The Importance of a Robust Constitution for Safeguarding the ENS Protocol

:speech_balloon: Hey everyone! I wanted to start a discussion about something that’s been on my mind lately. As we all know, the ENS Protocol is an important part of the decentralized web, and it’s crucial that we protect it from malicious actors. That’s why I believe we need to develop a :scroll: robust constitution rooted in ENS principles and values.

By doing so, we can establish clear guidelines for participation in the ENS community, and protect against those who may try to harm the protocol. :shield: While we want to keep ENS decentralized and open to everyone, a constitution can help shield us from ill-intentioned actors :no_entry_sign: and ensure that the protocol remains true to its principles.

What do you all think? Is a constitution the right way to safeguard the ENS Protocol? Let’s discuss! :thought_balloon:

We already have a constitution!


The ENS DAO Constitution appears to be a robust and well-thought-out document that addresses important aspects of ENS governance. However, there are some potential vulnerabilities that might be exploited by ill-intentioned actors:

  1. Vague definitions: The constitution uses terms like “transparent criteria,” “reasonable level,” and “long-term viability” without providing clear definitions. This ambiguity could be exploited by malicious actors, who may interpret these terms to suit their purposes.

  2. Amendments to the constitution: Although the constitution requires a two-thirds majority and participation of at least 1% of all tokens to make any change, it is not clear if there are any restrictions on the types of changes that can be proposed. Malicious actors might attempt to propose amendments that undermine the constitution’s core principles and values.

  3. Absence of conflict resolution mechanisms: The constitution does not provide any guidelines or mechanisms for resolving disputes that may arise from governance decisions or interpretations of the constitution itself. This may leave room for manipulation or the escalation of conflicts that could destabilize the ENS community.

  4. No safeguards against centralization: While the constitution emphasizes decentralization, it does not outline specific measures to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of a few individuals or entities. This could lead to centralization and potential abuse of power.

  5. Lack of enforcement mechanisms: The constitution outlines permissible and non-permissible actions, but does not specify how these rules will be enforced or the consequences for violating them. This may leave the system vulnerable to bad actors who disregard the rules without fear of consequences.

To strengthen the constitution, it would be helpful to address these vulnerabilities by providing clearer definitions of key terms, outlining amendment restrictions that protect the constitution’s core principles, introducing conflict resolution mechanisms, implementing safeguards against centralization, and establishing enforcement mechanisms for the rules.

Vulnerabilities in ENS DAO Constitution & suggestions to strengthen it.

— Vague definitions of key terms
— Unclear restrictions on amendments
— Absence of conflict resolution mechanisms
— No safeguards against centralization
— Lack of enforcement mechanisms for the rules

The constitution is a social document. It exists to guide behaviour, rather than bind it. In its current form, the constitution has hitherto been very effective at guiding delegate behaviour and the actions of working group stewards and participants.

A malicious actor isn’t going to bother changing or complying with the constitution before undertaking a malicious act. We could make amendments to the constitution, but it would do little to address any perceived vulnerabilities as there are no enforcement mechanisms available.

In truth, if someone wanted to ignore the constitution altogether and attempt to pass a proposal that is at odds with the constitution, they could. However, if enough delegates with enough voting power believe in the constitution, and vote accordingly, these sorts of proposals will not pass. That is the purpose of the constitution.


The ENS community’s constitution helps everyone understand how to behave and make decisions, but it’s not perfect. It’s important to fix any weaknesses to keep the system strong and safe over time. We should talk about and solve any issues that might come up.

Even if a harmful person ignores the constitution, making it stronger helps everyone follow better rules and makes it tougher for troublemakers to cause problems.

Right now, there’s no way to punish those who break the rules. To improve the constitution, we should create clear punishments and find ways to enforce them. This helps the community protect itself from dangers.

It’s essential for people to care about the constitution and vote based on its rules. We also need to create a solid foundation to prevent cheating or arguments. This includes explaining significant words, solving disagreements, and preventing too much power from being in one place.

So far, the constitution has done well in guiding the ENS community. Fixing any weaknesses is a smart way to ensure the system stays strong and successful. A better constitution will guide the community even more effectively and protect it from people with bad intentions.

Example: Addressing Centralization Vulnerability

Imagine a scenario where a group of influential stakeholders in the ENS ecosystem accumulates a substantial portion of voting power. This accumulation could result in centralization and potential abuse, going against the decentralized principles stated in the ENS Constitution.

To mitigate this risk, the ENS community could propose a constitutional amendment that introduces measures to prevent centralization. For example, the amendment could incorporate a clause that restricts the voting power of any single individual or entity within the ENS governance framework.

Amendment Proposal: Capping Voting Power

Article VI: Safeguard Against Centralization

To preserve the decentralized nature of the ENS governance system, no individual or entity shall possess more than a specific percentage (e.g., 5%) of the total voting power in the ENS ecosystem. This limitation aims to prevent the undue concentration of power among a few and ensure an equitable and balanced decision-making process.


Allowed: An individual or entity with 4% of the total voting power acquires more ENS tokens, raising their voting power to 4.5%. This increase remains within the acceptable range stipulated in Article VI.

Disallowed: An individual or entity with 4.8% of the total voting power acquires more ENS tokens, raising their voting power to 5.5%. This increase surpasses the limit established in Article VI, and the excess voting power must be redistributed or relinquished to remain in compliance with the constitution.

By adopting such an amendment, the ENS community can bolster the constitution by addressing the centralization vulnerability and fostering a more equitable and decentralized governance system.

What practical effect do you expect this would have?

Yes, this is definitely a possibility. However, changing the constitution would not stop this from happening.

There is no way to enforce something like this.

I think there’s a bit of a misunderstanding of the nature of constitutions here. Constitutions don’t exist to restrict individuals - they exist to restrict governance actions, thus preserving the freedom of individuals. So you can’t enact a constitutional amendment prohibiting users from having more than a certain proportion of votes - constitutions bind the governance process, not the end-users.

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This is just an example, but I don’t believe I’m the right person to draft an article about the constitution. Nonetheless, the centralization of voting power in the hands of a few is a real issue. I think we should take some action to address it.

…the centralized power of votes in the hands of a few is a real issue, and I believe we should do something about it.

Agreed - the ENS Constitution, as well as the general purpose of a constitution is geared more towards a guide to the “spirit” of governance, rather than specificity - specific, defined rules would need to be re-written as the times change, whereas the spirit carries through as a dynamic guide through changing times.

Your line of thought and goals are not without warrant and seem to come from a good place - nobody can argue with wanting to maximize fairness and equitability within a system…with that said…

This is somewhat an impossible task in a decentralized environment - even if you limited voting weight by wallet, it would be meaningless as anyone single person could amass the capped amount in multiple wallets. This is both the beauty and a pitfall of decentralized system - conventional / centralized ideology / standardization is nullified / substantially limited by the expanded boundaries of the blockchain and its address system.

While it’s true that one can hold multiple wallets, implementing voting weight limitations would still discourage concentration of power. Besides, in the spirit of decentralization, we could create smart contracts or protocols to detect and limit such behavior. No solution is perfect, but striving for fairness within feasible boundaries is still better than accepting unchecked imbalance.

Smart contracts can do a lot of things but technically speaking, it would be impossible to create an infallible smart contract with the capability of discerning a relationship between multiple wallets other than whether or not they have transacted with each other, therefore there would be no way to limit a single person, holding multiple wallets, from voting beyond any set limits by holding multiple wallets - the available data on wallet ownership does not exist so there is no logic that could be applied to a smart contract for those purposes. One of the tenets of decentralization is that system-wide user behavior is governed only by the rules and limitations that can be imposed and enforced by smart contract, that is to say, that any written rules or limitations that can not be imposed and enforced by a smart contract do not exist, because nobody is expected to follow them, and there will never be a point in blockchain where that changes. When it comes to blockchain and decentralization, you can be sure of this one thing: All is fair, in love, and smart contracts.

Decentralization does not mean fairness; decentralization means that if the logic applies, ye shall pass, and if doesn’t, ye shall not pass. Each system / protocol is created by a human or a group of humans, a founder or founders - and the parameters are set by those bold enough to create. Since the beginning of all time, it has been known that to gain power you must create or hold something of value to others, or you must somehow take that power from the person who has gained it, so that you become the person holding the value, which in-turn gives the power to you. One can not expect to engage with another person’s product or value by their own free will, and then once foot is stepped willfully on their land, demand “fairness.” However, what decentralization does provide for, is the ultimate fairness: Any person or group can take the power by amassing the amount of tokens necessary to do so, and just like the real world, you must have the means to do so.

You speak of unchecked balance, but who is anyone to check the balance of those bold enough to do what you have not done.

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Decentralization indeed allows for freedom and fluidity, but it doesn’t necessitate the absence of all constraints. Even in the real world, rules exist to prevent unchecked power accumulation. In a decentralized system, we can propose and implement mechanisms that dissuade centralization of power without compromising the system’s essence. Also, the idea of “boldness” shouldn’t justify an imbalance; innovation is about creating value for all, not just for those who can amass more tokens.

I appreciate your perspective, and I might be missing something important here. Could you please explain or elaborate on the point you believe I haven’t addressed adequately? I’m genuinely interested in understanding your viewpoint better, as it could help refine my own understanding of decentralization and fairness.

The proposed amendment aiming to cap voting power in the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) ecosystem might have several practical effects:

  1. Prevent Centralization: By preventing any individual or entity from holding more than a certain percentage of total voting power, the amendment could effectively limit the potential for a few large players to disproportionately influence the decision-making process. This can protect the ENS community from potential centralization and ensure that governance remains decentralized.

  2. Promote Equitable Participation: The cap on voting power would provide an opportunity for a larger number of individuals and entities to participate in governance decisions, thereby increasing the diversity of views and inputs into the decision-making process.

  3. Mitigate Potential Manipulation: The amendment could deter any attempts to manipulate the governance system through large acquisitions of ENS tokens. This could increase trust and confidence in the ENS governance system.

  4. Regulatory Challenges: Implementation of such a cap might pose regulatory and practical challenges. For instance, it could be difficult to accurately and continuously track the voting power of each individual and entity, particularly if they use different wallets or other means to disguise their holdings.

  5. Market Impact: The amendment could affect the market dynamics for ENS tokens. If a cap is imposed, it could discourage large acquisitions of tokens, potentially reducing demand and affecting the token’s price. Conversely, it could also create more stability by reducing the influence of large holders.

  6. Reduced Voting Efficiency: The amendment might slow down decision-making processes, as reaching consensus could become more time-consuming when power is more evenly distributed among a larger number of participants.

  7. Potential for Unintended Consequences: While the amendment is designed to reduce centralization, it might have unintended consequences. For example, entities might split their holdings among different accounts to circumvent the cap, which could lead to an illusion of decentralization while centralization still persists.

Thus, while the amendment could potentially strengthen the ENS governance system, it would need to be carefully designed and implemented to avoid these and other potential challenges.

How would it do this?