People vs. DAO Politicians

Polkachu Intern | 2023-01-28

The biggest enemy of an early crypto project is not centralization, but DAO politicians who wave the decentralization flag for their personal gains.

DAO Politicians

DAO politicians typically select projects based on the market cap rather than a understanding and conviction of the project.

When a DAO politician is a validator, they will drum up the loud music of decentralization while asking for a foundation delegation, then does not make a sound once they reach a top spot.

When a DAO politician is a community member, they will stir up every small controversy into populist outrage and then monetize the outrage into clicks and clout.

When a DAO politician is the proposer of a funding proposal, they will reuse whatever write-ups they had from the last 10 failed hackathons, suddenly engage with the community on Discord, and then privately DM validators with high VP for "feedback". If the funding proposal fails, you never hear from them again.

When a DAO politician is already a leader in a project, they will leverage the resources under their control and make behind-the-scene transactions to increase their personal power at the expense of the community. They hate to disclose those. Even when forced by the community, they will still sound great rhetorically as a misunderstood hero.

DAO Politicians' Advantage

When a project just starts, its immune system against DAO politicians is weak. If we call for decentralization too early, DAO politicians tend to seize the opportunity. They have more time to grind on community discussions and are typically more sophisticated in communication than true builders. As a result, the community adversely selects a group of DAO politicians as their leaders and spokespersons.

DAO politicians just sound very good on paper as they say all the right things to hit every cell of the crypto Bingo card: "community", "decentralization", etc. The core team, either afraid of being accused as a centralizing force or genuinely uninterested in politics, often cede ground easily. With weak resistance from the core team, DAO politicians can conquer the diffused power of a decentralized community.

DAO politicians are also not accountable. They are often anonymous. Even when they are not, they typically do not carry a known existing reputation into a new project. They take credits for things that go well but never take blame for mistakes. They are happy to move on once the grift is discovered, as they know it is always a short-term gig and new targets emerge every day.

How to Combat DAO Politicians

  1. The core team needs to be politically strong and unified. DAO politicians target a chain when the core team is weak. CosmosHub core team has long been divided in the long-term vision with its co-founder Jae and Evmos core team has a tendency to fade into the background to just focus on the tech. As a result, these two chains had the most political dramas and DAO politicians contributed to them greatly. On the other hand, the core teams of Stargaze and Osmosis have consistently provided the community with strong guidance and leadership. As a result, not too many dramas from these two chains.
  2. Be wary of pre-mature bureaucratization of DAO. While a DAO bureaucracy is probably inevitable down the road, we should resist the pre-mature scaling of DAO. DAO politicians like to have grand visions, grow staff members and define work streams. However, what if you just forget about those beautiful write-ups and ask yourself, "Will the blockchain project be okay without these work streams?" The answer is most likely "Yes", especially when the project is still in its early stage and many processes should not be ossified yet.
  3. Establish narrowly-defined DAO institutions with members of existing known reputation: We have been unapologetically voting "Yes" on many Grant Program proposals regarded as too "expensive". For example, CosmosHub Prop 95, Osmosis Prop 362 and Evmos Prop 110. Such DAO institutions have well-defined scope and its work quality can be rather accurately measured in the next renewal cycle. The members typically have a long reputation beyond the specific project (Reverie for Osmosis and Encode Club for Evmos, for example). And finally, such narrowly-defined DAO institutions build up the immune system of the project against DAO politicians who like to put on a dog-and-pony show when they ask for community funding themselves, or feed on any treasury funding controversies when they themselves are not applying.

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