Improving Predictability in Arbitrum DAO’s Operations

Improving Predictability in Arbitrum DAO’s Operations

Non Constitutional

Abstract

This proposal aims to introduce guidelines for posting proposals to a vote; primarily to reduce delegate fatigue by ensuring that Snapshot and Tally votes are posted at a regular cadence with greater predictability. Rather than formally updating the language of the Arbitrum DAO Constitution, the chosen guidelines can be seen as a common social agreement between delegates. This proposal carries no cost to the DAO, and the guidelines can be implemented by the start of August if passed through a Snapshot vote.

Motivation

Since its inception, the Arbitrum DAO has voted on over 280 Snapshots and 30 onchain votes. First anticipated almost a year ago by @cattin and @seedlatam, as the operations of the DAO continue to grow, a more efficient and predictable governance process is needed to prevent delegate fatigue.

Rationale

Our team considered several possibilities for structuring Arbitrum DAO’s governance processes. This included creating voting periods organized around a monthly calendar or continuously repeating three week cycles. While both of those structures would greatly increase predictability and allow for the possibility of predetermined rest periods, they each come with tradeoffs:

  • Condensing the availability of when a proposal can be posted to a vote creates an incentive to rush proposals. This can be detrimental to overall proposal quality.
  • There is the potential to induce delegate fatigue if there is an overwhelming amount of votes all pushed into one short period.
    • Limiting the number of votes in each batch opens up further questions on how to prioritize which proposals are included.
  • The DAO has typically seen a 14 day application window for RFPs. Ensuring elections begin in a timely manner post RFP is an additional consideration that adds complexity to any designed structure.

Previous conversations on the DAO’s process have also included introducing standard guidelines for elections or an Arbitrum Delegate Code of Conduct. These are topics that Entropy Advisors is beginning to work on as well, but in this case we believe it is better to start by leaning on the side of simplicity.

Knowing that more complex structures can always be implemented later, below we propose the adoption of a set day each week for votes to start as well as a holiday break. Both of these would greatly increase predictability for delegates and can be adopted by the DAO without much of an adjustment period.

Specifications

This proposal does not seek to alter the language of the Arbitrum DAO Constitution, but rather create an agreed upon social contract between delegates on best practices in regards to posting proposals to a Snapshot or Tally vote.

Our primary objective is to improve predictability and reduce the potential for delegate fatigue. Based on these priorities below are specifications for the two recommended adjustments to Arbitrum DAO’s governance processes.

Start all votes on Thursdays

By starting both Snapshot and Tally votes on Thursday, the DAO can not only increase predictability for delegates, but also prevent the scenario where votes begin/end on weekends.

In order for a Tally vote to start on Thursday, it must be posted on Monday given the 3-day delay from when a proposal is posted until voting begins. Each batch of proposals ready to move to a Snapshot vote can be scheduled beforehand beginning on Monday and through Wednesday. We encourage delegates to post/schedule votes to begin before Thursday at 12 pm UTC. While not a hard deadline, this will help ensure any votes start for a majority of delegates worldwide.

Overall, this allows delegates who don’t follow discussions as closely a few days to see what will be voted on and properly prepare. Additionally, with multiple opportunities each month to move a proposal forward to a vote, the incentive to rush the process is reduced.

Holiday Break: December 20 - January 6th

Implement a holiday break to ensure delegates have a break and can return refreshed for the new year. During this time it is advised that no new proposals are posted to the forums and only emergency proposals are put up to a vote.

Optional: Delegate Approval Process

Recently, we have noticed a trend within Arbitrum DAO of delegates waiting until a proposal makes it to a Snapshot for feedback to be given. This has resulted in some proposals being posted to Snapshot prematurely. We assume this is a result of several factors including the increasing amount of topics delegates must stay up to date on and the fact that there are no specific guidelines on how much discussion is required before moving a proposal forward.

It would likely be very difficult to achieve DAO wide consensus on what specific requirements should be implemented to determine when a proposal is ready to move to a Snapshot vote. Thus a level of subjectivity is required and taking inspiration from procedures within Optimism DAO, a delegate approval process can be adopted.

There are currently 64 delegates with greater than 500k in voting power (VP), so our recommended threshold for delegate approval is either a cumulative of 20m VP (requires at least 2 delegates) or 6 delegates (~10% of delegates with necessary power to post votes). If a proposal reaches either of the thresholds, it can be considered that there is consensus among enough delegates that it is ready to move forward.

To signal their support of a proposal, delegates can post a statement similar to the following: “I am an Arbitrum delegate with xx voting power and believe this proposal is ready to move forward to Snapshot”.

