Delegated Voting Procedure: How We Govern

As I wrote in another thread, I personally think the Charter/Constitution is not the ideal place for operational (incl. governance-related) details, which are better addressed in other (version-controlled) parts of project documentation. As I see it, the purpose of the Charter/Constitution should be to define the core structure/principles (in this case the subDAO/guild system and both direct and delegated ANT voting) and, more importantly, to inspire and guide not through step-by-step instructions but through vision, values, and the general ethos/spirit behind the core principles - things that shouldn’t require changing as the DAO learns and evolves. In that sense, the Charter/Constitution can be thought of as a preamble to all other governance documentation - something that animates everything else without ever feeling like a straightjacket.

Of course, I also realize that this is partly a matter of semantics or, more specifically, naming and thereby structuring different parts of governance-related documentation. Anyway, my point here is that it’s naive to think that the DAO won’t need to tweak various proceducal details over time, so it makes sense to organize documentation accordingly.

EDIT: Before writing a new Charter/Constitution, I recommend reading this: https://constitutions.metagov.org/

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This was simply an example time line, but can see the confusion. If the November transfer is to take place they will need to be in place in advance of S3. So around October time.

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Apologies for cross-posting (especially as this is not a thread on the Charter/Constitution per se), but since it did come up: before writing a new Charter/Constitution, I recommend reading this: https://constitutions.metagov.org/

First of all, awesome job @Samantha and team!

There are some points that require refinement (like aligning the vote thresholds to the VOICE attendance in practice), but overall this proposal makes sense.

I am 100% pro this way of governing, as I love the “get things done mentality”.
In DAOs people are tempted to keep discussion instead of realizing the DAOs vision and via this way the DAO is tempted to make decisions more efficient.

I think it is best to start with a rough process (like outlined above), and make it relative easy to adjust it while doing it. Put only the most relevant points “in stone”, and lets improving the process along.

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Hi Samantha and team,

Really great job on this! And I agree with @mlphresearch feedback.

I have 1 important question: have we included feedback from external parties who are major delegates in large DAOs already? I would love to send this for feedback from Lefteris (Optimism, ENS, Gitcoin), Griff (similar), Simona? and a few others? Maybe Juan from Maker?

I don’t want to include them if you have already gotten some external feedback from existing delegates elsewhere. So let me know and i’d be happy to reach out.

Thanks!
Anthony

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@Samantha thank you for leading this towards a well-thought-through proposal and @mlphresearch for thoughtful and helpful comments.

Josh is a friend. We work together on DAO Star One. Depending on how the new charter process goes, I can pull him in for a feedback session.

This can be recalculated monthly to accommodate for the comments @lion917 raised.
So in October 2022 we will have the initial (up to) 11 compensated delegates. However, if a delegate loses their delegated power and falls below the 0.1% threshold or there are 11 other delegates with more voting power, that individual/team will no longer be compensated.

The 12 months is the time frame at which all tokens get automatically undelegated to avoid entrenchment - this is also an important technical requirement for the new system cc: @sembrestels

I’m not 100% sure how I feel about it, but it seems somewhat reasonable. There may be a cap on the additional compensated work delegates can complete with the DAO, either as a full/part-time contributor, as bounty recipient, or through external advisory/ research/ development and other structures.

Two additional comments in this context - this should be limited to the compensated delegates only, and a delegate’s compensation should be increased if this rule is introduced. Given the power and responsibility, delegates yield a compensation of $36k per year and is unlikely to attract dedicated top talent without ulterior motives. The number of compensated delegates should be decreased to lower the financial burden on the network to maybe 5 or 7.
[P.S.] For the sake of transparency here, I do plan to apply for a delegate role so I might be biased.

@lion917 - I get the concern about the 3% and think it is viable. The bottom honestly seems very fair, considering that this lower limit is for the person/team to qualify for compensation as a delegate. Anyone can vote regardless of how much voting power is delegated to them.

@lee0007 - indeed, the timeline in there is just an indication. Realistically ANT holders should be able to start delegating voting power in early October if we are to adhere to the timeline as per the will of the community as expressed by the vote on the original proposal.

