Cardano Foundation Governance

I’m trying to understand the details of true democratic decision making as a superior decision method. I would be most grateful if you could elaborate on it and how it enjoys your preference as opposed to Holacracy?

It’s the first time trying to respond by email, so if something strange happens thats why.

Ignoring previous arguments i made about Holacracy. The point I’m trying to make is that if a Holacracy model is installed in to the CF with 50 workforce it will never be able to compare to the whole community voting democratically. That seems obvious to me.

In regards to why it’s a better decision making method: as previously mentioned the prime reason is bias and conflict of interest. 7 or 8 board members or 50 hired workers will never be able to decide what is best for 14,000 or 30,000 or whatever the number people. If this isn’t obvious then I believe this has already been proven by the drive to make the roadmap.
I strongly disagree with the idea that decision making should be outsourced to a small number of arbitrary ‘experts’ chosen by other ‘experts’.
This is different from liquid democracy where the community can outsource their personal decision making to whomever they wish.

Even if we talk of the fictional situation where Holacracy is installed on the whole 30,000+ community, the arguments i made about Holacracy still stand specifically issues of social dominance theory and accountability. A circle of x number of people assigned a role will on average not make the best decisions for a community for the same reason previously mentioned.

It’s not so obvious to me though. I will answer to your representative concerns in a different response, however, if there are more details to explain your quoted statement, I’d like to hear them.

The details of a sociocratic implementation, similar to holacracy, are important. Here’s how such a vote could happen (assuming 4 subcircles of the board circle):

  • 7 / 8 board members + 4 subcircle representatives vote on an idea
  • 1 representative objects leading to ammendments
  • 7 / 8 board members + 4 subcircle representatives give consent
  • idea gets implemented
  • some subgroup of the 14k people see serious issues with the decision
  • the same subgroup appoints a special representative to take their concerns up to the board circle
  • the special representative withdraws consent for the decision which automatically reverts the decision
  • ammendments are made
  • new consent is reached by 7 / 8 board members + 4 subcircle representatives + 1 special representative

Important details:

  • the focus is on fast decision making as opposed to optimal decision making
  • correctability is built into the system
  • sociocracy shaped the representation system according to the needs in real-time
  • sociocracy enlarges the voice of concerns that may otherwise get voted away (think how much faster LGBTQ would have received equal rights this way?)

Consequences for blockchain implementations:

  • how would a reversal of consent look on an immutable ledger documenting governance decisions?

The ‘experts’ are choosen by their peers AND their subordinates. In pure sociocracy one gets appointed to a role on the basis of consent. A software engineering manager is thus appointed in the governance meeting of the executive circle which contains representative(s) of the software engineering circle.

So an expert is not choosen by other experts exclusively but also by those who are “exposed” to the authority of that expert.

So I completely agree that a small number of experts should not control decision making. All decisions should be affected by those affected by the decisions. This is how it is in sociocracy.

Note that holacracy is in incomplete and faulty sociocratic implementation where roles are not appointed by consent and this opens the door for an oligarchy of experts. This is however a property of holacracy and NOT the sociocratic double linked consent system.

The double link principle where every subcircle sends a representative to the parent circle where they have an equal voice in all decision making, is designed the prevent social dominance. If somewhere a subgroup is disadvantaged, they can assign their representatives to the task of addressing their objections by moving up in the representative chain to where the issue is located.

As to your second point, sociocracy assumes that, indeed, a small group of people might not make the best decision. It therefore provides a method of representative objection and amendment after a decision is being tested “on the battleground”. Sociocracy focuses on the question “good enough for now and safe enough to try”, knowing that nothing is final.

Now for some special considerations around sociocracy in blockchain governance

I am not convinced sociocracy should be used as a governance method in blockchain. The first issue is that “reasoned objection” is hard to implement in a mathematically deterministic way. The best we can do is provide each individual a veto which would make for very slow and inefficient governance.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t be inspired by it’s foundational principles, does it? My main question is this: How can a minority group with reasonable objections have amendments be put in place without requiring the vote of opposing interests?

I hope this helps in clarifying the core of sociocracy a bit? How does this arrive with you?

Problems with this:

  • How is this different from what we have now at the CF or in any politics for that matter? It doesn’t seem significantly different at all.

  • How and who selects the board, the representative and the subgroup. Back to a democratic vote.

  • How is consensus or consent determined. If just 1 representative can reject, then how many of the subgroup is required for a rejection? I can’t see how this would ever be fast decision making process. A vote would be vastly faster than this Bureaucracy.

  • There are also political problems in this method. Like for example (A) political party (sub group) votes against another (B) political parties proposal, because previously (B) voted against (A)'s idea in the past, because of tit for tat. This happens all of the time in politics. Unless this voting method is anonymous (Back to a democratic vote).

