VDP-60 Seasonal Governance

Summary

This proposal suggests a way to improve the governance process in VitaDAO, by “batching” governance into seasons, each season consisting of a Governance Phase and an Execution Phase. Each season lasts 4 months. Within season, the Governance Phase lasts 6 weeks and the rest is the Execution Phase.

Seasonal governance provides the following advantages over the current way VitaDAO does governance:

  • Separate governance and execution. This separation allows better focus on the objective of each phase (discussions and voting during the governance phase, distraction-free execution during the execution phase).
  • Time bound governance discussion and project execution. Discussions and voting must end at the end of the governance phase, projects must complete execution at the end of the execution phase.
  • Prioritise projects and goals better. All goals and projects are considered at the same time, making the opportunity cost transparent. The DAO makes more intentional decisions on what to work on, instead of working on projects defined by a recent proposal.
  • Generate better solutions to each problem. Issues are presented to the community, and everyone is asked to help with proposals. An issue can be presented with 10 different proposals, as opposed to only 1 like right now.
  • Create a schelling point for promotion and community involvement. Interested community members are invited to gather at the same and have focused high-level conversations about the DAO, volunteer themselves for projects, and start contributing to the DAO.

Motivation

The Current Way

The current way VitaDAO does governance is “rolling” governance. Governance discussions are always happening, votes happen when they happen. There’s no deadline discussions or decisions.

The current way is also not friendly to decentralized contribution. Proposals almost always come from core members, because they’re the only people aware of what issues are being discussed.

The current way is also not effective, because most issues are addressed with a single proposal from a core contributor. Revision process is slow. Voting is difficult, due to a lack of viable alternatives if a voter happens to disagree with the one proposal.

Specification

The Seasonal Way

Instead of rolling governance, in this proposal we “batch” our governance process. We do this by dividing our operation into seasons, where each season is 4 months long. Governance only happens during 6 weeks of each season, called the Governance Phase. The rest of the time is dedicated to execution, called the Execution Phase.

Implementation

This proposal suggests implementing an experimental first season for Jan-April 2023. A rough timeline for implementation:

Timeline

  • First week of January: Goals and Objectives
    • VitaCore and stewards publish a set of goals and objective s for the season
  • First two weeks of January: Appeal Period
    • If any community member disagrees with a goal or objective proposed, they can start an appeal discussion and vote (e.g. “X should not be a goal yet”). The vote passes if a supermajority (66.67%) of tokens vote for it
  • Week 2-4 of January: Proposal Submission
    • VitaCore and Steward publish calls for proposals to address certain goals. Anyone can submit proposals in response.
    • For example, a goal could be to have a conflict resolution process. Anyone can submit proposals for what conflict resolution should look like. There can be several competing proposals for this goal.
  • Week 2 of January to Week 1 of February: Proposal Discussion
    • Community members and contributors comment on submitted proposals
    • They can also volunteer themselves for projects and initiatives
    • Proposals may be modified, merged, or spilt up during this time
  • Week 1-2 February: Voting
    • Proposals are voted on, teams are formed
  • Mid February - April: Execution Phase
    • During the execution phase, we focus on executing the proposals that passed voting.
    • Governance related discussions and proposals are minimized, until the next season. Exceptions can be made for urgent matters. Whether something is an urgent matter will be decided on by a majority vote among VitaCore.
    • Project funding proposals are not part of seasonal governance! Funding proposals can be proposed and voted on any time
  • Agree
  • Agree with revisions (please comment)
  • Disagree

0 voters

3 Likes

Hey Catthu- Great proposal!

I feel one unique aspect of VitaDAO’s current gov framework is the speed with which new ideas can be proposed and implemented. I’m curious if you feel a Seasonal Governance might slow down this process/ what would happen if VitaDAO gov was presented with a time-sensitive idea during a time other than the Proposal Submission period?

5 Likes

Hi Sarah! It’s an important thing to think about certainly. This proposal accounts for time sensitive decisions, where an issue can be deemed sensitive via a majority vote in VitaCore, which allows proposals for that issue to be discussed. Funding decisions are not affected at all by this proposal.

As for decisions that aren’t time sensitive, but important, in my experience in the DAO so far the discussion of those issues usually do take a long time, equally if not longer than the 4 month time for each season here. But because of the closed discussions that often happened around those issues, the voting and resolution might look quicker from the outside because most community members only see a proposal once it goes to Discourse.

2 Likes

Like the idea of seasons, and trying to batch governance proposals into specific periods… but wouldnt want to forbid governance proposals to be submitted/voted on in between as well etc.

1 Like

It wouldn’t be forbidden! But it needs consensus that the in the in between periods, proposals would have to be deemed time sensitive.

2 Likes

This proposal includes lots of interesting details that I’d like VitaDAO to adopt, although I agree with @sarahfriday, @vincent and others that I’d be hesitant to introduce the whole package of this proposal on a mandatory rule-basis. Introducing even more rules than we already have could create unnecessary bureaucracy and increase our spending on governance & operations even more, but our mission is to fund longevity research.

Instead, I could also see us solving the underlying issues on a norm-basis alongside improved onboarding and communications.

For instance, we already practice the bundling of minor changes of governance with ‘amendment’ proposals that sum up several changes in one proposal, such as VDP-12 VitaDAO Governance Framework Amendment #1, VDP-37 VitaDAO Governance Amendment #2 and VDP-59 VitaDAO Governance Amendment #3. There was never a rule to do that, this just happened organically and these bulk proposals are voted on whenever there is a need to.

To decide if and how to move forward with this proposal, we may want to look at our mission and DAO-wide OKRs. How should we approach ‘seasonal governance’ from first principles? How does it benefit our mission? How does it help us achieve OKRs?

