Next ANO-application round suggestion: ANO's voting

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#1
@Guides

@David Chapman suggested yesterday that ANOs also should be able to vote in the next ANO-selection round to further decentralized the decision -making process.

I have contemplated this myself before but did not include it in the current draft document. I do however in principle like the idea, as this is a route we are going down anyway with standing party support being the determining factor in reference to an ANO staying inside the Authority set in the future (with standing fully built out).

This would be an intermediary step in that direction, and it seems like a nice way to gradually shift from a guide-decision to a standing party decision, as we could add in more parties when we extend the standing parties.

A practical way to implement this would be for the guides to determine the objective-ish criteria (Node reliability, efficiency, tech-specs and server location) (currently totals 45 points max), and the current "Guide consideration" category (55 points) split into two; Guides + ANOs. The guides would vote as they do today, and the ANOs would similarly score the prospective ANOs 0-100 (+abstain option), and the scores added together (and divided by number of voting participants).


My thoughts:

For:
- Further decentralizes the process
- Is a step in the right direction to include all standing parties as described by our governance project
- Ensures that a outlier-vote based on a misconception/error doesn't have too much influence.
- Involves the ANOs even more than today, and provides for even better scrutiny of applications.

Against:
- Can, in theory, be utilized by the ANOs to block newcomers from entering the Authority set. (I've thought some more on this and don't think it is really an issue).
- Puts even more pressure on ANOs in terms of time spent on governance (might not be an issue due to abstain option).
- Could it be game-able by either current or prospective ANO in some odd way? I don't know.


Guides (and others), what is your thoughts on this matter?
 

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#2
I support allowing all current Standing Parties (ANOs and Guides) to vote on the next round of ANO Applicants.

I want us to think carefully about the scoring and metrics for evaluating the applicants as there may be some gaming issues we have to resolve. Otherwise, I'm on board with this.

In regards to the number of applicants, I'd like to consider again the possibility of raising the threshold to higher than 60% and letting in as many ANOs as exceed the minimum score (up to the maximum amount of six), rather than selecting a specific amount to let in. Thoughts on that?
 
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#3
I tentatively support this. I think the upsides are greater than the downsides.

We will have to make an update to 001 of course, as unlike with grants it specifies guides vote on ANOs.

I personally do not think that the 60% threshold is necessary. I believe we talked about only accepting 4 ANOs this round. I believe we surely will have 4 good candidates, and we should not get ourselves into a situation like we almost did with the grants where we don't have 4 candidates over 60%.
 
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#4
In regards to the number of applicants, I'd like to consider again the possibility of raising the threshold to higher than 60% and letting in as many ANOs as exceed the minimum score (up to the maximum amount of six), rather than selecting a specific amount to let in. Thoughts on that?
1. The first two ANO rounds were about obtaining enough quality ANOs so we can help make the claim that we are decentralized. Now that we have 26 ANOs and can make the decentralization claim, we can enter a new phase: One where we can solely add ANOs based on their quality. We no longer need to worry about quantity of ANOs to satisfy regulatory concerns. Meaning, we don't need to worry about growing the number of ANOs solely for decentralization purposes. Yes, we want to get to 65. However, we need to be smart about adding ANOs, as each ANO we add takes away FCT from the grant pool.

2. For ANO Round 3, ANOs need to be evaluated in regards to the value they provide compared to the FCT they will receive. Said another way, we need to maximize our resources (in this case FCT). We need to see a return on investment for each ANO we add. So, if we think only two ANOs will provide a good return on our investment, then we only select two. If there are six, then we select six. The simple question we have to ask ourselves for each potential ANO is: "Would the FCT the ANO will be receiving be better off left in the grant pool where we can use it to build-out the protocol?" If the answer is "yes," then they don't get elected. If the answer is "no," then we add them. It's really that simple for ANO Round 3.

3. In regards to ANOs voting: We all know that there is a TON of time required pertaining to governance/community participation. We also know that we need more standing parties than Guides electing ANOs. So, we need to test our limits of what we can reasonable expect from current ANOs in regards to participation and then craft a future solution around those findings.