This approach introduces its own set of tradeoffs. While it would likely prevent premature proposals from going to a Snapshot vote, it does increase delegate responsibilities and can risk proposals authored by new contributors getting stuck due to the lack of connections to large delegates. Therefore we are presenting this as an option separate from the aforementioned adoptions and would welcome feedback from the community.

To help encourage delegates to take on this additional responsibility, as part of the delegate incentive program a bonus point can be awarded to delegates on Karma who approve a proposal that eventually passes on Snapshot or Tally. This is just a suggestion and something we will leave to the discretion of the @seedlatam team.

Additional Considerations: Emergency Proposals

In the event of an emergency proposal that is time-sensitive in nature we recommend that any adopted guidelines be waived and the proposal be put up to a vote immediately. In our opinion, only Constitutional AIPs that relate to security matters should be considered as emergency proposals.

Steps to Implement

Any changes made to the DAO’s procedures need to be widely communicated and accessible for potential new members. Otherwise, there are minimal steps needed to implement other than coordinating delegates and helping the DAO adjust to the adopted changes.

Entropy will also be responsible for:

  • Adding the agreed upon guidelines to the Ground Rules Topic so that it is easy for new community members to discover and access. Our team will coordinate with the Foundation to make this happen.
  • Adding the holiday break to the Arbitrum DAO Google Calendar.

Timeline

Below is a proposed timeline to help ensure a smooth transition and adequate preparation for all delegates and community members.

Feedback Period (June 24th - July 11th)

Taking into account GovHack (July 5-7) and EthCC (8-11), we have proposed a longer feedback period so as to not hold a vote when several delegates will be traveling. These events also present an opportunity to gather additional feedback in person.

Snapshot: July 11th - 18th

Voting Options: Ranked Choice

  • Adopt Thursday as Voting Day & Holiday Break
  • Adopt Thursday as Voting Day, Holiday Break, & Delegate Approval Process
  • Against
  • Abstain

Preparation Period: July 18th - July 28th

Assuming the proposal passes the Snapshot vote, preparation for the first batch of proposals to align with the new schedule. We recommend that no Snapshot votes are posted after July 21st to help ensure a smooth transition for the first batch to begin August 1st.

First Tally Votes Scheduled: July 29th

First Batch of Snapshot Votes: August 1st

Costs

There are no additional costs to the DAO for implementing this proposal. The primary resources required will be the time required to update and coordinate with delegates on whatever new schedule is decided upon. This will be handled by the Entropy Advisors team.

Acknowledgements

We wanted to also extend our gratitude to @cattin and the @seedlatam team for providing valuable feedback and assistance with this proposal.

21 Likes

One suggestion, to help delegates be aware of the calendar and “soft” enforce it, is to ask Snapshot and @Frisson/Tally if a brightly colored banner or message can indicate when a proposal has been submitted outside the official calendar. Then delegates can easily choose to vote against or ignore without any additional work.

Also ask the SEED Latam folks who administer the delegate incentive program to confirm that proposals posted outside approved times don’t count towards participation.

Both of the above would let us lean into the natural tendency to minimize work, since there’s not an easy way to enforce this at the smart contract level.

16 Likes

I support this proposal and this is an excellent suggestion!

4 Likes

This is an interesting proposal.

IMO, having a schedule will help to organize the workload and improve the quality of the engagement on the forum. The other suggestions to help to enforce the execution are worth a closer look too!

Regarding the point below, maybe it would be interesting to lower the threshold (VP) a bit. In the last few proposals, around 21 delegates with a VP above 500k voted, so the 6 delegates is almost 30%. (the concern here is to have a proposal hanging because got only 4 or 5 delegates supporting it).

2 Likes

Agree on the calendar (quite useful) and agree on the take on numbers.

2 Likes

This is a very welcome proposal. Thank you!

I support the idea of having all proposals start on Thursdays. The rationales behind that is pretty solid and would definitely help reduce delegate fatigue as we would know when exactly proposals hit Snapshot/Tally and when they would be ending.

The holiday break is also much needed. I remember having to review and sign proposals around December 31st last year; that wasn’t fun. This would definitely help.

Regarding the delegate approval process though, I don’t support it. The percentage of premature proposals hitting Snapshot is much lower than proper ones that go live. I don’t think there needs to be that additional process at least right now.

Finally, plus one on @GFXlabs suggestion regarding the colored banners/messaging. It would be nice if Snapshot and Tally could implement.

4 Likes

:+1: Agree on setting a regular voting schedule and implementing a holiday break,

it ensures more effective participation and prevents burnout.

Additionally, the delegate approval process can enhance proposal quality, fostering a more organized and efficient governance system without incurring any costs.

