MIP39c2-SP8: Governance Communications Core Unit, COM-001

MIP39c2-SP8: Governance Communications Core Unit, COM-001

Preamble

MIP39c2-SP#: 8
Author(s): David Utrobin
Contributors: Tim Black, Payton Rose, Jerry Goldfarb, Anna Kryukova
Status: Request For Comment
Date Applied: 2021-03-12
Date Ratified: <yyyy-mm-dd>

Specification

Motivation

The Maker Protocol is a complex system with many different categories of focus. To name a few, we have Collateral Inclusion, Parameter setting, Smart Contract Upgrades, Oracles, Integrations, and more. The main problem is that keeping up is challenging for the average stakeholder. Our motivation is to provide solutions to this challenge.

“Aggregate and simplify” is a phrase we’ve used to capture the essence of what we do. MakerDAO and its stakeholders will benefit from a dedicated team following and documenting developments at MakerDAO, making information more accessible to all.

Additionally, a Governance Communications Core Unit strengthens MakerDAO’s dependability in emergency situations by having a historical and established communications infrastructure that stakeholders can count on.

Onboarding the Governance Communications Core Unit secures a fundamental team needed at MakerDAO to improve MakerDAO’s communications infrastructure by offering a range of communications products and services.

Core Unit Name

Name: Governance Communications
ID: COM-001

Core Unit Facilitator/s

David Utrobin

Mandate

The following items categorize the scope of the Governance Communications Core Unit. Please note that this is not a prioritization, but rather an expression of the scope that we focus on.

Information Dissemination and Accessibility

Ensure that information about current events of the Maker protocol are properly and consistently available to MakerDAO stakeholders.

  • Maintain the Public MakerDAO Governance Events and Public Calls Calendar.
  • Immediate Publications
    • Snippets (shortened meeting minutes posted immediately)
  • Weekly Publications
    • Maker Relay
    • MIPs Update
    • Governance at a Glance (Weekly Forum Recap)
    • Public Call Meeting Minutes
  • Monthly Publications
    • Governance Activity Roundup

Emergency Communications

Ensure that crisis moments have the support of a dedicated communications team.

  • Responsible for the Emergency Response Process MIP(Being drafted.)
  • Work with the Governance Domain team and other Core Units to facilitate communications during emergencies.
  • Maintain a list of pre-written emergency response templates.

Stewarding the Main Public Communication Spaces

Participating in the moderation and improvement of our public communication spaces.

  • Perform moderation duties on Maker’s most used communication platforms
  • Work with the Governance Core Unit to improve user experience and information flow on these platforms.

Core Unit Involvement

Ensure that Core Units get covered.

  • Work with Core Units to determine their own publication needs.
  • Aide Core Units when they need the attention of stakeholders.
  • Expand our coverage as new Core Units get voted-in.

Seeking Feedback and Adapting to MakerDAO as It Grows

Ensure that our products and services can pivot in response to MakerDAO needs.

  • Regularly seek feedback from the stakeholder community to identify problems, solutions, improvements, needs.
  • Grow or shrink the team as needed.

Roadmap

Responsibilities at Launch

The following items list the products and services of the Governance Communications Core Unit at inception. Please note that this is not a prioritization, but rather a list of our active products and services.

  1. Maintain public calendar; Providing stakeholders with a calendar for votes and public calls.
    6-month goal: Gather feedback for improvement, maintain full coverage.
  2. Stewarding Platforms; Moderating and Improving the Forum, Rocketchat, and Reddit.
    6-month goal: Maintain coverage, create moderator guidelines.
  3. Emergency Response Service; Efficient pre-planned process for executing on emergency communications.
    6-month goal: Produce MIP and associated resources, get them passed.
  4. Governance Call Summaries; Historic call-minutes for public Governance Calls.
    6-month goal: Maintain full coverage, expand coverage to other public calls.
  5. Governance Call Snippets; Key points published directly after public Governance Calls.
    6-month goal: Maintain full coverage, expand coverage to other public calls.
  6. Maker Relay; Publication about what is going on at MakerDAO weekly.
    6-month goal: Maintain full coverage, adapt format as new Core Units come into existence.
  7. MIPs Update; Publication about what is going on with MIPs weekly.
    6-month goal: Get it out of the hands of the Governance Domain Team.
  8. Governance at a Glance; Weekly roundup of relevant or important forum threads.
    6-month goal: Get it out of the hands of the Governance Domain Team.
  9. Monthly Governance Review; Monthly roundup of governance activity.
    6-month goal: Maintain full coverage.

