[Proposal ##][DRAFT] Signalling Proposal - Move Governance to Github

Change log

  • 2022-10-16T05:00:00Z Created initial post
  • 2022-10-16T05:00:00Z + cosmos/gaia/discussions link to summary

Summary

This proposal is to move the Proposal process to GitHub. GitHub is better structured to handle Proposals made to the alter the form and function of the hub, and proposals that effect code change can be directly cited in the code improvements made via the proposal process - no matter if the repositories are hosted separately.

Details

Cosmos Hub already has the discussions repo available and there are several categories that would enhance the engagement around proposals. “The Start Participating in the Forum” post makes these suggestions:

Some collected wisdom on soft governance strategies for making and passing proposals. To make proposal-writing easier, topics in each Hub Proposal subcategory come with a template for formatting your content.

  1. Socialize the idea (e.g. On the Hub Discord, Twitter, arranging calls with stakeholders) before going on-chain. Because proposals can’t be changed once they move on-chain it’s important to solicit as much feedback and editorial comments from stakeholders as possible before setting it in stone.
  2. Include a link to the forum post (so that people can come read the discussion and contribute even once the proposal is on-chain)
  3. Take a pdf snapshot of the forum post and discussion just before going on-chain and pin it to IPFS so that the info is preserved. Include the IPFS link in your proposal text so that people viewing it on-chain can easily access historical content.
  4. Let your top-level post in the forum be exactly the text you expect to put on-chain (except for the changelog and IPFS link). This will help people know exactly what sort of edits and feedback might be needed to make the proposal text clear and palatable.
  5. Mind the character limit! The limit for proposals is 10000 characters and this includes markdown formatting and links.

Using github discussions would allow participants to post ideas and get the “wisdom of the crowd” contributions to that idea before a formal proposal is created. Those contributions can also be cited in a formal proposal. Other features like polls can be conducted as well. The greatest benefit is that there would be a consolidation of participation pertaining to the contributions to the hub all preserved in github history. A DAO overseeing the maintenance and execution of proposals might further summarize the feedback.

Furthermore, this could also have the effect of acclimating and onboarding more people to utilizing professional software engineering tooling. Up until around 1850 the global literacy rate was about 10-15%. According to ComputerWorld there are 18.5 million programmers. World Population is 7.4 billion. If you do that math, it’s roughly around 0.25% of world population.

Lastly, in the case some flavor of automated governance is implemented - the apis on github would be extremely useful in that effort being successful. See discussion.

Forum post link

This idea has been started on github - feel free to comment there.
Move the Proposal process to GitHub · Discussion #1827 · cosmos/gaia

Governance votes

The following items summarize the voting options and what it means for this proposal:

YES - You are in favor of governance being conducted on github.
NO - No you are not in favor of governance being conducted on github.
NO WITH VETO - A ‘NoWithVeto’ vote indicates a proposal either (1) is deemed to be spam, i.e., irrelevant to Cosmos Hub, (2) disproportionately infringes on minority interests, or (3) violates or encourages violation of the rules of engagement as currently set out by Cosmos Hub governance. If the number of ‘NoWithVeto’ votes is greater than a third of total votes, the proposal is rejected and the deposits are burned.
ABSTAIN - You wish to contribute to quorum but you formally decline to vote either for or against the proposal.

1 Like

To comment on my own proposal - something I just realized, is that tagging other teams in proposals like this where there could be common interests would have network effects that garner higher quality discussion around collaboration to achieve desired outcomes.

The Fetch.ai team, for example, are not directly alerted to the significance of the underling motive and the practicality of this proposal - whereas comments they might have would have desired qualities for it’s purpose.

On another note, there is not a “proposal category,” but a proposal category can be created and all the templates be added.

Personally I’d rather try to improve the forum itself, or if a move to another platform is on the cards make the switch to Commonwealth where other Cosmos chains have their governance discussion periods. Commonwealth has the option to register/sign in using a wallet and is purpose built for community governance.

The forum currently lacks widespread engagement from the broader community (something I have been thinking about more recently and realize is a problem with governance) and GitHub doesn’t seem like a platform that will help to change that. Outside of developers many Cosmonauts don’t use GitHub and it can be initimidating to new users. I wouldn’t expect them to be required to use professional software engineering tooling to participate in governance.

We have also paid Hypha to steward the forum and they have done some fantastic work here laying the foundations for community governance to improve.

I would vote NO to moving governance to GitHub but appreciate the discussion on the matter.

3 Likes

One of the main reasons for the proposal is to achieve some flavor of automated governance. Commonwealth has a closed api, but I’m sure that could be investigated further.

The other aspects are the additional features github provides around participation which, at a glance - Commonwealth currently does not. Maybe those feature should be suggested to their development team.

Was aware of this, and the way I framed it in the proposal was - reading and writing was also intimidating to people for most of human history. Utilizing github could increase peoples acclimation to powerful tooling.

It could also detract people from engaging. Forcing people to use engineering tooling isn’t likely to encourage engagement. I don’t use GitHub myself. That’s not to say I don’t know how to read and write. We need simple to use and accessible tools.