For what it is worth, my gut feeling is this:
1. 80-90% of ANOs will not have the time to read through all materials and ask questions, as it simply requires way too much time. That's coming from experience as a Guide during Grant Round 1. It's a grueling process.
2. Therefore, we will see a stealth vote delegation. Meaning, those that do not have time to read through all documents will contact the ANOs they are close with and ask how they should vote. There have been a few conversations lately in the community about formalizing vote delegation. I think ANO Round 3 will serve as a good, unofficial proof of concept of how vote delegation would play out if we did indeed officially implement it.
 
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#5
We also need to consider that many ANOs don’t participate much, and forcing them to vote encourages uninformed votes, rather than researched ones.

Perhaps an idea to introduce this gradually is to have the community average score effectively become a 6th Guide score?
 
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#6
We also need to consider that many ANOs don’t participate much, and forcing them to vote encourages uninformed votes, rather than researched ones.
I agree

Thinking back on it, we have the following challenges:
1. Not knowing if a potential ANO was being honest about their pledged contributions
2. Initial pledges execution (i.e., was the ANO lying)
3. Removing ANOs for underperformance

Therefore, I am wondering if we consider implementing a trial period. It could look something like this:
1. Guides still handle new ANO voting
2. As part of the application process, all potential ANOs provide some sort of roadmap (i.e., deliverables and timeline)
3. All newly elected ANOs are on a trial basis for the first four months after onboarding("trial ANO"). After the four months has transpired, then the current ANOs would vote to elevate the "trial ANO" from "Trial Period" to "Active Status."

That solves a few issues:
1. The protocol is not 100% relegated to guessing on whether someone will be a good ANO or not based-off a PDF, and then stuck with them.
2. When it comes time to vote on elevating an ANO to "Active status," we'll have real data with which to make the decision
3. The new "Trial ANOs" are immediately incentivized to perform
4. Current ANOs still have a big say in the process

Basically, it's a system of checks-and-balances.
 
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#7
I agree

Thinking back on it, we have the following challenges:
1. Not knowing if a potential ANO was being honest about their pledged contributions
2. Initial pledges execution (i.e., was the ANO lying)
3. Removing ANOs for underperformance

Therefore, I am wondering if we consider implementing a trial period. It could look something like this:
1. Guides still handle new ANO voting
2. As part of the application process, all potential ANOs provide some sort of roadmap (i.e., deliverables and timeline)
3. All newly elected ANOs are on a trial basis for the first four months after onboarding("trial ANO"). After the four months has transpired, then the current ANOs would vote to elevate the "trial ANO" from "Trial Period" to "Active Status."

That solves a few issues:
1. The protocol is not 100% relegated to guessing on whether someone will be a good ANO or not based-off a PDF, and then stuck with them.
2. When it comes time to vote on elevating an ANO to "Active status," we'll have real data with which to make the decision
3. The new "Trial ANOs" are immediately incentivized to perform
4. Current ANOs still have a big say in the process

Basically, it's a system of checks-and-balances.
I think it is a great idea to decentralise ANO election by including the ANOs in the process. I think there may be work to be done on creating a more objective assessment framework. However I would be a bit concerned as a prospective ANO about the risk of failing a trial period. Setting up as an ANO in our experience is not for the fainthearted and requires a fair amount of time, effort and funds; for those setting up new companies there is even more work involved. I question whether the new "ANO expectations" and the "Removal process" aren't sufficient to do this anyway.
 
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#8
@Mike Buckingham
Completely valid concerns. Counterpoint:

Being an ANO is a "business." As with any business, there are risks. I don't think an ANO should be entitled to a free pass simply because they put together a compelling PDF. The "trial phase" would be somewhat akin to an "apprenticeship" or an "internship." Said another way, why would the protocol want to immediately "buy" when we can "rent" for a few months to see if the ANO is a good fit?

Bottomline: if this trial period is a deterrent to a potential ANO, then I'd argue they were never serious about the opportunity in the first place.
 
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#9
Having only Guides vote for new ANOs is centralization. Period. The infrastructure is in place for ANOs to vote and it needs to happen this coming round. If you're worried about some ANOs not having the bandwidth, then you can have an abstain voting option.

I've been having this very conversation with different parties and there's no effective defense against the charge that five Guides deciding on future ANOs is centralization. Make no mistake, people are starting to ask about this and it's going to increase in frequency and become a legit argument against our ecosystem if we don't change now that the infrastructure is in place.

I'm open to the idea of a probationary period for ANOs. But existing ANOs need to take part in every vote in that process.
 
