[Temperature Check] Re-evaluate participation requirements

As outlined in Proposed Next Steps for RGP Proposal, the Governance Working Group has recently come to the conclusion that the participation requirements for Formal Reviews and On-Chain Governance Proposals should be re-evaluated as they are ineffective and ill-fit for the reality of Radicle governance.

Current Requirements

According to our governance process, there is a 4%(of total RAD supply) participation requirement for passing Formal Reviews (Snapshot polls) and Governance Proposals (on-chain) This means that for a proposal to pass a formal review (step 3) and an on-chain governance proposal (step 4), it must receive at least 4M votes. There is also a 1% of total supply threshold for creating on-chain proposals.

These participation requirements (outlined in the Radicle Governance README) were put in place at deployment of the Radicle governance module. They are forked directly from Compound governance.

Why do they need to be re-evaluated?

While the governance parameters around Compound governance are tried and true, in reality these participation requirements might not be as finely tuned to Radicle governance as we once believed. With 50% of RAD token supply locked in the Radicle Treasury and a large percentage locked in vesting contracts (with early contributors & team members), the actual supply that can be used in governance is much lower than total token supply. Therefore, a participation threshold based on total supply instead of the actual available supply arguably sets too high a bar for measuring consensus, resulting in governance gridlock.

We believe these participation requirements could hinder Radicle governance in the long-term, making it harder to move proposals forward even if they are well-developed and have substantial community consensus. We’ve also seen similar discussions played out in other governance ecosystems. Compound lowered their proposal threshold and Uniswap did the same.

As we’re starting to activate the Radicle Treasury, we believe it’s important to surface issues that could potential hinder healthy & effective governance in the future.

How do we re-evaluate?

The following questions are meant to start a discussion within our community about how we envision healthy & active participation in the Radicle governance process. These questions are only a starting point and I hope to see more arise from our discussions.

  • How can we evaluate the actual supply of tokens that are active and available for governance participation?
  • What are realistic voting requirements for ensuring effective participation in formal reviews and on-chain proposals?
  • Do we need to adjust the proposal threshold (# of RAD needed to submit an on-chain proposal)as well?

I hope that this discussion will also get us thinking on how we can improve participation through delegation, accessibility, education etc…


We will plan on discussing this Temperature Check next week in the monthly wg meeting, but please be sure to share your feedback, suggestions, and ideas here so we can get the discussion rolling :relaxed:

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A few thoughts here:

If I understand this correctly, this would mean we keep the 4% participation threshold but assess it against total available RAD at time of vote? (e.g. 50 mil available RAD token with 4% participation threshold = 2 mil RAD participation threshold?) Although most other DAOs base their quorums off of total token supply, I think this is a good point and should be taking into consideration as we discuss reassessing the voting threshold. Would be curious if anyone had any wise input or helpful examples here?

There have been other DAOs who have tried changing, particularly reducing, the participation threshold before (see UniSwap Discourse discussion) and there was a lot of pushback. However, I think Uniswap was a bit further along at that point in their governance development than Radicle currently is so the pushback is not too surprising. Radicle is still a young DAO and might need to build up to 4% participation requirement over set period of time? ENS DAO maintains a 1% participation threshold (on 100mil total supply) which seems awfully low, but just wanted to provide an example for range of participation requirements.

Regardless of re-evaluation of participation requirements, I still think there is more to do in terms of activating RAD holder/delegators to participate in governance process. A few ways we are trying to do this already and a few ideas going forward:

  • Ease of access to information & participation:
    Making it easier to participate in governance with clear information and consistent reminders. Two examples here:
  1. The Radicle Governance Hub is a comprehensive source of information and resources that lays out the Radicle Governance governance process and how to participate in it.
  2. Not everyone has time to weed through Discord to keep up with new proposals, snapshot polls, etc. and everyone like to receive their information in different ways/over different mediums. We have already created the Radicle Governance “ticker-style” Twitter account for the doom scrollers and we are planning on creating a mailing list for those who prefer to receive updates & reminders this way.
  • Ease of delegation:
    Delegation is an important part of governance. Not all token holders can/want to participate in all rounds of voting, but still would like to delegate to trusted community members. Figuring out who to delegate to can be time consuming and confusing for many. Creating some sort of “recognized delegates” platform (maybe something similar to MakerDAO) where community members can apply to be recognized delegates is a possible solution here. This idea is still in the brainstorming phase and any ideas or suggestions are veryyyy welcome!
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For quite some time, MakerDAO was struggling with this exact issue: not enough MKR participating in the Executive Votes, resulting in a disempowered governance process and delays in deciding on and implementing key proposals. The problem eventually disappeared with the introduction of delegation. Here are some of the questions that have recently been raised in the context of Maker’s delegate program (and probably also in the context of other DAOs experimenting with delegation):

  • What is the exact role of delegates? Should there be formal guidelines on what delegates should, may, and must not do?
  • Are delegates expected to provide public justification for their voting behavior?
  • Can delegates have multiple roles in the DAO? If yes, how to handle conflicts of interest?
  • Should delegates be compensated? If yes, how?
  • Etc.

(EDIT: These and other questions related to delegation were discussed in some length in a recent MakerDAO Governance and Risk Meeting, in case of interest.)

There’s nothing stopping a DAO from launching delegation without raising such questions, and as far as I can tell, many (most?) DAOs have done just that. The associated benefits/risks need to be assessed in light of DAO-specific context/objectives.

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Thank you for sharing! The context is really helpful and these are some really good questions to consider while preparing a plan for Radicle:

I would love to discuss these and general thoughts towards a delegation program during the Governance WG call on Wednesday.

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Some initial thoughts below…

I think to do this in a really numbers-forward way, we’ll always want to keep track of the following metrics:

  1. How many RAD are locked in the Treasury (currently ~50,000,000, but will change over time)
  2. How much RAD is delegated (self-delegated or otherwise)

First iteration (somewhat manual)

We could start by simply halving the total 100M to 50M, given 50% of RAD is locked in the Treasury. But given not much have been deleted (self-delegated or otherwise), this is very unlikely to be enough. It’s because of this that I’d consider the number of RAD delegated as the most important metric.

With #2, let’s say we find that 10,000,000 have been delegated. Then 4% of this would be ~400,000. This is probably a good conservative estimate of the votes needed to reach 4% participation.

So in the case of 2 recent proposal (Grants + Name Registration), these would have been considered “passed.”

Future iterations

With the example above, the question remains:
What do we do as more and more RAD leaves the Treasury (e.g. portions of the 50,000,000 get spent on various projects, like subsequent subDAO funding, etc.)?

Let’s do a hypothetical scenario below:

  • We start with knowing that 10,000,000 RAD are delegated. So the 4% participation is 400,000
  • Let’s say through several new subDAOs’ funding, another 10,000,000 RAD are dispersed from the Treasury. Of that 10,000,000, 50% is onboarded nicely and properly delegated. So now the total number of delegated RAD is 15,000,000 (10,000,000 + 5,000,000)
  • We would still have a 4% threshold in relative terms, but the absolute number of votes needed will have grown to 600,000 (4% of 15,000,000)

Other thoughts

I really like the idea @shelb_ee brought up on the Governance Call (Dec 8, 2021) about having a platform/page for onboarding people to RAD, especially with regards to delegation. This problem will only grow in size as more and more RAD leave the Treasury.

I’m fully in support of this proposal!

Great insights. Thanks for sharing! Will definitely keep these questions in mind.

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I could see this working as a requirement for Formal Reviews (off-chain voting) as we’d be able to measure the amount of RAD delegated at any point in time — however, for on-chain votes it might not be possible to set a dynamic participation threshold since it’s a parameter of the governance module (cc @cloudhead ?)

Also, I feel if we are just evaluating thresholds based off of the amount of RAD delegated, then we aren’t creating any impetus for delegating in the first place — which I think is our main issue. My gut is that we need a minimum requirement in place that says “if a decision is made by this amount of people, then we can safely say it reflects the general sentiment of the community”.

On the flip side, with a 2% participation requirement we still need 2M votes. At the moment, we only have 0.7% - 0.8% each vote (~700k-800k). Now, if the Foundation gets into the fray, then we can easily pass participation requirements. But at the moment, it’s a bit unclear of how the Foundation should participate in governance. This is something that needs to be discussed with @lftherios and @cloudhead.

Another great open question. This is a problem that a dynamic threshold would resolve, but again — I’m not sure if that is even possible within our governance module.

So, I could see us setting the off-chain participation thresholds based on amount of RAD delegated at time of poll (so each Monday it could be calculated), but I’m not sure that we could use this strategy for the participation requirements of on-chain votes. @bordumb — maybe there’s a way we could manually measure “amount of RAD that CAN be delegated” and use this…? Not sure how we would do it…