[Proposal] Defining An Ethos For The NNS

Exactly, so we should have a collective vision that guides these code and tokenomic changes.

I know, you’ll notice I’ve been defining Synapse on Twitter to those calling it greedy. I think everyone is just doing the best we can.

First, as I’ve said before those were just examples, they aren’t part of this proposal. Second, these two changes are actually reinforced and encouraged by Guiding Principle #2 in my examples, which states this in it’s description:
“Since collusion and majority control by a small group would break the accessibility and impartiality of the NNS, the NNS may adopt measures that contribute to reducing the risk, impact, and incentives of collusion.”

The #6 regarding tokenomic changes could probably be clarified, it’s specifically opposing changes to the to flow of tokens in the sense of using inflation rates to manage the economy of the network via manual proposals, the way a central bank is managed through constant manipulation.

The community has no framework to come to even a rough consensus for how that funding should be supplied. The Ethos is about starting that process so that these kinds of things can start gaining momentum.

Personally, I think projects building on the IC need to take a more active role on the NNS, and the Ethos would be a helpful tool for driving that.

If we can’t define even the most basic aspects of what we want to build using the NNS, how can we start writing any code? Again, the Ethos is just a first step.

This is a call to get started building an Ethos, nothing has even been defined yet, so it’s too soon to call this effort a failure.

For example, since you think tokenomic incentives are necessary, then what scope of tokenomic action is appropriate for the NNS to use towards achieving that? The community is clearly against giving the NNS complete “free reign” to do anything with tokenomics whenever it wants, but if you can think of a good guiding principle the community can rally behind which still allows room for your token incentives, then submit it as a proposal when we begin ratifying the Ethos.

In that way, the Ethos could be the solution you need for getting some tokenomic incentive you want to see, without driving apart the ecosystem. Those opposing a treasury would at least have a clear idea of the scope with which things would be done.

Sure, an Ethos alone is not a complete solution, but without one I think coming to peaceful consensus on any solutions will be significantly more difficult than it needs to be.

Yes, exactly. They would be able to do that.

This is about making major shifts in how the NNS is used more obvious and harder to hide.

When selling the idea of an NNS Treasury, they only need to sell voters on all of the “good” the money could do. Since right now everything is subjective, this is a strong argument. What’s the NNS supposed to do anyways? Who knows?

Personally, I suspect that selling voters on a vision of the NNS that has central bank powers would be a lot harder than selling them on the idea of free money. In other words, proposals for an NNS Treasury only seem more attractive in the absence of guiding principles.

Without any guiding principles, how is any argument for or against an NNS Treasury anything other than purely subjective?

I think the only thing anyone can expect is that the NNS will reflect the voting power of the current voting members.


True, but there are still social expectations, they are just not as obvious.

For example, when someone makes a proposal without posting it on this forum for a few days first, it’s usually voted down despite whatever it’s contents are. That rule is mentioned on the forum and Twitter, but often missed by newbies to the ecosystem, yet it guides a majority of the voting power on the NNS.

Would child pornography be taken off the network by the NNS? Probably so.

What’s wrong with adding a bit more clarity to these social expectations which already exist? That’ll only help us unify around them, and make things more obvious when they begin to shift or get ignored. That alone can be useful.

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I’m not sure what exactly the problem is that having an “ethos for the NNS” would solve but it seems to come from the problem that governance and upgrade execution is too centralized for long-term viability, and we have thoughts about whether a solution to that (an NNS treasury) should even be allowed as a proposal.

Given that we want the IC to exist long after we’re gone and that it’ll run into circumstances we can’t imagine today, why do we think ourselves knowledgeable enough to put limitations on what should be proposed before the IC even has a chance to prove itself as a viable world computer?

DFINITY has their development philosophy (and could publish it on their website just as Ethereum has). Identity Labs / NFID has theirs. I have mine. Etc etc. Many philosophies will overlap, some will specialize on certain aspects of development (i.e. technical, economic, legal, identity, funding), and that diversity of expertise is a fantastic property for the evolution of such a powerful internet protocol!

I propose we refocus on the problem because if ICP fails to gain traction in a few years, I’m of the opinion the “lack of NNS direction” wouldn’t have been the cause.


Coin voting (shareholder voting basically) for a protocol that aims to represent 8bn people with their myriad of competing interests and morals is inherently fragile. This very conversation you’re having now will never stop happening. Over and over and over and over. Lord of the Flies on the internet.