2 Likes

Useful proposal.

However, it is very difficult to determine public holidays for different countries.
Also, I think there should be an exception for updating security protocols and other emergencies.

p.s. I really like that you set your own vote for Thursday )

1 Like

I agree with the proposal to start all proposals on Thursdays, as it will help reduce delegate fatigue and create a predictable schedule. This is a very useful idea. However, I have some concerns. One potential issue is that this rigid schedule might limit flexibility for urgent or sensitive proposals.

2 Likes

Good idea @GFXlabs :+1: because it enhances the governance process by using visual cues and incentives to ensure compliance with the voting calendar. Brightly colored banners and non-recognition of off-schedule proposals help delegates manage their workload effectively, maintaining order and predictability in the voting process without requiring complex enforcement mechanisms.

2 Likes

Thank you @GFXlabs for the great suggestions! We agree that they would help enforce the social agreement. Based on initial conversations with each team, it appears that both of these can be implemented.

This is a good call out @jameskbh, before posting to Snapshot we will post a poll in this thread to gather final opinions on what the # of delegates the threshold should be for approval.

Regarding the concern on making sure there is an exception for security proposals and other emergencies, our proposal outlines that given such a situation any agreed upon guidelines should be discarded and the sensitive proposal moved to a vote immediately.

Thank you all for the thoughts and feedback thus far!

5 Likes

Thank you for your suggestions, which will benefit all delegates. We believe this has been much needed change for the Arbitrum governance.

We agree with the proposed schedule of starting all votings on Thursday. Regarding the approval criteria, we think it is good that proposals that are not approved by some number of delegates will no longer be moved to the snapshot, while ensuring minimal decentralization. We also think it is good to have a holiday period. (For Optimism governance, they have “seasons” for each 6 months and breaks between them. Possibly a summer break can be considered for Arbitrum governance as well)

We have a question about the approval criteria here. Have you considered the possibility that this approvals could become difficult to obtain, making it harder for many proposals to be moved to the snapshot, or conversely, that this approval process could become a mere formality? In order to determine if the criteria to be set at this time will work, we think it would be better to have a trial period first and then make a decision about the right approval criteria after the trial period.

4 Likes

At SEED, we strongly support this proposal as it has the potential to streamline the work and assessments conducted by delegates, resulting in more organized and professional insights.

We also agree with selecting Thursday as the starting day for voting, as the variables considered in this decision seem appropriate.

Additionally, we want to emphasize the importance of being mindful of the “holidays” period. In other DAOs, this time has sometimes been exploited to push through proposals—occasionally malicious ones—due to reduced engagement.

To help encourage delegates to take on this additional responsibility, as part of the delegate incentive program a bonus point can be awarded to delegates on Karma who approve a proposal that eventually passes on Snapshot or Tally. This is just a suggestion and something we will leave to the discretion of the @seedlatam team.

Regarding delegates signaling before posting on Snapshot, we are aware of the trade-offs and potential outcomes involved. This type of signaling has been effective for other DAOs, resulting in implicit but effective prioritization and, at times, more professional proposal writing. In those DAOs, it is not necessarily linked to specific incentives, so we need to find proxies, other variables, or a way to ensure it remains a thoughtful and professional decision rather than merely an incentive for farming.

Using the delegates program and complementary tools to enforce and promote better engagement with this type of social contract seems reasonable.

Regarding @GFXlabs suggestion:

One suggestion, to help delegates be aware of the calendar and “soft” enforce it, is to ask Snapshot and Frisson/Tally if a brightly colored banner or message can indicate when a proposal has been submitted outside the official calendar. Then delegates can easily choose to vote against or ignore without any additional work.

We are highly supportive of this implementation. If feasible, it should be implemented as soon as possible.

Also ask the SEED Latam folks who administer the delegate incentive program to confirm that proposals posted outside approved times don’t count towards participation.
Both of the above would let us lean into the natural tendency to minimize work, since there’s not an easy way to enforce this at the smart contract level.

We support this initiative because we are currently exploring improvements for the delegates program. The timing for commenting and voting is being considered to encourage early engagement and feedback, and to evaluate contributions more precisely. This approach would not only reduce workload but also enhance policy-making and the quality of proposals.

Thanks @entropy for considering our feedback and putting this proposal together!

5 Likes

thank you for putting this proposal forward!

regarding the set schedule for votes:
it is a practice that has been working in DAOs ever since the MakerDAO days. so it makes sense to consider it. but I worry about the door it might open, because in MakerDAO there we’re explicitly appointed governance facilitators, from GovAlpha, that would spend their time cat hearding the people and proposals that should get to a vote on the set date. Those people had a lot of centralized power. Too much in my opinion. I’m not sure if this is the right path for Arbitrum DAO.

regarding the Delegate Approval Process:
@Entropy could you provide examples of proposals that you consider that “went too soon” for offchain temperature check on Snapshot?

