Proxy Voting Concept

Hi all, I have an idea for a tool to enable DAOs and even legacy orgs to make better decisions. My overall idea is to do something like Snapshot but add Liquid Democracy/Proxy Voting tooling. I’ve been stewing on Proxy Voting for over a decade, since before I was a developer, and I’d like to start putting it into practice. This could be used for Developer DAO or as one of its products, or both.

The Problem

Coin voting isn’t an ideal form of governance but seems to be the defacto in absence of better alternatives. The goals of coin holders and users are often misaligned, or aligned only by coincidence. We need a systemic, primitive solution for orgs to unlock the unique possibilities of decentralized/autonomous governance while also bridging the cultural expectations and UX of legacy orgs and their members.

This is top of mind for influencers like Vitalik and so there’s a need/market opportunity:

The Solution

This tool would aim to be the open source tool for orgs of all types and sizes to most accurately manifest the will of its members. The framework I like best for this is Liquid Democracy/Proxy Voting.

With Proxy Voting, members distribute their votes to other trusted members in case the original member can’t vote directly or doesn’t want to. These proxy attributions can also have a logic to them, like “If the decision to be made is about Tokenomics, then Jane has my vote.” The result is something like a very fast-moving, fluid version of representative democracy. People gain and lose power as members either agree with or disagree with their decisions. As a user, I don’t need to track every decision or proposal, I just need to look and see how my proxies acted on my behalf and then change my proxies if they have stopped representing my viewpoint.

I’m also open to having the tool provide other formats for the orgs to choose from. Like RCV or STAR. Personally I’m most interested in implementing the Proxy Voting mechanics.

I’m a pragmatist, so if along the way Proxy Voting reveals itself to not be the most efficient way of accurately manifesting the will of the group, we should ditch it. The idea is to empower those that embody expertise and responsibility to the group, and to course correct if those people stop enacting the will of their supporters.

Strategy

It would be great to use Developer DAO as the guinea pig for what we’re building. If we can dogfood as we go, I think we could make something great. Or if a collaborator has their own DAO or org they’d like to try it on, that works too.

What do we think? I’m ready to break ground on this immediately if there’s anyone who wants to collaborate.

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Thanks for putting this up! Personally, I’m not a tokenomics expert but this does sound like something worth a try. I’d be interested in helping develop this & seeing how it plays out.

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I heard the pirate party Germany tried liquid democracy, but failed.

But I personally love the concept and think it deserves as many tries as needed to make it a success! :fire:

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Yeah, I think understanding what happened there and why it didn’t work would be important research to do for this effort. My intuition is that DAOs are already filled with forward-looking people who see the value in novel solutions, so it might have a higher chance of success with DAOs than some of the other orgs that have tried it. And of course it’s all about the execution.

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I think we do have to rely upon the DAO and those delegating to keep an eye on their representative, and pull support if things start to go off the rails. We should definitely keep an eye on this, if implemented, to avoid blocs getting too large (maybe introduce caps on delegations to a given actor?) to prevent unconscious single party action. Or even just setting time limits so you have to keep coming back to assert that yes, in fact, you still want to delegate after a week, 3 days, whatever time period.

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Help me around definitions. Is there an inherent difference between proxy voting & delegated voting? Delegation being built in to Snapshot today.

I like the idea of logic playing a role like you suggested with what the vote is about.

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Fundamentally proxy/delegate are usually interchangeable, though I hear proxy used more so maybe there’s a difference in cultural context in what people mean.

Is this the feature you’re talking about on Snapshot?

It seems way more basic than what I have in mind, but this is a small building block of it, yes. I’m thinking a user should be able to browse everyone in the DAO and see past votes that they’ve cast. Perhaps even a short bio/summary of what that person stands for or their top priorities. It should be trivial to understand whether your preferences are being expressed by your proxies or not.

Also, at this time my thinking is that assigning proxies would be a requirement. That way you technically get 100% participation on all votes. If you take no other action on any decisions, you still chose your proxies in the beginning, and that was your participation.

Yep, that is it. It is very basic as far as just delegating voting power out.

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Just came to know about this idea and it is amazing. IMO, this can give us the benefit in all the aspects. :ok_hand:

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This tweet echoes a lot of what I’m hearing in the DAO space and to me, validates the market for a proxy voting tool:

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This sounds very much like it has been done before. I feel like the proposal is in need of a research on existing solution.

Other than that I like the idea

btw something to keep in mind: Aragon Voice
They claim to support quadratic voting and nft voting in the “future”

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Yeah, ideally there is a great tool out there that we will discover so we don’t have to build anything. We’ll post our findings as we go.

The idea does not have to be unique or never have been done to be worth pursuing however. If the existing tools are not ones that Developer DAO would adopt, or other DAOs, the reasons why will be interesting.

Agree. Just saying that it’s worth investigating what else is out there before starting something like this from scratch. It could also be something that partially solves the problem but would allow us to already use it and move quicker already, while at the same time working on an extension or even something from scratch.

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Gitcoin has deployed the largest delegated voting system that I’ve seen or used personally. They should absolutely be used as a case study and stewards/members of GitcoinDAO are also in devdao; I’m sure they’d be happy to answer questions or point to some resources.

Some brief context can be found in their FAQ.

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@marc That’s great to know about, thanks! It looks like they don’t require you to assign proxies? In my mind that should be a barrier to entry for a DAO or else you just run into the same lack of participation, no? Then your proxies are activated if the decision deadline is reached and you haven’t cast a vote.

We’ve formed a small team to head up this exploration and we have a code repo + wiki here:

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