Long Term Sustainability of Trace DAO

Provocative Observation
All the things being discussed in Tracer Drops etc about DAO-employment, DAO-Contribution, Dao-Work, DAO-blahblah - misses a critical point.

They are too Project Focused , too Outcome Focused. It has an outcome, and then it dies. What about ongoing accountabilities? Activities versus Outcomes. Infinite Game stuff. Look I understand that the nerds at Mycelium and RMIT are “project” or “publication” focused, but this is not how long term sustainable organisations work. @SincDavidson talks a big game about Gig economy being the solution, but has that ever worked in any industry other than the (project orientated) creative spaces? Hollywood organises itself around a blockbuster movie, around a screenwriting project, around a TV series - fine but its finite.

Operations are forever (hopefully) and the dynamics are vastly different from the Project (or Publication) mindset. @Jasonpotts defines out the problem space well: as a DAO Worker Candidate - how can you trust me at a very low cost. There is a simple answer - you don’t have to reinvent just for the sake of reinvention. Proof of Performance. Some of the largest well-run organisations have identified that the best indicator of future performance is previous performance. Search, and Select people who can perform, and then incentivise performance to stay and expand the performance. Or Attract, and Acknowledge people who contribute (ala @Bob_Boyle_1662 - sorry Bob you have become part of my signature :slight_smile: ), and then again incentive performance to stay around long term.

When someone leaves the pool of committed action takers - the intangible loss to the organisation is huge. The connections, the intrinsic understanding of how the business works, the neural networks of value which has been laid down and reinforced, is a massive value which automation, systematisation, decentralisation can not compete with when it comes to the Exceptions. And Exceptions always happen and are always at the bottom of organisation failure.

Why is there this focus on gig workers? My view is there is a preciousness around Relative Power - where the people have associated long term work as being “under the thumb” of the establishment. A lack of freedom, a lack of self-determination. {DAO Culture is attractive for people with similar beliefs.} So people went out and started their own business - and found out how Bloody Hard (all capitalised words are technical definitions) running your own business was, so they ended up working part-time for their old employer, or a series of employers. Thus was born part of the gig economy (in the modern context). [I lived in Phuket and Chiang Mai for 12 years - and endured several generations of Digital Nomads/DigiX - kinda feel like I have a solid perspective on some of the angles].

Committed actors in Tracer DAO (any DAO) has this weird multidimensional participation in ALL (and none) of the following roles*:

  • Organisational Ownership
  • Organisational Directorship
  • Organisational Trusteeship
  • Organisational Custodianship
  • Organisational Leadership
  • Organisational Management
  • Organisational Coordination
  • Organisational Participation
  • Organisational Membership
  • Organisational Belongingness

[*replaceable terms=Organisation:Association:Commons:Nation State]

This, I say, makes incentivisation of long term participation even more important. I am not saying reliant on long term participants, I am saying served by long term participation. I was watching a movie last night [nope - TV series - Endgame] and a character says “if you want to know what is really going on within a family, ask the grandmother”. Wisdom belongs to the aged for a reason.

Who is actually going to do the work in the long term. Once Mycelium leaves? Once RMIT Leaves? Once XYZ leaves? Will a GIG WORKER replace the role these guys are filling?

Are these questions too early to be asking?
I don’t think so. Personally speaking; Origin Stories are DeFining. Directional momentum is sourced in beginnings. Ask any superhero. I have a saying “the road to my successes is littered with the burning hulks of my failures” and god I know the sky is bright with the flames behind me. But how I have turned the lessons of those failures into value, has been by integrating the knowledge into my “wisdom”, my “experience” and so avoiding the cost of those mistakes again in the future, and synthesising the lessons into an operating awareness. You lose this when you lose a long term active participant in a community.

We do not have an organisational structure. There is no long term plan in place, no succession planning. What are the plans to renumerate and to retain knowledge, to retain cultural knowledge, vision holders. Why would I want to buy and hold Tracer Token if none of this is in place. Will Tracer survive the Bus Test? If the obvious leader of the day gets hit by a bus, does Tracer survive?

What do we need to do to ensure that Tracer DAO is playing an infinite game, incentivising participants in a way which supports infinite outcomes?


