The Next Phase of the RadicleDAO

As outlined in the Path to Increasing Decentralization within Radicle, “transitioning development to the DAO” is a core part of the Radicle vision. The Radicle Foundation was created to “support the development of resilient and humane software infrastructures”, such as Radicle, by supporting the development of operational, technical, and social scaffolding required for managing decentralized networks. While the Foundation currently funds and manages most core Radicle development, the goal has always been to ultimately fund all project development via the Treasury of the RadicleDAO.

As we find ourselves one year since decentralizing the network with $RAD, it’s time to start the transition of core Radicle development to the DAO. This post is the Radicle Foundation & Governance Core Team’s action plan for taking the first steps towards making Radicle a truly open-source, community-led, and self-sustaining network for software collaboration.

Looking Back

In total, Radicle governance has seen six proposals make it to on-chain voting, with only one failing due to lack of participation. Out of ~5.6k RAD holders, we only have 63 on-chain voters and 116 members in our Snapshot space. On average, proposals have 5.075% of participation from 17 unique addresses. Since launching the token, however, we have seen a decrease in participation (44 addresses voting in our first proposal vs. 11 address in our most recent proposal) across the board.

Despite participation issues, governance has been working. The community has been successfully activated in the following ways:

:books: A complete overview of last year’s governance activities can be found in @shelb_ee’s 2021 Radicle Governance Wrapped.

Looking Forward

What does success look like?

  • Decision-making power and influence decentralizes away from founding team to active contributors and users
  • All project development is coordinated & funded via the RadicleDAO
  • The Radicle Foundation exists in a limited capacity, as an entity that safeguards Radicle trademarks and can be funded by the DAO (like any other contributor) to accomplish any offline activities and anything the DAO can’t do
  • Treasury assets can fund the growth of the project for the foreseeable future

What are our governance goals?

  • All active contributors and RAD holders have (and can earn!) influence in the RadicleDAO
  • Governance can continue to function successfully without such a strong reliance on the active participation of early team members & supporters (e.g. investors)
  • The DAO is technically, politically, and socially resilient - it is uncapturable and resistant to collusion

:star2: Our governance goals will continue to develop as we continue to learn from our contributors and greater community. Feel free to drop suggestions & comments here on what else you believe should be incorporated and/or improved!

What is our timeline?

We’d like to have the scaffolding in place to transition Core Teams to the DAO by November 2022 and initial teams transitioned by February 2023.

Workstreams

Overview

To coordinate this transition, we are introducing four workstreams that represent important “work to be done” to meet Radicle’s governance goals. Included here are a set of guiding questions that will inform the work for each workstream. Each of these workstreams will be followed by their own post, with designated leads from Radicle community. In these posts, workstream leads will coordinate deliverables & present an action plan for next steps. They will also create space for community participation.

1. Proposed Org Design

:star2: Objective: Transition all Foundation-funded Core Teams (and Foundation responsibilities) to a DAO-funded organizational structure. Core Teams become self-managed entities that are funded via the Treasury. Their budgets and objectives require community review & approval.

Deliverables/SoW

The goal here is to support a thriving ecosystem of Core Teams with coordination & structure instead of hierarchy & control. This will require technical & social infrastructure in place that can support a decentralized network of development teams each managing their own relationship with the DAO. The key deliverables include:

  • A provisional organizational design for Core Teams

    • Guiding Questions:
      • How do Core Teams manage themselves within the DAO? How do they set & report on objectives? How do they scope & manage budgets?
      • Which responsibilities should the DAO take over from the Foundation? Which should it not?
      • What social processes & accountability structures are required to ensure a healthy and trusted relationship between Core Teams & the greater DAO/community?
        • How will Core Teams be onboarded/offboarded?
        • Where is community review required and how is it conducted?
        • How are conflicts resolved?
        • How is efficiency, transparency, and accessibility ensured?
  • An operational “playbook” to support the transition of Core Teams

    • Operational Framework
      • Guiding Question: What legal support, guidance, or consultation do Radicle contributors need to work under the RadicleDAO?
    • Technical Framework
      • Guiding Question: What “out of box” technical implementation should be required/suggested for Core Teams as they set up their own operational structure? How can a secure, trustless and permissionless environment be ensured while supporting autonomy within Core Teams?
  • A plan for dogfooding

    • Guiding Question: What pieces of the Radicle stack should be employed in the new Org Design?

