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2024 May Polkadot OpenGov Report

Chainalysis on the Root Track

After failing on the big spender track, the Chainalysis referendum was resubmitted on the root track with minor modifications. The initial request sought 1 million DOT funding to integrate data, analytics, and compliance solutions from Chainalysis to the Polkadot Network.

As mentioned in our previous report, this referendum became the biggest drama of the month. The immediate resubmission of a slightly modified proposal sparked a backlash in the community, with people claiming the main reason was to evade DV votes since DV does not have voting power on the root track.

Spends to Spenders

We proposed a referendum cancellation for the new referendum, arguing that the root track should be reserved for protocol upgrades and should not be utilized for spending proposals. Giotto responded by submitting the cancellation himself. In the end, the cancellation was accepted, and the second Chainalysis referendum on the root track was canceled.

The precedent set by this event is intriguing, providing insights and raising new questions for OpenGov:

  • The vote on the cancellation indicates that token holders do not want to use the root track for spending proposals.
  • The vote also signals that it is unfavorable to re-submit a referendum immediately after it is rejected on a different track without significant changes. This could lead to a discussion on conditions for resubmitting proposals.
  • Combined with the rejection of the wish for change referendum on restricting delegations on the root and treasurer tracks, the legitimacy of DV delegations has been strengthened. This is also being challenged by another referendum on the wish for change track asking to abolish DV.

We see similar controversial events every month. Regardless of the proposals and actors involved, these discussions provide insights into how token holders institutionalize OpenGov and continuously create new norms.

The Second Term

The first term of Decentralized Voices delegations has been concluded and the new delegations are expected to be announced in the coming days by the Web3 Foundation. If you missed the announcement for applications for the second term, you can follow the Web3 Foundation account on X to catch up with the next term which is assumed to start around August.

Unlike the last term, this time the delegation amount is increased to 10 delegations, and the delegations will also include the treasurer track which was a backdoor for the previous term since the delegates couldn't use their voting power on the track. With a slight modification, W3F also changed the one-term rule and announced that existing delegates would be considered for their second cohort.

On a slightly amusing turn of events, the number one critique of the DV program, Giotto also applied for the second cohort of DV delegations, which encountered criticism from some of the influential people from the community. We also observed other influential voices announcing their support for certain DVs which we believe is crucial for the program’s future.

Delegate Your Vote!

We would like to repeat an important call for all token holders: consider delegating your votes if you are too busy to participate in OpenGov because many important decisions are being made. The decisions are not only about the spending proposals; just like the Chainalysis cancellation, certain votes on the governance are creating precedents that are the basis of a judiciary system of the network’s future. Laws are not always written on formal documents; the fundamental basis of the judicial system strongly depends on customs, precedents, former rulings, and established culture. If you hold DOT, consider participating more to shape the network. If you cannot actively participate, you have a good chance to analyze empirical data from the first three months of the DV program, which can help you decide on whom to delegate.

The Show Must Go On

The events bounty is getting a major overhaul. As one of the oldest bounties on the network, the bounty has long faced criticism for inefficiency and long waiting times. But the change in the bounty structure is not going without difficulty. Currently, there are two competing paths forward for the new events bounty.

The first approach involves three proposals and offers a new set of curators while completely changing the bounty management structure. The first proposal initiates a two-step batch call to (1) remove some of the existing curators and (2) appoint new ones. However, a technical process requires the old curators to renew the bounty before this proposal executes. If the old curators do not renew the bounty in time and let the bounty timeout, the bounty will not have any assigned curators. This will cause the first step of the batch call (removing existing curators) to fail, and the subsequent call to assign new curators will not initiate because the batch fails as a whole. To prevent this, there is a second proposal that assigns new curators and will execute regardless of the renewal timeout. This ensures the bounty continues running whether or not the previous batch fails.

Finally, a third top-up proposal requests additional funds for the bounty, which is not directly related to the curator change but seeks further funding for the events bounty in its new structure. With a 1 million DOT price tag, the proposal aims to remove the $150K funding cap, include marketing costs for the events, support follow-up business development efforts, and compensate the curators more than the previous structure. It also aims to streamline bureaucracy by improving communication and timely feedback requirements on proposals, guaranteeing a one-week response time.

On the other front, there is a second approach to restructure the bounty. The competing initiative, which mainly consists of the original proposers of the bounty had an open call for applications to serve as a curator for the bounty’s future, providing a 5-day window for submissions. There are currently no further details about this alternative approach, as the proposers have not yet submitted a proposal, announced criteria, or results from the evaluation of applications.

You can check out the related AAG discussion and related forum posts to have a deeper understanding of this overly complicated process.

Careful What You Wish For

The new Wish for Change (WFC) track is gaining significant traction with multiple proposals ranging from technical changes to making statements about the network. The diversity of proposals shows that the network is still yet to determine what the WFC track aims for and how the changes and requests are expected to be implemented.

The ambiguity in implementing the requested technical features needs to be clarified as well. During the last OpenGov call, it was emphasized that the Fellowship might not implement all desired changes; instead, third-party developers can undertake the development processes for accepted proposals.

During the call, the core developers briefly discussed how WFC fits into the overall process of Polkadot development. The Fellowship, according to its manifesto, aims to build technical knowledge critical for the continued existence and development of the network protocol. While the Fellowship is self-sovereign and operates in the network's interest, it is not mandated to drop all other work if a WFC is approved. Instead, anyone can submit a pull request to get a feature into Polkadot. If agreed upon by the WFC, the Fellowship will not block it unless it poses a danger to the network.

The technical upgrades accepted on the WFC track also create an interesting dilemma involving the Kusama Network. Since these changes are accepted on Polkadot and all new features are first implemented on the canary network, it opens up a discussion about the agency of Kusama governance and how much influence Polkadot has on Kusama versus Kusama’s own governance.

Notable Mentions

  • Regulating the Vaults: Spazcoin’s proposal for a grant to incentivize 45 iBTC through Interlay has been rejected with record-breaking participation of 224m DOT in voting power. During the decision period, Giotto actively campaigned against the proposal, claiming that Interlay’s over-collateralized vault model is not sustainable in the long term. While most of the DV was on the Aye side, William’s vote combined with Giotto and other anonymous whales was enough to reject the proposal during the confirmation period. Although iBTC proposal has been denied, attempts to bring more BTC liquidity in wBTC seem to be the next step for the Polkadot Ecosystem.
  • Apply Now: Adam Steeber announced an open position for the new AMI marketing bounty looking for curator applications. We strongly support these types of transparent calls to fill curator positions in the bounties and encourage all the bounties to implement similar processes. Having a clear description and advertising job listings can increase the involvement of professionals in the ecosystem with dedicated full-time jobs instead of the same people filling up multiple roles.
  • Openalysis: An open-source tracking tool for balance transfers in the Polkadot relay chain, is published by Kukabi from Helikon Labs. With this tool, anyone can track movements between accounts by searching a specific DOT address on an interactive network map.

OpenGov Watch News

  • Polkadot 2.0 definition proposal on the wish for change track is close to a conclusion with a more than 70% approval rate. With this referendum, the community decides on the features to be included in the ‘Polkadot 2.0’ upgrade. It will take back control of the narrative from random influencers who use different definitions and help unify a concrete roadmap before Jam.
  • We have released an accountability checklist which we prepared for a preliminary framework for an audit initiative. The initiative's motivation includes providing voters with the necessary tools to make informed decisions. It ensures proposers thoroughly consider their proposals, aligns with OpenGov’s preferences for open-source deliverables, transparency, and responsible fund usage, and breaks large projects into smaller milestones.

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