Thanks for getting the ball rolling on a much-needed discussion on Tracer’s long term prospects, @jme. Governance has always been an unloved child, but given the multiplicity of actors involved in a DAO/DeFi, is all the more important to ensure the right checks and balances exist to ensure alignment of interests between the needs of the community and individual actors.

Lack of overarching coordination/strategy…

Hands down agree with your observation that the current reliance on people submitting individual submissions does not lend itself to a coordinated strategy, or developing Tracer DAO’s corporate capacity.

As I see it, the primary risk the existing individual EOI processes exposes Tracer DAO to is for proposals to be put up that enrich the individual at the expense of Tracer’s corporate prospects. This tension between the interests of the individual versus that of the collective is being played out through the controversy around the amount of pecuniary rewards that should be available for staking TCR: there’s nothing wrong with people trading TCR for short-term profit, but right now that discussion is being had without the means of evaluating whether the staking proposal actually serves the needs of Tracer DAO, as opposed to simply that of the individual proposer.

The other implication to the existing absence of a grand strategy though, is that it deprives people of the means to value TCR token’s governance entitlement. Right now, prospective holders of TCR are being asked to acquire TCR on pretty threadbare details as to what its future intentions and plans are. In a different context, this is information any ordinary investor would require before purchasing shares in a company, a point also made by @jme in a different thread.

Until actionable detail is provided as to what Tracer DAO’s future aspirations/plans are which allows the value of a vote in TCR to be properly valued, the conferral of governance entitlements by TCR I suspect will continue to be met with skepticism and depressed demand.

… But avoid becoming centralised

At the same time, it would be incorrect ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ and pivot towards a more centralised organisational structure that concentrates power in the hands of a select few. I am certainly not questioning any current users’ integrity (my observations are that the usual suspects ­– RMIT, Mycelium – are all sterling people), but doing do would simply perpetuate the intrinsic flaw in contemporary commerce where the playing field is tilted in favour of corporate insiders over the public.

Again, you can see this playing out in conversations over Discord, with people having a go at Mycelium and the integrity of some of the earlier proposals that have been put up. A balance needs to be struck between injecting further coordination/strategy into the existing process, without losing the DeFi’s culture (by virtue of its decentralised nature) of maintaining low barriers to entry for future users, in order to develop a populous and vibrant community.

A comprehensive response to these issues needs to therefore address the following:

  • The means to evaluate proposals to determine alignment between the individual proposer and Tracer DAO;
  • Reassure TCR token holders by providing enough information about Tracer’s future intentions and plans are, so they can determine if Tracer is something they want to hitch their wagon to and apprise the fair value of a vote on Tracer’s governance;
  • Avoid concentrating governance/executive power in the hands of an elite few, to reduce the suspicion of prospective users/members (that Tracer is tilted to favor the interests of insiders) and ensure a level playing field exists to incentivise engagement in the Tracer community.

In my view, all of these concerns could be address with some sort of roadmap document which provides sufficient details as to what Tracer’s future goals are, and the steps required to achieve those goals. Proposals would stand a better chance of being passed if they provided a means of achieving a milestone documented in the roadmap, and a standing requirement to speak to the roadmap could be built into future versions of the proposal template (depending on how prescriptive you wanted to be). The roadmap could be provided to prospective TCR acquirers (in much the same way a prospectus is provider to prospective shareholders), and level of coordination to tie together disparate projects could be achieved without concentrating governance power in the hands of a minority.

This isn’t a suggestion to bind Tracer DAO to an immutable plan: where Tracer DAO considered a change to the roadmap necessary, it could make amendments as required (perhaps by a super-majority).

An entire workstream could be developed around this, to simplify and amplify certain parts of the roadmap to respond to common queries asked about the TCR token, and as part of promo efforts.

I appreciate the number of competing priorities vying for Tracer DAO’s attention, but given the number of issues a roadmap could respond to, think this could be something that should be given priority.

My 2TCR!


I’ve no specific comment but as a mental tool, you can try placing each of the concerns into a matrix I’ve used for other DAOs.

For example the meme “The difference between a Tracer bullet and cluster fsck is knowing how to aim” would emphasis skill rather than throwing money at liquidity problem. By identifying key elements, then drawing linkages, one can discover if funding is required to boost or royalties need to be directed at some activity