What is the Problem the Aragon Cooperative is trying to solve?

cooperative

#1

There were a few issues noted in our post-Aracon meeting:

  • ANT voting is plutocratic: the coop can use one person one vote to provide a check against plutocracy.

  • User testing. Give a way for more people to participate.

  • Provide educational materials for other DAOs looking for an org to model.

What other problems should the Coop try to solve?


Aragon Cooperative Membership Thread
#2

I’d love to see some clarifications here to be honest, as I’m a bit lost regarding what the Coop is trying to achieve.

ANT voting is indeed plutocratic. Two things on that:

  • Aragon Communication issue: It is mentioned in many places such as the wiki that Aragon as it is, is enabling decentralised democracy. I think it is misleading. When democracy is mentioned, it should probably always be along with identity verification tools such as Civic, BrightID, etc. I’d love for it to enable decentralised democracy, but let’s just be clear that we aren’t there yet.
  • Coop: It is not because the Coop will exist that ANT voting won’t be plutocratic. The Ant token mechanism will be made to ensure token holders vote in a way that is in the interest of the project. While some DAOs created within Aragon will be great for actually democratic purposes, investors invested in a vision, a white-paper where token holders are those taking binding decisions.

Personally if this is meant to put token holders in check, I’m just not seeing the point and I would probably remove myself from this conversation. If however this coop is meant to empower token holders to take the right decisions, then I’m listening. It’s two very, very different paths however so this should be very clearly defined in the constitution of the Coop. Fact is token holders have actual skin in the game and are very well aware that if they take the wrong decisions they take the risk for people forking the network, destroying the value of their token. It works the same way in Augur, in MakerDAO, etc.

One thing to keep in mind if you wish to pursue having a governance separate from the token holders, is to realise that as the stakes gets higher in the project, it will become more relevant to sybil attack the coop. It is already not difficult to pay real people to vote certain things (happening is so many countries), if you accept pseudo-anonymous profiles such as myself, this gets even easier.

Also, I’m not sure that the Coop should have vaguely related tasks making its purpose murky though. Maybe I’m misunderstanding this but I don’t see why we need the Coop for user testing or to create educational material, we can use bounties for both.

In my opinion, a coop should be created only if it brings something really useful to the project. I’m not into the idea of adding administrative layers just because. Make a strong case for it.


Majority Rule - Flattening Voting Power
#3

I personally am not convinced that token weighted voting is a problem (or even that it is fair to characterize it as plutocratic). I feel quite strongly that ANT is and should remain the root authority in Aragon’s governance process–but I also think its absolutely critical for ANT holders and the project as a whole to engage with and listen to users and community members.

It seems fairly clear that some significant portion of the Aragon community is interested in exploring how Aragon can be used to organize in a more “cooperative” fashion. So why not get those people together and dogfood Aragon?

In terms of actual goals, I think the following makes sense:

  1. Validate whether Aragon can be used to operate a cooperative style organization given its current functionality
  2. Document current challenges/limitation and how they were overcome, so other users who are interested in operating a cooperative on Aragon can use the Aragon Cooperative as an example.
  3. Participate in governance and politics of the Aragon Project by creating proposals and signaling in the AGP process.
  4. Enrich the Aragon Community by providing an inclusive and active organization that community members and potential users can get involved with.

It’s not so much that the Cooperative is necessary for user testing or creating educational material, but rather that there is value in experimenting with the model and part of experimenting is gaining insight into how that model succeeds or fails when applied to some goal. I think experimenting with bounties is interesting, but that doesn’t mean that experimenting with a cooperative model is less valuable than experimenting with bounties or that we should pick one over the other without trying both. Some people in the community are eager to experiment–and maybe they will ultimately prove that the model has major advantages over just generic bounties. At this point the experiment is low stakes, so there is lots of potential upside (validating whether a model works well or not) and almost no downside (as far as I can tell).

I think the beauty here is that there is no harm in you choosing not to participate. This is a completely opt-in experiment, if you don’t see the value in it then it shouldn’t impact you in the slightest! :blush:


#4

rather than a problem, having a plutocratic model could be seen as a governance vulnerability, where just one or few agent could gain fully control on any Aragon votation (e.g. we had a maximun quorum of 7% of voting ANTs, which is easily surmountable by any exchange or cryptowhale), if malicious, it could act in order to stop any AGPs and avoid the evolution of the Aragon Network (he could also make pass any AGP he wants that has passed the Association approval).

