Evolving Aragon Network governance

February 17, 2020

The Aragon Network has always been destined to be governed by ANT holders.

The first version of the Aragon Network whitepaper stated:

[W]hen the network is deployed governance decisions will be made by ANT holders with a system of proposals and voting...

Since then, while we have worked on bringing the Aragon client and Aragon Court to life, we have also been running experiments in self-governance by ANT holders.

First, we gave ANT holders the opportunity to participate in governance via signalling votes as soon as the technology was ready. In May 2018, ANT holders signalled to adopt the Aragon Manifesto during a test of the Survey app on Ethereum mainnet. In November 2018, shortly after the Aragon client officially went live on mainnet, ANT holders approved AGP-1: The Aragon Governance Proposal Process. This marked the start of the first major experiment in self-governance via signalling by ANT holders.

Now the Aragon Network launch is underway. Designed as a three-phase process, the Aragon Network launch will gradually introduce more advanced technology to the Aragon Network and Aragon Court, and eventually transition governance powers to ANT holders as well. As the Court gains usage and prominence, it will become increasingly important that ANT holders are engaged in governance to maintain confidence in the Court.

With Phase 1 of the Aragon Network launch now complete, we want to share our plans for Aragon Network governance in Phase 2 and 3 so we can begin gathering feedback and turning ideas into real-world implementations as soon as possible. These plans have been informed in part by our prior experience with the AGP process as well as looking forward to achieving our vision of a sovereign Aragon Network.

To re-cap, here is a summary of each phase of the Aragon Network launch:

  • Phase 1: ANT holders have a chance to “pre-activate” and get the ANJ needed to participate as a juror when Aragon Court goes live.
  • Phase 2: Aragon Court is live. The Aragon Network DAO that serves as the governor of the Court will itself be governed by a council of five known Aragon community members. ANT holders will be able to convert ANT to ANJ and back via bonding curve and participate as jurors in the Court, but will have no governance role in either the Court or Aragon Network DAO yet.
  • Phase 3: The Aragon Network DAO will remain governor of the Court. Control of the Aragon Network DAO will be transitioned from the five council members to ANT holders. This will put ANT holders in control of the Aragon Network DAO and all modifiable parameters of Aragon Court.

Aragon Network Launch Phase 1: ANJ Pre-activation

Phase 1 of the Aragon Network launch, juror pre-activation, is now complete. You can learn how to stake for ANJ and become an activated juror in the Aragon Court user guide.

Aragon Network Launch Phase 2: A time for reflection and preparation

We are now in Phase 2. During this phase, ANT holders will not have any governance power in the Aragon Network DAO or Aragon Court. We will be taking this “quiet time” to reflect and prepare for the next phase of the Aragon Network launch.

Part of our preparation will include work on an AGP that will propose how Aragon Network governance will evolve from here. As we shared in our Association 2020 post, in the short term we plan to simplify governance through a separation of concerns.

Currently the Aragon Association holds nearly all of the power (and responsibility) in the AGP process and ANT holders only have the ability to signal preferences during quarterly votes. Under our proposed “separation of concerns” model, there will be three main stakeholder groups and each will have a different set of responsibilities. Those stakeholders are: the Aragon Association, teams hired by the Aragon Association, and ANT holders.

Teams hired by the Association will have the responsibility of building and supporting the Aragon Network as envisioned in the whitepaper. The Aragon Association will work closely with these teams to ensure they are delivering high quality and relevant work to meet our shared goals.

Once we reach Phase 3 of the Aragon Network launch process, ANT holders will be given responsibility for governing the Aragon Network DAO. This DAO will become the focal point of governance for ANT holders going forward (though there will most likely be other “sub-DAOs” for ANT holders and the wider community to participate in as well).

We have codified this simplified separation-of-concerns model in AGP-155, which we are proposing as a Meta AGP in Aragon Network Vote #6 (currently scheduled for March 11-13th). You can find the draft of AGP-155 here; your feedback is of course welcome and appreciated.

The TL;DR is that if AGP-155 is passed then the AGP process as it currently exists will be sunset. Once we reach Aragon Network Launch Phase 3, ANT holders will be given control of the Aragon Network DAO and have the opportunity to adopt a new governance process. Between Phase 2 and Phase 3, the Aragon Association and wider Aragon community will have time to think deeply and to work together on what Aragon Network governance will look like in the next phase and beyond.

Aragon Network Launch Phase 3: The Aragon Network arises

In Phase 3 of the Aragon Network launch, the plan is to turn over control of the Aragon Network DAO from the current governance council to ANT holders. This will give ANT holders full control over the Aragon Network DAO as well as all modifiable parameters of the Court.

The constraints and scope of the Aragon Network DAO after Phase 3 begins will be further defined in a document we’re calling the Aragon Network Agreement. Disputes under this agreement will be resolved by Aragon Court using the new Aragon Agreements mechanism. We plan to have an early draft of the Aragon Network Agreement to share for feedback shortly after Aragon Network Vote #6 is over. This gives us ample time to finalize the first version of the agreement before Phase 3 begins.

What’s next

With the first public draft of AGP-155 now released, we welcome any comments and are happy to address any questions or concerns ANT holders might have before the proposal is finalized and put to a vote in Aragon Network Vote #6.

The Aragon Association team has been thinking and working with the community for a while now to come up with a plan for how this transition will happen and we want ANT holders to be satisfied with the direction we end up going in. We feel confident that this proposal best encapsulates our learnings over the past year of Aragon Network votes and serves as a solid bridge between the way things work today and the sovereign Aragon Network we are working towards.

Since the goal with AGP-155 is to sunset the current process and transition to a new Aragon Network governance process shortly thereafter, the Aragon Association will not be considering any other AGPs for Aragon Network Vote #6. We will therefore be concentrating review and feedback efforts around AGP-155.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the Aragon project and participated in governance so far! We look forward to hearing your thoughts about this next phase in the evolution of Aragon Network governance.