Proposal making in DAOs: the limitations of “Anyone Proposes Anything”

Proposal making in DAOs: the limitations of “Anyone Proposes Anything”

If democracy were equivalent to voting, we wouldn’t need separate words to describe them. Unfortunately, when it comes to DAOs, too often, the focus is on the voting mechanisms, with an assumption that “anyone can propose anything” is both fair and sufficient. Some DAOs are very successful with this methodology, but it doesn’t scale well, nor does it account for the variety in the types of decisions that an organization makes.

Roughly speaking, and this is super-rough, we can talk about two categories of decisions in an organization.

If someone knows of a useful terminology, please let me know, but for now I’m going to call those categories “Just Go Ahead” and “Must Be Inclusive” decisions.

I’m not sure they’re exactly the same as what you describe - and this is by no means standardized terminology - but in my talk at AraCon I split the main types of decisions between those using “stigmergic coordination” (those decisions that can be made without permission from other stakeholders) and “social negotiation” (those decisions that require or should require permission from other stakeholders). I like your take on the distinction between different types of decisions too!

The main drawback of the Aragons and DAOstacks of the world in this type of decision is that the proposal process is probably longer and more complex than it needs to be for at least half of the decisions that are made on the systems. “Just Go” decisions should be expedited.

In any organization, it’s important to expedite the decisions that don’t need to take up the organization’s energy at all. In that respect, DAOs have so far failed to differentiate, treating all decisions as equally impactful and equally in need of deliberation and voting.

I should note that, in the Aragon Network itself, we have multiple on-chain “DAOs” that each have different parameters and processes:

So in this regard the Aragon Network is operating similarly to the way you say you’d like to see DAOs operate.

The terminology used in the capitalist system for those affected is “externalities.” It’s a bizarre term, given that one of the “externalities” is clean air, and everyone has air in their lungs.

Not quite. This is a small aside, but worth pointing out: Wikipedia (via Economica) defines “externality” as:

an externality is the cost or benefit that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit.

This doesn’t seem to me to be an unreasonable definition or term to use for this phenomena.

What’s imperative at this point in time is that technologists in the DAO space recognize the need for a variety of processes before voting, rather than being stuck in one position about how to improve proposal-making.

I overall agree with the thesis of this post! Thank you for sharing :slight_smile: