Working Groups and Transition Plan (The "Steward")

This is a discussion that needs to be had whether or not AIP-183 passes.

The work done by @BoredApeG on the transition plan and @Amplify on the working groups is to be commended regardless of any opinion subsequent to this introduction.

Undoubtedly, many issues shall be discussed between these two sophisticated and thoughtful documents. I’ll focus on one piece of thoughtful sophistication that chafed my left booty cheek – the introduction of the so-called “Steward” into the working group. This is a structure the DAO should abide under no circumstance.

BoredApeG’s transition plan relegates responsibility for all “ecosystem grant funding and activity” by assigning it a “LOW” priority rating, stating repeatedly that this is “not a priority; can be assigned to future working group.” Which would place that responsibility squarely within the purview of Amplify’s document.

Amplify, it seems possibly under the influence of a special interest, chose to centralize operations for Working Groups under the position of “Steward.” By the document’s definition:

Steward — “Stewards serve within working groups on behalf of the DAO, not the working group. They perform administrative oversight and make executive decisions.”

Also:

“Working groups will function as a two-level hierarchy, consisting of a DAO elected Steward and working group contributors. The key difference between Stewards and contributors is that contributors are not required to manage working group budgets

… which means the Steward IS. So the Steward, this almighty singular point of execution, is also the sole controller and arbiter of the working group budget. Never mind the new technologies we have at our disposal, the multisigs, the vaults. No; let’s just go back and do everything the old VC way. Might there be a VC influence here? Hmmm.

What else is this Steward in charge of because the transition document chooses to, perhaps correctly, de-prioritize it?

  • establishing policies and procedures for dispersing funds to grant recipients

  • implementing KPIs and milestones to monitor results for follow on funding

I might actually stomach these if the next two weren’t so egregious.

  • collecting KYC and due diligence on grant recipients

  • collecting, reviewing, and analyzing RFPs for accepted AIP’s

You people went nuts because Horizen geofenced your staking frontend. Do you really expect new blood to enter this DAO if they have to produce a corporate RFP after the grueling AIP process?

I’m sorry; did Y00ts have to create a corporate-level RFP before it started building? Aave? Maker? How about CultDAO or Dogecoin? Shibaswap? Genie.xyz? The Mutant Hounds collar drop? Did they need a corporate friggin RFP after an AIP, or did they just need really motivated people? KPR? Aurory’s still building. Ronin, too. NFTfi… never saw any RFP from them. Site works perfect though. Non Fungible Arcade, The Game Disease; they’re as degen as it gets. I don’t even know if they have a business address. I didn’t see any RFP from Satoshi Island and they are brokering agreements with the Vanuatu government. I could go on.

Let’s not even get into KYC. You want one person, a person who could easily be voted in by a special interest, to control how KYC is administered in the working group? If that special interest has interests in remaining compliant with certain governments, then you are now limited under that same philosophy regardless of your own jurisdiction or philosophy.

Why don’t you just go get money from a straight up VC, then? This structure is basically the same with an additional step of having to suck up to DAO members to pass a vote. At least with a traditional VC you only have to suck up to like 3-4 old guys.

We could even go after the KPIs. One person now sets the KPIs for a DAO that can’t even accept revenues yet. WTF man. At least go in order. And if it’s a VC influence setting these KPIs, you can bet they’ll be revenue-based, which means people already with money will get the grants and ground-level builders get the shaft.

This entire philosophy is based around the ridiculous and unproven notion that centralized entities produce at higher efficiencies. First of all, I want to see the scholarly work on this unfounded assertion. Second, this DAO exists to experiment in new structures of government, namely consensus rather than singular execution.

Falling back into the status quo structure of a singular point of execution without even trying the multiple forms of successful consensus mechanisms crypto have given us is intellectual

a. laziness
b. cowardice
c. sophistry
d. all of the above.

The answer is (d). Come get your Scooby snack.

Right now, this DAO’s governance represents a poor facsimile of the worst parts of basic US republican-democracy. DAO = legislative, Cartan = executive, SC = judicial. But just like the US, everybody’s role is getting mushed together so no one knows what they’re supposed to be doing and everybody with any leverage is just power grabbing.

Each working group should have its own consensus mechanism, or the DAO structures a consensus mechanism that a working group must agree to before it can be made official. Even the worst and most basic of these far outpaces the single point of execution structure, which is easily manipulated under the current, very flawed voting structure.

I urge deep research into the power of consensus, and a swift repudiation of the Steward in the Working Group. Wow, this is long. GN

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Thank you for this Mantis, I think this is a very important conversation to have but I think there are some misconceptions around the doc as its written.