2. Distribution of Ownership

:star2: Objective: Devise and implement an active strategy for distributing RAD token rewards among network stakeholders

Deliverables/SoW

  • An informed strategy for token distributions from the Radicle Treasury to contributors, users, and ecosystem partners.

    • Guiding Questions:
      • Contributors: How can token rewards be used to attract, retain, and incentivize Radicle contributors & squads?
      • Users: What does it mean to go “beyond the airdrop” and intentionally allocate tokens to users to support adoption & growth?
      • Ecosystem Partners: How can DAO2DAO collaborations (e.g. token swaps) and resilient ecosystem partnerships be supported with token distributions?

3. Distribution of Influence

:star2: Objective: Design and implement a strategy for distributing non-financialized governing power within the Radicle ecosystem

Deliverables/SoW

To truly be a self-sustaining, community-owned & governed, free and open source project, there must be an additional governance mechanism that allows for a non-financialized form of influence that can be distributed and earned. The reason is that influence in the project is currently disproportionately distributed among early team members & supporters, i.e. RAD holders. While a plan to distribute tokens to contributors is in development (see Workstream #2), participation within the DAO must be increased by designing a way to distribute non-financialized governing power.

  • A new mechanism/system/tool for distributing influence that can be deployed in the current Radicle governance system

    • Guiding Questions:
      • What is the design of a layer that interoperates with our token voting system?
      • Who should have influence in the RadicleDAO? Why and what kind of influence?
      • What is the design of a dynamic & decentralized system that will scale as the ecosystem grows?
      • How is the system managed/controlled? How can the DAO ensure it can upgrade/change the system?
      • What tools/primitives should be used (e.g. NFTs, Coordinape etc…)?

4. Re-evaluation of RadicleDAO stack

:star2: Objective: Do an “audit” of our governance tooling stack, processes, and parameters to ensure a well-functioning and accessible DAO.

Deliverables/SoW

  • A landscape review of DAO tooling providers (e.g. Tally, Wonderverse, Otterverse, Clarity etc…)

    • Guiding Question: What new DAO tools can be used to improve Radicle governance processes?
  • Set of design criteria for well-functioning and accessible governance (e.g. reimbursed voting fees, discourse/discord integrations etc…)

    • Guiding Questions: What pain points do governance participants have? How should we re-evaluate our governance parameters (e.g. proposal & quorum thresholds)?

What’s Next?

:memo: Each workstream will be broken out into it’s own Discourse post to dive deeper into deliverables & next steps. They will be linked in the discussion of this post!

:speaking_head: Have feedback or questions? Drop them here! We’d love to hear what our community & contributors think about the direction of the RadicleDAO.

:thought_balloon: Interested in contributing to a workstream? There will be plenty of opportunity for community participation. Share your ideas here :star2:

9 Likes

Hi. Long time lurker, first time post-er. Exciting initiative, glad to see further decentralization in the works. Personally, I’m looking forward to contributing to the Org Design and Distribution of Ownership Workstreams.

My 2 cents:

I would slightly reframe this goal: It’s not necessarily a bad thing for early team members and supporters to be and stay active. (In fact, it could be a good sign if they want to continue to participate!) But we should focus on how we grow the pie of active stakeholders. Who should care? Are there other stakeholders we should we be reaching out to? How would we empower those people/parties? (Workstream #2 & #3)

Curious, what is driving this timeline?

