Retrospective on NNS Motion proposal 28713


As part of liquid democracy, neuron holders can choose to follow the voting choices of other neurons. This can be done manually, but a very common and consumer-friendly way is to use the ‘follow neuron’ functionality in the NNS Frontend dapp. To further decentralization, during the weekend, I (as an individual member of the IC community) created an NNS motion proposal is to add cycle_dao’s neuron: 5967494994762486275.

After 48 hours, the proposal was rejected because it did not gather sufficient votes to cross the minimum threshold (3%) for voting power.

NNS Motion proposal

Why this NNS motion proposal matters

This proposal matters for two reasons:


Healthy for decentralization to add more neurons to follow as leaders emerge in the ICP ecosystem.


This proposal is worth holding up as a community case study as patterns emerge in IC governance. Important we learn from these:

  1. The visibility & importance of promotion - Since I created the NNS motion proposal on a Sunday night PST and only tweeted about it by replying to a thread, I massively underestimated the impact of having to promote the NNS motion proposal. In hindsight this is obvious, in any political system, a lot of time is spent educating people about certain votes and it is the responsibility of the proposer.

a. I have received feedback that NNS proposals can be buried in the UI of NNS Frontend dapp or IC dashboard so unless you follow particular Twitter accounts on a given day, 99% of people would not have any idea about it.

b. At my behest, the DFINITY foundation did tweet promoting that people vote (not what direction people should take), but it was too late of me to ask.

c. I got feedback that the proposal did not even explain who or what cycle_dao is. Just because I think they are a great group of folks, it does not mean others even know. I did not link to it on the NNS motion proposal nor did I even coordinate with them on it: The truth is that I am perhaps a bit too much on the “NNS proposals should be permissionless, I will just ACT” and failed to grasp the human side to it.

  1. It is ok proposals fail - At first I was a bit upset it failed, but I have come around that it is a healthy “scrape your knee” moment for the IC community as a whole and a helpful lesson about promoting proposals, not relying on the DFINITY foundation, etc… it is ironic that this lesson was learned in a proposal that would actually make IC less reliant on the foundation :wink:

  2. The DFINITY foundation nor its followers voted - This is by design. I made the proposal as an individual, but the more important reason is why the foundation did not vote: the intent is to have LESS DFINITY foundation votes on proposals (take the training wheels off the bikes). Indeed, we have had proposals pass without DFINITY’s involvement. The foundation wanted to let the community choose its own leaders.

  3. NNS Motion proposals are permissionless - Important to note that I (or anyone) can submit another one.

  4. Docs for submitting NNS Motion proposals - I got feedback that folks find it too hard to submit NNS Motion proposals. That is very reasonable so I am making time this week to fix docs on this.

Next steps

  1. I will make NNS motion proposal docs better
  2. I intend to still make future proposals to add more neurons (or help people submit their proposals). I will reach out to cycle_dao in particular and have better promotions
  3. I got feedback in the developer forum that some people had issues with the NNS Frontend dapp and they coud not vote. I have passed thm along to the engineering team

For context for those not monitoring Twitter like hawks wondering “when did this all happen?”, here is the series of events in the Twitter-verse:





The proposal came out of nowhere and wasn’t shared anywhere else. Also, Cycle DAO did not spread the word.

The training wheel was removed all of a sudden

Maybe display proposal status on for these kinds of proposals. One more suggestion would be to gain traction/spread the word about proposals before submitting them to NNS, which can be done by sending details about them through prominent Internet Computer media hubs (or Dfinity) newsletter - this too won’t be sustainable in the long term IMO.

I think the majority of the future discussions for proposals may happen on DSCVR once the essential features will be enabled on the platform.

For the time being, we need to find a sustainable web2 service that the average folks can access, and discuss the proposals before submitting them to NNS and voting.

Even if the proposal to add Cycle_DAO succeeds, it still presents a challenge to add other neurons ( if necessary) as the majority of the neurons might just delegate to cycle DAO and may not respond to another proposal like this one. Of course, if only one DAO neuron is added at a time, that neuron would have the power to reject future proposals to add other neurons using the votes delegated to that particular neuron. (this would be one of the worst-case scenarios)


Thanks for this thread @diegop. I agree with your conclusions. It is definitely a learning experience for all of us in many ways. There is no doubt that the IC community needs to get out there and promote the need to vote. This is not solely the responsibility of DF. We need community organization. I suspect tools will be built to provide notifications when certain types of proposals have been made such as motion proposals.

The definition of “long” vote was changed from 48hrs to 24hrs in proposal 28738 after you made your proposal about cycle_dao. So on future proposals we only have 24hrs to get the word out. I think this is actually a good thing because it will encourage submitters to seek support before the proposal is made. If more than 3% of total VP are cast in favor of the proposal with the new Simple Majority voting mechanism, then the “wait for quiet” algorithm will kick in after the 24 hrs deadline to enable extension of the voting deadline. In the documentation, it would be good to further explain these concepts since they are new and in some ways different than what we have experience with other voting mechanisms in the past.

BTW, the documentation on the ICA website for how to submit a proposal is no longer present. All the links that point to it over the past several months now just point to the main home page for ICA. I would like to know how to submit a proposal, so I’m looking forward to that as well.