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#10
I've been having this very conversation with different parties and there's no effective defense against the charge that five Guides deciding on future ANOs is centralization. Make no mistake, people are starting to ask about this and it's going to increase in frequency and become a legit argument against our ecosystem if we don't change now that the infrastructure is in place.
@David Chapman
100% agree ANOs need to be involved in the process. I see several possibilities:

1. ANOs have equal voting as Guides
2. ANOs have a percentage of voting power (e.g., Colin's suggesting of ANOs having 1/6th of the voting power)
3. ANOs ratify the Guides' selections, but also can override the Guides' inclusion or exclusion of an ANO with 2/3rds vote
4. Guides do initial voting, then four month trial period for the new ANOs, then all ANOs vote on whether to make "trial ANO" an "fully active ANO"

I'm personally leaning towards a combination of #3 and #4.
With #3, the ANOs could abstain
With #4, the ANOs should be required to participate, as adding ANOs is one of the single most important tasks of the protocol and essential to its long-term stability.
 
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#11
@Mike Buckingham
Completely valid concerns. Counterpoint:

Being an ANO is a "business." As with any business, there are risks. I don't think an ANO should be entitled to a free pass simply because they put together a compelling PDF. The "trial phase" would be somewhat akin to an "apprenticeship" or an "internship." Said another way, why would the protocol want to immediately "buy" when we can "rent" for a few months to see if the ANO is a good fit?

Bottomline: if this trial period is a deterrent to a potential ANO, then I'd argue they were never serious about the opportunity in the first place.
Your counterpoint is valid Matt. I agree that establishing and running a business is a risk and that ANOs should be prepared for that. I still however think that there may be a disincentive for smaller/new ANOs in contrast with larger established companies. Larger companies can participate and if they fail it is a not a great deal whereas for smaller start-ups it can be very significant. Before concluding is it worth asking how many ANOs fall into which category?
 
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#12
Taking it a step further, it's EXTREMELY important that the entire process be extremely easy to follow not just for applicants but for Standing Parties who will be voting, AND those who will be auditing the process in the future. Right now, when I have a conversation with someone and they ask to see how an ANO election happened, some documents are literally not available. They're Guide Only. Then I have to find a document where answers to questions on a Google Form were submitted into a Google Sheet that is an absolute nightmare to read. And then I have to point them to the question and answer thread. And then find a document where the Guide scores were and try to find the document that explains some of the reasoning behind the scores. Then I have to justify why only Guides are allowed to vote for ANO Candidates. This is the opposite of efficient, transparent governance and is centralized to the core.

The process needs to be:

1. A team interested in becoming an ANO clicks a link that says, "Steps to becoming an ANO"

2. It takes them to a page that explains the criteria and process from testnet requirements to expectations of ANOs to question / answers to the voting process and when the next round will open up. It also includes a, "Signup here to be notified when the next election round will start".

3. When the round opens up, a link on that page goes live. "Click here to apply to be an ANO".

4. They fill out a form with all the questions they should be asked.

5. Those answers populate a custom thread on the community forum and automatically become public at a certain day/time.

6. The question and answer period starts in the thread.

7. At a certain day / time, the vote (which Guides and ANOs take part in) starts and ends.

8. When the vote ends, all results are automatically tabulated on a single page and linked to from each ANO Candidate's thread.

Easy, efficient, transparent, auditable.

"What was the process by which X ANO was elected? [single link answer]
 
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#13
@David Chapman
100% agree ANOs need to be involved in the process. I see several possibilities:

1. ANOs have equal voting as Guides
2. ANOs have a percentage of voting power (e.g., Colin's suggesting of ANOs having 1/6th of the voting power)
3. ANOs ratify the Guides' selections, but also can override the Guides' inclusion or exclusion of an ANO with 2/3rds vote
4. Guides do initial voting, then four month trial period for the new ANOs, then all ANOs vote on whether to make "trial ANO" an "fully active ANO"

I'm personally leaning towards a combination of #3 and #4.
With #3, the ANOs could abstain
With #4, the ANOs should be required to participate, as adding ANOs is one of the single most important tasks of the protocol and essential to its long-term stability.
We're centralized unless it's 1 or 2 where 2 the ANOs have the vast majority of the weight.
 
