Cross Chain Collaborations on Governance?

Huhuu and happy day everyone. :slight_smile:

Ah, and happy new year for sure.

First of all I want to thank everyone involved and engaged in spending time to ideate and experiment new Governance systems, processes, tools and everything around the emergence of Blockchain based Governance. The work which has been done in this ecosystem is mindblowing and inspiring.

When looking at Blockchain Governance, from a very own perspective, I think it’s a healthy approach to not focus on a specific Blockchain and its emerging governance structures but on the Blockchain space in general.

There are several DLT/Blockchain ecosystems and communities, deeply thinking and working on new governance for their environments, yet… There is a deep lack of communication and collaboration across DLT/Blockchain ecosystem and efforts are often done in silos. Achievements or failures from one ecosystem are rarely communicated or visible to other ecosystems which leads to a certain duplication of efforts while all ecosystems work pretty much on solving the same challenges.

Right now, there seems a strong momentum at several Ecosystems which take a pretty similar approach in solving Governance challenges. The current approach relies on open processes where communities are able to submit “Improvement Proposals” in order to improve specific processes, structures, platforms etc.

Some of them are:

Algorand - ARCs

Cardano - CIPs

Mina - MIPs

Proposals would then go through a QA ( Quality Assurance ) / Auditability process where submitted proposals are checked on specific parameters/criteria.

Ideally, one Proposals are audited and the community built a strong consensus around suggested improvement, the presented improvements then would be implemented.

Well, what i write here is a rough and high level view on these processes and if we look close on any of these initiatives we will discover quite fast that there are far more questions, topics and deep & dark rabbit holes than ( once again, this is a very personal opinion ) one single ecosystem is able to answer.

So, the point I want to make…

When we look at the DLT/Blockchain ecosystem, the highest focus from the wider community is unfortunately on the related cryptographic currencies which each of the Blockchains developed & use. Well, i dont think that the Crypto Currencies are the only or even strongest use case which a blockchain would be able to deliver to the wider world. Yet, as there is this massiv focus on Crypto currencies, it has been an unfortunate evolution that the general vibe is often about championing specific blockchains only for the price value of their currencies, and we see that public influencers down-rate specific ecosystems. This leads to a very weird environment where Blockchain protocol, ecosystems and communities are presented as hardcore competitors and each other’s “killers”. I am strongly against that perspective and I think that we could/should learn with and from each other….at the very end all of us work for the same larger vision.

We want to build effective improvements and evolutions to the current economic and governmental systems in which we live.

This text, ideally, is an appel on starting conversation across ecosystems and communities and a maybe naive attempt on raising awareness on each other’s current paths and approaches on how Governance challenges are taken and solved from different ecosystems.

I think that we actually need each other and that all of us would highly benefit from opening up each other’s experience and expertise.

We may play in different teams, but hey, we definitely play the same sport… aren’t we ?

What are your thoughts on the words above, which perspectives, ideas or visions do you have on potential cross chain collaboration on Governance ?

Thanks a lot for your time reading these words.

In deepest Respect and appreciation for everyone’s work here… Please stay awesome…

Yours
Felix

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Hey there Felix,
I agree with your point on moving our collective focus off of the tokens and prices. As the blockchain space matures, and we discover what can and can’t be done, what works and what doesn’t, value just occurs.

It is perhaps instinctive that users of different tech stacks become tribal. As social beings, we tend to accommodate 100 to 150 friends and/or associates in our circle of “influence”. To work in larger groups, I think we need to look at how we do this in real life. We form clubs and societies, associations and colleges, etc.

I’m not sure what professional associations’ people in various Information Technology occupations gather under to share information and to discuss ideas with a larger audience, but perhaps this is something we need to consider for the various members of the blockchain community.

The improvement proposal systems developed by various blockchain groups all have roots in the Bitcoin Improvement Proposal methodology, which isn’t surprising considering bitcoin is the original blockchain. Is this truly governance, though? It’s more a brainstorming to consensus methodology to solve a problem. From my experience with multiple blockchain projects, I believe what we are endeavouring to achieve in the Voltaire phase is a first. The XIP method is done better with some protocols, the SOVRYN community does this well, but real governance, well that’s tricky.