I wanted to address a few of the points you’ve made about these documents. I’ve been drafting the working group AIP since ~20th of November as something that I identified to be a core infrastructural need in the DAO regardless of Cartan’s current or future involvement. It’s since gone through many many iterations, with the first one specifying 5 Stewards for each working group, to which I got a ton of feedback about lack of leadership / direction / execution / responsibility. It’s easy (IMO) if you have too many “managers,” to not hold anyone accountable.

The way I imagined working groups is anyone can contribute and join, but there needs to be an established hierarchy of some kind where there are people responsible for maintaining the operations of a working group and keeping contributors on track when we have 20+ people trying to do one thing. Should the Special Council be these people? Or another elected, highly active, DAO contributor like yourself?

My working group draft was never intended to be a part of any transitional plan that’s happening now. That said, I recognize that there is a ton of overlap if we do indeed need another DAO Administrator so I’ve made it available for everyone as a working document, please feel free to leave your comments directly on the doc. I’ve already implemented several points of your feedback. :slight_smile:

There’s been at least 10 total revamps of this document incorporating direct feedback heard from others in the DAO so this is truly a community written draft at this point.

Here’s a link for anyone else interested in helping to draft this document:

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Oh, I forgot to include: In terms of special interests affecting this document, you’re right. You’re one of those special interests, as is literally everyone that left a comment on the document. :slight_smile:

If anyone feels that their feedback hasn’t been incorporated in some way, please reach out and I will make adjustments.

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I don’t have nearly enough power to be a special interest. I can’t even afford the “ial interest”; I’m just a spec.

I’m not against hierarchy. I just think it should be everyone in the group in deference to the consensus mechanism. So the hierarchy is people —> CM.

I’m going to do my best to offer other solutions based in consensus mechanisms once I get some sleep. Regardless, the work you’ve put in here and the document itself is remarkable in a positive way, and most of it I can get behind.

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Please work with Amplify on any changes you’d like to see. You have my assurance that this is being done “above board” with transparency and an open heart. I can’t promise that every idea will be incorporated, but I trust him to genuinely listen to your feedback (and anyone elses) to improve upon this idea.

You’re not a speck of dust here. You’re important and bring powerful ideas to every conversation.

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I just want to respond directly to the notion that @Amplify included the steward role because of influence from “special interest groups”.

I have been working with @Amplify on his draft, and I know that he pulled the steward role directly from the ENS DAO working group model.

You can read more about that model here: [EP0.4] [Social] Proposal: Creation of Foundational Working Groups and Working Group Rules - ENS Documentation

You’ve raised a number of concerns and criticisms about the steward model, @Mantis. When I have more time, I will take a closer look at how stewards have been implemented in ENS DAO, and see if their experience resolves or reinforces the concerns you’ve raised.

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I thought that I read that Cartan took on the additional responsibility of running RFPs for AIPs. In no way do I think Cartan should be doing this and it should instead fall on the AIP author (should they choose to run an RFP).

I agreed with low priority because I believed it should have never been a Cartan responsibility in the first place.

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Ok, but we’ve gone from using that model to now copying in name only.

ENS calls everyone in a working group a “Steward.”

Amplify has stated that he started out that way, then reduced the Steward to one person based on somebody’s feedback, I don’t know who.

A one person Steward is no longer a Steward — he’s now a Czar — so you can’t compare the two models any more.

Consensus models coming up. We’ve got to use the new ways of agreement that technology gives us.

This is not true. The current ENS model runs elections (much like we do with the Special Council) to select 5 Stewards for a single working group. These Stewards are directly accountable and held responsible for the actions within the working group. Anyone can join and contribute to a working group, but to become responsible and accountable for the working group you must be elected to the position.

Bored.eth was talking recently in Discord about how to avoid “diffusing responsibility” that often happens when you have 20+ people trying to do a single thing. When anyone can contribute, but no one is held accountable, what ends up happening is everyone just assumes the other 19 people are working on “it” and nothing ever gets done.

I am still of the opinion that someone, or a max of 3 people, need to set direction and have accountability for the actions of the working group as a whole, whether that is 10 people in that group, or 100 people.

I am still open to incorporating up to 5 Elected Stewards per working group, I just want it to go on record that I don’t think this is a productive way to function. “Too many cooks in the kitchen” as they say.

This person is still elected by the DAO, and subject to the will of the DAO. I’m not sure what real “power” they have besides setting budgets and mandates. It’s not like they can decide to unilaterally destroy a working group or work counter to that group. If you do not feel that your working group Steward is “Stewarding,” you can remove them directly from within the working group without having to ask the DAO voters to vote them out for you.

