The Nouns Federation
You and I will never have an
@nouns.wtf email address, and yet, we could still communicate via email. You have your email address with provider A and I have mine with provider B. Provided my email address, you could compose a message to me and I could reply to your message. We each trust our providers to use systems that speak SMTP, expose us a mailbox over POP/IMAP, and be online most of the time. You don't have to care who I use, I don't have to care who you use; as long as they speak the same protocols, we can communicate and get on with our day. Provider A could specialize in ease of use for customers, Provider B could specialize in web UI that plays lowfi beats and has pretty themes.
Email is a federated system; a series of standards that define how participants (mail servers) communicate messages, a standard for discovery, and a standard for identity formats. Email providers are allowed to implement and expand upon those standards however they see fit. Postfix is a common mail transfer agent that's easily deployed to a single server and allows admins to provide their users an email address. GMail does not run on a single server running Postfix but can communicate just fine with a site running Postfix.
In a community, I would expect that a participant is able to keep up to date with the activities and initiatives therein. Then, that community telegraphs their activities and what they intend to do via some publicly exposed interface. These updates would naturally have the audience of “someone assumed to not be in the community” and would push those updates to be more complete and not make assumptions around prior knowledge or whether the reader has seen internal chat messages.
Take the following examples
+----------------------------+ +----------------------------+ | | | | | Proposal 420 | | Proposal 420 | | | | | | We would like to continue | | Over the last 6 months the | | making Nouns action figures| | Action Figure community has| | and selling them on the | | been developing and creat- | | world market. If you've | | ing high quality toys for | | been #figures you know how | | collectors. | | much reach we've been able | | | | to have. Our sales reports | | Background | | are available at | | (History of community) | | private.team.link/report10 | | | | | | Data | | Ask | | (In-depth data) | | 69 ETH | | | | | | Next Milestones | | | | (Recounting of the group's | | | | next objectives after | | | | funding) | | | | | | | | Ask | | | | 69 ETH | | | | | +----------------------------+ +----------------------------+
As a participant in the broader NounsDAO, which would you prefer to vote on? Which community would you rather be a part of? Removing the assumption of membership and internal knowledge actually makes communities more transparent and allows them to communicate a more complete vision. While it feels quite corporate and at times can be cumbersome; complete proposals, updates, and externally facing reports would make Nouns stronger and would make communities more accessible to contributors, peers, and prospective members.
Nouns Is Not One Community
While being a member of a Nounish community yields a sense of belonging and cooperation with other Nounish communities, I don't believe we're all required to be one community. Instead, Nouns should be thought of as a federation of communities. I enjoy collaboration and hanging out with members of Nounish communities, but I believe it's a disservice to you and me that there are areas where lines are blurred. Instead, I believe Nouns is caught between needing to become a Federation and clinging on to being a Community. We've outgrown being a single community.
A Stronger Federation
I would like to see “Nouns” treated more as a Federation of communities rather than a singular Community with sub-communities. These different communities can find and attract the people that best fit their objectives and style-of-work. Communities can then reduce the number of “customers” they have to serve from “everyone in the Discord, each with their own sub-community membership and responsibilities” to just “the DAO and internal members”.
Explicitly becoming a Federation will mean that communication coming out of a sub-community loses the assumption of “assume they know” and picks up “assume they don't know”. Which makes the communication easier for NounsDAO Communities to consume but also helps new DAO members get up to speed.
NounsDAO as a Federation would also become a slower-moving collective to make sweeping changes in – which is a good thing. The DAO has a long term vision and should not be treated the same as a community/pod/project. Communities can be quick to react or slow and steady, a Federation has to match the tempo of the sum of all its members – in order to make a change to the Federation, each Community therein must take action in order to agree.
This brings us to the topic of the last few months and more loudly the last few weeks...
Voting Against Discord
The Nounders have decided to recommend to the Nouns Foundation that it shut down the
Nouns Discord. I've decided to cast my internal vote for setting a sunset date and winding down the Discord1. NounsDAO is naturally a long term, low tempo organization in aggregate. The opinions outlined above are my primary case as to why the Discord is a mismatch for a Federation and better fits a Community.
