Meta-Governance Q1 Review: Initiatives, Outcomes, and Future Directions

Executive Overview

In the first quarter of 2024, the ENS DAO Meta-Governance Working Group focused on enhancing communication, strengthening governance structures, and improving transparency across the DAO. Key initiatives and outcomes during this period include:

  • Service Provider Streams: Implemented a new system for distributing funds to service providers, ensuring smooth operations and accountability.

  • Drafting ENS DAO Bylaws (in process): Engaged a third-party firm to draft the DAO's Bylaws, with community feedback playing a significant role in the process.

  • $ENS Refund Policy: Established a process for refunding accidental ENS token transfers, reducing financial losses for participants.

  • Working Group Funding Requests: Addressed funding requests and compensation guidelines, with discussions around governance distribution.

  • Steward Vesting Proposal: Introduced a structured schedule for vesting $ENS tokens to DAO stewards, aligning compensation with long-term goals.

  • Gasless Voting: Implemented gasless voting to lower participation costs and encourage broader engagement in DAO governance.


One of the initiatives I mentioned in my nomination statement for Meta-Governance steward was the need for improved communication and a clearer understanding of the working environment. During my tenure as steward, feedback indicated the importance of enhancing Meta-Governance communications to improve legibility. To address this, I initiated a Quarterly Review aimed at creating a shared understanding of governance proposals and other significant DAO-wide developments. This review outlines a timeline of events undertaken by the Meta-Governance Working Group, explaining the rationale behind its actions.

Q1 (2024) Gantt chart
Q1 (2024) Gantt chart

In this brief review, I'll discuss the philosophy and responsibilities of the ENS DAO Meta-Governance Working Group, contextualizing where the previous Term stewards left off, where the current stewards picked up, the current status, and what's on the horizon for the Meta-Governance Working Group as we move into the second quarter of the year (2024).

At the end, I'll provide some resources to help DAO participants better understand how to engage intelligently in governance.

Meta-Governance Overview

The Meta-Governance Working Group aims to distribute voting power among key partners and stakeholders to increase participation from significant DAO-adjacent projects that are instrumental in building DAO infrastructure and possess a deep understanding of the ecosystem. This approach promotes decentralization, leading to stronger, more resilient ecosystems through open-source innovation. The Working Group follows the principles of subtraction, which focus on reducing power concentration and resisting the natural tendency of organizations to grow and accumulate power.

The Meta-Governance Working Group also provides governance oversight, supports other working groups through DAO tooling and governance initiatives, and safeguards the DAO from potential attack vectors. Additionally, it manages treasury operations and other administrative tasks, such as effectively communicating governance proposals to delegates and providing a thorough overview of all current governance initiatives.

Where are we now?

Term 4 stewards Nick.eth, Katherine.eth, and 5pence.eth completed their term on December 31, 2023. From December 6th to 15th, a new group of stewards was elected to take the reins. At that time, several issues were being discussed by the Working Group, including drafting a set of Bylaws to formalize the DAO's rules, addressing vulnerabilities in the .eth Registrar Controller, and potentially adding administrative and technical roles.

By the end of the term, several initiatives were queued up to be continued by the next term's stewards, including the transfer of the ENS Root Key, commencing service provider streams, enabling gasless DNSSEC, issuing name normalization refunds, and addressing compensation guidelines.

This review will focus primarily on DAO-centric initiatives and, to a lesser extent, on those from ENS Labs, presented in chronological order.

Service Provider Streams

This proposal, designed by avsa.eth, successfully allocates an annual budget of $3.6 million USDC to the nine service providers selected by the DAO according to EP4.9. As part of the proposal, Superfluid was chosen as the platform to stream funds from a newly created multisig wallet, which requires 3 out of 5 signatures to execute any transactions. The signatories include the current Meta-Governance stewards, the ENS DAO secretary, and the DAO's governor contract.

Superfluid Streams Dashboard
Superfluid Streams Dashboard

This proposal was executed on January 26th, which subsequently led to the service providers being bound by a Service Level Agreement (SLA) drafted by the general counsel for ENS Labs, detailing the services, as well as KYC and sanctions protections. By February 6th, all nine service providers were receiving funds, which can be viewed on Superfluid's live dashboard.

