Nouns Mail: A Token-Gated Email Address [DRAFT]

Nouns Mail Proposal

tl;dr

A token-gated email address for every Nouns holder to pseudonymously communicate and access the rest of the internet.

The Problem

Nouns is pushing the frontier of on-chain identity, community, and governance. Yet, large swaths of the internet remain non-interoperable with our on-chain identities. Currently, we cannot connect our Ethereum wallets to access Twitter, collaborate on a Figma document, or even engage on the Nouns forum.

Email addresses remain a necessity to access most platforms on the internet. Existing email providers do not natively integrate with on-chain information, compelling Nouns to manually link aspects of their on-chain identity to off-chain platforms. Furthermore,

We elaborate more on this problem and discuss solutions in The Identity Gap.

The Proposal

Every Nouns owner will be able to claim a unique, token-gated email address under @nouns.wtf, or another domain decided by the DAO. Claiming this email address will be enforced by querying to an Ethereum node verifying ownership of a Noun.

Use cases

Here we suggest four initial categories of how our proposal can provide utility for Nouns. Should the proposal be accepted, we hope to assist in building out these use cases — like a weekly email newsletter or a nouns.wtf domain-gated Figma.

We encourage the community to suggest additional use cases — Nouns Mail is a primitive that can unlock a Cambrian explosion of creativity.

Greater utility for owning a Noun (through Nouns Mail or otherwise) increases the demand for minting Nouns or paying royalties on secondary transactions, leading to a larger treasury for the DAO.

Implementation

NounsDAO allocates a domain to be used as the official email domain for Nouns holders. We suggest nouns.wtf because of its familiarity, but any reasonable domain owned by the DAO or available on the market would suffice.

We will be using Skiff Mail, an open source, end-to-end encrypted mail provider, as the interface and mailserver for the custom domain.

All emails sent and received by Nouns email addresses are encrypted with elliptic curve crypto (Curve25519 keypairs), and emails that are sent or received to other Skiff accounts (e.g. other Nouns holders) are end-to-end encrypted. Ownership of EOAs is verified by generating a unique challenge token, requesting an ECSDA signature, and verifying the signature’s validity. A full description of Skiff’s protocol and threat model can be found at skiff.com/whitepaper.

As previously mentioned, verification of Nouns ownership occur by querying an Ethereum indexer on the Nouns token contract.

Example User Experience

A user connects their wallet — if it’s detected that they own a Noun, a dialog prompts them to create their email address.

After clicking Claim email alias , the page directs them to choose their unique Nouns email address.

Afterwards, Nouns will be free to send and receive email from this address.

Revoking Email Address Ownership

One open question is what would happen to an account who sells or transfers his Noun after previously claiming his email address. Because owning a @nouns.wtf email address reflects one’s on-chain identity, it would be reasonable that ownership of this address is lost after losing the underlying Noun.

To implement this, Ethereum oracles on Skiff would listen for transactions where existing Noun email holders sell or transfer their last remaining Noun. Then, following an optional grace period, the email address would become disabled, becoming unusable until the account owns a Noun again.

Deliverables and Timeline

Phase 1: December 2022

The first phase will involve implementation of claiming Noun email addreses with the UX flow described above. We anticipate this taking around 2-4 weeks to fully build, test, and launch.

Phase 2: Early January - February 2023

In phase 2, we plan to take an active role in creating Nouns email utilities, including newsletters, domain-gated workspaces, and integrating better verification banners for the Nouns forum. We anticipate this process taking around a month, depending on the scope of utilities.

Team & Compensation

@traderjo - Designer, currently at Skiff and Azuki. Previously Apple, CMU design.

@richard - Engineer, currently at Skiff. Also contributor to IBC and Osmosis. Previously Blockchain@Berkeley, Figma.

We anticipate completion of phase 1 and 2, as well as initial maintenance and marketing, taking ~2 months. With one engineer and designer at a rate of 8 ETH per contributor per month, we are requesting 32 ETH.

Future

There are two directions we want to expand on to further increase utility — privacy and SubDAOs.

