As a Kleros team member, I can confirm @sepu85 analysis.
We first contacted the Aragon team more than 2 years ago (In February 2017, so before Aragon token sale) to propose them to work on decentralized courts together.
We had a few talks at events in the meantime, always being open to work with Aragon.
4 months ago (even before submitting the AGP on Github), I reached to @jorge (I generally don’t give names to keep the discussion on ideas and not on persons, but here Jorge asked for specific examples and evidence, so I assume he is fine with it) and asked if he could review the proposed AGP. We had some talks but then he just ghosted me. He did not come to scheduled meetings, stopped answering, I only managed to get an answer because we were both at an event in Berlin. The answer was “we’ll just do our own court” (which is basically a re-implementation of Kleros). And that’s it. Note that the AGP was not the only way we could have worked together and I asked about other potential ways to collaborate but never got a counter proposal. So it was not that not that no deal were found, it was a plain refusal to work together.
So in this case it ended even worse. Not only they did not want to work with us. They planed to make a Kleros copy (with minor modifications, none of which seems to be highly controversial) to put an ANT derivative.
I understand that Aragon needs to give its ANT some value. And that’s why we proposed a model with an ANT bonded curve.
I did not even propose to become a flock team, I just proposed to combine forces on a particular project which is of interest to both Kleros and Aragon (and the Aragon interest is demonstrated by the plan to make a court similar to Kleros) in a mutually beneficial relationship.
Calling Kleros to focus 100% on DAOs is a big no. Kleros is a DAO (well currently not a pure one, but once the governor is up, it will be a pure DAO), so Kleros is definitely a DAO project. In the thread, Luis was publicly asking for Kleros to only work on DAOs usecases. This makes little sense to me, as there is some economy of scale in supporting similar usecases (making an escrow for users or for a DAO is not fundamentally different, same list curation: curating a list of tokens and a list of proposals conform to the constitution of a DAO is quite similar).
I then ask Aragon founders to clarify their position by publicly stating that their court was just aimed at DAOs, thus they were not placing themselves as a competitor to Kleros, they refused…
I still think they do not intend to build a general arbitration system, but suggesting it can bring some sort of hype, so they let people think that.
To the best of my knowledge, Kleros is the only project (beside Aragon itself) using Aragon as a DAO governance (there is MelonPort, but they use an Aragon multisig, not a DAO). In most project teams, no one would dare to suggest to fork/copy the only user of your main product, who proposed to work with you, to put your own token instead… Or if one did, that would probably be seen as a joke. But that is exactly what Aragon founders ended up doing.
If I had known how Aragon founders would behave, I would never had contacted them or built on Aragon in the first place.
I don’t think Aragon is falling into a centralized culture framework, I think it never left it despite what all the communication is claiming and how things should work in theory. I’ve seen people at Aragon referring to founders as “my boss”. I’ve seen people disagreeing with founders, but not saying much because “they are funding X”.
Even if in theory Aragon is a decentralized project, in practice the founders play a large role in determining who and what get funded. Thus people will tend to do everything to please them in a way reminiscent of royal courts. This is also evidenced by the fact that people in Aragon which were keen to work with us in private stayed really shy about what they said in public. My best guess is that people are being careful about not saying anything which would displease the founders if they know they can read them.
Strong founder influence is not necessarily a problem, it is sometimes better to have leaders to make everyone work on a coherent system.
However, it becomes one when the centralized founder behaviour extend to other projects and if it leads to maximalism (“what other projects do is shit, we can do it better”) mostly incarnated by Jorge and imperialism (“what other projects do is nice, but they should submit and be 100% controlled by us or they are are enemies”) mostly incarnated by Luis, this causes issues. The main one being to prevent interoperability from a cultural (discourage projects to seek integration due to absence of cooperative behavior and to the risk of being copied/forked by Aragon to put another token) and technical standpoint (hard to verify the codebase and integrate).
I see all those issues not only about the way Kleros was treated. It is also evidenced by what happened with DAC/Giveth. Or even the recent announcement of Aragon making its own chain (criticizing Ethereum and acting against interoperability). Or the lack of Aragon users (even compared to project with muss less funding like Moloch and DAOstack).
I don’t think the Aragon founders to be bad guys, I actually think they are really purpose driven and motivated by what they want to accomplish. But they got fame and money too fast while doing too little and it went up to their head.
I realize that this post may upset some people. I’m also aware that people tends to attribute structural problems to people as it is easier to blame people than systems (I thought a lot about it to make sure that it was not what I was doing). But sometimes, a few people have a heavy influence on systems and decide outcomes way better than the system made in place. So I really thought thoroughly before coming to this conclusion and I don’t have meaningful alternative hypothesis.
That does not necessarily mean that Aragon should get rid of its founders. But at least that there needs to be a wake up call (that this thread seems to be), other people sharing leadership in decision making and founder themselves readjusting their behavior and strategy (Luis seems to have started this process and seems ready to rethink about flock teams).