[Financial Proposal] Bringing Substance to the Aragon Court: Let the Eagles Fly! 🦅

Date of the Proposal: 23 December 2021

Authors: @eaglelex, @sabinachain, @lion917, @Tayy

SUMMARY

The aim of the present project is to bring value to Aragon in reshaping the Aragon Court dispute resolution mechanism. The legal team will (1) provide research on new use-cases, (2) adapt the Aragon Court proceeding to make it more efficient and simpler to use, (3) implement Aragon Court in one or more DAOs, (4) evaluate the state of the product with external stakeholders, and (5) present proposals for external funding in order to deploy on other chains.

BACKGROUND

The future of modern justice systems seems inherently connected to the mass development and adoption of refined online dispute resolution (“ODR”) mechanisms. Regulatory interventions in the field of consumer law and the times of pandemic have demonstrated how technology can provide efficiency to the judicial systems and make it easier for people to have access to justice. What is happening seems to indicate that Richard Susskind’s prediction on “Online Courts” as the future of justice is correct. Online courts offer to users easy and cheap access to legal services. Moreover, such courts are capable of overcoming jurisdictional differences and practical obstacles.

Aragon Court stands in line with these developments. Aragon Court is far ahead in pioneering a system where everyone is free to gain access to justice by taking advantage of web3 technology and its disruptive features in order to bring more equality, inclusiveness, and fairness to decentralized communities. In Aragon Court justice is granted through decentralization, incentives, reputation and smart contract technology. Thanks to the work of Aragon’s developers, the technicalities concerning Aragon Court have reached an impressive level of definition.

Initial Concerns Around Aragon Court

In its present form, the Aragon Court has not heard any actual disputes—only generic disputes developed to train its jurors and refine its product. We believe that more research on new use cases and target market needs could increase Aragon Court’s organic usage and cement its place as a marquee product for Aragon. Based on discussions with the Aragon Court development team and our own research, we’ve pinpointed the following problems with the status quo Court that we aim to address through a well-researched revamp:

  1. Fee Avoidance: In order to face the problem of the high fees, which has caused in part the limited usage of Court, developers are deploying Aragon Court on Arbitrum. This is a very important milestone, as access-to-justice and rapid go-to-market strategy calls for financial accessibility, so cost efficiency and transparency must be a top priority.
  2. Chicken-and-Egg Problem: Aragon Court can only refine its product to produce optimistic governance if sufficient organic cases are handled and jurors remain engaged rather than passive. However, according to the original Aragon Court development team, the existence of the Aragon Court in the first place often quiets disputes before they reach an apex where they require an ODR service. This, along with the fact that the Aragon Court V1 predecessor was limited to the Aragon Network means that the Court has not had a chance to battle-test its ODR strategy and train its jurors by hearing cases directly. For the Court to be secure and usable, jurors cannot be passive.
  3. Technical Knowledge Expectations: The Aragon Tool is, in its current state, highly technical to use. The initial trigger to create the Aragon Court was to avoid 51% attacks in DAOs—in other words, it developed in an engineer-driven rather than a community-driven way. For Aragon Court to broaden its market and hear more cases, it will have to redefine its product vision from the ground-up. We envision a system where DAO members can ping the Aragon Court about a broad variety of disputes that occur both internally and between DAOs.

Aragon Court is one player in a very small market of early-stage crypto-ODR competitors. From a theoretical point of view, once improved, the Aragon product may have an enormous impact on the conceptualization of justice systems and legal services. Not surprisingly, many scholars have likewise begun to devote attention to what can be defined as “blockchain dispute resolution systems.”

We firmly believe that times are mature in order to promote a revamp of the Aragon Court through a research and development project aimed at softening the procedure and bringing to Aragon Court several new use cases. The project is a year-long endeavor aimed at completely transforming the current status of the Aragon Court. The current proposal made here is focused on implementing the first two phases and as such, the requested funds are only relevant to these phases.

SPECIFICATION

1. Phase 1: Research For New Use-Cases & Workshop (3 Months)

We are of the opinion that research concerning Aragon Court should at the beginning focus on three use cases. Many of these cases can come from DAOs internally, as well as DAO relationships (for instance, between DAOs and DAOs as service providers, or DAOs and sub-DAOs). By expanding the Court mandate to these use cases and reducing the technical baseline knowledge needed to deploy the Aragon Court, we envision the Court being able to hear more actual cases, actively train its jurors, and improve the security, efficiency and functionality of its product. While the court is a scalable product that can be deployed for a variety of developer-focused use cases, we believe that by shifting its focus to DAOs, the product can yield maximum use initially, providing the best chance for adequate sandboxing and refining of the product. This vision is also in line with the ethos and product lineup of Aragon, and could be built to integrate seamlessly and support DAO tools such as Aragon Govern and Voice.

