Breakout Room 2: Community, Governance, and Intersect (the Cardano Members-Based Organisation)


  • I was in Dubai, got really interested in governance, researched a bit - I got a bit overwhelmed by all the info at times, but understand most of it.

  • I hosted some of the CIP-1694 discussions - I’m hoping governance can become more community led.

  • CIP-1694 feels like a separate issue from the MBO. I’ve joined Intersect, but the meetings feel dull and one-dimensional, and don’t give much space for new people.

  • Those of us who have been in this space for a long time - how will we work together in the MBO and ensure our voices are heard?


See also

Points raised during slides

Slide 1:

Intersect is an MBO that “empowers the community to take ownership of the platform’s direction”.

QUESTION: How is it doing that, and which “the community” is meant here? ANSWER: Governance is being discussed at the moment - the aim of “distributing power” is mainly to ensure there’s no single point of failure, and Cardano isn’t vulnerable to attack on any vector. So decentralisation for Intersect is mostly about making the blockchain secure; and only secondly about distributing the power for ethical reasons. There are many use-cases for Cardano, and they all rely on decentralisation. People can’t be part of just the Catalyst community on its own - by being in Catalyst, you’re also part of the Cardano community.

Slide 2:

  • Intersect will build on Cardano - making dApps, layer 2s, side chains, tools, libraries etc that are needed - and it remains to be seen how this ties in with Catalyst. Catalyst is an experiment, and will only continue to exist as long as the community supports it.

  • Intersect was launched in July 2023 - there’s been lots of work going on behind the scenes and not much is public yet, but we plan to change that.

QUESTION: If you start with a “you-and-us” approach, i.e. “we” (Intersect) will tell “you” (the community) what we’re working on when we’re ready, rather than engaging you from the outset, do you risk embedding that approach, and finding it difficult to change to something more co-produced later? ANSWER: We know that it’s not ideal, but we think it’s OK to start off by working top-down.

Slide 3:

There are 3 layers to Intersect: governance, steering, execution.

  • The governance layer is currently the 3 entities (IOG, Cardano, Emurgo) - but that will change once the entities feel that the community is more mature.

  • The steering layer is a set of committees and working groups. Any member of Intersect can theoretically join them, although joining most of them is not open at the moment. Eventually it will get more open. The Civics Committee is a closed group at present, but should be opening again soon for more people to join.

  • The execution layer is mainly IOG employees at present.

Slide 4

  • The Civics Committee is part of the steering layer. It has no decision-making authority - it makes suggestions, to be considered by the other committees and the other layers. It’s a diverse group in the sense that it includes people from all over the world.

  • It undertakes various tasks, listed on the slide.

  • RE: the task of maintaining an offchain history of discussions: one question was How and where? (i.e. documentation methodology, searchability/discoverability, where documentation is held, etc) but we didn’t get time to ask about this.

  • There is also a Governance Tooling group, which people can join via the Intersect Discord. (Tho the room noted that not everything in governance can be fixed by tooling.

Slide 5

  • Civics Committee is structured as a hierarchy, similar to the kinds of structures seen in traditional centralised businesses.

  • The top levels (chair, vice-chair, secretary) are IOG staff.

  • The community is involved lower down the hierarchy, as 1) committee members, who must be Intersect members (one question was how the existing committee members were selected, and who by - but we didn’t get time to ask this) and 2) advisory groups, who do not need to be Intersect members.

Slide 6

Some key questions re: Treasury that the Civics Committee is looking at (Note that the breakout room didn’t have time to actually discuss them - it was just to outline what they are.)

  • Treasury has been growing c. 8% per quarter for the last year, and it will be getting bigger. 20% of tx fees go into the treasury. Should it keep on going for ever?

  • CF, IOG and Emurgo will be/are members of Intersect; and in future, this is where they will get their money, whereas at present, they have their own treasuries. They intend to decentralise and “move out of the way” of the community.

QUESTION: I’d like to be involved, but I need to have a job that pays me. It isn’t the same for IOG/ CF employees. Is there a plan for how community members can get involved and be paid? ANSWER: There will be an operational annual budget - not sure if it will be able to pay community members for their work.

QUESTION: You described the situation as “If Cardano doesn’t make it in 15 years, then it’s not going to” - what do you mean by “make it” in this context? ANSWER: Some think it’s “being the main blockchain” or superseding other chains - but really, it’s being self-sustaining (currently, fees are not covering expenses) and interoperable with other blockchains. Many key issues, such as this, are not decided yet and are open to debate - e.g. should Treasury be delegated to dReps? Or risk management - should we hold the treasury not only in ADA but in other tokens? Or should Treasury be staked to SPOs? Currently, Civics Committee thinks no - or, if yes, then focus on small single SPOs, to help decentralise. Currently SPOs are concentrated into a few big ones, which is not what the Civics Committee wants.

