Introduction to Gitcoin Passport

Web3 is facing a crisis of trust

One of the biggest promises of blockchain technology is the ability to implement human-first engagement at scale: enabling genuine community control over platforms and online communities through voting, communal fund distribution, and more. Many emerging applications of blockchain, including play to earn gaming, quadratic funding (a fundraising strategy that distributes money based on the number of contributions a project receives, instead of the total amount of money), and on-chain voting, assume that every participant in a community is acting in good faith. When combined with the pseudonymity blockchain allows for, though, a tension emerges: how can we build a reputation in a trustless environment without sacrificing user privacy? 

At Gitcoin, we’re building an alternative to the extractive way web2 platforms treat user data: Gitcoin Passport, your citizenship pass in the decentralized internet. 

Passport is a decentralized identifier. Users collect “stamps” from different authenticators around web2 and web3, such as Bright ID and Proof of Humanity. Stamps are verifiable credentials – by aggregating several of them in one place, Passport distributes trust across multiple entities. After integrating with Passport, instead of relying on a middleman to verify someone’s identity, dApps can verify it themselves with a customizable algorithm that weights different stamps according to their preferences– essentially allowing communities to create a customizable visa with their participation requirements. Are you a developer community that requires a Github sign-in or an artist collective that requires a Foundation sign-in? You can require those stamps with Passport while we handle the registry system for you, so you can save development time and focus on building features your community will value. With Ceramic, Passport data is also composable and interoperable, providing security across blockchains. 

We’re building Passport because we believe digital identity is a public good. We won’t be able to create an open web at scale unless community-driven decision-making processes are secure and trustless. 

Passport’s SDK aims to help builders verify digital identity with a few lines of code – no matter what blockchain they build. This allows people to determine if someone is gaming the system with multiple wallets and verifies their membership in different communities and participation in different experiences. What results is a new way of viewing online identity that recognizes the value that people add to the online spaces they frequent and allows them to build a digital reputation as easily as they can build one offline. Just as the collective record of a college degree, bills paid, and awards won leads to a solid offline reputation, we believe that verifying online identity through participation in communities and dApps – now trackable through blockchain – should lead to the development of an online reputation. 

One use case is Sybil resistance. Our Trust Bonus integration with the last Gitcoin Grants round demonstrated that decentralized identifiers could successfully defend against Sybil attacks while preserving user privacy. The key was agency: participants were the ones with ownership over their identity data, not a third-party middleman, and they could determine if they shared it through a smart contract instead of opaque terms of service. Passport’s scoring algorithm and verifiable credentials allowed Gitcoin Grants to check someone’s identity without viewing their personally identifiable information. With over 11,000 contributors creating Passports and adding stamps, we could streamline our identity authentication process and ensure fair distribution of matching funds, all while allowing individuals to increase their impact with a 1.5x matching bonus. 

Despite our initial wins, we know our protocol is still a work in progress, and we want more people to be able to take advantage of benefits like Trust Bonus. We also want to double down on exploring new use cases for Passport beyond Sybil resistance. We’re taking an iterative, community-first approach to develop Passport to ensure communities across the open web can trust it as a leading decentralized identity solution. That’s why we’re inviting you to help people take back ownership of their digital identities by getting involved in the Passport community. 

Create a Passport 

Interested in taking the first step in building your online reputation and securing your data? At Passport.gitcoin.co, you’ll be able to create your Passport and begin collecting stamps. As well as keeping your information secure, you’ll be able to access a higher matching bonus for contributions to our upcoming grants round, GR15. 

Integrate a Stamp 

Are you an identity provider interested in helping secure the open web? You can use our SDK to add your platform as a Passport stamp, so when a Passport user authenticates with your service, they’ll be issued a verifiable credential that helps increase the legitimacy of their decentralized ID. We’re also working to allow communities to issue their own verifiable credentials to verify membership and participation in digital experiences. 

Integrate Passport 

Bullish on decentralized identity, and want to establish yourself as a leader in privacy and Sybil resistance? We invite you to be an early adopter of our SDK and implement our DID into your platform! Using our identity protocol is permissionless – anyone can do it. Our team (and a growing open source developer community) is only a Discord message away in our #passport-builders channel. We’re also providing direct support to a cohort of early integrators through the Passport Partner Program and are excited to see what they build in the coming months. 

Open-source principles are critical to our development process at Gitcoin, and our identity solution is no different. Early integrators will play a direct role in influencing our roadmap and help us build a web3-native identity protocol that is tailored to your community’s needs– all while having access to an engineering team that has years of experience implementing Sybil defense in Gitcoin Grants rounds, the largest community-driven funding source in web3. 

Decentralized identity is not a silver bullet. Sybil resistance is one of several governance and community design elements that ensure accountability. Careful consideration of checks and balances in decision-making processes and more intangible aspects of a community’s vibes play an equally crucial role in creating a culture of trust beyond the onboarding process. However, Sybil resistance is key to ensuring the processes that enforce accountability – whether voting or verifying wallet addresses for compensation distribution– can’t be manipulated by bad actors. By building an identity protocol on open source principles, we’re working to make sure security is available as a public good to the entire web3 ecosystem. 

– Team Gitcoin

Thank you to Julia for creating this piece.