VDP-28: Reputation-based voting to complement token-based voting

TL;DR: An on-chain reputation-based voting system to better inform $VITA tokenholders

Problem: VitaDAO has five working groups (WG): longevity, tokenomics, awareness, operations, and governance. Each WG is composed of people with varying levels of expertise. Currently, there is no way to quantify that expertise. This is a problem because currently anyone can put a proposal on-chain if it gets 10 votes on Discourse and then it is left up to tokenholders to decide. Thus, each working group’s expertise isn’t captured and tokenholders, many of whom aren’t informed about the proposals, don’t have easily understandable metrics to judge one proposal vs. the next. This means decisions on how VitaDAO spends its time and money are lacking in quality control.

Solution: A quantitative on-chain reputation-based voting system that will capture each working group’s overall assessment of a proposal that it puts on-chain. The weighting mechanism for each WG will vary, but ideally it should be an aggregate of the reputation-weighted voting of each member where reputation is a composite of each members’ real world and online activities. For example, in the longevity WG, someone who has a PhD in a biomedical field should have higher weighting in their vote than someone who doesn’t, with all else equal.

This system has the following benefits:

  1. Quality control: Help the entire VitaDAO community be more informed on each proposal regardless of whether they use it for their own voting.
  2. Maximally empowering: everyone who joins VitaDAO can participate. One may not have much reputation to start with but the path to building reputation will be clear.
  3. Transparent and fair: that it will be on-chain means it will be more transparent and less corruptible than a closed system
  4. Interoperable: ideally by being on-chain also means the reputation system would be interoperable with that used by other DAOs. This will solve the problem StackOverflow has where only some groups accept their reputation system. The interoperability approach could draw cues OAuth, which is a universal login mechanism created by a consortium involving Twitter and others.

Details

An informal reputation-based system is already used by some in the VitaDAO community in voting on-chain. Meaning, some people already vote based on how they see other’s vote. The idea in this proposal is to formalize and automate that activity. Also, the reputation-based vote would ideally precede the tokenholder vote such that tokenholder’s have the full picture before they vote.

Currently each WG other than the longevity WG is ruled by a small group of people where consensus is easily reached without the need for much formal due process. Thus, only the longevity WG with its 20+ regularly active members needs such a reputation-based system at this time. However, in the future as each WG grows, the plan would be for each WG to adopt a similar approach to what will be done for the longevity WG.

The current quality control approach in the longevity WG is to have Senior Reviewers provide feedback that will be included on the on-chain proposal to inform tokenholders. This is a fine stop-gap measure for now, but it has issues in that: 1) subjective criteria determine who is a Senior Reviewer 2) only a few people’s feedback is captured on-chain and the rest of the longevity WG is disenfranchised. To be clear, this proposal won’t eliminate the 3 Senior Reviewers feedback or 10 Discourse votes needed to go on-chain requirements. This proposal is meant to augment those off-chain metrics to make the overall system more robust.

What happens next

This VDP is to solely determine the community’s interest in developing an on-chain reputation-based voting system. If the community approves this proposal, the specification can come in a later VDP. The specific technological implementation that the longevity WG will use will be a collaborative effort between VitaDAO’s technology WG and longevity WG. It could leverage data oracles such as how Chainlink is helping the Associated Press develop trusted news information.

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

0 voters

Thank you Tim for taking the initiative! I’m a huge fan of reputation-weighted voting. In principle, it is superior in so many ways to token-weighted and one-wallet-one-vote (even to one-DID*-one-vote) voting systems, I believe.

However: reputation is extremely hard to model well and quantify meaningfully.

What’s more, once you’ve got a quantitative metric, people will game it and will probably have at least some success at that.

A perfect reputation system is surely a no-brainer, but an imperfect one may well have unintended consequences and potentially end up functioning worse than the alternatives mentioned in the beginning.

I’ll have more of a think how we could approximate reputation in VitaDAO‘s working groups and wider community. In the meantime, I’d encourage everyone to take a look at Colony‘s whitepaper and this introductory blog post: The Colony Reputation System
Colony has been working on an onchain reputation system since 2014 and still is.

*Decentralised identity systems, such as Proof of Humanity or BrightID.

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So Colony only uses a token system despite having a reputation system since 2014?

