Nouns are an experimental attempt to improve the formation of on-chain avatar communities. While projects such as Cryptopunks have attempted to bootstrap digital community and identity, Nouns attempt to bootstrap identity, community, governance, and a treasury that can be used by the community.
Learn more below, or start creating Nouns off-chain using the Playground.
- Nouns artwork is in the public domain.
- One Noun is trustlessly auctioned every 24 hours, forever.
- 100% of Noun auction proceeds are trustlessly sent to the treasury.
- Settlement of one auction kicks off the next.
- All Nouns are members of Nouns DAO.
- Nouns DAO uses a fork of Compound Governance.
- One Noun is equal to one vote.
- The treasury is controlled exclusively by Nouns via governance.
- Artwork is generative and stored directly on-chain (not IPFS).
- No explicit rules exist for attribute scarcity; all Nouns are equally rare.
- Nounders receive rewards in the form of Nouns (10% of supply for first 5 years).
The Nouns Auction Contract will act as a self-sufficient Noun generation and distribution mechanism, auctioning one Noun every 24 hours, forever. 100% of auction proceeds (ETH) are automatically deposited in the Nouns DAO treasury, where they are governed by Noun owners.
Each time an auction is settled, the settlement transaction will also cause a new Noun to be minted and a new 24 hour auction to begin.
While settlement is most heavily incentivized for the winning bidder, it can be triggered by anyone, allowing the system to trustlessly auction Nouns as long as Ethereum is operational and there are interested bidders.
Nouns DAO utilizes a fork of Compound Governance and is the main governing body of the Nouns ecosystem. The Nouns DAO treasury receives 100% of ETH proceeds from daily Noun auctions. Each Noun is an irrevocable member of Nouns DAO and entitled to one vote in all governance matters. Noun votes are non-transferable (if you sell your Noun the vote goes with it) but delegatable, which means you can assign your vote to someone else as long as you own your Noun.
The proposal veto right was initially envisioned as a temporary solution to the problem of ‘51% attacks’ on the Nouns DAO treasury. While Nounders initially believed that a healthy distribution of Nouns would be sufficient protection for the DAO, a more complete understanding of the incentives and risks has led to general consensus within the Nounders, the Nouns Foundation, and the wider community that a more robust game-theoretic solution should be implemented before the right is removed.
The Nouns community has undertaken a preliminary exploration of proposal veto alternatives (‘rage quit’ etc.), but it is now clear that this is a difficult problem that will require significantly more research, development and testing before a satisfactory solution can be implemented.
Consequently, the Nouns Foundation anticipates being the steward of the veto power until Nouns DAO is ready to implement an alternative, and therefore wishes to clarify the conditions under which it would exercise this power.
The Nouns Foundation considers the veto an emergency power that should not be exercised in the normal course of business. The Nouns Foundation will veto proposals that introduce non-trivial legal or existential risks to the Nouns DAO or the Nouns Foundation, including (but not necessarily limited to) proposals that:
- unequally withdraw the treasury for personal gain
- bribe voters to facilitate withdraws of the treasury for personal gain
- attempt to alter Noun auction cadence for the purpose of maintaining or acquiring a voting majority
- make upgrades to critical smart contracts without undergoing an audit
There are unfortunately no algorithmic solutions for making these determinations in advance (if there were, the veto would not be required), and proposals must be considered on a case by case basis.
Nouns are generated randomly based Ethereum block hashes. There are no ‘if’ statements or other rules governing Noun trait scarcity, which makes all Nouns equally rare. As of this writing, Nouns are made up of:
- backgrounds (2)
- bodies (30)
- accessories (140)
- heads (242)
- glasses (23)
You can experiment with off-chain Noun generation at the Playground.
Nouns are stored directly on Ethereum and do not utilize pointers to other networks such as IPFS. This is possible because Noun parts are compressed and stored on-chain using a custom run-length encoding (RLE), which is a form of lossless compression.
The compressed parts are efficiently converted into a single base64 encoded SVG image on-chain. To accomplish this, each part is decoded into an intermediate format before being converted into a series of SVG rects using batched, on-chain string concatenation. Once the entire SVG has been generated, it is base64 encoded.
The Noun Seeder contract is used to determine Noun traits during the minting process. The seeder contract can be replaced to allow for future trait generation algorithm upgrades. Additionally, it can be locked by the Nouns DAO to prevent any future updates. Currently, Noun traits are determined using pseudo-random number generation:
keccak256(abi.encodePacked(blockhash(block.number - 1), nounId))
Trait generation is not truly random. Traits can be predicted when minting a Noun on the pending block.
‘Nounders’ are the group of ten builders that initiated Nouns. Here are the Nounders:
Because 100% of Noun auction proceeds are sent to Nouns DAO, Nounders have chosen to compensate themselves with Nouns. Every 10th Noun for the first 5 years of the project (Noun ids #0, #10, #20, #30 and so on) will be automatically sent to the Nounder’s multisig to be vested and shared among the founding members of the project.
Nounder distributions don’t interfere with the cadence of 24 hour auctions. Nouns are sent directly to the Nounder’s Multisig, and auctions continue on schedule with the next available Noun ID.