" Stewards may be removed at any time by:

  • A Process Proposal passed by the DAO in which Quadratic Voting is the mechanism used on Snapshot for that vote; or
  • A two-thirds majority vote among the contributors of a given working group, with the outcome of the vote communicated in the ApeCoin DAO governance forum. "
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This is an absolutely antiquated psychology that the new technology around consensus mechanisms directly addresses. I can’t stress enough how status quo/web2 this is — cynicism always sounds reasonable — but we have new tech that allows us to move past this viewpoint and create more democratic structures that incentivize and support a more diffuse responsibility.

C’mon now. Bitcoin is more than a decade old. Bored.eth needs to catch up. What really turns me off of his viewpoint is that he hasn’t done what any competent researcher/leader should do — articulate an understanding of all valid perspectives on an issue. Consensus is valid. Address it before resolving immediately back to old, outdated thinking, at least. This at least provides intellectual cover.

I am still of the opinion that someone, or a max of 3 people, need to set direction and have accountability for the actions of the working group as a whole, whether that is 10 people in that group, or 100 people.

This opinion is valid in the web2 status quo. It’s not backed by any new research. And where did you get the number 3? That just sounds random; completely just pulled out of the air.

A Process Proposal passed by the DAO in which Quadratic Voting is the mechanism used on Snapshot for that vote

Quadratic voting isn’t implemented yet, so we can’t talk about this seriously.

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I’m not aware of any system more democratic than having elected leaders. I do look forward to hearing your alternatives though. I think we agree on a great many things, but are taking different angles at it. The goal of having structurally defined working groups is so we can begin working on many of the points you bring up. Namely, better democratic structures that incentivize and support our DAO.

If we haven’t been researching and beginning to implement these systems after 9 months since the DAO formed, what leads you to believe we will suddenly start now? Having working groups affords dedicated DAO members the time needed to focus in and solve these core issues as a priority, not a side project they work on during the weekends.

I came to this number from my hundreds of hours of calls and working experience over nearly 7 years in crypto and Web3. Have you ever attended a DAO team meeting with 20 people on the call to address a single issue? Not a community call, a team meeting where a decision needs to be made.

It takes 3 hours until everyone is finally on the same page and agrees with some unified action. That, vs. having 1-5 competent experienced leaders who can identify, articulate, and address the issue in 10 minutes. Who do you think will be more productive in this scenario?

If you mean to say that it isn’t implemented in our DAO, I’m sure it’s because it’s never been requested before. If the AIP as written were to pass, using the quadratic voting mechanism for electing Stewards would be a mandated requirement as per the AIP.

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5 Stewards per working groups would be the most effective for decision making. You might have 2 people disagree and the 3 people agree for the final decision they made. So the 2 people disagreed need to agree with the other 3 agreed when conflicting decision making arise sometimes.

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Hi Mantis,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the Steward role. You have so many great outside of the box ideas and I always love to hear them.

First of all, as someone who has worked closely with @Amplify on ApeComms, I do not believe he is under the influence of a special interest. He’s been reaching out to many people to get their feedback and has been incorporating it. I have a lot of respect for him in putting this idea forth. No one is going to be completely happy and he has to figure out the best way to incorporate everyone’s feedback.

I do have several thoughts about the Steward role, as well as some others, but didn’t leave them on Amplify’s document because a comment box does not lend itself well to my really long comments :sweat_smile:

I look forward to see other models based on consensus mechanism. I very much agree we should explore different ways of doing things beyond the typical web2 hierarchy. It’s something I have not had a chance to do research into, but very interested in how other DAOs and organizations are or could be structured and what’s successfully working and what’s not.

ApeComms is structured where major decisions are made by majority vote. I feel like this has made us more resilient and able to adapt to major changes like team members leaving or being added.

I would like to see research on this as well. I am not convinced it is the best way. Centralized entities start getting bloated and react slower to change over time. Too many layers of bureaucracy with managers that don’t really produce anything. Then there is also increased risk of a single point of failure.

I think having clearly defined roles within the DAO that everyone understands is extremely important. If you look at how things have devolved in US politics, you can see that the system isn’t working for most people. The power has consolidated in the hands of a few. In my opinion, we have the unique opportunity to try and structure things differently. Especially since technology is available that can make things more trustless, decentralized, and transparent.

I really appreciate you putting forth this document @Amplify. You’re doing a great job reaching out to and incorporating people’s input!

