Given the true result communicated by Derek and verified by multiple people still does not reach a majority, a stability fee change for stablecoins will not move forward to the executive this week.
There was some debate yesterday about this decision in the official Maker Chat, and there were a lot of arguments thrown around. To those that weren’t involved this response may seem excessive, but I do want to make it clear why I’ve made the decision that I have.
I’m going to run through some context first, then answer some of the questions that had a factual unambiguous answer. Finally I’m going to comment on some of the arguments I heard made yesterday divided into those that I feel have merit, and those that don’t.
Instant Run-off Voting
When Instant Run-off Voting was initially voted for the description given was this (which was sourced from wikipedia):
Ballots are initially counted for each voter’s top choice. If a candidate has more than half of the vote based on first-choices, that candidate wins. If not, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The voters who selected the defeated candidate as a first choice then have their votes added to the totals of their next choice. This process continues until a candidate has more than half of the votes.
This statement is also sourced from wikipedia, and comments on the varying implementation of IRV.
The mechanics of the process are the same regardless of how many candidates the voter ranks, and how many are left unranked. In some implementations, the voter ranks as many or as few choices as they wish, while in other implementations the voter is required to rank either all candidates, or a prescribed number of them.
This statement is the one I included in the ‘Next Steps’ section of the Stablecoin Stability Fee poll.
If a result gains a majority of votes, the Stability Fees for USDC-A, TUSD-A, PAXUSD-A, GUSD-A will be lowered in Friday’s executive.
Ranked IRV should not end in a stalemale.
This is correct. Ranked IRV does not end in stalemates. This is possible because it does not guarantee that the chosen result has the support of a majority of the total voters.
In the referenced poll, the outcome of the IRV vote was 0%.
Ranked IRV should force voters to rank all options.
This is not true and depends on the implementation. The implementation we have been using does not require voters to rank all option by preference.
Ranked IRV was introduced to prevent the status quo from winning when the majority of users want something else.
This was one of the goals of introducing IRV, and IRV does facilitate this. Indeed, as stated above, it does guarantee an outcome. Critically though, it does not guarantee an outcome that has a majority of the total votes.
Status Quo was an option in the poll, and didn’t win, why is it the default?
Status Quo is the only consistently applicable default across multiple polls. The Governance Facilitator should not choose the default outcome for specific polls, in my view, as this allows them to increase the likelihood of outcomes that they favour.
Why did the Governance Facilitator add the statement requiring a majority of the total votes?
I added the statement above to the poll because of the nature of Approval Voting in executive votes. Executive votes require that more people support the new proposal than the status quo. Ultimately, the result of the IRV poll needs to be confirmed by a majority in an executive vote. If we were able to put up executives that were not bundled, this would not be a problem, because the approval vote would resolve to status quo anyway if the majority did not like the poll result.
However, we are currently required to bundle executive votes due to how DSChief works. This means that a single contentious poll has the potential to prevent the entire executive from passing. The chance of this happening grows if there are multiple contentious polls. Now, it is not certain that this will happen, it’s not necessarily even likely. But it is more likely to happen if we include the results of IRV polls that do not end with a result that the majority of voters favour.
The reason it’s so important that the executive passes is also related to bundling. If a single executive fails, it means that the contents need to be evaluated to attempt to understand why the executive has failed. Any contents that are not deemed to be an issue will move forward to a future executive (potentially after further polls.) Already this is not great, because it creates additional work for governance and the mandated actors. However, it’s worse than this because the problem has the potential to stack. If we fail an executive, it makes it more likely that we will fail the next executive as well (because there is a chance that we inadvertantly include the true reason MKR Holders voted against it in a subsequent executive.) If the second fails, the third will have the bundled contents of multiple weeks, possibly including new results that are also contentious.
However, if you move the majority requirement to the initial poll, rather than the executive vote, you reduce the chances of executives failing to pass to close to zero. The cost of this is that sometimes IRV polls don’t result in changes proceeding to an executive vote.
Does requiring a majority of the total votes allow people to hold the process hostage?
Yes, but no more than was already possible due to the majority requirement of the Approval Voting process we use for executive votes. People can already hold the process hostage by not voting for an executive. The effect of requiring a majority moves the potential hostage taking to a place where it will cause the least disruption.
There wasn’t a reason to make this poll use Ranked IRV
This is a fair point because to be frank the decision making process for deciding whether a poll should move on-chain in IRV form or Plurality form is not well defined. The general rule of thumb is that if the forum poll does not result in a majority result, then we put the poll up as IRV. However, I normally leave the final decision up to the author of the signal poll unless I have strong reason to believe that it’s a bad idea. I didn’t get that in this case, in retrospect, perhaps I should have insisted on a Plurality vote.
The reason to use Ranked IRV in this case is to allow MKR Holders the freedom to express their preferences more precisely.
Does the Governance Facilitator have the authority to add requirements to polls for them to move into an executive vote?