1.1. Use Case I: Internal DAO Disputes

DAOs are growing and encompass members of different origins and levels of education. Moments of tension, if not full-blown internal disputes, are beginning to arise. Almost every DAO presents a set of rules or principles that should regulate the behavior of its members. Nevertheless, they don’t have a decentralized dispute resolution system or an enforcement mechanism to ensure rules are effectively abided by.

There are several well-functioning analogies we believe we can learn from to improve the existing dispute resolution strategies utilized by Aragon Court. For instance, over the past several months, members of our team contributed to BanklessDAO, where a Committee of Ombudspersons (5 members chosen by the community) was set-up in order to tackle internal disputes. During Q4 2021, the Ombudspersons discussed 8 cases. The Ombudspersons became a point of reference for the community, and the subject matter of the cases concerned mainly distribution of funding and member misbehavior. We think that a system like Aragon Court could work very well for DAO internal disputes, and that it would be easily accepted due to its decentralized nature and independence from other DAOs. One issue that we will have to further research in order to increase deployment within DAOs is how to encourage usage of a third-party ODR service such as Aragon Court rather than resorting to in-house guilds or sub-DAOs dedicated to disputes or legal concerns.

According to Art. 4 (j) of the COALA DAO model law, prepared by a group of renown scholars, ODR is integral to the effective functioning of any DAO: “The DAO must refer to or provide a Dispute Resolution Mechanism that the DAO, Members and Participants will be bound by.” Here, Dispute Resolution Mechanism entails an “On-Chain alternative dispute resolution system, such as arbitration, expert determination, or an On-Chain alternative court system, which enables anyone to resolve their disputes, controversies or claims with, arising out of, or in connection with, a DAO.” (Art. 3 (9) COALA DAO model law)

We recently received a strong endorsement by crypto-lawyers and by Polygon leaders to develop ODR tooling for this described use case. Polygon has also publicly declared potential for developer funding and other resource support to incentivize the deployment of the Aragon Court on their chain.

Moreover, we are going to assess the possibility of adopting native tokens of other protocols for the staking at Aragon Court. The adoption of other tokens could foster the birth of sub-Aragon Courts, which would become a tailor-made solution for many protocols and DAOs. The main Aragon Court (with ANT staking) could become the judge of last instance.

Survey: To further assess the viability of the first use case, our team will also conduct a short qualitative and quantitative survey with the stakeholders which will be attached to our final analysis and used to generate further thought leadership on blockchain ODR market needs.

1.2. Use Case II: DAO-to-DAO Relationships

The growing number of DAOs has contributed to the rise of agreements and alliances between DAOs. Such relationships are often not regulated, but disputes and misunderstandings may happen. If DAOs are acquainted with the functioning of Aragon Court (1.1.), they could easily decide to adopt the same dispute resolution mechanism in DAO-to-DAO relationships. DAOs are digital entities that operate with smart contracts and tokens. A blockchain dispute resolution mechanism would be the perfect tool in a DAO vs. DAO case. This use case seems also to fit well with the idea of creating a network of DAOs.

1.3. Use Case III: Recognition of Aragon Court Awards IRL

If Aragon wants to become the bridge between the on-chain and the off-chain world, its decision should be recognized and be enforceable in the on-chain world. Legal scholars doubt that in its present form an Aragon proceeding could lead to an enforceable judgment in the off-chain world. This does not mean that Aragon Court is unlawful. In fact, according to their contractual freedom, parties are entitled to refer to Aragon for their disputes.

We believe that use-cases 1.1. and 1.2. are indeed very strong, but in order to become mainstream and shape the future of justice, Aragon Court should implement remedies as regular arbitration awards and be enforceable in the main jurisdictions of the world. If Aragon Court declares a duty to provide a payment, the winning party needs to be sure that such a judgment will be executed in the off-chain world. Simply put, off-chain recognition is a necessary function of any ODR mechanism as the lines between on-chain and off-chain continue to blur. Competitors such as Kleros have figured this out but have only sandboxed off-chain validity in one jurisdiction, so we aim to incorporate this feature in pre-production to provide as close to universal recognition as possible.

2. Phase 2: Beta Testing & “Adaptation” Of The Protocol (3-6 Months)

2.1 Product Development & Refinement

After the preliminary research phase (in Phase 1), the legal team will work with the Aragon developers to adapt the existing proceeding to the aforementioned use-cases. The idea is to significantly simplify the different steps of the proceeding (for instance, in reducing the number of appeals) and to make the overall structure cost-efficient without losing the incentive model.

