What process does the DFINITY foundation use to vote on NNS proposals?

Was reading the Motion Proposal for Indexing of Neurons discussion, when I came across a comment from Jan (CTO of DFINITY I’m assuming) saying that the DFINITY foundation has decided to vote in favor of the proposal (source). I 100% appreciate this transparency and communication, but it sparked the following question.

What’s the high level process by which the DFINITY foundation comes to making such voting decisions with respect to governance proposals. Is there a board with a group of members that are investors/work at DFINITY, and if so, how large is this governing body? How do they decide to vote for or against a proposal, or to abstain from voting?

Totally understand if the foundation wants to keep this process behind closed doors, but figured was at least worth asking :blush:

Quote and link to source


Hmm…I though DFINITY was going to abstain from voting on governance proposals?

I would like to have a better understanding of the process as well. I think this would be helpful for anyone who chooses to follow Dfinity’s neuron going forward.

I drafted a blog/forum post on DFINITY starting to vote on motion proposals, but it seems there was a miscommunication (and I take my share of responsibility here) about the timing between starting to vote (and the publishing of the post). This was also intended to be timed with the new dashboard feature that shows the voting history of a proposal and named neurons.

We plan to post an update soon (just going through a few changes/updates).

(I should be transparent that Foundation also did vote on some of the Wenzel’s educational motion proposals because they were considered “harmless” to vote on… and foundation did not want to leave the NNS rewards on the table since governance proposals count for so much)


Okay, yes I think this was a bit of a blunder/miscommunication. DFINITY had a commitment as I saw it not to vote, and then to just start voting without any explanation I feel is not appropriate.

But maybe DFINITY never really committed to not voting? I can’t find the exact posts where the decision to not vote was made. If there was a commitment I would have liked to see a public stance change instead of just starting to vote.

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That is totally fair. I do not think “not voting on proposals” was a commitment so much as us voicing our current strategy (as other entities do). The strategy was to abstain.

To your point, I will go back to earlier communication to confirm it was not communicated as a “commitment” (even hinting at it would be a misstep on our part). I do not want to summarize a messier version of the upcoming post but it may help if i tell you that it aims to answer two questions:

  • Why Foundation has abstained in the past
  • Why Foundation will start to vote more often now

“Totally understand if the foundation wants to keep this process behind closed doors, but figured was at least worth asking :blush:

Why should we understand if the foundation wants to keep this process behind closed doors? Corporations are forced by regulations to have a certain level of transparency. Nothing similar applies to crypto yet. I hope nations introduce regulation to make various ‘non-profit’ crypto-related Foundations provide more information on their governance processes, because it doesn’t seem like said foundations are going to do it without being pushed. Regulation forcing transparency will prevent the emergence of mini-Putins, little dictators in their own domain impervious to criticism from the community at large.

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I have indicated many times in the recent month that Dfinity typically abstains from voting on governance proposals, but I have intentionally tried to present that information as an observation made by me and not a commitment made by Dfinity. I think I actually stated it was a commitment on one occasion in the ICP Maximalist Network telegram group and it was quickly pointed out by someone at Dfinity that it hasn’t been a commitment. Hence, I have tried to be careful about how this information is presented. I say this because I agree that Dfinity has not made a commitment to abstaining from governance proposals. I have been listening for this type of information.

It could be helpful to know if a new Dfinity strategy will be to always vote or if there will be times when Dfinity will abstain. The reason this could be important is because it affects decentralization. It makes sense that most neurons would follow Dfinity, especially if there is a strategy of voting on all proposals. If the strategy is to sometimes abstain when Dfinity really wants to hear a community voice on a particular topic, then that will inspire neuron owners to seek Followees, such as ICP Maximalist Network, who make a concerted effort to always vote on every governance proposal. Hence, if the strategy is to always vote, then I would expect Dfinity voting power through liquid democracy to go up. If Dfinity abstains from a reasonable number of governance proposals, then there is a higher probability that voting power of other publicly known neurons will go up.

Personally, I don’t want Dfinity to always abstain from governance proposals. I also hope they don’t vote on everything. I’d like there to be more publicly known neurons and I think more are on the way in the coming months, but there needs to be a reason for people to follow publicly known neurons other than Dfinity. That will only happen if Dfinity has a track record of not voting on all governance proposals.


