Dash DAO Governance Improvement Discussion

Arthyron

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May 29, 2017
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I was asked to transfer the points I was making about the problems with the current state and model of the Dash DAO's Governance system and ways it can be improved from Discord to the Forum for posterity. Feel free to discuss such matters in this thread:

"Probably no single post contains all the points, but I'll do my best to consolidate them here. At the most basic level, the random, cacophonous mass of mostly anonymous/pseudonymous voices screaming at a Proposal Owner model of governance is a nightmare and mostly antithetical to productive discourse and achieving beneficial--let alone mutually beneficial--outcomes. It's like working next to an exposed, radioactive core. Sure there's useful, important resources nearby that might be helpful, but the toxic radiation alone is going to make most who approach wither and crumble. Governance as it is is counterproductive and is not conducive to attracting, developing, or maintaining professional or business relationships. There are a few exceptions to this which I'll get in to that illustrate some important concepts. POs have no idea who to listen to, who is just a raving moonbat screaming about conspiracy theories, who is a sock puppet, who has significant voting power behind their suggestions/complaints/demands/etc. There's no way to tell what they should be focusing on and what's important, it's just a screaming void.

I used to spend hours and hours every day a few years ago working with POs, establishing rapport, working from the ground level helping coach them until they were ready to submit a proposal. Ultimately I stopped because there was a huge disconnect between the feedback they were getting and how the votes turned out. Most of the time, random MNOs have not taken the time to discuss amongst ourselves and develop a cohesive strategy or idea about what our wants and needs as a network actually are, it's literally just that individual's ideas/wishlist multiplied by however many dozens or hundreds of MNOs are actively participating. There are likely a great number of voting MNOs that don't even participate but just sit and watch. When there is such a disparity between the messages being conveyed and the actual voting outcomes, there's no way for the PO to reasonably focus on what's most important to meeting the network's needs/demands. So not only are they not getting the feedback they need from the people who matter most, but the network is not getting the best of what it ultimately wants or needs, and everyone is dissatisfied and worse off having wasted the effort.

There have been three general exceptions to this phenomenon that have shown us a path forward.

1. Groups that did not want to interface with the MNO hivemind directly but worked instead with DCG-as-spokesperson have tended to fare much better. However the downside here as we've seen in some cases (Alt36, that Rewards company I can't remember, etc) is that ultimately there's still the disconnect between what MNOs want and what the PO understands. So while this is an improvement over the MNO Void, it's not ideal.

2. Groups that show up with a ready-made product with a clear benefit to the network and an ask (e.g. DashDirect). This works because they've already got something finished, and something that--if they're not just blowing smoke--the network will actually like and want. What this shows us is that having the expectations met ahead of time cuts down on the wishy-washy discourse and nitpicky, abusive behavior. It's much more straightforward and that works better for everyone. What this shows us is that the network having the ability to articulate its needs and desires ahead of time such that someone can come to meet them explicitly (i.e. Request For Proposal) is generally better than MNO SharkTank. So we desperately need the ability to have this kind of governance module integrated in to the governance system.

3. Smaller DFOs that--like (1)--focus on working with particular kinds of POs or partnerships at a particular level, such as the DIF or the Incubators or Hubs. They've got responsible individuals heading them up that can maintain a level of professionalism that are working within their own respective wheelhouses with people who share those wheelhouses toward particular goals, and are funded (mostly) to that end. This also is an improvement on MNO SharkTank in most cases, even if it somewhat removes direct MNO oversight over the relationships and deals and work that comes as a result.

So in order to best utilize the bare, unshielded reactor core that is the MNO Void of direct oversight and governance, it's clear that some measure of shielding is necessary, whether that's delegation to smaller, professional, task forces, or additional layers of systematic prostheses that channel the energy and effort of the MNO reactor core in more beneficial ways (RFP). To facilitate these ends, the network needs better infrastructure and interfaces and modules. I had hoped that Dash Nexus would ultimately realize this potential, but the network ultimately defunded it before this could be achieved. So what I think needs to happen is a governance "hub" of sorts that provides functionality like Nexus with the additional features we've all long discussed (RFP, MNO Polls, etc)--which would likely involve some DIPs as well, to make that functionality actually work with the network infrastructure so we don't have to rely on trusted parties--are necessary if our governance is going to function optimally, because let's face it, apart from the three alternatives I described, it's basically broken. No one in their right mind apart from the desperate or the grifter would want to brave that kind of abuse and uncertainty for funding they could probably more readily have almost anywhere else.

One example of this is how with Nexus, we automated the "Pre-Proposal" process. Potential POs used to just show up on the Dash Forum and make a post about what they wanted to do, and maybe some random forum members would respond to it. I spent a great deal of time painstakingly responding to and interacting with each thread, but this became untenable because many were half-baked and a waste of time. So with the help of the Nexus team, the Pre-Proposal process was built, which let potential POs flesh out their proposal in a more professional way that prepared them for eventual submission and allowed them to solicit feedback and input with the roles and status of commenters clearly delineated. They would then be able to make adjustments to their proposal and then ultimately submit it as a live proposal when they were ready. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about, but for all aspects of governance.

