(As a clarification, all mentions of DFINITY in this post refer to the DFINITY neuron, and not the entire DFINITY organization or its employees)
Recently, the DFINITY Foundation’s vote on Governance proposal #80970 (“Spam proposal”) and #86639 ("Temperature Check"), specifically their “yes” vote on the Temperature check spurred a lot of debate around not just the contents of each proposal, but why the DFINITY neuron would actively support or vote against such proposals.
The goal of this discussion is think through the introduction of an active ABSTAIN option, such that a neuron can actively abstain from voting on a governance proposal without forfeiting their governance rewards.
This would allow all voters and neurons, including DFINITY to fully support and/or reject the proposals they vote on without reservations, and to actively ABSTAIN from voting on proposals for which they are neutral, conflicted, or do not have a strong opinion.
The goal of this discussion is to explore ways to introduce the option to actively ABSTAIN from voting as an option without introducing unnecessary complexity of implementation or negatively affecting the security of the NNS.
To clarify, actively voting to ABSTAIN is not the same as failing to vote on a proposal, as the active option will still earn voters rewards, whereas the latter will not.
With respect to abstaining affecting the security of the NNS (voting to ABSTAIN instead of voting NO makes it easier to pass a proposal), I believe there are certain voter percentage threshold values which @bjoernek may be aware of that will not impact the quick passage of code updates. Today, over 90% of NNS voting power still follows DFINITY on non-governance proposal topics which pass instantly when the DFINITY neuron votes.
Implementing this feature opens several questions, one of which is whether or not a tally of ABSTAIN votes should be kept track of, and what the outcome should be if the majority vote to ABSTAIN (should this outweigh the yes votes)?.
For example, if the NNS has a vote that is 33% YES, 30% NO, and 37% ABSTAIN, should the proposal be accepted or rejected?
I’m sure there are many more edge cases and side effects (such as a higher proposal accept or reject rate) that might be introduced by adding such an ABSTAIN option, which is why I’m hoping to flush out and resolve those issues in this discussion before potentially submitting a proposal once the idea is more mature.
According to @diegop, the DFINITY foundation’s reasoning for voting in favor is as follows:
This statement gives the impression that DFINITY did not have a firm stance on the Temperature Check issue other than to simply continue the conversation and not “shoot down” the idea.
Not having a decisive opinion or reason to vote one way or another, but still voting a certain way can end up padding the votes of a true “temperature check” put out to the NNS community, and in the case of a neuron with VP as large as DFINITY’s, their indecision will sway or swing most votes.
While any neuron has the right to vote as they please, they should also not be forced into voting for or against a proposal purely to receiving voting rewards - the financial losses that come from abstaining, specifically with a neuron as large as DFINITY’s are significant.
To dig into this piece of DFINITY’s statement:
If DFINITY has a desire to actively vote to abstain without forfeiting governance rewards, they should be able to do so - as should any neuron. I hope that DFINITY never feels that the IC community is helpless or is a fragile flame, and that they need to vote one way or another in order to “prop up” the community.
This is an additional reason why the NNS should have an active ABSTAIN button that will allow DFINITY or any neuron to more easily take a position of neutrality - after all, this is a Swiss foundation we’re talking about