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Criteria for Assessing Proposal Quality in DAOs

Thoughts on DAOs developing a criteria for proposals in referendum systems

Published onFeb 19, 2023
Criteria for Assessing Proposal Quality in DAOs

Thoughts on DAOs creating a formal criteria for assessing the quality of proposals

By creating a formal criteria for assessing the quality of proposals in DAOs, DAOs can incentivize members to write high quality proposals, and provide clarity over what the DAO and/or the DAO members (i.e., community) is interested in (or is focused on).

The proposal pool can then serve as a knowledgebase for members to infer what qualities are sought after in proposals, and how proposals are expected to be treated by the community.

Additionally, by creating this formal criteria, we can develop a ML model based on the proposals that can aid members (current or prospective proposal writers) by:

  1. providing a prospective rating of a proposal before it is put to the community, and

  2. providing suggestions on how to improve the proposal (this may also require a writing assistant).

Regarding labels for proposals, there can be tags for the importance or controversy (and even more tags for context) of the proposal.

This criteria should ideally be deliberated (using a tool like and decided on by the whole community (should use a non-weighted voting scheme (i.e., 1-to-1) base with an appropriate voting mechanism). The criteria can then serve as an open standard and a feedback mechanism for the DAO’s community.

From our conversation on this topic, @shawnlgrubb came up with a potential set of criteria for proposals, described in the tweet thread below.


VitaDAO also has some interesting criteria for their proposals (though, not well detailed).

The proposal’s scope should be manageable within the execution time frame.

Proposals must come with a proposed budget, so every voting DAO member can be informed on both the benefits and the costs. Proposals do not need to use up the entire budget available for its focus area!

Proposals should come with not just ideas but also an execution plan, including who are in the execution team. We’d love to see the proposal initiator also lead execution, but you don’t have to come ready with the whole team! VitaDAO sees many talented new people joining every day, including people who would be excited to co-lead a brand new initiative.

We also welcome institutions and service providers: other DAOs, web3 and non-web3 companies, agencies, startups, research groups etc.

Additionally, I like this example of future-scoping from Saffron Huang in Turing-Complete Governance on the use of algorithms to assist in assessing and recommending proposals. Feels like this also harkens back to DAOstack’s work regarding reputation and DAO-in-a-box projects providing organizational legos.

In earlier years, DAOs were primarily means of decentralizing ownership, but achieving the decentralized decision-making to go alongside it was very difficult. There was too much noise in forums, people had too little time to build context on decisions, and so on. In practice, decisions tended to come from the top down, and DAOs found it hard to scale to accommodate diverse input. Now, innovations in community governance tooling and “organization legos” have made sorting and prioritizing proposals much more streamlined, and thus much less centralized. Modular, composable mechanisms for submitting and reviewing proposals have proliferated, such that the most important ones get the most attention. This large council DAO has, through experimentation, come to rely on a proposal prioritization algorithm, which enables members to have personalized proposal feeds that still allow data control and privacy.


Also, some work from GFX Lab to create a criteria for proposal quality for Uniswap.

In this document, we have provided a theoretical objective function for calculating the cost-benefit for any proposal to Uniswap governance as well as a 7-step framework for deciding whether a proposal is worthwhile.

If a proposal cannot justify its value after completing this cost-benefit analysis through the 7 steps showing a positive expected cost-benefit relationship, it is unlikely to be worthwhile for further consideration. Any given proposal should have at least roughly quantified estimations of cost and benefit based on available data. Only if a proposal provides compelling benefit net of costs should it be considered.

After a proposal is enacted, it should be re-evaluated as frequently as is feasible to verify the assumptions under which it was made were valid. A program that is unable to deliver on the cost-benefit relationship that it was justified under should be promptly shut down or mitigated to avoid undue cost to token holders.

The Uniswap governance process should focus on maximizing the long-term value for UNI token holders by thoroughly assessing the potential impacts of each proposal on users, cash flows, governance value, and costs. By consistently applying this structured approach to decision-making, the Uniswap community can ensure that it continues to deliver value and maintain its position as a leading decentralized exchange.

DAO Diplomat

This is an interesting AI app for evaluating and suggesting proposals.

Looks like the developer is focusing on four areas for proposal quality:

  1. Safety,

  2. Relevance,

  3. Activity, and

  4. Sybil.

Seems each criteria is evaluated on a scale from 1 to 10, with positive evaluations being higher and negative evaluations being lower.

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