VDP-1 VitaDAO Governance Framework

VitaDAO V1 Governance Framework

Initial Launch Governance Framework Proposal

User Types

Members

A member of the VitaDAO is anyone who holds $VITA, VItaDAO’s token, and has $VITA staked into the staking contract. Tokens can be obtained by providing funds or work to the structure. Members have full governance rights and can participate in governance on Discord and Discourse (informally) and via token-based voting (formally).

Working Group Members

A working group member provides expertise and advice to VitaDAO. By default, most working groups are not paid for their services, with some exceptions. In cases where working group members are paid (e.g., longevity working group), group members can be compensated in VITA, stable coins, or other incentive schemes decided by members. They should be able to provide some level of objectivity wrt their advice. Each working group has a “working group lead”, also referred to as “working group steward”, who may define a specific structure for their respective working group how they operate, collaborate and get compensated, pending approval by VitaDAO members.

Active Working Group Streams*

  1. Longevity
  2. Legal
  3. Governance
  4. Tokenomics
  5. Operations
  6. Information & Awareness

*Scope of working groups to expand post-launch.

Service Providers

Members who provide services to VitaDAO, such as development work, IP sourcing, and conversion to NFTs, marketplace services, drug development services outside of project scope, etc. Service providers are paid for their services in stable coins, offered tokens in exchange, or a combination thereof. On a case-by-case basis, service providers can also be paid in fiat.

V1 Governance Framework Overview

  • VitaDAO members are in control of all governance decisions by voting on VitaDAO proposals. Proposals vary by type and follow the process specified below.

  • VitaDAO members’ votes are weighted by the amount of VITA tokens they staked and used for a particular vote.

  • VitaCore is a set of FTE or FTE equivalent people paid by the DAO in tokens or stable coins.

    • VitaCore has no special privileges over normal token holders except they get paid.
  • Vita Advisors are non-FTE equivalent people paid to advise VitaCore and the DAO on decision making.

  • VitaCore / Vita Advisors have their votes shown separately on governance proposals (although they are counted the same as everyone else’s).

  • Admin resolves proposals for formal token-based voting. This is a limitation of V1 to be resolved in V2.

    • Admin is a multi-sig consisting of the working group leads and trusted individuals voted in by the community. See also this thread.
  • VitaDAO working groups consist of domain experts to help guide member decisions in various workstreams and organisational processes. Working groups can help define proposals to the VitaDAO members.

  • Working group meetings are scheduled and operated in the open, and the only requirement to join is being a holder of VITA tokens.

  • In the future, VitaDAO members may delegate votes to members of their choosing and typically will do so to members with more domain expertise. This is to be added in V2.

  • VitaDAO may engage service providers spanning patent attorneys, contract research firms, or third party experts to provide services to the DAO in exchange for compensation.

  • The initial goal is to mimic successful execution patterns in the biotech industry. Over time, we expect further governance mechanisms to emerge around VitaDAO.

V1 Proposal Types (Examples)*

DAO Governance Proposal

  • General DAO governance proposals;
  • Treasury functions, approving new members, black- and white-listing, etc.;
  • Change of governance mechanism proposal

Project Proposal

  • Suggestions for new projects to bring into the DAO

Funding Proposal

  • Proposals to allocate more funding to pre-existing projects to help them reach their experimental goals, reach the next phase. These are based on milestone completion, specified in the initial project proposal.

IP Proposal & Data Monetization Proposal

  • Proposal to monetize pre-existing data sets received from research laboratories;
  • Proposals to mint NFTs related to IP that are generated from projects. It also includes proposals to file for IP related to outcomes of research projects.

*Other proposal types are possible. These are just examples.

Proposal Process Overview

  1. Phase I: Informal - Post on VitaDAO Ideas Category in Discourse
  2. Community Support Indicated by Discourse Vote
  3. Phase II: Formal - Post on VitaDAO Proposal Category with Template and Phase II tag
  4. Community Support Indicated by Discourse Vote
  5. Phase III: Upload to VitaDAO.com for token-based vote

Phase 1: Ideation

This phase facilitates an initial, informal discussion consisting of VitaDAO members on Discourse regarding potential proposals to VitaDAO. Members can initiate a proposal in Phase 1 by posting their idea in the VitaDAO ideas category. This phase allows proposals to gather community insight for refinement before opening a formal poll. Project proposals submitted by externals are automatically generated and posted in the proposal channel.

