- Distributed governance in DAOs allows for anyone to participate in decision making processes.
- This has lead to the submission of fake or scam proposals on the voting platform Snapshot so that hackers can implement Sybil Attacks.
- Gitcoin DAO is voting on a new proposal to gate submissions and restrict the participants who can propose network changes.
A Gitcoin (GTC) DAO proposal that was submitted in May 2023 but moved to Snapshot on June 19, 2023, entitled “Gating who can make Gitcoin proposals on Snapshot,” aims to gate access to Github’s Snapshot to curb the proliferation of fake governance proposals. The voting process for this proposal ends on June 26, 2023.
Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) revolutionize governance structures by enabling direct and monitory democracy where every member of a network can participate in its decision-making processes, and the processes themselves—such as proposing network changes and voting on them—are transparent and accessible to every member of the network.
TLDR: Direct and Monitory Democracy and Gitcoin Explained
Direct and Monitory
In a direct democracy, every citizen within a state’s population can participate in all decision-making processes by exercising their right to vote. Depending on the state utilizing a direct democracy as their system of governance, there may or may not be a single elected leader or small group of elected leaders comprised of the state’s most trusted individuals.
The role of these leaders is to offer guidance on what they believe to be the best course of action when facing a political decision. Regardless of their opinions, the state’s population still has an ultimate say in decision making, and decisions are made based on a majority vote. New leaders, whether it be an individual or small group, serve fixed terms, with elections held periodically to allow for a continuous diversification of leadership.
Monitory democracy, first theorized by political scientist John Keane, involves the actions of a state’s governing body being constantly monitored by its population. Enabling full transparency between a state’s leaders and its people.
Gitcoin DAO is a project that operates on the Ethereum blockchain focusing on funding open-source public goods through community coordination. Gitcoin DAO combines an impact DAO (a project focused on creating positive impacts) and a protocol DAO (an organization structure that governs a decentralized protocol). The Gitcoin DAO comprises like-minded individuals collaborating to raise and manage crowdsourced funds for various purposes.
Gitcoin DAO employs its unique Quadratic Funding concept to accomplish its objectives. This involves raising a matching pool—a pool of funds set aside expressly for matching contributions made by individuals or entities—through grants. When enough funds accumulate in the matching pool, they are used to match or multiply the contributions made during a crowdfunding campaign.
This mechanism amplifies the impact of individual contributions, as the matching funds effectively increase the total amount available for funding projects or initiatives. Gitcoin’s matching pool is crucial in incentivizing and encouraging participation by providing additional financial support to crowdfunding efforts.
DAOs in the DeFi space allow for distributed governance where the only requirement for a DAO member to propose a change to the network is by holding the DAO’s token. Such decentralization is foundational to Web3 and excellent for adoption regarding the onboarding of new users.
However, such a low barrier to entry for participation has led to the proliferation of fake or malicious network proposals that seek to implement Sybil Attacks and manipulate DAO members, impacting network growth negatively. This is the problem plaguing Gitcoin through its Snapshot space, where DAO proposals are submitted once they’re ready to be voted on.
A Sybil attack is a type of malicious activity where an individual or entity creates multiple fake identities or accounts to gain disproportionate influence or control over a network. It aims to deceive and manipulate by presenting a larger number of fake identities, often undermining trust, consensus, and the integrity of the targeted environment.
The Problem in the Context of Snapshot
Each DAO on Snapshot has its own space where its community gathers to put forth and vote on proposals. DAOs can fully customize the voting processes in their space, and Snapshot provides spaces with Voting Strategies to assist DAOs in vetting proposals.
Unfortunately, many DAOs on Snapshot do not set up proposal validation strategies for their spaces (despite the platform allowing them to do so), which enables anyone to submit a proposal, including hackers.
Hackers are notorious for submitting fake proposals and hiding phishing links in the proposal’s content, so when DAO community members vote on it, they unknowingly access malware and expose their wallets. DAO Snapshot spaces with no validation for proposal creation or minimal requirements for proposal creation are targeted most frequently. To combat this, a Gitcoin DAO member has submitted a proposal to gate Gitcoin proposals on Snapshot.
The Gitcoin DAO Snapshot space is currently wide open to new participants with few requirements for proposal creation. The main requirement is for new DAO members to set up a Gitcoin Passport, which is easy and open for anyone. Due to this, scam proposals have been submitted to the Gitcoin DAO Snapshot space on four occasions suggesting fake GTC airdrops.
Gitcoin Passports serve as identity profiles for participants in the Gitcoin community. A Gitcoin Passport verifies a user’s identity and provides a way to showcase their contributions, achievements, and reputation within the ecosystem.
Passports utilize a system of “stamps” representing different achievements or credentials users earn. These stamps can include holding a certain number of GTC tokens, having a specific number of Twitter followers, making GitHub contributions, or participating in DAO governance decisions.
By accumulating stamps in their Passport, users can demonstrate their expertise, involvement, and credibility to others within the Gitcoin community.
To mitigate fake Gitcoin proposals from being circulated on Snapshot, the “Gating who can make Gitcoin proposals on Snapshot” proposal aims to gate how future proposals are put forth by limiting submissions to Gitcoin Passports with a high accumulation of stamps. Gitcoin Passports with stamps representing 1000 Twitter followers or holdings of 100 GTC tokens (equivalent to $109.00) will be allowed to submit proposals exclusively.
Threat to Decentralization or Commitment to Authenticity?
Implementing Gitcoin Passports with stringent stamp criteria for exclusive proposal submissions can centralize the Gitcoin DAO. By setting specific passport thresholds, the DAO effectively limits the pool of individuals participating in the proposal submission process.
Such an approach may favor DAO members with existing social influence or financial resources, and marginlaize members who could make valuable contributions but may not meet the specified requirements of 1000 Twitter followers or a minimum holding of 100 GTC tokens.
This concentration of power in the hands of a select few with higher follower counts, or significant token holdings contradicts the principles of decentralization that Web3 technology and blockchain ecosystems aim to uphold. However, while these requirements may introduce some centralization concerns, they can also serve to ensure a level of member credibility.
By setting passport stamp thresholds, the Gitcoin DAO can filter out fake or scam proposals, ensuring that submitted proposals come from DAO members who have demonstrated commitment to the ecosystem.
Furthermore, by emphasizing the importance of Twitter followers and GTC token holdings, the Gitcoin DAO may attract individuals who have already established themselves as active participants and supporters of the platform. Whci fosters a sense of community and loyalty among those who meet the requirements, as they are more likely to have a deeper understanding of the Gitcoin protocol and its objectives.
In this way, the specific criteria for proposal submissions could contribute to a more engaged and dedicated community within the Gitcoin DAO.