CIP - Cardano Professional Society

Can you please succinctly clarify the problem statement without including a solution? What exactly are you proposing needs to be solved that led to the MBO idea?


First, welcome @TheADAstandard and thank you for the great question. I’m a Cardano newbie (stake key 11mo old) but I will attempt share the historical background and problem statement.

Cardano was founded with both a centralized governance and centralized federated network with the hope that both would be decentralized to the community according to the 5 age/era roadmap. Centralized governance consisted of 3 genesis organizations (IOG, CF, Emurgo) with 7 genesis keys controlling treasury spending and the blockchain network parameters (IOG 3-keys, CF 2-keys, Emurgo 2-keys with a 5/7 majority).

The original centralized governance has already failed because CF had structural problems and historically did not use its keys (until Vasil HF), Emurgo disappeared and delegated its 2 genesis keys to IOG, and IOG was delayed covering a much larger responsibility scope. There were no checks and balances. Nobody could find CF or Emurgo in default and enforce a penalty or corrective action. We have been trusting 1 organization: IOG. IMHO Charles is trustworthy and has my trust, however with the current problems in the crypto currency industry trusting 1 company, 1 leader, 1 person is not a philosophically acceptable model. The Age of Voltaire is the era of transforming centralized governance into decentralized governance, retiring the centralized genesis key hierarchy and transferring treasury spending powers and network parameter control to the community.

The Shelley era transformed the centralized federated network into a decentralized network. The goal was to centralize to k=500 pools with an MAV of about 250. This failed because the incentives were decided by a ‘trusted’ small centralized groupthink of academics that made mistakes. Charles never whiteboarded the reward equation chart for community debate. The network decentralization is currently k~40 MAV=21. CIP-50 is the effort to correct this centralized groupthink RSS paper failure the Cardano way: with a community effort to research then publish an RSS-revision-2 paper for community consideration.

The concept of a MBO embodies the hopes for future decentralized Cardano governance on-chain and off-chain architecture. If the governance architecture does not involve community ideas, community input, and community audit it is my fear that governance will fail and become more centralized than the network MAV, an oligarchy/plutocracy with at best a MAV 21/40 majority. It is my fear that a MBO with a centralized hierarchical model (with a founder/king/monarch, director(s), super delegate(s), board member(s) ) could fail just like CF and Emurgo already historically failed. It is essential that the architecture and bylaws of MBO governance be public, debated, and established with a proper community convention / ratification process. The CIP process is the de-facto way of Cardano Improvement Proposals involving the community.

This thread is the beginning of draft thoughts, debates, and ideas which may be included in a future CIP, bylaws, and ratification convention.

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Hey Michael, I don’t want to go too much offtopic here, but I need to flag that this is outdated. It is true that they were delegated once, but today IO does not perform any action on our behalf on the genesis key side. (beginning and including the Vasil HF)


I think to succinctly summarize @Michael.Liesenfelt good background and summary:

Currently there are 7 keys that update the GitHub node code are held by 3 groups.

To become more decentralized, these 7 keys should be further split up. What’s the best way to handle this?

For Cardano to become a Members Based Organization governed by the community, what’s the best way to split up the keys?

Should there be 7 keys in trusted individual parties, maybe 1000, maybe 51% of wallets voting that auto sign, what’s the best way to update the code? (Note, in P2P it’s one thing to update the code, but then nodes need to adopt it, like bitcoin)

I have updated the first post and the title. Professional Society is a better label IMHO than Members Based Organization. Society fits better than Organization in the spirit of Cardano. ‘Professional’ is an appropriate adjective for the maturity and leadership of this community.

It is necessary to read CIP-1694 to understand the proposed on-chain L1 implementation of Voltaire.

I need to continue thinking about the IOG ScotFest, keynotes, presentations on governance, discussion on a constitution, and other organization ideas. We should all review those. I still need to wait for the Cardano Summit sessions to be made available so I can sleep on any/all good ideas presented at the Summit.

Have a wonderful holiday break all. I’m going to be sleeping on the CPS.


Join the Cardano Professional Society:

After joining the space, there are rooms for:
IRL Community
L2 and chains


Two thoughts based on @Michael.Liesenfelt and @ccgarant comments:

  1. How did the 7 keys solution come to be? Is it public knowledge how this was determined to be the best option vs. alternative solutions when initially implemented? Was this solution meant to be permanent or just for when Cardano had training wheels before transitioning to decentralized control?

