Minimal Viable Governance

thanks @HeptaSean - just read it on GitHub. There does seem to be community support for a flat governance model according to what I’ve read in the CIP-1694 PR and social commentary. As much as I hate to add to the review burden it does seem like your suggestion would justify its own CIP.

On that note I wonder if the acceptance or boot strapping process (apologies if I can’t keep the nomenclature straight, if there’s a preferred term for the transition from off-chain to on-chain governance) could begin with a choice of which CIP to adopt for its governance rules… since it looks like we will already have 2 or 3 posted CIP alternatives. I haven’t read every corner of CIP-1694 or every comment yet, so I don’t know if that’s included or been suggested before.

(will re-post this in the GitHub thread if this question hasn’t already been addressed before)


Will have the same problem as all the RSS CIPs and as also highlighted for hard forks in my post/proto CIP above:

Without a commitment to implement whatever is successful, such a choice would not make much sense.

To minimise community uproar, it’s probably even advisable to not frame it as “Meh, we don’t like it! We are just doing our thing.”, but rather as: “No, that alternative is not viable! It’s irresponsible to do it that way!” And it will be a matter of belief to either buy “Drama and FUD” framings or “They are oppressing viable alternatives!” framings.

And only starting the implementation after a successful vote, will also mean a huge delay. So, if n possibilities are there and proven to be ready for deployment, n−1 of them were developed for the bin. … or not, but then all not implemented alternatives will have an uphill battle against: “Not even implemented!”

This Gordian knot does not seem to have an easy solution.

Last thought for the moment: I have to be honest here: I do not know how relevant that support is in terms of people as well as in terms of stake. Might well be a noisy minority.

I am offended by framing it as “Drama and FUD”, of course. Might be that a vast majority is content with everything in the current course of CIP-1694 development. But I have seen a lot of thoughtful reasonings from the group that is not so content with it. Just dismissing that does not do them (us) justice.

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Interestin read @HeptaSean and thanks for posting it.

Would you be able to give some examples of how this would work in practice, and am I correct to assume that in your model, the total registered voting stake would be all ada at all Cardano addresses, or would you say that only ada that is delegated should be considered?

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Neither. My preferred way would be that people explicitly register for governance voting (maybe even with an automated expiry). And I would take that (minus explicit abstains for this particular vote) as the 100% to not make it too hard.

If you meant delegating to a dRep that is basically the same, but I’m arguing for not having dReps, here, so I’m formulating it as “registering for voting”.

But in my view, participation of a stake in governance should be completely independent of participation in staking, delegation to a stake pool: There might be tax or other reasons for not doing staking (although the big discussion in Germany seems to be resolved now), but still participating in governance. And long-term holders might want to stake, but not participate in governance, because they are not that actively monitoring the Cardano community and its discussions.

Hmm, let’s see. Suppose 1 billion ADA are registered for governance. (I still have on my ever-growing to list to run some numbers if that should be a satisfying and/or realistic number.)

If there are no “No” votes, any number of “Yes” votes could pass a proposal. Which is okay, even one of the goals to allow uncontroversial, boring topics to pass easily.

For example 1 million ADA voting “Yes” would be 0.1% of the registered voting stake. 0.1%=0.001, 2×0.001²=0.000002=0.0002%, 0.0002%×1 billion=2000 ADA voting “No” are enough to prevent the proposal from passing for now.

Let’s say 8 000 ADA vote “No”. Those are 0.0008% of the registered voting stake. We would need more than sqrt(0.0008%/2)=0.2% (the inverse of the 2×Yes² formula), i.e., 2 million ADA voting “Yes” for the proposal to pass.

If we have low participation, the majority has to be quite overwhelming. If it turns out that a proposal is controversial (even if only a quite small minority opposes at first), both sides need to rally for participation of their side in the vote.

If 100 million ADA vote yes, those are 10% of the registered voting stake. Then, 2×10%²=2% “No” votes, which are 20 million ADA, are needed to keep the proposal undecided.

If now 200 million abstain, the total voting power relevant for this proposal goes down to 800 million ADA. 100 million ADA of 800 million are 12.5%, 2×12.5%²=3.125%, 3.125%×800 million=25 million ADA voting “No” are needed to block. Abstaining makes decisions easier.

When we approach 50% of the total voting power (registered minus abstain), we approach the point, where 50% + 1 vote is enough to pass.

Still with the 200 million ADA abstaining, 380 million ADA voting “Yes” are 47.5%. 2×47.5%²=45.125% “No”, which are 361 million ADA, are needed to still keep the proposal undecided.