Ongoing conversations like this happen between node providers and devs of other chains, and traditional institutions in web2 as well.

Sure, it’s always going to be an ongoing conversation. Does that mean we give up? This is literally the purpose of this forum.

It’s not about whether or not something like the NNS Treasury should be allowed, it’s about having a shared foundation for debating the validity of any proposal.

Is the goal of the NNS to be decentralize? Many of us assume so, but what do we base that assumption on? Is what “decentralized” means to me the same as what “decentralized” to you? How decentralized should the NNS be?

I’m proposing creating a living document that gives a foundation we can all use to determine if a proposal is or isn’t aligned to the current consensus for what the NNS should be.

The “limits” would be basic things most of us already agree on, such as the ability to censor human trafficking marketplaces or to try and make the NNS decentralized.

We won’t get it right at the start, but it won’t be static and doesn’t need to be confining.

What problem? That money is tight? That crypto is in a bear market and the world is entering a global recession?

Is that within the scope of things the NNS can/should try to solve? According to who?

Without any type of ethos, all arguments regarding the NNS are nothing but subjective personal opinions. “Lack of NNS direction” means lack of direction for the protocol it controls. It means we’ve got no shared direction, no basic definition of what we want to build. This could easily be the reason ICP fails.

In fact, the reason ICP could succeed would be based on what’s built on top of it, but a poorly managed NNS could cause it to fail despite whatever useful things are built on it.

Whether or not the IC is a web3 network, or a slightly democratized AWS alternative, basically depends on how we decide to collectively use the NNS.

This goes against decades of capitalism funding entrepreneurs on value-creation.

ICP will fail from a lack of developer and user interest long before we’ve had a chance to align on whether or not our definitions of decentralization are the same.

Also I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a philosophy - I’m just saying neurons are the entities that should have them and will lead to the NNS inheriting one.


IMO, this is a brilliant idea because it puts the onus for consistent behaviour upon all Named Neurons, who are putting themselves forward for stakers to follow.

Stakers have a right to know how Neurons intend to behave and should be able to easily assess if the Neurons they follow deviate from published intentions, and unfollow if appropriate.


This puts Accountability of Governance firmly in the hands of the individual voter/staker. The only real adjustments required are for each Named Neuron’s approach to voting AND voting record to be accessible - probably through the II wallet.


Hey @Ciaran thanks for sharing. Your comment resonates with me this time. You had a big impression on me back during the supermario takedown debate and I didn’t recognize the wisdom in some of the points you made back then. Definitely a lot to think about now.


This is a good way to further define issues with any code for the NNS. Say something that could be child pornography is uploaded. An NNS vote takes it down. That is the way it would work right now. But suppose we had a written constitutional clause that says, “The NNS forbids child pornography”. Now, there will be all kinds of trouble because there is no agreed upon definition of child pornography. Are the photographs of girls taken by Lewis Caroll pornographic? Is Caravaggio’s cupid pornographic? In many nations young children customarily go about naked and there is no taboo to photographing them in that state. This was the case even in the west not so long ago. But now it is an absolute taboo. Even the baby in Nirvana’s Nevermind album cover now has its genitals masked in most media coverage. So, which country’s attitude do we foreground as the ultimate truth? While everything stays on a case by case basis, I am confident that the freedom loving ethos of crypto will restrict censorship to images everyone accepts are depraved. But put down an NNS rule and lobbyists will have a ball pressuring the NNS to ‘act in accordance with standards it has set for itself’.


I have been on the record for supporting the Governance Working Group, so I thought I would step in and share my two cents:

  1. Governance Working Group in a protocol is of course not the monopoly on authority. In a protocol, power only lies where the community believes authority lies. It is up to the GWG to show itself useful to the community to earn this.

  2. The GWG was not designed to snuff all other dialogue, of course

  3. The GWG is extremely open. It even rotates meeting times so it can be friendly to people in many timezones. It has open notes and open mic.

  4. The GWG is still forming and its taking active inputs from people as to how do that. It can only do this with the community’s consent. It even has three co-leads (one from Asian Timezone, one from Europe/Africa Timezone, and one from Americas timezone) on order to be more inclusive.

  5. GWG sessions are recorded and posted publicly. No better way to see whats going on.

I invite folks to check it out :grinning:


Ok, this is a lot of “what if” speculation trying to make issue which doesn’t exist. There’s no way that setting “no child pornography” as a guiding principle would result in to addition of more child pornography to the network, and any semantics would be argued by the community whether an Ethos existed or not.

