Polygon 2.0: Governance

Polygon Labs
July 19, 2023
Polygon News
Image source: Dribbble

As Polygon 2.0 reimagines every aspect of the Polygon ecosystem, the model for governing that ecosystem must also evolve.

Every aspect of Polygon 2.0 is an open discussion. The community has full control over the Polygon network and will have the final say on all the proposals that have been shared so far. Furthermore, once Polygon 2.0 vision becomes reality, it will continue requiring community involvement and governance for years to come. 

To make this possible, we are proposing a forward-looking framework for decentralized ownership and decision-making over all Polygon protocols and the ecosystem. The framework defines three governance pillars, i.e. three main aspects of the Polygon ecosystem that require governance, and explores appropriate governance models for each.

The proposal is inspired by battle-tested blockchain governance models, with Ethereum’s foremost among them. The open, inclusive governance ethos of Ethereum has proven incredibly valuable in the maintenance, development, and adoption of the protocol. The Polygon technology already expands Ethereum’s blockspace; the proposed governance framework seeks to extend Ethereum’s ethos and the proven model for building a flourishing community. 

Below outlines how the proposal was arrived at, where the Polygon governance framework is now, and where it may go in the future.

Community Deliberation

To explore and prepare the ground for Polygon 2.0 governance, a series of forum posts has been published, complemented with ongoing community calls and other public discussion. During this process, we have received feedback on all components of the proposed governance vision from validators, users, infrastructure providers, dApp developers, and other ecosystem participants. The feedback so far has been very positive, with many expressing support and interest in collaborating on bringing Polygon 2.0 governance to life.

The ethos of this industry counsels towards building in public and in collaboration with the community. The governance vision proposed here follows this ethos and incorporates all feedback and ideas provided by the community during the aforementioned process.

To accompany the vision set out in this document, we also present an interactive vision board – a clear and up-to-date repository for the Polygon 2.0 governance vision:

Using this vision board, anyone can get familiar with the governance framework as well as the ongoing research and considerations, and involve themselves in the conversation and governance processes.

The Three Governance Pillars

In a state’s constitution, all governable objects are assigned various appropriate decision-making mechanisms. To illustrate, the decision to pave a crossroad may come from the local government, while the decision to allocate funds to nationwide infrastructure is made by the federal government. 

Similarly, when considering governance of blockchain networks and ecosystems, one needs to focus on the various objects of decision-making to contemplate appropriate decision makers. The Three Governance Pillars have been devised for this reason, serving as a topology of all governable objects in the Polygon ecosystem and allowing for a definition of appropriate decision makers and decision-making mechanisms. 

The separation of powers and competencies will allow for scalable and efficient governance mechanisms that minimize and compartmentalize the overall governance process.

Protocol Governance

The PIP (Polygon Improvement Proposal) framework provides an open coordination platform for development of Polygon protocols, and is modeled after the robust, effective frameworks used by IETF, Python, Bitcoin, and Ethereum. The PIP framework is currently live and fully operational on the Polygon PoS chain, being used by both internal and external actors to propose upgrades. You can read more about PIPs and protocol governance here.

In Polygon 2.0, the PIP framework is intended to expand to eventually cover the entirety of the Polygon permissionless stack, giving the community a formal way to research and propose upgrades which may eventually become part of protocols.

To increase participation in protocol research and development, it is important to further support community growth, education and accessibility. For this purpose, a PIP platform – a user-friendly PIP knowledge base and empowerment tool – is being explored, along with the governance forum being soon updated with various user experience improvements.

System Smart Contracts Governance

This pillar will facilitate upgrades of protocol components that are implemented as smart contracts. While these upgrades can (and likely should) be facilitated by the PIP framework, they require additional governance of the upgrade process, due to the nature of Ethereum smart contracts. 

To ensure the ongoing upgradeability of the aforementioned protocol components, we’re proposing the introduction of the Ecosystem Council, a community-governed body responsible for upgrading system smart contracts.

A tailor-made governance framework would accompany the Ecosystem Council, enabling secure, scalable, and explicit decision-making for this pillar. On a high-level, a model safeguarded by community veto and elections, built on advanced token holder governance, may offer the best balance of security and efficiency. 

A migration to the initial Ecosystem Council will be proposed as a PIP soon, one with significant consensus requirements and a reputable set of members to represent the ecosystem in this initial phase. Following that, a gradual evolution will take place to arrive at the fully-enabled, community-controlled governance model which ensures efficiency and security. 

To allow for increased visibility into the activity of the Council, an Ecosystem Council Transparency dashboard will be unveiled soon, an open-source tool for community monitoring of upgrade transactions and their lifecycle, including understandable descriptions of proposed upgrades.

Lastly, ecosystem participants and subject matter experts are encouraged to collaborate on the governance framework and participate in the governance process. You will soon be able to see the result of one such collaboration, in the form of an independent report by L2Beat covering the L2 industry’s system smart contracts governance.

Community Treasury Governance

The Polygon ecosystem and the wider Web3 industry are still in the early phase of development and adoption. To remain on the current growth trajectory, the Polygon ecosystem will need ongoing support in years to come.

It is for this reason that the establishment of the Community Treasury – a self-sustainable ecosystem fund – has recently been proposed in the tokenomics whitepaper. In essence, this funding should be used for both public goods and support programs for promising ecosystem projects and initiatives. 

The proposed initial roadmap for the governance of the Community Treasury is as follows:

Phase 1: The establishment of an independent Community Treasury Board to facilitate further growth of Polygon by providing ecosystem support and public goods funding. 

This initial phase will be characterized by efficient, strategic, and goal-oriented execution of funding in various tracks. The initial board, responsible for operationalizing this vision, will be selected alongside and from among Polygon community members. You can participate in nominating board members here.

This phase will also hopefully be characterized by the emergence of a dedicated community, fostered by the board’s transparency and facilitation of dialogue. Ideally, there will be a symbiotic relationship with clear lines of communication for all participants to leverage, e.g., board transparency reports and community funding proposals.

Phase 2: The evolution to increased community-driven governance of the Community Treasury Board and the Treasury. 

The second phase would introduce explicit community decision-making over the Treasury Board and the Treasury, facilitated by novel governance mechanisms. You can read more about potential approaches here.

To establish an efficient and resilient governance model, various models and primitives can be considered, including but not limited to:

  • Quadratic token voting;
  • Self-sovereign identities to guarantee sybil resistance;
  • Reputation-based decision-making, etc.

A Future By And For The Community

With the road to Polygon 2.0 laid out on all relevant levels now, Polygon as a project  finds itself at a critical juncture.

A decentralized community for a decentralized protocol will be instrumental in all efforts going forward. Please participate in the conversation by tuning in to the upcoming community calls, the forum, and the interactive governance vision board

Together, we can build the Value Layer of the Internet!

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