Peer Production on the Crypto Commons

Version 1.0

Toward a Commons Based Economy

Genesis Alpha

Genesis Alpha is a DAO created by the DAOstack team on the Ethereum mainnet. It serves as a testing ground, a showcase of DAOstack’s functionality, and a way to govern the use of some of the project’s resources. At time of first writing (June 2019) it controlled around $21,000 worth of ETH, GEN and DAI. There are 183 reputation holders, the most influential of which holds 2.4%, so voting power is reasonably well distributed among the participants. To become a member, people create proposals requesting Rep (100 is the standard amount to ask for), usually introducing themselves and being approved.

Looking again in Oct 2019, the proportion of reputation request proposals has dropped, there are now 283 reputation holders. Rep participation in proposals is mostly within the 2-10% range, I haven’t formally collected and analyzed the data but it looks like the GEN predictions are usually (but not always) in line with the voting outcomes.

Some interesting proposals:

  • Proposal to slash the reputation of the largest Rep holder by 1%, paying 1 ETH “in exchange” for the Rep lost. This is a standard practice once a member acquires more than 2% of the Rep, to avoid any one Rep holder gaining too much influence. The proposal passed.
  • Proposal to fund the presence of PragueDAO at Web Summit with 6 ETH. PragueDAO is a “physical DAO” running a space in Prague, and will assign a portion of its reputation to Genesis Alpha members when its own DAO is up and running. The proposal passed, along with a number of other event funding proposals.
  • Proposal to fund a research program with $3,500 DAI, the purpose of the research is to map, analyze and fix all of the issues with the current version of Genesis Protocol, and to document the process so that others can join the research effort. The research program also intends to create its own DAO-research DAO.

Grace Rachmany has helpfully provided an account of Genesis Alpha’s decline which makes for an interesting read. By Grace’s account there was a mis-match between the aims and vision of the Genesis Alpha participants and that of the DAOstack team which set up and funded Genesis. Her account of the experience makes for some interesting reading.

The DAOfest explosion is one of the great successes and great failures of the Genesis Alpha, and it resonates with some of the previous criticism of DAO funding distribution in DASH. Basically, the problem is that people love events and meetups, and they love getting paid to put on events in their local communities. They love it so much that a tremendous amount of money ends up going towards events that don’t have tangible outcomes, and even if they do, there is generally nobody accountable for maintaining the community of event organizers. The great thing about community events is that they bring in more DAO participants. The problem with community events is that they bring in more DAO participants. These new participants want to fund… more events!

There is also an exit letter on Google docs from two of the leaders of the Genesis DAO, these making the point about the tension between a DAO for collaboration (which the participants wanted) and one for distributing funds efficiently, with self-interested voting being for some an expected outcome and for others the thing which ruined it.

In all these materials there are also strong undertones of people joining a DAO without any strong shared idea about what it was going to be about or for. With no shared purpose it was doomed to fail.

Last updated on 11 Oct 2019
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