Proposal: Nouns Labs

Preface: I’m not a Nouns DAO member, so I bring this proposal as early as possible to the community members so they can help shape this proposal.

Status: Extremely Early Draft
Author(s): @defijesus[twitter] - Nouns enthusiast since Rinkeby days, furiously bidded on noun #1 and won noun #2 as a founding sharkDAO multi signer); @0xqtpie[twitter] - shitposter, mediocre mev artist, full stack monkey
Created: 31/05/2022


Nouns Labs is a working group dedicated to ideate, implement, deploy novelty approaches to the Nouns distribution model.

Abstract ‌

Create and fund a new “Nouns Labs” working group focused on meaningful experiments in (1) mechanism for continuous dilution of supply funding a treasury & (2) onchain art generation.

Motivation ‌

Motivation #1:
Nouns was a “zero to one” moment in the NFT distribution model. What does the next zero to one moment look like?

Motivation #2:
Nouns are still largely inaccessible to the general population due to the high auction price. How do we onboard the next 1M members?

Motivation #3:
Decreasing the auction time to decrease price doesn’t work UX-wise with the current auction model. What mechanism parameters do we tune to enable the best UX experience for buyers?

Motivation #4:
How do nouns make sure they will keep their leadership position as innovators in the space?.

Motivation #5:
Further, bring more exciting collaborations with fellow innovators (think partyDAO)

Specification ‌ Overview ‌

Working group creates a gnosis safe that receives 20 ETH from the Nouns DAO to fund the first 4 months of operations. The idea is to make this working group self-sustaining via the experiments before these funds run out.

Funds will be used to deliver the initial:

  • grants focused on novel distributions;

  • any in-house staff needed (Project Management, Researchers, Engineers, Artists, etc…);

  • R&D costs (deployment, servers, tooling, etc…)

All collected ETH from the experiments will be distributed to the Nouns Lab DAO & the Nouns Lab Working Group. This split is configurable by the Nouns Lab DAO that is controlled by the Nouns Lab NFT holders.

Every 10 Nouns created from any experiment, 1 noun will be sent directly to the Nouns DAO, forever. (0, 10, 20, 30, etc…).

Creation of a Yearn-like strategist performance fee. In order to directly motivate random anons to bring their new ideas to our Lab, we should give our “strategists” 5% (this value is just an idea) of the mint revenue while their experiment is ongoing.

All experiments much be located in a single smart contract that features updeatable distribution mechanism. This helps the user find our experiments much more easily, prevents a lot of phishing opportunities, failed experiments wont be forever forgotten 20 years from now, and we keep an historical record of all experiments we ever made.

Experiment #1 will be using Continuous Gradual Dutch Auctions from Paradigm, targeting 1 Noun sale per minute at 0.002 ETH.

[mention experiment #2 will be CRISP]

[potential experiment #3: each “auction” is instead timed raffle, winner chosen by vrf, winner gets X Nouns while everyone else gets 1 Noun, everyone is still a winner but it adds an edge of excitement/participation]

Rationale ‌

Using a continuous series of auctions to distribute the NFT collection was a remarkable step in the NFT distribution model history. By constantly creating and implementing new distribution models, this proposal sets up the Nouns DAO to maintain their leadership as distribution innovators.

Without drastically changing the auction model, trying to onboard the next 1M+ users into the DAO will be very challenging.

Without drastically reducing the auction times, the entry price will always be highly prohibitive for the foreseeable future.

If we reduce the auction time to 1 minute, assuming each 24h Noun is worth 80 ETH, we would have nouns priced at ~0.05. Unfortunately, 1 min auctions would be extremely chaotic UX wise and 0.05 ETH is still too much for the next 1M+ users to be onboarded into the Nouns ecosystem.

Our first experiment will be GDA auctions to solve that UX problem. It allows us to compress the price without sacrificing the UX. The nouns page will now feature a “Buy Now” button instead of the usual “Bid”.

Ideally, we are able to bring the best innovations that come out of this initiative back into the main Nouns distribution or any subDAOs/core groups affiliated with it(?)

Experiment #1

[TODO: list all modifications made to vanilla Nouns on experiment #1]

Technical Specification ‌

[The technical specification should outline the public API of the changes proposed. That is, changes to any of the interfaces of the Nouns DAO currently exposes or the creations of new ones. ‌]

Test Cases ‌

[Test cases for an implementation are mandatory for Proposals but can be included with the implementation. ‌]


  • how much you need: 20 ETH
  • what will it be used for: bootstrap a working group dedicated to inventing/implementing novel distribution mechanisms.
  • what’s the project: Creation of sister nouns collection that will feature all the experiments within.
  • how will it proliferate nouns: (1) maintain the Nouns DAO status at the forefront of innovation. (2) onboarding of new users into the experiments collection that we’re previously priced out.