Month 1-2: Setup, Execute, and Evaluate.

  • Execute our responsibilities.
  • Incorporate and set up administrative operations.
  • Onboard Full-time Project Manager.
  • Set up project owners.
  • Project owners to set up project metrics tracking.
  • Project owners on setting up tactics for gathering feedback and to continue to improve our offerings.
  • Work with Core Units to understand overlapping work and collaboration opportunities.
  • Communicate about our progress, blockers, and needs.

Month 3: Execute and Report

  • Execute our responsibilities.
  • The facilitator puts together the equivalent of a quarterly report for their Core Unit.
  • Update the roadmap for the next three months and communicate explicitly our progress, blockers, and needs.
  • If needed, submit changes to the budget.

Team Structure

The Governance Communications Core Unit will function as a self-managing entity with a hierarchical management structure. Contributors and Project Managers answer to the Facilitator, who then answers to the community and MKR holders.

The three main roles in this Core Unit are Facilitator, Project Manager, and Contributor. The contributor role is not a full-time role. If a contributor is interested in a full-time role, they become a project manager.

Title Commitment Name
Facilitator Full-time David Utrobin
Project Manager Full-time Artem Gordon
Project Manager Part-time Tim Black
Contributor Part-time Jose Azambuya
Contributor Part-time Dennis Mitchel
Contributor Part-time Gala Guillen
Contributor Part-time Mario Ferrari

Team Credentials

Members on this team bring expertise in communications, english writing skills, and project management. Members should also bring a comprehensive understanding of the Maker Protocol, its governance process, and its stakeholders.

Working Philosophy

Aggregate and Simplify. Stakeholders need to be kept informed.

This team works on a variety of projects and is fully remote. This means that as a team we embrace the concept of agile workflows, pair and group working sessions, mutual accountability, and getting things done. As part of our day-to-day, we:

  • Consider how each of our projects can be improved and iterated on.
  • Maintain an open culture for discussion, collaboration, and learning.
  • Are unafraid to voice concerns or give constructive feedback.
  • Embrace a shared decision-making methodology to avoid getting stuck as a team.
  • Maintain active relationships with mandated actors and the greater stakeholder community.
  • Aim to constantly raise the bar for quality and coverage.
  • Keep a tight coupling with the Governance Core Unit and the community to ensure communication needs are being met.

Legal Structure

This section will be updated before the end of RFC

  • Operating Entity based in x.
  • Working with a third-party company to enlist HR services to ensure good options for worker compensation and benefits.
  • US & non-US team members.
7 Likes

Great to see such a proposal come forth. I was looking forward to it.

As you have spent so much time with Maker, you’re a great candidate to join almost any Core Unit and provide value. Your general knowledge and extroversion make you great at that (anyone who hasn’t watched a Community Call hosted by David is missing out). Despite this, you might be projecting your diversified skills and extending yourself too thin with this proposal. I believe that this might be setting you up for failure, as you’re taking on three different “hats”, which are all hard to master on their own.

Hat #1: Governance

I am having a hard time visualizing the line between Governance and Governance Communications. I know that this is expected (it is Governance Communications, after all), but I would feel much more comfortable if some of the tasks came from the Governance Core Unit.

MIPs Update

I would expect the MIP Editor(s) to perform this task. They have probably spent the whole week cleaning and making our MIPs better and more transparent and helped all the contributors; I have a hard time conceiving a better person to fulfill this task. GOV-001 already includes a budget (for you) to do this.

Governance at a Glance

@prose11 and @Elihu have been doing a great job at keeping us up with the forum summaries. Most likely, any folk working in Governance Alpha is the proper person to perform this task.

You do mention taking things from Governance in your subproposal. Isn’t it better to contribute to that Core Unit for some time before?

Hat #2: Communications

I am not sure if we need the three written versions of the Governance Call. Maybe. As you mentioned, this hat could also be extended to help other Core Units, for example, by producing content for Growth. @seths proposal incorporates this quite well (focused on audio/video). If this is the case, I would like to see what you’re planning on covering (instead of waiting for the Core Units to reach out).

Hat #3: Emergency Process Expert

I love that you are contemplating this. I cannot stress enough how valuable it is to think about crises and worst-case scenarios and prepare to mitigate potential risks (I worked for Deloitte Enterprise Risk Services a lifetime ago). That was my primary motivation for modifying MIP24, after all.

