ENS Cool Down Periods Proposal

Abstract

This proposal aims to establish mandatory “cool down” periods for all measures which are taken against members of the ENS community which might be construed as disciplinary, punitive, or in response to an acute complaint of any kind. It does so in three ways:

First, by amending EP4 to implement a mandatory waiting period of 60 days between when a Working Group leadership change is proposed and when it can be voted on.

Second, by implementing a mandatory waiting period of 60 days between when a change of the leadership of the ENS Foundation is proposed and when it can be voted on.

Third, by demonstrating strong community support for similar rules to be adopted by other ENS adjacent groups. This includes True Names LTD (TNL) and any groups or subgroups formed by (or affiliated with) the DAO in the future. While this proposal cannot be binding for said organizations, it is hoped that they will respect the community’s desire and implement an equivalent rule should this proposal pass.

Motivation

Everyone is entitled to some semblance of due process. No one should feel the need to leap to their own defense the moment an accusation is made, or risk losing their position in the community if they don’t. Mob justice is never justice, even in cases when the mob has a legitimate complaint.

The worst time to make important decisions is in the heat of the moment. Cool down periods give everyone involved time to quell their emotional responses, reflect carefully, and communicate their positions calmly. This can only lead to clearer headed decision making and better outcomes. This applies even-- or perhaps especially-- in cases where a person’s behavior is ultimately found to warrant disciplinary or punitive measures. When such decisions need to be made, demonstrating they were made only after careful deliberation, rather than at the behest of an angry mob, is crucial to maintaining the legitimacy of leadership in the eyes of the community.

A Vitalik Buterin recently put it in an interview for The Defiant:

I personally favor at least having 14 day cool downs before anyone is fired because of a scandal. I personally would love it if that was a general social rule that everyone had. I mean, numbers even higher than 14 would be even better. And yes, that does mean that there’s going to be people that are very uncomfortable that will just have to sit on their discomfort for a while.

But, at the same time, I think sitting on the discomfort and not making knee jerk decisions is something that’s very healthy. It’s a muscle that we need to exercise. And I think that is something that would also be better at clearly communicating to the community that what was done was the result of a well considered deliberation and not like “the cultural revolution is coming to Ethereum now.”

This is also a matter of security. An organization that is prone to overreaction is at greater risk of being manipulated. This represents a very real social attack vector, one that will undoubtedly be leveraged by bad actors in the long run, given that ENS is vying to be a critical piece of digital infrastructure.

Cool down periods are needed as a defense mechanism against such tactics. The community should always take the time to investigate not only the veracity of any claims, but also the motivations, intentions, and potential conflicts of interests of those making them. Furthermore, great care ought to be spent ensuring that any actions taken are fair, proportional, and have broad support from the community.

Specification

Action 1

The first action of this proposal is to Amend EP4, “Working Group Rules”, Rule 9.1 to read as follows:

  • i. Stewards may be removed by:
    • a. A social proposal passed by the DAO. Said proposal must not be made available for signature based voting until 60 days have elapsed after it was shared on the ENS governance forum. A good faith effort to notify the steward being removed, and to allow for them to speak publicly, must be made during this period. Any social proposal to remove a steward which is made available before 60 days have elapsed will not be binding, and will not cause the steward to be removed regardless of outcome.
    • b. A simple indicative majority vote among the stewards of the working group. Said vote may not take place until the intention to vote is announced on the ENS governance forum and 60 days have elapsed after said announcement. A good faith effort to notify the steward being removed, and to allow for them to speak publicly, must be made during this period. Any vote amongst stewards made before the intention to vote has been announced in the ENS forum, and 60 days have elapsed after said announcement, will not be binding and will not cause the steward to be removed, regardless of outcome.

Action 2

The second action of this proposal is to create a new rule with regards to the leadership of the ENS Foundation. The DAO has direct legal authority to appoint and remove Directors of the ENS Foundation. Therefore, this proposal establishes that:

Any proposal which would result in an active Director of the ENS Foundation being removed for their position must not be made available for signature based voting until 60 days have elapsed after it was shared on the ENS governance forum. A good faith effort to notify the Director being removed, and to allow for them to speak publicly, must be made during this period. Any social proposal to remove a Direcotr which is made available before 60 days have elapsed will not be binding, and will not cause the Director to be removed regardless of outcome.

Action 3

The third action of this proposal is to demonstrate strong community support in favor of a mandatory cool down period of 60 days being established by all ENS adjacent groups or organizations. This includes TNL and any other present or future entities founded by, funded by, or affiliated with the ENS DAO.

