ICON’s Contribution Proposal System (CPS) is a great platform where anybody with a vision can submit a proposal for a grant from the Contribution Proposal Fund (CPF) in order to finance an ICON-related project. A collective of P-Reps vote on new proposals, and also on monthly progress reports to make sure project teams are fulfilling their end of the bargain.

It’s a great system, but not without its flaws. Trust us, we know all about it — The Iconist is funded from the CPF, after all. It’s a sometimes buggy platform with a confusing UX, scattered documentation and a community divided between two websites.

Enter: TJ Hunt. ICON recently hired Hunt as a Product Manager, currently of the CPS, to help coordinate with iBriz’s CPS dev team on reported bugs that need to be fixed. He’s also a Strategy Associate at ICON, with one of his important tasks currently being to collaborate on future CPS improvements in the works.

A recent graduate with a finance degree from the University of Minnesota, TJ has been an ICON investor since late 2017. When his finance internship was cancelled in the summer of 2020 due to COVID-19, he instead learned python and smart contract score programming on ICON under the tutelage of a few helpful ICON developers.

This past spring I helped co-found the ICON Asset Management P-Rep by using what I knew about SCORE programming to create the distribution SCORE, token SCORE, etc.,” Hunt said. “That accumulated into having a couple more conversations with Scott and the rest of the ICON strategy team and led to me taking my current position.

Big (and small) changes are coming

One of the improvements that’s being planned right now is going to make a substantial difference to how the CPS works: they’ll be switching the fund to a stablecoin.

Obviously one of the big issues with the CPS right now is that the funding is in ICX itself. Being a volatile asset, it’s tough to gauge the right amount to request because you don’t know if the market’s going to go up or down,” Hunt said. “So, we have a plan in place to create a stablecoin treasury that uses the Balanced Dollar ($bnUSD), where CPS proposals will be paid out in a stablecoin rather than a volatile asset. This can help a lot with additional budget requests and teams will have a better idea of what funding they’re actually going to be receiving. It’s a big pain point between developers, P-Reps and the CPS.

Switching the CPF to bnUSD may be better for ICON, too.

In general, I think it will give our treasury a bit more versatility as well. It will diversify it a bit so that in case of a market downturn the value of the treasury won’t be as affected,” Hunt said.

Hunt is also helping to roll out a number of smaller improvements that should heighten the functionality and ease of use of the platform overall.

There are a number of small user experience changes that I want to make. We don’t want new developers interested in taking part in our ecosystem to be discouraged from creating proposals. We want to make the CPS its own platform and make it as easy as possible for people to interact on it.

Currently, CPS applicants are encouraged to first submit their proposal on the icon.community forums so that community members can weigh in and provide valuable feedback before officially submitting to the CPS. The Iconist did just that, and it was a big help for us to test the waters, so to speak. Naturally, as our team is composed of marketers and we publicized our proposal quite heavily, our forum post received a fair bit of interaction and a lot of views. But very few proposals receive much engagement at all on the forum, unfortunately.

To address this inefficiency, Hunt has proposed bringing the entire discussion forum onto the CPS itself, integrating it into the platform rather than keeping it on a separate webpage.

Hopefully it’ll be a more seamless experience so that people can also comment on proposals that are already out there,” Hunt said. “People on the CPS are more naturally going to want to comment on things related to the CPS.

In the meantime, Hunt encourages everybody in the community to participate in the existing forums and comment on the pre-CPS proposals: “There are a lot of things that even P-Reps can miss, and community members can really make a difference.

Some other small changes Hunt hopes to make includes doing away with the limited functionality landing page — instead, visitors to the site will see the full dashboard that current members see when they’re logged in — as well as a ‘Start Here’ beginner’s guide on the CPS site itself. The lack of a proper FAQ or guide was a particular frustration for us when we launched The Iconist’s proposal, for example.

The number two pain point from the CPS other than the ICX funding is the user experience,” Hunt said, although he was quick to point out that feedback is mostly good, overall. “There are a lot of bottleneck pain points that make the processes difficult and we want to get rid of those.

While we wait for improvements to be implemented, we here at The Iconist would like to encourage prospective CPS applicants that are having difficulties with the platform to get in touch with Hunt. He was a great help for us when we encountered an error submitting our first progress report. As it turned out, having special characters like # in the subject or body text of your progress report will cause the CPS to reject your submission. We had named ours “Progress Report #1”, something that we would never in a million years have caught on our own. Yet Hunt was quick to connect us with a couple of devs and the problem was sorted out very quickly. Thanks, TJ!