Uniswap DAO Proposes Changes to its Governance Process

TLDR: The Uniswap community, which governs one of the major decentralized exchanges, will be deciding whether to overhaul its governance process for greater “efficiency and efficacy.”

In late January 2022, a proposal outlining a number of governance process changes was posted in the Uniswap forums. The post received only one substantive comment and little engagement. The proposed ideas went into hibernation until the Uniswap Foundation’s Devin Walsh resuscitated them in a request for comment posted in late November (11 months later) in which changes to Uniswap governance are presented with the goal of improving its “efficiency and efficacy.” This time the post saw much more interaction, leading to a number of changes incorporated into the updated proposal, which is slated to go live on Snapshot on December 14.

The Proposal: Community Governance Process Changes

Let’s briefly review Uniswap’s current governance process. (A full description can be found here.) After proposal ideas are discussed in the forums, Uniswap governance moves to a temperature-check Snapshot poll (three days long), proceeds to a consensus-check Snapshot poll (five days long), and concludes with an on-chain governance proposal (seven days of voting followed by a two-day timelock). Each stage has increasing quorum requirements.

“Uniswap’s governance process is a core input to the community’s ability to steward its ongoing maintenance and growth in a fair and transparent manner. The design of the process should optimize for the dissemination of information throughout the community, for thoughtful iterations on proposals, and for signaling from the community prior to on-chain votes.”

The Foundation proposes two major changes to the current governance process. Arguing that the first Snapshot poll creates “unnecessary friction,” the Foundation aims to replace it with a formal Request for Comment posted to the forums (much like this proposal itself). This gives the community ample opportunity to consider the proposal and provide productive feedback before the proposal moves to the single remaining Snapshot stage (now labelled “temperature check”).

The second major change proposed is to increase the quorum for the remaining Snapshot poll to 10 million UNI (the previous Snapshots required 25k and 50k respectively). The thought here is that this significantly higher amount will create a much better signal of broad community engagement while separating the wheat from the chaff.

Community Governance Process Changes
Community Governance Process Changes

Lastly, the Foundation is also seeking community feedback about “future changes to the off-chain components of the community governance process” (such as this proposal). Should they be voted on through an on- or off-chain process? Critically, some commenters have noted that off-chain voting isn’t possible for custodians. GFX Labs notes: “Snapshot voting should not be used for decision-making because a large amount of UNI cannot participate in Snapshot due to custody providers’ inability to vote off-chain.”

Big Picture

It is good to see a robust discussion about governance at perhaps the most well-known decentralized exchange. That a large community such as Uniswap’s can be rallied around ideas for changing how it governs itself is a sign of health for DAOs. This takes leadership that is willing to put forward ideas and also consider and take in constructive feedback — as we’ve seen here in the request-for-comment process, which influenced the proposal significantly. Several leading decentralized organizations continue to evolve their own governance (see our previous Briefs), demonstrating that DAO governance can be not only viable but desirable.

We’ll be tracking this proposal activity closely at Boardroom, follow our newsletter to stay up to date. If you’re a voter in a protocol, make sure to check out Boardroom Portal. {{Brief13//uniswap}}

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