However, I would personally not feel entirely comfortable leaving a Governance Communications Core Unit leading this initiative. Preparing a contingency plan is no easy endeavour (the difficulty compounds in the DeFi space), and we will most likely need a specialized person/team to lead and manage this. Governance Alpha’s mandate already includes this initiative.

Budget

Double-Budgeting

@LongForWisdoms proposal covers some of the tasks mentioned (in the Governance hat and Emergency Process hat). Is Governance Alpha going to pay for it? Or are they going to reduce their budget once that (if) this goes live?

Looking at the diagram, one might think that MKR holders are paying 6,8k Dai a week for three versions of the Governance Calls notes.

Opportunity Cost

27,050 Dai per month can get you:

  • An excellent Governance Facilitator,
  • A risk expert with some DeFi experience (and this would be a one-off expense, the maintenance would be cheaper), and
  • Two great copywriters who write top-notch blog posts or articles.

It probably leaves you with some change.

My Advice

Pick a hat and focus on it until you become the expert. I believe that the Community will appreciate it (and you) more than the current path of this Core Unit.

I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts about this and having you in the Core Unit Launching Pod Sessions to speak about it with the Community.

6 Likes

Thank you for that detailed feedback Juan. I certainly don’t want to set us up for failure, and more importantly, I don’t want to offer something that doesn’t make sense or isn’t a good value proposition for MakerDAO stakeholders. I appreciate the candid and straightforward thoughts.

The best way to think about it is that the GovComms Core Unit provides a major leg of support to the Governance Core Unit(and others)by working with them to execute and focus on the communications-related work, which is a huge set of work in its own right. By doing so, Governance Facilitators and MIP Editors have more time and energy to dedicate to their own mandated responsibilities, while our team can focus on assembling, packaging, and improving our best informational resources.

Our proposal to take on the MIPs Update and Governance at a Glance is an experiment in the division of labor. We were aiming to show that these two weekly updates can be put together by a supporting team resulting in more focused bandwidth for the GovAlpha team, that leads to a more effective MakerDAO.

Our idea was that MIP-Editors in GovAlpha, for example, would still participate in the Weekly MIPs Update. The difference would be that instead of being responsible for producing and improving on the entire thing every week, our team can handle that and the MIP Editor can play the roles of Sign-off/Final Editor/Point of Contact/Special Author. Your feedback certainly makes sense here. Why shouldn’t the MIP editor do the MIPs update? And in that case I may heed your advice, perhaps it’s not the wisest thing to keep on our mandate. Governance at a Glance, on the other hand, is a weekly forum recap that Governance Facilitators would benefit to handoff to our team.

In personally putting together MIP Updates, I know that the majority of the information is fairly straightforward to find. The update follows a predictable template and our thinking was to take that over so MIP Editors can contribute more substantially. Though I realize now that assembling that update is a huge exercise in awareness for MIP Editors, so keeping that responsibility would probably make more sense than giving it to us.

I am curious on @charlesstlouis’s view for the MIP Update.

You’re right, if that was all we’re doing, that would be a waste of resources. Our goal is to extend Snippets to all public calls, and to extend high-fidelity meeting minutes on any major public Intra-DAO meetings. This extends beyond the Thursday Governance and Risk calls.

We polled the community back in October, and although not everyone uses them, high-fidelity meeting minutes are indeed important for MakerDAO. Written records are important for the greater goal of keeping the governance process auditable and transparent, while also providing utility to stakeholders who don’t have time to attend calls live.

Producing content for Growth; This doesn’t fit with our mandate and would split our focus if we were to include it. Producing content for growth is important, however, we see it as the responsibility of a Marketing Core Unit, while producing content for stakeholder awareness is what we are setting out to do. We do commit to working alongside the Content Production Core Unit and others to share our platforms and feature important pieces that may be more growth-related than coverage-related. However, our main focus is on the informational essentials. As per our mandate, we will work with all Core Units to make sure their work is covered.

Our proposal could have used more context for this piece. We agree, the entire responsibility shouldn’t and doesn’t lie with GovComms. After all, the Governance Facilitators and other mandated folks are key actors in any emergency situation.

Our approach is to set ourselves up as support to the GovAlpha team and other Core Units, streamlining the work behind the communications-side of emergencies, leaving those involved in governance the ability to spend more time on decision-making, discussion, and operating the voting process itself. We would be streamlining a major set of work without sacrificing any governance integrity. Given that we would be running the publications that stakeholders rely upon and are connected to all the Core Units, this puts us in a prime position to be that support.