The legal team will also draft new documents to present the steps of an Aragon Court proceeding in a clear manner. Using the survey results from Phase 1, the Aragon Court Genesis Team will aim to publish a note in the Stanford Journal for Blockchain Law & Policy (where crypto-ODR has already been discussed by Kleros) to garner feedback from other crypto-legal practitioners and cement our team as thought-leaders in the crypto-ODR space. The legal team will use the recommendations and the results of the brief survey, as well as feedback from our publication, to make necessary changes to the product so that it can be deployed in an effective yet cost-efficient manner.

As indicated above, Polygon may incentivize via a grant the deployment of Aragon Court on its chain, providing an initial relationship for us to beta test the revised product.

2.2. Evaluation of the Product

Phase 2 will end with a workshop/webinar organized with external stakeholders (targeting arbitrators, professors, judges, and DAO participants) who will share learnings about Aragon Court and discuss its inherent features. The workshop will offer an open context for web3-natives and legal experts to evaluate the product and understand how to implement use case 1.3 after the initial product development for use cases 1.1 and 1.2 have been completed.

2.3. Implementing Aragon Court in a DAO

The aim of the work is to revise, redeploy, and grow Aragon Court within a DAO and to begin the implementation of a more simple and efficient justice system for large decentralized communities (for instance, BanklessDAO, UMA, and Perpetual Protocol, among others). We will form agreements with one or more DAOs to launch the revised version of Aragon Court as a pilot regime. We’ve developed four strategies to drive adoption of the Aragon Court shortly upon redevelopment to ensure proper real-case training opportunities—a serious post-deployment problem discussed by the former Aragon Court product development team (See Initial Concern #2 in “Background”).

  1. Deep Court Team Involvement: Like any product deployment strategy, our Aragon Court team will be available to first users to provide (1) easy-to-understand FAQs and written user documentation, (2) procedural walkthroughs, and (3) customized support for initial sandboxers. This aims to tackle the technical knowledge hurdle present within blockchain-enabled ODR mechanisms.
  2. User Testing Incentives: We plan to grant incentives to one or more DAO communities willing to implement the new Aragon Court while in beta, to sandbox and revise the product using real-life use cases. While the extent of such incentives required will be refined by our survey, discounts or ANT rewards to parties involved, along with initial partnerships with strategics aligned with Aragon Court’s mission, will aid in growing the Court at an early stage. First partnerships, for instance, with a Polygon ecosystem DAO (since support has been explicitly communicated from Polygon) or with LeXpunK (where this project has garnered interest via a call without the existence of a competing LeXpunK-native product team) offer a chance to test the court in communities that are mission-driven to advance and benefit from effective ODR. Our team has seen competitors such as Kleros deploy juror incentive programs, however incentive programs from the user and community side are novel in the ODR space and merit further investigation due to the chicken-and-egg issue that hinders early adoption rates.
  3. Dispute Referral Rewards: To further drive usage within the DAO(s) with which we do the beta test, we will utilize this phase’s funds to encourage DAO members to refer other members experiencing disputes to the Aragon Court—these could comprise of “social” rewards (e.g. NFTs, POAPs, or supporter-specific emoji sets signaling that this user was a first supporter, akin to Signal’s sustainer badges for donators) or token rewards/discounts to both referral and referee. The thresholds and metrics for provision of these rewards would be vetted to ensure sufficient case complexity and to avoid clogging of the Aragon Court system with spam or low-value cases.
  4. First Client Grants: As the most cost-heavy path (intended for use with only 1-2 initial partners that prove to be integral to user testing), initial partner DAO(s) could share Aragon Court implementation and case costs with Aragon itself. These partnership conversations would take place based off of community involvement with the workshop in Phase 2.2.

This collaboration with other DAO(s) could bring many benefits to the Aragon community: true-to-life testing of Aragon Court, strong communication with potential Aragon clients and stakeholders, and more thought leadership surrounding the Aragon Court and the ANT token form the tip of the iceberg. We aim to begin the trial with one DAO by the end of Phase 2 and collect feedback so that strategy for the next two phases can be developed.

3. Phase 3: Scaling the Product & Marketing (3-6 Months)

Our aim is to take the fully developed product to the market and commit to a full launch after the beta phase. This phase will be dependent on the scale of the identified market and the product success during the Beta phase. Budget and Specifics of this phase will be discussed after completion of the first two phases so that the most efficient method can be chosen to scale the product.

