Interview with Polkadot Councilors(1)

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Polkadot Council is one of the important roles of governance in the Polkadot network. Its main duty is to vote on the motion in the network, Treasury proposals, and tips. Although the council members are voted on by the community’s DOT holders, actually the community doesn’t have much learning about councilors and how councilors act in the network.

As a (former)Polkadot/Kusama councilor, PolkaWorld interviewed all Council members/former council members, sharing their daily work on the council and their views on the Treasury proposals.

Due to the article’s length, we share 5 councilors’ view in this article, and the rest will be released in the next article.

The councilors for this interview are:

Bruno:Technology Educator, Web3 Foundation

Acala Foundation:A foundation of Acala

Raul.rtti:Administrator of the Polkadot/Kusama Treasury, Parity team

WEI:Parity engineer

PolkaWorld:The First Chinese community of Polkadot

Raul.rtti:When the proposal has the following structure:

problem > Solution > Milestones to reach solutions

Is in general in the right direction, as the team was able to identify a pain point in the network that needs to be solved. In general, this type of proposal brings added value to the network. And it also means the team has understood the fundamentals of the network.

Bruno:For tips, I’ll check out the beneficiary’s previous work in the ecosystem and will generally be very diligent in checking. This is why my tip submissions have historically been very conservative. For proposals, I do my best to look them over in detail and weigh the pros and cons in terms of network benefits. I don’t look so much at the technical details of a proposal as all of this technology is still very much in flux, but I do look at the potential of a proposal to benefit the network by either delivering an awesome tool or — even better — attracting and inspiring other developers who haven’t been previously exposed to Kusama and Polkadot.

PolkaWorld:

  1. First look at the importance of the proposal to the Polkadot ecology, such as some infrastructure solutions, friendly tools for developers, and whether they are helpful to ecological development;
  2. Motivation, the purpose of the proposal;
  3. The completeness of the proposal (background, purpose, milestone, required amount, etc.)
  4. Are there any quantifiable results in milestones?
  5. Is the application amount reasonable?

As Tip, most of it is articles and videos at present, so we mainly look at the rigor of the content, whether the exposition is correct (because we see some wrong information in the videos), and the difficulty and cost of production, etc.

WEI:I follow a several-step checklist when evaluating treasury proposals
and tips:

  1. First, I check whether the proposal generally benefits the Polkadot ecosystem. For most of the proposals, this is pretty straight-forward. However, for a small number of proposals that also involve other blockchains, we do need to do some additional checks to see if the majority of benefits can happen on Polkadot.
  2. Second, a check is done on the technical details of the proposal. The goal for this step is to understand whether the proposal is feasible to be implemented and whether any problem may be encountered.
  3. Third, I check on the compatibility of whether the proposer can finish the proposal. If much work has already been done or if a good amount of detailed steps are provided, then I check based on that. Otherwise, I check with the proposing team to confirm.
  4. Finally, I check on the cost. This is to make sure the money is worth the value.

Acala Foundation:The first is that the proposal or tip should have a short-term or long-term benefit for Polkadot or Polkadot ecosystem. To some extent, we judge the Treasury proposal and tip through its influence degree and the purpose of funding.

When reviewing the Treasury proposal, we see the motivation of the overall proposal. Cause the mentality is very important. Even if the things being planned are quite reasonable, but the mentality and motivation are not good, it will still not be a long-term high-quality case. That means those with impure motives will be voted decisively against. Then analyze the rationality of the Treasury proposal, the clarity of the whole plan, and the implementation ability of the team. Finally, the rationality between the workload in the program, participants, and the requested amount.

Raul.rtti:I am super interested in those proposals that experiment with the connection between on-chain and off-chain, like community proposals. I am also interested in proposals that can be defined as “public infrastructure” where a team develops something everyone can use and we agree on a fee for some period of time for maintenance and development — these projects, usually unable to define a business model, are essential for the network.

