February 10, 2020

Gitcoin & Kickback

My experiences using Gitcoin and online hackathons.

Gitcoin & Kickback

Gitcoin is a website I found late last year through Austin Griffith using it in development of his Burner Wallet. Gitcoin is built on the idea of incentivising participation in open source software development by allowing project maintainers to put out "bounties" on particular features they would like added. These bounties are held in a smart contract escrow and paid out on a successful pull request.

Even without the bounty payments, I've found that it's a good way to find interesting open source projects to contribute to (in the crypto space at least). Open source does have a bit of a discoverability problem when it comes to contributing. Oftentimes it can be quite difficult to find useful projects which are open to input and publish which contributions they're looking for.

As part of this Gitcoin has run a number of "virtual hackathons" since 2019; this January I took part in the Take Back the Web and Sustain Web3 hackathons during which I worked on a project called Kickback.

Kickback is an events website (imagine Meetup or Eventbrite) where in order to RSVP you have to deposit a small amount of cryptocurrency. If you don't turn up to the event then you lose your deposit. But if you do turn up then you not only get your deposit back but receive a split of all the lost deposits from the no shows.

This is a situation where I think Ethereum really shines: I would never imagine using something like this if it were built on a Web2 site like Meetup, faffing about with card details each time and having to trust that my money won't get lost somewhere. On Ethereum however, it's a couple of clicks and I can see my money held in a smart contract knowing it's totally safe and I'm guaranteed it back if I go to the event.

This is what made me interested in working on Kickback. I ended up completing 4 bounties over the 2 hackathons:

  1. Integrating a QR reader to speed up checking in attendees by scanning their Ethereum address
  2. Investigating methods of automatically checking in attendees without needing input from event organisers while still remaining secure.
  3. Reworking the website to allow events to use any ERC20 token as a deposit rather than being restricted to ETH and DAI.
  4. Integrating Blocknative in order to support mobile and hosted Ethereum, wallets.

My bounties were completed in time for Kickback to be used at a number of events at ETHDenver, the world's largest Ethereum hackathon.