Community Governance Survey

#1

As a next step in the Stacks Foundation governance initiative, I’m compiling a survey that I’d like to share with the entire Blockstack community. The idea is inspired by a similar survey conducted last year in the Ethereum community by Eva Beylin. I personally found the results of this survey quite insightful and enlightening. The raw data from that survey, including a bunch of graphs, are linked in that post as well – see in particular the final section, on “Governance.”

Here are the questions I have for the community:

  1. What should the survey definitely ask?
  2. What should the survey not ask?
  3. What does success look like? What do we hope to learn, and how will that inform this project and overall governance?
  4. How long should it be?
  5. How should we distribute it, so as to maximize exposure and the number of responses?
  6. How should we analyze and share the results?
  7. What else should I have asked here? :slight_smile:

Thanks!

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What have the working groups been up to? - 03/11/20
#2

The survey shared by Lane above actually touches a lot of the fundamental qns that we’ve been discussing about governance.

1.What should the survey definitely ask?
Their views on governance, who should be part of the stakeholders group, What would they like governance to be applied on? (e.g. technical, political, economic)
What are the problems that they face with blockstack ecosystem currently.
What they hope to improve?
What is their ideal type of governance?
What form of governance is the best in their opinion?

2.What should the survey not ask?
No idea…

3.What does success look like? What do we hope to learn, and how will that inform this project and overall governance?
Success = a diverse view of the topic, every sub-community of blockstack is well represented.
What are the main concerns of the community? - How can governance solve it?

4.How long should it be?
~20 qns

5.How should we distribute it, so as to maximize exposure and the number of responses?
Social media(twitter, discord, etc), through evangelist reachout programs, digital assets media outlets(TechCrunch, Coindesk, etc?).

6.How should we analyze and share the results?
Demographics breakdown
Sentiment breakdown
Categorization of the problems they mentioned(which can be solved fundamentally through 1)technical improvements, 2)community reachout, 3)governance, 4)etc).

7.What else should I have asked here? :slight_smile:

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#3

I’ve prepared a first draft of the survey questions. I don’t want to post the link publicly to prevent chaos in the google doc, but DM me here (or on Discord) if you want to see it/contribute to it. Thanks!

#4
  1. What should the survey definitely ask?
    A list of behaviours that should have a rule of law. It would very valuable to map the behaviours that have seen in the development of the Blockchain as a base to develop these rules of law.
    A list of common interest among the community. It can consider broad set of common interests that will help to define the values and vision of the development.
    The kinds of executive branch that will implement such legislation. Ways to enforce the rules.
  2. What should the survey not ask?
    Technical stuff should not be considered to ask.
  3. What does success look like? What do we hope to learn, and how will that inform this project and overall governance?
    It could be consider to have success if we could have a certain level of consensus of the general objective, some key rules of law and way to put them into practice. It does not need to reach too much detail, but the general description should cover the spirit of the common interests of all, in a positive and uplifting way.
  4. How long should it be?
    It should be answered in not more than minutes. As we do not know the possible anwers, a basic research should be done in order to pre enter them in the survey and ask for new.
  5. How should we distribute it, so as to maximize exposure and the number of responses?
    Using the actual distribution channels in the Blockstack community.
  6. How should we analyze and share the results?
    Tab all answers for each topic, even for open answers in one document. From that we could have another iteration of analysis.
  7. What else should I have asked here?
    Membership of the foundation? Funding?
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#5

Copying over an important discussion from the governance working group channel on Discord today:

Can you tell a bit more about the purpose of the survey?

My response:

Generally I think it’s to better understand the community in general (hence the basic demographic questions), and in particular, to understand the community’s views on community and governance - e.g., how they’d like to see governance happen - with an eye towards ensuring that governance is as inclusive, transparent, and representative as possible, and that it factors in the preferences of as much of the community as possible.

Have we missed anything?

#6

I began to set up the survey as a typeform. You can see a preview here: https://lockehart.typeform.com/to/GJzIeI. I’m hoping to get it published this week so please let us know ASAP if you have any additional feedback. Thanks!

#7

The best governance is one that you hardly even know exists. Take for example the Linux open source system. One of the biggest and longest running open source software projects out there, if not THE biggest. While they have a detailed process for managing/governing building and releasing software they don’t seem to have much of any process that intrudes on users. They have problem reporting processes, etc. But they don’t force users to do anything via “laws” or rules. Users “vote” on what they want via the software they choose to run. Bitcoin operates similarly. I think Blockstack should strive for something similar. A governance process/structure that is as hands-off as possible. Let users do what they want and vote with the apps they run and/or pay for, and the Blockstack Core code they choose to run.
And a nice side benefit of having minimal governance is less time and resources spent creating and managing it. Resources that can be use for other things that could bring more value to the eco-system.