BUDGET REQUEST & DELIVERABLES

The expected timeline of the project spans 6 months (January to June, 2022) and it will be mainly covered by the proponents of this proposal. This budget includes research and product strategy costs, excluding assistance from technical developers needed to deploy this project fully. External costs (for third parties’ involvement, for instance) and additional opportunities for funding support*** will be determined during our research.

The initial request of funding will only concern phase 1.

TASK BUDGET (USD)*
PHASE 1 (JANUARY- MARCH 2022)
Workshop with Stakeholders Survey Results $10,000
Research on Use Cases Research Report & Analysis $15,000
Preparation of Report Research Report & Analysis $20,000
PHASE 2 (APRIL- JUNE 2022)
Adaptation of Protocol
Drafting of Explanatory Documents
Implementation of Aragon Court in a DAO
Product Evaluation
Total Fund Requirements for phase 1 $45,000

*The budget does not include marketing campaigns and other promotional activities which should surround the implementation of the proposal. This budget does not include implementation of Phase 3.

**Implementation of product in a DAO and product development will require assistance from developers and technical experts, some of which may be already salaried by Aragon for Aragon Court. As such, the budget does not include their estimate and proposals for funding will be drafted closer to deployment when the extent of new development and technical support required is further understood.

***Polygon has strongly endorsed a dispute resolution system internal to DAOs. Concerning the potential deployment on Polygon, there would be the possibility of obtaining a grant for the dev work in the range of $50-70K USD as an incentive. Polygon would possibly further request the implementation of the new Aragon Court product within the myriad of DAOs that are currently deploying in their ecosystem.

PAYMENT METHOD
The payment (50% in USDC and 50% in ANT) will follow this structure:

  1. End of Month 1: Survey Result, Preliminary Research and preparation of the workshop - 15 k USD
  2. End of Month 2: Template of Report, Use case Research - 15 k USD
  3. End of Month 3: Final Report: Analysis and Exact suggestions for phase 2 - 15 k USD

An escrow account is not required as the team will be paid through installments after reaching certain milesontes. In addition, all members are Aragon core contributors or Ambassadors.

The Gnosis Safe Address of the team is: 0x7B621B6038981163234a10F4A06220C074f31E59

SQUAD BACKGROUND

@eaglelex Law Professor and Lawyer in matters related to Blockchain technology, Cryptocurrencies and DAO regulations. He is a judge of the official ADR system of the Italian Banking Authority. He has written academic articles on Blockchain technology and is particularly interested in DAO governance and in legal set-ups for DAOs that aim to be active in the off-chain world. He has also focused on blockchain dispute resolution systems and follows every legal news concerning cryptocurrencies regulations worldwide. He is the Coordinator of the BanklessDAO legal guild and an active contributor in Legal DAOs as LexDAO and Lex Punk.

@sabinachain Sabina is a legal-tech researcher with US and EU experience. In web3, she’s worked with partners such as BanklessDAO and Algorand to enable treasury diversification via investing. In legal, she is the Managing Editor on the Stanford Journal for Blockchain Law & Policy, where she has edited articles on crypto-enabled ODR. Related research includes work on computable-contract ODR for insurance disputes and the development of legal frameworks for large-scale national AI data clouds.

@lion917 1. I am a legal consultant specialising in Asian jurisdictions from a leading Law University in Asia. I specialise in Blockchain, Data Protection and information technology. I am the project manager for legal guild at Bankless DAO. I have been an early adopter of decentralised finance and I also work with DAOs to streamline their legal-tech products. Though I have always been enthusiastic about law, technology is my true passion and I am glad that Aragon provides me with the chance to contribute. I am a level 2 contributor at Bankless. My research on crypto assets has also been published by the American Bar Association. In the past, I have worked with some of Asia’s top law firms as a researcher. Given my experience in the field of DeFi, law and research, it can be a unique opportunity to apply these skills to an impactful workplace where I can use symmetric global parameters to provide targeted expertise. Regulatory innovation is required for the sustainable growth of DeFi.

@Tayy is community lead at Aragon DAO. He is a legal expert with US background with 2 years experience in web 3.0. He is an active member in the BanklessDAO legal guild, in Lex Punk and in LexDAO.

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@eaglelex @Tayy @sabinachain @lion917, Many thanks for the in depth proposal, I will have a proper review and come back with any questions!

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Happy Holidays all. Many thanks for the in depth proposal for the next six months on what you would like to do with Aragon Court.

A few initial questions from my side:

  1. On the implementation, do you have any idea of the costs associated with the deployment if the currently available developers are tied up with existing maintenance and new products as to not slow down the improved version of court?
  1. I think that ANT holders should be used as the final arbitration point. In your proposal research was there any appetite for communitys to use there own native tokens initially and will this form part of the research phase?