The argument is at least in the longevity WG it will be weighted to real world factors such as degrees held. We should certainly keep it simple and not replace anything we’re doing, but it would be another signal token holders can use.

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Yes, and I think absolutely highly of the team the whitepaper. If they come to this conclusion after so much dedication and focus, I really wonder what it takes to do better.

To be clear, the project went through various iterations since 2014 and went live only in 2021, but the reputation system had been worked on since the early days.

That could certainly work, fully agree. It would have to be a specific reputation system of narrow scope (e.g only the longevity-dealflow group and only for funding decisions?), but I’d be worried to use academic credentials as a proxy for anything else, including dealflow-ops, dealflow-business plans, science communications (and all other working groups than longevity/dealflow).

I don’t see a problem in that though and I understand you’re arguing that a reputation system is first and foremost needed for funding longevity projects, is that right?

If we set out to design a reputation system specifically for a highly specific function with a handful of distinct characters/stakeholders involved, I could imagine that we’ll be able to design a good enough reputation system. If so, it would be good to define these processes and stakeholder personas in as much detail as possible.

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agreed. 1) narrow scope to start with (only for longevity WG and only a small list of criteria). 2) doesn’t replace anything we’re currently doing

I am not a voting member - so my opinion doesn’t count, however reputation is HARD. We’ve looked into Colony. I think a combination of quadratic voting and delegated voting helps fix this. We’d love to collaborate on designing and testing a system like this, as we’ve already deployed our beta to the iOS and Google Play Stores - but haven’t really been able to see real use of it.

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Thanks @LeahHoustonMD would love to chat more about your experiences and to get your feedback! Sent you a DM.

Everyone in the space wants this and it would be a huge value-add, not only to our community, but to many others. On-chain reputation is likely a complete product in itself. My main concern is the technical, resource, implementation, and modelling challenges required to get this right. Might be interesting to look at who else in the space is building here, and see if we could work together in the long-term to implement their solution in our DAO.

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I largely agree with @theobtl sentiment: This theoretical perfect reputation system would be great to have and surely would create a lot of value for VitaDAO.

Arriving at this perfect reputation system however is the challenge and even though I’m not a pessimistic person in nature – this seems pretty hard, borderline impossible to me under the current circumstances. At least I don’t know of anyone who successfully put a system like that in place.

Even with a narrow scope (only longevity wg?): How can one weigh e.g. years of experience vs. degrees and make a generalized rule out of this that feels fair and in the end doesn’t negatively influence team culture? The most thought-out reputation system doesn’t help VitaDAO if the positive impact gets dwarfed by a negative impact on team culture/sentiment.
I’d like to hear more opinions from people in the longevity WG on such a system.

I’m not personally involved in the academic field, but I know from academic friends that “degree hunting” can be a thing and that it is not unheard of that people collect a great number of degrees while contributing relatively little of substance. So even if you take something like degrees, that looks like it could be compared pretty easily on the surface, it gets pretty complicated as soon as you go deeper.

To me it looks like VitaDAO would have to develop such a system from scratch and invest a lot of resources to get it completely right. That’s why I voted “disagree” for now. Imho we should ask ourselves if an endeavor like that might not get us a bit off focus. I suggest if we want to follow through with this we should do a little more recon before turning this into a proposal just yet. Maybe if someone somewhere has already been working on this and the preliminary work would reduce the resources needed from the VitaDAO side I might change my mind on this.

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Thanks @schmackofant. To be clear, this reputation system wouldn’t replace anything. It would be to complement token-based voting. Use of the reputation vote by tokenholders is optional. There is currently no measurement of quality to inform tokenholder for research proposal VDPs. Thus, the expertise within VitaDAO is not being captured.

Also, reputation can be earned in ways that align with VitaDAO. I understand degrees is an imperfect measure but I didn’t say that was the only thing. If we combined a few real world and online measures especially those that would be aligned with VitaDAO (such as metrics from Discord), then I think we’d have a useful measurement of reputation. We could also have it be quite simply like Stackoverflow and have it be upvoted comments on Discord. Again, I don’t see why that wouldn’t be helpful to tokenholders.

Perhaps I erred in proposing this as a general concept for the entire DAO. In my view we are in bad need of a scoring system for research proposal VDPs, so that’s where I’d like to start. The other WGs besides longevity WG don’t need this currently. The lack of scoring system is especially bad because then nobody can judge one proposal to the next and then we aren’t learning as we go.

