Decentralization Vulnerable in Cardano Catalyst: dReps

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The Cardano’s governance is unique in the crypto industry, to this day. Although there are DAOs with large structures, there is none that equals the Catalyst project in the amount of managed funds or social participation of the members of its ecosystem.

Cardano’s philosophy of incentives is, for me, promising, and the governance also has them, through the commitment in the participation with the vote and the economic rewards, which the voters receive. An ideal combination.

The Cardano Treasury, applied to the Catalyst project to finance developments in the ecosystem, is more than 900 million dollars at today’s price.


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In less than a year, Project Catalyst has become the largest decentralized innovation fund in the world. This latest Fund8 submitted almost 1,000 proposals, and Catalyst is now on track to fund over 2,100 proposals during 2022. That’s amazing!

If you want to know more about this topic, I invite you to read my article that I leave at the end.

The Delegated Representatives: dReps

At a recent Project Catalyst town hall , IOG announced a new governance tool in Project Catalyst, the concept of voters being able to delegate voting power, implementing the role of Delegated Representatives (dReps) , and invited those interested to participate.

As the number of proposals increases, so does the community’s responsibility to review and vote on them, and this new IOG proposal aims to ensure that all proposals get the attention they deserve and to facilitate continued growth, and so dReps they will vote on the vast majority of proposals within each Fund’s Project Catalyst.

This method allows ADA holders to delegate their voting power to one or more dReps. This gives the most passive voter the opportunity to continue making her voice heard, but now through more proposals than he could personally read and evaluate.

These dReps will vote on the vast majority of proposals within the Catalyst Project and, in turn, improve the quality of decision-making within each Fund. The dReps will co-ordinate and form policy, search and review data, consult with experts, and ultimately vote on a variety of projects and topics that have been submitted by the community.

Representative Democracy, a Failure with 200 Years of History

By this subtitle you may have noticed my opinion on the method of governance with delegated representatives (similar to parliamentarians), of course, it is not to my liking.

I will not make a presentation on representative democracy, abounding in historical data from different countries, because I believe that your knowledge and experience are sufficient for the foundation that I want to present, especially if you live in Western countries, whether developed or developing.

Blockchain technology gives us a tool that we did not have until now in our modern society of the last 200 years, direct democracy. I associate direct democracy with decentralization (of power).

The vote without intermediaries proposed by the network is of unparalleled power for decentralized governance. With the representatives (dReps) we are centralizing governance and losing that decentralizing power in governance. It is the opposite of the Cardano philosophy .

The Catalyst project, in Cardano, so far with its 8 Funds (the first was a test without a budget) was remarkable, in terms of the growth in the number of proposals from developers and voters. Something that we cannot miss in terms of community participation.

We must encourage participation, and not propose the delegation as a “comfort” for the community. That doesn’t encourage.

The manifest good intention of IOG is clear, to provide the community with a group of (prepared) representatives to facilitate the tedious task of analyzing and cataloging the proposals that, increasingly, have reached almost 1,000 in this last Fund8.

It is not necessary to read all the proposals that are presented to choose some to vote on. As an adapulse.io writer myself , I read a lot of them to choose from for my review articles, and I write about the ones I think are well presented and interesting for the community (my subjectivity counts, of course), but I can’t read them all. That doesn’t matter, because as a voter I wouldn’t vote for all of them either.

Each voter personally has interests and likes about the ecosystem and knows which projects they understand will benefit, so it only remains to search the attention categories to find proposals. There the universe to investigate is greatly reduced.

But I insist, it is not necessary to have complete knowledge about development or about all the proposals that are presented in each Fund, the choice is common sense.

If what is sought is to provide more information to make a decision, then the Catalyst Community Advisor (CA) is the appropriate role, since it exists today and consists of evaluating the proposals in the evaluation phase.

One issue is reporting and summarizing information (the role of CAs could be improved) and quite another is delegating the decision.

Delegating the choice to third parties is to intermediate the vote, something that opposes the decentralization of Cardano.

Although the dReps facility is presented as a practice for the community, this does not mean that it is viable with the Cardano philosophy, and since it is not, its implementation should not be considered, in my honest opinion.

In this way, and as it happened in representative democracy, which most of us live in our countries, a political caste of people is formed who work professionally to increase their power, lobbying and manipulating interests to remain in power.

Concentrating power in a few representatives removes social power and gives political power within the ecosystem.

I don’t even want to delve into the possibility of collusion and corruption that is sown in the air, because it gives me chills.

I am in the Cardano ecosystem because I believe that the technological design is second to none today, and promising in decentralization with governance, but poor management decisions could lead to failure.

I do not think I am the owner of the truth, I only contribute my constructive criticism, since I have no commitment to anyone, only with my honor and freedom.

Financing Cardano’s treasury.

I invite you to read the book “For a New Liberty, The Libertarian Manifesto” by Murray N. Rothbard.

liberlion.com

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That is not necessarily true for at least two reasons:

  1. In order to maximise my (already very limited) voting power, if I found proposals that I want to be funded, I would rationally have to vote down all concurrent proposals (in the same challenge), at least all concurrent proposals that seem to have a chance to get funded before my favourites. But in order to not be a total a***hole, I would then probably want to look at them to see if some of them are actually at least as good as the favourites that I found. And to identify the competition with chances, I’ll have to at least briefly look at all proposals in a challenge that I’m interested in, anyway.
  2. I may want to look for really bad proposals to prevent them from being funded. Ignoring them and only caring for the personally interesting proposals is not an option if there is the risk that total bullsh*t is funded with tens of thousands of Dollar or ADA.

A very one-sided view on representative democracy. Liquid democracy (as it is tried with the dRep functionality) and direct democracy could be additions, but cannot replace representative democracy in my opinion. Working on legislation (or more generally on policy proposals) requires time, effort, and a staff. It is much better if people are elected to be given these resources by the state. In pure direct or liquid democracies only the ones who already have the resources could push agendas that are elaborate enough, while all agendas that are not appealing to enough money are doomed.

But concentrating power in whales who have multiples of the voting power of other Cardanians is totally fine?

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Its difficult not to be apprehensive about taking steps towards democratic representation whist staying true to the core Cardano decentralisation ethos but it is possible. As with many things the devil will be in the detail. As you correctly state with the use of technology there is no need to replicate the well documented problems that exist in the democracies that many of us live in but we can take some of the good bits and mitigate against as many of the bad bits as possible. As a catalyst voter, CA and then vCA I have felt many of the frustrations around maximising quality engagement from the largest possible section of the Cardano Community.

Even from this one article I feel, ironically, that #arielfavio would make an excellent dRep. If for whatever reason I were unable to vote in a round of funding, I would feel much happier if i could delegate my vote to someone who clearly cares and is willing to put in the required work.

If we were able to implement a fluid, less political type of democratic process then on balance a definite win in my eyes.

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Although in favor of “exploring” d-reps, I fear we could easily end up (just like you imply) creating the same failed system most of us live in today.

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