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Being part of the DAO community

Benefits of interacting with a DAO community, what to expect, what will be expected of you
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© RMIT 2023

DAOs are member-owned communities that have decision-making power in the governance of a protocol. They can also be seen as a work productivity coordination entity, rewarding active work and volunteerism that benefits the DAO community.

A DAO community is built by attracting people who will care about the DAO and will participate during the lifecycle of the DAO. A “high quality” member is regarded as someone that is intrinsically motivated and provides support over a sustained period of time. Those who contribute time and effort (“human capital”) instead of capital (ie money) tend to be the most valuable contributors.

Joining through active participation

Recruitment often occurs through existing DAO members but also through curation systems embedded in the DAO processes. One way to join a DAO is to participate in these processes. An example of a DAO curation system was the Mirror Write Race. A weekly on-boarding event where people campaigned to get upvoted by $WRITE holders and gain access to the blogging platform. Every week the Write Race was a community rendez-vous that generated interactions and a sense of belonging among members. In 2021, weekly participation sat at 30% which was way above industry average when it comes to token voting mechanisms.

Participation within the DAO

Participatory actions on a DAO community include voting and contributing, which build reputation and experience amongst community members. All token holders in a DAO, not just executives, can have a role in the decision-making. Members can earn voting privileges in the DAO through contribution and express their opinions by voting on specific actions. Once approved, those votes automatically translate to on-chain action (recorded on the blockchain) such as transferring funds from the treasury to an external (or internal) entity.

The open, composable structure of DAOs makes it possible for communities to establish organizational structures quickly, with customized incentive structures directed at a wide array of goals. Using token- based governance, DAOs can consider and implement changes at any time, according to a community vote.

In terms of contributing, this builds experience in the DAO. Quests and Bounties are bite-sized tasks that members can take on to “level up” in the DAO. Bounties can be automatically verified if it’s an on-chain task (ie Rabbit Hole), or left up to the discretion of a DAO member that owns the bounty (ie Gitcoin, Coinvise). Bounties define the scope, deliverable and rewards on menial to large tasks for anyone looking to contribute to a DAO. Contributors are often spread out worldwide, and most of them don’t work full-time for the DAO.

There are several roles that DAO community members undertake, including community management, moderation, participation in interest groups or working groups. Before becoming core members, many individuals go through a similar journey that may start with exploring message boards or completing their first task with a DAO.

A successful DAO community is a “many-to-many” social environment, so participation through communication tools such as Discord, Telegram and governance forums (e.g. Discourse) are essential.

The challenges

Participation in these communication channels also supports reputation building, engagement in topical issues within the DAO, and participation in informal governance discussions. It is worth noting however, that defining responsibilities and compensation structures for contributors, matching them with community needs and coordinating activity through messaging systems such as Discord is not always a smooth process. Often DAOs are not completely decentralised or autonomous. Like any volunteer organization, a DAO’s effectiveness can wane depending on its leadership and community engagement, member participation in governance, and a sense of community ownership at any given time. Challenges linked to the community dynamics surrounding a DAO include onboarding, volunteerism, collusion, and failures of governance processes.

© RMIT 2023
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Introduction to DAOs: Decentralised Autonomous Organisations

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