  2. How crucial is it that Aragon court is deployed on Arbitrum for the proposal to gain product market fit. (PS. should this be Ethereum or is this referring to the development cost of deployment )?

Following on from this, is it a polygon vs arbitrium question and would there be bridging of ANT required in either case for guardians?

Appreciate all the work that has already gone into this @eaglelex, @Tayy, @sabinachain & @lion917.

Thanks,

Alex

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Happy holidays from my side as well.

That’s an excellent proposal, and I’m glad the four of you are working on it. I am curious to see, which improvements you want to make to the existing court architecture, and I am glad to help here.

In parallel, we were discussing to create a mediation guild, and I wanted to take the time to differentiate the two objectives and use cases.

The overarching goal should be to establish certainty and trust for the people to act in and between DAOs. Uncertainty and trust issues create big barriers in DAOs to participation and can ultimately lead to contributors leaving the DAO. A clear legal framework is an important cornerstone in this.

Mediation and Soft-Governance

Another significant aspect of DAO governance is very soft and not graspable by strict rules. Different personal view and perspectives on topics as well as personal relations will likely lead to conflicts between contributors.
This can lead to them feeling unheard, misunderstood, or worse, assuming that the other party is acting with malicious intent. Either way, this likely creates big trust issues in a DAO.
These conflicts can lead to power struggles as commonly observed in hierarchical organizations and leads them to either investing a lot of time in politicizing or, even worse, to one party leaving the DAO. It is needless to say that these conflicts are a huge drawback to DAO efficiency.

A way to deal with this inevitable problem is to cultivate a strong preventive conflict and error culture.
All these aspects are usually unified under the umbrella term soft-governance.
Core contributors with such skills create a strong social layer that makes a DAO resilient against actors with real malicious intent.

The key ability to circumvent these issues is introspection (self-critical reflection on its own perspective) and extrospection (understanding the perspective of others) of the actors involved. This demands high emotional intelligence.
Our aim is to create a guild of mediators and trainers to improve these skills and as the first layer of conflict resolution. Conflicts can be used as an opportunity to establish a strong conflict and error culture, to facilitate pluralism leading to better decision-making, and to align contributors on the common goal.
Only if mediation is not successful, the conflict should be escalated to a court.
IRL, you find many (funny) examples, where conflicting neighbors went to a court.
I am not aware of cases, where a court ruling improved/fixed the underlying conflict and reestablished a good neighborhood and personal relationship.

Discrimination from Courts

As mediation is a very time intensive and demanding process, this is not scalable and mainly reserved for the inner layers of a DAO.
On the other hand, mediation does not touch other common intra- and inter-DAO court use cases, such as:

Courts scale much better than mediation processes. They also have the advantage that once they are in place, people comply with them, so they often don’t need to be used at all.

To summarize: I am supportive of any measure to improve and advance ODR services.
Regarding internal/personal DAO conflicts, mediation should be used as the first layer of conflict resolution.
Ultimately, a preventative conflict culture and strong error culture has to be established in DAOs and I will create a separate proposal for this.

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I like the idea behind this proposal. I think the things being brought forth here are needed within the Aragon Ecosystem. However, this isn’t something that should belong to one group within the DAO. Yes, it could start with the Legal team. However, after the initial stages, it should be handed over to the Tech and UX team for Product Development. Then to the marketing and PR team for scaling and marketing. This is a fantastic opportunity for a DAO-wide project and for this to be executed efficiently this would be the best way to go about it.

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Dear Alex,

thank you for your thoughtful questions.

  1. We actually don’t know how much developer work our “reform” will require. We spoke to the main Aragon Court contributors before presenting the proposal and they have explained to us that Court is basically built as different modules that can be individually modified or eliminated. Therefore a modification of the system would not require a new start from 0. My first thought is that we need to simplify the mechanism and make it more efficient (for instance, with respect to the many instances of appeal). The developers have endorsed our intent during a call and I think that once we will be all aligned on the improvements to implement we can discuss involvement and budget together. In my opinion, Aragon Court is the main product of our network and it wouldn’t be wrong to focus on it, even if this will require to slow down a bit on different projects.

  2. We don’t have a conclusive response on this, but our main goal is give a strong use-case to the ANT token. When people see the blue eagle they have to directly think about the justice system of the blockchain industry. ANT will be at the core of our project. My first response would therefore be: no to other native tokens. Communities that want to implement a quality ODR system for their DAOs should rely on Aragon and use ANT. On a different note, we are not against a final say of the ANT holders (as an extreme appeal), but the system needs to be simplified. Arbitration and normal ADRs do not have an internal appeal system. If you don’t agree with the award there is the ordinary court. I think that, in this respect, we should emulate the more advanced ADRs and ODRs systems.