I would be in favor of housing this responsibility more explicitly inside of GovAlpha, if @longforwisdom and others think this is the ways to go. I think the advantage of our proposed model is more redundancy, accountability, and decentralization without sacrificing the essential role of the Governance Facilitators and other actors. The contingency plan itself is not handled by our team, but is formed through the group cooperation of Core Units relevant to the Emergency. We just help with the setup, coordination, and information flow.

The emergency process stuff is still a shared responsibility, we just split off a set of the work. Perhaps as a result the budget would shrink, though the budgets aren’t really project/deliverable based but rather role/salary based. So it’s hard to pin point the offset.

We wouldn’t be double-budgeting for any set of work. I don’t intend to take money from GovAlpha for things that are covered in the GovComms budget. But of course, there will be things we collaborate on, and I expect that will come out of both our budgets to the extent that we devote people and their time.

The diagram is a loosely accurate representation of our starting point, but the vision laid out in our proposal offers significantly more than three versions of Governance Call notes.

In our proposal it gets you:

  • An excellent Core Unit Facilitator
  • A full time project manager
  • 4-5 part-time contributors who are native to the community.
  • An important function that stakeholders benefit greatly from.

Our goal is to shape this function over the coming years to be as financially efficient as possible. Two full-time people and a number of part-time contributors is a good starting point for the mandate we are proposing. I think as we move through time, we can fine-tune this core unit but regardless I have no doubt in my mind the value of our proposed work.

Personally, my goal is to provide as much positive impact on MakerDAO as possible and if this idea really is on the wrong path it’s my duty to correct it. I am curious what others like @longforwisdom, @prose11, @elihu, and @charlesstlouis think.

Although I may still be young and proving myself, I feel confident that I am the right person to step into this role. I have experience with managing startup operations, project management, and communications. The hat I am choosing to focus on for this next season of building is communications, and that hat overlaps with a lot of things at Maker including Governance and Emergencies.

I will note your feedback and make some changes to the proposal soon @juanjuan. The main one being the removal of the MIPs Update from our responsibilities. Still thinking through your words, thank you for the feedback.

2 Likes

Is the @MakerDAO Twitter account under this Core Unit proposal?

No, it’s not.

Thank you for this proposal, @Davidutro. I strongly believe a Gov-Comms unit is going to make the DAO better.

While the current iteration is a good start, I think the definition of the scope of aims and goals of this Unit puts unwanted limits in place.

First of all, as @juanjuan points out, this proposal struggles with outlining enough value to the governance communities. Interacting with @Davidutro in the Gov Domain Team, I strongly believe in his ability to make Governance more accessible to both on-chain and off-chain stakeholders, and so I’m more concerned with the presentation of the mandate and responsibilities, rather than with his Core Unit’s competence or compensation.

The current list of responsibilities can be summed up in these points:

  1. Maintain public calendar
  2. Forum/Reddit/Rocketchat moderation
  3. Emergency Response Service
  4. Governance Call Summaries
  5. Governance Call Snippets
  6. Maker Relay
  7. MIPs Update
  8. Governance at a Glance
  9. Monthly Governance Review

For a team of 2 full-time employees and 4-5 part-time contributors, this list seems largely trivial. Out of those, only the Emergency Response Service strikes me as a wide-reaching and strategic effort on its own.

I’m worried the current version of the Core Unit’s mandate lacks long-term goals or vision, and is limited to maintaining existing projects, rather than looking into new ones.

As a potential solution, I’d suggest adjusting the guiding principle to “Aggregate, simplify, and engage”.

From my perspective as part of Gov Alpha, there’s another major struggle along with aggregating and simplifying governance information, and that’s making sure that information fuels on-chain and off-chain governance participation growth. Our DAO is only as strong as the representatives within the system, and I’d love to see more emphasis put on this in the Gov-Comms’ proposal.

A communications strategy seeking to engage more people in off-chain governance would be a long-term and vision-driven aim to add vigour to the proposal. Identifying the needs and wants of a potential off-chain voter, and addressing them, would require amending existing projects or adding new ones, ensuring Gov-Comms provide constant value (by maintaining existing tools) to the DAO, but don’t fear tackling larger governance challenges, for which they’re uniquely skilled.

My last point is that in all of human history, there has never been a large-scale decentralized governance system. Having understood the absolute innovation of the DAO, shouldn’t we venture outside of the Maker ecosystem and get people excited about joining it?