  2. The MBO (or Professional Society) idea sounds great and will be needed in the long-term, though as described it seems like there are two distinct problems to address.
    (1) how to effectively decentralize GitHub node code governance (i.e., rules to control organization IP in a decentralized way) and
    (2) converting a centralized organization to a decentralized organization.
    Addressing #1 seems to be of primary importance. Is that an accurately portraying the problems trying to be solved in this CIP? If so, do we need a MBO in place to address code governance?

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I honestly don’t know. This is far before my time. I don’t believe there is a clear archive of the Genesis documents, the original/updated Foundation & IOG contract, or the Foundation’s annual reports & consolidated financials on the Foundation website. The Cardano Foundation is still trying to become the Foundation it philosophically should be. Cmon’ make it happen @adatainment !

Genesis organizations and a federated network was meant as training wheels for a decentralized network and decentralized governance. I’m betting that Charles would do it entirely differently if he had the chance, but we are moving forward from here.

In my CPS paradigm the time stone group of SPO’s would have responsibility of the cardano-node software in a public repositories (GitHub isn’t mandatory). Long term the soul stone governance division would have responsibility for the social processes of governance. These professional society divisions of Soul/Time intentionally mirrors Drep’s / SPO’s in CIP-1694.

We need to decentralize to an international professional society/community during Voltaire. One day Cardano Foundation, IOG, and Emurgo will all be participants, not controllers. Eventually Cardano has to reach the maturity where Charles, IOG, and CF could disappear and Cardano would continue for centuries. If that can’t happen, Cardano fails and somebody new will begin a new Blockchain with all of the innovations of {Cardano PoS eUTxO & Ergo & Algorand & Zcash zkp}, a >90% fair distribution, a fair reward/incentive equation, network decentralization, and governance built in from Epoch 1 / Genesis.


good structure we can use to adapt what the cardano community wants…

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I think there should be a super-division, to vote on allocation of resources based on mandates received from votes of the Cardano community on specific proposals. There should be a nominated number of Reps from the different divisions on the council. This is to prevent Silo’ed myopic groups achieving their individual mandates but ignoring the overall mandates/objectives of the Cardano. You can use, the Upper and Lower house biCameral organization as a framework. There should be a sortition based capability introduced so that the voters are not targeted and coerced. SSID must be an integral part of the system as laid-out in Aggelos’ paper.

I can see value in a ‘super’ group IF:

  1. They are banned from managing funds or funding.
  2. They have no enforcement power against the independent divisions.
  3. CIP-1694 is specific about excluding mandatory identity for governance.
  4. The super group is advisory-only.
  5. If ALL 6 independent divisions select and volunteer candidates to participate.
  6. Re: BiCameral, the SPOs in the time stone group and Drep’s in the soul stone group are already participants in CIP-1694.

I’m not here to do centralizing governance.

Out of curiosity, what about Voltaire is driving the demand for a decentralized professional society right now when compared to prior eras? Any reason that community deployment can’t be delayed or rolled-out in segments & iterations rather than all at once?

[I am admittedly just starting to learn the details about Cardano, including Voltaire.]

An ideal next step is to learn if there was a long-term vision for Cardano key governance. I would be surprised if this wasn’t thought through at the onset of creating a new blockchain with ambitions of decentralized governance. Any way to get insight about this from someone involved?

Now, about the concept of a professional society/MBO:
It is more appropriate to model this community after a company that has a decentralized structure and ownership. This is primarily because Cardano is more than a community of people working towards a common goal; it is also a singular core product (the blockchain) that needs to be promoted, maintained, and innovated over time. What makes this especially challenging, and unusual, is that the {community + product} must be advanced sustainably in perpetuity without a central authority (i.e., leadership). It would be a good idea to study decentralized organizations with products in the development of this community to ease the transition away from centralized governance. (BTC? Linux or other open-source product? Are there any employee-owned companies out there that fit the mold?)

We need to understand if we can solve the keys problem first or at least determine what is the minimum community structure for progress, before developing & deploying an entire community framework, to keep the problem scope as small as possible. Think about how a startup doesn’t have all of the departments in place that a public corporation has, but all corporations once began as startups. An organization can and should evolve its structure over time depending on the circumstances.


In part due to the huge discussion around the draft CIP-1694 we’ve created a couple of channels to discuss Governance issues. Both channels linked here will also be suited to general considerations of Governance which may be off-topic to the GitHub discussion and/or the CIP process itself:


I think we need to decide on categories of questions/proposals etc that will be key artefacts of governence.