Many changes must happen to the charter (if we assume the current one as a starting point). This proposal does not change that need substantially, as it adheres to a proposal that passed with ~3% of the network support. The Charter in its current form passed with <0.2%…it is very clear which of the two should be the legitimate mental anchor if we should have any. Also, I 100% agree with this:

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These are important points. Question is: what are the time commitment and knowledge/skills required to perform delegate duties, and whether it makes sense to concentrate the delegate compensation budget among a small group of delegates vs. distribute it more broadly? I’m worried that this question is too difficult to answer with precision ex ante, or that the answer may change (perhaps even repeatedly) as the DAO finds its rhythm under the new system. It’s also worth remembering that, when it comes to organization building, it’s generally easier to add than remove.

How much is 0.1% of ANT circulating?

You raise a great point @Anthony.Leuts. We should ideally take feedback from the contributors of DAOs where this system already exists. We will get some insightful feedback.

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It’s ~38k ANT or about $63k at current prices, as per coingecko reported circulating supply

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I agree to answer this is difficult. One line of thinking:
The delegates are directing substantial financial resources owned by the network. For the lack of a better word, they are the fiduciaries of the treasury with a responsibility to the network to allocate resources in the best possible way that would enable the network to pursue its objective sustainably (e.g., build useful DAO infrastructure).

To achieve this, the delegates should be able to formulate and deploy some sort of network-level strategy which dictates resource allocation trade-offs. It might be best for that strategy to be unified across delegates, but potentially different delegates will pursue different network-level strategies (getting consensus is tough). Some might decide strategic trade-offs are not a thing and assess proposals on ad-hoc basis until the budget for the year is spent.

To execute their chosen strategy, delegates will have to fund or defund specific work streams (e.g. building smart-contract infrastructure) and initiatives (hackathons, integrations with other projects) that aim to incentivize network stakeholders to contribute useful work to the network.

This requires delegates to assess and plan what type of contributions are needed by the network when, whether the initiatives and workstreams put forward for funding are meeting these needs, whether the teams putting forward those proposals can ship, and whether the results meet deliverables. Forum politics will sadly be an unavoidable aspect of the role.

Ideally, we want delegates to be experienced in making decisions on a strategic level while having a sufficient understanding of practical implications and interdependencies. It should be a mix of backgrounds.

TLDR: It sounds like a demanding role in expertise and time. Parts of it can, over time, be spun out into different guilds - i.e. a guild that reviews independently deliverables sounds like a good idea but the incentive structure there can get wanky

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Samantha, love the thoughtful attention to detail here!

I think your vision for the future and “end state” for delegation and the governance culture surrounding it is roughly aligned with what I envision and with those who I have spoken to in detail about this, at least in spirit. I do think we can take a less prescriptive path to get there though.

To clarify, when I say less prescriptive, I am not referring to any notion of power or politics, but rather just to increase flexibility and reduce logistic or bureaucratic overhead. Many of the recommendations here that are being proposed as something to codify, could probably be emergent outcomes of a more lean governance system, via smaller proposals that are informed by each previous governance iteration. @lee0007 's observation about this potentially getting complicated into a web of 150+ tangential interrelated conversations sounds likely, and even we were to get a vote through, we could end up with something really tough to work with or understand.

Antifragility via negativa is how I’m thinking about this, or perhaps just with a more agile mindset that can respond to lean governance changes more iteratively.

Hope that makes sense! Can definitely chat more fluidly about this soon if what I’m saying isn’t clear or seems silly.

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This raises something that I’ve seen cause issues in other DAOs: the lack of clarity/process when it comes to developing strategies and using these strategies as a reference point when assessing proposals/plans/budgets. It’s difficult and expensive to develop and execute plans without strategies, and it’s difficult and expensive to strategize without a shared vision/mission, so there’s clearly a sequence of steps implied here.

My personal view on this is that developing strategies requires input from different corners of the DAO and should not be centralized with the delegates. Even though the DAO can pursue multiple strategies at once, it will inevitably be forced to prioritize some over others when it comes to allocating resources through ANT votes. Perhaps the initial role of delegates (especially those that receive compensation) should be to publicly scrutinize proposals and provide a sanity check based on whatever vision/mission and strategies the DAO has adopted? Any ANT holder, regardless of their role in the Aragon ecosystem, can always vote with their tokens whichever way they want. But, when it comes to delegates (who are likely to accumulate decisive levels of voting power), I think their Code of Conduct should be very clear about commingling of roles / conflicts of interest.