7 Likes

@Davidutro,

I do not want to come over as overly difficult or pedantic, but I have a strong feeling we are starting to see a bit of an overlap in roles and tasks here. Let me first and foremost state that this is in no way a critical take on what you guys are doing, but there is starting to be possibly a bit much redundancy in some Core Units. I know we are supposed to have some redundancy as we are a DAO but still.

There is GOV-001 running the weekly governance calls. Record and upload.
There is GRO-001 doing business development.
And you have been running a ton of Community Calls with new teams (120+ on Youtube, I have watched a bunch of them). Well if that is not biz dev I don’t know.

Do you really need a Core Unit for what you are planning to do?
Emergency communication is a worthy initiative, but when it really turns ugly the only ones that can do or say anything would be Smart Contracts, Oracles and subsequently GOV-001.

Snippets. Providing access and simplification of information is a worthy cause but to me it sounds like this falls under an entry level at GRO-001 or something. When peoples taxes are done in India, I am fairly certain that typing down bullets should not be the task of someone on a NY salary. Same with chat, forum and reddit moderation. Sorry but I feel your talents are wasted on this.

MIPs update. Since the MIPs portal is up I have been using that. It is not perfect, but in combination with the forum I can find things easily. And since we are voting every week (or more) I do not use the monthly gov updates, it is already a bit old when uploaded.

You people have multiple good options. If meetings with new teams is your thing then there is practically unlimited scope in business development, just get in with those people. If you like being on the screen try stepping it up to more conferences or even TV - I think you would look good.

4 Likes

Elihu, this is great feedback. Thank you.

I understand how this proposal comes off as limited to the existing projects. The revision will be more explicit about the longer-term vision and our willingness to look into new projects. The vision of GovComms goes beyond this starting set of work.

Participation growth is attractive as an objective, but should be qualified. It’s seen as:

  • More unique and consistent on-chain voters.

  • More unique individuals participate in off-chain discussion and votes.

  • Increasing the quality of individuals participating in public discussions and votes.

At the moment, we see a small number of unique MKR voters turn up on each vote, around 30 on a good day. There are 76,000+ ETH addresses that hold MKR according to Etherscan. The top 1000 have at least 16 MKR. Given where Maker is heading, achieving 500 unique voters doesn’t seem like the right goal, but instead getting 1000 MKR holders to delegate their MKR to a dozen or more unique delegates seems more in line with the probable future.

Setting aside on-chain participation, Off-chain participation is also enormously important and can use growth both in quality and the number of people that participate. I fully agree this would be a valuable thing to focus on. The “how” is what I’m struggling to think through right this moment. What can GovComms do proactively to improve off-chain participation? As an example, GovAlpha contributes to this goal by facilitating our forum’s SourceCred integration, creating a financial incentive to participate. I wonder what options are on the table for us—going to stew on this.

Our team’s mandate can do more to support engagement and not just information accessibility. Our proposal covers engagement with Core Units for information flow, but it doesn’t cover engaging with potential voters or delegates. We’ll think about how to build that into our mandate.

This sounds a lot like some of the work @jordan.jackson has done. Maybe including an annual user-research project on forum participants might make sense coming out of our Core Unit.

Hell yes. MakerDAO is exciting, and I think many people will find that they can make a positive impact here in a totally new way of working.

I don’t know that GovComms needs to be the team that needs to “venture outside”, since I know some Core Unit mandates have versions of that as their focus.

It can’t be understated–thank you for the rich feedback Elihu.

3 Likes

I think it’s a matter of how MakerDAO ends up grouping and dividing types of work. I don’t think that what we are proposing fits into Business Development. If anything, I think the best next-option would be to place some of these responsibilities under GOV-001. Still, there’s an enormous set of related-work that can use a focused and dedicated team.

I appreciate the honesty. I think stepping into a facilitator role to manage a communications-based Core Unit fits with my background and talents. I’m also a lot more passionate about setting up a healthy communications infrastructure at Maker than going out and trying to work with GRO on spreading adoption through all those awesome verticals. I just see the communications piece as under-served and I think my talents would be useful here.

I think the proposal needs a solid revision. The feedback everyone left was super helpful.

  • More in the mandate about long-term goals and vision.
  • More Engagement beyond Core Units
  • MIP Update should stay with the MIP Editor role.
  • A lot of the short term details and focus needs to be moved to the budget (similar to GOV-001), while this mandate needs to be more descriptive about longer-term goals and vision.
  • Consider how we can add off-chain participation growth as part of our mandate.
4 Likes