The DAO’s First Big Decision

Published on: May 6, 2016 Last edited: Jan 8, 2023

What should we name The DAO?

“The DAO” has been in existence for about a week, and besides the obvious pending decision concerning’s proposal for the USN, another major decision looms over the group. This decision will test the ability of, perhaps, as many as 10,000 people to come together, anonymously, and make a long-lasting decision. Let’s just say I’m a bit skeptical.

The locus of discussion on all issues related to “The DAO” (which is not its official name) is, which is the official-but-not-official home of “The DAO”, an organization-that-is-not-quite-an-organization.

As you can tell — I’m having difficulty figuring out exactly what the DAO is. It’s difficult because this is a brand new thing that has not existed before in the world. There are simply no words yet. I slip into imprecise language in this post, please forgive me.

There are hundreds of discusson topics on the forum. The two most active are (1) the aforementioned proposal and (2) a topic called “Name this DAO,” with nearly 150 responses.

There have been many names proposed for the organization, from “The DAO” to “motherDAO” to “DAWN” to “DAOy McDAOface,” and the conversation is very lively. As soon as someone suggests a name, people respond. Many times in support, but also sometimes in opposition. The discussion is cordial, but it seems to me to be very disorganized.

In an attempt to get a grasp on what’s going on I created a summary of the discussion which I’ve posted here: Name This DAO. If nothing else, the summary proves that in any large group of people, there is always a lot of talent. Some of the proposed names are amazing. Some of the supporting arguments are even better. Here’s a link to the actual discussion.

The question I have is how this group will arrive at consensus. Let’s see. Hmmm…if only there was something that could automatically arrive at consensus between a group of potentially anonymous actors in a mathematically provable way…I think that might be good. I wonder…

There have been suggestions that a smart contract should be written, and it be submitted as a proposal to the DAO in order for the group to vote on a name and subsequently design a logo. Perhaps that’s how it should work. Other‘s have suggested an online poll (while still others have pointed out that an online poll might get spammed). Others have hinted that someone should grab the DAO by the horns, declare the discussion over, pick a name, change the website, and start working on the logo. I’m not sure how it will work itself out, but I am very interested in the spectacle.

Here’s a list of some of the issues that I think the DAO will be wrestling with over the next few months. I present them in no particular order:

  1. Who’s In Charge. There is no-one in charge. Of course, this is by design, but I’m anxious to see how this effects the group’s ability to come to a conclusion. How will the group help itself to move forward?
  2. Noise-to-Information Ratio. The noise-to-information ratio on the forums is very high. Trying to extract a clear idea from such a large and diverse group of people, each with their own very well reasoned arguments, is difficult. Perhaps one of the early proposals to the DAO should be the development of a discussion-based software system tailored to DAOs. If the DAO outsources the creation of this software, perhaps it could later be sold or rented to other DAO’s as an income stream. The system should reflect each participant’s current DAO token holdings, but allow for both per-token weighted and per-participant weighted voting. Note: this is not my idea, but an idea put forward on one of the forums. Sorry for the lack of attribution.
  3. Is the Crowd Actually Wise? It is not clear to me that the crowd will actually make good decisions. Even if the group does arrive at consensus, who’s to say that their choice will be a good one. Is the wisdom of the crowd — especially the wisdom of only 1,000 people — really the best? There is an obvious danger of group think, which in my experience almost always leads to bad decisions.
  4. Antagonism. In any interaction between people those annoying human emotions seem to arise. While the discussions I’ve seen on the forums have been very congenial and polite, there’s always the danger of antagonism. There are definitely some posters who are “trolling” others. The above mentioned DAO-centric discussion system might benefit from being able to “vote trolls off the island.”

These are just a few of the issues I see. I’m sure there will be many others. The biggest problem I see, though, is that the inevitable disappointment people will feel if their position is not accepted. Maybe this causes people to split from the DAO. Maybe it cause people to become more open minded and learn how to better defend their positions. Maybe it leads to civil war.

I’m not exactly sure where I come down. Personally, I like DAWN — the Decentralized Autonomous World Network, but at this point given the fact that everyone already calls it “The DAO,” it may be too late to change.

I can say one thing. This is certainly an interesting moment in the history of computing.

Thomas Jay Rush — Gladwyne, PA — Friday, May 6, 2016–3:07 PM EST

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