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I tend to agree that the first iteration should focus on getting the basics right and not be overly prescriptive about the rest. A simple role description and a general code of conduct for all delegates (public commitment recommended), and a slightly more detailed role description and a code of conduct for paid delegates (public commitment required) should be enough to get going. Both can be regularly revisited to integrate learnings from practice.

What you’re describing sounds a lot like top-down leadership to me.

Most of it makes sense but we clearly need more facilitation skills and facilitative leadership to say the least. Otherwise we’re just making corporaitons on chain with the same level of soul crushing disempowerment for contributors

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Echoing @lee0007 comment here. A good practice for the future could be to break down these sorts of proposals into steps.

As @mlphresearch suggested, execution needs strategy and strategy needs a mission. Same concept here where outlining the basic direction and getting that agreed first ensures we’re not having at the same time a discussion around the details and around the overall direction.

I’d suggest trimming this down, getting a basic outline passed and then working on the details. Otherwise, this whole process is based exclusively on those with an extremely high bandwidth (likely excluding most AA and DAO members, unless they’re being paid to work on Governance or have a strong personal agenda).

And one could argue that’s ok (I hope you see the issue with an undemocratic process too, this is not a judgement of your values but more something I’ve sadly seen too often in Web3), but the end result is a lack of buy-in and deeper problems down the line.

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Thank you everyone for your thoughtful feedback! I’m taking your comments into account to inform how we move forward. With all your feedback and insight, we have a strong start on a delegated voting plan.

Due to the complexity of the current document and in an effort to simplify the iteration process, here are my next steps:

  1. I’ll isolate the pieces of this proposal that directly affect the current Charter and draft a brief amendment. I’ll consult with the ESD and dgov to make sure I follow the correct amendment procedure, including getting community feedback.

  2. I’ll aggregate comments and share separate proposals to build on the Charter amendment, including compensation, elections, and tech. This will keep the Charter amendment itself simple and clean, with more detailed specifications kept separate. Again, I will share those publicly here for feedback and expect to have multiple drafts of each document.

Thanks again for your helpful feedback. Looking forward to sharing the next iteration of these documents and continuing to hear from you! To work on this subject or share private feedback, message me @Samantha Marin #8487 on Discord.

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A couple of additional questions/ideas to consider for the next iteration:

  • Should all delegations automatically disappear at once or should delegations decay in parts over time based on their starting date? All delegations disappearing at once may easily create a “voting vacuum” and thus temporarily but radically change the dynamic of passing proposals. On the other hand, all delegations disappearing at once would instantly put the DAO on its toes and concentrate attention.

  • Should delegate compensation be tied to some core performance metrics, in addition to a public commitment to follow the Code of Conduct (e.g. participation in votes, engagement on the forum, communication with delegators)?

Totally agree with this statement. If Aragon wants to be a DAO then be a DAO. We keep saying that only x amount of people cant control a 200million dollar treasury…
There are currently around 60 people in the AA and another 30-40 contributors in the DAO. Thats around 100 people who have a stake in what is happening here.

If we’re going to “decentralize” Aragon but with the same people who were leading it in the first place are we really decentralizing? Or is this just happening so the public will see it happening? Because that’s kind of the vibe im getting right now from all of this.

I totally understand the risks of decentralizing a treasury with low governance participation. However, if this is the case then why are we rushing this process???

If we are just creating a different top-down system under the guise of decentralization, then why not save all of us a bunch of headaches and keep it the way it is? The “whales” will keep their power and the employees won’t have to deal with the stress of proposals and everything else and will be able to focus on what they’re doing.

I understand this is a bit late in the process, but to be honest all of this is a bit silly at this point. I’m here for it and i support Aragon regardless because i believe in what we’re doing here but let’s drop the front and be real about what’s happening.

Personally, I don’t think we should dissolve all delegations at once. There is a high level of context that comes with and is necessary for a role like that and having these roles on a rolling schedule of sorts will help ensure that this context continues on with the leadership while also helping keep the narrative of decisions steady as well.

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I agree. But I also think delegations should not be indefinite by default. A potential middle ground would be to let delegations decay in parts / gradually.