When introducing this point, my aim was to challenge our thoughts in order to explore if it would have sense to propose the cooperative as some kind of decentralized (and in this case also democratic) authority with the power to prevent this kind of actions that could be interpreted as a 51% attack on the Aragon Network. What do you guys think?


#5

The network’s value that ANT holders have bet on comes from the community (including every stakeholder). If the network is forked because the community is unhappy it will loose value. Therefore, a Coop with 1 token 1 vote and maybe other tools like reputation would be super useful even if it is just for signalling on AGPs. It would help decrease uncertainty on the side of ANT holders, fluidify governance processes, and decrease risk of forking


#6

Maybe. :slight_smile:

I guess my thinking is that there is a long way to go before we reach a substantial positive impact in the world and although experimentation is great and fun, those experimentations within the structure of the project should themselves be attempting to make the project better in inspiring ways. I think the project could be slowed down if we divert our attention in ways that are not fruitful. Also I want to be excited about the whole thing, so I’m just voicing my current lack of excitement for the Coop and I’d love to have my mind changed!

So my previous point very much stands: is this coop being created “to provide a check against plutocracy”? If so, I guess please clarify in what ways this check is envisioned to function? Do we start a coop because it’s fun and interesting to try or do we actually make a proper plan, an inspiring and clear vision for it? We can get a lot of fun out of having clear foundations too; I think we’ll all having fun with Aragon itself and are all enjoying feeling aligned strategically, in principles and in values. Again I think empowering token holders to take decisions of the highest quality could be a very inspiring vision for a new structure of people (coop or else) imho.

I could see usefulness in the Coop if we would do something that would both be exciting to attempt and also practically be impossible to do without it. Like 1 or x members per country for exemple, to ensure all cultures have a voice. By checking identities in details, this could be expanded to attempt to have as much diversity as possible within the Coop, men/women, etc. Is there anyone in here that’s under an oppressive regime, a minority in any way shape of form? We should be very careful not gather people who think the same way, diversity is key if we actually want to help the world at large.

Generally I don’t think Aragon at the core should leverage the legal system, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use it at all, in moderate amounts. Actually it’s all about building bridges between the two worlds. Everybody says they care about diversity, who’s doing something about it in the crypto sphere? Crickets. The coop maybe?! :smiley:

To conclude, I mean sure, experimenting with a Coop is fun, but my request is simply to think it through to make sure it also has an actual chance to be an awesome part of Aragon and ideally very low chances of slowing it down.


#7

I agree with all of Luke’s points here.

One aspect I feel most strongly about is signaling in relation to the product roadmap. It’s good to have a better pulse from a non-financial voting manner on if the technology is moving in the direction that makes sense for the majority of community members.

One of the power of DAOs is that you can take in signals from various stakeholders (token holders, one person one vote community members, organizations, etc) to make the best decisions possible.

The ultimate authority will be in the hands of ANT holders.

I don’t think the cooperative will slow things down, because it’s actually providing an opportunity for community members who aren’t part of one of the funded organizations be part of an organization in the network.

Additionally, DAO tools are very aligned with cooperative communities, so I think this will be a way to influence other cooperatives around the world to utilize Aragon and also perhaps enhance their governance models to be more modern as well.

I think trying to create an organization that is like an ambassador program with diverse people from around the world may take much more time than anyone has at the moment. I can see that being a role that can potentially be funded via an AGP or from the community funding DAO, though. It’s just a bit unrelated to the skills and tasks of current members (if we are talking about salaried folks). But two people from every country is a different signal than “active Aragon community members”. It’s useful, but different.

I think from a “use of network funds” for this initiative, Luke’s salary may be the only one that is (partially) drawing from the bank on this, but his research here is improving the Aragon technology as can be seen for the recent cli improvements or catching various bugs. I don’t see how this slows things down: using Aragon more regularly for different organization types will speed things up as far as making it easier for many types of organizations to use Aragon (the recent improvements are organization-agnostic). I think this is already a “success” example of the dogfooding approach that benefits the ecosystem as a whole. And I doubt his work here is slowing down the roll out of the Aragon Network court either. I think if it was doing that, you can perhaps argue that the cooperative may slow things down. But I think once the cooperative gets off the ground, Luke may also be more hands off (correct me if I’m wrong).