Bruno:I’m more interested in proposals that help us attract more developers. I am particularly interested in what I call “level 1” upgrades. Level 0 are parachains, low-level stack. I think we have enough tools and content for that. Level 2 are mainstream users. Level 1 is the missing link — the dapp devs, the web2 devs, the eth devs — the people we want in our ecosystem because they build on top of level 1 but FOR level 2, so they will help us get to the mainstream.

WEI:As a developer, I’m mostly interested in proposals developing open source projects for the Polkadot/Substrate ecosystem.

Acala Foundation:Proposals can expand and improve the infrastructure of the Polkadot and Kusama network and ecosystem. Such as block browser, easier asset management, data analysis, development tools, and so on. Of course, in addition to the improvement of predictable infrastructure, there is also the practice of innovation. Any reliable, novel, and useful, great team workability, a relatively clear plan, are all welcome!

PolkaWorld:Proposals for the growth of the Polkadot community.

Raul.rtti:community, marketing, public infrastructure.

Bruno:Anything to do with smart contracts and/or dapps and web apps using blockchain is my domain. As a former web dev and former eth dev, I feel at home in this domain. I am also okay with judging proposals to do with events since I organized a few conferences in my day.

WEI:Proposals involving new runtime developments, bridges, and consensus engines. I can also provide suggestions or advice on those involving EVM and Ethereum-compatibility layer for Substrate.

PolkaWorld:Proposals for events, marketing, community growth, and knowledge education.

Acala Foundation:Regular network parameter adjustment, and infrastructure, such as portable asset management applications.

Raul.rtti:Polkascan proposals have always been super impressive content-wise for how complete they are. Encointer’s proposal is one of my favorite ideas-wise.

Bruno:I can’t pick a single one, but I can pick our a pack of proposals: everything Patract Labs threw out is great because it seeks to improve the whole experience: level 0, 1, and 2.

WEI:I don’t have any single most. All passed proposals so far have generally done well in terms of their technical details and the proposer’s ability to finish the work.

Acala Foundation:Patract Labs, a team that has worked with considerable scale and efficiency to improve the development infrastructure that fills the smart contract layer. The team is large and efficient.

PolkaWorld:Proposals of smart contract solutions for Polkadot from Patract Labs are very well structured, the milestone is very specific and quantifiable, and there will be reporting summaries as the project is implemented! Another is the Substrate Developer Academy proposed by Acala, enabling more developers to use the Substrate technical framework through Substrate courses is a long-term promotion! We are happy to see something that can contribute to the long-term benefits for the whole ecosystem!

Raul.rtti:I invest a lot of time on this: one of my roles is to funnel the treasury and governance structure, help teams organize their proposals, and think of new things to add to these structures to improve it.

Bruno:When I’m on the council, I spend as much free time as necessary to make good, unbiased decisions, and to give good justifications for my decisions. This can be an hour in a very quiet week or a full 8–10 hours on very busy weeks.

WEI:It depends on how many proposals and motions are there. We had some weeks with little proposals to review, and for those weeks I can spend less than 30 minutes on council things. For busy weeks I spend more time.

Acala Foundation:About an hour a week is devoted to reviewing the details of proposals, also depending on the number of proposals per week.

PolkaWorld:We spend about 30 minutes every day to read the information on the Element channel and review the urgent proposals. If there are no urgent proposals, feedback or a vote is usually given within three days.

Raul.rtti:treasury and governance funnel structure, making it easier for councilors to evaluate and vote. new spending mechanisms for the treasury.

Bruno:I think my transparency reports are useful and more councilors should adopt such an approach. I would like to know what the people I vote for are voting for. I also think I correctly identified some tips and participated in some discussions with meaningful questions. In short, I don’t think I contributed anything special, but the work of the council is a collective thing — no one member is special, but the sum of all parts is greater than any one of us.

Acala Foundation:The Acala Foundation was the first one to practice the multi-signatory, opening up a way to expand the number of councilors and sources of opinion. This contribution has historic significance.