1 Like

I want to thank you @jasonsprouse for starting this discussion. I’m sure it will bring up some important dialogue about how we, as a community, engage in governance. Additionally, it’s clear that a fair amount of thought went into this draft, and there is a larger context at play (largely governance automation), which is definitely a worthwhile topic to explore.

I will begin by stating my stance on the matter, and then I will elaborate on that stance.

Stance
a. I believe that Discourse is an appropriate solution for the Hub’s current governance needs.
b. I believe we need better tooling for (or more parties involved in) feedback consolidation.
c. I am opposed to ratifying official tooling for doc collaboration at this stage in the Hub’s governance development.

Rationale

a. I believe that Discourse is an appropriate solution for the Hub’s current governance needs.

(some) Hub Governance Challenges:

  • It is difficult for newcomers to get involved in Hub governance
  • We want to foster a diverse and inclusive governance culture
  • Governance conversation is scattered across multiple platforms
  • Centralized infrastructure is prone to capture
  • Governance participants may have limited bandwidth to engage

Without the scaffolding to help new participants engage in governance, we end up with valuable ideas that never make it past the “wishful thinking” stage (e.g., A tweet, forum post, or mention in a call) because the next steps to propose them are too opaque. Discussion on complex topics is throttled or limited to a few in-the-know people because the context required to understand a proposal is so high that newcomers who want to make proposals are judged or penalized for not following unspoken norms. - @lexa, Recommendations for ongoing Stewardship of Hub Governance,

Discourse is open-source, configurable, and can be hosted on a server managed by the community. This reduces the likelihood of capture. The Discourse UX has been designed to make having online conversations as frictionless as possible, which bolsters accessibility and inclusivity. Like github, it has an inbuilt reputation system, but is more expressive because it enables custom-badges & hours read, which can help participants’ ascertain reputation quickly, reducing the strain on attention. Additionally, Discourse has a well-designed notification system that can reduce the strain on governance participants’ attention. The current forum is well-maintained, well-moderated, and well-categorized.

Regarding governance participation, it would be useful to know have more data about forum usage. To me it seems it has greatly increased since Hypha has started their work here, and I’ve noticed the quality of governance discussion has greatly improved. Like @JD-Lorax said above, I don’t think that raising the barrier to entry by using a less intuitive platform would be beneficial to building a more diverse, responsive, and inclusive governance culture.

b. I believe we need better tooling for (or more parties involved in) feedback consolidation.

It is clear from on-going discussions that we do need better tooling to consolidate feedback, however, this will likely always be a manual task to some degree. @Youssef has done an excellent job in the ATOM 2.0 thread summarizing changes, and @lexa has pointed out the importance of undergrowth work.

I have proposed a solution for this that could take into account the Cosmos groups module here. In the mean time, github is a great tool for giving document feedback due to the ability to publicly track changes, but other tools exist as well. Proposal feedback comes from every possible platform, including twitter, discord, telegram, and here on discourse. It can be difficult to reconcile. While I personally believe that human thinking will always be crucial here, I am open to seeing how we might augment this with automation, but even so, the Discourse API is already robust, so Github does not have any inherent benefit in that regard.

c. I am opposed to ratifying official tooling for doc collaboration at this stage in the Hub’s governance development.

We still have a lot of experimentation to do with different tooling before we are ready to ratify any feedback consolidation as part of the governance process. Within the context of ATOM 2.0, we have also seen a community crowdwrite from the Governance chat on TG proposing changes. It makes more sense to me to start encouraging some feedback consolidation tool as part of the proposal process than it does to ratify any such tool. Also, it’s in the proposer’s interest to use a tool that enables others to make changes, because it reduces the friction between summarizing feedback, and implementing it into the already-written document. That’s all to say, we should encourage the use of some tool to more easily consolidate feedback, but before ratifying anything, we should see what tools emerge.


Thanks @jasonsprouse for drafting your proposal and looking forward to your responses.

4 Likes

First off - although I knew the name of this forum product many eons ago I didn’t try to find the name of it before posting this proposal. Github had been what I envisioned to achieve the technical feasibility for the time I’ve been contemplating it.

I’m not opposed to exploring other options and internalizing feedback - ever. The Discourse api could very well be used to achieve the objective of automating governance.

Considerations:

  1. Github discussions is a relatively new feature.
  2. Discourse or other server products that could be maintained by xyz organization are still isolated from the ability to include tags to others beyond xyz organization server participants.
  3. What ever is normalized across the ecosystem people will use. Github tooling would be comparable to Discourse + twitter, but I do agree that this Discourse product is mature and has quality features and is probably why it earned itself a reputation as the go to forum tooling.
  4. IPLD Links content addressable content - git is content addressable - there are yet unknown and unexplored ways these technologies could be used in the context of governance, and automated governance.
  5. The simplicity of the end goal is for the end user to be able customize their protocol governace participation as light or heavy handed as they wish.

This is a unique challenge to overcome.

As it relates to your suggestions and concerns in that twitter thread, LaTeX is the industry standard document creation tooling. StackEdit is intuitive and web based. It is a flavor or markdown. I think more people being less intimidated by making pull requests and contributions through GitHub - or other git product - is desirable. All the buttons and menus on word and excel are equally intimidating when you are just getting started.

