Given the current discussion on Discord and the general negative sentiment I’ve seen from many long-time Poolers, I wanted to move this discussion to the forum and share some of my thoughts on the promise of the council, its original intent, and the reality of its impact on contributor culture within PoolTogether since it was established in the fall of 2022.
Brendan shared his thoughts in the The New PoolTogether DAO: Part I–this is part of a series of three posts. In the Part 1 post, some important points are outlined:
This was a valid point then, and it still stands now. The entire post is worth reading to get a sense of the problems the council was intended to solve.
In the The New DAO section of the post, the role of PTBRs was noted:
Using this as the framework:
- The Team’s purpose. This is included in every current PTBR.
- Performance goals and performance indicators. The majority of PTBRs don’t include any metrics that Poolers can use to evaluate success. Over time PTBRs look more like a to-do list of deliverables that don’t tie back to higher level objectives. One of the core shortcoming identified earlier in the aforementioned forum post was the lack of accountability. It is impossible for Poolers to keep teams accountable if the only measure of success is “Did we do this thing?” and not “Did it have an impact? Did it provide value to the protocol and to the people who use the protocol?”.
- A budget breakdown. This used to be included in the first PTBRs but the council found this was cumbersome to include and instead there was a shift to deliverables over assessing actual value add. I thought then and still think now this was a mistake.
You can find the changes suggested in the Council Discussion: Changes to the Team Budget Request process post. Here are some highlights:
It’s normal and expected that the first attempt at something needs some adjustments. However, Poolers are not seeing the current teams living up to the standard set by the council, which is made up of these team members. PTBRs should be posted earlier, so people have more time to review. We should consider holidays and time when attention will be lacking. If this means changing from a quarterly to a every-four-months cadence, that is fine, imo.
We’re still suffering from a lack of communication with both the wider community and between teams. This has had a direct impact on the ability to grow the protocol and further adoption since V5 launched. The teams contributing to the development, growth, and adoption of the protocol are not working in the same direction. This was something I experienced when I contributed to the TWG, as I often felt PT Inc worked toward goals and objectives there were not shared with the rest of the community. This resulted in multiple team working on the same deliverable and overriding each other.
I was present when the council was being discussed and all of the potential options were being evaluated. One of the key aspects that was reiterated multiple times in those discussions was accountability, and it’s also included in the aforementioned posts. However, the lack of performance indicators, lack of communication, and lack of organizational level objectives and key results has prevented the wider community of POOL holders from being able to hold teams accountable. Yes, this can be done when votes are put on chain, but what we see is team members voting for each others’ proposals. This leads to the next point.
Given the council is made up of members from the DAO funded teams, it has inadvertently created a culture of people who say Yes even if they disagree with the direction. Many people feel like the current problems and past problems are insurmountable and there’s a sense of apathy that’s apparent. When it comes to team members, my belief is that many people are concerned about being critical out of fear that their funding proposals would be voted down in retaliation. Often times, the reaction to criticism is met with a strong personal reaction.
To be clear: I don’t think anyone contributing to the DAO is acting in bad faith. I think we’ve strayed off the path, aren’t well organized, lack clear objectives and direction, and have created a culture where criticism is not welcome and, when it is given, is either discounted or ignored.
There’s no clear indication that any one is being held accountable for the lack of growth and adoption, all of which is the product of the above mentioned issues. The issues the council was created to solve have only gotten worse over time, imo.
We’re not moving in the right direction and there’s no clear sense of what that should be. I don’t think the direction should be or needs to be defined by Brendan all the time. However, I know many Poolers feel as though the development team has final say on direction, so people are hesitant to suggest changes or offer their opinions.
Both teams need to work in the same direction, but that’s not happening. There’s a lot of talk about growth, although PT v5 was developed for more than a year and yet no migration plan was discussed or was in place ahead of launch. While a migration from V4 to V5 has achieved concensus, no progress has been made here and when it occurs, it will be 6 months or so after v5 launched.
When I review the deliverables in the last two quarters of PTBRs, I do not see many deliverables that go back to growth initiatives. The action the teams are taking should match the public messaging that goes out.
If there’s any hope of growing V5, there needs to be a change in the way the DAO sets direction, assesses progress, and determine what deliverables contribute to those higher level objectives. See Lido’s GOOSE model, which is a great way to set short- and medium-term goals with POOL holders consent. There are plenty of working models out there. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but we do need to find one that rolls well for the PoolTogether community.
As stated before, current PTBRs look like a to-do list with no metrics or KPIs for the community to assess success in the next quarter. Some examples from the recent GS PTBR:
Prize Compounding Interface
There’s been quite a lot of talk about this, but what is the actual volume that’s going through the existing ticket liquidity? How many people are swapping into vaults? Has there been product research done that supports this as something depositors want?
If this is a growth-focused deliverable, what amount of volume through this interface would define success?
Delegate to NFTs
This initiative has been pursued in the past with no traction. Two of the main problems that people managing NFT collections identified:
- There wasn’t an ETH vault. We’ve solved for this, which is great
- Their collection is on Ethereum mainnet, and they were less willing to move to an L2
If there’s been interest from NFT collections to do this now, that would be great to hear, but funding should be allocated for something on a lark.
There also has been any public analysis on the adoption of the delegation feature outside of team delegation. That information would be valuable and would likely help POOLers decide how viable this is as a growth option. If @tim could share information on that, it would make a world of difference on how valuable these type of campaigns can be.
Launch on Arbitrum
I do want to see PoolTogether deployed on other chains, but if we’re just going to deploy and use Aave as a yield source, I don’t think we can do the same thing and expect different results. I’m still supportive of refining V5 on Optimism and finding something that works to grow adoption before moving to another chain. Why would a deployment on a new chain be different this time?
If there are plans for other yield sources on Arbitrum, that would make a difference.
This isn’t isolated to GS, either. Crucial information on HOW these deliverables will achieve growth is missing. There’s still a lot of “we said we’d do this and we did” without any thoughtful analysis of impact and performance, as was originally intended when the PTBR process was created and updated.
I would have previously provided this feedback, but I was on holiday and my focus wasn’t on DAO governance. Going back to the original council creation post, PTBRs should be posted earlier so people like me and others can provide timely feedback before a vote is put on chain.
I’ll end by saying I know the existing teams and community can take steps to improve. We have problems we can solve, but there needs to be more communication and accountability within the process to make the current protocol successful.
Everyone here loves PoolTogether and believes in its promise: we wouldn’t be having these difficult discussions if there weren’t the case. I’m not writing this long post to be a thorn in anyone’s side. I took a break from PoolTogether in the past because I was frustrated with the direction, but in this new year, I want to share ways I believe the community can come together, improve our existing process and application of that process, and rally around the protocol.