A Vision for Grassroots DAOs


  • Experiences: easily replicable frameworks that can be implemented by anyone, anywhere.
  • Community as Gateways: anyone can start one. Distribution Channels. Decentralise.
  • Minimum Viable Governance: 20% governance, 80% community work.
  • Minimum Viable Leadership: Committed Core with vision and ability to execute. Highly skilled.
  • Default Dead: all experiments deemed a failure unless proven otherwise. Onus on contributors to show value and get community buy-in.

Intro: NEAR is the BOS

NEAR is the Blockchain Operating System (BOS).

For a full overview what BOS is and what it can do check Illia’s recent technical workshop.

In a nutshell;

  • BOS has Components - chunks of code that represent a functionality or feature that can be easily forked or integrated by anyone. This composability should increase the pace of innovation.
  • BOS has Gateways - a point of access to the network (decentralised front ends). Anyone can deploy a Gateway.

Introducing: Community Operating System (COS)

The aim is to keep it SIMPLE. Drawing inspiration from BOS I envision a framework for community that can empower every contributor to become the best version of themselves.

There are two simple concepts that make up COS: Experiences are the equivalent of Components, DAOs/WG/Communities are the equivalent of Gateways. Let’s dive deeper into each:


Experiences are a bundle or resources and blueprints than can enable anyone, anywhere in the world to become a valuable contributor is the shortest amount of time possible.

The problem that we are trying to solve is simple - we are spending too much time reinventing the wheel trying to define what represents Value. Let’s take what works now and have a committed core create simple experiences that empower others.

The simplest example of an experience would be a Meetup: create a repository of all the presentations from different communities around the world so that any community member is better equipped to present in front of a local Meetup. Include advice such as joining existing Web3 communities as a distribution channel, have pre-established funding guidelines that can speed up processing and approval if certain thresholds are met, etc.

Universal Alignment with NEAR Strategic Goals

The best part of the Experiences framework is that it enables us to see how different Community Verticals can all work towards the same Strategic Goals. Let’s illustrate with an example:

Strategic Goal: increase awareness and adoption of core tech such as Account Abstraction (i.e. Keypom)
Experiences from each DAO:

  • Marketing DAO: Bounties on content creation about Account Abstraction, Keypom, etc. targeting builders. Have one-pagers of all the resources to look at, key narratives, shared media assets, etc.
  • Creatives DAO: hold workshops, provide them with all the resources in a simple and actionable way that meet the user where they are so they can incorporate seamless flows into their work. (Questions we may ask: do these tools give superpowers to our creators that are not available in other ecosystems? what would a Creative from another community think when they look at these flow? Are they likely to come to NEAR and also build with these tools?)
  • Regional DAO: host events with a standardised ‘NEAR Experience’. i.e. Tickets issued on-chain, on-site they can scam QR code to create a free wallet and/or claim a Proof of Attendance and Participation (POAP) NFT. Questions we may ask: what would someone who is unfamiliar to NEAR and attends an event for the first time think of the experience? Would they be inspired to tell others, to think of ways they can craft their own experiences using this tech?

Curating an ever increasing amount of Experiences that can be replicated and audited by others is key to turbocharging community worldwide. First experiences are expected to be kicked off by the current leadership of these DAOs but remains open to new Experiences. What will you create…?

Communities as Gateways

The most important aspect which we’ve foreshadowed above is that every DAO/WG/Community is also a Gateway. Let’s unpack this:

  • Anyone can deploy a Gateway. Anyone can start a DAO/WG/Community. No need to ask for permission. Healthy competition is encouraged.
  • DAOs/WG/Communities are vital distribution channels. I believe we can reach millions with a well oiled machine. How can teams building on NEAR leverage this? Create an Experience that the community can implement (i.e. Calimero to create a kicker presentation that dozens of people around the world can use at local Meetups. Aurora to create their own Experience so every Community deploys an Aurora Silo to experiment with, etc.)
  • Resilience. For the ecosystem to survive we must have political and geographical decentralisation. Not a single point of failure susceptible to one rogue leader or government but many engines for growth contributing to the larger whole.

On-going Decentralisation

As Grassroots DAOs hit a certain amount of spending per month (current amount is contemplated to be $100k) then the area of the DAO that is receiving most of the funds (deemed to be the most mature) then gets spun out as a separate DAO.

This framework is fascinating as it completely changes the way we see the KPIs for Grassroots DAOs. Namely:

Grassroots DAOs are there to identify, kickstart and nurture key areas of growth in alignment with NEAR Strategic Goals. Once these areas have achieved significant size, spin them out and focus on sparking new areas for growth.

Criteria for Success

The next generation of leaders - for Grassroots DAOs, NDC, and Builders in General - have to come through these initiatives.

If we are not recruiting and providing real opportunities for growth to great talent then we are failing. We’ve had the same (great) contributors wearing too many hats (myself included) for way too long. Time to break out of the plateau.

Other Important Concepts

Speaking of people and leadership. Two very important concepts I’d like to put forward too:

Minimum Viable Governance (MVG)

Most contributors should be spending 20% of their time in Governance, 80% of their time doing work that adds value to the Community.

Why is this important?

