

An exciting development for Catalyst has been the implementation of a new proposal type: opportunities.

These proposals allow communities to submit an opportunity with an associated reward, allowing members to apply for that piece of work and get compensated in NEAR. 

This is coupled with new skill based functionality in user Personas. Users list their skills within their Personas and get matched with appropriate opportunities through a tailored dashboard.

Opportunities are displayed alongside their Persona with a personalized suitability score making it easy for users to find and contribute to projects while earning NEAR where their skills are needed.

Vote Delegation

Voting and democracy got an upgrade with vote delegation (proxy voting). Members can now lend their voting shares to another member within the same community.

This extends the flexibility of the platform, allowing communities to organize themselves in a variety of new ways.

For instance, if desirable, this can create an environment where members have the potential to gain voting power or shares based on how other members perceive them within the community, rather than simply through the size of their financial contribution.

We're expecting to see communities spring up with many different types of governance setups that resemble everything from one-person dictatorships, to plutocracies, to fully democratic (one-person, one-vote) systems and everything in-between.

Governance won't stop there though - we have plans for other voting mechanisms as well.  Stay tuned.

 Consumable Personas 

Personas are now more easily consumable by external applications!

In line with our original vision for Personas that are accessible by a wide variety of projects, a npm package allows other applications to quickly bring in the data of Personas created by users for Catalyst communities.

Our hope is that this will increase the use for Personas over time, and make them more and more valuable to those that have created them.  Coupled with exciting developments in reputation and roles, we can envision Personas extending far beyond the bounds of Catalyst across the NEAR ecosystem.

Roles and Reputation

We have now built in Roles and Reputation Factor capabilities to our contracts.  Communities will soon have a way to add customizable Roles to their communities that can be assigned to members giving them special privileges or even rewards for ongoing work they are doing in support of community objectives. 

In the same manner, communities will be able to establish reputation systems based on factors they deem relevant to their community.  Both of these systems are designed to be open and will be rolled into the consumable Personas discussed earlier.

We aim to create a platform that is flexible to many different types of communities. We envision a system where communities choose which actions and behaviors result in an increase or decrease of a member’s reputation, and define roles that are relevant and useful for their specific goals.

Lots to do, but this work established the bones of what will eventually be that system.

Additional Polish and Performance

We have also been taking measures to engineer a fluid, and secure experience for users by:

  1. Correcting errors and inconsistencies in both the front-end and back-end to create a fluid experience for users;
  2. Setting up and running related infrastructure (now hosting our own Ceramic node); and
  3. Focusing on lots of testing and verification including passing along our contracts to experts for a final review prior to MainNet deployment.

Moving Forward

In the coming weeks, our primary concern is ensuring that Catalyst is ready for deployment on MainNet, and publishing extensive, and accessible documentation for users. 

We have therefore started content creation for two courses on Vital Point Academy - one for individuals and one for community/project owners.  Aim of each being to get people up-to-speed as fast as possible so Catalyst is useful to them from day one.

We intend to merge instructional video, articles, and interactive exercises to properly cement the information delivered through these programs.

We still have lots of work to do on roles/reputation and plan on continuing to polish all of our contracts and code for MainNet launch - correcting any issues that arise, and optimizing the code we have already written for a variety of features.

Want to Get Involved?

At some point (and that point is getting closer), getting involved with Catalyst will mean using Catalyst itself - where proposals will be submitted, discussed, sponsored and managed through NEAR based smart contracts in a more open web manner.  We'll be transitioning management of project development to the Catalyst platform as soon as we can - both as a means of ongoing testing as well as pushing development forward.

Until then though, we're forced to use the tools at our disposal.  We manage the project through a Github project board and provide the development opportunities as bounty labelled issues - both of which you can always find in the resources section of Catalyst headquarters.

We'd also encourage you to join the Vital Point AI Discord server where there is a channel devoted to Catalyst development (as well as other projects in the pipeline).  We monitor it and aim to provide timely follow-up on any questions or to provide clarifications/announcements.

In Summary...

We are thrilled that launch day is in sight, and are firing on all cylinders to ensure everything is prepared for users to begin building communities on Catalyst as soon as possible. We have added a breadth of new features in the past months, and are looking forward to seeing the ways that people, and communities choose to use them.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us, or ask them below.

Until next time,


Emmitt Luhning

Hey! My name is Emmitt and I'm the Community Integration Engineer for Catalyst. a project of VitalPoint AI. I'm also a student of Software Engineering here in Canada, and a major fan of decentralization. I help explore new use cases, onboard users, develop new features, and create educational content for Catalyst. @davantzis <- Twitter

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