This cool down period should apply to any measures which are taken against members of the ENS community which might be construed as disciplinary, punitive, or in response to an acute complaint of any kind. This includes, but is not limited to, actions such as the removal of persons from any roles within the ENS community, the termination of any compensation, or the revocation of any other rights or privileges. During such a cool down period, a good faith effort to notify the impacted individual, and to allow for them to speak publicly, ought be made.

By ratifying this proposal, the ENS DAO also formally requests TNL publish-- within 30 days of this proposal’s passing-- a response to the community indicating:

  1. Whether or not they plan to implement the requested cool down period
  2. Details of how and when the cool down period will be implemented OR an explanation as to why the DAO’s request will not be honored.
11 Likes

I am all for this but 60 days seems too long for Stewards since they only serve for 180 days. However, that is literally hair-splitting. Other than that, :rocket::rocket::rocket:

4 Likes

Like @inplco LOVE THIS… but would suggest more like 14 days (+/- 7)

4 Likes

If ENS adjacent groups want to follow these guidelines I’m ok, but I think contractor companies (which is how I think we should consider TNL) should be given independency and we should encourage a healthy boundary between them and the DAO.

Agree on that too.

4 Likes

I doubt any such guideline will be enforceable either since TNL and similar independent private entities have their own governing articles which may prohibit any kind of cool down period for certain infarctions. Best one can do is MoUs; beyond that, to each their own.

I support this in general, though 60 days is a bit much.

With no better objective time period, I’m inclined to suggest we follow Vitalik’s min of 14 days instead of the proposed 60 days.

4 Likes

60 days is more like galacial cool off in cryptoverse, so yeah I’d say 14-21 is a good range

2 Likes

@bendi I’m highly in favor of this proposal, with the exception that a 14-day time period would be more appropriate.

Hi all, thanks for the feedback. I’m glad to see general support for this proposal.

Regarding the length of time, I definitely hear everyone on the idea that 60 days is a bit long. I do think you want to allow as much time as reasonably possible, though. There needs to be room not only for a healthy discussion, but also, depending on the situation, proper investigations and consultations with lawyers, mediators, etc…

My suggestion would be to move it down to 45 days. 6 weeks is really a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things.

This, however, is very much a fair point regarding the length of time the steward serves. I think 21 days is appropriate for Stewardship in particular.

The proposal is not (and cannot) be binding for TNL. It simply asks that they consider enacting a similar policy, which could certainly be implemented with something like company by-laws, and asks they let the community know their decision. I do think it would be valuable for TNL to help establish a cultural norm by adopting such a policy, if they feel such a norm would be valuable.

A cool down period is desirable but 60 days is far too long, maybe 15 to 30 days could be fine.
Rather than hoping to dictate guidelines for external companies, it would probably be better to draw up an internal and external code of conduct and regulate relations with suppliers.

I want to highlight the importance of this measure and its ability to prevent damage caused by social attacks.

Looking back on the events of the past 30 days, I believe that all parties involved would have benefitted from a “cool down” period.

Not only would a cool-down period allow time for the accused to represent themselves properly, but it also alleviates pressure on decision-makers who may feel forced to act without all the necessary information.

Edit:
@berrios.eth I believe Action 2 in the specification of this proposal is suggesting an alteration to the Articles of Association. Do you have any recommendations for the language to be used?

2 Likes

I’m broadly supportive of this idea, though with a couple of caveats:

  1. Like others, I think 60 days is excessive, especially in the case of stewards where it’s 1/3 of their entire term. 14 days seems much more reasonable to me.
  2. I don’t feel the directorship vote was rushed. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have a cooldown period for such, just pointing out that in this instance it was not put forward in a hurry.
  3. Rather than being a separate provision, these cooldown periods should probably be part of the DAO’s bylaws. That also obviates the need for a change to the Foundation’s AOA, as the bylaws would prohibit the vote taking place ‘too quickly’ in the first place.
  4. I don’t think a blanket cooldown period without opt-outs is viable for a company. There are situations that could require immediate dismissal, such as gross misconduct, and any cooldown period should be worded so as to provide for that.
7 Likes

I’m mostly in agreement with @nick.eth, for the reasons he gave.

Action 1: I would change the number of days for Stewards to 14 days, except where a majority of directors vote to waive such period.

Action 2: I’m not really in favor of a cool down period for directors, but can live with 14 days, except (1) where any director votes to waive such period and provides their justification in writing, in exercise of their fiduciary obligations; or (2) where the majority of stewards vote in writing to waive such period.

Action 3: I don’t agree with this proposal at all, as it is too broad. Please cite where the DAO has any power over TNL, perhaps I missed it.

Moreover, this should be a function of the committee writing the by-laws, which will be submitted to the community for ratification. We should not be doing this piecemeal.

2 Likes

Hey @bendi

I am in favor of the proposal with some minor comments:

Action 1

I would change 60 days to 3 weeks, max 1 month.

Action 2

Same as above.

Action 3

Don’t think it’s easy to enforce as other groups/organizations are their own entities and probably have to abide by their own contract rules and laws of the jurisdiction they are founded in.

Perhaps as a guideline they could agree to put a specific clause in their contract but I guess it may be a bit of a stretch and hard to enforce.

What is being proposed is highly reactionary and seems to have been made in response to a series of events that almost couldn’t happen again in the future.

I find it more than a little bit ironic that you are proposing a cool-down period after there has been no such cool-down period here. Why don’t you follow your own advice and wait 60 days and see how you feel?

Action 1:
The working group rules look to have been drafted in a way that makes it as easy as possible to remove a steward from a working group.

There are circumstances where a steward should be immediately removed from that role—misappropriation of DAO funds, harassment, anti-social behaviour or otherwise acting in bad-faith. You need carve-out language to cover any exceptional circumstances that may arise.

A blanket cool-down period could have many unintended consequences.

Action 2:
Again, there are situations where directors may do things that require immediate removal from that role. To the extent that you want a cool-down period of any length of time, you would need to draft appropriate carve-out language.

Action 3:
This wouldn’t be binding and it is inappropriate for the DAO to attempt to control independent companies or organizations.

+1 on this. It should be worded to allow temporary suspension from the roles on all positions mentioned above.

2 Likes

I should probably apply a 14-minute cool down to my responses but here I go:

I believe the ENS DAO is wasting valuable resources working on Proposals following BrantlyGate.

I am a token holder, a DAO voter, and an ENS active user.

2 Likes

Ok, the feedback on the length of time is pretty clear. I recommend we drop it 30 days, but would like to see it stay at least that long.

Hey @nick.eth, glad to hear you broadly support this proposal!

I don’t disagree, and I appreciate that the community was more deliberate with regards to that vote. If I’m doing my math right, 23 days elapsed before the vote went live. I should point out that despite this, several community members— including some top delegates— commented in various places (mostly twitter, I believe) that the vote felt rushed and poorly timed. This is one of the reasons I think we should strive for at least 30 days here.

Do by-laws exist currently, or is this in reference to the by-laws which are currently being discussed drafted elsewhere?

More broadly, I guess I’m a little confused on how “laws” work here. The constitution exists. Then EP4 was passed which established the rules around working groups. This sort of felt like generic “legislation” and my intent with Action 1 was to amend EP4, while Action 2 was to create a new rule for the DAO preventing such a vote, just as you describe. My intent with Action 2 was not to change the Foundation’s AOA (cc @Coltron.eth since you mentioned this).

That’s totally fair. Please note (and @cory.eth / @berrios.eth this applies to your response as well) the proposal explicitly acknowledges the DAO does not have authority over TNL. Instead it simply asks TNL (and others) to implement such a rule, or give the community an explanation why they won’t. Any such implementation could easily include carve outs such as the one you mentioned for gross misconduct. I would imagine TNL’s legal counsel would have to advise what’s appropriate here given your legal structure and jurisdiction.

Thanks for highlighting this. It is, I think, one of the most important parts of the proposal, and one of my primary motivations in putting in forward.

Edited: Typos

I’ll suggest adding a poll to the main body of the draft with options of 14-21 days, 30 days, 45 days and so on as you like. Then you can adapt your proposal to the outcome of that vote

This is likely to happen anyway on the sidelines as the by-laws for the DAO get drafted and those might have implications on the Foundation’s own by-laws and AOA. I believe your proposal will see some interaction with the new by-laws and might even be merged with by-laws proposal @berrios.eth is working on

2 Likes

I’m referring to the bylaws that are in the process of being written.

EP4 would form part of the bylaws. The point of constituting them as “bylaws” rather than a collection of rulemaking EPs is that it means the current rules can be contained in a single document that is easily referenced, reducing the risk of forgotten or contradictory rules, or accidental omissions.