  3. At the moment a multichain strategy seems unavoidable to us, especially to alleviate high gas costs. We surprisingly received a very strong endorsement from Polygon, but we don’t have any preclusion concerning Arbitrum. I think that this is also an issue to be discussed with the developers on the technical side. Please be aware that I am a Polygon advisor :blush:, but we should do what is best for Aragon. At any rate, for our work, this issue seems not really of central importance at the beginning. We want first to tackle the functionalities of the court from a theoretical point of view (with respect to the type of proceeding that we imagine to implement).

I hope that this answers your questions. @lion917 @sabinachain @Tayy feel free to add your thoughts!

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Love to see the talented gathered to focus here on improving a core product. Being that there are two compliance committee members listed as authors here @eaglelex @Tayy I am surprised to see that this proposal to the main DAO does not (yet) meet the criteria for a financial proposal “…any type of financial transfer of any asset that has a monetary value from the Main DAO or any Sub-DAO…” as defined by the charter refer Aragon Governance Proposal Process S 6 (f) i 1

Thanks a lot for your comment.

At bankless I have implemented with other members a kind of soft dispute resolution mechanism similar to the one that you have in mind. Please look at the initial proposal:

After 6 months I can say that it was a great success within the DAO. The so-called Ombuds office is a point of reference for every member of the DAO. If there are discussions or disputes, people call the Ombuds who organizes informal hearings and finds a solution.

The drawback of this system is its centralized nature, not really aligned with the ethos of blockchains and DAOs. Moreover, it is very slow and it requires a lot of work by the members that form part of the office. From the beginning we have presented the Ombuds as a first step to be developed in a more decentralized ODR system able to take advantage of smart contracts technology.

In my opinion, pushing for a soft mediation system would not be the best approach for Aragon. The potential of Aragon Court comes from the use of blockchain technology and smart contracts. Our focus should therefore be on our more recognizable features.

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Hi @AlexClay, thanks a lot for your questions. I believe @Eaglelex has responded to the queries sufficiently. However, I would like to add our strategy on a macro level. Many questions that you have, even we struggled to figure out definitive answers to those questions. Hence, we have allocated sufficient time and resources to the first phase. For example, our report after phase one will exactly outline the developer costs and the steps required to develop a refined version of the court. We did have a proper chat with the court developers to understand the product and the requirement to improve was highlighted. Hence, a considerable amount of brainstorming is required. Many of the questions asked by the community will be answered in the report. @sabinachain & @Tayy can further opine.

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Given this fact would it not be more prudent to undertake Phase One to inform Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant and Time-bound objectives and develop a second proposal for funding Stage Two, following your research, to ensure the allocation of human and financial capital is aligned with the product strategy and road map.

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Hi @Shawncubbedge, I am glad you liked our idea and we are looking forward to your inputs. I would further like to clarify our intention. I completely understand your concern and I believe @sabinachain @eaglelex @Tayy and I, identify with the goals you have for the DAO. We have stated in the proposal that the developer and promotional costs are not part of the proposal keeping in mind that the authors of the proposal will not be sufficiently capable of performing these tasks alone. After phase 1, phase 2 will require developers and these will be sourced from within the DAO if they are happy to work on the project and have the necessary expertise. Similarly, most promotional activities are part of phase 3 and we have not asked for any form of budget for the same as we have anticipated the involvement of other guilds at this stage. Hence, we are working hard to make this a DAO wide project as well.

Please take note of the following paragraphs which reflects our intention.

This budget includes research and product strategy costs, excluding assistance from technical developers needed to deploy this project fully. External costs (for third parties’ involvement, for instance) and additional opportunities for funding support*** will be determined during our research.

*The budget does not include marketing campaigns and other promotional activities which should surround the implementation of the proposal. This budget does not include implementation of Phase 3.

**Implementation of product in a DAO and product development will require assistance from developers and technical experts, some of which may be already salaried by Aragon for Aragon Court. As such, the budget does not include their estimate and proposals for funding will be drafted closer to deployment when the extent of new development and technical support required is further understood.

1 Like

I appreciate the reply. That makes sense although, considering all of the unknowns in the second phase, I agree with Renee in that this should be a Proposal for phase 1. Then come back when more is known about what is needed for phase 2 to ensure you get all the resources you need.

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As already said, this thread is not intended for the discussion of a conflict resolution guild, but I think there are merits to clearly discriminate your Aragon Court proposal (especially Use Case I: Internal DAO Disputes) from a conflict resolution guild.