Phase I Duration: Open-ended

Phase I Passing Requirement

For proposals to successfully pass from Phase 1 to Phase 2, at least 10 members must signal positive support. If a Phase 1 proposal discussion fails to garner momentum from the community, it is unlikely to become a successful proposal. If there are less than 5 votes within three days of posting, the proposal is voided.

Phase 2: Specification

Proposals that receive more than 10 votes are moved to Phase 2. This phase requires proposals to be posted in the VitaDAO Proposals category on Discourse using the VitaDAO Governance Proposal template (VGP). Beside proper naming, the VGP template requires all proposals to include fields including but not limited to a Simple Summary, Abstract, Motivation, Specification, and Implementation.

In addition to these fields, Phase 2 proposals must include a single-choice poll on the proposal outcome giving the options “Agree”, “Agree with revisions” (requiring a comment), and “Disagree”. Participation should be restricted to trust level 1 and above and will be increased to trust level 2 at some point (see Discourse Trust Levels). The poll should result in a pie chart with results visible, as per this template:

[poll type=regular results=always public=true chartType=pie groups=trust_level_1]
* Agree
* Agree with revisions (please comment)
* Disagree
[/poll]

The proposal author is responsible to incorporate comments from “Agree with revisions” votes. If their comment is fully resolved, commenting authors are supposed to change their vote from "Agree with revisions” to “Agree”.

Phase 2 Duration: 7 days

Passing Requirement

For proposals to successfully pass from Phase 2 to Phase 3, there must be one outcome with a relative majority of votes on a Discourse poll. Proposals in Phase 2 require support from two working group leads, and at least 10 members to vote. If the relative majority of votes on the forum poll indicates the result “Agree” (including any resolved “Agree with revisions” votes), the proposal will pass to Phase 3.

Phase 3: Consensus

Phase 2 proposals are moved to Phase 3 by editing the VGP post from the previous phase to reflect the forum poll result that received a relative majority of votes, and by updating the proposal’s tag to phase-3. Proposals that pass the Phase 2 forum poll must be locked in this forum and referenced on dao.vitadao.com to become an on-chain Phase 3 vote.

Phase 3 proposals must follow the template that corresponds to its proposal type:

DAO Governance Proposal

{
  "proposal_type": "",
  "title": "",
  "summary": "",
  "details": "",
  "link": "",
  "project": {}
}

Project Proposal

{
  "proposal_type": "",
  "title": "",
  "summary": "",
  "details": "",
  "link": "",
  "project": {
      "funding_stage": "",
      "title": "",
      "research_lead": "",
      "institution": "",
      "clinical_stage": "",
      "ip_status": "",
      "budget": ,
      "budget_currency": "",
      "summary": "",
      "project_summary": "",
      "aims_and_hypothesis": ""
    }
}

Funding Proposal

{
  "proposal_type": "",
  "title": "",
  "summary": "",
  "details": "",
  "link": "",
  "project": {
      "funding_stage": "",
      "title": "",
      "research_lead": "",
      "institution": "",
      "clinical_stage": "",
      "ip_status": "",
      "budget": ,
      "budget_currency": "",
      "summary": "",
      "project_summary": "",
      "aims_and_hypothesis": ""
    }
}

IP Proposal & Data Monetization Proposal

{
  "proposal_type": "",
  "title": "",
  "summary": "",
  "details": "",
  "link": "",
  "project": {}
}

whereas

  • proposal type must be one of governance, project, funding or ip
  • title should be a a few words
  • summary should be a one-liner
  • details should be a paragraph containing all essential information
  • link must be a direct link to the successful phase 2 proposal on Discourse
  • project must be completely filled out for project and funding proposal types, but can remain empty for governance and ip proposal types

CommonMark markup may be used to format text.

Phase 3 Duration: 14 days

Passing Requirement

Majority vote with 5% quorum of circulating token supply via formal token-based vote.