1 Like

This is a very admirable end-goal and I hope we will be able to further explore it.

That’s an interesting use-case I hadn’t thought of. It’s clear to me that there’s room for a lot more use of content-addressable tooling within the space. Could you expand a bit about how content addressability could be used in the context of the proposal feedback period? Additionally, and unrelatedly, I think there is probably a strong opportunity to set up an IPFS working group on the hub anyway particularly focused on archiving and preserving documents used in governance. I worked closely with Love Life from Good Team in Sifchain on such an initiative and he produced this documentation.

StackEdit seems interesting, does it have the ability to measure consensus about potential changes?

I think this could be framed as an educational hurdle rather than a governance process issue.

It has nothing to due with the proposal feedback period. Hypothetically you could send a twilo message when a new proposal is made, but I wouldn’t want to get notifications for that.

EDIT: Content addressing is a hash of the text digest - every alteration produces a new hash and links to the previous history of that hash. Some of the concepts in the linked TED talk are advanced features - Ai autonomous agents making proposals or suggesting edits to proposals, it would require artificial general intelligence to perform those kinds of tasks. Ai that has parity or greater than human intelligence. Tech that is publicly available is near that level. This is intended to position the ecosystem for the maturation of that technology, and perhaps be a proving ground for it.

As stated the end goal is to be able to parameterize the degree at which personal involvement in that process is a choice.

No it does not. It integrates with github and github has a vote up ↑ feature.

Free courses everywhere to this end. Version Control with Git | Udacity Free Courses

1 Like

I agree with you, I think if the governance discussion is to be moved, it should be to Commonwealth,

CW is straight forward whereas github can be daunting at first, after you move around for a bit, you understand how to use it, however, got to admit most people won’t put the effort in learning how to use github

I think these discussions can happen on Cosmos Discord as well, having one channel for CW threads and another channel to discuss those helps

1 Like

gov was on github here and we depreciated the repo because very few used it and the people who did ended up not participating in the forum. I’d like to keep gov on the forum as we just managed to get the community engaged in one place finally.

7 Likes

That’s a shame, as the discussion feature is relatively new. I’ve seen it being used quite actively on other projects.

I wouldnt agree with governance discussions being moved to github. I would support migration to commonwealth instead since almost all other cosmos chains are in commonwealth and this would help drive up more participation.

I’m in agreement with @hxrts - moving this community that the forum has built recently to github won’t result in anything more than most likely starting from scratch again.

With regards to migrating to CW as @Instafinanzas suggested (since most other projects use that system), that might be a decent shout however it should be brought up in the future and not quite right now so that we can collectively build up the community here on the forum first.

I’ve seen a lot of effort being put into this place from some parties and i think they’ve done quite a great job as is. We just need more engagement.

1 Like

Thank you @jasonsprouse for taking the time to write out this thoughtful proposal.

I agree with many of the commenters that we have just started to establish an engaged community of governance participants here on this forum, and changing to another venue may end up with us losing the momentum we’ve gained here. I am not opposed to moving to Commonwealth. But we tested out a sandbox version of Commonwealth recently and I personally feel that the UX and moderation capabilities (spam filtering, flagging and hiding posts, trust levels) of Discourse are more developed.

I support the idea of more automation to streamline stewardship work. Discourse has an API to do that too. In fact, we recently set up an automation to allow pre voting discussions that are tagged with the “last-call” tag to trigger a notification on a popular governance Telegram bot. It would be very useful to identify other high value automations that will ease the burden on governance participants.

3 Likes

Im strongly against putting governance into any form and shape of must. Governance isnt about governing people. Its about listening to those who elect you to do a job. It is the task of governance to know how to learn to listen to all of the opinions, no matter if they are on the forum, GH, TG channels, etc.

I think we need to go back to basics =)

2 Likes

Understandable. For me, and the outlook of a multi-chain ecosystem - setting a precedent to normalize participation uniformly for all chains with a common interface is important. I’m not opposed to this platform at all. Part of the intent in proposing this is that the cosmos hub might be considered the standard bearer in acclimating people to which tools people get customed to using, and again there is a broader end goal.

1 Like

In my opinion, moving to GitHub would not be much beneficial because there are still a lot of people trying to onboard with Blockchain and the ecosystem who don’t know how to use GitHub.

It’s not any more complicated than formatting on here. You don’t have to know more about github to propose and format ideas there, but if more people used github they might be inspired to try a hand at other things other than open-source project governance participation.

1 Like

Agreed to that. In essence it is about allowing people to voice their opinion, being heard in a discussion about the future of their favourite project. I am a fan of people having an opinion and voting for themselves. As a validator I know I am responsible for the votes of many people, but my ideal world would be that everyone overrides my vote.

The magic of governance is that you can decide for yourself what you want to see happening. It will not always happen, but at least you showed intent.

The platform where this happens comes second. It must be really user-friendly, which great UI/UX and a very low barrier for entry. And Github is just not that. Commonwealth is already better, the forum is better. But both still also have their cons imo, so a better alternative would be welcome :slight_smile:

1 Like