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Measuring Decision Making in Virtual Communities | State of the DAOs
You're reading State of the DAOs, the high-signal low-noise newsletter for understanding DAOs.
Many of us have heard some version of “decision making drives results”. While the premise of this phrase is simple — how an organization makes decisions affects its performance — measuring the ways in which communities make decisions is notoriously difficult.
In traditional organizations, decisions-making processes tend to be centralized. Contrast this, of course, to decentralized communities where the regular mantra is that decision making is more inclusive and hierarchies are flatter. And while this may be true in a relative sense, it’s equally accurate to say that DAOs are ripe with centers of soft power.
Understanding decision making in decentralized organizations requires that we measure the relative influence of community members. To do this, researchers at RNDAO have created the Spread of Influence score to measure soft power. As Katerina writes this week, “[t]he Spread of Influence score gives the community a sense of key influencers, whether the larger member base is disconnected, and in general how discussions are undertaken within the community.”
In assessing the results, “[w]hat one should look for is an optimal score, which promotes participative discussion but does not hinder the speed of decision making or overburden members with participating in conversations.” Armed with this information, community leaders can assess the health of a community and take steps to improve decision making processes and help ensure the longevity of an organization.
This week’s DAO Spotlight focuses on Opolis, and organization dedicated to helping DAO contributors thrive, and we conclude, as always, with a TL;DR on some of the most recent DAO ecosystem takes and thought pieces, making it easy for you to cut through the noise and learn everything you need to know about the current state of the DAOs.
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Measuring Decision Making in Virtual Communities
A community’s progress can be impacted by its decision making process - measuring that process gives Community Managers valuable insights.
Web3 is spearheading the formation of large communities spread across the world, coordinating towards a shared objective. Many of these communities uphold a permissionless or low barrier-to-entry principle and a drive towards decentralization. This impacts decision making by removing central choke points and creating a level playing field for all. It’s all about the community and what the members want.
However, while formal power is largely removed, not everyone is in a position to influence a decision or sway a vote. Informal power — the ability to influence others via conversations — has a strong hold in web3 communities. Knowing how much influence is spread across the community gives community managers insights into how level the playing field really is.
How Decentralized Are Web3 Communities?
Communities that meet and coordinate on Discord normally default to open channels. Yes, some channels are “role-gated”, but that’s more to reduce the noise and help members focus on the conversations that matter to them than to exclude members. In other words, everyone can follow and read up on almost every conversation that is going on. Consequently, it makes sense to abandon the old saying “information is power” in web3. More than ever before, everyone has access to the same information on a subject matter.
But, even if all conversations are technically accessible to all members, it does not mean that everyone has the same opportunity to participate in all conversations. Just think about language issues and time zones; while I sleep, I’m not able to participate in any conversation, and hence, I cannot influence the outcome of such conversations. Of course, I can chime in once I’m up, but that might be too late.
More importantly, conversations on Discord are transient. Everything is searchable but with every new post it becomes harder and harder to find out who said what, to review the different arguments members brought to a discussion, and trace the path from “let’s talk” to “let’s do this.” Some members will always have more social status than others and their opinion may sway others, making them pivotal in shaping a proposal and deciding its outcome.
While who-knows-who is less important in web3 with communities defaulting to open communication, informal power still matters. Informal power refers to a person’s ability to influence the thinking and decisions of others. These are the coaches, coordinators, mentors, and leaders of communities. You may not recognize them in a web3 community by their title but by their position in the community’s social network.
Using Social Decentralization to Understand Informal Power Distribution
In TogetherCrew’s community health tool, we measure how conversations are either spread across the community (decentralized) or led by a small group of members (centralized). The thought behind this is that participation in conversations matters for shaping the future of the community and of the members participating in the conversation. That’s why we labeled the metric: Spread of Influence.
Our underlying philosophy is that the communication structure of a community can impact how connected members feel with it and also how it evolves. The Spread of Influence score gives the community a sense of key influencers, whether the larger member base is disconnected, and in general how discussions are undertaken within the community.
And of course, we are mindful that mere participation in conversations does not have to be beneficial for the community or necessarily positive. Just imagine the classical web2 legacy company example of a loud manager dominating the team meeting with their monologue about what should be done.
What the Spread of Influence Score Can Tell You
The Spread of Influence score should be interpreted in the context of the size of a community. What one should look for is an optimal score, which promotes participative discussion but does not hinder the speed of decision making or overburden members with participating in conversations.
In a community with a high Spread of Influence score, there are no decision making choke points or weak links. There might be some members who are relatively more active than others, but, more or less, interaction is spread equally. However, if the members have divergent views, the decision making can take time. Also, if there is an external shock (e.g., new regulation or changes in the market), it is likely that the community might struggle to react and adapt because there is no central informal leadership. And additionally, for outsiders, the community might look disorganized as it isn’t clear who is in charge.
If the Spread of Influence score is too high, harming your community’s progress, here are some actions you can take:
Assign oracles or expert councils for certain topics (example: Polkadot’s Fellowship Manifesto).