I.e Is voting power decided by just one metric for all proposals either in Catalyst or CIPs? Or do we treat them differently?

I’m inclined to treat them differently, as CIPs affects everyone in a similar amount of way, or at least can. Perhaps there could be different classes of CIPs or maybe that’s something the community needs to think about?

But i see CIPs are entirely different from what we see in catalyst. Catalyst is about building an ecosystem, rather than CIPs which i see as the platform upon which the ecosystem sits.

Thus i see CIPs as fundamental and affecting Staking, Rewards, Transactions etc. Do we want our votes for CIPs to count as much as our votes for Catalyst items? I’m inclined to say no.


“Voltaire- Does it begin when there is a Constitution voted on and approved by the Community? Or has it already started?

What defines how long it last? I could remember incorrectly but somewhere in the back of my mind I seem to recall CH saying it could last for years.

So if it last for years and the end is defined by the Community receiving the keys to the Treasury how do we reward those that participate until then?

If we become a dues paying community should those funds go into a Community Treasury where we could budget and reward as needed?

Just some rambling thoughts as I sit in my car watching the rain pouring down.

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Precisely so. Because IOG/CF have already made the foundational decision to implement an MBO (for example) or to pursue constitutionalism in governance (another example).

These are centralized and arbitrary decisions. And this undermines any claims by Cardano to have decentralised governance (because the design has already been set by central players). For example the decision to pursue MBOs was taken in workshops between IOG/CF in Spring 2022 not by any community.

All other issues such as CIPs are downstream to this. Because participants are free to contribute to CIPS as long as they have accepted the given CIP process (a given) or be part of the MBO as long as they have accepted the MBO concert (a given).


Ye, fair point.
Seems often to be the case that IOG makes their decisions and community engagement & interaction then hits in at a very late stage to “legitimise” already made decisions. Not sure if that is a healthy approach on a long term approach.


Things are changing.

CIP1694 governance will allow multiple competing/cooperative governance actions. IOG can make a loyal hierarchial centralized MBO and submit a governance action for treasury funding. A functionally divided Cardano Professional Society can also submit a governance action for treasury funding.

Ultimately, voters should decide on treasury spending and parameters.


Worth to mention that “Cardano Community receiving the keys to the Treasury” is an analogy for “there are no keys”. There are several Governance Actions (explained here) that people/groups/organisations can submit, and one of them is a “treasury withdrawal”-action.


There are a myriad of ways as to how MBOs can be designed, from plutocratic, meritocratic or DAO based voting. For plutocratic voting assuming that the amount of ADA determines the value in such MBO structure, the question is how centralised is the current ADA supply. Given that centralised exchanges hold a significant portion of ADA, this makes plutocratic voting vulnerable to external vested interests.

Meritocratic MBOs as based from the merit of positive/negative of community members can lead to popularity contests. With the major influence in the media of currently affecting political voting by shifting the agenda of what topics are discussed while these institutions are not not held accountable for inaccurate reporting, these communication systems can also impact the outcomes determined by meritocratic MBOs. See: foundational agenda-setting theory research & mass effect theories (CH.16).

How IOG/CF decide how to implement the model(s) of MBOs, I propose that a bill of rights and responsibilities for Cardano holders and MBOs be proposed to protect against external influence that may hinder short and long term growth of the ecosystem. The bill of rights and responsibilities of Cardano is to outline each member’s obligation to prioritise the interest of Cardano, and not external influences, whether it is from other institutions, nepotism or personal gain. Also, it would be beneficial since that MBOs have the role of managing Cardano’s sustainability, structure, treasury and committees, that each Cardano holder is to have their rights and freedoms outlined in the bill of rights and responsibilities.

I propose that the bill of rights and responsibilities should be its own independent document to specifically protect the right of ADA holders and MBOs from nebulous constitutional amendments. The existing Bill of Rights and Constitution serve different purposes as OpenAi states that:

The Constitution is a framework for the organization of the federal government and the distribution of power between its three branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial. It establishes the basic principles of government, such as the separation of powers, the system of checks and balances, and the rights and responsibilities of each branch.

The Bill of Rights, on the other hand, is the first ten amendments to the Constitution, which were added to protect individual liberties and limit the power of the federal government. The Bill of Rights guarantees freedoms such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press; the right to bear arms; the right to a fair and speedy trial; and protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

While a bill of rights and responsibilities for Cardano cannot be mathematically expressed on-chain due to the subjectiveness of such interests, it will nonetheless assist in safeguarding the MBOs and the Cardano ecosystem from external threats.