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Jun 06, 2021

▦ 10 → Governance

by: Shahruz Shaukat

SpaceX had a social scaling problem.

Users of the protocol had been happy using the service for a long time, but personal preference had grown into feeling like necessity and things were starting to feel fractured.

Through the frustration, a new form of activism emerged within the spaces.

Users began dedicating their 10th space to color-coded proposal blocks.

Someone would write a proposal for a new rule or addition to some standard for their client, and give it a bold color.

In the footer of the post, they'd encourage people to import / reblog it into their own space in their 10th block.

Below this call to action they embedded a progress bar showing the number of spaces that held that exact same block amongst all the users of that client.

This system allowed clients to adopt a democratic system that was easy to understand and participate in: if over 50% of their users were actively giving up one of their precious spaces to advance a proposal, then they'd ratify that proposal.

Because it was in the best interest for users to write proposals that could actually be implemented by the clients they were on, they integrated things like fundraising goals within the proposal.

Donations could be staked within each instance of a proposal that a user is holding in their space. If the proposal passes, those funds are collected and transferred wherever they need to go. If it doesn't pass, the user gets their funds back whenever they remove the post. Staking allows users to show a serious commitment towards certain efforts and guaranteeing some feasability in implementing them.

Proposals that weren't popular would either disappear over time, or would be forked into better proposals for a fresh attempt, or would survive in small part on the profiles of those who continue to believe in it.

Clients that were open sourced already had an extra convenience: if a proposal passed that made a subset of the users against it want to leave, they could fork the codebase before the new proposal is implemented, and run a new instance.

This didn't solve every problem - users would obviously still find things to disagree about, and there'd be gridlocks, and not every client would be able to implement proposals exactly the way their users had hoped for. But giving up their limited space to show support for a particular initiative allowed users to feel like they each had a voice that could directly be heard, a way to contribute and define direction.

And the ability to build on top of a public protocol with open source clients meant that even if there were changes made that groups didn't like, they'd be able to keep a branch online for themselves using a version they all like.

𖨆 // Writing this was weird for me and I'm not sure if it makes sense for me as a format for exploring or expressing ideas. Normally I'd just build something, which I sort of partially did with Post #5. But otherwise I'd have build out a basic client too, something that can be fully interacted with, something to learn from. Just deciding how something might go felt odd for me.

I think the main thing that I was interested in here was the idea of an arbitrary rule (only ever room for 10 posts in this case) having the potential to develop environments where difficult problems are made easier or more fun because of the constraints.

The standard in DAO governance today is https://snapshot.org/ which is beloved by its users, but seems dry at best or inaccessible at worst for anyone not deep in web3 today. Simplifying that entire process into a more meaningful action that's theoretically as simple as a retweet was fun to think about.

I think I was generally clumsy describing how branching instances could work within a blockchain (involving deploying branches of the main protocol that are backwards compatible). But I'm up on time and should post what I've got, already feeling kind of late.

✸ Tab roll call

1: Nomic

"Nomic is a game in which changing the rules is a move. In that respect it differs from almost every other game. The primary activity of Nomic is proposing changes in the rules, debating the wisdom of changing them in that way, voting on the changes, deciding what can and cannot be done afterwards, and doing it. Even this core of the game, of course, can be changed."