Commons Resilience: “Resilience” in the Governance of Decentralized Technology Community

Decentralized technology is both a combination: the construction of social and technological bits to form a functional whole, a combination: a data storage, a historical record, and the co-creation of a whole that is greater than the sum. An example of this is the blockchain, which consists of software code, developers, “miners” who verify transactions, “DApps” (decentralized applications) on top of the protocol, and user communities. When it comes to ensuring the resilience of these social technological digital infrastructures, how can human communities adapt and recover in crises? This article discusses the resilience of decentralized information systems as “adaptability and recovery to threats or crises” as a means of understanding how to pursue viable social and technological outcomes. We use an ethnographic case study of the attacked “Gitcoin” financing round to observe how the community uses governance processes to formulate societies and technologies to achieve common goals. We observed the tension between humans and automatic evolution to reveal the key issues of maintaining the blockchain commons, targeting the purpose of the community rather than the durability of the project or agreement. These findings are of great significance for a better understanding of the opportunities and limitations of decentralized technologies in promoting participatory digital communities.

What is “commons”?

“Commons” can be described as “cultural and natural resources available to all members of a society…Cultural and natural resources managed by people (communities, user groups) for personal and collective benefit.” (Wikipedia).

Based on this understanding, we are interested in the human aspect of the “commons” that is mediated and promoted by decentralized technology. In a current research project, Kelsie is studying the “resilience” of decentralized digital infrastructure. The resilience of the socio-technical system is the “adaptability and convertibility of the system in response to threats or crises” (Tantri & Amir, 2019). Kelsie is not only interested in technological adaptability, but also in the cultural and social outcomes of decentralized systems. She referred to this method of taking people as the reference object of security in the digital system as “human security.”

How to “share” the blockchain?

The public chain has been repeatedly referred to as the “commons”. This is evident in several characteristics of the blockchain. They are socio-technical systems, composed of social and technological components. The public chain is also a “permission-free” resource, which means that it can be open to participate in the use, construction or adaptation of the agreement. Blockchains are also the foundation of infrastructure, which means that they are tools that have meaning in the context in which they are used and are inseparable from that context (Star, 1999).

Blockchain as the “Ship of Theseus”

In this way, the blockchain is similar to the “Ship of Theseus” in Greek legend. The Ship of Theseus is a thought experiment that raises the question of whether an object with all components replaced is still basically the same object” (Wikipedia). Many ancient philosophers discussed this thought problem.

“The ship returned from Crete by Theseus and the young men of Athens had thirty oars. The planks put new, stronger wood into them. Their position makes this ship a permanent example among philosophers, used to solve the logical problem of the growth of things; one side thinks the ship remains unchanged, the other side I think this ship is different.”—-Plutarch, Theseus

The public blockchain is modular in nature, consisting of open source software code and composable social and technical components, including software code, developers, “miners” who verify transactions, and “DApps” (decentralized) on top of the protocol. Application), hardware, individual users, communities and ledger data are used as historical shared records. Although any of these components can be replaced, including the “fork” transaction history itself or the transition from a “proof of work” consensus algorithm to a “proof of equity” consensus, the blockchain is a persistent and functional Overall.

The legend of The Ship of Theseus is often used as a question of identity that persists over time. I want to raise here that this is also a question of elasticity. I am asking, which social and technological components of decentralized infrastructure must continue to exist in order to be considered elastic?

This question can be explored through a case study of a decentralized technology project against external threats. In this article, I chose to study “Gitcoin”, which is an Ethernet Square block chain community in a popular public goods financing mechanisms.

Funding public resources as blockchain public resources

Gitcoin plays an important role in the Ethereum community, providing a mechanism for the community to coordinate funding projects. As a shared infrastructure and public goods, it is considered important to the overall growth of public and decentralized blockchains. However, the responsibility for funding “public goods” is not always borne by Gitcoin.

“The DAO” is an early example of funding mechanism management in the Ethereum community. That is, “This is an attempt based on a fully automated blockchain solution for pooling and distributing funds to fund projects. Due to a simple error in the software code that led to a bleak hacking attack, the DAO was a short-lived The experiment led to the loss of 3.6 million ” ETH ” tokens (or 50 million US dollars at the time) from the smart contract. Secondly, the Ethereum Foundation, whose “Ecosystem Support Program” (ESP) maintained the “wish of tools and projects” “Checklist”, these tools and projects have become their priorities for allocating funds. Although it continues to exist, ESP is constantly iterating to improve its service offerings. This is a manual, bureaucratic process to show priority and fairness. Judging the proposal carefully and including the entire Ethereum ecosystem. There is also the “Ethereum Community Fund” (ECF). ECF was originally an infrastructure grant program, which has received some of the world’s leading names after the 2017 ICO boom The support of the Ethereum project. The plan quickly fell into internal politics because the project failed to commit to how the funds were allocated and resolved transparency and governance issues. It has developed into an independent financing platform.