#8

Thinking about it a bit more, I think one big difference come with the potential problem of big money at stake. Eg. if there is a big problem in the Linux kernel it can be fixed and a new release put out. If a big problem happens on a crypto blockchain millions of dollars could be lost forever, potentially ruining people’s lives. I’m thinking now about the Ethereum DAO hack years ago and how they rolled back the Eth blockchain to erase the loss of money that was stolen in the hack/exploit. Many people wanted the rollback to happen, while others thought it was the wrong thing to do as blockchains are supposed to be immutable. So sorta dooms-day scenarios are a good thing to get ironed out in the community - how to deal with them ahead of time, if they ever happened. Eg. Under what conditions should the blockchain be rolled back if ever? And how is that voted upon and acted upon?
This is the kind of problem that a governance model should (perhaps?) address, if possible.
Probably doing a case study of all such events and discussing how they worked or failed would help…
Like the most recent hostile-takeover of the Steemit chain by Tron. But there are lots of others over the past few years.

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#9

Thanks for the comparison against Linux, I think this is valid and I find it enlightening! However, I do see a couple of important differences here as well:

  1. As you pointed out, blockchains are effectively money, and governing money can be harder than governing pure code. (Linux is not not money, of course, as the livelihood of many companies and people depend on it, but it’s more of a second- or third-order effect, and less primary than it is for a blockchain.)
  2. Many versions and distributions of Linux can exist in parallel and continue to interoperate. One reason is because they continue to maintain ABI compatibility, i.e., you can, generally, run the same code on any Linux system of the same architecture. This is not true of blockchains. Coins on one fork are immediately incompatible and non-fungible with coins on any other fork, and applications on one fork generally cannot communicate or exchange state or value with those on another fork.
#10

One set of questions that came up a few times recently was, “What’s the purpose of the survey? / What do we hope to learn from the survey? / What sort of things will we do in response to the survey?” Here are my thoughts. Please let me know what you think.

