Community Initiative: Aragon Cooperative 🙌

I thought of a use case for the Cooperative…

As Aragon Organizations (AO) begin fundraising for their entities, they as a team may not want to personally work on developing Aragon apps, but they may likely require some new apps to meet their organization’s needs.

The Cooperative can be an organization that brings together these future AOs to determine what they need built. The AO’s commit some amount of funds they raise toward the Cooperative’s vault to be used in relation to design / development of these applications. This will ensure more timely delivery of the apps as well - Flock teams may not be able to deviate from their roadmaps much, but other Nest teams who also have an interest/need in these applications proposed by the community may be more likely to pick up the work.

Hence one aspect of the Cooperative can be a consulting organization of sorts, but it also has a specific aim to reduce the duplicity of work across new teams that want to develop Aragon apps or need specific Aragon apps. The goal isn’t just to build apps for the purpose of building apps, but to go toward common solutions that meet the primary use cases of most organizations. The Cooperative would manage surveys to gain insights on what the community needs are, and then see which team that is part of the Cooperative is best suited to do the work.

This doesn’t mean that Flock people shouldn’t be a part of the Cooperative, as I think that is still important as well, even if the funding model for the Cooperative ends up coming from AOs. What I propose above is another activity/use case for the Cooperative in general, not the entire purpose :slight_smile:

But if successful, this may be a “business model” that can help fund the Aragon ecosystem outside the ICO treasury as more and more organizations adopt Aragon.

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Here are some ideas for features that are quite often overlooked, but important for spreading Aragon globally so every type of person can contribute to the vision and participate in the network. It can perhaps be on the Cooperative’s backlog…

  • Enhancing the platform so it meets accessibility standards (accessibility is the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities)
  • Internationalization - Instead of hard-coding text into the front-end of Aragon apps, create a library of “strings” for all of the text/language displayed, and then a database/method to store and process the translations to many languages. Create a system where the community can help with the translations (incentivize the translations with tokens and come with a system to make this whole system decentralized!).
  • Adapting the front-end framework and design patterns so they work for right-to-left languages
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[Update: I moved some of these thoughts into the Autark Flock proposal instead.]

Also, thank you @lkngtn for taking the charge with the technical research you have been doing on getting the Cooperative running. I’m grateful for your collaboration in this effort!

I’m going to talk more about why I think the Cooperative is important and why I am excited in participating.

In the Manifesto, it says: "Instead of complaining about how badly incentives are set in the world and how poorly resources are allocated, we will have the power to create systems that better align incentives and distribute resources. This is the Enlightenment of the century."

I would love the Cooperative to be an organization that thinks about what it will take to create new societies on Earth – how would a DAO acquire land, how would a DAO manage city planning? how would borders work? This fits more along the track of building toward utopia.

Additionally, I feel it is important to have some kind of organization within the Aragon ecosystem like the Cooperative that is not only building software and tools, but is coming together as a large collective to think about how these tools can most effectively be applied to "life people from oppression". We can’t just escape to utopia on a private island and leave others in oppression behind. We want to break out of the mold of Silicon Valley tech mentality, so I think it’s important to “think outside the box” of a traditional organizational structure and purpose.

That oppression line in the Manifesto really resonated with me. So the questions are kind of like – what’s missing? how do we get there faster? which communities in the world can most benefit from Aragon, and what can we do to provide them access to these tools?

The Manifesto also says "we are committed to a world in which every person can participate in these new organizational structures". To accomplish this vision, that means we need to make sure these tools can indeed be used by every person. I think most of the English speaking population is likely not in oppression, at least not as much as non-English speaking regions, so what can we do to prioritize features toward those that are in the worst oppression imagined?

I think the Cooperative can be a way to come together as a larger community, think about the future, reflect on the manifesto, and opt-in to optimize to do the best we can to bring the vision to full form. We can apply the tools that the community is building to deploy one of the largest (and most effective) freedom fighting DAOs in the network, and show the world what this is all about. Let’s become power users of Aragon, have clustered organizations, and create new interesting tools for gathering collective intelligence across clusters and nests!