Defining an understanding/expectation of how/when censorship powers of the NNS would be used, is just a tool to removing uncertainty and driving unity.

If I’m making a dapp, it’s useful to know what situations are likely for me to have my canisters removed by the NNS. Is it if any law is broken in any country? Is it if a competitor claims I owe them money? Or is it only for extreme and horrific situations?

If no clear scope for censorship is defined anywhere but it could happen at any time, then why would I trust the IC for my dapp when I could just build on an immutable blockchain?

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There’s only been like 2-3 meetings for the GWG so far, right? The previous ones didn’t work for my time zone, when is the next?

Need more initiative from DFINITY @diegop More frequent meetings, updates etc. From people other than ICPMN & dfinity. I’m fed up of listening to ICPMN x DFINITY propaganda

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For one thing, because no immutable blockchain exists that can host these kinds of dapps, nor will one ever be created. The fact that it does not exist is not accidental. Because if you had such an immutable blockchain, how would you keep child porn off of it? Anybody could just upload and then it is there for ever and nobody can undo it, right? Mutability is a necessary feature, a trade-off if you wish to see it as such, for the kind of content-rich blockchain the IC is.

Of course it exists, it is ubiquitous across Web2. And it will haunt the IC if it produces ‘guiding principles’ of this kind. Funny thing is that a bunch of people, while speaking against central banks and authoritarianism, are producing proposals that will end up creating situations that can only be contained by a bureaucracy of content inspectors, compliance surveyors and lawyers. And none of those will work for free. Nor can Dfinity fund them. So maybe we will end up asking for a treasury to pay for this new bureaucracy which will be wonderfully ironic.

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One will NEVER be created? That seems a bold limitation to put on an entire emerging industry that’s yet to be fully explored.

I honestly have no idea what you are talking about, you’re expanding my straightforward proposal into something else entirely which isn’t being discussed.

The Ethos I’m proposing is just a document with a few general guiding principles we can reference when discussing proposals, you’re acting like I’m trying to start a government. No employees are needed, you’re the only one suggesting that would be necessary. Do you really think the ETH foundation spends a dime on those two paragraphs on their philosophy page?

Look, either use the Ethos or ignore it, there’s no need to strictly enforce it other than having it serve as a social statement, and there’s no harm in starting the process of making one. It’s just a few proposals.

If you think “adding any scope or definition to the NNS is wrong”, then you’re free to create a proposal to add that as a guiding principle to the Ethos. If the community adopts it, you’ll get what you want.

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Imo the big problem is the misleading use of words such “democracy” ,“ethos”, “decentralized”, “treasury”.
Reinventing democracy is a waste of time.
It is well written and organized centuries ago and what it has to be done is just apply it in a new governance type like NNS.
Decentralization is not anarchy.
Decentralization needs some type of neutral leadership especially in PoS.

To me, treasury must be more like a reserve than another funding system like community fund.

So first of all change the name from treasury to reserve.
Reserve can be used partially as another source to empower community fund (applied only by proposal) or as a burning mechanism.
If Dominic and dfinity wants more nodes, then they can give their grants to make more nodes.
Additionally dfinity and his whale neurons can fund these nodes from their daily huge rewards.

There are many many other sensitive cases that if they are not treated properly, ICP is in danger of lobbying.

What controls NNS? Of course the control of VP%. So resseting every 4 months the followees, we can achieve a more fair distribution of this control.

But I still believe what matters most is not the daily voting. It is what is proposed, what are the rewards for and mainly the implementation of these proposals

I have another idea for the VP control.

  1. Followees are forbidden to follow other followees
  2. Each followee neuron can only control a max of 2% of total VP. (This might change in time)

The unallocated rewards end up to reserve.

Community fund needs more details. How much are being needed to fund projects?

For example in Crowdfund every projects set a minimun target to launch.
We must have these details in community fund.

I have to mention here that imo Crowdfund is much more fair type of ICO than Community Fund of NNS.

The rest icp should be burned.
I had the idea of being converted into cycles for future use, but with that way there is no way ICP gains value since everything will be free for everybody.


Everyone if free to decide on their vision for decentralisation and how to get there. My only question is whether ICP can hold more than on governance system. From the initial discussions I have had this seems possible and this is what we should be working towards. People can then decide what governance suits their vision and this will also help to scale realistic investment and decentralisation. If one governance is the pursuit, ICP will fail as decentralising tech

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