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agree, think its a nice idea, but not worth focusing resources on for us right now… dao tooling needs to get there. would rather focus on snapshot delegation.

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It’s a good point to allow others to create the tooling. We should put a bounty out for it and make it known on social media we are looking for this kind of tooling. @theobtl and @LeahHoustonMD make it clear there’s an interest by many in Web3, just need someone to take the lead.

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yes, we can link with dao tooling projects to share what we’d love to adopt!

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It’s good that you bring up delegation. @timrpeterson do you think the delegation system could (at least partially) mitigate some of the problems that you’re describing?

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Definitively. Making tokenholders aware of who they can delegate their votes to would be a great start. @vincentweisser mentioned making a page on the website where various experienced science & business people in our community could be listed as delegates.

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Others are already trying to create the tooling - it’s just that no one has succeeded at it yet. Certainly not with generalisable reputation systems.

IMO this is not a web3 problem, web3 would only be the last percent of implementing a solution in code. 99% of the work relies on insights from political science, sociology, psychology, organisational theory, economics/game theory, business administration and other disciplines. The concept of meritocracy has been around since the 1950s and practitioners in flat organisations such as holocratic organisations, some cooperatives. some startups etc. surely have insights that the web3 space has no clue of and needs to gather first before even defining the requirements for such a bounty. Jack du Rose from Colony would surely have even more pointers.

So in principle, I’m strongly in favour of setting up such a bounty - but I’d want to do it right and that would require an immense amount of capital and time. With that in mind, I don’t think this would be time and money well spent for VitaDAO. Personally, I’m passionate about the idea though and would be excited to spin-out an initiative with others to spend free time on this, well, moonshot with ambitious yet realistic expectations.

Fully agree, delegation on Snapshot likely has a better cost/benefit ratio for us, for now at least.

Keen to hear someone from the longevity WG responding, but my2cents would be:

In principle, I see the option for individuals to delegate to others as a promising proxy for reputation. A proxy that is subjective (so every individual subconsciously creates their own reputation system) and dynamic (the individual may change their opinion of a delegate from one day to another and change their delegation accordingly, see the recent Brantly/ENS case). Any actual reputation system would try to be objective (but that is extremely hard to achieve) and would be somewhat static (we wouldn’t change parameters significantly every other day). In that sense, delegation seems promising as its dynamic and as its subjectivity may (?) average to a somewhat reasonable objectivity.

Huge disclaimer however: This system too can be gamed and politics aren’t far from populism and misleading marketing, as @TheoWal has repeatedly pointed out in previous conversations about Snapshot delegation.

Seems everyone is in agreement. @vincentweisser let’s move ahead with the delegate list on the website. Both delegating and using the reputation system are/would be opt-in so I don’t think we need to overthink.

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Agree! We can implement this natively through Snapshot.

cc @audieleon @schmackofant @theobtl @alexdobrin lets prioritize activating delegating for the upcoming week + creating a call for people to get delegated to (people could send us their profile/ens + one sentence why they should be choosen, which we could share on discord, twitter etc.)

This prob means we can shelf this proposal, or should be put it on Snapshot for introducing delegation @theobtl ?

Agree to shelf this proposal. Will close the thread now since there also haven’t been any further comments for five days.

To move forward, I’d suggest to have a separate proposal on whether we should introduce delegation. This seems like an important governance question (i.e., changing the rules of the DAO) that would require an on-chain vote per VDP-1.

For simplicity, I’d suggest to make it part of another ‘Governance Amendment’ proposal that I’ll put on Discourse soon. As of now, this will include at least these three sub-questions that we can and should discuss extensively:

  • Should VitaDAO introduce delegation through Snapshot?
  • Should VitaDAO increase the quorum for Snapshot votes?
  • Should VitaDAO merge phase 2 and phase 3 to require Snapshot votes for all proposals (with a Discourse discussion thread for all of them, but the Discourse poll would be replaced by a Snapshot poll)?

Delegation seems to be quite popular across the board, although there are a few concerns relating to over-politisation and creating a sort of popularity contest within the DAO. The latter two seem to be more contested and are to be discussed further.