Let me know if anyone agrees or disagrees with this possible focus/purpose of the Cooperative!

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Being the Devil’s advocate, and reading the purpose statement it seems to be that the only problem that look this Aragon Cooperative to solve is the following:

Couldn’t that be solve just by building better bounty programs while proposing a fair and smooth distribution the ANT the Aragon Association is holding?

I realize that the cooperative model where one person = one vote could be fair for many, but I’m not sure if it aligns the incentives of the community in order to continuously evolve the DAO, it could become a work council DAO fashion where community members might look to accomodate theirself into a confortable position instead of take actions to improve the whole ecosystem. For sure there will be specific use cases where a DAO cooperative will suit amazingly (e.g. a DAO of UBER drivers purposed to defend their interestest against the centralized authority, and manage a common investment fund to assure some passive incomes for the time when self-driving cars will steal their jobs), but I’m pretty sure it is not a good idea for Aragon, where there is so much work and evolution (changes) to do.

Also, what would be the final goal? To replace the current governance system with such an egalitarian governance model? I’m sure that before proposing such a drastical change, we should give more opportunities to the current model to fail, and to be honest, I don’t believe having a low quorum in a voting is that bad, it means that only the people interested that took care on studying and understanding the proposal will vote. For sure there is room for improvement, but we surely need more data than just some statistics after the first proposal.

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I’m definitely not opposed to building better bounty mechanisms and experimenting with different ways to give community contributors more stake and influence in the ecosystem. I don’t really see it as an either/or situation as the point of this is definitely not to replace ANTs role or authority in governance with a cooperative.

I’m not generally a fan of 1 person 1 vote either, but it does have a lot of benefit with regard to inclusivity and openness. I see this as an experiment, and would love to also see us dogfood a reputation based approach – where we assign non-transferrable tokens that represent reputation based on contributions to the organization. If there is more interest from the community in taking that route I’m happy to also be involved with that initiative.

I just want to re-iterate that there is no intention (atleast on my part) for this to ever supersede the authority of ANT holders, but rather I think that ANT holders including myself would be interested in the opinion of actively engaged community members on AGPs and other important community decisions, and the cooperative organization is a way to structure and gather those opinions (while also dogfooding Aragon and learning from that experience). I expect and hope that overtime there will be many organizations that participate in the political/signaling processes, lobby for their particular interests, and ANT holders can use these signals as inputs to their individual decisions making process (or perhaps in the future delegate their voting power directly to one or more of these organizations).

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100% to all of Luke’s responses.

Whenever I originally proposed this cooperative concept in the earlier forum post, it was out of concern regarding the ANT turnout on AGP-1, but it has evolved a lot since then.

I think we have to recognize the importance of creating an ecosystem with various signals. Vitalik outlined this well last December:

The approach for blockchain governance that I advocate is “multifactorial consensus”, where different coordination flags and different mechanisms and groups are polled, and the ultimate decision depends on the collective result of all of these mechanisms together. These coordination flags may include:

  • The roadmap (ie. the set of ideas broadcasted earlier on in the project’s history about the direction the project would be going)
  • Consensus among the dominant core development teams
  • Coin holder votes
  • User votes, through some kind of sybil-resistant polling system
  • Established norms (eg. non-interference with applications, the 21 million coin limit)

Since we don’t have sybil-resistant identity solutions live yet within Aragon, and ones that are tied toward a bounty system, the Cooperative is a way to get this signal in the near-term, yet it is centrally managed as far as admitting new members (but the goal is to make this fair and transparent, on what it means to be an active community member). But the Cooperative is also a structure that can help with consensus seeking among disparate dev teams. I think the goal should be moving the structure to be more decentralized of course… but you have to start somewhere. The point is that as people join the Cooperative, you let it evolve. Some signals you may still want one-person, one-vote, others you may not. I don’t think we should be glued to that. We should also think of having community meetings and using rough consensus for decisions as well.

