What community governance really entails
Since the inception of the project, Aragon’s vision has been to be open source software and to give power over it to the people who use it. The whole platform will be a community effort — and it will take time to build it as envisioned.
Right now we are a community based project and our long-term plan is to be a community governed project. To learn why this has been our vision for the project, where we are at the moment and how we plan on achieving our goals, let’s take a look into the history and definition of these terms:
In the early days of open source software development, there was no need to specify or mention that a project was community governed. This is because it was considered to be an integral part of the definition of open source development itself. There’s now plenty of projects that do not depend upon a community managed governance model, but are part of the open source movement.
It’s great to see the open source movement grow and evolve in different ways. New open-source licenses have been created. New ways of open collaboration invented. And new forms of movements such as FLOSS, Free/Libre Open Source Software have sprung up.
Nowadays many have left behind the original notion of being community governed. Or even being community based. These self-sovereign or self-governed projects and companies will put their code on GitHub, but hold all the cards close to their chest. They will let people view their code and from time to time someone will come fix a bug and send a pull request. Therefore they are — by definition — open source. But they aren’t utilizing the power of the crowd for their project governance. Governance being the most distinctive feature in how different open source projects and models work. Governance models that let everyone take part in the decision making process incentivize people to join and use the product. And the more usage there is, the more value is being created by the participants.
Now, to differentiate between these two governance models — community based versus managed — it comes down to who’s in control of the project. Is it only a small subset of people or a large population of the user base?
In a community based model, the project takes a bottom-up approach where they listen to the needs and thoughts of the community. While in the end only a handful of people are making the final decisions. Whereas in a community governed model, the project is decentralized. Members participating in the development and governance of the project are also responsible for the decision making.
Community governed governance models can be executed in many different ways. It can be done so that everyone acts and votes for themselves. Being responsible for engaging on a level with which they’re comfortable. This kind of model has the advantage of creating a broad, productive and agile community. Though it comes with the challenge that not everyone interested or devoted to the project has the time nor will to take part on a day-to-day basis.
This is why many successful community managed projects that produce commercial grade code have instituted some sort of formal leadership roles. Such as a non-profit foundation to protect the interests of the community. In such a model, people can express their interests through proxies who represent similar interests that they wish to support. This liberates the people from participating in the daily operations and encourages a wider community to form around the project.
At Aragon, we are a community based project with the commitment to evolving into a community managed governance model. We have the first version of our Community Governance Model that supports this plan and it will be updated accordingly as we move forward.
Every open source project does need some form of community management and as the Community Lead at Aragon, that has been placed largely on my shoulders. And it has been so awesome working at Aragon, let me tell you!
You get to work in the blockchain space, among the technical challenges of cryptocurrencies and on the very cool bleeding-edge technology: Ethereum. The strength of the community alone gives us the feeling that we are doing something that people really need — and it’s just amazing. The time has come for people to organize and transact however they see fit. Without depending on random intermediaries they didn’t choose to begin with. We’re dedicated to ensuring all progress that has been made for a transparent future, as well as the people that have sacrificed for it, won’t be in vain.
Now, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably already at least somewhat interested in what we do. Perhaps even following the progress of Aragon. As the project continues, I will be putting more of my focus on the communication side of things and will begin transitioning to a Communications Director role. Community is an integral part of communication and vice versa. So we’ll need more people working on this key element of Aragon. I will put great effort into hiring a new Community Lead to join us in creating our platform and aid in becoming a community governed project. We’re a small team, but the camaraderie of our small community within a community is spectacular. And the team members are all very nice and welcoming!
If you’re interested in this type of thing, increasing people’s freedom, putting your energy into doing something you believe in and want to be at the vanguard of a technological revolution that has the power to make an actual change in the world, check out our job listing for a Community Lead at GitHub and apply!
To keep up with the progress of Aragon: