Governance in Harmony


What is Harmony’s approach to governance in terms of decision making and sustainable community overview?



I’m also interested in this discussion. Bump!



Major discussion point for sure… Maybe Harmony team can open their proposal and get community feedback. So much is dependent on how they see the long term structure of their network in parallel with product and their requirements. Quite an extensive and valuable discussion to have.



Hello all,

Great question @William! And glad to have a Governance Maniac here too, @satoshi

As of now we don’t have a fully formed story on governance yet, but we recognize governance as one of the most crucial aspects of any blockchain project. Good governance can give a blockchain long-term sustainability and adaptability, while bad governance can tear the ecosystem apart.

It appears that with many blockchain projects there is a natural and gradual transition from governance by the founding team to governance by the community and stakeholders. I find the on-chain governance mechanism of projects like Polkadot to be very interesting, but I also recognize that not everything can be achieved on-chain.

Let’s all work together to move beyond our broad ideas and form a stronger vision of governance for Harmony. Do you guys have any good ideas or places to start?


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On Harmony’s Cent AMA I asked about governance, which is how I found out about this thread and Nick’s response to it.

Governance is all about prioritizing. For example, according to Trump, building a wall is a priority. Many people in congress disagree. They think that there are more important things to spend tax dollars on.

Does Harmony have its own president and congress? I’m guessing that it doesn’t. Most startups don’t use democracy to choose its leaders. Startups are usually dictatorships… the founders decide what the priorities should be.

Naturally there’s lots of disagreement about governance. What nearly everybody overlooks is that prioritization systems can be, and should be, safely tested and compared.

  1. Pick a governance issue
  2. Post it on Reddit and Cent
  3. Compare the results

How differently would the options be prioritized by democracy (Reddit) and by the market (Cent)? Naturally for Cent you shouldn’t include a bounty. When a bounty is included the replies are sorted by voting, which would change the order as determined by tipping. This is what happened with the Harmony’s AMA on Cent.

This isn’t a perfect experiment. I think it would be a lot better if the money spent on the replies was given to Harmony. But the point is to recognize that it is possible, and very desirable, to simultaneously test and compare different systems of governance.

To be clear, Harmony would not at all be required to do what voters or spenders want it to do. Harmony would just be giving the community the opportunity to share its feedback. If, however, Harmony did do what its market wanted it to do, then this would increase the size of its market. More people are going to be willing to spend their money if they know that doing so will actually determine Harmony’s direction.

Another thing is that the market prioritization doesn’t have to be on Cent. It could also be on Honest Cash, which I prefer for various reasons… such as how the posts themselves can be sorted by value.

As far as I know there aren’t any examples of market governance, except for how all the organizations in the private sector are prioritized by the market. If the market is the best prioritization system, then all organizations are suboptimally governed. If the market isn’t the best prioritization system, then all the organizations in the private sector are suboptimally prioritized.

I’m pretty sure that the market is the best prioritization system. I could be wrong though. The proof is in the pudding. Let me know what you think.



Hey @Xerographica, thanks so much for your thoughtful response.

I really like your comparison of governance by the market versus governance by democracy. Especially in light of our recent AMA on Cent. It’s interesting to consider the benefits and pitfalls of each system. Are there certain things that should not have a price? Is it possible to actually keep the market from ruling or is it just that through laws you can increase the costs of certain actions so that they are no longer viable in the market?

Anyway, perhaps its my american upbringing getting the best of me but I like the idea of having a more democratic governance system for Harmony. After all we want to build something that will improve the lives of everyone not just the privileged few.

However, until we have robust identity systems for blockchain it will be impossible to prevent sybil attacks in a democratic system. Also, if someone doesn’t have any stake in the protocol, should they really have a say? Put another way, should a citizen of France be allowed to vote in the US? Clearly not because they don’t have any stake in the country and in fact their intentions might be malicious.

So how do you earn citizenship in the protocol? For now the only solution I see is by holding a minimum amount of tokens. But then you also need counter measures for people who simply buy the tokens before a vote happens. There are so many things to consider.

My gut feeling is that similar to blockchain protocols’ scalability trilemma, there is no optimal governance system, only a set of tradeoffs.

In comparing the US and China, we can see clear tradeoffs of the two systems. In the US, there is more transparency, trust and fairness in the political system, but that comes with the cost of slow and fragmented decision making as well as short-termism. China on the other hand has less transparency, trust and fairness in their political system but the concentration of power allows for faster decision making and mobilization as well as longer term planning.

Perhaps concentration of power is not so bad for a blockchain in its early stages as it need to adapt and grow with the growth of the industry. Then when things have stabilized, power should be distributed to allow for more fairness and more stability.

Wow never knew I could go on for so long about governance. That’s for getting this conversation going!



Thanks @nickw for the reply. Turns out that newbies can’t post more than two links, so I posted my novel here… Harmony Should Science Governance.

The last paragraph…

So my main point is about science. We obviously disagree about governance, but hopefully we don’t disagree about science. We can and should use science to resolve our disagreement about governance. If Harmony discovers the truth about governance, then this discovery would make the biggest improvement in everyone’s lives.