Does that make it a bit clearer?


Before anyone asks: I am not aware that this has ever been proposed or used somewhere, unfortunately. Quora seem to be set rather ad-hoc almost everywhere, even in quite important “official” rules. I’d be glad if someone finds in-depth sources.

For comparison, these are the alternatives often found:

Even the – objectively bad – participation quorum is not only used in Catalyst, but also in the rules for state- or nation-level referenda.

CIP-1694 up to now includes what I have called “Fixed Margin Quorum”, which is quite okay, but requires a certain level of participation at the lower end and does not allow tight decisions even at 100% participation (might be considered good or bad). And the margin is an arbitrarily set number – like in the other examples.

The reason for the minority < 2×majority² formula is that it is – arguably – the simplest mathematical function allowing decisions even at low participations and approaching no margin requirement at 100% participation.

I’m not into the details of this topic at all, so I may be wrong and please correct me, but I see a point having the ability to give my vote to a representative that I believe I trust and with whose current opinions I agree with, to someone who I believe had the time and strength to put the effort into research of the topics with enough knowledge to make good decisions.

The reason for the majority is the reality, life and lack of time and resources to get deeply involved with every topic being voted for. Yes it does look like the governments we have now, but with one major advantage and that is the ability to withdraw my voting power instantly from the representative and to get involved myself into voting if I feel like this. No need to wait four years to change the government that promised one thing but eventually did something else once in power.

That’s what Charles mentioned in his video few days ago: Drama and FUD with Governance - YouTube

Something that I’m not sure how it will be solved is the accumulated power of the representatives and possible bribery ie lobbying… also how do we ensure those people get a reward for the time invested into proper research so they can make a living and not fall for corrupt deals and bribery, other than having trust they are sacrificing their time for the greater good.

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Yes, it absolutely does. Thanks a lot for the clarification.

Okay, I understand. What you are describing is the DRep system minus the delegation part. Why would you want to design a system where we cannot have liquid democracy? I would love to understand your reasoning. It’s a fascinating topic for me.

The way I see it is that having the possibility to delegate voting power is just the next step in the evolution of voting systems. But my knowledge is limited, and I’m happy to be shown reasons why my thinking could be flawed.


Without a constitution, if the ADA holders are misinformed or under-informed about particular matters, that would have potentially large effects upon the Cardano ecosystem. While ADA holders may have the best interest for the community, there may be external actors that intend on jeopardising Cardano. There has been countless fud and noise that misrepresents Cardano in the media that thankfully Charles has addressed such issues. But what happens if Charles is for a myriad of reasons (including that where he intends on retiring and be a spectator of Cardano) whereby he cannot address the misrepresentations of Cardano.

For the medium and longer term, I believe a constitution would help in addressing potential external threats that hinder the growth of the Cardano ecosystem.

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I agree that proper research, and from my perspective based off the academic peer-reviewed findings amalgamated from the fields of political science and anthropology would be required to mitigate potential bribery and corruption.

Such academic fields have research carried out for decades that have concrete findings of which the community and the founding entities of Cardano could openly discuss. I believe that we should have CIP-1694 workshops that include political scientists and anthropologists to determine the most viable governance structure.

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I don’t see how a constitution prevents voting being influenced by misinformation and fud?

Does the US government constitution prevent misinformation from influencing a vote…

Where did I say that? What I said was without a constitution, there would be potentially large effects upon the ADA ecosystem. There has been countless fud and noise in the media that misrepresents Cardano that jeopardises the blockchain’s interest. A constitution would assist in addressing potential external threats…

Otherwise what other effective measures should we implement to safeguard against external institutions that serve their own interest?

With the caveat that your withdrawn voting power will be quite irrelevant compared to the dReps. Also see answer to @Nicolas below.

It doesn’t have to be bribery or lobbying – and lobbying isn’t always bad – trying to convince legislators that your interests are valid is lobbying – and it is typically only seen as something bad from the ones with other interests.

The accumulated power can even be a problem if one of the more powerful dReps (even temporarily or just for one specific proposal) doesn’t employ the due dilligence expected from them.

We already have vastly different voting powers due to whales (but in my opinion have no viable alternative to prevent that right now, perhaps never). dReps make that worse either by accumulating voting power of multiple whales or by becoming another class of voters just as powerful as the whales or both. The promise of “You can always undelegate and vote yourself.” gets a little hollow if your voting power than still stands against the remaining voting power of the dReps.