Through the multi-sign, a councilor slot can be shared with more than one potential member. It will also pave the way for the development of new governance structures, such as the “House of Representatives” model and one that makes the entire parachain network one of the members of the relaychain.

PolkaWorld:PolkaWorld is a Polkadot Chinese community, we commit Chinese content for the community, as a councilor, we write a Treasury report, Treasury tutorial, Treasury interview, to help the community understand what’s Polkadot Treasury, how the council review the proposals, how to apply for the Treasury, encouraging people to use the Treasury and make a thriving community.

Raul.rtti:I would like to see a more diverse council and with more seats: I think this would bring different voices to the collective that need to be heard. Participation is also a big issue in my opinion: we're at the moment thinking about some incentives in the council to increase participation.

Bruno:It does work but isn’t long-term safe in my opinion. There are a lot of council members who just don’t do anything and can basically be replaced by random number generators. Without being able to downvote them and remove them from the council, whales can vote themselves in and keep the council hostage in a status quo. I also think the council has too much power, especially while the technical committee set is still a subset of the council, which leads to the real chance of rogue runtime upgrades being pushed in. I’m not sure how it can be improved, but the current way is dangerous in my opinion.

WEI:Generally, it works well. An important area I think we should improve is council participation — how to encourage people to sit in and to vote for council members, and how to build an atmosphere for existing council members to be more active. There are improvements like the lottery system and absentee penalty being developed that will hopefully, address some of the concerns.

PolkaWorld:There is no perfect system, only a better system. Currently, it is operating relatively well. But we think that the system of the Council, in the future, will always be optimized for how to elect council members who truly represent stakeholders.

Acala Foundation:At present, proxy governance can be carried out in many ways, which is more inclined to “meritocracy”. But we pay more attention to the use of multi-signature or other methods to make the multi-party relationship as a combined councilor. Therefore, we hope the future of the council will be a state of the full-party governance structure. Some members are individuals, some are team multi-signature members, and some are “House of Representatives” model combined members. Some are the parachain and vote referendums or council on the parachains, and control the relay chain accounts through the XCMP to vote.

Raul.rtti:Yes, Kusama is an experimental network, so the possibilities there are flexible. That said, for me when it comes to proposal structure and explanation, both are the same — a more flexible network does not mean an uninformed or incomplete proposal and idea.

As for whether define them as fun vs. serious: I would say Kusama allows more experimentation, so in that sense, the proposal can be more flexible regarding the topics they touch.

Bruno:When I’m in the council of either network, I judge proposals on them in isolation — one network does not affect the other, except in circumstances when a user has applied for the same thing in both networks.

Acala Foundation:The first difference between the two network’s judgment standards is the network interest relationship of the proposal. They should support the proposal of their own network interests. Second, Kusama allows some proposals that are more radical and experimental. The proposals on the Polkadot network are more oriented towards visible efficiency, implementation, and results.

PolkaWorld:We will not adopt different standards just because there are two networks. The main principles are all mentioned in the first question, but I hope there will be more chaos and fun proposals in the Kusama network!

About PolkaWorld

PolkaWorld is Polkadot’s Chinese community. We have gathered more than 30,000 Polkadot fans. It is the world’s largest Polka Chinese community and the only community that has received the Web3 Foundation Grant.PolkaWorld is committed to popularizing Polkadot technical knowledge, training Substrate developers, and supporting Polkadot ecological entrepreneurs, thereby promoting the development of China’s Web3.0 ecology.

Learn more about:

PolkaWorld Interview Program(https://polkaworld.medium.com/polkaworld-interview-program-94d3be53ea94), aiming to help Polkadot community projects to be better heard in China.

Substrate Entrepreneur Camp(https://polkaworld.group/en/substratecamp/), which is to help the birth and growth of Polkadot’s eco-innovative products.

Written by

Polkadot Community in China.

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