It would be great to have a pseudonymous person like yourself @GustavMarwin joining the cooperative and providing that skeptical balance.


#8

I think it is really important to provide effective constraints on the process which protect the interests of minority and passive participants. (eg protect against a “51% attack”). In the current process the Association plays this role, in the future I’m hopeful that can be successfully replaced by the court and proposal agreements. With these constraints in place, proposals should not go to a vote which strictly harm minority stakeholders, and so long as nothing outright malicious gets through it is totally reasonable for large stakeholders to have a bigger weight in prioritizing decisions. Similarly, if exchanges start participating (to either prevent proposals or pass favorable proposals), the damage is limited due to the constraints and so they would likely take a massive reputation hit for participating without consent of their customers for very little gain.

These constraints just need protect the interests and expectations of a minority of ANT holders from decisions which would violate some shared understanding of the purpose of the Aragon project. Not to prevent large ANT holders from having more say than small ant holders.

I can see why some sort of bicameral system which puts a check on authority of ANT holders would be attractive (especially to community members who have a trivial ANT holdings), but it doesn’t seem fair to large ANT holders at all, as unpopular (and capitalist/plutocratic) as that may be, it is important to respect that those contributions are important and valuable to the projects success.

Besides there is already a significant check on the capitalist/plutocratic forces in that everything that is built is open source and runs on public infrastructure, and anyone can choose to fork the project to pursue their own vision. I think this in particular is what is most likely to have a lasting difference on the world and be the biggest check against tyranny.


#9

I think the absolute highest leverage thing the project can do is facilitate users who are motivated to use the project to be successful doing so. This does not have to be about how the Aragon project is governed at a macro level, but rather can we successfully use Aragon for its intended purpose of enabling people to run an organization (with a flexible structure) on a blockchain? Rather than this being a distraction, I would argue that being laser focused on use-cases is critical and anything other than getting people to actively use the product is a distraction.

Yes we need to figure out how to govern a project like Aragon, which may be very different than how you govern a smaller cooperative organization, but there is zero point in governing a project like Aragon that fails to actually have any user adoption because the product fails to be useful to normal users and a broad range of organizational use cases!


#10

I will follow the incentives in front of me. :slight_smile: Right now I don’t think it makes a difference that I express my thoughts as a coop member or not? Also I don’t love the idea that one has to disclose their ether address as they then also are disclosing their ANT holding. I understand it is done “privately”, still, it makes targeting easier should such list happen to be leaked. Actually even within the coop, if I know who has the larger bags, then I can focus on trying to convince them to vote for things I want.

I might not fully understand why this coop is being created (hence I’m currently trying to understand) but if it happens to become part of Aragon, my incentive will be to make sure it is safe from harm and manipulations. Currently I am expressing my worry about the vision expressed, and later on, if this gets created, I would probably want to make sure white-hat audits happen not only on our smart contracts security but also our governance and any structure, mechanisms that is part of this governance.

To be clear: it might seem like I am against this idea, I am not. I am solely sharing my concerns.


#11

The recommended approach here is to use a fresh address (not the your primary cold storage account)!


#12

Yeah and also the ether addresses are all public in the coops registry. Everyone will know how you as a coop member voted, for now.

But for sure disclosing ANT holdings is not required or recommended as far as the coop goes…


#13

I absolutely agree.

I think I should step back from this thread for a bit so the initial question can be answered, rather than my skepticism. I guess my initial participation started with a concern that the first reason for the coop to exist was to “provide a check against plutocracy”, while we haven’t yet been able to make the token holders feel important enough as we’ve had max ~ 6% of participation. So I guess I’m just not grasping the direction.

I’ll now switch to read-only for a bit, and try to grasp harder. :wink:


#14

I think the phrase of “provide a check against plutocracy” is a bit blunt, and not sure if that is quite representative of the current ethos/mission of the cooperative. Each individual may have their own interpretation of what the cooperative is trying to solve – so I don’t think there is any collective value like that yet established.

The initial thread that launched the coop never once mentions “checks” or “plutocracy”.

Please don’t censor yourself – speak freely :slight_smile:


#15

I see the fundamental reason for the Aragon Coop as being the ability for the people working closely on Aragon to express ourselves collectively. There are a few different small problems that this solves, and while I do think that it has the potential to provide a check against plutocracy, I think that the answer is more complicated than that.

