Transparency is not a protocol by-product

When the Governance Squad team for the Decentraland DAO was approved and funded by the community, one of the first things we decided that we would put effort into was to increase the participation and to raise the quality bar of the community contributions by improving the way DAO members interacts with each other. In those early conversations, we all agreed that for a community to thrive and to trust individuals, a layer of transparency must be enabled.

We all heard that DAOs are transparent at their cores and that decentralization leads to a free flow of information in the organization. But we commonly mistake data with information. Sometimes a transaction ID on the blockchain consumed via Etherscan or a few lines of code on a smart contract are not enough. In order to have a good decision making mindset, we believe that transparency must be built and not taken for granted as a by-product of the underlying architecture.

Data and information must be made available for everyone to consume in different formats, targeted to different audiences. We are all not the same and not everyone consumes information the same way or wants to have the same level of attention with the project. That’s why today we are introducing the first version of the Decentraland DAO Transparency Operating System (OS).

An Operating System for better community decision-making

This OS is a collection of tools and spaces that hopefully will increase the trust and therefore the engagement of the community by providing a view that goes from the bird’s eye to the most granular levels of information.

We started this project with three design goals in mind:

  • Information should be easy to consume - Since we know not everyone invest the same amount of time and attention to a project, we made sure that we were providing with clear and transparent dashboards that provides an at-a-glance view of the data as well as data on a simple spreadsheet and raw csv files.

  • Data and reports should be easy to audit - We want to empower the community to scrutinize and spend as much time as they want doing research and understanding how the funds of the DAO are being used, how’s the health of the DAO or how efficient are the Committees of the DAO when operating or providing services to the community. That’s why we made sure to structure the data in a way that should be easy to work with.

  • Reports should be easy to modify- We want everyone to be able to slice and dice the data however they want so in addition to the raw content we are publishing the scripts used to mine the data so anyone can benefit from having the same starting point and modifying as much as they want to scrap the data as they want to create their own data storytelling products.

The building blocks

For this first iteration we are launching the following foundational components and reports:

  • Github Repository - This is the basamental stone of the project, is the code repo where all the scripts we used to mine the data are available. Any auditing and any contribution to this project should start from this repo. Here you will find the code, the sources and the calculations we made to extract and publish this data. The mined data is published daily in CSV and JSON formats for anyone to consume.

  • Public Spreadsheet - All this data was also made available via a google sheet that anyone can consume, download and edit. Maybe you are not familiar with coding so you can’t run the scripts on your own but you’re a spreadsheet nerd that wants to have the data as clean as possible to build your own reports.

  • Insights Dashboard - A collection of reports built using the data mined with the previously shared scripts that is on the Public Spreadsheet. We organized the dashboard in categories: Proposals, VP Distribution & Participation, Grants and DAO Balances. Each one of those topics throw some light on the DAO structure, participation and power.

  • Transparency Page - A new section has been added to the Governance dApp including a high level summary of DAO’s treasury and its active members. This page has been designed to bring forward the main stats of the DAO and relevant links to continue learning about it’s operations.

First Thoughts

By looking at the data we made the attempt to extract some non-extensive thoughts that will probably serve to the prioritization of our execution roadmap regarding the Governance dApp and some DAO Governance proposals to be published soon.

  • Proposals - Almost 50% of all the proposals created are Polls. Given that Polls are a non-binding type of proposal it is difficult to do a follow up and a categorization of the different topics that end up being on that huge bucket. With the 3-stage governance process hopefully we will be able to see polls serving as a community signaling first step and then evolving into more formulated proposals. But we might need a better categorization inside that bucket (Feature requests, moderation, fees and so on). It is also interesting to see that there are really few Catalyst approval proposals. Given the fact that hosting your own Decentraland server is a crucial step on the decentralization of the platform, maybe we need to do a better job at explaining the benefits of running a Catalyst server.

  • VP Distribution - VP is still too centralized in a few members of the DAO, right now around 65 addresses retain 87% of circulating VP. We need to do a better job at incentivizing members to delegate their VP to community delegates. Of the 4 sources of VP (MANA, LAND, DCL Names and Delegated VP), MANA and LAND have a similar level of participation but LAND VP is way more centralized in a few unique accounts. Only 488 addresses own LAND and represents the 53% of the total circulating VP. This might be interesting if we start to see Districts and States participating more actively on the DAO.

  • Participation - We need to create a better path to make the Decentraland users to be aware of the DAO. Even though the Decentraland monthly active users have been growing steadily, we are seeing a decline in participation (voting specifically) after the metaverse hype in Q4 2021. We know that the portion of the broader Decentraland audience that is going to be interested in the DAO is small, we need to make sure that we are at least showcasing the importance of the organization.

  • Grants - Since the inception of the Community Grants, the acceptance rate of grant proposals has been 23% and the DAO has invested around $2M USD on those projects. But there is no budget target defined by the community (Are we spending too much or too little on this kind of project?) and the follow-up and accountability process is too loose. We want to make sure that the money the DAO is investing on those projects is well spent so we will work on creating the tools and the teams needed to improve those operations.

  • Treasury - The DAO holds a FIAT valuation of $117.5M USD at the time of writing this post. Around 93% of the reserves are in MANA and there is no diversification strategy. This is not an easy task, the community needs to get creative to understand how to protect the DAO runway operating expenses without affecting the MANA price on the markets. But to do that first we need to better understand the income and outcome sources and be better at doing forecasting.

Coming up next…

As we said at the beginning, this is the first iteration of the Transparency efforts, we want to continue evolving this framework and making it easier for everyone to understand how the DAO is operating. The initial step will be of course to gather community feedback about this iteration and improve it based on that. As next steps we are planning to work on reporting and building dashboards for the operations of the different committees the DAO hosts (DAO Committee, Wearables Curation Committee and the Security Advisory Board by now), a deep dive on the spending and income of the DAO and data around MANA liquidity in the open markets..

We hope this data makes you think about the future of our organization and the overall Decentraland project, please chime in with any questions, feedback or comments on the DAO’s Discord Server on the #general channel.

See you in the metaverse!

The DAO Governance Squad