[Temp Check] [Social] Introduce more competitiveness and diversity into steward election protocol

While I was running my election campaign I was talking to @alextnetto.eth and he suggested that we don’t nearly have enough competition during steward election, I said that I will take care of it, and since I’m a man of my word, here is my proposition.

I suggest that we reform election process and general approach to “stewardship institute” in the following way. During the past election I saw how people were calling out to get as much qualified candidates as possible, bring acquaintances and friends into the process. But the way it was designed it just didn’t work. There were literary several days before the nomination period, then, election itself, the whole process takes no more than two / three weeks. Thats no where near enough time for any quality candidate to get involved in the process - way too short notice. It’s just impossible - no one is going to suddenly drop everything what they are doing and start running for the election.

By extension, even if there were quality candidates willing to suddenly enter into the race there is just not enough time to gain visibility within the community. From what I observed so far, it takes at least half a year of active involvement and contributions to become a genuinely well known person within the community. Hence announcing election several days before the actual event doesn’t really do anything. One may be a very well established person within certain circles like @conordb.eth or @impacto.eth but without getting an opportunity to show themselves to ENS community their applications have a fairly low probability of success.

a) To tackle this problem I propose that we announce the election process 7 months in advance and make this announcement as wide as possible. There is precedent to that in my personal experience - I come from investment banking industry. In order to acquire best talent we announce positions so loud via a variety of channels, no industry comes close to that. I suggest we do something similar, list of resources would include other DAO forums, we can easily politely introduce ourselves and announce the election for instance on AAVE, SNX and other forums, secondly we should use standard recruitment portals such as Linkedin and Angel, plus any other industry events would have some sort of dashboards. To sum it up everyone should be aware that such institute as ENS DAO Stewardship exists and there is enough time to apply and prepare.

b) Second part of this problem is to make route towards steward position transparent and achievable. I like that @AvsA extended term in 4.8, but I believe that this is half measure to make stewardship genuinely efficient. Right now I see several problems with the system:

  1. It is fairly difficult to break into stewardship team because it is difficult to compete with those stewards who are serving terms already for obvious reasons - they are well known to community, know how to do job etc.
  2. There is also lies danger of “alternation of power”, in other words public servants cannot stay in power indefinitely and should be limited legislatively by how much time they can serve, this should be included in DAO Bylaws as well. I hope I don’t have to spell it out to anyone the kind of problems would arise if public servants would cling to their seats.

I propose that total time permitted for any given steward to serve is limited to strictly 2 years irrespectively to any kind of circumstances to prevent any kind of manipulations and cover various edge cases. This proposition does not contradict @AvsA 's 4.8 in a sense that successful stewards still have means to devote enough time to this work and simultaneously tackles “alternation of power” problem.

Position for new steward should be also be made achievable, for example in the recent election I observed how @don.nie got fairly little attention, however in my mind the guy put so much work that he definitely deserved at least some recognition. To tackle the problem of “new comers” I propose the following changes to the structure of stewards’ teams and election mechanics.

New team of every working group would be composed of 4 stewards, of which only 2 can be elected from those who previously served the term, the other 2 steward can only be elected from newcomers, in other words from those who never served as stewards before. In the unlikely event that there are not enough newcomers to fill 2 spots, they will be filled with stewards serving previous term and vice versa. However assuming that (a) is done correctly and diligently this will not be a problem. In this proposed structure competition is “evened out” - those who are already serving the term will compete with each other for a place in the team, and newcomers don’t have to compete with those who are already working as stewards, because in principle they should not be doing so.

In conclusion: the idea behind this proposal is to make institute of stewardship more competitive, but not just that, make it a fair competition, as a result the efficiency of stewardship will increase and as we all know good quality competition brings great results.

EDIT: After a couple responses back and forth I figured that we should have a poll here, current stewards please abstain from voting

  • Steward can serve max of 2 years
  • Steward can serve max of 3 years
  • Steward can serve unlimited number of years, but consecutively only 2 with break in between
  • Steward can serve unlimited number of years, but consecutively only 3 with break in between
  • Steward can serve any number of years
0 voters

This problem has long existed in the world, and the only tried and tested solution is to have term limit. DAO should set a limit on consecutive terms to 2 terms (2 years of service). Otherwise, the lack of interest in stewardship is not at all surprising, and there is risk of boxed thinking, state capture, lack of competitive motivation, conflicts of interest, unfair competing environment and several other known issues commonly associated with bad management hierarchy. Some of these are already starting to show unfortunately. Nick did the good thing of standing down this term from Meta-Gov role. It would have been good to see more stewards following in his ethical/sustainable/encouraging footsteps. Please consider including setting term limit in your proposal. ENS is somewhat (to speak politely) behind right now in keeping up with new fields such as Account Abstraction, Zero Knowledge and even L2 support. Lots of it can be attributed to lack of new, driven and innovative participants in the ecosystem. Having reasonably fresh stewards will go a long way in bringing a fresh drive in the space. When an ecosystem is recycling/tumbling the same 5-6 people in turns in different WGs, it can hardly be considered a good sign.


exactly my thinking, thanks for your input

I specifically refrained from using notions such as “2 consecutive terms” instead I used time, let me explain.

I set limit to 2 years, in practice “2 consecutive terms” can be exploited - for example one would serve 2 consecutive terms, then take a pause, then serve 2 more consecutive terms and so on. One could argue that he served 2 terms within 1 particular group and is still eligible to serve terms in other working groups. There are other edge cases too - terms were shorter - half a year, for example steward served 0.5 and 1, brining total to 1.5, then if he was to win another election that would bring his total time served to 2.5 exceeding allowed limit, hence he is not eligible anymore even to run for that election.

So I felt that it would be easier just to set total time limit to 2,0. This approach covers any unclear situations.

exactly, for Nick, ENS DAO is his brainchild, he wants it to live as intended, kinda its own life, that’s why for him stepping down was logical. We need to establish set of rules clarifying approach to steward rotation, I think my proposition clearly outlines protocol which will add a lot more efficiency and robustness to “stewardship institute”.

Thank you for your input!

1 Like

Agreed it’s healthy for ENS to encourage more competitiveness in steward elections. We want a “deep bench” of many people with knowledge and experience in the ENS DAO.

Term limits are interesting, but maybe it goes too far to say that if you’re a steward for a total of 2 years that you can never be a steward again. We have some really talented and knowledgeable people serving as stewards currently and it would be unfortunate for ENS to forever dismiss them from the possibility of serving as a steward again in the future.

A few ideas:

  1. If term limits are introduced, perhaps they might be constrained only to a specific role. For example: Enable rotation from one working group to another.
  2. And perhaps term limits could refresh themselves. For example: “A maximum of 2 out of the last 4 years”.

It could also help to extend more onramps for talented and passionate community members to engage with the DAO and demonstrate the quality of their work. For example: various “mini-projects” that would create value for ENS.

It’s fair to say that there’s nothing stopping people from picking up this work already. But perhaps we’re missing out on talented people who aren’t sure where to devote their efforts. Publishing lists of mini-projects that needs to get done could extend a pathway for future stewards.

Appreciate that it can take a lot of time and effort to define lists of mini-projects and oversee their execution. That can scale to become a full time job. Needs more brainstorming, but there’s lots of work that can be done to build value.

In summary: I’m advocating for reducing the gap between being a steward and a non-steward.


I think the pool of talent available to ENS DAO is so deep, given that max hypothetical term is 2 years we can never run out of brilliant people, that’s assuming everything is done correctly of course

1 Like

Agreed there’s a lot of talent in the community.

If there’s a fixed number of steward roles then it creates a situation where there’s a competition over who gets a slice of the pie. This is generally good, but why should the pie remain of a fixed size? And if someone doesn’t win a steward election, ideally there can be lots of other ways to contribute value for ENS and receive fair compensation.

Perhaps we can look for ways to grow the pie at a number of levels. Appreciate that’s easier said than done, but suggesting this direction as one part of a larger solution.


My suggestion was only limited to two consecutive terms. Steward can go away for a year and then get re-elected after a break. This should be allowed I believe, aka no maximum limit; only limit is on consecutive terms


Indeed it is.

On the other hand, I also agree that the community should have someone new involved as a role of steward. Compare to determining a limit of term, make sure at least one of the three stewards is new is another way.

it happened in global politics - the result was a lot of manipulations and overall landscape turned out to be not so good at all


I love the takes here so far. And I do agree that this needs a little refinement. Thank you for bringing this topic to everyone’s attention.

I agree with the majority of the stuff mentioned here so I’ll just go over this one that I don’t agree with.

I believe that having a 7-month long campaign for the steward role might not be the best idea. It seems to encourage the wrong kind of behavior. I feel like it’s a misuse of incentives. It creates an environment for playing political games that favor those who are good at playing them, instead of those who are really good for the ENS DAO and the steward role. We should aim to attract people to the DAO itself, not the role. And not by encouraging them to campaign for a role for 7 months, thinking that it’ll boost their chances of becoming a steward. If we do it that way, it’s not about the DAO anymore, it’s about them winning and getting a position.

I really like what @lightwalker.eth suggested here:

This is incentives done correctly. Maybe in this example specifically for the Ecosystem steward role. And Slobo has been doing a really good job here for example with his latest TeamNick project.

I’m not saying that you have to code to get a steward role but any kind of contributions matter. My opinion is that just as the DAO funds people who first contribute and build on ENS, or show interest and passion of any kind, and then get small or large grants, rolling grants, fellowships, or whatever else, it should have a similar approach to selecting stewards – those who are actively engaged and participate in weekly calls, community, governance, discussion forum, and know the ins and outs of the industry and the ENS DAO more specifically and have been with us long enough to know how we generally handle things before being put in an active steward role.

And if we manage to attract people who are high quality, have experience in some top-notch DAOs, etc. I doubt they’ll have any problems whatsoever gaining the trust of the delegates since they’ll be building on their existing reputation. I’m absolutely in favor of those people pursuing this role!

I do agree that our current stewards lineup is really good so 1-2 years per term is something I’m fine with. Although I would prefer a 1-year term. And I strongly agree with @NameSys about not allowing anyone to do more than 2 consecutive years of being a working group steward. This would give everyone up to 2 years maximum in that role.

A more democratized approach to repeatedly having quality stewards serving the ENS DAO instead of the same stewards over and over again would definitely be a net positive for the DAO with smart and capable thought-leaders in the space who care about ENS occupying that role and extending the DAO’s reach.


I really sincerely didn’t mean it like this, 7 months is a “heads up” for potential candidate, here 1 month is technical, 6 months for preparation, the idea was simply to allow ample time to understand whats what around here

moreover as someone who was a victim of political game within ENS DAO election system already I’m all in favour of building strict rules against such malignant behaviour, I just don’t know how to design it

it’s easy to increase the bandwidth, by increasing number of stewards as necessary, if the workload is too much just hire more people


I know that our existing steward roles are handling a number of responsibilities. Are these codified somewhere? One way to grow the pie is to add more steward roles, but would be worried about unclear roles & responsibilities or unclear measures of success. I know the goal we’re ultimately working on here is finding stronger ways to create more value for ENS. But we don’t want to add roles without the right frameworks in place to optimize the value those roles are producing for ENS.

Once of the benefits of codifying existing steward roles & responsibilities is an explicit demarcation of what is outside that existing scope. Once it’s clear what is outside of the current scope it’s easier to discuss what other high value roles or mini-projects could be defined.

Am I correct that if we implemented this policy, 8 of the 9 stewards would need to step down at the next election? I believe only Marcus would be able to run again. That would be a lot to replace at one time.

I look at the role of steward as one of decision making, delegation, and facilitation, but not a role that primarily produces or executes on deliverables.

As a steward for the last 6 months, I’ve seen many unforeseen “things” come up. In my view, the role of steward should be to catch these things, then define them as discrete work products, and then assign those work products to DAO contributors with commensurate compensation.

I believe we should try to avoid adding stewards or assigning the steward role responsibilities that can be packaged up and handled by contributors. Instead, we should try to grow the number of contributors and the complexion of their contributions. That then gives us a bench of active, trusted, and proven contributors to elevate to stewardship through elections.

The idea of cultivating better understood “mini-projects” or more numerous discrete work products for our contributors to pick up is a great one. But I’d say we should define these as DAO contributions, not new or additional steward responsibilities.


Those are the right questions, its been two years not a single steward thought of this

I haven’t calculated who is specifically going to step down, I just put the criteria forward, but too much or too little is a subjective notion, in my mind there will be absolutely no problem in getting a lot of quality applicants, assuming that we start advertising the position early like I suggested 7 months in advance.

This conversation is still at it early stage, there are many more community members whose voice needs to be heard, but from what I see so far common consensus seems to be that two years is the upper limit, based on that some stewards already due to step down like @nick.eth did.

I don’t know about the rest, but I personally would be hardly motivated by a person who is not willing to do hands on work. The very best director on the job I ever had told me that he would never assign me any task he would not do himself, and in fact he performed a lot of hands on work whereby commanding a lot respect by more junior colleagues. He would build any deliverable faster and better than junior colleagues, so there was no question that he was the leader.

Take @estmcmxci for example or @don.nie me loosing current election cycle to either of them is ok for me, because I know that they are not shy of doing hands on work, and in fact did a lot of work and will probably continue doing that work - these are true leaders - “Lead by example”. Person who is specifically staying away from hands on work in favour of being a “commander” is not my leader. Culture of quality deliverables and hands on work starts from the top.

1 Like

Thanks @SpikeWatanabe.eth, I thought you might quote that comment. :slight_smile:

To be clear, in my view, a steward is a servant not a leader. We are elected to serve the delegates by intuiting and enacting their will at every turn, not our own. That is the trust that I feel is placed in me when I am elected.

Trying to empower others and delegate responsibility does not inherently mean one does not get his hands dirty. Those are two different concepts.

Thanks again for encouraging this conversation and starting the thread. :pray:


This addresses my point from above – contributions should be most important.

I ran for Ecosystem steward for 3rd time this year and almost got it, but only after putting in 1 year of work building on top of ENS protocol and being active in the DAO for a year and a half + being present in all Ecosystem calls and actively participating in broader community events.

Spence was contributing for a year and was a multi-signer before joining as a steward.

Marcus has been doing the newsletter, being a delegate and managing RFPs for a year as well.

And so on… And we’ll continue to be here.

As I said, if I had to come up with a selection criteria, I’d have 2 main ones:

  1. Proven dedication to the ENS DAO (weekly calls attendance, in the loop with the DAO voting, discussions, decisions, contributions of any kind (working group specific maybe), etc).
  2. Proven track record and reputation from other DAOs of similar caliber and standing as ENS.

Then I’m happy. :slight_smile: And as far as everything else goes, we agree pretty much.

Wow, this is very interesting. I never looked it this way. I’ll have this in mind going forward.

1 Like

Agree on having a longer period for candidacy (although 7 months seems like a lifetime). When I was trying to bring qualified candidates like @impacto and @conordb, they kept me asking things like “so tell me about this job, what is it, where can I read about it” and I could only send them things like the WG rules or suggest they join calls. There should be a proper page with salary information and the steps to follow: not only we need voters to know more about candidates but we need prospective candidates to know more about the job.

I think switching from approval to ranked choice (after some fixes on Snapshot’s side) would benefit by adding more subtlety to the way you vote, being more than binary.

I think term limits are interesting but I would prefer not implement before making sure that we have a big enough pool of qualified candidates.


Let’s dangerously run with the assumption that all Steward roles and all Working Groups have completely undefined roles / responsibilities / measures of success. No one has linked to definitions of these yet, so until proven otherwise going to assume they don’t exist.

Please correct me if this is wrong. I hope it is wrong, but assuming it is true then I find it difficult to understand any reasonable justification for this to continue for much longer.

No role, working group, or other organization should be above having their responsibilities and measures of success defined as clearly as possible.

This is great! This is the beginning of a list that codifies the responsibilities of a Steward. It’s also helpful that you’ve explicitly stated constraints on the expected responsibilities. It’s helpful for everyone to understand what should be beyond expectations.

It seems the Metagov Working Group might be best positioned to shepherd the process to define these roles / responsibilities / measures of success?

This idea and all the other points you shared @5pence.eth sound like a good framework.

this is true

however if this is correct

then why did we increase the length of term? I thought the idea was to give people stability to focus on tasks at hand, instead we are talking that WGs will assign tasks to some arbitrary people

then we should’ve defined this “workforce” which will execute everything and give this workforce 1 year term for stability

I thought the very idea of increasing term for WG was to allow them to go full hands on to tackle tasks at hand.

So now we not only increased the term beyond two years for most stewards, but we are also pushing the work outside of WGs - whats the point then.

WG is paid full time position, with increased term for increased stability, this is where execution function should be focused.

so on one hand we have those WGs who are not going to do any hands on work, and on the other some arbitrary people without any job security, today you throw them some work, tomorrow you don’t - this will attract zero talent like this

1 Like

FYI: 1) Working Group Rules - ENS Documentation & 2) Working Groups

Should we prioritize updating the existing documentation on basics.ensdao.org to reflect these suggestions?