Our outset into governance was due to an event in the governance of Optimism. While our educational role had kept us informed about governance since the launch of the $COMP token in 2020 and the subsequent launch of $UNI, which were undoubtedly milestones in the ecosystem and brought the word "governance" into the spotlight, we had never taken an active and consistent stance in governance. Beyond delegating voting power to other delegates or commenting on significant events in our community calls, we had not dedicated any of our time to building a constant presence in the forums.
The event that led us to enter governance was a vote in Phase 1, Cycle 2 on the funding of the Mean Finance protocol. At that time, the delegate with the most voting power decided to vote "NO" on Snapshot. The reasons were valid, as the protocol's metrics were relatively low due to its early stage. As members of the community, we decided to express our support in the forum and on Twitter. Many of us knew the protocol, used it monthly and knew that the team behind the platform were committed Latin builders.
In summary, Mean Finance eventually passed the vote, obtained funding, and was a significant awakening for our community's mission and vision. We understood that only by getting involved could we help more builders and users from Latin America in the forum.
We quickly decided to submit a delegation on behalf of Joxes. At the time, we had observed that there were individuals as delegates (lindajxie.eth, katiegarcia.eth, olimpio.eth). Gradually, we delved even deeper and began to discover names like StableLab, Flipside Crypto, GFX Labs, and other companies that were professionally dedicated to governance (pro delegates). This inspired us and helped clarify our ideas: we wanted to do this as professionally as possible. But we didn't feel inclined to be individual delegates or become some kind of DAO or company because we had to set aside our community's identity and internal logic.
Could we approach community delegation? Could we vote on how the SEED Latam delegate should vote? How were we going to do it if we were not a DAO and had no plans to become one? What rules would our consensus have? Did something similar already exist...? And we embarked on the experiment...
The first months were somewhat chaotic. While we tried to function as a collective delegation (at that time, we were still called DeFi Latam), we also tried to spread awareness in our community about the importance of this process. At the same time, we observed how the Optimism forum was trying to structure itself. So we had three processes to address:
Finding our own consensus and its rules.
Disseminating in our communities the Optimistic vision.
Understanding and contributing to the Optimism forum.
We even proposed pausing Phase 1 of Optimism governance and starting a discussion on how to improve the governance process. This is an important point. In any other established governance forum with a history of decisions, we would have just had to adapt to the existing rules. But this case was different; Optimism offered a space for continuous innovation and showed itself open to listening to the entire community. This was crucial for what would come next, both internally and externally.
The method we currently use began with the premise of consulting decisions with our community. In fact, this can be seen in the first message from the SEED Latam delegate in their communication thread.
During 2021 and 2022, we had weekly community calls where we discussed the current state of the ecosystem. We revived that tradition and decided to carry out community calls exclusively related to Optimism governance. From there, we organized "community governance calls."
The structure of these calls has varied to optimize the dynamics, but it can be summarized as follows:
Presentation of topics for discussion.
Discussion: question and answer session.
If there are multiple topics to address, steps 2-4 are repeated depending on the complexity of the issues.
Our relationship with the POAP ecosystem dates back to the beginning of our community in 2020. In the first calls, there were naturally very few people. Those who did attend did not always dare to vote. Sometimes, "abstention" prevailed, or there were no votes at all, as some community members were afraid of making mistakes. Over time, the information and context accumulated by attendees dispelled these feelings, allowing them to vote more confidently.
Emoji Reactions: The First Attempt
In our early calls, people would react to a message to vote in favor or against something. It was quite rudimentary but dynamic. Discussions took place in writing in the days leading up to the calls to better assimilate the information. You can see an example here:
Easy Poll: Another Step
In our Call No. 6, we introduced a simple bot called EasyPoll. This allowed us to configure voting time windows and reduced human control when counting votes. You can view it here:
We even received a suggestion from Gonna at that time, suggesting that we use the bot in a read-only channel to avoid losing votes in the general chat. This might sound like common sense to readers, but it was a learning experience for us at the time.
In Call No. 10 (March 2023), we incorporated Snapshot into our voting system. This was something we had wanted to do for some time but applied it prudently. Regular attendees of governance community calls had already accumulated a certain number of POAPs, demonstrating their interest, consistency, and commitment to the Optimistic collective.
SEED Latam's Snapshot made its debut at a crucial moment: the RPGF2 project votes. Throughout the previous votes, we understood the importance of strengthening our internal consensus to prevent Sybil attacks or vote manipulation. While the role of the badgeholder is individual, Joxes communicated their intention to vote as they had for nearly a year. This was duly communicated in this forum post.
Why do we make collective decisions? Why hold governance community calls? Isn't it more agile and straightforward to make unilateral decisions or decisions with a small group?
All discussions and reflections lead us to the same answer: collective consensus is a fundamental part of the SEED Latam ethos. Based on this, we can discuss how to carry out that consensus. After building this "experiment" over the past year and a half of governance calls and everything that has developed around it, we face some challenges and have reached some conclusions.
Governance community calls present several challenges for the SEED Latam delegation. Let's explore some of them:
Strategy vs. Popular Will
One of the main challenges is combining governance strategy with the community voters' criteria. What members of each delegation consider the obvious or most convenient option is not always what popular will chooses. This can be difficult to digest in critical decisions. It can be challenging and difficult to accept, but it has largely brought us to where we are today. The legitimacy of the delegate's vote is the sum of the community's will, expressed through participation in these calls and close monitoring of activities on the forum.
Complex Decisions vs. Collective Criteria
What happens when a technical or security aspect needs to be voted on? How do we prepare our community for such specific details? We have several courses of action in the face of these questions. We believe that the remainder of 2023 will serve to evaluate all the data we have collected to design new participation mechanisms in 2024. But we are very clear that we do not want to fall into a qualified voting mechanism or any other mechanism that restricts the participation of the SEED Latam community.
Who decides if we vote with Snapshot or another platform? Why don't we use Tally? Why don't we use Agora? What happens if someone from the SEED Latam community becomes a sub-delegate, and people delegate their voting power to them through POAPs from previous calls? Some scenarios are closer than others. Although we have always mentioned that, as a core team, we are open to incorporating new mechanisms, in practice, we have not received specific contributions from the community, although we have received valuable contributions regarding time management, such as the input from member @vetefe regarding time management in the context of evaluating and voting on the latest missions:
During 15 governance calls, at least 161 people participated. This number represents a minimum floor, including only those who claimed the POAP at the end of the calls. It does not account for later reproductions of the calls on other platforms (YouTube, Twitch, Twitter) or people who participated without claiming the badge.
At least 233 initiatives related to financial, organizational, and operational aspects of the DAO were voted on. This number also represents a minimum floor since some decisions were discussed but not voted on.
The SEED Latam community had the opportunity to learn about and discuss 192 protocols and platforms that requested funding on Optimism.
The SEED Latam community had the opportunity to learn about and discuss 41 operational-organizational votes, including the election of council members, budget allocation, and more.
Of the total of 233 initiatives effectively voted on by the SEED Latam community, we had a 12.8% disagreement rate with the final decisions of the Optimism DAO (30 final decisions of SEED Latam did not align with the final decision of the Optimism DAO).
You can find more data at this link:
Our methods have not been ideal, but they have served to experiment with governance collectively, in real-time, with decision-making that impacts reality. Over a hundred and fifty people participated in these calls and votes, and we believe we are facing a new mechanism that attempts to combat the apathy and abstention of token holders and community members regarding the future of Optimism. We will continue to actively devise and create better mechanisms to democratize information and decision-making within the Optimistic Collective.
Nadie nos va a regalar la historia.
SEED Latam Team