Like right now, Ethereum has these “Core Dev” calls, and people from all sorts of companies participate. This is some kind of push to move in that direction, but more structured as it’s applying the usage of tools for trying to evolve governance.

I don’t understand this “comfortable position” critique, the Cooperative is not meant to be a way for people to apply to “council” positions and get paid for them. I see it more as volunteer driven as far as strategy / brainstorming / polling / proposal writing goes. If funds come through to the cooperative, it would be directly applied toward application development or such projects that are related to improving the ecosystem and pushing forward the Aragon vision – which can be done using bounties or using some of the teams that are already familiar with developing on Aragon that have the bandwidth. Realize that bounty programs still need to be centrally managed at the moment.

The more people that want to help manage them, the better, I think, as there is a lot of optimization work that needs to occur to actually make bounties an efficient method for Aragon development. So the Cooperative can be a way to accelerate the bounty process and not rely on 1-2 teams alone to manage them – and as Luke said, we can experiment with merit/reputation models in the bounty system as well – that’s the path I prefer marching down personally.

Well, this is all a very interesting development.

Could I ask you both what you consider the differences/demarcations between a (Aragon-specific or not) DAO & a Coop?

I think these are reasonably clearly defined above but side by side (e.g. in a table) would help clarify peoples’ reaction.

Currently they appear to overlap in crucial areas (for me anyhow). Is there a danger here that in attempting to decentalise, you’re introducing vertical (management) layers?
Perhaps I need to mull it over a little more:)

Props though, I’m intrigued to see it in practice,

Everyone can already participate in Aragon as a member of the ANT DAO right now
The Cooperative is not attempting to take over the ANT DAO. In what was proposed in the original post, are you concerned that ANT holders will choose to delegate their authority to the Cooperative? Are you saying that to be a DAO each ANT holder must perform their own vote?

Right now, the Aragon ecosystem contains:

  • An Association (Swiss association)
  • An AG (A Swiss shareholder company)
  • A DAC (a non-entity …)
  • Many companies funded by Nest who all have their own entities, be it LLCs, cooperatives, shareholder corps, etc.

These organizations all have their own management structures, I assume many of which are not decentralized and are not DAOs :slight_smile:

The Cooperative is not meant to be an umbrella organization for all of these organizations. It is meant to gather non-ANT signals from community members, with a community approved process for how you validate who a community member is. ANT holders can decide to give the cooperative a budget if they want, but they don’t have to, but it can still function and do things without a budget as well!

I don’t understand the benefit of waiting months or years, until we have the optimal tools to get these signals when we can just do it with a combination of old fashioned methods (trusting people) while eating the Aragon dogfood, and upgrade when the tools are ready.

We are all part of Aragon for the same reason (as outlined in the manifesto)… and that reason is not to use a legacy Cooperative structure. Maybe the word “Cooperative” is confusing for this, I don’t know :slight_smile:

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Could I ask you both what you consider the differences/demarcations between a (Aragon-specific or not) DAO & a Coop?

My working definition is that a DAO is an organization which has decentralized sufficiently as to secure its autonomy (eg it cannot be stopped or shutdown by an arbitrary third-party interest). An organization created with Aragon (regardless of how it is internally structured or governed meets that definition as it inherits decentralization of the platform it is running on top of–Ethereum). However, I know that others look towards the internal governance of the organization and whether that occurs in a decentralized and autonomous fashion–by this definition most traditional organization structures would not qualify but certain protocols would (proof of work blockchains, Auger’s REP oracle, etc).

I think there is a lot of ambiguity of the term DAO and have actively been trying to move away from using it… Instead I prefer to focus on making organization (of whatever structure) more effective, transparent, and accessible.

Currently they appear to overlap in crucial areas (for me anyhow). Is there a danger here that in attempting to decentalise, you’re introducing vertical (management) layers?

I’m not convinced that avoiding hierarchical structure is (or should be) the goal. Some problems may be better solved by a protocol that does not require any management whatsoever, while other problems may be best addressed with a more traditional structure.

