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

The Polygon Ecosystem DAO supports the study and development of the dispute resolution system internal to DAOs, considering it an important element to make the ecosystem more certain, fair and transparent.

The forthcoming constitution of a Legal subDAO within the DAO Ecosystem goes in this direction and aims to build a specialized intra DAO working group that answers the questions that the increasingly numerous ecosystem participants are asking.

Grendel - Polygon DAO Lead

8 Likes

The extent of your proposal, especially w.r.t Use Case I: Internal DAO Disputes, is hard for me to grasp as well because the direction of the Aragon Court improvements is unclear. You refer mainly to the ombuds office implemented at Bankless DAO, which

has the power to immediately address complaints, hear the involved member/s, suggest resolutions between the involved member/s, and recommend non-binding structural solutions to the DAO membership.

Based on the information provided, your improvement to Aragon Court appears to go beyond that.
Moreover, it seems to go beyond standard court use cases (optimistic governance, content & information curation, escrows, oracle services), currently suffering from a low case number mainly due to

  • inherent win-loose mechanics
  • high gas costs
  • positive deterrent effect

and aims to implement a low-threshold, scalable, smart-contract-based dispute resolution system.
Is this correct?

If so, it is unclear how universal this system aims to be and if it overlaps with alternative conflict management measures employed successfully in traditional organizations and other pioneering DAOs (such as the TEC, The Commons Stack, Gitcoin Kernel Block) that I wanted to suggest in a separate proposal. These measures aim to establish a preventative conflict culture and would reduce the use cases for the system proposed (at least for current DAO sizes and Use Case I). This is the nexus I see.

The concerns with such a low-threshold system are best outlined in an essay titled How to nurture a ‘good conflict’ culture from which I would like to quote two passages:

The other side of the issue, though, is the opportunity for demonstrating best practice, a positive working culture where people have enough belief and trust in their organisation that they’re willing to talk openly about problems; to admit failures and weaknesses. The biggest mistake organisations can make is to see any kind of conflict – even at the level of minor disagreement – as unwelcome and a problem, something to be avoided, and where it occurs, should be immediately swept into grievance processes. This attitude leads to pretence, to secrecy and reticence, and to a workplace culture where trust and honesty is in short supply. People become rigid with uncertainty, bottled-up grievances, and there’s a burble of low-level conflicts that have the potential to escalate. The working environment becomes uncomfortable, and there’s a block on people willing to express themselves, to challenge conventions, to contribute thinking from diverse experiences and perspectives. Innovation and change is stifled.“

and later

Most organisations concentrate their “conflict-resolution” resources in the top layer: a fire-fighting and reactive approach which is expensive and does not add value to the organisation. There is usually some ad hoc attention in the middle level, with perhaps access to trained mediators or external mediators, but little outreach taking place to normalise mediation or to position it squarely within a range of options for resolution. Most financial and human-resource investment is directed at fighting a small number of highly contested, high-risk conflicts.
Meanwhile, investment in the bottom layer of the pyramid, where most conflicts actually take place, is reduced; the majority of conflicts go unsupported and unmanaged, and remain invisible until someone goes off with stress, leaves the organization, or a crisis demands management attention. The return from adopting this pattern is poor – with high expenditure but little long-term return. Staff and managers may be aware of your values and their rights and responsibilities, but they do not believe in them, or even in you as an employer.“

Based on the information presented, the concerns expressed here may apply to the proposed system, and you seem to be opposed to preventative, cultural approaches currently applied in the DAOs mentioned.

Undoubtedly, you have great expertise in the field of law and as an ombudsperson. It would be great if you can alleviate these concerns that were raised independently by another active AN DAO member being also a member in the other DAO communities mentioned.
Perhaps it would be helpful to provide some examples of how such a smart-contract-based system could solve more complex inter- & intrapersonal as well as intra- & intergroup conflicts in DAOs.

I partially disagree for DAOs, at least of the current size. The culture is formed around the community values that attract the newcomers in the first place. Communities have core contributors setting the tone and establishing a culture that is inherited to newcomers. We can see how strong culture can become in phenomena such as Bitcoin and Ethereum culture and many other, real-world examples.
I agree if DAOs will eventually grow to the size of small cities and have only a loosely defined value-set. For this to happen, conflicts already hindering traditional organizations from growing must be overcome first.

