SCRF Interviews | DAO Standards - DAOStar One (Ep.10)

Overview

The first of two episodes dedicated to DAOStar One, an attempt to define a common technical standard for DAOs. Featuring a discussion between Metagov Executive Director Joshua Tan and Isaac Patka, Co-creator of Logos DAO and contributor to Moloch Mystics. This conversation was moderated by SCRF’s Head of Operations, Eugene Leventhal.

Links:

Video

Audio (Apple, Spreaker)

Transcript

At issue:

  • Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) lack a common technical standard which would make it easier for developers to create tooling for DAOs, and give DAOs the same level of legibility and interoperability that other web3 entities like NFTs currently enjoy.

Takeaways from the discussion:

  • DAOStar One is a roundtable of key organizations in the DAO ecosystem. They created the ERC-4824 standard which offers a common technical standard for DAOs, similar to ERC-721 for NFTs.
  • DAOs can be defined with two primitives: there’s a smart contract, which has behavior, and there are members. Members can meaningfully affect the behavior of the smart contract with proposals.
  • The benefits of having a shared technical standard for DAOs include interoperability between DAOs, legibility, i.e. being able to quickly understand what a DAO is about, and being able to better develop tooling

The story begins at MetaCartel | MCON 2021 at a picnic table over some post-conference beers. Joshua Tan, executive director at MetaGov, was complaining about the lack of standards for building and measuring DAOs with a group of fellow governance experts.

“Right now it’s impossible to quickly peer into a DAO and get a sense of what’s going on,” says Isaac Patka, co-creator of Logos DAO and contributor to Moloch Mystics. “It’s almost like doing forensic analysis, you might start on Twitter, look for a website… the whole concept of a DAO, what that DAO manages, and what it’s doing is spread across several platforms.”

Suddenly it struck them. Why not begin building a common standard? NFTs have a common standard, defined by ERC-721, which includes TokenURI, a unique identifier, which typically contains information like a link to an image file.

“If you go to EtherScan and click on an NFT contract,” Patka says, “EtherScan knows it’s an NFT contract, there’s rich information available, you can follow token trails, and all of that is because we’ve agreed on a way to describe an NFT and the ownership of an NFT.”

They agreed to put together an Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) defining a common standard for a DAO and to have it ready by ETHDenver in only four months. DAOStar One is the organization they used to coordinate the project, and future iterations.

“The schema we came up with is extremely basic,” says Tan. They wanted to avoid overly defining it and keeping it extensible. “The standard imagines DAOs being defined by two basic things, behavior, in that there is a smart contract that has behavior; and a DAO has members.”

Members meaningfully affect the behavior of the DAO contract in the form of proposals. So the EIP defined a set of members, proposals and an activity log that defines relationships between members and a proposal.

If broadly accepted by the DAO ecosystem, the information will improve legibility, which is the ability to understand what a DAO is doing and who is involved with it, and interoperability, the ability for DAOs to play nice with one another.

One of the first benefits will be cutting down on redundancy and unnecessary work like aggregating data. “Eventually, these common data schemas will allow people to do things we can’t anticipate yet,” Patka says. “There’s a vision of a multiDAO future where DAOs are members of other DAOs and proposals are seamlessly passed from one to another, which would be a nightmare, unless we can manage the data.”

The EIP was submitted during the ETH Denver conference, and accepted as an Ethereum Request for Changes (ERC), in other words, becoming fully integrated into the Ethereum ecosystem.

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Are there any challenges to creating a standard that are unique to DAOs, compared to something like NFTs? It seems like there’s already a large ecosystem of DAOs and many of them might not want the scrutiny of an Ethscan-like interface. Would you be able to apply the standard to DAOs without their consent? Or would this be built into the smart contracts.