[DRAFT] Pilot a D_D mini 'Citizens' Assembly' to improve governance-participation

Author: @Piablo

TL’DR

The desire in web3 in general, and also in Developer_DAO is to have more participation in governance. But the existing forum process in Discourse is time-consuming, and attracts a limited audience, hindering inclusivity and engagement. And sadly the paradox with this model is that the more breadth and depth of participation there is, the more time-consuming and therefore bigger the task for those participants.

This document proposes a pilot experiment with a simplified version of a Citizens’ Assembly (CA) within the Developer DAO in the form of the simple and effective World Cafe method. The aim is to foster a culture of live, deliberative democracy, building proposals collaboratively from the ground up, as an alternative to the current textual forums where the community backward-engineers already finished proposals. The beauty of this model is that participants would be different for each new issue that needs a proposal from the DAO, creating a diversity of opinion from folks that otherwise would not be engaged in the present model.

Recognising a D_D Issue/Problem and Defining Its Overarching Question

  1. A DAO member proposes the issue, or problem at hand
  2. An ‘overarching question’ is needed to solve that issue in a meaningful and scoped manner.
  3. Multiple versions of a potential ‘overarching question’ go to a poll on Discord.
  4. The chosen question becomes the starting point for proposal building in the CA.

Participant Categories

  1. D_D comprises 20-30 prominent ‘contributors’ and numerous ‘members.’
  2. The CA pilot aims to engage approximately 3 voluntary contributors and recruit 7 members.
  3. The goal is to achieve a balanced demographic representation in two dynamic groups.

Mechanism and Scope

  1. A call up to voluntary ‘sortition’ would probably be needed in the beginning to ensure a deep degree of diversity.
  2. While the pilot won’t implement sophisticated demographic sorting, future iterations may explore advanced methods like soul-bound NFTs and zero-knowledge proofs for enhanced sortition.

Diversity Aims for the Pilot

  1. Gender balance: Include at least two members from underrepresented genders.
  2. Geographical, language, and economic: Represent different regions, aiming for at least four continents.
  3. Professional background: Include contributors with diverse professional backgrounds, considering at least two distinct roles or areas of expertise.
  4. Experience level and age: Ensure a mix of experienced D_D contributors and newcomers, taking different age groups into account.
  5. Interests: Engage participants with different interests and specializations within web development, focusing on at least two distinct areas.

Online Collaboration and harvest

  1. Assign a facilitator/note-taker for each group during live sessions.
  2. Utilise a video conferencing tool for live sessions (D_D transparency), e.g. Live Peer.
  3. Use collaborative tools (e.g. Miro) for visual collaboration and to document key points, ideas, and discussions in real-time for harvests.

Deliberation Process

  • Three to four sessions of 75-90 minutes each, with participant rotations (a, b, and c) to ensure diverse perspectives.

Session 1: Understanding the Problem and Defining Sub-Questions

  • Sessions 1a and 1b aim to agree on sub-questions, e.g., 3 sub-questions.
  • Session 1c initiates deliberation on the first sub-question.

Session 2: Addressing Sub-Questions

  • Participants address the remaining 2 sub-questions in sessions 2a and 2b.
  • Session 2c explores the harvested results with all previous sessions and harmonises them.

Compiling Harvests and limited asynchronous fine-tuning

  1. At the end of each session, the facilitators review the collaborative document to ensure clarity and completeness.
  2. It is crucial to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of the deliberation process, preventing interference or manipulation from non-participants.
  3. Share the compiled document with all participants for a brief review and feedback period before the next session.

Session 3: Compiling the Proposal main points

  • Participants collaborate to compile proposed solutions into clear points.

Proposal Drafting, Review, Clarification, and Vote

  1. Assign an external, impartial author, not directly involved in the deliberation, to review the compiled harvests and draft a proposal, potentially leveraging AI assistance.
  2. The author uses feedback from participants to refine the proposal.
  3. A DAO steward addresses clarifying questions on the proposal.
  4. Put the final proposal to a Snapshot on-chain vote.

Rationale

This approach aims to actively engage participants in building the proposal, fostering ownership and genuine interest. It contrasts the traditional method of presenting pre-written proposals and waiting for reactions. The pilot demonstrates the effectiveness of live, deliberative democracy within D_D, with the potential to reshape proposal generation and discussion in the future. The ultimate goal is to create a culture where members are enthusiastic about driving Developer_DAO forward.

Drawbacks

While the proposed mini-Citizens Assembly presents an innovative approach, there are potential challenges to consider. Ensuring consistent and active participation across diverse time zones may be a hurdle. Additionally, there’s a need for a robust mechanism to address any biases in participant selection. Balancing time constraints versus prioritizing efficiency risks the depth of deliberation, potentially leading to rushed or less thoughtful proposals.

Vote:

  • For
  • Against
  • Abstain
4 Likes

Thanks for sharing this @Piablo - governance experimentation gooooood.

My understanding is you’re proposing we’re run a test whereby we select a topic that needs to be addressed via a Governance proposal, and then use this approach to putting the proposal together - os that right?

If that’s the case, would suggest a proposal maybe isn’t needed to do that, what is needed is that test case and willing volunteers for it, unless it’s felt a proposal is needed to compel this test/or add some rewards to the people who do it.

  • Like principals behind the idea as a means to bring new voices into governance
  • Whist this approach achieves :point_up: it also reduces the number of people who can, in theory, contribute to each proposal by sharing their perspectives.
  • Feels like a lot of overhead vs current proposal process (10 peoples time for 3.75-6 hours each plus whatever overhead there is to organise).

Adding to this (forgot to mention) if others are interested I would be happy to participate in a trial.

Is there any other approaches that share some of the same traits that require less time and could be tested on a smaller scale?

1 Like

Yes, to this. Governance is not and has not been working effectively.

There’s a bit of a catch22 with this. The idea of running a pilot or two was based on suggestions I listened to from ‘contributors’ on ‘not’ being too ambitious for running the pilot, including not involving too many participants [= reduce]. So I would suggest to run it in practice, and start of with a DAO issue/problem that doesn’t have such far reaching consequences, but something that is still meaningful for D_D.

:seedling: I would therefore invite members to suggest some problems or issues in the DAO that need solved 'in the form of a scoped “over-arching question” n.b. only the question - no suggested solutions.
e.g. “How can we iterate on getting more diversity and engagement in moving the DAO forward, while respecting limited time resources of members?:seedling:

I would argue that current collaborative part of the proposal process (after the proposer has spent time to put it all together) is seriously lacking in engagement and therefore that in itself is a negative, and comparing this to a situation where there is more engagement only demonstrates exactly what I propose to achieve - more engagement.

Personally, I’d love to see the DAO buzzing again with initiatives, and would love to see this CA process scale up (i.e. get much more members involved instead of a meagre 10 people in a pilot) and be something that members took pride in participating in - and that was the reward in itself.

Let’s not forget that D_D is an opt-in community, and if members can be empowered in an easy way such as this of having the chance to be chosen (in a sortition process) to drive the DAO forwards, then happy days - maybe the reverberating question that every new member recites “How can I contribute?” will be answered.

Nice one!!! Happy days!

Very subjective, I know, but personally I don’t think asking 4-5 hours of engagement from a member over a couple of weeks period is such a big ask. And the whole intention is culture building, and asking the question, ‘do you want ‘your’ DAO to work?’

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I was on the coordination call with @Piablo explaining real-time the idea of D_D mini

I agree with trying this idea!

Going to history → Eden was running a forum post like a year ago and we had this huge participation which I am still really grateful for.

The point is that, for this to happen → I had to go full-time job, it took a lot of work talking to hundreds of members of the DAO, testing the platform with them, and then finally asking them if they could post their opinions on the forum

I don’t think that in the current state of the DAO, we can do that for each post and it needs a more casual way to move forward in this proposals

2 Likes

Coming back here after today’s Coordination sync.

Can see value is this approach or one similar to it for “meta” governance discussions where we tackling nuanced topic related to the coordination structures and governance framework of the DAO which are the topics at the min. Could also see it applied to guidelines for how rewards/budgets are calculated.

An ideal outcome for the DAO from such a process from my perspective would be something like the POKT DAO OS. I reached out to Ben a week or so ago who published that to understand how they put it together. From asking @Adz the TLDR I believe is something along the lines of a survey and multiple workshops/brainstorming sessions.

I have a draft of a DAO member survey here. It take some inspiration from the Talent Protocol DAO Health Survey and my own research. The intention is to get a pulse check on the DAO via analysis of quantitative questions and identity consistent themes/questions to explore from analysis of qualitative questions. The quantitative questions could then be run again at regular(ish) intervals to measure impact over time.

I’d resisted moving ahead with this as I didn’t have an answer for “How do we explore the themes/questions that come out of this” - maybe the approach your suggesting could be that answer?

Hey Kemp,
Just seeing your message.
I will take a second look at pokt, and get a better look at these other resources when I get the bandwidth.
Cheers