The first problem that creating a way for the people working on Aragon to express their opinions addresses is inactivity in voting. Many token holders chose not to vote on some or all issues because they weren’t familiar with what was going on with Aragon, and therefore didn’t feel comfortable voting. The people directly working on Aragon will be the most familiar with it, and will therefore will be safe to delegate votes to.

The protection against plutocracy I think comes more directly from protecting Aragon from forking. Unlike ANT voting Coop voting is not plutocratic, but unlike ANT voting, Coop votes do not have direct hard power in the decisions made by the network. However large ANT whales will be able to use the coop votes as a way to gauge if a decision is plutocratic, and therefore runs the risk of a fork.


#16

This feels a bit misaligned with the membership requirements atleast in so far as they have (or haven’t) been defined. Since its not clear to me whether the members of the coop are representative of “people working closely on Aragon”, I expect that it is more likely to be seen as a signal from people who are both actively engaged in the community and have an interest in experimenting with cooperative governance.

That being said I agree with your other points that such a signal is incredibly useful from the perspective of ANT holders being able to get a strong sense of the views of a specific community sub-group and consider that as an input in their decision making process.


#17

I expect that the overlap between people actively working on Aragon and people engaged enough to maintain the active membership that has been discussed for the Coop being nearly complete. I look forward to being proven wrong about that though.


What is the Cooperative's Boundaries? What is out of bounds? What is the scope?
#18

I like a lot what you are sating Louis, after reading this I have now a strong position about what is the purpose of the Coop: REPUTATION GOVERNANCE.

Rather than the traditional 1 person 1 vote model, we have the opportunity here to build up a reliable reputation system to enable Meritocracy within the Aragon network. In my vision, the Coop would start of course with 1 (non transferable reputation) token for each individual that has manifested a willing to be part of it, and has proven to deserve it (some how, IDK, for example having participated in the forums in the last 3 months or something)

I think it would be a pretty awesome scope for the Aragon Coop to set the rules about setting up reputation tokens and governing its minting mechanism and cap per individual.

We would have to discuss also of course what individuals can do with such reputation besides governing the Coop itself. Some thoughts that are coming to my mind about this are:

  • A mixed governance system for Aragon Network where both ANT and reputation tokens. Distribution of weights should be researched of course.
  • Replacing the current roll of the Association on the AGPs process with a votation executed by reputation token holders (I haven’t followed what would be the principles of the court about this, but would it worth to challenge that with this idea @lkngtn ?).
  • Allowing AGPs submissions only to reputation token holders.

About this:

maybe you are right, maybe you don’t… let’s see if we are able to set up the Coop purpose, and governing system and let’s challenge then that with an AGP to propose the inclusion of such reputation token on the Aragon Network governance :smiley::smiley:


#19

I don’t see this as a replacement for the court (as the intention for the court is to protect minority and passive participants), The idea being that if a proposal does not meet the agreed upon terms it can be prevented by a single individuals regardless of whether it has majority support or not.

I do think delegating some responsibility to the Cooperative could make sense in the future, in the short-term I would potentially support giving the cooperative organization its own budget (through an AGP proposal), if the cooperative organization manages to define a process for directing funds towards work that benefits the community, and makes a case for that. The main thing is I would like us to start small, build a strong foundation, learn and iterate. We don’t need to propose changes at this point that fundamentally alter the authority structure of the project, especially to a model that is nascent and yet to really prove its value. :slight_smile:

Sure, that is what the AGP process is for! I can only speak for myself and say that this is not something I would personally support at this point in time. Though I’m eager to see the cooperative self-organize within the community, and perhaps as it proves to be a significant contributor to the ecosystem an AGP proposal that grant it more formal authority will make sense.


#20
  • An experiment to test and improve Aragon OS tools and apps

  • A tool to keep plutocracy in check

  • A way to foster involvement in the AGP process and discussion within the community

  • A signalling tool to improve communication and efficiency in governance processes

The Coop could become any or all of these but I agree that we should try to define a simple initial setting and see how it goes. For the tools we can use I think @lkngtn has a good idea of what is feasible or not. Should we start with a simple DAO, submit proposals on things to implement and vote them out? From this point, it will be highly experimental anyway.

Maybe the goal of the Coop is to see where we end up given the members involved, the shared and diverging interests, and the tools Aragon OS provides us to move on.