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#14
I personally don't think having a trial period for selected ANOs would be a good idea. I think if they are selected in the ANO round then they become an ANO the same as any other current ANO. Eventually, the framework will be decided for how ANOs are removed and replaced with more promising ANOs (as determined by all standing parties). I just don't think a trial period is a good long term solution and adds some un-necessary complexity to the process.
 
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#15
I personally don't think having a trial period for selected ANOs would be a good idea. I think if they are selected in the ANO round then they become an ANO the same as any other current ANO. Eventually, the framework will be decided for how ANOs are removed and replaced with more promising ANOs (as determined by all standing parties). I just don't think a trial period is a good long term solution and adds some un-necessary complexity to the process.
I need to think about the trial period more but I think I agree with you at this point. I'm definitely in support of broadening the selection voting out to ANOs so all current standing parties are included.
 
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#16
The more I think about it, I’m not very keen on a trial period. We should be holding existing ANOs to the very same level of scrutiny as future ones and we haven’t tuned that process yet. Currently there is close to no accountability (even though there is a public contributions thread there's very little probing), and although we do have a means of removal, to me it still seems kind of special case.

I’m also weary of continuing ANO rounds for the sake of becoming more “decentralised”, if the process of selection remains very centralised. For that reason I’m in favour of including ANOs to the voting process next round. I hope soon we can extend this to all standing parties.
 
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#17
The more I think about it, I’m not very keen on a trial period. We should be holding existing ANOs to the very same level of scrutiny as future ones and we haven’t tuned that process yet. Currently there is close to no accountability (even though there is a public contributions thread there's very little probing), and although we do have a means of removal, to me it still seems kind of special case.
I agree with this 100%. That's why I think the trial period is a good thing. It gets us 1 step closer to actually holding current ANOs accountable. If we're going to hold the new ANOs accountable via a trail period, then we don't really have an argument for not holding our follow current ANOs accountable as well. The trial period is a good way to help current ANOs get their feet wet in regards to being critical of other ANOs/holding them accountable/not giving an ANO "support."
 
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#18
Yeah, it might work and be a step in the right direction..

However, the bigger issue imo is that in our current immature state, ANOs can easily deflect, deny, stall far too easily. No one will be held accountable truly until competition exists and the onus is put on the ANO to communicate progress and prove it out of necessity or be removed through lack of support because someone better came along. We’re still a while away from that.

Considering we’d be giving an easy means to boot newbies, while still having a relatively difficult time booting existing ANOs could be problematic.
 
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#19
However, the bigger issue imo is that in our current immature state, ANOs can easily deflect, deny, stall far too easily. No one will be held accountable truly until competition exists and the onus is put on the ANO to communicate progress and prove it out of necessity or be removed through lack of support because someone better came along. We’re still a while away from that.
Totally agree and very well put. I'm just not sure we'll be able to jump from where we are now (near zero accountability) to where we need to be (full accountability and competition) in one jump. Ideally, we would be able to make this jump. But, I have a feeling it is going to take baby steps (unfortunately). However, if you have ideas on making this big jump, I am 100% behind it. The "big jump" is the ideal solution.
 
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#20
I believe I support Davids solution of integrating the process with the protocol website/forum. We already have the discussion-phase in the forums, and with voting infrastructure where both guides and ANOS can contribute set up and tested already I believe we should move the voting to the forum as well - and include the ANOs.

@David Chapman: If the guides agreed on amending the process along the lines of what you proposed (not necessarily identical though), would you be able to get it done prior to the next round starting?
 
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#22
However, if you have ideas on making this big jump, I am 100% behind it. The "big jump" is the ideal solution.
I’ve often internalised how it might work, but I agree it’s not an easy problem to solve and can't figure out the "big jump".

Something that I’ve mentioned before I think would go a long way to helping (maybe not one giant leap, but a start), would be to renew (or reset) existing pledges so everyone’s in sync in terms of time frames. My suggestion would be 3 or 6 months at a time. I think it would do the following -

1.) Give the community clear expectations as to what ANOs will deliver or are working on each quarter (or whatever time frame)
2.) Provide an easier means for comparing ANOs, where timeframe is no longer a variable (deliverables / timeframe * efficiency)
3.) Puts the onus on the ANO to provide details in their updates and prove they are being productive
4.) Solve the “how often should ANOs update” question
5.) Keep pledges realistic and within a specified time frame (easier for accountability)
6.) Allows community to manage their time (they can allocate a couple of days 2 or 4 times a year to seek information from ANOs at a known date)
7.) ANO applications would be formatted to accept goals inline with the above, which I think would make scoring easier and ultimately accountability (but no more than existing ANOs)
 