  • High-level goals
    • Calibrate my own thoughts and perceptions, mostly garnered from Ethereum governance, against the sentiment of the Blockstack community, especially as regards system of governance, role of community/PBC/Foundation, and values.
    • Understand which stakeholder groups, affinity groups, subcommunities, organizations, etc. exist throughout the community and ecosystem so as to make room for them in governance, make sure their voices are heard and needs are considered, etc.
    • Educate about, recruit, and encourage community members to participate in governance
      • Many respondents may not be familiar with governance, may never have given it thought before, and may not be aware that it’s important.
      • Answering governance-related questions can give community members a sense of what governance is, why it matters, and what ongoing participation in governance might entail. It can generate interest in governance.
      • Ask participants if they’re interested in participating and, if they say yes, ask them for an (optional) email address so we can follow up and invite them to participate.
      • It will be helpful to know what obstacles, real or perceived, currently exist that prevent people from becoming more involved in governance, so that we can attempt to address or reduce those obstacles to facilitate more participation.
    • Action points
      • Factor in community sentiment when drafting the governance proposal.
      • Factor in the set of stakeholder groups when drafting the governance proposal.
      • Make a list of perceived obstacles to participation in governance and discuss them as part of the governance working group.
      • Actively reach out to interested participants and invite them to participate in the working group, if they aren’t already.
  • Understand perceptions of shared values/constitution
    • This is the starting point for all governance, and it cannot be imposed top-down. It’s essential that we understand what the community values, what unites us, what their perception of the project mission is, how much alignment there is with that mission, etc.
    • This feedback will directly inform the governance proposal, especially mission, values, foundational principles, etc.
    • This is also a bidirectional process: many participants may not have considered these questions before, and may not realize how important they are, so the process of considering these questions may inspire them to research and think about governance, values, etc.
    • Action points
      • Factor in community sentiment regarding values/constitution when drafting the governance proposal, and other foundational governance documents.
      • If there is a lot of uncertainty/ignorance about these topics, emphasize education about them, making resources available, etc. at the early stages of governance.
      • Actively reach out to interested participants and invite them to participate in the working group, if they aren’t already.
  • Understand community channels/touchpoints, and basic demographics
    • It will be helpful for governance purposes to know how, when, and where community members prefer to engage with the Stacks community. For instance, are they more interested in engaging via online/remote/virtual channels (such as working group calls), or at in-person meetups and gatherings (such as the Blockstack summit, or local meetups)?
    • Similarly, it will be helpful to know where most active community members are, geographically-speaking, for purposes of scheduling governance events (choosing a locale for in-person events, and choosing times for virtual events).
    • It will be helpful to know if there are existing organizations (including companies) whose members are active in the community and are interested in being active in governance. If there are, we can build bridges to those organizations as an efficient way to educate people and recruit for active participation in governance.
    • Action points
      • Factor in geographic and time considerations while planning for future governance working group workflow (calls, in person meetings).
      • To the extent that they exist and are willing to be contacted, actively reach out to existing organizations that are interested in participating in governance to recruit them into the working group and open feedback channels with them.
      • Consider hosting a governance workshop or mini-summit at the next Blockstack Summit if there is interest in doing so.
  • Choose a system of governance and representation
    • It will be helpful to know whether, and to what extent, active community members hold STX tokens, and whether and to what extent they feel tokenholders should have a role in governance.
    • It will be helpful to know the community’s sentiment on systems of governance in general, to the same end. Also, on-chain vs. off-chain governance.
    • It will be helpful to know what groups, affinity groups, constituencies, etc. exist throughout the community as we design a system of governance that is as inclusive and participatory as possible, facilitates participation and sentiment-gathering among as many of these groups as possible, and factors in the needs of as much of the community as possible.
    • Action points
      • Factor in community sentiment regarding role of tokenholders, systems of governance, on-chain vs. off-chain governance, etc. when drafting the governance proposal.
      • Factor in the set of existing constituencies when drafting the governance proposal, especially as regards representation, role of “voice,” etc.
      • Actively establish communication and feedback channels with existing community groups. Use these channels to recruit participants for the governance working group.
  • PBC
    • As we determine the right ongoing role for PBC in governance, it will be helpful to understand community perception of PBC. If the community, in general, trusts PBC and is happy with its existing stewardship, then there is less urgency to transfer its responsibilities to a new entity.
    • A big part of governance is communication. It’s essential that the mission of each independent organization be clearly communicated. To this end, it will be helpful to know how much awareness the community has about the mission of PBC, and how strongly the community is aligned with it.
    • Action points
      • If there is a lack of awareness or a misunderstanding of the mission of PBC, actively address this through clear communication. Discuss it in the governance working group, consider releasing blog posts about it, and draw up an action plan with PBC stakeholders.
      • If there is a lack of trust or confidence in PBC’s leadership/stewardship, discuss this in the governance working group, and draw up an action plan to address it with PBC stakeholders. Consider implications on governance proposal.
  • Stacks Foundation
    • The Foundation exists “of, by, and for” the community. The simple act of asking community members to weigh in on its mission and role, how it should be governed, etc., and the act of taking this feedback into consideration, therefore has value.
    • It will be helpful to solicit ideas regarding transparency and accountability from the community. What methods or best practices are we unaware of? What have community members seen work well in other contexts? What would they be comfortable with?
    • Funding is another critical question in the founding and governance of the Foundation. It will be helpful to know if the community feels willing to, e.g., pay a small “tax” on every transaction in order to fund it, or if they feel it should be funded entirely by PBC, or by charity.
    • As we determine how to govern the Foundation, it will be helpful to know what the community perceives its role to be with respect to Foundation governance. Are there many, few, or no community members that are ready, willing, and able to take an active role in contributing to its governance?
    • Action points
      • Start a dialog within the governance working group on best practices for transparency and accountability, factoring in ideas gathered in this section of the survey.
      • Factor in community sentiment when deciding how to govern the Foundation: if there is a lot of interest in participation, consider how to organize interested participants into working groups or councils to contribute to Foundation governance. If not, design Foundation governance with less “core stakeholders” to begin, with a roadmap to recruit more participants.
      • Factor in community sentiment regarding Foundation funding as well. Consider drawing up a more formal proposal for “tax”-based funding, if this is a popular idea; if not, propose alternatives.
  • Funding
    • Management of funds, including treasury management, monetary and fiscal policy, etc., are also a critical aspect of governance. It will be helpful to know how community members are funding their work today, how they think they would like to fund their work on an ongoing basis, and whether and to what extent they feel that “public funding” should be used to support their work and the work of others.
    • Action points
      • Draw up a set of concrete proposals for funding and submit them to the community and to PBC for discussion. These may include designs for grant and/or bounty schemes, and/or earmarking of funding coming from a “tax” or other sources for infrastructure/”public good” funding.
      • Consider how well respondents understand the questions and challenges of monetary policy. Reserve time in the governance working group to this subject, consider establishing a separate economics working group, and/or propose other educational initiatives if understanding appears limited.
      • Factor in community sentiment regarding monetary policy when drafting the governance proposal: is there desire for more active or passive monetary policy?
  • App Mining
    • App Mining is one of the clearest and most concrete initiatives the community can own in the short to medium term. It’s a potential “early win” for community governance: an opportunity for the community, and for decentralized governance, to incrementally assume responsibility and prove its viability.
    • App Mining was intended to be decentralized and trustless from the beginning, but its initial implementation was relatively centralized. There is room for improvement.
    • There is a large budget of STX tokens earmarked for App Mining, separate from the general treasury or Foundation budget. This represents an opportunity for decentralized governance to have sway over near-term allocation of real resources.
    • To this end, it will be helpful to understand community sentiment on App Mining to date: what has gone well, what can be done better, and what can/should the role of the community be going forward?
    • Action points
      • If there is enough interest, launch an App Mining working group/task force, and through it, drawing up a concrete proposal for how to improve App Mining. Factor in community sentiment regarding what can be improved, role of PBC/Foundation/broader community, etc.
      • Use App Mining as a case study when drafting the governance proposal and instantiating governance mechanisms:
        • What role does the community desire, and does this work, in practice, to effectively govern App Mining?
        • Can the needs and preferences of each distinct stakeholder group be gathered and considered?
        • How does App Mining fit under the preferred system of governance (or not)?
        • Can we try allocating some tokens to App Mining as a test of a monetary policy mechanism, if one is desirable?
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#11

