Consensus standards

We’re navigating a wonderful and experimental world of permissionless participation and decentralisation.

We’ve heard in various places (#,#) that this can sometimes lead to confusion over what each person is empowered to do and when.

What does permissionless participation mean? Should we aim for consensus in everything we do? Consensus is powerful, but may come at the cost of slowing down critical decision making.

We trust each core contributor to act in Status’s best interests, and we now have an explicit set of Principles that acts as a compass to guide decisions. With that, it seems like a good time to agree on consensus protocols for a clear and shared understanding of how we’ll execute on tasks.

This thread aims is kick off a discussion about where/when it’s appropriate to aim for group consensus.

The feedback on this thread will inform a set of norms that we’ll share on our People Ops site, and with new contributors, giving clarity on how we work. It hopefully will be something we all feel comfortable co-opting, so we could explore cryptographic signing as with the Principles doc.

These standards will act as an interim standard between our past (three-country entity structure) and future (a virtual, jurisdictionless, DAO that may or may not need to have the same entities).

As with any guideline we crowdsource, the deliverable isn’t set in stone. As we transition towards being a DAO, the norms will be a living document, open to continuous iteration as we test them in our day to day working lives.

The level of this discussion is aimed at that of a guiding principle - we’re not looking to get into the weeds of technical details of implementation.

Drop your thoughts on this thread and let us know:

  • What do you think our consensus protocols should look like?
  • How do we decide which actions require broad consensus, which can move forward with soft signalling, and/or which can move forward based on individual determination?
  • Do you think each contributor should be empowered to implement changes according to their own judgment independently, or so long as they get X number of supporters for their actions, e.g. a three-pirate rule or similar?
  • If everyone is empowered to act, how do we avoid duplicated work?
  • What kind of signalling and consensus methods work best for moving work forwards?
  • Do you agree that we should implicitly trust all contributors?
  • Should there be a distinction between easy-to-revert and hard-to-revert decisions?

We’ll post again later with a draft protocol doc incorporating the feedback, for everyone’s review and editing.

Suggested readings:

  1. On social scalability: (#,#)
  2. Swarmwise
  3. Decision rules



Thanks for kicking off this great thread @ceri. I’ve got two points slightly tangential to the questions asked.

Do you agree that we should implicitly trust all contributors?

Channels or content that are seen as communication channels from Status, should be accessible by trusted parties. Decisions about the direction of these ‘official’ channels should be done in consensus by the teams responsible. The main reason for this is security/privacy related, where there is a high spam risk and we are still trying to ‘find our voice’. Having a permissionless approach to official Status comms is a recipe for disaster (at least for now).

What do you think our consensus protocols should look like?

Before even making decision, one area that I personally find important to focus is on is the use of data. Data isn’t just MixPanel (RIP), it’s UX research, case studies, A/B testing, historical examples. For example, if we are making a change that improves onboarding for 10% of users, but makes it worse for the other 90%, that data is important in the decision.

On top of above, the community should be given the tools (training?) to think critically on a what is impactful/useful for Status to achieve its goal.

If we make decisions and design a consensus protocol void of data, then whoever yells the loudest likely ends up winning.


The first question is: “should we avoid duplicate work”?
Sure, if we want to go somewhere and we want to reach that point as soon as possible, we need to avoid that. However, if our goal is to research something or to avoid tunnel vision (or a clear goal is simply not set yet), then there is nothing bad about duplicating the efforts. Also, that way we will have more knowledge sharing and less silos.


Maybe, an inverse? If no one is actively opposing whatever a contributor wants to do and it fits our values, then it is fine to act individually.

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I’m a big fan of the 3 pirate rule of thumb, specifically for the sort of public channels Nabil mentioned.

I agree with Igor that, otherwise, if there are no strong objections to a proposal made by someone and they feel they have thought critically enough about whether it is in line with the principles, then they should be able to do it. I also don’t think that duplication of work is necessarily a bad thing - as Igor notes - and would put it very low down on the list of prios to think about.

I have always liked the idea of rough consensus for far-reaching decisions - a good example of this would have been some of the stuff around SOB…

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