I am beginning this thread as a Q1 deliverable for the Community DAO, but encourage any and all DAOists on Harmony to share your thoughts and experiences. Please try to keep all responses civil, non derogatory, and relevant to the experience of actually being on a DAO. This thread is not intended to be a catch all for every investor’s thoughts on DAOs, but for those that have lived the experience of being a signatory.
It should be noted that all observations contained within this post are my own as a governor for the Harmony Community DAO
What is it like to DAO on Harmony? It’s such a tough question to answer and no matter how long this post is, it will undoubtedly fall short of capturing the range of emotions and experiences encountered. I’ll do my best, though.
First, I have been fortunate enough to serve on the Community DAO Council of Governors since the beginning of October 2021 (7.5 months at the time of this post). I’ll keep from going into depth on the work completed here as that information can be found in other posts already like monthly timesheet reports, funding requests, candidacy posts, etc. Instead I will focus on overall takeaways from being on a DAO, such as how it has gone, misconceptions, and personal critiques.
Upon joining the DAO, I had many misconceptions about what it would be like. I thought being a Community DAO Governor would prove to be mostly an extension of the work and energy I had already put into bringing Harmonauts together under a single cause to build a stronger community. To a degree it is; communicating with all types, promoting the ecosystem, and answering as many questions as I could. But I’ve come to find this journey has taken me in so many unexpected directions. To start, being in a DAO is SO much more political in nature than I had bargained for. When you receive funding and attach that Governor title to your name, people begin to treat you differently. Even though I was still the same unassuming enthusiastic community member, what I said began to carry more weight. I found that being on a core DAO led many to assume that I am working directly with the core team, which is most definitely NOT the case. In fact, one of my biggest personal misconceptions was that our work would largely be coordinated with the core team. After all, we are a ‘core’ DAO. That has not been the case in my experience by and large. As for the political aspect, being on the CDAO has rallied people to my passions, receiving so much support from my CT friends. But on the flipside, it has put me under the microscope more. Community members begin watching the work being done or lack thereof, as they should. But this can also lead to people jumping to conclusions without having all of the information and occasionally leading to somewhat unfair criticisms.
Being on the DAO has taught me to have thicker skin. Even if some criticisms seem unfair, they usually stem from a place of caring about the direction of the DAO and Harmony ecosystem as a whole. This has led to more work and discussions happening in public forums rather than private governor meetings. It’s not that we were trying to hide anything, it’s just part of the learning curve and realizing that transparency and open discussion are most important in this framework, even if nobody shows up to the meetings besides signatories. If you don’t have anything to hide, you are better off exposing everything as often as possible. This is something I think all of us could learn from the Harmony team. Even if communication with the public can sometimes be improved upon, they are always building and displaying who they are and what they are working on. In one sense it makes you quite vulnerable, but it can also keep your motives pure and forward thinking. With all of that said though, DAOs are a strange beast. Recently I’ve found that not making EVERY conversation public can be beneficial. When 9 strangers are brought together to build something they each share passion for building, unending public discourse can remove the human element and lead to misunderstandings or skirmishes festering without resolve. I think it’s important to still have private channels to discuss sensitive matters or to put disagreements to bed and allow everyone in the DAO to have a safe space to talk things through. We want to keep DAOs fun. Otherwise, what’s the point of what we are doing? The most fun I’ve had working in a DAO is by having those more private moments with my compatriots and developing friendships with people I would’ve never had the chance to interact with otherwise.
Which brings me to my next point. I take great offense, as do many others in my position, when I hear or am told that being a governor is only to sign transactions and not to do work. I understand the sentiment: that we are elected to be custodians of the treasury. But so much more than that goes into why we are in our positions. Those that stand up for election are, by nature, the one’s most interested in working for the DAO, to build it, and to ensure its success. If governors only signed transactions, there would not be a Community DAO. Maybe one day in the future, we can get to that point where work/bounties come by organically and the ecosystem is so robust that people are waiting in lines to get their chance to complete tasks for the DAO. That day is not today. Building a DAO at this point is an incredible amount of work, consisting of a lot of learning new tooling/concepts and trying something, failing, trying something else, failing, trying again, failing, and finally having success. It takes real fortitude to ride it out to see it through, as has been proven many times in just these months. Many governors have been unable to see their term through or have just neglected it altogether for any multitude of reasons. I hold no ill will towards any of them. We are not under contract, we have our own lives, families, jobs, etc. It can be mentally taxing at times working on a DAO between not being sure if funding will be there, trying hard and failing at something, receiving criticisms, and having things not work out for reasons beyond your control. There are many legitimate reasons to remove oneself from a DAO. To stick it out, you MUST have resolve and intestinal fortitude. You must also be a self starter willing to push the limits of what your qualifications might indicate. In the building stage, it takes serious work. It’s been incredibly rewarding though overall. I’ve developed friendships, learned new skills, overcome personal fears, been a part of some amazing teams, and achieved an elevated belief in my abilities. I’ve always tried to do right by the DAO and be blunt and honest about my positions. It has caused some drama here and there, but has ultimately, I think, led to an increased level of respect within the community.