Dave White for the help with GDA integration. cdt.eth for the help navigating the proposal lifecycle.

Copyright ‌

Copyright and related rights waived via CC0.


  • Added TL;DR
  • Described Yearn-like strategists rewards
  • Added info about how these experiments are released without confusing the users or constantly leaving dead projects behind.

Thanks for writing this. Just wanted to show encouragement for experimenting with the nouns mechanics, especially the distribution model.

Such a vast design space that demands to be explored.


mechanism design is so dang cute!

1 Like

Thanks for the ideas & glad to have you in Nouns.

While in the abstract a NounsLab iteratively releasing modified forks seems like a natural enough thing (in fact a few of us started a discord server devoted to this several months ago: NIL (Nouns Incubator Lab) & I reserved @NounsLab on twitter etc) , I think there’s a sort of naivety or even implicit cynicism wrt to the end-user as guinea pigs, etc.

What is the wind-down / exit-plan for the 90% of these forks that will likely fail? I think the more interesting approach is to devote real attention/energy towards a sort of Nouns 2.0 that offers a significant differentiated characteristics to the original protocol.
For example, Nouns relies on veto and it may be interesting to deploy a protocol that does not. Nouns delegation is another mechanic that can be improved. Vote stipends could be added. A reputation system could be integrated, along with security incentives such as vote stipends etc. Tokens could be freely issuable by DAO with switchable gov rights in a manner similar to Optimism’s CitizenHouse etc… An exit mechanic (ragequit) could be invaluable (esp for your stated purpose) since it would allow for healthier narrative around ‘experimentation’ in that a protocol that loses collective interest can simply be dissolved in a low-friction way.

Additionally think GDA/CRISP are not especially likely to be very additive to us culturally in their basic form. There’s a sense in which they will tend to fungible-ize the assets which imo moves us in the opposite direction from where we want to go. The uniqueness of each NFT is a huge feature/strength of our space vs ERC-20 communities and AMMs that use historical price action to estimate future demand don’t feel compatible with this ethos to me, unless the thing being sold is a mintpass which allows further downstream customization.

Anyway, just some stream of consciousness feedback…the dao definitely will benefit from more ppl thinking about protocol mechanics from different perspectives, so I do encourage you to keep pursuing the ideas that inspire you. that said, not sure i would support 50 eth going to this pod if the focus is on the paradigm amms. Actually, come to think of it a simple tweak of Nouns implementing RICKS (another paradigm concept) could be quite interesting. The structural shift from programmatic dilution to programmatic turnover imo could be fascinating to see unfold.


As stated in the post (as a TODO), the idea is to create a single fork that is constantly plugging in new distribution mechanisms.
This leaves us with a single contract that represents all historical experiments.

Fortunately, we’re all guinea pigs in this space.

All of the changes you recommend are def on our list of experiments (specially changing from comp style dao to moloch v3 with ragequit)

I’ll update the proposal to clarify this. Besides inovating on the distribution side we also want to inovate on the art/visual side. These novel distribution mechanism don’t dillute the non fungibility imo.

This is a highly reductive description of what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to build something that’s more than just implementing paradigm papers.

If the 50ETH is too much to bootstrap this initiative, I’m sure we can find a more feasible number.

Thank you for the words of support :heart:

1 Like

Made some edits to the post, happy week everyone

Hey team I love the idea of more rapid exploration of mechanism/product. Few questions:

  1. What is the benefit of having a single nounsdao fork w/ upgradeable distribution vs one nounsdao fork for each new mechanism?
  2. Are you focused specifically on the distribution mechanisms or also interested in exploring new models for the art pipeline, utility of the nfts, dao treasury allocation mechanisms, etc.?
  3. Will you take a founders reward on the forks as well or is the idea that the grant will be the sole source of funding?
  4. Have you thought about experimenting with a lower cost network than Eth L1?
  5. Will you invest in making it easy for others to re-use implementations that come out of the lab? (e.g. prioritize open sourcing and documenting the implementations)
1 Like

We are already having a lot of fun with lil Nouns DAO, it will be very interesting to see other distribution innovations expanding the community. Good luck!