  • This point is valid :

sociocracy enlarges the voice of concerns that may otherwise get voted away (think how much faster LGBTQ would have received equal rights this way?)

There are a lot of writings on ‘minorities in democracy’. But if it’s that much of a problem them the minority can fork?..

This bring an interesting thought for me.
It doesn’t specifically have to be this situation, but say theoretically a country has all of it’s community voting on off chain issues about that country on the Cardano blockchain. A powerful group in that country fork the blockchain (I don’t know the dynamics of that). Now this group say that this forked chain is the dictator of the community off chain decisions, but an original group still vote on the original chain.
Can on chain governance solve off chain issues…? A lot of writings on that to that I want to read.

Ok. So our argument is about Sociocracy vs democracy. There are a lot of existing writing on that.

I wouldn’t be against a ‘true’ Sociocracy, but I would prefer a ‘true’ or liquid democracy. What I’m strongly against is the power of 7 or 8 board members and 50 workers hiding behind Holacracy (false sociocracy) but still dictating what the community want, similarly to a nation government hiding behind ‘false’ democracy, but not enacting what the community of that nation wants.

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I am waiting for Voltaire and Dor Garbash project catalyst, to hear more about the solution:

But I hope it to go something like this:

  • Formal CIP or informal roadmap proposals that any member of the community can propose.
  • As in dash; these proposals are openly voted on. The proposals that get the most votes are passed. Proposals with limited votes are ignored as they are unimportant to the community. The thresholds for these things can in themselves be voted on so every thing is completely dynamic.
  • I’m still unclear how many votes are given (is it based on quantity of ADA held? I think so, and therefore a foundation whom holds a significant amount of ADA, like Cardano foundation need to be controlled by the majority, not by a false sociocracy.
  • Companies, groups or individuals apply to work on the idea.
  • Community vote on who gets to implement the idea. Or defer that vote in liquid democracy.
  • Cardano Foundation or whomever is funded implements the idea.
  • The implementation get rated, and remunerated based on that rating.
  • Future applications will be considered based on the quality of the past jobs completed.

THIS is a fast model.

There is no detail or specifics about who chooses who implements an idea in a sociocracy? I guess it goes through the same process as a proposal. This kind of debate seems like a very slow process to me.

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Sociocracy is a generative governance model with only a few basic rules. As such, there is no detail on who is to implement what. All of that is decided with consent.

To be clear, I was never advocating for sociocracy as a replacement. But there are good ideas that may be added that are sociocracy inspired:

  • What if a minority is right? How do we allow their wisdom to emerge?
  • How are minorities protected? Is it just that a minority of 10% never succeeds in implementing their ideas? Should they not at least be able to co-create 10% taking into account incompatibilities with other perspectives?
  • Accepting that all decision making is imperfect, how do we build correctability as a systems property?
  • There is no foolproof way to govern without and even with human involvement, so how do we hope to make one that is mathematically foolproof? In most cases, we can only automate when we have knowledge on how to manually execute on a solution.

I have concerns on how the current voting mechanisms will be equitable. On the other hand, I think it’s a good start to build upon.

I also have concerns of the speed of optimal decision making. Making a fast initial decision without concerns for objections of minorities does not guarantee a fast implementation or an optimal implementation.

I hope that the governance model will not be too cold. If future applications are ONLY considered based on past job quality, how is one to grow in their capabilities? Math, although a potent concept, is not all a complete one where human minds meet each other.

I would also like to express my gratitude for a constructive conversation where both sides are listened to. I think we begin to appreciate each other’s perspective, are we not?

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The difference between equality and equitability comes to mind here. Forking means you have a much smaller community and thus less opportunity there. Don’t forget that the value of the chain will be defined by the projects that make use of it. A bigger ecosystem where we can integrate views of both majorities and minorities makes it better for both. It would not be equitable to force a minority in their own shadows.

A company starts with a founder and hires the first executive. Hiring the second executive requires consent of both founder and exec 1. Hiring the 3rd exec on the board requires consent from founder + exec 1 + exec 2.

Let’s say exec 1 manages software engineering. He becomes the leader of a subgroup and hires the first employee. This employee represents the subgroup in the executive group. Hiring the 2nd employee requires consent from employee 1 and the engineering manager, etc. etc. After hiring the 2nd employee the engineering representative is elected by consent in the engineering subcircle. The engineering manager and all employees consent to the elected person who will then take part in the decisions of the executive circle.

So all these elections are done by consent, not democratic vote.

An objection from any individual in a governance meeting is enough to reject the proposal. This objection needs to be reasoned. The right to reject proposals comes with an obligation to reason as to the why of the objection and the obligation to participate into integrating objection into the proposal. I find it problematic that a negative vote could happen in true democracy without explaining why. This required conversation exposes political motivations in the voting process.