Good question. My view prior to this was obviously yes, otherwise I wouldn’t have included the statement. In practice, I’m expected to review and have the final say on the poll wording, this gives me a ridiculous amount of power to write whatever I want. Unfortunately, the practical point is that someone needs to have the final say on the content of the polls. Allowing the author to have final say doesn’t seem advisable to me, as it means that they can insert bias into the wording. It would also mean the polls become even more inconsistently worded than they are currently.
The ideal mitigation to this is to have multiple Governance Facilitators and require them to reach consensus on the wording.
But MKR Holders should vote in the executive even if it contains things they don’t like.
Yes, they probably should given the issues I described above. However, this is transferrable to the polling votes as well. MKR Holders had the ability in this polling vote to express their willingness to compromise in the executive (by ranking all options.) They didn’t do this. Some argued that was because voters did not understand the voting system. I’ve addressed this point below.
Was the wording of the statement requiring a majority ambiguous?
In retrospect this could have been worded to be less ambiguous, and in the future I will attempt to make sure there is no room for misinterpretation. The ambiguity with this statement is centered around whether the ‘majority’ refers to a majority of the total voters, or a majority of the ‘shrunk pie’ voters that remain after the final round of IRV.
However, I don’t believe that the natural reading of this statement favours the ‘shrunk pie’ reading for the following reasons:
- If the author of the statement wanted to express that the outcome requires a majority of the shrunk pie, there is no need to include this statement. IRV always resolves with a majority of the shrunk pie.
- If the intention was that the winning option would continue to executive regardless of if it had a total majority, the author would have used the word plurality as this matches how the UI displays the vote outcomes.
For the record, I wrote the statement with the intention that the poll require a majority of the total voters in the poll.
Less fair points
It’s almost certainly MKR Holders forgetting to choose multiple options.
This is not certain, or even necessarily likely. We have had IRV voting for some time now and we’ve used it for significant votes in the past. The Vault Compensation poll saw 87k MKR voting, many of whom used the ranked choice functionality.
That said, it is possible that this contributed to the issue, and in the future I will ensure that there is a clear explanation of how to vote depending on the type of poll.
It’s clear none of the voters know how Ranked IRV works.
As above, this is not necessarily clear, for most of the same reasons.
Once again though, it could have contributed to the issue, and in the future I’ll make sure there is a clear explanation in the poll.
Why is this result decided by one guy, the Governance Facilitator?
In the event of ambiguity some person or group needs to have the authority to make a decision on how to proceed. This authority most naturally falls to the Governance Facilitators.
The downside to this is that at the current time, Maker Governance has only elected one Governance Facilitator which means that this authority falls to one person (me.) This leaves me in the unenviable position of making the decision. If Maker Governance wants someone else to make those decisions, they can express that wish via a subproposal under MIP0c13.
A majority of Maker Holders voted for some reduction so we should make some reduction.
While this may seem like a valid point, in practice it isn’t due to the nature of IRV.
The reason for this is that voters in the poll had the ability to choose compromise options and didn’t. The Governance Facilitator saying ‘A reduction of 0% is fine’ directly contradicts the preferences expressed by voters because they were able to express willingness to compromise on any reduction by ranking all reduction options in the order of their chosing. A majority of voters in this poll did not do this, which indicates an unwillingness to compromise.
Now, it is possible that voters did not understand how to express their preferences, and I will be making sure this is more clear going forward. However, the Governance Facilitator cannot look at the results of the poll and say ‘Well, you expressed this preference using the tools available to you, but actually, I think you really meant this instead because…’
I really hope it’s obvious why the Governance Facilitator shouldn’t ever do this.
We voted in Ranked IRV, what we’re doing isn’t ranked IRV.
The poll implements IRV correctly (now that the frontend is fixed.) This is an IRV poll and IRV provided a victor (as it is guarunteed to do.)
The Governance Facilitator inserted an additional requirement for the poll to move into this weeks executive (at the point the poll was written, not post-result.) In my mind this makes this IRV with an additional requirement that is implied by the approval voting process that determines a winning executive vote.
The executive process is separate from the polling process and shouldn’t factor into it.
I agree that the executive process should not factor in to the polling process. However the reality is that at the moment, it does factor into it for reasons discussed above about bundling executives. With the introduction of DssGov this will not be the case, and we can relax the requirement for a majority outcome to move to executive.
Given the wording of the statement requiring a majority the Governance Facilitator should choose what is best for the Maker Protocol.
This essentially boils down to: ‘You have an excuse to choose a better result (minor ambiguity in the majority statement) so you should take it.’
Better is subjective, it’s not the Governance Facilitators job to decide what is best for the Maker Protocol or MKR Holders. The Governance Facilitator’s job is to ensure that the process of governing the protocol is as smooth as possible. Obviously I’m letting you all down here, but the solution is to improve understanding, education and processes. The Governance Facilitator’s choice of outcome must be based on the process and intentions that went into the poll, rather than what is the ‘better’ outcome for the protocol.