I’m excited to see the overlaps between providers used in RadicleDAO and those who utilize Radicle. It would make a nice recursive ecosystem.

3 Likes

There’s a lot to digest here! Thanks for putting in the time to set up these thoughts and questions @abbey :slight_smile:

Some initial thoughts from me, personally are:

  • It’s not clear to me if you’re talking about a single DAO, multiple DAOs, or some combination of both. I’m also curious if there is room for non-DAO organisations to interact within the ecosystem?
  • While the final vision of an organisation built and run on the internet is intriguing, I’d wonder what the intermediate transitions to that are? Just having any RAD – and other cryptocurrencies – has already been a bit of a headache when it came to my own personal financial situation. I would not personally be able to commit to a full-time wage of cryptocurrency until it is more established with Irish Revenue and accounting companies have good playbooks to handle it.

Other than that, you have some great questions there and I’m interested to see how they’re answered :seedling:

2 Likes

Thank you for putting this together @abbey ! Agree with @louiegrey - it’s very encouraging to be seeing further plans for decentralization here.

With regards to the individual areas highlighted above, there are so many interesting questions that … they actually make me not know where to start… I am wondering if I should probably wait for the follow up discourse posts, in order to start discussing some of those questions. I am concerned the discussion will quickly become chaotic / difficult to follow here.

One thing I could suggest would be to consider renaming these “workstreams” to “work areas” (??) or any other term that would avoid confusion with the #work-streams or other initiatives by other radicle teams. Seeing the title, I was expecting to find some kind of connection to that, but couldn’t find that in the end.

Other than that, the only new comment I can add (since some good points have already been made) is that, looking at the questions, I think we are missing some that point to existing ideas and concepts outside the DAO space. i.e. “what previous research exists in this space” / “what is the state of the art in X/Y/Z from what has been tried out in more traditional orgs” ?

While DAOs are cool, they are new and not everything will have been tried out at a DAO by now. Yet, co-operative communities that share many of the decentralization and autonomy principles of DAOs are not new. I would expect that there are experiments and experiences from that space that DAOs could really benefit from. I am far from an expert in something like that, but I hope we could find / attract folks that are and that would be happy to share their experiences and pains, so we can learn from those and use them to inform our own decisions. :wink:

Having said that, I should also say that this is possibly already covered / implied in some of the questions. I just wanted to make sure. :slight_smile:

In all, “The Next Phase of the RadicleDAO” is :fire: :heart_eyes_cat: :fire: and I can’t wait for more in this space (to which I will also be happy to contribute to, whichever way I can).

2 Likes

I think the principles and concepts at the core of Radicle is what makes the project so amazing. Radically open-source software and decentralization of finance and governance bring this to a completion and enable ever increasing community contribution. I have proposed a grant to help my DAO project to integrate the current radicle-orgs smart contracts into the TributeDAO framework as well as discussed some updates to the RewardsV1 contract that could help bring new project building FOSS to the project. I’d also like to help with increasing DAO adoption of Radicle for such projects thro much contributions to cross-chain functionality.

  1. What solutions have been discussed this far for implementing cross-chain compatible, like those found in the radicle-contracts & radicle-orgs repo on GitHub?

  2. Which work-streams are these contributions considered members of? I can think of a few simple methods to update radicle-cloud with event listeners for a number of blockchain networks. If this is all that is required, we can expand to Polygon and other layer 2s quickly and seamlessly. Also, I’d like to express my apologies in the case that there might be components to this architecture I am unaware of.

  3. My next question pertains to the current system for updating the smart contract state when the sag state changes. Is there an oracle already?

    1. Is this even necessary at all?
    2. Should such a system merely validate function arguments provided to smart contracts or actually update the state of a contract when a deployment to another networks state changes, for example?
  4. I’d like to make some changes to my current grant proposal for the Radicle Org TributeDAO Framework Integration. However, I am unable. How can I get support to change the multisig address and add the RewardsV1 updates, mentioned above, to my original post?