Gitcoin itself is a mixture of manual and automated processes. Through a semi-automated process, people can submit a project for funding, and others can sign up for an account, donate cryptocurrency, and vote for projects they want to be funded. The “crowd-sourcing intelligence” of this mechanism has caused some problems to surface, such as underestimating the importance of community education.

The projects with the most votes get “matched” funds from the shared donation pool, and a reward for high votes has been added in a process called “quadratic financing”. The most recent round included 168,000 donations totaling US$1.38 million, plus another US$500,000 in funding.

Shared resources under threat: Gitcoin Grants Round 9

Bruno Latour describes all technologies as embedded “scripts” with set specifications and regulatory behavior. The script of Gitcoin is “We are a fair, legal, and charitable financing mechanism for the Ethereum community”. For Gitcoin, this sense of “fairness” is achieved through the transparency of the donation process and the decentralization of decision-making. However, socio-technical systems are inherently complex, which means that behavior may be “out of paper.”

Gitcoin’s 9th round of funding was under a “witch attack”, in which users created “bots” to create multiple fake identities and sent spam to this round of funding by providing a large number of small donations to certain projects. This attack broke the matching funding allocation mechanism because donations no longer indicate that the community is genuinely interested in supporting the projects they consider most important.

This attack is believed to be the result of the previous rounds of free cryptocurrency token donations, and the incentive mechanism from projects that want to “thank” the donors for their contributions is misplaced. The Gitcoin team and community believe that this has prompted people to hijack the system, hoping to get rewards for every vote in the cryptocurrency after the round is over. The script became “How can I benefit the most from this funding mechanism”. This means that the Gitcoin team must pay for this round of funding without knowing which funding is fake or how to distribute matching funding pools fairly. The vulnerability here is not only the recipients and donors, but also the persistence of Gitcoin as the primary financing mechanism for Ethereum’s goods and infrastructure.

This vulnerability in the identity layer of the quadratic system is well known in some respects, so it is only a matter of time before the system is played. In addition, as the value flowing through Gitcoin grows to a more important amount of funds facilitated by the Gitcoin mechanism, sybil attacks are more likely to occur, although identity solutions have been developed to try to verify the uniqueness of donors.

Threat management

An intervention was immediately developed, involving social and technological adaptation. The key stakeholders who participated in the development of this response include the Gitcoin team, the system engineering contractor “Blockscience”, and members of the wider community who were determined to actively participate in or criticize the Gitcoin process. BlockScience has developed a “framework for preventing hostile behavior on a large scale,” including “defining” hostile behavior, using machine learning process detection, and manually evaluating detected events to describe and judge the behavior and issuers of hostile behavior Impose appropriate recourse sanctions.

This crisis has triggered normative tensions regarding the position of the human governance process in a community that regards the value of decentralization as “trust in code” through the inability to achieve the common choice of political or architectural hierarchy or system. . Responding to a crisis is itself a subjective and artificial process. The scripts of Gitcoin and Ethereum community specifications need to be defined in order to be coded into the behavior detection framework. We believe that the community’s desire for “autonomy” is independent of external influences, which conflicts with the necessity of human intervention in a crisis to ensure that the social and technological operations of the system adapt to and respond to the continued viability of the financing mechanism itself.

Vitalik Buterin , the founder of Ethereum, reflected on this round of grants, saying that “it is necessary to continue to rely on centralized moderation, although it is hoped that this can be reduced at the same time and make it more accountable to the community.”

Gitcoin completed the payment of the financing round by running two alternative schemes. The scheme will pay the attacked and non-attacked projects because they choose to bear the additional cost of $33,000, so that no one can criticize them for judging what is fair What is unfair behavior judgment? This path of least resistance seems to meet the community’s expectations for continued participation in the financing mechanism. This process includes the sincere gesture of Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin to demonstrate the credibility of this round of negotiations, such as participating in an ad hoc crisis “committee” and public recognition, stating: “Major success , But there are many interesting challenges in this round, which will continue to play a role for a long time to come.” (Vitalik).