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#23
There seems to be a lot of different (but related) sub-topics in this thread, so I will try to summarize my thoughts point by point:


ANO's in the voting process:

First, I completely agree that current ANO's should be included in the voting process to determine future ANO's. As already mentioned, the original intent was to have standing parties vote in ANO's. I agree with David's point that Guide-only ANO voting is centralized and that, in the long game, an audit of our current process would show centralization -- and that is exactly what we all don't want. Also, while I believe our Guides are amazing and well researched, I simply don't love the idea of 5 people or 5 organizations (if a Guide is represented by his/her specific ANO, for example) being the only decision-makers in what is becoming a more and more critical process to our protocol's success.


Trial Period:

Our goal should be to take on the absolute best talent and teams with the most promise. Earlier arguments in this thread contend that a trial period would maybe be premature (due to a lack of formalized ANO pledge tracking and follow up), or unfair (due to prior ANO's not having to live up to that trial standard). To be honest, I don't believe either reason is exactly relevant from a perspective of reform.

I believe that prospective ANO's and the vote-in process and potential trial period are one topic, unto themselves. And I believe that current ANO pledge tracking, follow up, and potential removal are another topic. Both topics deserve attention and implementations of solutions towards reform, but I don't believe the latter (current/historical ANO processes) should necessarily influence the former (future ANO processes and/or trial period). That said, when I examine the idea of a trial period, I view a solution like this as a great reform that accomplishes all of the incentivization goals we'd hope for when bringing on new talent and risk mitigation goals that we would hope to achieve by limiting the ability to slide into the authority set without some real substance and progress to show for it.

When I imagine the trial period, my preference is that Guides and ANO's have equal voting power -- as in, one Guide vote equals one ANO vote. This accomplishes decentralization (which I view as imperative to risk mitigation down the road), and it allows more parties with skin in the game to evaluate their future collaborants in building out the protocol. Even if gaming could still occur in a system like this (from perspectives of perceived competition, for example), my belief is that gaming is less possible due to the involvement of more parties (as ANO influence becomes more distributed).


The Issue of Researching ANO Applications & Supporting Documents:

It's surely true that researching ANO applications is a time-consuming and arduous process, but my belief is (imho) that a designated member from a given ANO, at minimum, -should- be tasked with reviewing these documents. The future success of this protocol is our common goal, and although we all get really busy, it's important to carve out time to have someone review the apps, collaborate with his/her ANO teammates, and then vote accordingly. In situations when an ANO simply can't review all the information, the "abstain option" is probably best. I don't really believe in delegating votes from one ANO to another (as 9 ANO's could delegate their vote to one (perceived as trustworthy) ANO, and to me, at that point, we are sliding our way back into centralization risk. If an ANO simply cannot or does not review the documents for potential new ANO's, they should abstain from voting and would hopefully do so.


Renewing or Resetting Current ANO Pledges & Timeframes:

I think this is an interesting idea that would more formally operationalize our current ANO pledge review process. To me, solutions regarding our current ANO processes are sort of a different topic (although, of course, I see the context as to why this topic has some relevance in prospective new ANO voting/processes).


Tl;dr - I believe that:

- ANO's should have equal (one to one) voting power with the Guides. 1 Guide vote = 1 ANO vote. So there would be something like 31 votes in total (26 ANO's and 5 Guides, with each vote carrying equal weight).
- A trial period is a great idea that I view as a means of reform. I do not believe this solution would produce confusion relative to the current ANO review system in place because I believe we will also reform our current ANO pledge and follow up systems. These reforms may happen concurrently or at different times, but both topics here and their forthcoming solutions will represent progress in our goals for decentralization, selecting and maintaining great teams (or removing under-performing teams), and then reviewing performance for all ANO entities (prospective/trialing and current).
- Abstaining from voting is better than delegated voting due to risk of centralization, and due diligence (or lack thereof) should be rewarded with the power to vote or the ability to not vote (abstain), respectively. Lack of due diligence should not be rewarded with the option to delegate a vote.
- Current ANO reforms are important, and I love the idea of a structured, time-based pledge review process that applies to all current ANO's (and future ANO's once implemented and included within the authority set). I will chime in on other threads about this.