I’m prepared to be shot down in flames for being stupid here, but here goes…
Anecdotally, it seems the strongest criticism around the function of OpenGov is that the “WHALES” dominate. You put up a proposal, watch the debate unfold, see the votes go one way or another… only for the whole thing to prove irrelevant once a WHALE or two comes in and swings the whole thing irrevocably in their favoured direction. Hardly a level playing field is it? Kind of makes you wonder why we’re so proud of OpenGov as being a wonderful decentralized voting mechanism…
A simple way to stop this from happening would - it appears to me - to be to impose a limit on the quantity of DOT that can be locked up per account on a single referendum - let’s say 50 DOT. The limit has to be low - it has to be an amount that is affordable by typical members of the community - they might have made it from staking rewards etc.
I would think that imposing a limit like this, while keeping the conviction voting aspect - being prepared to lock up your DOT for longer periods to multiply the power of your vote - should result in referendum outcomes more fairly reflecting the wishes of the community as opposed to the
Whales in open governance systems possess the ability to distribute their holdings across various accounts, effectively circumventing the imposed restrictions. The essence of open governance does not necessarily imply equal influence for all participants; rather, it recognizes that shareholders with a more substantial stake should hold a more potent voice in the decision-making process.
The concern with whales in open governance does not lie solely in the magnitude of their voting power. It is primarily rooted in a situation where a single whale decides the outcome of every referendum because no other whale cares to participate.
- It’s fine to give voting power proportional to the DOT holdings.
- This doesn’t imply that a huge DOT holder has a long-term interest in DOT value.
- If the DOT holder wants to sell, he will seek a short-term pump.
- The current voting system does not provide incentives to vote judiciously, besides a presupposed long-term interest that might not match reality. Thus, a holder can vote on as many proposals as it wants with the same consequences.
Perhaps summing up the lock period of funds for each voted proposal will incentivize less discretionary behavior. This approach connects the holdings to a wider time horizon, compounding the impact of the decisions.
Is this reasonable, or are we missing some key considerations?
This would reduce the participation on open gov further. The low participation rate is the main issue we have in open gov right now imho.
A simple way to stop this from happening would - it appears to me - to be to impose a limit on the quantity of DOT that can be locked up per account on a single referendum…
What @cpiccard said is very concise and accurate, and ultimately why an idea like this would not work until we have proper identity / person hood / reputation systems.
This is more commonly known as a Sybil Attack: Sybil attack - Wikipedia
This doesn’t imply that a huge DOT holder has a long-term interest in DOT value.
There is nothing we can do to ensure this. All we can do is create economic games which incentivize certain behaviors.
For those who do have a long term mindset about their DOT token, conviction voting is a sensible mechanism for those who want proportionally more vote weight to lock up their tokens for a longer period of time.
Otherwise, all voting tokens are locked during the voting period of a vote. Imagine there is some vote which passes which chooses to brick Polkadot (a runtime upgrade to an empty runtime), all those tokens voting in favor will have their tokens locked until the upgrade is executed, while those who lost the vote can move their tokens and sell them before the upgrade is executed.
Obviously this only accounts for short term effects, but this seems to be about as good as anyone can do for now.
Appreciate the feedback here. Particularly intrigued by the @shawntabrizi response…
“… an idea like this would not work until we have proper identity / person hood / reputation systems” -
Well I intend to await the day when this comes into play! Maybe some kind of DID enforcement would help ensure single accounts? Or a process to allow people to flag their suspicions about multiple accounts being deployed by a single person/entity? I dunno - I can see it isn’t practical right now.
“All we can do is create economic games which incentivize certain behaviors.” - yes, it turns into a sort of cops and robbers game doesn’t it…
I can see the merit in an approach that is similar to @sodazone’s idea which wouldn’t need proper identity.
If there was a “super-conviction” (let’s say 20x) that could only be used once at a time, people would be able to challenge larger stakeholders on an issue that is really important to them, such as NAY-ing a proposal from a grifter.
This is a great idea - can it be enacted… dare I say it via a new OpenGov proposal? Or is it like getting turkeys to vote for Christmas…?
I have no idea. I’m not a Rust/Substrate developer.
Conviction-based locking is definitely a good mechanism for incentivizing longer-term commitment, crucial for the project’s continuity. We were suggesting to enhance the effects of this even more by extending the locking period with each vote (stacking lock periods). This would encourage more thoughtful voting decisions, as the stacking of locking periods influences decisions for a long-term commitment. This could be applied only for treasury spending proposals to not disincentivize voting in technical changes or upgrades.
Of course, it’s also important to consider the potential impact on participation although we are not sure if this will significantly reduce it. Currently, 95.7% of the accounts in Polkadot hold less than 500 DOT, and many of them are locked in either nomination pools or crowdloans which cannot be used for voting. If small holders are currently active in OpenGov, they most likely won’t be significantly affected, given the small amounts that they are locking up. Conversely, significant holders will be nudged to distribute their funds selectively, voting only in proposals they genuinely believe will result in long-term success for the ecosystem rather than chasing short-term effects. Conversely, if indiscriminate voting of large holders without long-term locking is allowed, there could be a negative psychological impact in the wider ecosystem, where smaller holders feel powerless and choose to abandon OpenGov altogether, thus exacerbating the problem of low participation. This is assuming that “higher participation” is in terms of number of accounts voting and not the amount of DOT put into governance.
We acknowledge a potential attack vector in stacking the locking period, where recurrent unreasonable treasury spending proposals could force other holders to extend their locks just to prevent the attack. To address this, a measure akin to the referendum killer, initiated by a whitelisted caller, could be implemented. This mechanism would have the authority to freeze DOT holdings that voted in favor of the proposal called to be killed until the killer is resolved. In the event of a positive resolution, the locking period for the votes in favor is extended instead of the ones preventing the attack; this could be strengthened with a multiplier or even with slashing.
enhance the effects of this even more by extending the locking period with each vote (stacking lock periods)
I agree with @cpiccard that this would likely have the effect that less people will vote, or at least less people will vote with conviction, since each vote with conviction would lead to some accumulated locking.
It seems what you are truly after is just longer lock periods, which could be introduced by:
- adding more conviction multipliers at even higher lock times as suggested above
- adjusting the existing multipliers to be longer in their lock period for the existing conviction.
I think both of these suggestions are totally reasonable, but ultimately a soft science. There is no way at the moment to empirically know how to configure these parameters, so really all suggestions are opinions unless there is some further research done.
More people voting with no conviction is, in our opinion, a good effect in this case since it will give more power to those who are truly confident and invested in the long term success of the ecosystem. As for less people voting, we’re not sure this will definitely be the case either as people can always allocate a portion of their funds, the amount that they are comfortable locking long-term, for voting while keeping others liquid.
Of course having more multipliers or longer conviction periods can be researched on and tweaked but ultimately, it won’t solve the problem that we’re targeting: that large holders can vote in any number of proposals with the same consequence as if they only vote for one. We hypothesize that implementing stacking locking periods per vote will encourage more considerate voting and deter reckless decision-making.