It may not be a bad thing that this proposal did not pass at this time. I’m not sure how well organized cycle_dao is right now. I just received a newsletter indicating that they are going to discontinue their newsletter. Also the @cycle_dao twitter account hasn’t posted a tweet since mid Sept. I’m looking forward to hearing their input as an organization and whether they are ready to have such a prominent role as an option for follower selection in the NNS app. So far I haven’t heard any announcements from them to the IC community. They may just need a little time to get organized more formally if they want to take on that responsibility. I don’t see any problems with the fact that the proposal didn’t pass this time and I see no issue with a new proposal being issued when they are ready.

I also noticed that ICDevs has indicated they are ready and willing to accept this role. I think it is very reasonable for @skilesare to submit this type of proposal any time.

It would be very helpful if DF would be willing to announce when they have no intention to vote. That might change the willingness of some people to vote or not vote manually. I personally would like to see incentives offered for people to manually vote on motion proposals. I’m looking forward to seeing the maturity increases for this rejected vote to see if there is any obvious difference between maturity increases between those of us who voted and those who did not vote. If there is a substantial difference, then that would be motivation to be an active participant in the governance process instead of relying on liquid democracy all the time. Liquid democracy is awesome for most proposals, but I personally would like to see active participation on motion proposals and governance proposals.


Fwiw: here is the WIP in progress on submitting an NNS motion proposal: How to Submit an NNS motion Proposal (WIP)


Yes, totally. To be honest, this is on me. Someone suggested to me on Twitter that I make proposal and I did it. Way too cavalier if not naive of me.

1 Like

To be honest, initiating a proposal is too difficult for ordinary people. My account has been stolen and my only hope now is to launch a motion to regain control of it.

You are right, we have been a bit under focused on cycle_dao. Part of the reason is it is a part-time project for everyone.

That is going to change this week. I’m in Zurich now and intend to make cycle_dao my full-time focus


I was out of town and didn’t have some of my NNS numbers so I was only able to vote with the identities that I had memorized. 24 hours is super short for something like this. If I look at something like this from an perspective I could see something like this taking possibly weeks to get the word out, talk to the right influencers, etc. It would be nice to be able to make these proposals, but a long forward end date on them and then start rallying support. If the NNS interface gave a better indication of “here’s how you would vote by following” it would be nice as well. This isn’t super relevant now because everyone follows DFN, but as we get more, it would be great to visually see how those you followed have voted so you can see if you want to disagree.

Having a permanent place that I could point to and have people go take immediate action is important…maybe there should be a ‘Pending’ mode for NNS proposals where people can go indicate their support and vote intention but the issue isn’t ‘live’ and cluttering up the live vote interface. Then the proposal owner could flip the pending bit when they feel they’ve gained enough support(or even have enough votes). This would also allow you the ability to cancel the proposal if you CAN’T find the support without having to lose an ICP. Maybe you limit it to 1 pending proposal per Neuron so people can’t bomb the proposal storage without staking significant ICP for a significant time.

Just some random thoughts here. ICDevs would love to get on the list eventually and we’ll do what is necessary to get the votes outs. Feel free to follow 14231996777861930328 now if you’d like to make sure you vote for adding us to the list once we do submit the proposal. Our general strategy at the moment is to follow Dfinity and the ICA unless it is a significant vote and then we let our Developer Advisory Committee decide our vote.


Dumb question: did people who voted on this proposal still get neuron rewards (even though the proposal didn’t pass)?

I think we’re still missing a website that combines governance with discussion.

Governance is done on the NNS website, but discussion is done on a motley of places, including this forum, Twitter, Telegram, Discord, etc…

Although honestly, it seems like other projects do this too. Uniswap uses a Discourse forum for discussion and Snapshot for voting.


I’m not sure that leaving the polls open for an extended period is the right answer. It makes sense to me for it to only be open 24 hrs. I think anyone who wants to make a proposal and get it passed needs to scope it in advance, advertise their intentions, allow time for debate, and then submit the proposal so the vote can commence. To me this is just an issue of organization. I think it is the responsibility of the person making the proposal to take these steps if they want their proposal to pass.

Granted it will be nice when the community settles on a common location for announcing a pending proposal and debate, but I don’t see why it can’t be right here on the forum. Maybe it would be helpful if dfinity were to create a new category called NNS Proposals and it becomes moderated so only one post per proposal and only proposal focused discussion takes place.

I also think there should be significant incentives in the NNS governance reward allocation to encourage people to manually vote on motion proposals (and any other category that requires decentralized governance). I mean serious incentives that would drive people to not miss a vote on a motion proposal. I think we need an environment where people want to show up on the day of the vote for a motion proposal because they know about it in advance and they are offered proper incentives to actively participate.

Anyway, right now I think I would have concerns about leaving the poll open for a long time.

1 Like

Yes we still got rewards, but they are lost in the noise because there are so many proposals made each day where everyone votes due to liquid democracy. IMHO there really needs to be something in the governance system that differentiates motion proposal rewards from everyday liquid democracy rewards.

I think the forum is a good place to pitch and debate proposals.

1 Like

Just want to say thanks to whoever at Dfinity started the NNS proposal announcement channel on telegram. I’ve found it to be helpful and I’m voting manually more often now.

Edit: for those interested in following → Telegram: Contact @NNSProposalsBot