These sorts of utilities funnel both MNOs and POs and their efforts toward better interactions and better outcomes."
 

GrandMasterDash

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Masternode Owner/Operator
Jul 12, 2015
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A good analysis and I generally agree with you. DFOs like the DIF has worked quite well but, OTOH, I'm not sold on the marketing hub. And like you say, Alt36 is a shining example of how bad things can be.

For me, the biggest frustration is how difficult it is to shift the old guard. Despite Dash Nexus's attempt, MNOs kept using Dash Central. I suggest this needs a tectonic shift that is only achievable from trusted persons such as DCG directors.

I should also point out that while the masternode count is falling, the large masternode holders such as CrowdNode are unduly amplifying votes from even more removed and less technical people. And then you have the background noise of those wanting masternode with less collateral (which I do not agree with).

There are a few things that need to happen, all of them radical. The first thing DCG should do is work to eliminate masternodes entirely.

Masternodes basically do just a handful of things:
1. Instant Send quorum locks.
2. CoinJoin mixing.
3. Governance voting.
4. Dash Platform.

1. Instant Send can be replaced with a DAG like avalanche of GhostDAG.
2. CoinJoin mixing has a few optional replacements including MimbleWimble Extension Blocks (per litecoin), Zero Knowledge Proofs, or some form of Lelantus protocol.
3. Governance voting can be replaced with a governance token on top of Dash Platform.
4. Dash Platform can be managed and paid for from fees, by any node able to sustain a Proof of Service.

By doing this we open up governance to a much wider audience without the fair criticism that dash is somewhat "centralized". I say centralized in a loose way that requires further explanation.

If dash is to continue using masternodes then it must:
1. rebrand "masternodes" to "Validators" because it's less confrontational and more widely understood.
2. it must allow regular end users to amplify the voting power of MNOs i.e. make MNOs more public and accountable for their opinions. In the same way we do in the real world where we elect others to make decisions.

And finally, a little off-topic but relating to my comment about centralization...

From the outside looking in, the expense of a masternode necessitates a small group of whales with a finite cap. I recognize this is a somewhat unfair assessment, especially when you look at the validator costs of some other projects, but it doesn't negate the impression others have. When you have a small group, that group will be seen as "elite" and it's down to the narrative to paint this as good or bad, but dash has failed to convey this.

More importantly, the treasury needs to be expanded to 20% with the proviso that no DFO / entity can obtain 40% or more of the treasury funds. Imo Dash is a security. It has maintained the same controlling party (DCG) since inception with no significant challenges to it's position. DCG also draws 60% from the treasury further demonstrating it's influence over the project abilities and direction. Now, we can argue how the SEC didn't say yay or nay, but in the end you have to look at the facts and come to the only conclusion that, materially, DCG is the overwhelming steward of the project i.e. not sufficiently decentralized.
 
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kot

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Mar 17, 2015
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@GrandMasterDash - interesting points.

1. Instant Send can be replaced with a DAG like avalanche of GhostDAG.
What would be the reason for that? IS works really well and proved its efficiency. Changing it to a new, not well tested and different tech, would require a lot of changes and would bring a big operational risk for the network.

2. CoinJoin mixing has a few optional replacements including MimbleWimble Extension Blocks (per litecoin), Zero Knowledge Proofs, or some form of Lelantus protocol.
Again - what would be the reason for that? At the moment we are having well-worked situation with at least part of the regulatory bodies, where we were explaining what is PS and why it can't be differentiated from CJ used in Bitcoin. Introducing other technologies would require repeating this painful and long-term process.

3. Governance voting can be replaced with a governance token on top of Dash Platform.
@QuantumExplorer would probably have more to say about that aspect.

4. Dash Platform can be managed and paid for from fees, by any node able to sustain a Proof of Service.
I guess it is not different from the current setup. Or did you have anything specific/different in mind?

@Arthyron - I'll get back to you a little later with the response.

PS. Thanks for raising this topic on the forum
 
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GrandMasterDash

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@kot The objective of building alternatives to IS, CJ and voting is to remove any need for masternode collateral, thus dramatically improving decentralization. Proof of Service would still exist and, indeed, it could be enhanced further. For example, see the VerLoc whitepaper (as used in nym):


VerLoc is very similar to Helium's Proof of Coverage.

Not to be rude, but undoing work with regulators is literally DCG's own doing. DCG has pinned itself into a corner, bowing to compliance in the hope of receiving approval and grace. Innovation stifled or unduly curtailed.

In the recent call, both Ryan and Sam sang the merits of decentralization - and God I completely agree - but do you believe the current masternodes setup actually achieves this? I observe the total masternode count on a decline while masternode whales accumulate (Binance, CrowdNode etc). What must happen before we recognize this as a problem?

So much energy put into Dash Platform, not just DCG but every single MNO that demanded you be given all necessary resources to finish the job. Forget that it is late, more that the sacrifice has been that other equally important work has been forfeited.

I will back DCG to receive more funding in absolute terms. We can double the treasury size to 20%, but every Dash Funded Organization must be capped at 40% of available funds. This way DCG has no excuse to resources and MNOs will have greater expectations of you.

Alternatively, I can submit a proposal to receive all DCG funds and only release them when dash dollar targets are met.