Case Studies: Decentralized Orgs with On-chain Governance

For a long time, I wanted to create some overview on the existent case studies of orgs/networks with on-chain governance. E.g. the list of first DAOs and summary of how different approaches work. Here’re my early drafts on this:

By on-chain governance, I mean the ability to change the protocol based on the on-chain events. But I don’t mean that everything should be managed through the chain, meaning combination with off-chain is ok as well.

Would like to get your feedback on

  • How relevant can be such work? Should it be more broad (e.g. include Bitcoin as first DAO, as some believe), or more specific to the tools / needs (e.g. on-chain fund distribution case studies)?
  • How does the current list represents the on-chain governance (what should be added/edited)
  • What information can be helpful? E.g. purpose of DAO, used mechanics (e.g. funds distribution), brief history etc.
  • Who could help with writing this? :wink:

Some opinions:

(1) It should be more specific to the tools / needs of emerging communities. But more specifically, it should create an updated taxonomy of DAO and dOrg structures, and focus on specific categories of that taxonomy. Vitalik took a crack at formalization in 2014 but it’s vastly dated.

(2) Decred and DASH are both missing – and they seem relevant here. Should there be a section as well for association-based governance (Aragon, Melonport, 0x Protocol?)

(3) Legal framework is the biggest thing that comes to mind, in addition to what you’re described. There’s a desperate need to aggregate our legal understanding between different projects and build a framework. COALA could play a role here, among other orgs.

(4) Reach out to Grace Rachmony and Pedro Parrachia.


interested…, please add a benchmark of people tryng to do the same classification work as yours for completeness. Is there any academic reserach on the topic to be noted?


Hi Luther, there’s no comprehensive description if governance systems I’m aware of. All i’ve gone through are single project governance descriptions usually done by the project itself and maybe some bitcoin vs ethereum debate. Please see the draft – there’s a bunch of links and if we find more – i’ll list them there too.

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I put together a proposed framework and budget for doing this research project. I’m not sure I’m the right person to do all of the work, or that the budget is right. I’m looking for feedback on the proposal at this time, as well as collaborators who might want to work with me on this.


Thx for the proposal, Grace.

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link is broken.
where is it?

Yeap, sorry, we recently moved it under – a separate research repo

There was a workshop July 1-2 at Wharton Business School in San Francisco on crypto-governance. One of the results is some new work on analyzing and perhaps categorizing existing and planned blockchain projects. I’m asking now to find out how much of that work can be shared here.

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Hey @thomasbcox

Daniel Resas will be sharing results from the Wharton initiative during DAOfest.

If you yourself are a member of that initiative I would strongly encourage you to share as much as you feel comfortable with. This is a great place to discuss it.

Excellent. I’ll ask Daniel if he’d like to make use of any of the work I’m referencing.

Quick update - the Wharton Crypto Governance Workshop group is continuing to work weekly to refine the Wharton Network Governance Disclosure Questionnaire - I’m holding off on trying to analyze any specific blockchain systems using that instrument, until it settles down and stops changing.

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Carla Reyes asked, “Is there a protocol for reaching out to various projects and asking them to answer the questions?”

I am willing to try drafting that protocol, if I can get some other pairs of eyes on that. Volunteers?

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We are making very good progress with the research. So far, everyone has been happy to answer our questions. We have not gone into legal frameworks because the stated purpose was to help us understand the requirements for developing the technology, and that seemed out of scope for the project. Everyone has been super helpful and willing to put in time for the interviews. I think that after the stage 1 of interviews, we will find that there’s deeper research to be done and a lot more DAOs out there than we originally listed. I believe the research is helpful in starting to think about collaboration in some kind of industry association.


I would connect with @Grace re: protocol, since she is already polling orgs for her research.

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Results are now published here:
I will probably be doing another round of interviews in September with additional organizations.

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