I’m asking this because right now, the criteria to get an offchain proposal on Snapshot is actually quite high, meaning, only a delegate with sufficient voting power can do it.

it seems to me that by proposing this Delegate Approval Process we’re saying we don’t trust a single delegate with a lot of voting power to have the discernment to decide if a proposal someone is asking them to post on snapshot, is sufficiently valid to be posted or not, and that we would need a consensus of delegates to decide that.

I personally believe we should have many more proposals that get to the temperature check stage and get voted against and don’t move forward. I don’t think that’s a problem. I think that’s a sign of an healthy and diverse community.

2 Likes

Thank you everyone for the additional comments and thoughts. A few last responses and details before we post this proposal to Snapshot tomorrow.

We’d like to reiterate that this is just a social agreement between delegates, so changes can be made at any point. However, the idea of a trial period as suggested by @Tane, is interesting. With our current timeline starting August 1st, the remainder of 2024 can effectively serve as a 5 month trial period. Entropy Advisors is committed to gathering feedback and if necessary, revisiting this conversation at the beginning of 2025.

As mentioned by @paulofonseca, regarding proposals that may have been a bit premature. In the last month the DAO has had 3 snapshot votes fail by a significant margin:

ArbitrumHub Evolution: The Next Step in Streamlining Information Access and Raising Awareness for Arbitrum DAO - 99.38% Against

[Non-Constitutional] Betting on Builders: Infinite Launchpad Proposal - 94.85% Against

Pilot Stage – Treasury Backed Vaults research and development - 88.38% Against

To be clear, all three of these were valid proposals. While voted down by the DAO, there were supportive comments from some delegates who only wished to see certain changes before voting FOR. Temperature checks on Snapshot are a great way to quickly gather this type of feedback, so we very much recognize the argument that a delegate approval process may slow down the DAOs governance processes or increase friction for contributors too much.

Due to these tradeoffs, our team does not hold a strong stance on the addition of a delegate approval process. However, from our conversations with delegates this idea was brought up several times and there was clearly appetite for minimizing votes. Thus once posted to Snapshot it will be presented as a separate option.

As mentioned a few times on this forum and from additional conversations it was clear that a threshold of 6 delegate or 20m total VP was too high. Based on this feedback we will be proposing a reduced delegate threshold of 4 delegates who have >500k VP.

6 Likes

This proposal is now live on Snapshot.

This is a ranked choice vote. Due to the character restrictions on Snapshot, each choice had to be abridged. So for extra clarification below is a short summary of each choice:

  1. Improving Predictability - adopt Thursday as the day for both Snapshot & Tally votes to start/end as well as implement a holiday break from December 20th, 2024 to January 6th, 2025. Only emergency proposals should be posted outside these guidelines

  2. Predictability, Approval Process - In addition to adopting both guidelines from Improving Predictability, also implement a delegate approval process that requires a statement from 4 delegate with greater than 500k voting power for a proposal to be posted to a vote

  3. AGAINST - do not adopt either measure

  4. ABSTAIN

5 Likes

Thank you for this proposal. I believe its intention is good. However, there might be another issue: some proposals could be overlooked. Because many delegates tend to focus only on proposals on Snapshot and Tally, rather than regularly checking posts in the forum.

2 Likes

Nice work! I support the proposal to improve predictability in Arbitrum DAO’s operations. By establishing regular voting days and implementing a holiday break, delegates will benefit from increased predictability and reduced fatigue. The suggested delegate approval process also ensures that proposals are thoroughly vetted before moving forward, which can enhance the overall quality of governance. These changes ought to promote a more organized and efficient process without incurring additional costs to the DAO.

1 Like

hey folks at @Entropy!

what was the rationale for making this temperature check poll on Snapshot, a ranked choice voting?

I feel that since you’ve included both “Improving Predictability” and “Predictability, Approval Process” as independent options, and they are cumulative, this should have been just a simple “Single choice voting” where voters would choose between the 4 options, which one they prefer.

A ranked choice voting system is more adequate to elect candidates, where choices are not cumulative, than for this use case.

For example, as a voter, to have to rank these options between themselves feels a bit silly, especially because putting “AGAINST” in number #2 and “ABSTAIN” in number #3, or the opposite, makes practically no difference on the outcome of the vote :melting_face:

2 Likes

“…as a temperature check on Snapshot”, right?

Not for onchain votes, right?

1 Like