There are several scenarios that, even if they are not occurring today, we have to be proactive and take measures to avoid them occurring into the future. Some of these include:

  • A scenario where the few who do have the time to dedicate to governance full time rule over the rest ‘real’ contributors. I struggling to use the world ‘real’ here because contributing to governance is important and valuable - but we can not become a protocol of just politicians.
  • Imbalances where is is easier to receive funding by being a clog in the machine than by doing work in the trenches advancing NEAR Strategic Goals (same disclosure as above, it’s all a matter of proportionality).
  • A ruling class who is out of touch with the reality of the markets and the ecosystem
  • Level the playing field so that people who already have a full workload can make a bit of time to be involved in governance.
  • Force all governance processes to be lean and mean. No ‘busy work’ or admin overload.

Minimum Viable Leadership (MVL)

In order for Minimum Viable Governance to work, we must have:

A Committed Core comprised of people with vision and ability to execute to lay the foundations.

If you don’t know where we are going, get out of the drivers seat. You don’t lead by claiming the throne and then do a lot of polls with little context and limited participation.

The most important here is: who are the outstanding individuals with the Vision that inspire others to follow them? (See above: I favour having multiple competing WGs with competing visions).

Why is this important?

Even is the following scenarios are not occurring today, we must plan to avoid:

  • An ever increasing number of Working Groups without much leadership or vision
  • When people who would be great leaders (‘A’ players) join these WGs or Communities they get immediately drowned out by the C players. Important to understand dynamics here: whoever controls the throne has access to funding - eventually.
  • Mitigate the negative cycle where every time someone outstanding rises to a greater level of power and responsibility they get torn to pieces publicly. This is the biggest deterrent holding back meaningful contributions now and driving people away from NEAR.

Default Dead

Finally, I’d like to introduce the notion of Default Dead. Namely, we can all create Experiments and Setup Gateways (DAOs, WGs, Communities, etc.) but they all have to be deemed ‘unsuccessful’ until proven otherwise’. This goes all the way up to the NDC. If an initiative fails to gather enough support or momentum, it can’t be allowed to exist forever (draining community funds).

Why is this important?

Even if some of the scenarios are not occurring right now, we must prepare and mitigate against them.

  • Default Alive (the opposite of Default Dead) is when everything is deemed approved unless there is an epic shit fight on the gov forum, and even then… funds can be disbursed quietly as it isn’t clear who has the authority to stop the thing no one really approved in the first place.
  • Default alive makes people lazy and complacent. Tends to limit the quantity and quality of contributions.
  • Creates a very toxic environment of resentment (i.e. why does A exist/get funded when B does not?), cannivalism (to fund B then we have to kill A), Fixed Mindset (I just protect what I have cf. if we had to reinvent ourselves and create 10x more value, how would it look like?).
  • Can create two tiers of negative incentives. First, the machine just keeps on expanding as a way to accumulate more power and money, this is usually by people who would not be able to obtain such status through merit. Second, there is a strong disincentive from Leadership to course correct as any attack on the pieces can be seen as an attack on the whole.

Next Steps

  • Feedback welcomed. Please adhere to Community Guidelines.
  • We are working on Regional DAO Experiences - aiming to release the first batch soon. These should also inform the Guidelines and Charter. Contributors welcomed.
  • Marketing DAO and Creatives DAO are collaborating to shape up our own experiences. Early initiatives include expanding new round of Bounties for M DAO, C DAO meeting with ShardDog (RLA) team, potentially inviting creatives members to participate in Flex-a-Thon hackathon. Reach out if these interest you.
  • I acknowledge we don’t have mechanisms such as reputation or on-chain voting yet. If you are running a new initiative, onus is on you to demonstrate value and rally community behind you - ‘we know it when we see it’. Also, join these governance working bodies to contribute towards these on-chain solutions.



Thanks AVB for this thoughtful post.

There are few items that I want to highlight that I think provide clear direction.

Marketing should have some consistent themes. It’s marketing the chain first, and then why your project is best built on NEAR. Pushing the correct narratives is important.

We need more people who can push the limits and be willing to break things in the pursuit of more efficient governance. Decentralization cannot work when everyone is waiting for someone else to do something.

Lastly, this might be my favorite item. Assume something doesn’t work until proven otherwise. Tech moves fast, DAOs and governance needs to as well.


Thanks for dropping by Joe and sharing your insights and feedback here.

There are a lot of conversations happening in smaller groups, I do believe that public signalling from ‘OG’ community members is extremely valuable to others.

I also appreciate you highlighting the bits that resonate the most. I am aware the post was quite long and perhaps not all areas will be implemented at the same time. This provides more feedback on what to prioritise.

I really appreciate all the work you do in the ecosystem. Would love to find a framework that makes it possible for someone such as yourself to be more involved with NDC.


There’s a lot to like here AVB :+1:…and a need to consider the reasons why it needs discussing

Default dead’ made me smile…but it really feels like the right approach.

I’ve been talking recently on various posts and groups about the opportunity for Creatives Dao to redesign itself for the future…rather than trying to fit its past into that future…as I think that - despite the genuine best efforts of the C Dao mods to move forward towards NDC - the disharmony that characterises a lot of the discussions around the various grassroots daos will not disappear just because they will be operating under the new NDC paradigm…even with I am human rooting out the auto-trolling

A reimagining of the grassroots daos from a blank page would be an interesting exercise…as I wonder if anyone starting from that point would end up where we currently are…or is the current status just a consequence of building on what has gone before…?

Competition would be an interesting evolutionary step…but my only concern there would be time & resources being wasted on in-protocol competition…rather than the big targets.

It also might ramp up the in-fighting & acrimony…

But…all in all…a timely post…and worth a broader discussion

‘Default dead’…but vive le renaissance ! :upside_down_face:

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