I also have a concern with having broad elections to choose Stewards. Especially since in our DAO a handful of people can pretty much install who they want and often the most popular people are voted for, not the most qualified. I have quite a few questions/comments :slightly_smiling_face:

  • If a working group decides to remove an unqualified Steward, would special elections need to be held to replace them?
  • If so, who would be setting the budgets and mandates after they are removed and before a new person starts?
  • Would there be requirements for someone to be able to become Steward, or would it be like Special Council, where anyone could run?
  • If a Working Group had to replace a Steward, and had someone in mind they would like to be in that role, do you think there could be an issue with them spending too much time campaigning for them and that potentially get in the way of their day to day responsibilities?
  • Have you thought about having the members of the Working Group vote on who would be the Steward?

Another concern I have with having elections for Stewards is that we already have twice-yearly Special Council elections. Something I was concerned about for these was that 4 months of the year will just become election season and less will get done because it will be what most people focus on. If we have to elect Stewards as well, then this will add more elections to the calendar.

Not a full fledged idea, but I wonder if the Steward role would be more useful if it was a position on the Special Council and was filled by someone highly qualified. Their responsibilities might not look the same, but the Stewards could coordinate the Working Groups to work together on a higher level.

Thanks again to @Mantis for sharing your thoughts, @Amplify for taking the lead on starting a discussion, and to everyone else who is contributing to this discussion. Working Groups are an extremely important piece of infrastructure that our DAO does not have yet.

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Thank you AA!! A ton has changed recently to reflect more feedback I’ve received so I will try to answer these questions. :slight_smile:

No, if a Steward is removed for any reason they will be replaced by a contributor within the working group, as selected by the other Stewards until such time as another Steward has been selected from within the working group. That said, elections have changed a bit given the feedback that it’s not just a popularity contest, but more of a whale feeding contest.

I like the idea of requiring the “Member” badge here on Discourse. That just means you’ve reached Trust Level 2. That makes ~120 eligible members. Another qualifier though could be < 100,000 APE worth of voting power. This would indicate you likely have garnered some support from the community already in terms of delegated votes.

No. I expect working group contributors to be highly organized and proactive.

Yes! This is sorta where my head is at. It doesn’t make sense for whales to vote in our employees, especially when they spend 0 time in our DAO’s daily operations and have no understanding of our current needs or situation. I think those who have been closest to the daily operations of our DAO already should be the ones eligible for employment. Therefore, if a working group forms organically they would select their own Steward(s) from within that group. I want to keep plutocracy as far away from the working groups as possible. I have no tolerance for buying influence over the fundamental, core infrastructural workstreams of our DAO and that shouldn’t be a controversial take. :slight_smile:

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Don’t misunderstand me. Amplify doesn’t have to be a conscious conspirator to be under the influence. Please read this very interesting post, which involves someone who’s in the lead for SC:

You put one steward in as executor of a working group, you provide the opportunity for any special interest to come in and take over that group. You’re then under that group’s influence whether you conspired or not.

I do not believe he is under the influence of a special interest.

I’m not expressing belief or disbelief at Amplify’s integrity. I’m saying one steward invites corruption of the format he’s proposing. I’m saying create a format that rejects corruption, not invites it. If you find any merit to the post I linked here, then you are looking at an SC election that has been corrupted. We’re all under the influence of that, including me, even though I never conspired with anyone.

My thing is, avoid even the possibility of this happening, and it seems it might be happening with SC elections.

But I don’t think a full implementation of a real consensus mechanism is possible for this dao. The basics: It means

  1. putting position requirements on chain
  2. representing a Steward mandate as a number of staked tokens, just like staking Ethereum to be a node operator, and
  3. automatically slashing stewards who don’t meet those requirements. If a steward gets slashed enough, he’s out, automatically, or his position is up for review or censure, with defined penalties. No vote necessary, and no opportunity for foul play.

But there’s no political will in this dao to even define positions. Everyone except me just wants SC and Stewards to “just be leaders! Lead us!” Plus, putting proposals and requirements on chain would be months and months of AIPs even if there was the political will. This takes away from me actually being productive in my core competencies.

So I’ll just say this:

Having a single steward per working group is dao suicide and invites corruption. Have 5. Let them come to a majority vote on major decisions. That’s it. Off-chain old-school consensus mechanism, and nobody has to go do any super boring crypto research about any of these yawn-inducing technologies. We can just let the SC and Stewards “lead us!” and awaaaaaaaaay we go into the 22nd century! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee

PS —

Have you ever attended a DAO team meeting with 20 people on the call to address a single issue? Not a community call, a team meeting where a decision needs to be made.

I’ve attended plenty of meetings where 30 people came to a decision quickly. I’ve also experienced Cartan. I’d say any number of people have the equal ability to be unproductive.

But again. Forget all that. Just have 5 stewards and not 1 and I’ll shut up.

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Wow, I love this great idea using new technology to improve decentralization, accountability, and transparency!

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