In my opinion, we need to develop some of those structures that Charles was talking about first, before we can mull over a constitution and get to other things. By developing those structures, we then have a better understanding of who our stakeholders are, and how we can support them. Structures like Cardano Users’ Club, The Association of Cardano Developers, CNFT Artist Cooperative, stuff like this. Until we start building these structures, we are going to struggle with the rest.

And then, with these structures in place, we will be able to invite other blockchain communities to join us in an overarching community brought together through blockchain.

Thanks for reading.
GJ

edited: corrected the SOVRYN name, used Sovereign previously. 12/01/23

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Another protocol that does governance well is Polkadot.

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Cheers GJ :slight_smile:
Generally much agree to what you say.

Yes indeed, and I think that’s even a good & healthy thing in some sort of way as it becomes just amazingly difficult to effectively discuss things in very larger groups. But its important is that groups in a certain environment are able to communicate and coordinate between each other and I think we don’t yet have a strong enough focus on how this inter-communications, coordinations and collaborations could happen in an effective way. Wonder how we could improve on that side…

Much agree… but would maybe be valuable and interesting to bring in perspectives and views from other communities/ecosystems on an early stage and have some outside perspectives on our journey with Cardano. Sometimes, we are the worst observers of our own as we are just too close to the topics we work on and as commitment often includes passion, objective perspectives get slowly replaced by subjective point of views which is great on one side but quite dangerous on another side as well. Having more neutral and distant perspectives can help a lot to keep things on an objective line… That said, I think that early communications with other ecosystems and their eyes on our stuff would be beneficial.

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True, Polkadot and the Polkadot Council doing some interesting initiatives which also have some strong overlap with what we are doing & plan to do here at Cardano

I totally agree with you, Felix.

It would be incredibly beneficial for the Cardano community to study how other blockchain ecosystems handle protocol governance and what discussions led to their current state. While other ecosystems may operate on a different framework than Cardano, the overall governance outcomes are similar. Some key questions to consider include:

  1. Who is responsible for making governance decisions?
  2. Who is responsible for enforcing those decisions?

I believe that entities that play these roles can only form naturally within the community. The challenging part is currently encouraging the formation of these groups and getting them to participate in discussions about the future of Voltaire and governance processes.

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Hello @Lovecoach,
Thanks for joining the conversation. Just so you know that I’m not “reacting” to your comments, I’ve deleted and restarted several times to make sure I’m communicating clearly.

When we allow groups and roles to “form naturally” in a community, there is a tendency for power to be consolidated for a “few” to the detriment of the many. Sometimes this occurs purely due to a familiarity of name and personality, as we witnessed with the Catalyst Circle v4 results. The many people that organise and run Town Halls, local Cardano events, write and translate documents, or had previous Circle experience, didn’t make it to the top 5. Of the millions of active wallets, only 1,140 stake addresses participated. Also, since it was a weighted ballot, it was found that just 10 wallets controlled 40% of the vote. It could be elucidated that this occurred naturally from the community with current communication channels. Is this the type of governance we want?

From my own research and experience with different blockchain protocols, several styles of governance have evolved. I’ll delve into the main 3 below.

First example is Sovryn (pronounced sovereign) https://www.sovryn.app
I’ve been following this since inception. This is a Bitcoin DeFi protocol build on Rootstock, a L2 EVM smart contract solution for bitcoin utilising PegPOW. They’ve been building for 2 years now. Sovryn has been community governed from the start and use a form of Vetocracy, that is, no single entity can make arbitrary changes to the system. To vote on protocol updates, they use quadratic staked based weighting, including the duration of staked SOV (up to 3 years). Any staked member can propose changes through their SIP process. Discussion occur on Discord, Telegram, and their governance forum. They currently have approximately 3K users.

The next example would be Polkadot https://polkadot.network/ which utilises Substrate.
I’ve been following the development of Polkadot for about 3 years, first through updates from the web3.foundation, then Polkadot since its genesis block in May 2020. Governance on Polkadot was activated in July 2020 and consists of a Council (13 members currently, envisaged to be 24), a Technical Committee (variable number of members/groups), and public referenda.