Create onboarding quests to help new joiners figure out how to contribute (example: MetaGame’s Engaged Octo paths).
Audit your channel structure and create topic or unit-specific channels. This will nudge members to contribute to their favorite topics while being less distracted by other conversations happening at the same time in other channels.
On the other end of the spectrum, if a community has a low Spread of Influence score, there is a group of members who are driving the conversations with limited input from others. Other members might read what is being posted but do not share their knowledge or opinion on the discussed topics.
Consequently, the discussions and decisions do not leverage the collective knowledge and perspectives of the community, and there is a possibility that contributors feel undervalued or unheard and will reduce their involvement with the community over time. They may also feel that the community is evolving into something they cannot relate to. Eventually, the community’s future will depend on the central members' activity and goals.
If the score is too low, here are some actions you can take:
Give members responsibility over specific work areas or label them as experts and direct conversations to them.
Showcase community members' expertise and work within and outside the community to help members become familiar with one another and connect with themselves.
Host community-powered problem-solving sessions or longer hackathons to get people talking with one another.
If you want to know your community’s Spread of Influence score and find ways to improve resilience and member satisfaction, our community health analytics tool, TogetherCrew, is your best ally.
Deploy TogetherCrew for your community!
Or contact their team to learn more.
🔥 and 🧊 insights from across the DAO ecosystem
Author: Jason Nelson
🔑 Insights: This article discusses a bill that has been introduced in California that aims to establish a legal framework for DAOs. The Assembly Bill 1229, introduced by Assembly Member Matt Haney, has gained support from prominent crypto investment firm Andreessen Horowitz and the Crypto Council for Innovation.
The bill would amend the state's corporate code to include DAOs, blockchain networks, and smart contract protocols. If passed, it would enable DAOs to incorporate in California, pay taxes, and provide better protection for participants in the web3 economy.
The bill seeks to educate fellow assembly members on blockchain technology and DAOs, with the goal of creating certainty, legitimizing this organizational type, and ensuring appropriate taxation.
This movement comes at a time when government officials are increasingly focused on cryptocurrency, with greater scrutiny and regulations being implemented. Assembly-member Haney emphasized the significance of keeping up with technology changes in order to retain California's position as a global technology leader.
Author: Dmitry Mishunin
🔑 Insights: The article examines the concept of decentralized governments in the context of web3. It explains how decentralized platforms have paved the way for the exploration of decentralized governments, highlighting examples from big IT corporations. It discusses the advantages and disadvantages of decentralized governance, emphasizing transparency, equal participation, and resilience as benefits while acknowledging challenges such as complexity, scaling, and regulatory issues.
Decentralized governments operate through digital regulation and are already being implemented by IT corporations, functioning under the authority of a Board of Directors.
Blockchain technology and smart contracts play a crucial role in creating reliable, transparent, and decentralized governing systems for web3 governments.
Advantages of web3 governments include decentralization, resilience against corruption, equal participation in decision making, and transparency of processes and outcomes.
Disadvantages include complexity, requiring participants to have a certain level of tech fluency, scaling issues, difficulties in conforming to traditional regulations, and challenges in assigning liability in the absence of a centralized authority.
Resolving these issues may involve measures such as providing education on decision-making processes or introducing a CEO role, but the most appropriate implementation of decentralized governance is still a subject of discussion.
Author: Annika Lewis
🔑 Insights: Through your engagement with web3 you most likely would have come across grants programs such as those run by GitCoin or Optimism. If web3 projects offer any signal of what’s to come, it’s clear that grants are likely to be an important component of the future of work.
Identifying and articulating clear goals sets the foundation for the right structures to be created.
RFPs are an inspiration for future grants projects.
The most common alternative to a committee is an in-house grants manager or grants team.
Establishing expectations for timing, responses, and overall metrics is key to a good grantee experience.
Web3 is nascent, both program managers and grantees are all figuring it out as they go.
DAO Spotlight: Opolis
Opolis is a DAO that empowers independent workers to design their personal work arrangements and have access to benefits that are usually reserved for corporate employees. Opolis aims to create a more egalitarian and flexible global employment framework, where workers can choose who they work with, where they work from, and how much they earn.
Opolis is built on Ethereum and uses smart contracts to automate employment processes and transactions. Opolis members can create their own employment entities (EEs) and join existing ones based on their preferences and needs. EEs are self-governing and can set their own rules and policies. Opolis also offers a marketplace where EEs can find and collaborate with other EEs or clients.
Opolis has its own governance token, WORK, which is used to participate in the DAO's decision-making and reward distribution. WORK holders can vote on proposals, suggest improvements, and earn dividends from the platform's revenue. Opolis also has a utility token, OPOL, used to pay for services and fees on the platform.
Opolis is more than just a platform; it is a community of independent workers who share a common vision of creating a better future of work. Opolis believes that work should be an expression of one's unique creativity and values, not a source of stress and exploitation. By joining Opolis, independent workers can enjoy more freedom, flexibility, and security in their work life.
Want to know more about this project? Check it out on:
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