Lane,

Thanks for the thoughtful overview of the purpose and potential impact of the survey. It gives a great deal of clarity to the process.

1 Like
#12

Thanks for reading it. Definitely let me know if you’d add/change/remove anything! :pray:

#13

Hi Lane,

I started typing this up in Discord but realized it’d be better suited here. I took the survey over coffee from mobile this morning and it took me ~15-20 minutes, it could take longer if you click on the additional reading, but I think it is still easy to understand and flow through.

Some feedback below:

Demographics: Member of the community

  • What about those who are at 0 years? Do we just move on to the next question? Felt weird to leave it unanswered, maybe include a note?

Demographics: Role in the community

  • What is the difference between Community leader/evangelist and Evangelist/Advocate? Should these be grouped into one? (If so - I’d go with the latter, as we have our assigned community leaders, and volunteer evangelists that are Blockstack advocates).

Demographics: Degree of general blockchain involvement

  • This one should come before the Blockstack specific version, because in my case, Blockstack is my first foray into working with the blockchain/cryptocurrency space. It feels better to answer general --> specific.
  • Add an option for “New/Learning (unpaid)”? I think “hobbyist” is a good term for unpaid participants, but I think there is a big difference between someone who has been in this space a long time as a hobbyist versus a newcomer, so it might be worth the distinction.

Community: Attending community events

  • I feel like there could be some additional options here based on the types of events on the calendar, such as Developer Updates, Webinars, Hackathons, and Workshops.

Community: Primary resources

  • For the Discord/Slack/Telegram/WeChat option - maybe remove Slack since it’s been phased out in favor of Discord?
  • Should there be an option for Github specifically since a good portion of content lives there? I read “Code / Developer Resources” as “the documentation put out by Blockstack”, but I also see how this could be lumped together.

Blockstack PBC - The logo!

  • The one in use now hurts my eyes :speak_no_evil: :see_no_evil:
  • The branding guide is available at the footer of the site, my guess is this would be a better fit but I think someone from Blockstack should have the final say. There’s a white version for the dark background, too.
  • Indigo%403x

Independent Governance: What form should the entity take?

  • Should this be a multi-select instead of one answer? Do you think that would complicate the answer, or make it clearer which option(s) people support?

That’s all from me - thanks for the hard work in putting this together!

Best Regards,
Jason

1 Like
#14

Thanks for the great feedback!

The form does not support “0” as an option but I updated the copy here to hopefully make this clearer.

Good catch. I made this clearer: there are now separate options for:

  • Blockstack Evangelist
  • Community leader

Done!

Added!

Done

Updated - I used the white logo given the blue background color - looks much better.

Made this multi.

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