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Wow @Xerographica, you are extremely insightful and thought provoking.

I agree with you we should science governance. In fact, one of the things that I think are promising about blockchains is the fact that they can act as testbeds for experiments in economics and governance. We have never had a medium that is so malleable and in which enforcement of policy is guaranteed. And we’ve never had a system that is so transparent and observable.

I’ve often felt that political science and economics were “soft-sciences” in that they were built on assumptions that are hard to test. The data that you can gather is so limited that it can’t get close to describing the complexities of the systems involved. Plus the scale of experiments are either so big that you can only do a handful of them in lifetime (macroeconomics) or so small that they only generalize to the individual level (microeconomics). I hope that blockchain can bring more science to the study of economics and political science.

But in the interest of Harmony, we can’t science governance until our protocol is live. And furthermore, we need to be careful of the experiments we run so as not to jeopardize our community and our protocol. So at least for now, we need to use what we have to work with to design the best governance without the luxury of running experiments to science things out just yet.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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@nickw, thanks!

Right now Harmony is already using some system to make decisions. I don’t exactly know which system, but I’m guessing that you don’t flip a coin or consult a magic 8 ball. Maybe you have a meeting, discuss the merits of each idea, and then try and reach a consensus.

Looking around your homepage I don’t see a link to a subreddit for Harmony. I see links to Medium, Twitter, Telegram, LinkedIn, Instagram… but not to Reddit.

If there isn’t already a subreddit for Harmony, should there be one? How does Harmony make this decision?

Netflix has an unofficial subreddit. I recently used it to share the idea that Netflix subscribers should have the opportunity to earmark their subscription dollars to the content that they love. The community did not like my idea. No surprise.

This is an example of democracy making a decision. Does Netflix have to abide by this decision? Of course not. Netflix is free to overrule its Reddit community and implement my idea.

Obviously Netflix doesn’t think that democracy is the best form of governance. I share this belief, which is why I want everybody to directly compare democracy with other forms of governance.

Therefore, from my perspective, Harmony should create a subreddit and encourage its community to participate. This will give Harmony the valuable opportunity to juxtapose democratic governance with its current form of governance.

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Hey @Xerographica,

I feel ashamed to admit this but I have barely ever used reddit! :scream:

I know that reddit can be a really strong place to start a community and have productive discussions. You’re right that we should probably open it up. Do you think that reddit would be a better place for these kinds of discussions than this forum? If so I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Given my inexperience with reddit I am not sure how to go about creating the page or what is expected from the admins. Armed with this information I may be able to get our internal governance to approve it! :wink:




@nickw, I learned about this forum when I asked my question on Cent about Harmony’s governance. Whoever answered my question included a link to this thread. As soon as I saw the link I visited this page… but it took a while before I decided to sign up and share my two cents on the topic. Nobody really likes having to sign up to a new site. If the link had been to a subreddit instead, then perhaps I would have chimed in sooner, given that I’m already on Reddit.

Last I heard Reddit has more users than Twitter, so there are lots of people on Reddit. You should make it easy for lots of people to discuss Harmony.

Decred has a subreddit. A month ago I asked about Decred’s governance and received some helpful answers.

To create a subreddit you just look on the right side of your homepage and click the button that says “Create Community”. Administration should be pretty straightforward.



Governance is a central topic for me on several levels. First, I’m interested in governance as a form of (social) process architecture, and second, I’m interested in commons based production. This recent article lists some innovations in this space that are likely of interest here:

I have also been interested in and looking into Cardano and the ADA currency. It is interesting to me as an architect on for two features, interoperability and governance.

Unless someone else does interop better, I would look to their platform as a linking technology for any system that operates in more than one currency system. Note that they link their concept of governing a “treasury” as a way to address the concern of sustainability. It give stakeholders a way through governance to set and change the shares for nodes that participate in the consensus processes.

I think that other currency communities are likely to push the envelope in the more social and less technical of the research. We should follow their lead in emphasizing the importance of grounding the work on good research. Issues around data and data sovereignty will be critical in making sure we distribute the collectively generated wealth more fairly.

The surplus these networks can generate can provide income security for the many in exchange for social participation. Kill off the memes that say we are proposing something for nothing, this is a new social contract based on a fair data economy. This has to be the key to sustainable abundance.

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The surplus these networks can generate can provide income security for the many in exchange for social participation. Kill off the memes that say we are proposing something for nothing, this is a new social contract based on a fair data economy. This has to be the key to sustainable abundance.

@Gerry, I love your response and we feel the same way. That’s one of the core missions that drives Harmony. And you’re right that aside from the technology, governance will play a very important role in bringing this vision to reality. Without efficient and effective governance, a chain may get corralled and controlled by a cartel. Or perhaps so many forks will occur that value may fragment.

I too admire Cardano’s focus on sustainability through governance of a treasury. There’s certainly a lot we can learn regarding governance from other protocols. However, we’re also so early in the game that 10 years from now our governance systems will likely look completely different to the ones being implemented today.

Especially interesting is how we might design governance systems around data. From individuals having data sovereignty to data pools voting together to monetize their data together kind of like a labor union. This certainly is one of the keys to a fair data economy.