Soft Governance vs. Token-based Voting

In principle, as many decisions as possible should be made using a soft governance mechanism via Discord. As a general rule, on-chain votes are required for high-stakes decisions that

(a) revolve around the treasury and a certain level of expenses
or
(b) revolve around the rules or the rules to change the rules [the constitutional process]
or
(c) revolve around membership and enforcement of norms [punitive measures].

Other decisions should be taken through soft governance.

Compensation

  • VitaCore and Vita Advisors can opt for being paid in stable coins or in tokens, and either a fixed amount or effectively in options

  • The overall DAO votes on who is / isn’t a part of Vita Core and their compensation. A proposal for funding VitaCore will be put to the community shortly after the DAO launches.

  • The longevity-wg is compensated for their work on DD, sourcing, etc, which is a “domain expert job” that needs to be compensated. It’s analogous to expert advisory in a “normal” investment fund (helping with DD, sourcing etc).

  • Working group members are not paid, unless decided by a vote.

  • People who do small, non-C-level/non-advisory KPI-able jobs (specific publicity tasks, things that don’t scale, etc) do get paid, under the service provider provision.

  • Service providers are compensated via a mechanism designed by a compensation committee, and then formulated as a DAO proposal which needs to be approved by the DAO.

  • The compensation committee itself is not compensated, and it has a strong policy to make sure it’s not aligned with any service provider.

  • All the payment above is done in VITA tokens or stable coins.

  • This is subject to change pending community proposals.

  • Agree
  • Agree with revisions (please comment)
  • Disagree

0 voters

6 Likes

Great first draft! Good job putting this together!
A few comments.

  • It is only implicitly implied that number of votes is directly related to number of $VITA tokens and that a minimum of 1 is required. It would be good to clarify this, i.e. that 1 token = 1 vote.
    But I would also suggest that we cap that to avoid whale dynamics, so perhaps a maximum of 1 million, after that you cannot get more votes, regardless of number of tokens?

  • The duration of phase 1 is a bit vague to me. It says it is open-ended but, you need to get 10 votes (I.e. 10 votes from different addresses or 10 tokens? Perhaps this voting is not involving tokens, just “likes” or similar, that needs to be clarified in that case) within 3 days. So is the voting open ended so if you gete 10 votes within an 3 day period it is passed to phase 2, or do you need to get 10 votes within the first 3 days?

  • Phase 2, again token votes or “likes” ? Here it seems to be rather addresses. Do we have a mechanism to connect a wallet address to a forum participant (I did not get the option to connect Metamask to Discourse) to assure it is a Member according to the criteria, or do we assume good behaviour here?

Thanks again, great work!

2 Likes

Regarding Phase 1, it simply means 10 individual community members need to support. Could be likes in a poll. Same for Phase 2. Only Phase 3 is a token-based vote.

2 Likes

Some excellent feedback from Patrick Rawson:

As mentioned before I don’t owning tokens should be the only means of becoming a member. There’s two reasons:

(1) If you guys are going the route of unincorporated partnership, this broadens the definition of DAO members so widely as to include persons or entities that are problematic from the state’s perspective. This may be an issue for future regulators: https://money.stackexchange.com/questions/130581/is-there-any-way-to-form-an-anonymous-general-partnership

(2) Token holding is not a good criteria for full governance rights. There is no guarantee that token holders will provide good governance. Often they do not, as they are biased towards profits. I believe a whitelist of token holders with the power to engage in governance is the best solution here, with some merit-based or contribution-based criteria for the whitelist.

Some other types of contributions (maybe “work” covers them, but I find it useful to specify a broadened definition of work to better capture the wide range of possible contributions):

  • intellectual capital (e.g. patents / IP)
  • cultural capital (e.g. an intern self-educating with the future intent of becoming a worker)
  • material capital (e.g. an office-space)

WGs should be compensated as their attention is valuable. You will lack quality working groups if you do not compensate professionals for their time.

Cash should be more specifically defined here – I am assuming you mean stablecoins or high quality liquid crypto-assets (e.g. ETH).

I suspect no bank will extend an account to a DAO for cash/fiat payments.

Keep in mind that if this is the design objective, you need to ask yourself: "What do we need to do to populate each working group with a combination of people who are:

  1. well-reasoned and scientific
  2. level-headed
  3. willing to engage

You will need curation methods for each of these things. The biggest red flag I’m seeing here is you are not compensating WG members. You will not satisfy conditions (1) and (3) if you do not create incentives for scientific professionals to engage. Relying on volunteerism for professional, high functional roles is not a viable business model.

Regarding token holders being primary governors of DAO:

This is, in most cases, a dysfunctional system, and the most common failure mode for DAOs. Let me explain:

The average person does not have the bandwidth or the professional expertise to participate in all decisions in an organization. Due to this “organizational law” of sorts, every organization solidifies a core of highly engaged persons who are usually executives who take responsibility for high frequency, day to day decisions. The design trade-off is clear: political decentralization vs. practicality.

I discuss this at length in the Kolektivo whitepaper starting at section 2.3.4, and I recommend you read about these trade-offs: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xBBCJTAES650Qy8PVII3qZIQkMnrrIYQbxM5t9L0Zfk/edit?usp=sharing

We are working on something similar flow here that breaks down the process into multiple parts:

(1) whitelisted person submits proposal (this is what we aim to develop)

(2) governance process (e.g. SnapSafe, conviction voting)

(3) executive “executes” the proposal (non-execution is considered a form of executive veto; some sort of override function is possibly needed, or snap elections if this happens)

(4) a time delay allows for the proposal to be contested and undergo some arbitration process (this is on Gnosis’ roadmap as well)

WGs should be able to structure their entry/join conditions freely without top-down enforcement.

Keep in mind: all it takes is one irritating or totalitarian personality to diminish the productivity / insights of an entire group and kill its morale / momentum in perpetuity.


I’m not sure how useful it is to frame the contrast here between a core and SPs. If we take seriously the idea that work == ownership, similar to a cooperative, then SPs ultimately are more “core members” than those attributed with such a title.

Let’s imagine that this scenario plays out as you’ve designed, and you end up with a supermanagerial “core” that is engaging and contracting SPs. They’ve essentially only taken over the work of creating and issuing requirements, and are acting as a sort of procurement officer. This isn’t, in my opinion, the Web3 ideal: both the SPs and the core are providing “proofs-of-(literal)-work” and should be recognized as such, without any hierarchical delimitation.

On the admin role:

On the legal side, in the event of any regulatory intervention, these admins will likely be targeted under the “nearest person principle”: https://chainstrategies.com/2018/03/11/malta-blockchain-regulation-proposal-legal-personality-for-daos-and-smart-contracts/

4 Likes

Edited to reduce quorum from 10 to 5%

3 Likes

That seems sensible. Some major existing DAOs have participation rates of as low as 2-3%, such as Aragon AGPs. Pat from Curve Labs pointed that out too. Since I suspect that VitaDAO will have a smaller, yet more engaged community than Aragon, I’m hopeful that a quorum of 5% is both feasible and fair.

In the longer term, we could potentially increase voter turnout by implementing a way to delegate votes.

2 Likes

agree, delegation should be something to focus on closely after the launch

2 Likes

This may be critical: Currently, the idea is that proposals in phase 3 (on-chain) have a fixed point in time when the voting period ends.

We may want to introduce a safety mechanism that avoids strategic last-minute votes flipping the vote. Meaning, a whale or group of token holders may intentionally hold their votes back until the very end of the fixed voting period while keeping this strategy private. That could obviously have bad consequences.

Potential solution: Some DAOs (like DAOstack’s Genesis DAO) use a mechanism that delays the voting period automatically when a vote is placed. To avoid extremely long periods that get extended over and over by a fixed amount of time, we could use a mechanism that extends by a relative amount of time, e.g. depending on the relative amount of tokens of that last vote and/or depending on the fact whether a vote flips the vote or not. However, this may end up to be quite complicated to implement technically, with this complexity again introducing new attack vectors.

Other solution: This proposed feature by Pat is also quite important to avoid opportunities to game a vote.

Do you agree that this issue is relevant?

If so, are either or both proposed solutions a critical feature or can this wait until after launch?

Realistically, implementing this with v1 would be quite a challenge. Yet, some of the initial proposals (which are obviously essential for the DAO’s emergence) could be decided by a malicious whale that way. So I’m thinking this may be critical for v1.

2 Likes

My suggestion here is to (1) push forward and (2) aggregate these types of features in a requisites sheet for “Governance v2” that Curve Labs or multiple SPs can execute on.

