Current state of OpenGov on Kusama

GM fellow Polkadot community,

We are representing a Polkadot Ambassador group that was recently formed at our gathering in Barcelona. We learned a lot from each other about how OpenGov works and we are waiting for the upgrade on Polkadot too, but since we deeply care about the Polkadot ecosystem and its governance, we would like to share some concerns that we have given the current situation related to OpenGov on Kusama.

Our main concern in light of recent events is that implementing OpenGov in its current state on Polkadot might lead to unwanted behavior to the overall health of the network. We currently see a few unknown entities outright rejecting most of the community proposals without providing any feedback or explanation in a Kusama governance forum. While we believe in transparent and open governance, we also believe that it should be a fair space for everyone to come, share creative ideas, and ask the community for funding without having to worry about being downvoted right away. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in the past few weeks and our main concern is that this negative sentiment towards new proposals would translate into the Polkadot governance as well.

We would like to highlight here 3 areas of concern regarding the current state of OpenGov:

  1. Active participation in voting
  2. Even more important: participation in proposal discussions and expressing concerns or support in discussions on governance posts
  3. Idea of treasury in general and treasury funds distribution scheme (this one is more complex and should be approached separately to active participation)

Therefore, we think that deploying OpenGov to Polkadot should be revised until we find some solutions to the aforementioned concerns. We’d like to provide a few questions that to can be discussed:

  1. How can we improve the management of treasury funds (as described in this post
  2. Can we do something about the current situation where anonymous whales can outvote the community?
  3. Can we implement a system where only reasonable votes count? A possible idea would be to add a feature where votes are disputed or maliciously intended votes do get slashed.
  4. Can we employ some kind of reputation-based system where active community members (frequent voters, validators, or ambassadors) would have more voting power?
  5. And of course, we welcome any responses or suggestions that can help our ecosystem to thrive and help our concerns to be resolved!

In addition we want to agree with the core devs about the voting delegation process: we believe masses of people have enough voting power to compete with the bad actors so on the other hand these unfortunate situations in the past incentivize us to use the built-in voting delegation feature. So this discussion is also an awareness call to our validators, nominators, token holders, and ambassadors to use their delegation power to several trustworthy fellowship members. If you do not have time or expertise to participate in OpenGov day-by-day, the delegation feature is an essential tool.

We strongly believe that Kusama still has the most sophisticated, decentralized, and open governance system that has been implemented on any blockchain. This post intends to spark a discussion about the governance future and what we can do as a community and ambassadors to make it better!

Thank you for your feedback, with kind regards, Ambassadors

14 Likes

I agree, OpenGov doesn’t work as good as we would like to on Kusama.

I think we should start conservatively on Polkadot, in the end, it is the main mainnet and do not want any of the chaos we observed on Kusama.

One way we can do is start the curves with very conservative parameters. i.e. require high support rate and high approval rate. This allows people to try it, but the proposals are unlikely to be approved, which is fine. Serious proposals should continue to use the Gov1 process.

During this period, we can improve the education, UX, wallet integration, community engagement, getting people to delegate their votes etc. And then we can adjust the curves and start deprecating Gov1.

7 Likes

To be clear, this is not a bug, this is a feature of the basic design.

One man’s terrorist, is another man’s freedom fighter.

Who decides what a ‘reasonable’ vote is? Who decides what is ‘fair’?

The will of the DAO is the only decision that matters. You can debate all you want on off-chain forums and reach consensus with a large party of people in the ‘community’ only for it to be rejected.

You cannot fix this system with subjective solutions - only with objective ones.

This requires assessing proposals on their on-chain impact, this requires actually educating the community on the basic design and incentives of the current system.

There is a whole ecosystem of Kusama/Polkadot ‘educators’ who do not fully understand how the system of incentives works at its simplest level, nor the second order effects of those incentives.

Progress begins not by pushing forward, but by stopping, going back to basics and assessing the fundamental incentives otherwise you’re building on pillars of sand.

7 Likes

To be clear, this is not a bug, this is a feature of the basic design.

It truly is, however, this is exactly why we should struggle for more participation. And not only by the community but also one coming from the investors, validators and other stakeholders who are able to mitigate such behavior with their bags. Because now when it seems that a few entities can do whatever their desire is obviously not how we want to see governance in practice.

You cannot fix this system with subjective solutions - only with objective ones.

Agreed.

To be honest, I feel that we should get this situation resolved somehow before we move on to Polkadot. Treasury spending was indeed quite high and this is already being solved in practice by more careful review of proposals and there are also some proposed modifications of the track parameters - so seems like a lesson learned here. However, I find it quite disturbing that few entities can take control of the treasury, basically exploiting the fact that most big players are not interested.

2 Likes

I am very happy to see the Polkadot community united and concerned about the future of the network. This shows the strength that our community has, something indispensable to continue building the future of Web3 within Polkadot.

8 Likes

I agree with @viktorvenczel.dot , that the open discussion is very important, especially before deploying OpenGov to Polkadot.

I would like to point out that it’s super important to educate and encourage users to get interested in on-chain governance and vote, or at least delegate their votes to some experienced users/communities, they trust.

And of course, it’s great that Polkadot and Kusama have amazing and functional system of governance, but it must be also super easy for end users, otherwise they won’t use it. That’s the way it is.

5 Likes

I think the combination of education of voters and a requirement for well-reasoned votes themselves could make the system more secure and transparent. I am not sure if it would be a bigger change code-wise, but requiring well-thought out reasons on why someone votes up/down could be a gamer changer in a positive way. I’d even think about a system where the votes could have a “blame” option, so the community can monitor and react to malicious or incompetent activity (eg. voting down clearly good proposals). At an extreme, I’d only let those vote who prove their good-faith (not easy) and dedication+competency (easier). At less extreme, these well-reputed and competent votes could have more weight.

These are just some ideas that came up, I don’t have the code for Substrate, but pretty sure the implementation with limited human interactions could make these work. I’d be glad to see everything above and this being considered before OpenGov goes live on Polkadot.

Thank you Viktor for creating this discussion thread and speaking the the name of our Ambassador group!

3 Likes

OpenGov in Kusama has been a wild ride(as expected?), a great improvement over Gov1 but it definitely needs more tuning before it becomes the “ideal” super fair democratic system we all wish to see. One question though is how much do we want to iterate on the current system before we bring it to the big Polkadot leagues? I think there’s a lot to do and a lot that can be improved but perhaps we don’t need to wait for it to be perfect to already bring a lot of value to Polkadot.

If OpenGov is introduced right now in Polkadot with the same configs and level of awareness as Kusama I’ll likely use my tiny DOTs to vote nay 3x with our broken conviction voting to oppose the whales staking that always go long with their 6x :stuck_out_tongue: But perhaps after identifying a few low hanging fruits that can be tackled easily and observed for a short while to assess their impact then it should be ok to start the big experiment on Polkadot.

1 Like

I completely agree, the Barcelona event served us to get to know each other and chat about concerns such as governance. Interestingly, we all had the same fear, and that is why it was unanimously decided to bring it up here. I hope we can discuss this and many other topics to reach a general consensus and thus improve this ecosystem that we all love so much.

Regards, Nachito.

1 Like

I’d argue that a “fair democratic system” is inherently not possible in a token-voting governance system. Substituting “one token-one vote” for “one person-one vote” is all we’ve got, and so what’s left for us to do is (A) seek ways to mitigate the built in plutocratic system and/or (B) make peace with what we’ve got and do the best we can to use other means to arrive at outcomes resembling “fair.”

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Thank you Viktor for opening the discussion to the entire community beyond the ambassadors.

I think it is natural for us to be concerned about the future implementation on Polkadot, taking into account the current state of Open Gov in Kusama. However thinking about our community in particular, I think we should focus on generating an on-chain impact taking advantage of tools like delegation and at least try to generate a trend of bind to have a clear voice within the Gov. The focus is on the token holder, which means building a better community for the proposed Governance process (participation). If our community interacts in a fragmented way, it is difficult to read for a new user and does not generate enough interest and motivation. Long story short: Building a DAO in my opinion can help us to better position ourselves to face these situations and those that will come ahead.

Ignoring the legal / juridictional points for now, Kusama and Polkadot are simple businesses:

Business is the practice of making one’s living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and services).[1][2][3][4] Wikipedia

Polkadot’s primary business model is security-as-a-service.

Polkadot’s customers are parachains who demand security services.

They are required to pay for these in DOT.

If you are to align incentives, people need to understand their vote through the lens of the business.

If voters become better educated as to the business they are in, then over time decisions will become far more aligned to a common goal and outcome that benefits the whole.

This in turn will dictate the way metrics are framed, success is assessed and rewards are given.

1 Like

i´m completely agree with @viktorvenczel.dot it´s too early to implement the gov
2 in Polkadot, with need more time ( since the launch of Nominations pools in Kusama until the launch in Polkadot was from 1 year, we need more pepole interesting in the governance

Sorry for the late response…
I feel mostly agree with the comments in this thread. And I had time enough to think about it. This is what it comes to my mind:
-Whales will always be whaling. They just can’t pretend to be what they are not.
-I love this concrete whale and this is why:
She/him is using the system to show us something very valuable:
-gov2 with low rate participation is very easy to cheat
-in its current state and participation rate gov2 on Kusama enjoys some kaos
-anonimity is a core value itself

For me this is ok and health in Kusama. I just wonder if the case will be the same later in Polkadot.
In Kusama, to rise this kind of concern is exactly what I would expect from a Canary network.
How this evolve in the future is only in the hands of the community (counting on whales and sardins)

Hopefully the existence of this whale trolling the gov2 will encourage more participation, more commitment on gov2 from core team whales and more caution at the time of implementing it on Polkadot.

Well, looks like it’s about to come up for vote–OpenGov is included in 0.9.42

  • [P] :white_check_mark: audited #6701 Low - Introduce opengov into polkadot