“Quit” DAO

After the crisis, Gitcoin announced that they would become a “decentralized autonomous organization.” This is achieved by issuing “governance” tokens to community participants. Governance tokens allow the community to transparently vote on the blockchain (“on-chain”) on decisions related to the way the GitcoinDAO vault is allocated.

Postponing decision-making to the “community” is seen as becoming more “decentralized” and therefore sustainable and legitimized. “Gitcoin chooses to delegate the governance power of our platform to the DAO, which will fully empower the community to govern itself.” ( Bitcoin ). In this way, we see that decision-making is postponed from the Gitcoin team to the community, through software code, machine learning algorithms, and “automation” as a means of maintaining community participation. These evolutions of the Gitcoin project are to maintain the long-term function of the financing mechanism, or in other words, to keep the ship sailing.

This kind of “exiting the community” is a long-term strategy for the community to jointly own and jointly manage the management of capital goods that are important to the Ethereum blockchain ecosystem. However, “Exiting the DAO” also revealed a variety of driving factors and incentives. Among them, 15% of the governance tokens were retroactively allocated to people who participated in Gitcoin in the past, and 35% of the time was locked to the “team, investor” Gitcoin’s future employees And strategic partners.” The Gitcoin team has made a lot of effort to make itself no longer seen as the focus of decision-making in order to conduct a fair process when exiting the DAO. This includes abandoning the appointment of steward or the GTC authorization process to become a steward, and Put team tokens under an established time lock. This places the responsibility on the initial 15% allocation to community members to set up a sustainable governance process before more tokens are unlocked. Gitcoin itself aims to solve the decentralized guidance The challenge of the globalization project, the “artificial tension” between the decentralization of human participation and the human governance process as the driving force of sustainability and survival is again raised.

Now, GTC token holders (from 15% retrospective airdrops to past donors and applicants for Gitcoin funding rounds, considered to form a “community”) can “delegate” their tokens to what they think is worthy of becoming Applicants for “community stewards”.” In this way, we see that withdrawing from the DAO solves some centralization and potential political problems, but introduces new vulnerabilities and possible attack vectors. Well-known crypto twitterers may adopt Coercive measures, such as bribery, to receive and maintain GTC token distribution. Then, the proposal requires the votes of these butlers, who can change the rules to maintain their power and influence in the system. Therefore, decentralized digital governance remains Relying on the human governance process. The token delegation process relies heavily on GTC holders understanding the purpose of Gitcoin and their role in managing it to determine how they should best delegate their GTC tokens. Make GitcoinDAO well managed.

Commons Resilience: "Resilience" in the Governance of Decentralized Technology Community

“The First Gitcoin Open Source Conference” was created by Alex van de Sande (Gitcoin CEO Kevin Owocki called it “My New Boss”)”

  Governance, even decentralized governance, is also reflected in politics. All infrastructure is political, whether through human participation or the rules humans have coded in the system. It remains to be seen how this interaction between the social and technological entanglements of decentralized systems and their politics can be exploited by the incentives and transparency provided by blockchain-based systems.

Blockchain sharing in “the next stage of growth”

1. Blockchain revolves around a purpose, not a protocol

We have also seen that the blockchain infrastructure forms community “commons” around specific purposes, rather than around specific agreements or projects. Blockchain operates as a social technology infrastructure, rather than as a single project or agreement, the latter consists of replaceable modules with integral functions.

As Buterin reflected in the third round of Gitcoin grants in 2019, “Ultimately, every mechanism for allocating resources, whether centralized, market-based, democratic, or other methods, must be able to withstand deliverables. The test, otherwise, sooner or later the mechanism that is considered better will be abandoned, even if it is not so clean philosophically.”

Gitcoin has undergone a transformation, from a project to a more decentralized “DAO” institutional structure, but it is the same ship. According to the norms and values ​​of the blockchain community, this institution needs effective governance. The most appropriate path goes beyond a specific token distribution, agreement, or governance model, toward how to achieve the broader goals of the community. This shifts the focus from “becoming a DAO” or “decentralization” to the legitimacy of the ability to continue to operate as a community through participation and flexibility. This means that the “purpose-driven token” of the blockchain commons is actually to promote the “purpose-driven community” incentive mechanism.