I believe that NounsDAO should have as few “official” interfaces as possible and that these venues should serve as an aggregation point for its sub-communities and proposal updates. (Refraining from any Section 230 talk) NounsDAO should act as a publisher and be unable to editorialize. As mentioned in the Nounders' recommendation we've had times where participants have called for the Discord to be editorialized by adding or removing channels or participants. Even the act of adding/not adding bots has been a form of editorializing. The NounsDAO should be free from having to make these decisions and instead provide the interface for sub-communities to make their official actions and develop the primitives for this interaction.
Something like an “Awesome Nouns” or community registry which is a pointer to Communities and what services they provide along with the Auction House and Governor should be the extent of NounsDAO's requirements. It could then be up to the DAO to define the requirements to be part of the “service catalog” and add any communities that meet those requirements.
Why I Was Hesitant
I will admit that early in the conversation I leaned into being devil's advocate – urging caution around closing the Discord. Not because I disagreed that a change to NounsDAO interaction and communication needed to be made, but to attempt being the mediating rod and keep my dislike of Discord as a platform in check. I enjoy Discord as a communication platform for smaller communities and think it was helpful in bootstrapping Nouns when it was a single Community. I'm naturally inclined to want mailing lists, IRC working group channels, and RFCs which runs counter to “move fast and break things” and I tend to be overly cautious with pushing back on other tooling because of it.
Assumption of Agreement
One thing that I've felt is: within Discord, there's an assumption of agreement in silence. If you posit an idea, proposal, or feeling within a channel and see no feedback, it's easy to take that as an assumption of agreement. While I don't necessarily disagree with most of the theories that people post in Discord, it's hard to collect thorough feedback and easy to feel as if you've missed the window for feedback.
Online at the Right Time
Nouns disrupted the NFT space in different aspects but its most immediately visible aspect was its distribution model. “One Noun. Every Day. Forever.” is more than a branding slogan, it’s a challenge to traditional governance and distribution models. Rather than rewarding the fastest to mint a token or early founders with the vast majority of tokens, a governance slow start provided Nouns the opportunity to find its feet along the way and dilute early voices from gaining too much power. Real-time chat is a fundamental mismatch with Nouns ethos as it rewards the first, the loudest, and the earliest anchored.
T+1 (Nouns After Discord)
It's reasonable feedback to say “so you want to shut down Discord, then what?” It's the Nounders' recommendation that we set a sunset date for the Discord, giving the Federation some time to build plans and Communities to spin up. But if we were to just click it off tonight, let's pretend for a moment...
So, we've just shut down Discord, now what? Communities already have their own Discords, those continue to run along on their own. People post memes, say
gm, and have voice calls to talk about projects. There's likely a scramble to set up the Nouner validation in each Discord and some work better than others. Some people probably spin up a “New Nouns” Discord server of their own and begin administrating them in their own vision. People join a handful of these with the people they like and they can discus proposals as syndicates and share ideas.
The weekly Nouner and Community calls likely continue, but not in a centralized Discord. Someone will build their own agenda act more like a journalist and capture a bunch of participants. People will subscribe to Nouns News, Nouns Newsletter, Nounish News, Nouny News, and a dozen more until the highest quality are discovered (and then disrupted). Individuals and Communities creating proposals will make their first draft (RFC) and share it with a handful of Communities for initial feedback. They'll attend the Twitter Spaces Circuit and join community Discord calls. People will reply to their Discourse post with questions, and @ them on Twitter. This iteration and Q&A process will lead to a more complete proposals and “oh I hadn't thought of that!”
Nouners will begin to experiment with alternative funding models, we'll see rolling rounds of funding, we'll see further innovation on delegation marketplaces, we'll see development of “minimum Nounish standards” and Communites that prove it wrong, and we'll see Communities further develop and attract strong communicators.
The quality of proposals will increase and more work will happen in public. Because proposals will be unable to rely on the assumption that the reader has been in the relevant channels, proposers will have to be more thorough and present the relevant background. Shopping proposal drafts around will provide additional and more focused feedback.
The United Nations of DAOs does not need to exist as a single Discord.
Congratulations, you've made it to the end of devcarrot rambling. Now have yourself a biscuit and go build something fun.
1: Herein, “The Discord” refers to the “Nouns” Discord at