I don’t have ethical concerns about establishing a culture of self-reflection and trying to understand the perspectives of others. This is also an integral part of the AN DAO Code of Conduct (p. 11, Our Standards, Examples of behaviour that contributes to a positive environment for our community). Having very confrontative or shy members can be problematic because „a number of common cognitive and emotional traps, many of them unconscious, can exacerbate conflict.“

Overall, I still support the general gist of the proposal, but I would like to understand the approach you want to take more. As the intersection of social sciences & law is not my academic expertise, I welcome literature or experiences to form a balanced opinion on this topic. Resources about conflict management I used are listed below:

3 Likes

Thank you for this thoughtful proposal!
Considering the extensiveness of the scope and the proposal itself I presume it is directed towards the main-DAO?
My take:

  • Evolving court makes a lot of sense and the team behind the proposal has done a lot of thinking and prep in that direction and has the right background
  • We need more humility in designing products and the outlined approach seems to rely on market feedback sufficiently to avoid the “academic perfectionist” trap
  • Ultimately for this to work someone has to sit down and write code but those discussions seem to be already in place

Leaving it to the people more competent and passionate about the arbitration topic to discuss the intricacies.

3 Likes

Thank you very much for all the comments! We are very happy that our proposal has raised so much interest.
According to the received feedback we have changed the initial text.

The more substantive changes are:

  1. Given some doubts expressed by members of the community, at this stage we will ask only funding for phase 1. We are confident to deliver a report which will allow us and the community to continue the proposed program. But thanks @b3n for your support!

  2. Following @AlexClay’s and @joeycharlesworth’s indications, we will cover also the possibility of creating sub-Aragon Courts which allow the staking of different tokens.

  3. Following one of @ramon’s suggestions, we have put some information about the squad’s background. We are of course available to give more information if needed.

@fartunov it’s a proposal for the Main DAO!

8 Likes

The vote is live:

https://voice.aragon.org/processes/#/0xf369171e5f661b7ecfb33b7d844721c6d72678b91d0a0070ffcd10e857f7d4d3

Firstly, thanks so much for this proposal. There are a lot of great questions and feedback as well.

From a purely business perspective. Can you better outline how, and if you don’t know now, at what stage, the ANT token and ANT token holders will benefit from Aragon Court in the medium to long-term.

I know it’s often a faux-pas in web3.0 to discuss monetisation and I deeply connect with and understand the need for Aragon Court and general mediation, arbitration, and decision making tools to benefit DAO’s and the success of DAO’s (which can also benefit Aragon). But i’d like to know how and where does this have a direct impact on ANT, which in the end funds these wonderful projects and people!

Mediation and Arbitration techniques are excellent ways of reducing risk, providing clarity, and in return saving organisations lots of resources. Which I personally believe could be modestly monetised. It’s a wonderful tool to offer.

Thank you! @eaglelex @sabinachain @lion917 @Tayy

3 Likes

Thank you Anthony, this is a very good question. ANT has always be a priority to us in thinking about the project.

As a lawyer in this space, I feel that there is a strong request of justice and ethical behaviors.

In my opinion, Aragon should become the on-chain justice system of the blockchain industry. Deciding cases means to excercise power and give a direction to the ecosystem. Projects should begin to buy and stake ANT in order to be part of this project and have representatives as Guardians.

A part from this, I think that a functioning Court would bring advantages to ANT holders in strenghten the use-case of the token. Until now, Court was deployed only in test disputes. We want Aragon Court to be well-known and used in real disputes.

Therefore, I would start from internal DAO disputes and then open up to DAO2DAO and finally arrive to off-chain disputes.

2 Likes

Thanks for the response! I would advise, in my opinion as a necessity for me to continue voting for further implementation of this plan and strategy, at what stage a full tokenomic and monetisation strategy is created. This makes it mandatory and sets it as a required output at a certain time.

I think it would be nice to at least in the first proposal get UR feedback on clients willingness to pay, stake, etc to give us an idea and set expectations. I don’t think it’s enough to say it will bring greater reputation, etc. to ANT and Aragon.

2 Likes

Sure, it is not enough.

If you don’t have clear expectation about a project, you cannot create tokenomics. What I can tell you is that there is a great request for a blockchain ADR in chains as Polygon and in big DAOs. Moreover, blockchain ADRs are discussed within the most important crypto-lawyers circles.

I think that Aragon is very well positioned, but that it tremendously needs to get external recognition and support by other projects, which mainly means beginning to get users that see the value of relying in a decentralized dispute resolution system.

To answer to your final question: I think that at this stage it would be difficult to have projects willing to engage in our journey, because the Court proceedings need to be simplified and made more efficient. This is an indication that the Research team also got from the Devs, who currently work for implementation and maintenance of the Court. This is why my idea is starting with media DAOs as Bankless, ForeFront and FWB as they could provide simple use-cases and augment the awareness about our product. Afterwards, we will be able to quantify and present precise business plans.

To be clear: In my opinion everything is feasible and Aragon Court will have a great future. The key point will be to involve the big DeFi projects which will bring significant staking amounts into Aragon.

4 Likes

Another reason why this is so important became clear to me after telling a friend from Columbia about it:
He told me that sometimes, if courts have to deal with cases against cartels or important politicians, the place storing the evidence burns down ‘accidentally’ or the prosecutors and judges have an ‘accident’.

The success of this project would access the future of law and law practice generally.