3 Likes

What are the next steps?

1 Like

This proposal is now in phase 2 (following the specification in this very proposal - so meta!) and will remain so for approximately 2-3 weeks until our governance infrastructure is ready to be deployed on-chain (as it is still under development). In the meantime, there is now a Discourse poll to cast informal phase 2 votes (see next comment).

1 Like

The latest revision of this proposal now includes a process for embedded polls for all phase 2 proposals, as well as an exemplary poll for this proposal VDP-1.

What is new in the latest revision:

Proposals that receive more than 10 votes are moved to Phase 2. This phase requires proposals to be posted in the VitaDAO Proposals category on Discourse using the VitaDAO Governance Proposal template (VGP). Beside proper naming, the VGP template requires all proposals to include fields including but not limited to a Simple Summary, Abstract, Motivation, Specification, and Implementation.

In addition to these fields, Phase 2 proposals must include a single-choice poll on the proposal outcome giving the options “Agree”, “Agree with revisions” (requiring a comment), and “Disagree”. Participation should be restricted to trust level 1 and above and will be increased to trust level 2 at some point (see Discourse Trust Levels). The poll should result in a pie chart with results visible, as per this template:

[poll type=regular results=always public=true chartType=pie groups=trust_level_1]
* Agree
* Agree with revisions (please comment)
* Disagree
[/poll]

The proposal author is responsible to keep the proposal updated with the status of “Agree with revisions” comments. Only if the commenting author signals that their revision is resolved, a particular “Agree with revisions” vote is counted as an “Agree” vote.

Also decreased the number of votes required to pass Phase 2 from 50 to 20, given that we currently only have slightly more than 50 members here on Discourse with trust level 1. Once our governance process is more established, fully functional including on-chain votes and more widely used, I would suggest to increase the required number of votes again to an appropriate, to-be-defined threshold.

3 Likes

Comment on showing the results but keeping individual votes secret:

We once considered a signalling function so that token holders could easily find out what reputable community members voted on, although this suggestion was for phase 3 (on-chain votes), not phase 2 (Discourse) if I’m not mistaken. Personally, I’d also be hesitant to show by default who voted for what - I’d argue this should be by choice or limited to a TBD group, e.g. working group members or selected VitaDAO supporters with proven domain expertise, such as Tim, Morten, David, Aubrey in longevity matters.

4 Likes

For the phase 3 vote on this proposal VDP-1, I’m proposing to fill the template as follows:

{
  "proposal_type": "governance",
  "title": "VDP-1 VitaDAO Governance Framework",
  "summary": "A description of user types, voting principles, VitaDAO's three-phase proposal process, and more.",
  "details": "### User Types \n A member of VitaDAO is any staker of $VITA into its staking contract. Working group members and service providers contribute labour, expertise or advice to VitaDAO. \n ### Governance Framework \n VitaDAO members are in control of all governance decisions by voting on VitaDAO proposals. VitaDAO members' votes are weighted by the amount of VITA tokens they staked and used for a particular vote. \n ### Proposal Types \n Initially, there are four proposal types: Governance, Project, Funding and IP. \n ### Proposal process \n * Phase I (informal): Post on VitaDAO ideas category in Discourse with community support indicated by Discourse vote \n * Phase II (formal, basic vote): Post on VitaDAO proposal category with template and phase II tag and community support indicated by Discourse vote \n * Phase III (formal, on-chain vote): Upload to [dao.vitadao.com](https://dao.vitadao.com) for token-based vote \n In principle, as many decisions as possible should be made using a soft governance mechanism. \n ### Compensation \n An independent compensation committee proposes the recipients, amounts and modalities of payment, which is put up to a community vote initially and for any major change. Payment is done in VITA tokens or stable coins. \n ### More information \n For the full proposal with more details, see the following link.",
  "link": "https://gov.vitadao.com/t/vdp-1-vitadao-governance-framework/40",
  "project": {}
}

3 Likes

Overall in agreement, but I suggest to that the default for payment be in stablecoin to help ensure VITA is not considered a security.

If the person being paid prefers VITA to stablecoin, I think ideally they should do so themself via a liquidity pool or by request to the treasury.

2 Likes