TAO is currently in the proposal process, and the demo will be put to a token holder vote in the Fall.
Initially Aragon was managed centrally by its founders, Luis Cuende and Jorge Izquierdo. With leadership derived from thousands of hours of sweat equity investment, they delegated work directly to employees who delivered on the central vision of leadership in a "waterfall method" of governance.
As time progressed Aragon moved to a tokenized voting strategy that allowed token holders the ability to vote on decisions in the company. Token holders cast votes in a weighted democracy approach wherein 50 tokens equals 50 votes, 500 tokens equals 500 votes etc... This method has facilitated unique opportunities for new ideas to enter in to the ecosystem, however in practice one of the greatest dilemmas has been engagement. Perhaps an evolution of the Paradox of Voting addressed 200+ years go by governance pioneer Nicolas de Condorcet - Aragon (and many other DAOs) have rediscovered that for most people the cost of voting wisely exceeds the value of the outcomes.
To put a finer point on it, in May of 2022 Aragon voted to "Transfer the Aragon Project Funds to an Aragon DAO Governed by (Delegated) ANT." This decision involves moving hundreds of millions of dollars from one governance system to another on the Ethereum blockchain. By any measure this is a "big deal" and a spectacular opportunity to witness and participate in a governance process that could never have been possible without access to the suite of blockchain tools now available. And yet a mere 46 out of 13,000 token holding wallets voted, representing under 4% of the total tokens issued. In the industry, this is often referred to as "not ideal."™
We are not at all alone in our effort to increase engagement and improve outcomes. Across many DAOs turnout for votes in the 1-3% range is the norm, and getting 5-10% engagement is almost unheard of. One of the exciting advantages of digital voting mechanisms is that they allow us the opportunity to explore new approaches that traditional pen and paper products could never seriously consider.
Liquid Democracy is one such system that has been advanced in the past two decades by groups such as the German Pirate Party in an attempt to increase engagement by allowing users to delegate their voting power to other users temporarily and to further incentives or coerce those who have been delegated authority to act on it - thus breaking the paradox.
The image below shows an example of a delegated democratic vote where several layers of delegation occur. For instance two voters delegate their votes to a third voter, and then that voter delegates all three of the votes under their control to yet another delegate who ends up voting for a decision or candidate
An example of a delegated democratic vote
In 2021 the Token Engineering Commons team released a config dashboard https://config.tecommons.org/config/1 to support their work in Conviction Voting - an experimental mechanism that leverages some of the technical opportunities derived from all-digital voting tools such as Aragon. The hosted a series of "Param Parties" which in turn led to a community token launch.
With the vote to fund decentralized governance moving forward (Approve 72k to fund S1 decentralised Goverance (dGov) 1 May through 31 August 2022.) the dGov team worked on a variety of proposals including the decision to work with Blossom labs, General Magic to take the work they had done for TECommons and deliver a product and process similar to that for the Aragon community. Funding & oversight were delivered by the executive subDAO with communication and budget notes taking place in the forum.
Tao voting is a variation of liquid democracy developed by the Token Engineering Commons with a limited set of parameters:
- Delegated Voting - this is the period of time, within the Vote Duration, when delegates can cast votes that have been vested to them. When this period ends delegates can no longer vote.
- Quiet Ending - checks for flipped outcomes during the final portion of the Vote Duration and adds more voting time in the event of a flip.
- Proposal and Challenge Deposit - a set amount of funds used as the collateral required to create a proposal
- Settlement Period - if an individual believes that a certain proposal is malicious, contains an error, or is not in alignment with the Community Covenant, they can challenge the proposal.
Using a dashboard (image below) with a few parameters on the screen we are going to engage the community in a discussion about the values and risks associated with delegated process. This dashboard links to discussions about each parameter and serves to help us shape the governance structure of our DAO going forward.
The dashboard with a few parameters on the screen used to engage the community.
While these parameters do not pretend to encompass the full breadth of liquid democratic possibility they give us a starting point to explore the opportunities, risks, successes and failures. We hope you'll work with us to shed light on these ideas and continue this living research work-in-progress.
There are hundreds of great articles on the subject - here are a few:
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