2. Social and technological governance is essential for resilience

When decentralized infrastructure is threatened, social and technological governance interventions become a key driver of the necessary resilience evolution. Despite being attacked by witches, the Gitcoin mechanism survived another round. The team and governance processes surrounding the funding mechanism must undergo major adjustments, and the entire project will be transformed into a “decentralized autonomous organization”, decentralizing decision-making responsibilities from the core team to the community’s wallet address. In addition, technical adjustments are taking place with the introduction of governance tokens for on-chain voting to manage the distribution of donations on the chain, and the introduction of machine learning processes to flag possible adversarial behaviors to detect and evaluate future attacks.

Governance has become crucial in guiding the resilient evolution of survivable systems. As a social technology infrastructure, if the community itself is to succeed, the decentralized technology community must recognize and accept transparent governance practices and interventions. These findings can be extrapolated to the digital infrastructure and other governance environments through the digital infrastructure for legal, flexible, and semi-autonomous community organizations, although what parts need to be built in some environments is still an open research field .

3. The search for autonomy through digital means is not new

We have also seen that the desire of online communities to have autonomous mechanisms is not new. The blockchain community is an active foundation that can provide a more flexible way for the community to experiment.

Since the 1980s, author Howard Reingold has been experimenting with the governance of online communities and he is part of basic communities such as “The WELL”. Reigngold referred to Nancy White’s work, highlighting the key lessons of online community governance, including “make it as simple as possible”, “ensure that the needs and purpose of the community (and community owners) are clarified”, and “taking into account the sometimes benevolent Dictatorship is a good solution.”

In terms of assigning responsibilities and accountability in these infrastructures in a transparent manner, the tension between the role of humans and the role of automation in the governance process is an open area to be further explored in order to maintain the pursuit of its purpose. Use this transparency and restriction as an opportunity for a “one-and-for-all” solution.

Contributors who provide adaptive capabilities for flexible and decentralized digital infrastructure

This article aims to reflect emerging themes within the community to help them make more informed decisions, as well as a way to learn from a wider range of experiences applicable to the topic of resilience in digital infrastructure. The intervention of the Gitcoin team, its direct supporters and funders, and the Ethereum community in governance processes and technical functions provides the mechanism with adaptability, enabling it to develop and transform into numerous feedback and attacks.

Against the historical background of the Ethereum community financing mechanism, Gitcoin has achieved success. The project’s performance in providing this function has surpassed many previous attempts and is currently entering the 10th round of financing

It seems that the biggest threat considered by the Gitcoin team is illegality, because they are seen as centralized when making decisions and controlling projects. However, the participation of the Gitcoin team is essential to launch the project and guide its development and evolution to increase transparency, accountability, and community involvement.

Three themes are critical to Gitcoin’s adaptability:

1. Transparency: The Gitcoin team seems to really want to share decision-making responsibilities and communicate how this process happens according to the community’s norms and expectations.

2. Community Participation: Public social signals and sustained participation of projects and donors make this function sustainable.

3. Evolution ability: The Gitcoin project has the ability to create, maintain and absorb feedback, and has been criticized and feedback from the community. For a circular delegation of GTC token holders and community administrators, this will be indispensable and may be more difficult unless it is explicitly resolved.

How and when “decentralized” projects should “exit” to a more decentralized form of governance, and the correct balance (if any) between human contribution and algorithm automation, remains to be studied.


Using decentralized technology to build an organization does not mean organizing outside of governance. This research reveals the need to balance the tension between manual and automated methods in order to achieve the desire for “decentralization” when managing participatory online systems. The history and recent events of funding common commodities in the Ethereum ecosystem have revealed this tension between the role of humans and the role of machines in managing blockchain infrastructure, with the goal of achieving continuity of goals. The most valuable governance tool to generate public trust in a Gitcoin attack is to strive to increase transparency to ensure continuous community participation, which shows that resilience is the community’s ability to adapt to threats or attacks, not just specific governance mechanisms or through certain Decentralized computer system. This study found that for decentralized technology systems to continue to function, they rely on both human governance practices and the transparency that blockchain can provide. The governance process aimed at mitigating the crisis is formulated through a combination of the collective, human value judgments and decisions of key participants in the community, and automated processes. However, these automated processes still require manual design and decision-making to encode the system’s governance rules. This proves the interdependence of human and machine components in the decentralized technology portfolio. We found that the flexibility of decentralized infrastructure relies on transparent governance practices consistent with community values ​​in order to continuously participate in the system to achieve a certain purpose, rather than a specific project. This flexible framework in the blockchain public resource as an online community governance allows us to learn from past experiences and lessons with an autonomous approach to digital media.


Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
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