The claim is that people have no time, energy, or expertise to vote themselves, so they should be able to delegate to a person they “trust”. But assessing who to delegate to is just as cumbersome. And monitoring/controlling if that trust is still justified also requires engagement. I don’t even know if I would do it, but, worse, I can always have the suspicion that the others don’t do it, that all the delegated votes I am trying to stand up to are just fire and forget delegations based on popularity.

(This is all much worse for the planned Catalyst dReps. It is even harder to assess if someone who seems competent on first sight will really employ due diligence in assessing thousands of Catalyst proposals and will vote on all proposals – I don’t want my meager voting power wasted by only voting on a handful of proposals and downvoting the competition is imperative given the current voting system.)

In both cases – governance as well as Catalyst – my alternative – which does not have to be implemented in the core system – are just recommendations how to vote. The voting interfaces – wallet apps or dApps or whatever – should just allow to import recommendations of several people I trust. It can then allow to set my vote automatically if they agree, highlight the points where they disagree for special attention, I can mark the proposals I have a strong opinion on myself, and combine all that to result in my very personalballot.

People could still blindly follow just one person if they want, but at least they sign it off as their vote themselves. And there is a good chance that they look at what they are signing there, that they notice if something is controversially discussed in the community and check in what camp their favourite recommender is, that they not only choose one recommender, but several. It opens the possibility of a continuum between choosing just one person to trust completely under incomplete information and forming a detailed own opinion on all the proposals yourself.

Moreover, Liquid Democracy typically includes that delegates can delegate the voting power further for specific proposals or whole subject matters. Such transitive delegations are not planned up to now, so true LD fans could say that we are doing some fraudulent labelling here. But transitive delegations are also even more problematic, I think. That I trust someone making good decisions does not mean at all that I trust them to find someone else who makes good decisions. And it accelerates the trend to accumulate voting power in very few hands.

I don’t believe in Charles at all nor in supposed “truths” he purports.

The “FUD” – or just other opinions than yours or mine – is quite irrelevant for the decisions handed over to governance in this step – hard forks, parameters, and treasury spendings, which is also why I don’t see a “constitution” necessary for these simple decisions handed over to governance at this point. (The more complex questions – how to manage development, who gets to decide what is developed and what not – are out of scope of CIP-1694 and, hence, also of this proto-alternative.)

A constitution in the form of an informal text document doesn’t add much safety. The noble motives laid down there have to be weighed against each other. That’s what institutions like supreme courts usually do – and probably what the “constitutional committee” is supposed to achieve.

Depending on country and personal stance, those courts work more or less – in some countries heavily depending on the current majority in the court, in others being a quite consistent check on the other branches.

But I don’t think electing such a body by popular vote with the power to no-confidence it at any time is a wise choice. I don’t see something like a court coming there, more an unpredictable something that can stop anything at will with the claim that it is for some obscure reason “unconstitutional” – to be then no-confidenced if the electorate is angry enough about it.

While people are able to express their opinions, it is in responsibility for reporters and journalists influencers to purport news that is accurate. If that cannot be achieved and news remains filled with misinformation and cognitive biases, then the media can serve as institutions that can hinder the growth of Cardano’s ecosystem. The groups or communities that control the hard-forks, parameters and treasury spending can be significantly influenced by media manipulation (foundational agenda-setting theory research & mass effect theories (CH.16).

What you proposed for is there for no constitution, dReps, SPO voting and just pure voting by ADA holders. If that were to be the case, then the media can sway Cardano voters, as these institutions influences on a political scale to direct the matters of focus towards what they decide to prioritise (research above). Since the media directly reports news to the masses, it would not be surprising if such institutions have contributed to many of the worlds problems, i.e. If the media reported that quantitive easing of currencies is a major cause of inflation, then the citizens would subsequently influence politicians to discuss how to better manage its country’s finances.

Constitutions are written that set rules as to how a country, state or system is to be governed by establishing checks and balances on the institutions of governments, as well as outlining the rights of the citizens. I believe the Cardano constitution should be written that fulfils the same responsibilities as outlined.

The United States Constitution First Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech, assembly, press, and etc. If there was no constitution written in the US, I believe that the citizens would not have as many rights as they current do. For the Cardano ecosystem, if its holders are guaranteed the freedoms to speech, assembly and fair press, I believe that the community will be increasingly safeguarded from any advents of totalitarianism.

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You still argue as if there always is an objective way to determine if something is “accurate”. There rarely is.

A lot of mainstream media do a good job at fairly enough reporting all relevant positions on a subject. Though they, of course, still have biases in selection, wording, context. It cannot be avoided. A lot are awful. And which media you put in the “good job” bucket and which in the “awful” bucket highly depends on your own worldview, which again hints at the astonishing lack of objective “truths”.