Privacy

We’re working with Personae Labs, author of the heyanouns proposal, to build a version of Noun emails where Noun holders do not need to reveal their Ethereum address. Rather than signing an attestation to owning a certain Ethereum address, Noun holders will submit a zk-SNARK proof that they own a Noun,

There are many reasons Noun holders might want to not reveal their address, for example not wanting to reveal their entire on-chain financial history. This is currently an active research area, and involves the user of ZK nullifiers for ECDSA to prevent one Nouns holder from claiming more than one private email address.

SubDAOs

We plan to launch a similar token-gated email addresses to Nouns SubDAOs, applying a similar implementation and building out similar utilities. We’ve already heard of inbound interest from the LilNouns community, and will continue engaging with other SubDAOs who are interest. Improving utility for SubDAOS will further draw more interest, usage, and capital into the broader Nouns community.

7 Likes

I’m surprised to see no comments here. I really like this idea, and I have a couple thoughts.

  1. Most of the activity within the Nouns community occurs outside of those who actually own a Nouns token. It would be much more helpful to allow anyone to claim a nouns.wtf email for simply wanting to have one. Or maybe you create a separate DAO that mints the token that ultimately acts as the web3 gate into the email system.

  2. It might make a lot of sense to reach out to NNS to see if they would be interested in adding the email client as part of their ‘package’ when you buy a .noggles name from them. The NNS token acts as the gate into the email client and then it’s available to everyone who is interested in participating regardless of whether they own a Nouns token or affiliated subDAO.

If you are interested in workshopping this idea further, let me know! I’d love to chat more.

3 Likes

Thank you for the feedback! Great point regarding Nouns activity occurring outside token-holders – our thoughts were that the @nouns.wtf domain would be a badge of legitimacy reserved for token holders, and this could eventually extend to SubDAOs and other tokens (like our own Nouns Mail governance token). But you’re right in that starting with only Nouns holders may be too exclusive.

Love the suggestions, especially the partnership with NNS as that already comes with an alias for the email address. I’ll pass the proposal around that community as we iterate on the draft. One open question we’d have for whichever communities we launch with: what use cases of email addresses would be the most helpful to your community? e.g. newsletters, domain-gated Slack/Figma, contact cards

I’d love to workshop this further, either in this thread, telegram (@richardyliu), or email (richard@skiff.com).

3 Likes

Random thoughts since seeing your prop. Have you played around with Farcaster yet? I think there’s a big opportunity with a protocol like that to create a feed based on the tokens you own so you can have a client where it’s only people in Nouns on your feed and only people from Nouns sees your stuff. Your token could be the gate that opens that up as well. I’m assuming that’s the thought behind the domain gated Slack/Figma, but the Farcaster stuff is already attracting a ton of Nouns people and might be a great avenue to explore a web3 centric solution.

2 Likes

This is a great idea.

Ideally this connects to long-term public infrastructure - after launching with Nouns, then Nouns SubDAOs, I would like to see plans to offer a general service to the public. Bonus points if it’s a trustless on-chain protocol, bonusbonus points if its free. That doesn’t need to be in this proposal, but that’s the direction that will get the most excitement from Nouns imo.

Nouns is in the process of decentralizing everything that isn’t on-chain and there is desire to make nouns.wtf less official. Starting with a different domain might be a stronger choice.

2 Likes

Great suggestions. @AndrewLaddusaw I do use Farcaster! Definitely open to something like a custom feed, but it’s a bit out of scope for this initial phase which is more email domain-centric. Maybe a follow-up expansion proposal once we decentralize this protocol and have our own governance token :slight_smile:

@joelcares we also had the same feedback from NNS about using a different domain than nouns.wtf – I do think an alternate domain also would help with scammers posing as “official nouns team members”.

Will post an updated proposal later this week!

3 Likes

I think this is 100% worth exploring further. Have you thought about what an MVP might look like and what the budget would be? Maybe pitch it to small grants or DCS initially and then scale it with a full prop once the proof of concept is there. I’m just thinking out loud. :slight_smile:

1 Like