Naturalisation councils

In a previous post about how tokenholder DAOs can move beyond plutocracy, I noted how something like OP Collective’s Citizen House has potential. However, it is faced with a stiff challenge - how does one onboard citizens?

The problem is, of course, what makes a “citizen” is a highly subjective matter, and subjective matters need significant human input. At the end of the day, the value of a person’s contributions can only be judged by other people with expertise in the matter. It’s dangerous to think a set of numbers will ever capture the complexities of a person’s reputation. That leads to the obvious solution - bureaus or councils of naturalisation.

But before that, it’s imperative to note that such a community will need a clear and well-defined constitution, part of which includes what the goals for a citizen are. The naturalisation council, so to speak, will obviously need to be elected and have checks and balances as well.

The scope of such a council will depend purely on the goals of the DAO. If it’s simply a profit-making enterprise, then a DAO is perfectly fine with plutocratic voting. For most DAOs, just onboarding a few reputable people, just enough for adequate checks and balances is fine. On the other end, it’s theoretically possible to experiment with a full-blown democratic network state, which will need pretty extensive processes - this is the only one where the word “citizen” may be used appropriately. Let’s focus on the middle scenario, though, acknowledging once again “citizen” is inappropriate, but maybe something like “enthusiast”, “fellows”, “badgeholder” or “evangelist” should work better.

Objective attempts at identity do exist, including attestations or reputation scores. While I’ve highlighted the hazards of these, and they are inherently very limited, they can still be one of many useful tools. One way they can be used is as a base requirement or filter for people to apply as “fellow” or whatever it’s called. Or they can just be used as one metric.

The Naturalization council will process each application individually, and will also have the right to invite individuals who have contributed a lot. Depending on the nature of the DAO, it may be sufficient to have a few hundred such people, or it may require more. Adding a few hundred highly reputable people as checks and balances to a plutocratic voting apparatus is a significant step forward over the pure plutocracy status quo. But maybe some communities/DAOs will want to go further.

Now, some will complain that the Naturalization council is a “centralized” body. Well, not quite, as they will be elected by both tokenholders and existing “fellows”, and have considerable checks and balances and veto rights against them. Indeed, by adding this subjective assessment of a person’s contributions, it makes the DAO significantly more decentralized than de-facto being controlled by a few whales.

As I’ve been writing for years now, I’d like to see more experimentation with DAOs, and moving beyond pure plutocratic voting. I believe something like a naturalisation council, even if in a very limited form to begin with, can be worth experimenting with.

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