Cardano is just not relevant enough to be treated much in mainstream media. There, it’s just “Bitcoin, maybe Ethereum, and all the others”. Which in my opinion is totally understandable.

In crypto tabloids, it is a topic. And they are of such low quality that you sometimes have real inaccuracies – like the claim that ADA are locked in staking. But also a lot of things that are again just opinions – funding being too difficult on Cardano, development being too hard, obscure, badly documented, …

And it’s still part of most reputable constitutions and constitution-like documents that all these media should be free to report even if you, me, or we think that it is totally inaccurate. The bars for forbidding libel and defamation are quite high and that is generally a good thing.

On the one hand, both sources are rather old, given how much has changed due to social media and the associated, at least partial erosion of traditional, professional media.

On the other hand, I still don’t see how (even grave) misrepresentation of Cardano in media written by people not involved for people not involved should influence the decision if we want to activate a hard fork already implemented, if we want to raise the k parameter from 500 to 1000, or if we want to fund the next round of Catalyst.

That really is just an opinion. And outside of the fringe economic theories of crypto not even a very prominent one.

To bind whom how? Especially in this first stage of on-chain governance? Which rules are employed here, is just put in code in the nodes.

If we get to the point, where we get a members-based organisation and the code is hopefully handed over to it, this MBO will need bylaws. If we need to give them the grandiose title of “constitution”? If it makes people happy, so be it. But that’s not on the table up to now.

As pure text, it’s worthless. It needs the institutions committed to realise, enforce, stick by it. Without a parliament and government usually trying to actualise, but at least not break the constitution, and a supreme court and lower courts checking and balancing if they occasionally still maybe do, it would help very little.

We are not building a nation here, just a blockchain. It would be something between megalomaniac and totalitarian to write free assembly, speech or “fair” press (whatever that might be) in a Cardano constitution. It’s not the effing business of a cryptocurrency blockchain to regulate what anybody does, says or writes outside of it.

No what I am saying is that journalists are not obliged, and to work for their media corporation’s, and therefore their subsequent self interests that they they are vested to report on news that can be inaccurate. There seems to be many reporting biases in the block chain, health and financial sectors. To use cognitive biases in the news is a media manipulation strategy to influence its viewers in order to mislead viewers and achieve ‘unethically’ desired result.

Cardano is currently not relevant on the mainstream media, but Bitcoin and Ethereum were also not just 7 years back. It is not in the interest of many media corporations to report accurately about the block chain space, because why would they? There are not required to report accurately, because they do not have any consequences for misleading or inaccurate reporting. The media can act for, or against Cardano, but based from the past, these corporations have rarely outline the benefits of blockchain technology, and will likely criticise this field.

Do you believe that effective governance can be achieved with minimal viable governance?

What I am advocating for is that if the ecosystem continues to grow to serve over a billion of users to which the original intends to designed for, then it is imperative to have a constitution that serves the interests of its community.

It has been for the last few decades. That is your opinion, but the facts are that if a country’s circulating money supply doubled over the last few years, wouldn’t it be normal if every day expenses also increased? By mathematical terms, there is 2x the amount of money for the same amount of goods (x=y becomes 2x=y, x=1/2y).

That is why I said it is foundational research and they remain cited by hundreds of academics in their fields. Social media uses the same media manipulation strategies just on another platform.

That is written in the context for the Cardano community… What if it was voted that speech and association can be censored in the Cardano community? Our country’s constitutions would protect us since we have guaranteed rights to associate and express our opinions. But what if blockchains including Cardano becomes bigger than governments? Bitcoin’s market capital is now bigger than GDP of small countries.

If there is effective on-chain governance that in my opinion requires a constitution, then it would lay the foundations for people to choose and to opt out or into the system that they believe serves the greater community, and their interests.

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@HeptaSean, Sounds like you are proposing a government with no checks and balances? ChatGPT calls this Direct Democracy. It says town hall meetings are run this way but no large governments use this model. It does say that referendum is a form of Direct Democracy which is used within the larger framework of the Swiss government. I asked if there are any checks and balances in Direct Democracies. It responded that many direct democracies have independent bodies that oversee the decision-making process, such as ombudsmen, and citizen review panels. It said, these bodies can provide oversight and ensure that the process is fair and transparent.

So if the system were adopted, and Cardano survived it, then it would surely develop branches of government anyway. Why not just plan for all that from the start? Seems like that’s what CIP-1694 is trying to do.

