DAO and Humanity

It’s interesting to watch some DAOs. Almost every DAO is full of enthusiasm at first and expects to build a perfect governance system. The process is not as good as it should be. Some centralized governance or small-scale DAOs instead grow better.

DAO-like concepts are not recently proposed. Holacracy , proposed in 1957, is a similar decentralized management mechanism. But in 2016 this management model was found not successful at Zappos. The main reason is that people want the system to work perfectly like an operating system, but human nature doesn’t fit in and leads to another direction.

Zappos employees said they didn’t feel complete or powerful under the system, but rather like they’ve become part of the codes. They worked for the optimization of the entire organization, and their personal authenticity and vitality were stripped away. Protocols and procedures strictly bound them, which made them feel unnatural. Unnatural here means against humanity.

It must be detrimental to the development of a DAO if people are mostly enthusiastic at first and end up with no interest. Under the constraint of protocols and contracts, many DAOs are currently providing token incentives to motivate users and make members actively participate, which is an extrinsic motivation method. There is also a kind of motivation that I prefer—intrinsic motivation. Some interest-based DAOs, such as FWB or FootyDAO use this kind of incentive. Even if there is no external motivation, you will not stop watching football games, stop painting or making friends.

Therefore, for the management of a DAO, a good contract or a protocol should take into account the important factor of “human nature”. Of course, good defi DAOs exist and are developing well. But that requires high level governing skills, well developed contracts, and even high membership standards. So we are talking about general DAOs here.


类似 DAO 的概念并不是最新才提出来的,1957年提出的 Holacracy 也是类似的一种去中心化的管理机制。但是 2016 年这种管理模式在 Zappos 公司却并不成功,主要就是大家希望这个系统像是一个「操作系统」一样完美运转,但是「人性」却并不适合这种方式。

Zappos 的员工说,在这套制度下并没有感到完整和强大,而是像成为了代码的一部分。他们为了整个组织的优化而工作,个人的真实性和活力被剥夺了。协议和程序严格地约束着他们,因此感到很不自然,也就是反人性。

如果人们多是最初抱着热情,最终却意兴阑珊草草收场,这一定有害于 DAO 的发展。在 protocols 和 contracts 的约束下,目前很多 DAO 都是通过提供 token incentives 激励用户,让成员积极参与,这种方法属于 extrinsic motivation。而个人的兴趣或爱好属于 intrinsic motivation,也是我是比较看好的一种激励手段。一些兴趣为主的 DAO,比如 FWB 或者 FootyDAO 便是类似如此。即使缺少外部激励,我也不会不看球、不绘画摄影交朋友。

因此针对 DAO 的管理,优秀的流程或者协议理应考虑进「人性」这一重要因素。当然,优秀的 defi DAO 也存在,并且发展良好。但这对治理者、合约、甚至成员的要求都十分高,这里讨论的是通常语境下的 general DAOs。