[Amendment] Add "Article 0" preamble/context to the constitution

Summary

This is the draft proposal for the “Article 0” idea that emerged in the ENS community prior to the airdrop and associated constitution voting.

Abstract

To record the context within which the constitution was proposed, and remind everyone of the less enforceable/mechanical values of the ENS community which precede and transcend any formal process, an Article 0 preamble/context section is proposed to be added to the constitution, with phrasing based on feedback and endorsements from the broader community here in the forums, on Twitter, and on Discord.

Specification

Even before voting on the proposed constitution began, many ENS community members noticed that the text of the constitution does not describe the broader context of the ENS community, which existed before the ENS token and associated DAO, processes, etc. were introduced. However, this context/framing is considered to be very important in interpreting what the constitution document is or can/should be. So the idea emerged to add an “Article 0” (both in reference to the zeroth law from Asimov’s robotics series and in reference to general computer science numbering conventions) which would both serve as a preamble/introduction and try to express the pre-existing and mostly not-mechanically-enforceable values of the ENS community within which the constitution was being proposed. With input and feedback from many community members, the text was mostly written by @Jeff.eth with some edits and feedback from @nick.eth as well as multiple rounds of review on Twitter and Discord from many others.

Although Article 0 emerged before the token airdrop and associated voting processes, it was not included in the initial voting interface for $ENS airdrop recipients and has instead proceeded through the phases of the governance process, with the “temperature check” phase adding many positive/supportive comments and a few slight suggested edits. Now it is time to make a formal “Draft” proposal with the exact diff of proposed changes (linked below in the Pull Request).

Because the original constitution document did not have an Article 0 I have made some minimal changes to the wording at the top for flow, before adding in the proposed Article 0 at the head of the numerical list. There is a slight tweak to the final paragraph of Article 0, based on feedback from the “temperature check” thread. Further feedback or changes can be discussed here, while keeping in mind that there is now quite a lot of positive feedback accumulated for the phrasing so smaller changes/edits are preferred unless large issues are identified. But all feedback (in all venues) is welcome, since the specific goal of Article 0 is to capture surrounding context which might otherwise be missed by the mechanics of the new ENS DAO processes themselves!

Once a final version of the proposed changes stabilises we will request that this be turned into an official proposal and brought before the delegates for voting! So please share this thread far and wide so that anyone who wants to offer feedback and changes has a chance to do so before we take that final step. Thanks!

Edited to add: for those less familiar with github the page with the exact text/changes being proposed can be found here.

Pull Request

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What is the best way to suggest a minor change in language?

Right here! What language do you think is worth changing?

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Suggest replacing “should” with “shall” in line 9 of the commit, expressing future tense.

Could you elaborate a little bit more? Right now the word “should” is there to capture the fact that the ENS community has normative values about the future direction of the project, not all of which can be concretely encoded or enforced. Both “should” and “shall” are future tense, though.

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Got it. That makes sense. I “should” have researched more before commenting! Thanks for your work on this proposal.

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Glad I was able to clarify! It does definitely lean a little wordy overall, partly because there are so many fuzzy concepts the text is trying to touch on or gesture towards. But either way the more people we have read through it the better, so thanks for taking the time!

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I agree with this except for the line “even as eventually amended”. I don’t like that it sounds to me like it’s trying to make itself unamendable (even if actually a future proposal could remove it and make unamending inception). To me, everything is on the table for amendment and change always.

This is something several people have mentioned now, which does suggest the wording can be improved. First, for those just joining in this thread I’ll copy over the reasoning behind the phrase’s inclusion from the previous one for reference:

In short, it’s definitely not an attempt to make “Article 0” unamendable. It’s more just supposed to be an acknowledgement that while we do expect the constitution to be improved over time it still won’t ever have everything in it. Does anyone have a suggestion for a better phrasing? What about “even as they gradually capture more detail over time” or something like that?

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Hi @Jeff.eth … First, thank you sooo much for getting this started, for taking feedback, and for drafting this up. It is actually a pretty difficult exercise to something like this into words … so cheers to you my friend :slight_smile:

Below is my suggested re-wording.

I used phrases from the existing draft, but also drew from comments you provided to others in previous posts. (I read your replies and background to make sure I understood the spirit).

I tried to capture (using slightly more ‘affirmative’ and direct language) three things: 1) The broader values of the ENS community, 2) the value we put in the community as a way to re-enforce the long-term health of ENS, 3) that token voting in-and-of-itself is not a limiting factor on what the values are.

Feel free to disagree with any or all of my suggestions! :slight_smile:

P.S. I agree with the underlying motivation behind ‘The token is not the community’ … but the phrase itself I think has the potential of devaluing the fact that voting via token is still extremely important, it’s just not the end-all-be-all


Article 0: Preamble to the ENS Constitution

The values to be preserved by the ENS community at-large:

It is the responsibility of every ENS community member, and especially those granted signing or voting authority, to protect:

  • The predictability and legitimacy of the consensus around how ENS names work;
  • The credible neutrality of the ENS system for as many users and stakeholders as possible;
  • The positive social trust and goodwill which exists among the present and future set of ENS stakeholders

Enforcing these values and preserving the long-term health of the ENS ecosystem:

The mechanism by which the ENS community expresses its consensus (i.e token voting) is not to be construed as a limiting definition on what that consensus can look like or how it can be achieved.

The ENS community believes that careful and active collaboration of the entire ENS community - including means that are non-formalized and unforeseeable - are critical to improve and grow the ENS system, to help it continually reach its fullest potential, and to uphold the values noted above.

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Hi @Verne !

Juggling a couple things and although I have read your response I’m still working on a good reply. Thanks for the work you put in here though, and I just wanted to let you know you’re not being ignored! Hope to have a reply within a couple of days for sure. Apreciate the engagement and the obvious thought you’ve invested.

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No problem at all! And by all means … feel free to use / not use / modify however you see fit. No offense will be taken in the slightest :slight_smile:

While I like the idea of an article 0, I feel that starting it by saying what the community is NOT is a bit weird. Imagine if the preamble of the US constitution was “We are not British subjects”. It wouldn’t be as poetic as “We the people”.

I understand that your goal here is to avoid both constitution-literalism and code is law dogmatic view, to allow future stakeholders to adapt it to whatever is their own reality for a higher purpose, even to fork it into a completely different thing.

What if instead of “the token is not the community” it’s titled something like "ENS is something something".

I’ve switched around the placement of some texts and added a new bit on bold:

0. ENS is a public good for all the world, unbounded and unrestrained

ENS is a naming system for all the world, it is not bound to a particular code implementation, contained within strict definitions of a community or restrained by literal interpretation of its constitution or its future amendments. It’s the responsibility of every ENS community member, and especially those granted higher powers and responsibilities by this constitution, to protect:

  • the predictability and legitimacy of the consensus around how ENS names work;
  • the legibility and credible neutrality of the ENS system for as many users and stakeholders as possible;
  • and the positive social trust and goodwill which exists among the present and future set of ENS stakeholders.

The articles which follow below, even as eventually amended, can neither embody nor enforce the entire consensus around what ENS already is, or what it should continue to be and become. It is not the intent of this constitution to confuse the mechanisms by which the ENS community expresses its consensus for a limiting definition on what that consensus can look like or how it can be achieved. Only the careful and active collaboration of the entire ENS community can maintain and grow ENS into its fullest potential.

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Hey all, so sorry I haven’t been active on here. A close friend of mine has been going through some intense personal stuff and that has taken up most of my time over the past three weeks. I have started trying to give a proper reply to both @Verne and @AvsA for their useful perspectives many times but all I have to show for it is a ton of partially written replies that wouldn’t make sense even I just posted them all here as is. :cry:

Nothing is ever perfect timing, and I don’t want to lose the momentum we’ve built up so far. My one holiday wish is for us to get this in place before everyone forgets about it, and before VCs buy up half the $ENS and change this community forever. I’m seeing the balances of those who delegated to me dwindle and I can’t blame them, especially if folks have bills to pay. So I don’t consider my reply here as good as I’d like, but here’s the most important thing I need to say:

For me “The token is not the community” is the whole point of Article 0. Many people like this phrase specifically, and it gets the point across front and center. It’s also just a fact: the ENS community was here before the token. That’s what we’re trying to record for posterity. Overall I agree my wording can be improved, but I don’t think this is a “we are not British subjects” issue because the token is deeply integrated into ENS processes now, front and center in people’s minds when they think of ENS governance, and needs explicit pushback to counter assumptions new people in particular will make. There is more subtlety to how we need to acknowledge some very important points both @AvsA and @Verne have made, so I’m really sorry I haven’t taken the time to do that. This is just a last minute December 24th note to ask: are people okay if we just move this to an official vote in its imperfect form? Just like the token is not the community, Article 0 take 1 is not the community either and we can always continue to improve even after we add it in to the constitution. I just want to get this one on the books if we can while people still remember why we’re trying to do it. I’m so low on energy and time right now but I really want to make this happen. Am I off base? Please let me know.

poll cancelled, I missed this: Soft moratorium on new votes until January 3

Please ask everyone you consider a part of the ENS community to chime in on the vote and based on what it comes back as maybe we can still get this done this year! If not I will be sad but also understand. Sometimes all we can do is our best.

For those who don’t want to wade through a bunch of links this is the exact text currently in the pull request linked at the top:

0. The token is not the community

The articles which follow below, even as eventually amended, can neither embody nor enforce the entire consensus around what ENS already is, or what it should continue to be and become. Instead it is the responsibility of every ENS community member, and especially those granted higher powers and responsibilities by this constitution, to protect:

  • the predictability and legitimacy of the consensus around how ENS names work;
  • the legibility and credible neutrality of the ENS system for as many users and stakeholders as possible;
  • and the positive social trust and goodwill which exists among the present and future set of ENS stakeholders.

It is not the intent of this constitution to confuse the mechanisms by which the ENS community expresses its consensus for a limiting definition on what that consensus can look like or how it can be achieved. Only the careful and active collaboration of the entire ENS community can maintain and grow ENS into its fullest potential.

cheers and apologies to all, however this season is going for them. People care about you and want good things for you, however hard it may be. Be well.
-Jeff

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Doh, missed this:

I’d love to see this continue to evolve and proceed to a vote now that we’re in the new year!