Thanks everyone! I am very excited to discuss things with the community and receive your valuable feedback. I really believe in this project and would love to think about how it can be integrated into other DAO frameworks and tooling in the larger DAO ecosystem.

Welcome @louiegrey :wave: Looking forward to having you involved! Answers to your comments below:

Agree with the reframe. I think it was meant as an expression of resilience - of course early team & supporter long-term participation is ideal, but we’d like to grow the pie, as you say, of active stakeholders to reduce the reliance, not remove. Definitely think this is relevant for Workstream #2 as well.

This was set by the Radicle Foundation Council after doing a rough estimation of what needs to happen to transition.

1 Like

Thanks for the notes @fintohaps

Could you add some more context to what you mean here? I’m not sure what you’re referring to exactly.

For sure. And we don’t want to introduce anything that makes it significantly harder to contribute to the Radicle project. The Proposed Org Design will be developed in collaboration with our current core contributors to ensure we’re not introducing something that puts contributors at risk/disadvantage. We’re starting with user interviews this month :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Ya sure! So to rephrase my question, do you foresee an ecosystem of DAOs, for example, core teams running their own DAOs that then might set up policies with a Radicle Foundation DAO? And where/how might non-DAO teams sit in that organisation?

I think that self-governance is a cool idea and a worthy goal. I also think that we need to deeply reconsider its organization because IMO we’re running into a dangerous territory.

I’m mostly worried about the balance of power. In the current form the governance is designed to be a plutocracy, whoever has enough capital to blow up on RAD, has all the power. This doesn’t need to align with expertise or even good will toward the project.

From the rational perspective of a wealthy bystander you probably should buy as much RAD as you can, vote for introduction of anything that can quickly pump its value and maybe schedule draining of the treasury right before dumping. These are not the goals we want Radicle DAO to be tailored for. We’ve managed to fly below the radar but we can’t pretend that there are no predators in the space.

Another problem is the participation, 11 people is very few, but if you look closer you’ll see that the real number is 2, they hold 88% of the cast votes. It’s always important to vote even if you’re tiny because it may matter but at least in the latest rounds it clearly hasn’t. I can’t blame anybody for not caring enough, it’s time consuming to govern anything and in the end most of the people’s opinions just don’t matter. It makes the problem of plutocracy compound on itself.

I’m aware that the traditional power structure with a narrow steering group of experts and visionaries scrambling before investors is not ideal. I’m afraid that we may be heading toward cranking the negative aspects of this setup to 11 without huge benefits.

5 Likes

Definitely a valid concern and the Radicle DAO should ensure that it has some basic fail-safes in place to ideally avoid and, if necessary, quickly react to such worst case scenarios. The liquid delegation system is one such fail-safe because, at least in theory, it should allocate voting power based on initiative, reputation, and merit (“a good track record”), which includes keeping the broader objectives of the project in mind as opposed to just short-term financial interests. However, as your comment implies, a “good track record” may have a different meaning from the point of view of token holders vs. other stakeholders in the DAO.

I’m actually interested in studying this issue in more depth. I’ve been observing the governance processes of a number of DAOs for several years now and I can confirm that the potential failure modes of token-weighted governance are widely acknowledged and discussed, incl. the potential for “governance attacks” motivated by financial gain. At the same time, the vast majority of DAOs have been struggling with low voter turnout and there’s recently been a very clear tendency towards delegative and “optimistic” decision-making structures whereby specialized bodies are empowered to handle the day-to-day while token holders maintain re-delegation and/or veto authority. I’m sure there are many fly-by-night DAOs out there whose governance is indeed dominated by the financially short-termist interests of large token holders, but when it comes to the more prominent/credible DAOs, I’ve been noticing a considerable mismatch between theoretical concerns and the actual reality when it comes to voting. If anyone has notable counterexamples, please don’t hesitate to share here or via DM!