There have been some frustrations along the way. Early on, it was more centered around feeling like we were being hung out to dry and given no guidance or direction. As time has gone on being a community leader of sorts, I’ve changed my perspective quite a bit on this. We are all humans. Everyone working with Harmony in any capacity, I firmly believe, is doing their best to be successful and to push the boundaries of this protocol’s potential. We need to show more grace. All of us. Me, the team, and you, whoever is reading this. Many times in this space, people and projects can be reduced to a single mistake or misunderstanding and absolutely torn apart for it. I suppose this has become somewhat of an overall societal trend, but for this space to go mainstream, I feel like we need to try and be more understanding and hear people out and give second and third chances provided the intent behind them is genuine. I’ve tried to take this approach more often and it has really led to me gaining a better understanding of the person behind the mistake or misunderstanding and allowing for progress and to see them improve.
Lately, my frustrations have been more around things out of my control or beyond my understanding. For example, the Gnosis multisig deployed on Harmony has been such a focal point of my frustration. As a validator that is an avid supporter of growing the validator ecosystem as well as a governor trying to add as much funding to the DAO treasury as possible, not being able to stake with the multisig is very frustrating. Not only that, there have been several additional ideas around sustainability involving using defi that just are not possible with the wallet. As I understand it, the DAO Ops team has made updating the multisig its top priority, so that is very exciting to me. It does pain me, though, to think of all of the staking rewards that could’ve been generated in those months, not to mention that none of our treasury was able to have been swapped for stablecoin for governor salaries and contributor payments. Our only option was to watch as our treasury that was funded in early January with ONE at ~.33 went down each month and depleted a good portion of our remaining funds. We never thought sending the funds to a personal wallet to be swapped for stablecoin was a good precedent to set and I still feel this way. We decided the most impartial way to pay ourselves while being mindful of the treasury was to pay ourselves at the avg monthly USDT price of ONE. In every month but 1 the rate paid to us was at a higher ONE price than the price on payday. Several times, there was a 40%+ reduction in the $ amount we received on payday compared to the amount listed on our timesheets. I’m not saying this because I’m upset about it, in fact, it’s the opposite. I’m proud that we have developed a system given our limits with the wallet that puts the DAO ahead of our own personal gain and stuck with it. I say it to maybe offer some perspective to anyone that thinks DAOs are just money grabs and to show that there are governors out there trying to do things the right way and not getting rich off the community’s funds. I know I sure haven’t.
To be honest, one thing that left me quite frustrated for the majority of my term was the lack of communication with and operational support of the core team. I would still prefer a greater amount of direct cooperation, but efforts to bridge the gap in recent months have been beneficial and more frequent: coordinating core team AMAs on key areas of community concern and having weekly DAO Ops meetings most specifically. I get that DAOs are to be autonomous, but I feel there is room for even more direct communication and collaboration with core team members for the Community DAO specifically. Most other DAO’s should operate independently, but for a core DAO there would be great benefit, I believe, to have increased influence from the core team as the DAO’s goals align directly with those of Harmony. Here’s hoping recent efforts to bridge the gap continue and increase in the future.
I’ve gone on for quite a bit here, so I will begin to wrap things up. Being a governor on the Community DAO has been quite an emotional roller coaster. It’s easy to get down on yourself when things don’t progress. BUT, I have come full circle and have just as much faith in DAOs as a solution for the future of work as when I began. I think perhaps we need to slow down, make sure we get things right, and have compassion for each other. More mistakes will be made. It’s important we keep level heads and work on them so that we don’t repeat them or cause them to define DAOs on Harmony. One thing is for sure though. I have cherished my time DAOing on Harmony and wouldn’t change this experience for anything. My faith has been tested, but today, more than ever, I believe in the promise of DAOs. Thanks for reading. Sorry if I got a little off track, but I wanted to share my experience. Now I ask other Harmony DAOists to share your story and provide more perspective in the comments.