On the highest level, that would most certainly be to fund longevity research, which does not mean to increase governance overhead. Does this proposal do so or not?

  • Does this proposal reduce governance overhead because governance will be limited to a few weeks a year and we won’t pay governance-related activities on the other months?
  • Does this proposal increase governance overhead because there’ll always be (major or minor) changes in governance needed but this proposals requires us to put in additional effort to discuss whether they are urgent or not?

To answer this question, we may also need to define: What does this proposal actually intend to achieve? The proposal describes the “current way” with specific short-comings, but the “seasonal way” only on a high level without specific measurables.

  • “current way”: “Proposals almost always come from core members”
    “seasonal way”: ? almost never from core contributors? half-half?

  • “current way”: “most issues are addressed with a single proposal from a core contributor.”
    “seasonal way”: ? always two counter-proposals? >2? is one okay if nobody is interested in a counter-proposal?

2 Likes

In general, I’m not entirely convinced that the problems this proposal sets out to solve will actually be solved through another proposal and more rules.

  • The fact that most proposals come from core contributors is typical in many DAOs and can be influenced, but probably not through a rule but through more communication, documentation and onboarding efforts.

  • The fact that the revision process is slow is true, but also typical to DAOs, I believe. We need to realise that lots of VitaDAO community members are here in their free-time, for a few minutes after a long day in the lab or for a bit during their well-deserved weekend. Again, I don’t think rules would solve this attention problem, but delegated voting might which is coming up.

  • The fact that proposals don’t always come with a counter-proposal is also an industry practice. VDP-52 stewards election proposal options (in response to VDP-36 and -51) tried to establish that practice, but tbh, I don’t think it added much value but quite a bit of confusion. Most DAOs discuss a proposal in the comments and try to resolve them there; in case of doubt, the proposal is voted on on-chain and token-holders vote for or against. VitaDAO voted proposals down before, so the process works. As a general rule of thumb, I’d rather encourage us to adopt best practice from larger protocol DAOs instead of experimenting with uncommon governance practices ourselves.

I think VitaDAO is at a point where its governance has been in the making for almost two years. At this point, we’re merely improving details of a governance framework that is already quite extensive. VitaDAO is a pioneer in DeSci and Longevity Science, VitaDAO does not also need to pioneer governance innovation at the same time, that would not be resource-efficient. If we feel strongly about that, we could probably team up with bio.xyz and fund experimental DeSci governance research in collaboration with them. cc @vincent

3 Likes

yup great points, agree with everything u raise

Can you detail your suggestion of which part of the original proposal to keep, and which part to push forward @theobtl ?

I would really strongly push back against the suggestion that a 4-month cycle would slow down governance in VitaDAO, and also push back against the notion that historical governance in VitaDAO has been quick. To other people outside the conversation, things can appear quick with the phase 2 / phase 3 proposal cycle. As an insider into a lot of the recent proposals, however, they are definitely not quick. Most of the recent major proposals had been brewing within the core team for 3-4 months or even more (conflict resolution dating back to March). The part that the community see is only recent, but the formation of the proposal had been opaquely discussed in VitaCore for months.

With seasonal, each proposal might be less fleshed out from any one perspective, but we hope to bring more perspective into the table early on and thus makes the proposals more robust in a different way. The “current way” as described, how we’ve been doing governance, IMO includes the cons of both traditional companies and DAOs, while gaining none of the pros. The cons of traditional companies: solutions are siloed, crafted by one department / project lead (sometimes with feedback from others). The cons of decentralization: slow, designed by committee (in a bad way, where everyone feels like they should have a say but they don’t present a solution). The seasonal proposal tries to minimizes the cons of trad companies and brings the pros of decentralization to the table.

I would also push back against the idea that we shouldn’t experiment with governance. Whatever frontier we push, we will attract people who are into innovations in that frontier. Optimism for example is both pushing L2 rollups and also governance. I’m for the idea of governance grant though (actually cooking up something for this with protocol labs now :slight_smile: )

I expect seasonal governance to cause these changes:

  • More perspectives on each proposals, more community engagement around governance
  • While each proposal might be less thought out depth-wise, they will be more thought out breadth-wise
  • Governance will be actually faster and more nimble – right now we only have one idea, and we spend months refining that one idea to parameters that we can only guess but have no way of knowing. With this, we spend a limited amount of time brainstorming ideas, and more time implementing them. A hypothetical example I can give: if conflict resolution had been on seasonal governance since it started, we would have implemented it twice already (once when it first came up, once next season with revision), and entering a third period, and we will have a bunch of real experience on how our plans perform when implemented. Instead, with the current way, we’re still just talking about the idea of it, and we don’t have anyone who wants to submit counter proposals. The forcing function of “stop planning, start doing” is a feature here!
2 Likes

To add – I fully agree with the idea that we need better communication and onboarding. Having worked on onboarding for a while though, there is only so much we can do when the system is working against it. New people in the DAO see our notion, with a lot of information, but asking them to check back every week to see whether there’s any governance progress is a really, really big ask.

4 Likes

@catthu is speaking for the wider community of active contributors here. I completely agree. Being a governance contributor, I find myself being left in the dark during this period.

If these 3 - 4 months can be replaced with a more transparent seasonal initiative, I don’t see why it’s not a no-brainer from the wider community perspective. If we’re talking tradeoffs, this is faster and more decentralised. Win-win.

I want to be an integral part of this process. With a strong and talented VitaDAO community, I don’t see why we can’t do similar and great things like Optimism. We don’t have to hamper innovation of governance for longevity funding. We can do both. We’re a DAO not another VC.

If we’re talking decentralisation, it doesn’t get any clearer than this. +1

2 Likes

While I do not have a lot of context into the nuances of VitaDAO governance I tend to agree having time bound seasonal periods for voting on proposals is a good thing.