I am not sure if you are aware of efforts in other DAOs such as the Token Engineering Commons (TEC) around the topic of conflicts and soft-governance.
The TEC pioneered these topics and has a specific sub-DAO (Gravity DAO) specifically for conflict resolution. I participated in their second cohort training.
They are very successful at establishing a preventative conflict culture and fostering a strong social layer.

Such a guild is different from an ombuds office that only spins in action if the conflict has already grown big. On the contrary, there is active training and effort to establish a preventative culture throughout the DAO. For example, I could imagine that Ambassadors and other core contributors receive such a training by default. All of this is exclusively happening on the social layer of the DAO, and no smart contract is involved. DAO Members can then proactively solve small, emerging conflicts (themselves or by asking a mediator) before they grow into large ones. The ombuds office you mentioned sounds well-thought-out to me but seems to be still one escalation layer above what is successfully implemented at the TEC.

From what you wrote, I also assume that you think this is intended as a product that should be offered similar to court. This is not the intention.
From my perspective, a good internal conflict and error culture is an essential building block to enable productive work, especially in non-hierarchical organizations, that we should install for our DAO too.
This is tightly coupled to the community work we are doing anyway, which is why I especially value your opinion about it @Tayy.
If this works well, the guild could potentially offer trainings and services (maybe tailored specifically for Aragon DAOs) to other DAOs. This is also what Gravity DAO is doing.

Aragon’s past and also recent events in other DAOs (e.g., SushiSwap) demonstrate that this is a critical component. Conflicts growing over time can bring organizations to a complete halt, and we should install suitable preventative measures.

Further details regarding the implementation of a conflict resolution guild should be discussed in a separate thread.

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Thank you for the additional explaination. Now I got what you were talking about. I think that it could be a good idea, but I really struggle to see a nexus with our proposal. So perhaps it would be better to discuss the issue on another thread, as you have suggested.

I think that these systems have one important limit. Membership in DAOs is fluid and changes over time. It is difficult to instantiate a given culture concerning behaviors within a group which changes over time. From the experience that I have made in Bankless I would say that such kind of “cultural” barrier would be very weak. Probably a non-existant one.
Moreover, I don’t think that it is scalabe. DAOs are growing and will become enormous ogranizations. We need fast systems of solving internal issues.
I also don’t like the idea of trying to manipulate the behavior of persons. I love the fact that in DAOs people have different approaches: Some are more direct and confrontative, others are more shy and calm. The important thing is respecting a code of conduct set by the organization.

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Hi Renee,
We understand where you’re coming from as this is an ambitious project with far-reaching goals, but we structured this intentionally with community in mind. We have three reasons for wanting to incorporate Phase 2 within this proposal (bearing in mind that we’ve already bounded off third-party costs, marketing, and technical development from this proposal):

  1. Efficiency: Simply put, there’s a first-mover advantage here. If we want Aragon to be the place for ODR, we need real cases to refine the Court, which is a problem with the existing Court as discussed in our proposal. By having a pool of funding pre-allocated for Phase 2, we speed up the non-technical building process. Phase 2 deliverables, such as explanatory documents and client walkthroughs, flow directly from our Phase 1 research so having the runway to build through both phases from the very beginning is conducive to efficient development.

  2. Network Leverage and Partnership Commitment: We already have been engaged with preliminary partnerships within web3 and beyond — as mentioned, we’ve explored opportunities for pre-build collaboration within web3 (Polygon, LexDAO, LexPunkT, to name a few) as well as within legal academia via the Stanford Journal of Blockchain Law & Policy (which has worked with other web3 ODR projects in the past). Naturally, these partners want to hear from us now and we benefit from pre-build collaboration, but they’ll also be the stakeholders we work on implementation and product evaluation with—which are key Phase 2 Activities. By funding our genesis team proposal, we can offer consistency and commitment for these groups from the start without the risk of inter-Phase handover communication gaps or interim team dropoff that could inhibit lasting inter-DAO partnerships.

  3. Talent Acquisition: There’s no doubt that both Phase 1 and 2 will require additional support, and that many contributors from Phase 1 will be involved in Phase 2 due to thematic overlap. From a human resource perspective, it is much harder to hire for a three-month stint than a six-month-and-counting relationship. Put simply, incorporating some calculable Phase 2 funding as we’ve done here (and again, technical development funding needs which we can’t predict are not incorporated here) allows us to hire in a more transparent manner. more easily reach vital talent, and ultimately help ease contributors’ concerns about job security.

Logistically, we could accommodate splitting the funding in two installments, but reap the above benefits from having this funding committed and allocated through this single proposal.