Drafting the ENS DAO Bylaws

Regarding Nick.eth's RFP for drafting the ENS DAO Bylaws, the Meta-Governance Working Group announced on February 6 that Lemma Solutions had been selected for the task. The firm provided a timeline outlining its process, which included conducting a gap analysis before delivering its first draft to the community for feedback. On March 12, Lemma Solutions shared their gap analysis with the ENS DAO community through the Governance Forum.

Lemma took community feedback into account and, as of this writing, has delivered the first draft of the ENS DAO Bylaws to the Meta-Governance Working Group. The Working Group will thoroughly review it with Lemma and shortly thereafter submit it for public review.

$ENS Refund Policy

The $ENS Refund Policy discusses ways to handle accidental sending of $ENS tokens to the ENS contract. The ENS contract has a DAO feature that allows sweeping back tokens, which can then be refunded either en masse or manually. This initiative was driven by avsa.eth, who proposed three potential options for refunding $ENS tokens: doing nothing and waiting for requests, multisending all tokens back to original addresses, or airdropping them back.

Since December 6, 2021, there have been 21 accidental transactions to 16 different accounts. As of March 8, 2024, the most effective method for refunding $ENS tokens was by sending them back in multiple transactions. This process incurred approximately $150 in fees for a total transfer value exceeding $10,000. This policy's implementation led to the refunding of 589 ENS tokens to 13 recipients. Additionally, to avoid future complications, avsa.eth advised against refunding transactions after March 2, 2024, establishing this date as a new cutoff point.

Working Group Funding Requests

Per Rule 10.1 of the Working Group Rules, each Working Group is expected to post budgets in preparation for the "Collective Proposal," which stipulates the amount to be allocated to each Working Group's multisig wallet from the ENS DAO's main wallet. Budgets for Meta-Governance, Ecosystem and Public Goods can be viewed by clicking their respective links. The Ecosystem Working Group did not request funds for this term.

By March 18, only the Public Goods Funding Request received DAO approval, while Meta-Governance did not, leading to several debates on compensation, governance distribution, and how these elements relate to the forthcoming Bylaws. According to Rule 10.4 of the Working Group Rules, the Meta-Governance Working Group is responsible for defining standards for fair compensation and distributing compensation to all Working Group stewards, the secretary, and the scribe.

To address these concerns, Meta-Governance is considering different approaches, such as dividing the proposal into separate issues—namely, the USDC/ETH Budget and the $ENS Budget—for a future vote.

Steward Vesting Proposal

In response to the debate about governance distribution, ENS DAO Delegate, James.eth of FireEyesDAO, delivered a proposal on April 4, 2024, which addresses the method in which $ENS has been historically distributed to Working Group stewards. It introduces a structured schedule for vesting $ENS tokens to DAO stewards. The initiative suggests implementing a linear 24-month vesting schedule to ensure alignment with the DAO's long-term goals.

It also includes executable proposals to manage compensation during the vesting period, with contracts set up by Hedgy. Furthermore, it retroactively applies to the current Term 5 stewards, aligning compensation with their term of service. The vesting process is designed to balance governance engagement with stewardship responsibility over time, ensuring consistent alignment with DAO objectives.

Gasless Voting on Tally

The cost of onchain voting has always been a pain point for delegates participating in DAO governance. To address this, Tally launched a Relayer service that allows DAOs to create a budget for gasless voting, providing the infrastructure to execute voting transactions without the high cost typically associated with Ethereum transactions. This step aims to lower participation costs and ensure broader DAO governance participation.

This new feature, introduced on April 4, 2024, allows users to vote gas-free through Tally's Relayer service, making DAO governance more inclusive and convenient. Requirements for gasless voting include having an ENS set as the wallet's primary name and a minimum of 100 $ENS in delegated voting power.

Endowment Self-Funding Enabled

Regular and routine management of the Endowment is necessary to continue operations. This executable proposal detailed a measure to grant Meta-Governance stewards the authority to autonomously finance the Endowment's operations by allowing withdrawals of up to 30 ETH monthly to finance the Endowment, as well as a reimbursement for interim funding provided from the Meta-Governance multisig to settle Endowment fees during the months of January and February. The payload was executed by the wallet.ensdao.eth on April 12, 2024 to create the aforementioned allowance and reimbursement.

