I’ve been following Aragon on and off for a while now and I’m really impressed. The dedication to the project’s mission, execution, and community is inspiring. You guys talk the talk and walk the walk. It’s amazing to see you guys push the frontier of community organization and engagement. Honestly one of my favorite projects in the blockchain space!
That being said, I haven’t seen a lot of data. There’s great discussions on the forum exploring DAOs, on-chain governance, and the Aragon product/community, but they often seem centered around people’s opinions. There’s occasionally links to things to provide context and support, but overall it’s not a data driven process. (I might be missing something here, so please correct me if I’m wrong!). This means that when things like AGPs come up, things get confusing. Lots of people have lots to say, and most of it sounds good. How do I know what’s what? I can’t verify what people are saying without spending my nights and weekends becoming a part-time researcher.
This is odd because:
A) One of the main selling points of Ethereum is that data is immutable and verifiable. Crypto and miners/stakers take care of the immutability. To verify things though, you need access to the data. Making data easily available seems like it should be one of the top priorities of the Ethereum community, but it’s actually really hard to find and verify stuff. Technically it’s possible to run your own node, use decentralized crypto protocols for messaging, and research everything else that’s in meat-space. Most people don’t. We just stick to Reddit and Twitter while using centralized 3rd party block explorers to occasionally check Ethereum stats. This is far from ideal, and not the vision of the future I want to see perpetuated. It’s essential that we have the data and resources we need to thrive as a community and make the best decisions possible.
B) One of the selling points of Aragon is governance via the ANT token. This includes voting on how to allocate treasury funds. The community has control, but a strong community requires people to be engaged and informed. The idea (I think) is that people will choose the proposals that support the community and create value for the platform while rejecting proposals that don’t make sense. This assumes that the community is actively participating in governance, understands Aragon’s various products, and see how they fit into the overall blockchain/tech market to solve problems and create value. It also assumes that the community can accurately price the proposals being offered and as to not overpay and get swindled or underpay and cause developers to inevitably fail. It also assumes that there are incentives for dev teams to deliver on proposals to the best of their ability. Traditionally in the startup world you go big or you go home, but there’s no in between. In the grant space though, esp in the blockchain space, it often feels like people are content just doing enough to scrape by because they know that the real payouts come from the irrationality of Mr. Market, not any specific product being built.
With that in mind, for the upcoming AGP’s I don’t feel comfortable pricing the requests for cash or evaluating the teams ability and desire to deliver. I also don’t understanding all the potential risks/rewards with proposed governance changes. The only real metrics I have available are my emotions, people’s arguments on the forum, and my personally limited knowledge of the space in relation to product/market fit as well as where we are in the public markets cycles. The larger We don’t have access to any of the data points or best practices that professional investors (VCs and traders) use to analyze opportunities and make decisions. As far as I know no one is even asking for them (which is even scarier). To compound that, any decision being made is going to be heavily colored by the events and conversations in the week or so leading up to the vote, rather than a rational long term perspective informed over several weeks or months. There is a deficit of concrete facts to support decision making! In the worst case creates a vulnerability that can be exploited via marketing campaigns and psy-ops (recent political events highlight this), but more realistically… I just won’t make the best decisions I can. This is a problem.
I have a few suggestions:
Things that support us making the best decisions possible.
Aragon Full Node: A full Ethereum archive node available for Aragon projects to interact with.Apparently this is way more complicated than I thought. Also, most of the metrics that could affect the Aragon voting is market based rather than on-chain. I love the idea of a block explorer focused solely on Aragon, but atm we really need to improve load time and ux for the Aragon voting app. Maybe a full node will help with that, but probably not.
- ANT Token Dashboard: a simple, easy to read, easy to verify dashboard displaying all metrics related to the ANT token, esp metrics that could affect on-chain voting (liquidity, price, etc…)
- Aragon OWL: resources aggregating Aragon blog posts on governance/community stuff, potential attack vectors for on-chain voting/governance, and best practices for governance and community development from outside the Aragon or blockchain space.
- Aragon Forum: literally just the forum that already exists lol. It’s awesome though, and essential to the overall community, so I’m listing it here to give a shout-out to everyone on the forum
Requests For Cash
This would apply to grants, proposals, and anything else asking for money.
- TL:DR Page: a high level summary of the proposal (who, what, where, when, why).
- Product/Market Fit: a detailed report showing why this is awesome, how ANT holders benefit directly, and why this supports the long term goals of the Aragon community.
- Burn Rate: a break down of what funds are being requested, what they’re going to be used for, and why that’s a reasonable valuation in the context of today’s market.
- Team: a detailed report including links to past work, social media profiles (Reddit, GitHub, Twitter, etc…).
- Community Engagement: an extended AMA (1 week) for the community to ask questions and weigh in on things.
^^ all of this presented at least a month before the actual vote so the community can debate and make informed decisions.
Requests For Governance Changes
This would apply to things that change the way the Aragon community operates.
- TL;DR Page: a high level summary of the proposal (who, what, where, when, why).
- Product/Community Fit: a detailed report showing why this is awesome, how ANT holders would benefit directly, and why this supports the long term goals of the Aragon community.
- Security Analysis: a tribute to fund analysis on potential attack vectors the proposal might create in the community/protocol (psy-ops, market incentives, community sentiment, etc…).
- Community Engagement: an extended AMA (1 week) where people can ask questions and critique the proposal.
^^ all of this presented at least a month before the actual vote so the community can debate and make informed decisions
> 1month: Anyone can create proposals. It’s encouraged, but not required, to get feedback from the community before doing so, as AGP-1 Step 2 suggests. At this time the signalling app could also be used to gather community sentiment. This would provide another data point for the AGP editors
1 month: A month before the upcoming vote, submissions are closed. The AGP editors curate the proposals (removing those that don’t meet the submission guidelines) and present the best ones to the community for review.
3 weeks: Every proposal has an AMA where the community can ask questions, critique proposals, and have open conversations. This allows for flaws to be discovered and/or proposals to brought into line with reality. Think of it as a time to review the rough drafts before final edits.
2 weeks: After the AMA, there’s a week where proposals can be modified based on community feedback (final draft).
1 week: Proposals are locked and the community has one more week to review and debate them before voting.
Voting: It happens.
2 week review period: Tokens are locked and the vote is analyzed to ensure no capture or manipulation (dark DAO, etc…). I think there’s already provisions in place for this, but it’s worth mentioning again as part of the overall process.
New cycle where anyone can submit proposals.
I’m literally just brainstorming out loud here. There are many problems with these ideas, mainly that they add more work for voters even though there’s already limited engagement from the community. That being said, I think it’s important to think about this stuff. Reflecting seriously about the upcoming AGP vote, I don’t feel like I have the data I need to make the best decisions I can. This bothers me a lot. I hope that we can come up with much better solutions than what I proposed here. That way we can have better data to make better decisions for the next AGP vote!
Edit: I’m slowly breaking these ideas into more manageable chunks and spinning them out into their own threads or proposals. I’ll update this main post with links as I do. Sorry for any potential confusions!