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A better way to do this is via “Proof of Humanity” similar to what the Blockstack project did for their token sale:
https://blockstack.github.io/blockstack.js/index.html#validateproofs

and the source code:

This would be easily extendable to also enable “Aragon proofs” so that people can add their DAO or ETH address containing ANT tokens to prove they are part of the community.

You could also couple this with the discourse (which I believe is what the Aragon forum uses) plugin for Blockstack so that people have to login in with a verifiable identity with at least 1 social media account to prove they are human.

More (a lot more!) details on how this worked during the token sale can be found here: https://www.larrysalibra.com/blog/blockstack-token-sale-voucher-registration-walkthrough/

As for the voting quorum, although I consider myself an active Aragon community member, I couldn’t vote because the time window was to short. I would consider keeping a vote open for a full week and see if there is any difference in the numbers.

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I’ve heard this feedback a few times, and would suggest someone throw together a Meta Track AGP before the next AGP vote.

Agree there is lots of room for improvement and even automation with the membership process. I’m not sure if it makes sense to introduce a technical hurdle to get started with dogfooding though? What are your thoughts on that, do you consider it a gating factor?

Some more thoughts…

One of the previous concerns brought up in relation to this type of voting was privacy.

Based on this, I think a policy like this can be applied, as it seems like one of the main cases where privacy will be important:

  • The Cooperative will not create AGP signal votes for ones that directly affect the financial situation of individuals or companies in the Aragon ecosystem (e.g. proposals to fund Nest or Flock teams etc).

For example, the Cooperative will not create a vote for the Aragon One budget proposal and see what the community signal is, nor will the Cooperative do that for any other Flock proposals.

If this policy is enforced in the near-term, it also provides more brainstorming time to determine how to handle this proposal class when anonymous voting features surface.

Yep, ditto coop tbh (platform or not).

I’ve just reread the original thread re voting where this was first proposed, am feeling a little more up to speed ( I think there was only a couple of replies when I 1st read it). Great thread!

Slightly shallow but can’t help thinking there must be a way to shoehorn the word ‘actant(s)’ into all this :thinking:
" *Actants have a kind of phonemic rather than a phonetic role: they operate on the level of function, rather than content."

I wonder too if the coop term is unhelpful. @stellarmagnet - you mentioned your cooperative membership in the voting post, what is missing here that you get from your involvement?

I’ve mentioned this on the chat forum with @lkngtn that I perceive DAO’s as scifi-coops (or at least an evolution of, so am interested in what’s missing from this contemporary interpretation.

Are your referring to the learning curve on installing and/or creating a blockstack id? That its extremely simple, and requires almost no technical knowledge to do. Granted its an additional step in the process…but how else would you ensure uniqueness of the applicants? I can create a forum user and point to any github profile I want, that doesn’t mean I own it. Connecting social media accounts on the other hand, requires the user to provide his password for the account and accept the oauth/whatever request.

Having a social account alone will not prove you are an active Aragon community member - you would have to have references as well – like links to your participation in the forum, chat, commits on github, blog posts, etc…

To prevent people “gaming” the Cooperative by creating a bunch of different accounts and being active on them, we can maybe have some kind of vouching/referral system, or require attendance to monthly video meetings? (not every meeting, but maybe like you know… prove to people you are real by showing up to a few of them)

What do you mean by what is missing? What is missing where?

I assumed that were referring to a direct integration where you would provide a proof and it would automatically grant membership. (Which would be really cool for some cases, but would also introduce a lot of technical complexity).

But it seems like you are just suggesting they prove that they actually own their social accounts and associate that with a specific address. I think this is a good idea to include in the process, though I think it might make more sense to use keybase. We could create a cooperative team/channel and users can request to be added there (solves a communication issue for the cooperative as well, and links an applicate to github/twitter at least). Linking forum/aragon chat accounts would be a bit trickier, but could be relatively easy to prove socially through DMs on keybase.

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Apologies for not being clear…
What is it from your experience within cooperative communities that can be brought here (and is a current lack)?