Any DOT holder can propose anything to be voted on in a public referendum by locking at least 100 DOT, this needs to be seconded by at least one other individual by locking the same amount. Every 28 days, the proposals with the highest locked amount are selected for public voting. Voting is weighted by the length of time one wishes to lock up their DOT (up to 896 days for 6x voting power). This locked DOT can be used in further referendums, I believe.

Council members’ term is for 7 days, rolling, based on each member’s wish to continue, and other DOT holders continued backing. At the end of the 7-day period, the top 13 backed members continue into the next 7-day period, with runner-ups filing any vacancies. The Council votes on the Technical Committee members, run the treasury, propose council-lead referenda, and cancelling malicious or controversial referenda.

The Technical Committee, is responsible for maintaining and updating the blockchain.

There has only been one example of a general referendum in which all DOT holders were invited to participate without any lockup. This was for the rebranding event that occurred late 2021. 2,097 DOT holders voted on this.

The issues that governance on Polkadot has is that it was designed and implemented by the Web3 Foundation from the start, and when you observe the council members over time, you will notice that they haven’t changed much over the past 2 1/2 years. Many of the Council members are also Web3 Foundation members and developers. This was illustrated in early 2021 by one of DotLeap newsletter’s writers who was a Council member for several weeks but decided not to continue due to pressure from other members (foundation) with agendas. From my own observations, governance, and also delegation is still a popularity contest on Polkadot. Perhaps this is another reason GW quit, he’s still on the Council, though.

Last example being Ethereum https://ethereum.org/
Ethereum’s governance is fairly basic. It involves the Ethereum Improvement Process (EIP) and nothing else at this time. There’s the allusion to DAOs having governance properties, but this, as well as the EIP discussion process, occurs off-chain.

Even when looking at the Ethereum Foundation’s goals, vision and objectives, it’s fairly barren.

So what am I attempting to illustrate with these examples? @Felix_Weber may like to see this as well.
There’s the point you made about governance roles forming naturally within the community. I believe this is how Ethereum wants to do it, since there is no explicit direction for governance. Polkadot shows us how top down governance can be dictated to the community. Whilst, Sovryn shows what a community focused approach to governance looks like.

One positive from the Ethereum document on governance though is that it recognises that there are different stakeholders, lists them, and provides a description of their roles.

Neither Polkadot nor Sovryn have an explicit constitution for their protocols, yet both described in detail how governance and voting is conducted on-chain, and the code is available for review. Also, both of these protocols answer the 2 questions for consideration you mentioned, Nicolas.

Polkadot’s governance code:

Details about Sovryn’s governance :

Sovryn’s governance code:

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Any questions or comments always welcome.

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Thanks for sharing this @gjlite, this was very insightful.

I agree that this is an undesirable outcome and only results in a popularity contest, which we should avoid at all costs. What I meant was allowing groups to form naturally but having the proper guardrails to prevent the consolidation of power. I like the idea of maximum terms, similar to the Polkadot model but less centralized.

When comparing the different governance models of various protocols, it is essential to understand what a governance model governs. Was our approach to comparing blockchain governance models flawed, as we can’t compare networks with different design models?

Before we approach different blockchains, what is it that we try to govern on Cardano? At first, I would have said, “Well of course the network itself, what parameters should be changed, if a hard fork event should be initiated etc.”

Now I’m not so sure if that is the entire scope as we are also defining a Cardano constitution with some fundamental assumptions and core values.

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@Lovecoach
Thanks for reading. I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and attempting to get a handle on the general purposes of governance, beyond what IOG has recommended.

In regard to the amount of effort being spent on the constitution currently, on GitHub and various threads of this forum, I posed a response to what I see as some confusion of what needs to be included. Here’s a link in case you haven’t come across it as yet.

Through many of my posts, I’m endeavouring to educated in general, rather than direct the conversation. I guess, as one of the older community members, I can see some of the enthusiastic misdirection that I also attempted when younger.

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Hi @Felix_Weber,
I came across how Kusama manages governance using evolving NFTs today, and posted it in the governance tools category.

Thought you might be interested.