DeCentra Steem – a foundation proposal for Steem-villagesteemCreated with Sketch.

Steem is like a village. Like in any other village, people with similar interests meet, some get engaged deeper, others just have a beer and a nice time and a lot just live their lives. As long as everything goes well, this is a rather chaotic process – with a lot of different directions of movement. Which is OK.

But, if at some instance the whole village goes though a hard time, be it an economic upset, a draught or whatever, people start organising themselves. This is the situation, Steem-village is facing right now, looking for the right way to organise things.
Village storm 4MB.jpg
Credits: Shutterstock license 1238938822

One way to go, could be to identify some real strong and clever guys and gals and let them coordinate and do the job. The other way is to make it a community thing, setting up a collective transformation- and engagement process with ever changing actors and participants. Making it a civic movement.

This #foundationproposal follows the second pathway, because we think a decentralised way of shaping the future of Steem is the best way to go. Why so?

It is highly flexible and may adjust to new challenges very fast.

It is based on trust and is purpose-driven, which makes it incredibly more efficient than any organisation which puts a lot of effort in organising checks and balances.

It is decentralised and transparent. Thus, it gives everybody the power to initiate changes.

It leaves responsibility in the community and by this prevents people from leaning back too soon.

In case, something doesn’t work, there are rules, which give everybody the possibility to step up and stop things going the wrong direction, if he or she has good arguments.

As you may already assume, setting this up is no easy task, but luckily already a lot of research has been done on how such an organisation could work. If you are interested in the underlying culture model of organisations, please have a look at this video explaining the model of Laloux. What we propose is a so-called teal-organisation.

What are its main characteristics? Teal-organisations give people purpose, trust, some rules and clearly defined processes of interactions. As a result, decision power is completely decentralised. In comparison: most organisations, we know nowadays, are based on distrust, control and concentrate decision power at the top of hierarchies.
After this introduction, here is a foundation proposal, as discussed by @sorin.cristescu @shredz7 @upheaver and @impactn.

What is the purpose of the foundation?

Purpose of the foundation is strengthening communities with a social surplus by applying innovative economic incentives.

This leaves open, what exactly the activities will be. But it formulates three anchor points every proposed activity has to accord with: communities, social surplus and innovative economic incentives. This purpose captures the specific character of Steem blockchain as well as the importance, communities have for making the ecosystem grow and become more stable.

What are working structures of the foundation?

The “foundation” is an institution with an ever-fluctuating structure:
Every group of at least five Steemians with at least 1000 (or 2000?) SP, willing to fulfill a task in favour of the purpose, may form a working circle to do so. The working circle may become part of the foundation if it follows two sets of rules: those for setting up working circles and those for active working circles.

Working circles may take over any task: generating membership fees, collecting donations, doing business with a major part of the revenues being used for the foundations’ purpose, marketing, develop software… Some may focus on generating plans for action on Steem, then creating a proposal to circles that specialize in funding and realising these plans.

Experience shows, that in well-working teal-organisations, circles will make suggestions within the given financial framework leaving enough room for ideas of other working circles. Trust people, and this will work.

As a result, the foundation will be a network of working circles, interacting with each other. There is no central decision or coordination body. The only central entities are a legal representative and some advisors/mediators helping the structure to get used to this kind of work.

Rules for working circles

This is the beginning of a first set of rules, which will be develop within the next four weeks, according to comments of the community.

When a working-circle (to be) comes up with a new proposal, it has to get it approved by at least two other existing working circles. This is independent of the kind of proposal, be it raising funds, doing paid for work or developing a strategic plan for the foundation. Furthermore, the proposal has to be made transparent, giving everybody the possibility to step up and make suggestions or oppose.

If anybody thinks, a working-circle doesn’t act in favor of the purpose anymore, he may step up and ask the circle to do a correction or in the worst case stop the work completely. In case of arguments a mediation process is initiated, which in the worst case leads to a voting process amongst active working circle members on how to proceed.

How could this work in practice?

This is a completely fictitious scenario, using existing structures and ideas to make things more transparent.

Assume the @dolphincouncil is a working circle. It gives its monthly donation (pooled from members and outside donors) to other working circles. Another working circle in this scenario was created by @traveller7761 [impactn] and has 6 other members which are all focused on using Steem to complete the Global Goals.

@upheaver has a great idea on how to integrate Steem with the Global Goals so he makes a proposal to the Global Goals Circle about how to complete it (he could also create his own circle for this idea if he deemed it appropriate). The Global Goals Circle collaborates with @upheaver and they work out a plan for the idea. The circle then realizes it needs more funding than it has currently, to be able to execute their plan, so they need to receive some from an outside source.

The Global Goals Circle creates a proposal to the Dolphin Council Circle stating their idea and plan and asking for 2000 STEEM to execute the plan. The Dolphin Council Circle, after some deliberation, decide to fund the proposal and grant the Global Goals Circle 1500 STEEM to start to execute the idea. Alternatively, the Dolphin Council may also just donate to the Global Goals Circle without any specific proposal in mind.

How to get started:

Instead of a completely decentralised setting, relying fully on the development of self-organised circles, we’d propose to start with a basic structure of working circles: one for membership and donation issues, one for strategic budget allocation and distribution, one for further development of rules for the foundation (SteemAlliance?), and some wildcards for proposal related circles. This leaves the pathway of 100% decentralisation but should be good for getting things started.
Starting from this, the foundation could develop according to the rules.

Legal status:

To have the maximum freedom of self-organisation the “foundation” would be a registered company.

We'd love to cooperate with other proposals following the pathway of decentralisation and trust and are looking forward collaboration. Just drop by on our discord.


Your proposal sounds a bit like the steem community works already. Someone has an idea and forms a group who post about it and ask for delegations to finance the idea.

Thanks for your reply.
To some extent you're right. And it's the intention not to 'disturb' this too much. What the foundation brings in, is the focus on a specific purpose and processes aligning several working circles around this purpose and a joint strategy. This should lead to more transparency and synergies. And for donors/sponsors it's easier to interact. They don't have to choose a single project,but can support the foundation as a whole.

Interestingly outside the box. Thanks for the clarification. 👍

Just a few questions:

How is accountability and anti-collusion for the working circles handled?

How do you ensure the working circles are communicating with one another?

How do you prevent one working circle from dominating over other working circles?

Seems to me some level of centrality is required. Bookkeeping must be done in a uniform manner for starters. Particularly since many projects will require a whole lot of money. Communication. Some form of leadership to prevent ten identical working circles (similar to hundreds of Steem-related Discords).

Many thanks for your comments. You help us a lot, since we're having exactly this discussion in our working group on how much centrality does such a system need (in the beginning?) to actually work. In the logic of the system, we try to replace centrality in structures by rules of interaction in favour of the defined purpose.

Concerning bookkeeping and communication on working group progress we'll certainly need some basic transparency rules, e.g. a bi-weekly report on money been spent and progress in impact/output achieved. These reports would be published publicly on the blockchain, so that in case something doesn't seem OK, everybody has the possibility to step up and say so. Maybe even a (temporary) working circle emerges, checking these reports.

Concerning your question about identical working circles, a rule could be: "If you set up a new working circle, you have to explain how this serves the purpose of the foundation in term of additional benefit in comparison to existing working circles." This would avoid a definition of the phrase "identical" and help to orient thinking towards the purpose.

For communication amongst working circles I would prefer not to set up a rule but to trust them to do so if necessary. One task of the advisors could be to nudge people into communicating with related working circles.

@guiltyparties Could you explain a little bit more, what your thoughts are about one working circle dominating the other?

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