Hope this helps, and that it clarifies our reasoning for @Shawncubbedge too. We appreciate your interest in our proposal. Happy New Year!

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Shawn - please refer to our explanation directly replying to Renee above. Appreciate your concerns and thanks for allowing us the opportunity to clarify. Happy New Year!

My concern is that this plan presents a weak business case for phase 2 funding and that team responses (to date) highlight knowledge gaps and lack of diverse and direct experience required for a product development project of unknown scope.

Documentation and client walk through are depended on product development. What if the techincal development requires 6-12 months or there are limited available resources for three months?

Given the team is already selected, hiring transparency, vital talent and job security for contributors is ‘mainly’ in reference to the authors/proponents. And while we agree that Phase 1 research is needed to inform phase 2 what stands out to me from your reply @sabinachain is that the proponents wish to secure 100k funding in advance of knowing the feasibility, resources, time, scope or budget required to deliver a solution.

I support phase 1 of the proposed project and would love to see the team here deliver a compelling case for funding the development of Aragon Court.

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Thanks for this proposal. I find it quite inspiring to see a team rallied from across the ecosystem, diverse and truly global, bringing and creating relationships with other DAOs, to advance a product that can potentially realise part of the promise of the manifesto. What more could Aragon want.

So on that basis, I look at this and will vote optimistically even in its current form (or as amended based on the feedback given to the proposing team). Aragon has tried to pioneer optimistic governance but our conversations don’t always seem that optimistic. Sabina’s point re Efficiency resonates with me given our poor recent history of making it difficult for well intentioned people to allocate resources quickly. As I understand it the structure of Aragon Govern, the exec sub DAO and escrow will still control how and especially IF the funds for Phase 2 will be disbursed, and so not imposing another (minimum) 21 day proposal cycle for Phase 2 now seems reasonable but understand others may disagree

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First of all, congrats to all involved here. Incredible work so far and quite a good structure to kick start this project. Eager to see this happening and Aragon Court becoming a state-of-the-art, yet highly adopted web3 product.

Some comments/questions (sorry in advance for the long text)

1

Not sure what this one means… Court is not on Arbitrum, but the discussion was to deploy it there because of the gas fees (not the high gas fees are there). Maybe just removing the Arbitrum from here would make it more clear. Or have I misunderstood something?

2

Although not clearly mentioned in the original proposal, but kind discussed in the comments, I would like to highlight that making sure Court worse in a cross-chain environment will be very important. Simply redeploying Court In many chains would not be practical since new guardians would need to stake ANT in several chains. It should have a single pool of guardians for all chains where it accepts cases (assuming guardians are still needed in the future version of course)

3

Would be interesting to know more about the structure of the team that will handle phase 1 - meaning, what are the skills of each participant, and how much of the budget goes to each. Maybe not necessarily the exact figures, but an overall of how much goes to the teams + skills, and how much is used to hire services/consultants for specific tasks.

On this topic, the values for preparation of report, explanatory documents and implementation in a DAO felt a little high to me (but again, maybe I am just missing some scope).

4

Regarding this comment from Shawn - and also discussed in more comments, it is indeed quite important that a multidisciplinary team can be formed to evolve the product, not necessarily with Aragon Core team, but more importantly, with all the skills required to manage and develop a product, and of course, highly aligned to Aragon strategy. Altthough this is a topic for another conversation I will start later here in the forum regarding a Product Committee - Why Web3 Needs Product Management — Mirror

5

Costs and timeline for the product adaptation look too low. Although it is modular, depending on the outcome of the initial research this adaptation might be tricky and complex to do. Would be good to have a sort of backup plan on how to validate the assumptions that will come from research even without the need for a fully functional product? How to sort of manually handle some initial disputes with a “prototype” product in case adaptation can not be done fast enough or the team runs out of budget?

Again, awesome work so far. Happy to help planning this!

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Thanks to the authors for putting together this much needed proposal to revamp Aragon Court and get it into the hands of more DAOs.

Previous research on Court (by Delphi Digital, Other Internet and other BD conversations) clearly pointed out that many DAOs have issues with giving up control of their governance to ANT holders via Aragon Court. When Court is positioned more as a governance insurance policy and trigger of last resort for when other internal dispute mechanisms fail, it becomes a lot more appealing.

With this in mind and without wanting to waste funds on research to draw the same conclusions, I’d like to better understand the authors plans here to combine internal dispute mechanisms of a DAO with Aragon Court?

One solution could be to facilitiate other DAOs to deploy their own sub-courts of Aragon Court which would use their own token and their own juror sets. And then have a built-in escalation procedure to ANT jurors.

Overall, I’m excited to have a team of smart minds contribute to improving Aragon Court!

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