I would start with completely re-vamping the Stellar Community Fund (SCF).
The way it’s set up now, the funding is completely disproportional to the projects winning and easily manipulated. The median price money per project is 375,000 XLM (3,000,000 XLM/8) or ~$27,000 before tax. That’s a LOT of money in a lot of countries and practically invites bad actors trying to break or circumvent the rules.
Besides that is there literally no transparency on the voting process. Votes go into a black hole with no external audit and a result comes out. We don’t even get to know how many votes were submitted, ho voted in general, how many were disqualified votes etc.
My take would be to outsource the SCF to an external service dedicated to this project to maximize the success-rate and distribute the funds more fairly. Instead of paying a lump sum every three months, make it a running competition with funds distributed after reaching certain milestones and proportional to the funds needed to accomplish this.
In general a project should apply for funding with the budget needed broken down into milestones and an explanation what these funds will be used for. Basically a business plan. The project will be reviewed by the community when coming close to completing a milestone to re-evaluate the project ad see if milestones were met before the next payment is made.
A blog or a forum doesn’t need $27,000 to operate by re-writing news from other blogs. This I would call a hobby-project, allocate hosting expenses for a year then look after that year if they are still operational. $60–100 and already one project funded!
For small projects like these, there could be a quick process by requiring only a minimum of positive votes from the greater community. Bigger projects should run in a competition where they have to submit progress every week, vote and comment on the progress of other submissions by matching two projects against each other.
Whenever two projects are matched against each other, one needs to be upvoted and receives points for the ‘leaderboard’. Winning against a higher ranked submission gives more points. Every projects needs to submit at least four consecutive updates to be eligible for funding.
The project highest on the leaderboard (that hasn’t been selected for funding yet) will be evaluated by a selection of active community members. One per week. This will after the first four weeks to get started come down to a maximum of 12 continuously funded projects per 3 months plus a multitude of smaller projects that can be supported with smaller amounts.
Active community members that participate in the evaluation of projects as well as the greater community can be rewarded for giving feedback. Not as a regular payment but as an appreciation of their contribution.
For-Profit projects should submit their business plan and vouch to at least pay back the funds received after turning profitable.
Once the SCF gets more steam, I would apply to the big sponsors of accelerators like Google, Amazon etc to get free cloudhosting and other goodies for winning entries. The general competition could then also be extended to projects not yet building on Stellar except they won’t receive funding from the SCF pool.
I have a more detailed development plan and open for discussion if the SDF is interested in outsourcing this. I would enter this to SCF but without a guarantee that SDF then adopts the new platform it would be a worthless effort.