A representative represents a group after which they act autonomously. They are expected to carry the concerns of the subgroup. If they don’t, they most likely will lose their privilege.

It is also important to understand that the representatives of subgroups are known before an election starts and their appointment does not slow down a vote.

How do we let all this inspire governance for cardano?

There is no structure in subcircles of the cardano community. We don’t have representatives and it would be rather hard to appoint them.

For me, the most important idea is that we should not resist objections from minorities and there should be a way to escalate objections without requiring critical numbers (although it would be rather silly and inefficient to consider all individual objections especially when egocentric of nature).

The governance of cardano is rather different than that of a company organisation. I provide the information above to improve your understanding of sociocracy and I hope it may inspire us to ideas that will improve our co-created governance process.

I hope you’ll appreciate this.

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If the Cardano Foundation was really motivated why not set the parameters of each project proposed by the Community Roadmap and allow the community to propose a solution to each proposal.

The CF, IOG and Emurgo can execute a blockchain or other software program that everyone will use to vote on which proposal is the best. Should there be two teams required for each proposal? A little competition perhaps?

The question is can the Cardano Foundation and the Community define a set of rules which allows each team to measure and report on productivity, provide transparency and demand consistent and timely reports and updates for each project proposal?

I do like the idea of voting on the CIP’s along with a rating system for assessing how well teams complete their assigned projects.

Also, how long will each of the teams have to complete each of their projects? Which projects is the most important? Ranked choice voting?

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Governance is not as important, not even close to fully deploying Marlowe and Plutus. How is it the entire community seems to have been sidetracked by Voltaire? If you don’t get smart contracts going you will have nothing to “govern”. The Marlow and Plutus teams should be giving weekly updates to the ADA ambassadors and there should be timelines with the teams abide by, regarding when they will be deployed. This is unbelievable that you all are going haywire over something that is not nearly as important as MARLOWE and PLUTUS!! Mr. Hoskinson has been saying for many months that MARLOWE and PLUTUS were being developed in parallel to Shelly. And that they would be deployed much more quickly than Shelley. And I totally trust and believe that to be accurate and true. Well? What happened?

There are a hundred things in the roadmap that AREN’T Voltaire.
But it seems more people are realising that we need a voting method to determine what is important.
Dismissing one thing for another or being overly focused on one thing less important, is exactly why we need a voting system to establish what is a priority. And if the majority vote something one dissagrees with, one becomes the minority :slight_smile:

I disagree that a voting system should be a top priority right now and here is why. First off there is not a voting system yet. So to make it a top priority, given that creating such a system would take perhaps many months or many years, would be a major distraction. There was no vote on it and Mr. Hoskinson certainly never said that Voltaire was going to be the major project after Shelly. What he DID SAY many times is that Goguen and Plutus and Marlowe would be coming next. IF they don’t come soon, anyone can see, Cardano will lose it’s great respect that it has earned throughout the world. I believe that pushing voting to the forefront like this is a good example of mob rule. Volatiare, according to Mr Hoskinson was going to come much later than this . Just listen to so many of his AMA’s.

I find your line of reasoning hard to comprehend, because I believe:

  • No one is pushing voting to the forefront. If it comes earlier it’s a good thing but it doesn’t mean it got pushed to top priority.
  • There are different teams working on Voltaire and Goguen “in parallel” so it’s a misunderstanding that one would be a distraction or a priority. I’ve heard Charles say that at least 3 times in his AMA’s.
  • If at any point I said Voltaire or voting should be the priority I meant it in the context of the Cardano Foundation roadmap. I wasn’t suggesting Voltaire get pushed ahead of Goguen, which as already mentioned isn’t possible.
  • I’m hoping Voltaire can have a big influence over CF’s future, but Goguen is largely irrelevant to it with exception of funding etcetc.
  • You made an invalid assumption that I or we think Goguen is less important, because we talk about CF, voting and Voltaire.

Thank you Luck for the clarification. I suppose the frustration for my part comes in as it has been a very very long wait for Marlowe and smart contracts in general and I still do not see an end in sight. Do you have any idea when Smart contracts will be online so to speak.

Thanks again,



I believe on the last Thursday of every month IOHK has a community update on the development progress. According to Charles we will be getting details on the schedule of the Goguen roll out at this next one which I think is on the 24th. Things are happening pretty quickly. BTW one of the things we will be voting on with Voltaire soon is for improvement proposals with money from the Treasury which will be pretty cool. I think it will create some excitement and encourage people to submit proposals. We are all a little impatient but things are coming together.

Thanks so much Donny. I love the Cardano project. I am one of those who is impatient. But this is really difficult to pull off. I really appreciate your take=ing the time to explain this to me. Cheers for now. Stephen

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BTW Here is a link to the video for the August update: