Let's talk about ATOM governance.
One of the oldest on-chain governance design in Crypto
But do we know what is the nature of Cosmos governance?
It's not democracy, It's not corporate governance, It's a layered distributed organization.
Often people consider the "Cosmos Community'' as the investors.
I often saw people complaining that ''real'' community don't have a voice, meaning the investors.
But the Cosmos community it's not only the investors, but the entire distributed organization.
Cosmos is a complex community system that has many layers of participants.
Each participant have a specific role and there is often a misunderstanding of this role.
The misunderstanding can be the source of contrasts and conflicts.
But who are those participants?
The participant in the governance decision making progress are:
1) Core Development Team/Contributors
2) Interchain Foundation
4) ATOM token Holders
This is the Cosmos community, multiple layers and specific roles in the decision making progress. Let's dive in.
1) Core Development Team
The core development team have a critical role, because they push the technical development and they can act as leader by guiding the whole community towards new achievements and a roadmap.
Cosmos Hub has a large number of contributors, among those there is usually a team that take the lead, helping the coordination between contributors and leading the roadmap.
This first layer of governance participant play a critical role, because his technical knowledge.
The Core Development Team lead the network towards new goals.
Specifically to ATOM, core contributors are or have been:
Today @informalinc is leading the roadmap.
2) Interchain Foundation
While the @interchain_io also play a role as core contributor, when it comes to governance play a specific role in a separate layer from the core development team.
The Interchain act as neutral support for the decision making progress.
This support is important to help all governance participants through all the stages of Cosmos governance.
Providing information and guidance over governance proposals.
The following picture is outdated but still provides an overview of the governance process.
The Interchain stewards not only ATOM, but the Cosmos ecosystem at large.
In that sense we can see it as a bridge between the different layers of Cosmos governance participant, providing support.
Helping the community towards an informed decision.
Validators are probably the most misunderstood community member and often at the center of the discussion because they are responsible for Voting Power.
In fact Validators not only secure the network but also participate in the governance decision.
The Validator share the voting power of delegators.
(A delegator is an individual Cosmos Staker that trust/support a specific validator with funds).
This means that if individuals delegators don't vote, the Validator is entitled to make a decision on behalf of the individuals.
This is necessary to reach the quorum and also because often investors are not interested to participate in governance, so they can pick a validator that they feel aligned with.
In that sense a Validator have the responsibility to engage and stay updated on governance props.
This responsability makes of the validator one of the most crucial community member. Because he is not only responsible for security but it is also a decision maker over network directions.
The voting power makes the validator subject to delegation volatility, since a wrong or good decision can trigger individuals delegators to support or not support a specific validator.
Leading the validator to be strongly engaged with the Atom token holders.
Validators and Delegators are in strong relation that can results in contrasts, sometimes for simple misunderstanding.
Above all there is often a lack of identification of the Validator as a community member.
But a Validator is a community member and a layer of the gov process.
4) Atom token Holder
The ATOM token holder can be a viewer of the governance process, a passive participant or an active participant.
In order to participate in governance the token holder needs to delegate his Atom to a validator.
Once delegated he can fully trust the decision taken by the validator and be a passive governance participant.
Or can directly participate by voting the on-chain proposal and participating in the phases of the decision making progress.
In the moment the Atom Staker do an on-chain vote, that voting power is permanently not accessible by the validator for that specific on-chain proposal.
Meaning that the delegator can always make is own decision over a specific governance topic.
It's a common misconception that the Atom Token Holder is the entire community. While in reality it's one of the layers of the Cosmos Community.
A layer of a distributed organization.
Where each part cover a specific role and specific responsibilities.
Understanding how Cosmos Governance is designed and what is the ''real'' Cosmos community is an important step to avoid conflicts.
The real Cosmos Community are all the layers of this distributed organization that can participate in the decision making progress.
Each part is important, each part have a voice, each part can communicate with others layers and provide feedbacks for the final decision.
But each part is not equal, it's not a democracy, and the voting power is measured with the responsibility towards the Network.
Validators have often more voting power than delegators, but they also have more responsibility.
Core Development Team is responsible for the technical development that lead to network future goals. And this requires coordinationa and support of others layers.
The Interchain Foundation helps in the coordination and neutral support.
The Delegators have voting power, and this impact/responsibility is proportional with their holdings.
Because the voting power is strictly connected with the responsibility over the network.
The more you stake, the more voting power, the more increase the responsibility towards the Network
And this is fair for the Network.
Because Cosmos it's not a democracy, it is a distributed organization.
And the fairness is not measured on the individuals, but on the network.This post is based on this twitter thread.