I believe that all voting should be secret. Meaning that we should NOT know on which type of governance topic will dfinity abstain. This is because of the perverse nature of reward structure in governance topics.

Imagine for a moment that dfinity makes a statement saying that “we will abstain from all governance proposals which proposes a specific neuron to be added as a default follower to choose from”. Something to that effect has already been stated by @diegop somewhere else in this forum.

So then all governance proposals should gravitate towards keeping on adding a neuron (such icdev) as a default follower ; regardless of whether the proposal fails or succeed; because the point would be to distributed the rewards from abstaining party (dfinity) to the voting paries.

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Echoing what Diego said, Jan also replied in the Indexing of Neurons proposal along the same lines of a coming blog post. Linking that here for posterity.

@diegop I wanted to follow up regarding this blog post that was mentioned by Jan and the several members two months ago (March) with respect to the details behind the voting process of the DFINITY neuron.

I saw the DFINITY Foundation’s approach to voting on Governance proposals post that was posted April 1st which addresses the why behind the votes cast by DFINITY, but it still doesn’t give any visibility into the process behind how those votes end up being cast.

I therefore put together this list of questions that would satisfy my curiosity and potential concerns:

  1. Is there a single DFINITY neuron and then group of DFINITY board members that each have neurons controlling that neuron, similar to the structure that the ICP Maximalist neuron?

  2. How many people at DFINITY are involved in the voting decision making behind the what the DFINITY neuron does?

  3. What types of proposals have been/will be proposed by the DFINITY neuron?

  4. Does the DFINITY neuron have a script for automating its votes on certain proposals (i.e. exchange rate), or is all voting manual? If some votes are automated, which votes are manual and which votes are automated? What does the automation code/script look like?

  5. Is there a deliberation room in which those in charge of governance vote, and then give you a PR statement of the reasoning behind that vote (on the forums)?

  6. Is the default follow DFINITY neuron controlled by a single person?

  7. How many people at DFINITY are responsible for control of the DFINITY neuron - will their identities be made public or remain private?


There is a single DFINITY neuron that the community knows. That neuron follows a group of 9 neurons (each controlled by different people within DFINITY). So, practically speaking, DFINITY votes along the majority of the 9 DFINITY members (I am not one of the 9)

Depends on the topic. All decisions representing DFINITY are ratified at the C-level (eg Jan, Dom), but many proposals have recommendations from managers or individual contributors who may be more familiar with the subject. As you can imagine, I have written my fair share of recommendations. But I am not the only one.

Much easier to look at the history of the history of DFINITY-controlled neurons by looking at:

I do not know.

Yes, but not a physical one. Sometimes we discuss over slack or Zoom.

I do not believe so. It believe it is jointly owned by R&D and Finance departments at DFINITY.

I believe is owned jointly by the R&D and the Finance departments of DFINITY. I am not certain of which individuals within each department.


Are there neurons controlled by DFINITY that the community does not know?

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Not that I am aware of.

Now, I want to give the full picture, so I will add (even you did not ask), the inverse is not true: there exist neurons community probably believes are controlled by Dfinity foundation but they are no longer neurons (because they have been merged into bigger neurons). Since the post listing all the Dfinity neurons was published in this forum, some neurons have been merged. I don’t have the exact list of these merged, but I was planning on doing an update on Dfinity neurons (and “diffing” to include difference between original list and current). That being said, the voting power is the same if two neurons are merged, so it does not really affect the main story (it’s one reason why it’s not a priority 1 for me relative to my other work).

Does that make sense @lastmjs ?


I believe so. I just hope there aren’t any hidden neurons (that aren’t broadly known by the community) that are effectively controlled by DFINITY.

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I am not aware of any other Dfinity neurons others than the ones I listed originally (getting the original list took me significant work with RD, Finance, legal, etc…).

Being intellectually honest, Could there have been new neurons created and I was not updated? Possibly. it’s possible neurons were created but they did not change voting power so I was not updated. I’ll double check to make sure this is not the case. It’s a reasonable and fair question.


I assume that many DFINITY employees have personal neurons that they use to vote. Can you comment on any agreements that would control the ways employees vote? Are employees truly independent when it comes to voting?

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I truly believe all employees are independent. There are no expectations or agreements employees should vote with foundation.

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