What's next?

Looking towards the next quarter, there are several initiaves that are queued up by the Meta-Governance Working Group:

Introducing veto.ensdao.eth

On April 12, 2024, Nick.eth introduced a new ‘delegate,’ veto.ensdao.eth, at the request of Meta-Governance, following thorough research into potential attack vectors against the ENS DAO. This new 'delegate' has been allocated over 3.8 million delegated tokens from ENS Labs core team members. Its purpose is to help prevent governance attacks on the ENS DAO by allowing a small group of trusted DAO participants to exercise a significant number of "no" votes, enabling them to veto proposals that could jeopardize the integrity of the DAO.

Mely.eth's illustration of ENS DAO's 'security council'.
Mely.eth's illustration of ENS DAO's 'security council'.

The contract restricts who can use this veto power, only permitting those who have signed a pledge to vote "no" to proposals that would harm the DAO or violate the ENS constitution. This move is an effort to safeguard the DAO against harmful governance activities and ensure that critical decisions are made with due consideration for the DAO's integrity.

Enable CANCEL role

The CANCEL role is an extension of the veto concept, introduced in this temp-check, which balances the significant power given to the new veto function. The CANCEL function acts as a safety mechanism that allows a vote to be canceled within 48 hours after it's passed. This time-lock feature provides a brief window during which a vote can be reconsidered or invalidated if it threatens the DAO's stability or violates the ENS constitution.

However, the current structure only permits the DAO itself to initiate a cancellation, requiring a DAO vote and a time lock, rendering the function practically useless in emergencies. To make the CANCEL function effective, this proposal suggests granting the role of Canceller to a multisig group, ideally with at least two accounts. This multisig would be controlled by the same individuals who hold veto power, ensuring a consistent approach to governance security.

Future Governance Initiatives

The Meta-Governance Working Group will address compensation guidelines, governance distribution, and governance cadence corresponding to forthcoming Bylaws. These discussions will focus on several issues and feedback received over the term while seeking ways to reduce attack vectors and increase voting power distribution by delegating tokens to improve the number of active delegates. Additionally, the group will propose new methods for direct $ENS distribution and $ENS delegation.

The group will consider how the value of $ENS can be more closely tied to the assets under its management and the current and future revenue of the name system. The Working Group also plans to transition to a bi-monthly voting period, tentatively beginning on May 1. Several proposals will be on the ballot, including an upgrade to the Karpatkey module. The long-term goal is to fund all ENS expenses (such as ENS Labs, Working Groups, etc.) through endowment revenue. Additional proposals include introducing a CANCEL role, the steward vesting proposal, and more.


This quarter's initiatives reflect the Meta-Governance Working Group's commitment to decentralization, accessibility, and robust governance practices. Looking ahead, the group will focus on implementing the ENS DAO Bylaws, addressing governance distribution, and exploring new methods for direct ENS distribution and delegation.


To help participants navigate ENS DAO governance, I’ve compiled a list of resources below that aim to simplify the process and increase accessibility for governance participation:

Term 5 Dashboard

The ENS DAO Term 5 Dashboard helps users navigate ENS DAO governance by providing a comprehensive overview of key elements, including a calendar of important meetings, a newsletter for updates, proposal summaries, and the RFP process. It also outlines the structure and roles of the working groups, with resources and contact information for stewards and DAO activities.

Voting Power Platform

Voting Power provides a platform to analyze and explore voting power dynamics within the ENS DAO and other ecosystems. It allows users to examine and compare various metrics related to token distribution, delegation, and governance processes. .

Governance Dashboard

The Dune Analytics dashboard for ENS DAO governance prepared by Karpatkey provides detailed insights and metrics on governance activities within the ENS DAO ecosystem. It allows users to explore data on voting patterns, proposal outcomes, token distributions, and other governance-related information.

Voting Period Bulletin

The Voting Period Bulletin on the ENS DAO Governance Forum provides a summary of active voting proposals, including their purpose, key details, and results. It aims to inform participants about ongoing governance activities and facilitate their engagement in the ENS DAO decision-making process.

Telegram Broadcast

Delegates can subscribe to the ENS DAO Telegram channel to be notified when an Executable Proposal is published on Tally.

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