@COSDpool Seems like your instincts match what researchers have discovered.
I was watching a video about how bees come to consensus.
I figured that maybe nature has already solved some of the problems we are struggling with.

Hick’s Law is a principle in psychology that states that the time it takes for a person to make a decision increases as the number of possible choices or stimuli increases. I turns out this is true for Hiveminds as well.

Another way to apply Hick’s Law is to use progressive disclosure, which means presenting information or options to users in a gradual or step-by-step manner. This allows users to focus on one piece of information or one decision at a time, rather than being overwhelmed by a large number of choices or options. That’s why I say that your instincts match what researchers have discovered.

And a third way to apply the principle is to consider an attack where an adversary spams the system with proposals to consider (a denial of service attack). I am in no way saying that is what is happening here, but as long as we are discussing governance, we must also be thinking about how it can be attacked and how to defend it.

Pieron’s Law (also mentioned in the video) says that the brain is quicker to make decisions when the options to decide from are of high quality. This could be applied to understand that low quality options would slow the decision process down. This means less spam would be required in the denial of service attack to achieve the same result.

Great point @HeptaSean! I would like to see some sort of history which tracks previous posts of commenters much like we have in this forum. The history gives us a great deal of context and information about current comments being made. For instance if we see a lot of commenters with no history then we might wonder if it’s actually just one actor spamming the system. Again, I am definitely not saying that is what is happening here. I am only mentioning it because it’s very difficult to attack the protocol. So an adversary might attack the newly forming governance instead.

Thanks @Marklaw your comment is what got me to thinking about how one might go about attacking Cardano governance as it was starting to form.

Yes, there was a chatbot attack on our community where you couldn’t mention the key word “Cardano” in a forum without attracting a FudBot which would spam your conversation with Fud coming from newly created or hacked accounts. I haven’t seen any of this in a while - not since FTX collapsed. I think the FudBot was operating out of MIT which brought us Gensler, Sam Bankman Fried, and friends. Most people didn’t realize they were dealing with bots so they just started believing the Fud after hearing it enough and then started repeating it themselves. It fooled me for a while before catching on. This is when I first started to think that anyone attacking Cardano would not be attacking the protocol but rather something outside of it like user base in the case of the Fudbot or now thinking about how bad actors might try to destroy Cardano governance while still in the womb.


That is concerning and at the same time is expected given the current speculative nature of cryptocurrencies. The media consistently reported negative news about Bitcoin until 2017 of outlining the flaws of its blockchain use case, to stating that the cryptocurrency was a ponzi scheme. I believe the intent stays the same, as if it is biased reporting from the media institutions or FudBot that disregards stating the case for instead of just against, such external actors does not serve the interests for any blockchain community or any matter in discussion.

The bots seem very indirect, making it difficult for individuals and community members to recognise. Charles outlined last year in one of his Youtube videos about the spam bots commenting on his videos.

The discreet nature of the Fudbot, and potential for social media and media outlets to report in a biased manner (given the previous nature of reporting) makes it vital for Cardano to write a detailed constitution that serves the interests of its own community.

If there are external actors that intend on jeopardising the interests of Cardano, then there needs to be safeguards to protect it, otherwise the ecosystem would be left in a vulnerable state.

The minimal viable governance model initially created before the Voltaire phase is ideal given that it is the founders and developers of Cardano that from the beginning that has contributed to making the blockchain ecosystem to what it is now. As the ecosystem continues to grow, it would be appropriate to create a constitution that protects and serves its community such that the Cardano community can steer the way forward to achieve effective decentralised governance.

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The strategies that are commonly used by chatbots, media and social media companies uses cognitive biases with the intent on misleading viewers. I have included a list of cognitive biases that are common that I have included in a draft of a book that I am writing on societal etiquettes if you guys are interested to learn more.

These FudBots would use a combination of the anchoring, bandwagon and bystander effects in order to create fud within the Cardano community. With so much fud caused on Cardano social media contents, this would have reduced the growth of new blockchain users joining the Cardano community.

I believe being informed of cognitive biases allows people to recognise when such actors and institutions are using such strategies so that they can also guide others to avoid being mislead.

If the Cardano community recognises media manipulation techniques and their effects when they are carried out, we would be increasingly informed that will result in making effective governance decisions.

What are your opinions on this?

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Agreed @Marklaw,
I learned about logical fallacies by watching these informative and fun cartoons.
I learned about cognitive bias by watching this video. Just a few seconds on each topic conveys the idea.
I use this understanding frequently as I try to make sense of what I am experiencing for myself and what I am being told.