Slide 7

Some key Civics Committee questions on dReps:

  • On saturation - note that currently, there’s no dRep saturation in the design of CIP-1694

  • Anonymity is a big issue

  • Being a dRep and an SPO with same wallet - risk of Sybil attack.

  • Idea of dReps being theme-specific - currently, a dRep is expected to know about everything: problematic, since nobody can know everything. But how do you define what an individual dRep is skilled in, and what their “themes” would be? Current thinking is it should be self-defined, and then it’s the dRep’s responsibility to convince people. But maybe certification is needed? Tho want to avoid “Big Brother” approach on who knows what about whom.

  • Another possible approach, rather than theme-specific dReps, is institutional not individual dReps - so all the necessary knowledge is held across the group as a whole.

  • Question of what types of knowledge are valued - sometimes the technocratic ecosystem that has developed in Intersect means people “don’t know what they don’t know”, and don’t realise there even is such a thing as actual expertise in, for example, community engagement, or social research, or community governance.

Slide 8

Some key Civics Committee questions on incentives:

  • Incentive structure is key

  • Monetary AND non-monetary incentives are important. Studies so far have focused on monetary ones.

Slide 9

Some key Civics Committee questions on security:

QUESTION: What do you mean by “social dynamics” in this context? ANSWER: For example, issues around privacy and sharing of info. Committees mostly adhere to Chatham House Rule - but NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) might be put in place in some cases.

Slide 10:

Some key documents for further reading: Draft dRep code of conduct LatAm community’s report on their CIP-1694 workshops earlier this year Photrek whitepaper on Democratic Pluralism as a different approach to Cardano governance


QUESTION: You listed many things that Intersect wants to focus on - how are you prioritising? ANSWER: It’s not easy, We meet every 3 weeks for an hour; we’ve only had 3 meetings so far. We brainstormed all the questions, and are now trying to make sense of what came up. We’re focusing on security and treasury first. It has shaped the construction of the workgroups - you don’t have to be a MBO member, we have invited some domain experts. We agreed a mission to go out to the community, though we haven’t done so yet. Hard and soft guardrails - i.e. things that need to go into the blockchain, or need to go into the constitution, and things that don’t. We often need to work with behaviours that are technically allowed, but that we don’t like much!

QUESTION: Two things. First - you’re starting off from a non-co-produced approach - i.e Intersect decides things, and tells the community, rather than the other way round. Should co-production be more of a priority from the start, to embed it as an approach? Second - We’ve already said that at present, many people in Intersect lack any skills or experience in co-produced working or in community engagement, and don’t fully understand that these things are expertise - they think anyone can do them, with no experience or expertise. But there are people in the community who do have these skills in co-production and community engagement. So, is there anywhere in Intersect where people with those skills are coming together to work? ANSWER: Yes, we’ve started off non-co produced - Intersect is a creation of IOG. We see moving towards co-production as not a transition from black to white, but a fade - but more could have been done. They are trying to balance it with speed, and the limited resources they have; co-production was not a priority in the first stage. Addressing accessibility issues - poorly structured Town Halls and similar - it’s true that sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know, and don’t realise that it takes particular skills to fix it. Intersect plans to bring outside experts in, rather than inviting expertise from the community.

QUESTION: If I hadn’t attended governance events such as those in Edinburgh and Colorado, I wouldn’t know who to reach or how to get involved. How is Intersect addressing that lack of information? ANSWER: Anyone who wants to step forward, can do so.

QUESTION: The Civics Committee doesn’t have decision-making power - so what happens if those who do have decision making power don’t listen to the Civics Committee? ANSWER: We use a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) decision-making matrix. Most of the time, the committees are consulted. If the consultation is not made, the decision won’t be valid.

QUESTION: How is that monitored? And if consultation isn’t made, what happens? ANSWER: There are 2 different things - Intersect decisions and Cardano ones. Intersect decisions use those 3 layers explained in Slide 3. Probably all the community members should be elected, but at the moment they are not. They should be incentivised too; and the Governance layer should be composed of representation from all the communities. But Cardano governance - IOG, Emurgo and CF are still essentially in control. However, their intention in future is to try to do everything through Intersect. CIP-1694 will be ratified in a couple of months at most - initially they said December, but maybe it will be January 2024. Then we’ll have to start working on the constitution - CIP-1694 needs a constitution in order to work. There will be a constitutional summit in late 2024, probably in Argentina, to ratify the constitution.

QUESTION: All the work of Intersect is voluntary? ANSWER: Yes. There’s maybe 10 or 15 people who are paid, via IOG. QUESTION: That alone will limit who can take part, won’t it? ANSWER: Operational vs dispensary budget - that’s years down the road. So it’s IOG’s expectation that this work will be voluntary. There is an operational budget that will cover Intersect operations for some time, but I don’t know how much it is. Until we figure out the governance, I don’t think there will be any pay for community members in the governance layer. But the funding for Intersect will come from the treasury. Also - other MBOs (members-based organisations) might develop in Cardano apart from Intersect.

Last updated