DeCentra Steem - revised proposal of a now 99%(!) decentralised design of the "foundation" steemCreated with Sketch.

Overview/ Executive Summary

Communities make Steem attractive and unique in the blockchain world. Thus, the purpose of the foundation, designed in this proposal, is to focus on and strengthen communities on Steem blockchain.
Graph DeCentra Steem.png
Strengthening communities begins with the structure design itself. Decentralise it and you’ll strengthen the community as long as the setting is not dysfunctional. How to keep it functional? Organisations research shows: a network of working circles, driven by a strong purpose and supported by good rules is much more efficient and effective than any centralised structure.

Thus, this proposal shows how such a structure may be set up for Steem-foundation. Working circles may cover any task: strategic and operational issues, software development or marketing, distribution or allocation of funds. A set of rules supports these working circles in interacting in favor of the common purpose: strengthening communities. Further rules ensure accountability and transparency.

Purpose - What is the primary purpose of your structure?

Purpose of the foundation is to strengthen communities. A focus should be on combining economic incentives with “normal” community management.

This purpose captures the specific character of Steem blockchain as well as the importance, communities have for Steem ecosystem.

Primary Benefit(s) (of this structure) - What are the benefits of your structure design? What problems does it solve? How does it benefit the community?

A decentralised way of shaping the future of Steem strengthens the community. The proposed structure design relies on research results on how to set up decentralised structures in a efficient and effective way. Applying these results within DeCentra Steem leads to the following benefits:

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

It is mainly based on trust and it is purpose-driven, both of which makes people engage much more than working within structures putting a lot of effort in centralised management and controlling.

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

It leaves responsibility in the community and thus, prevents people from leaning back too soon.

In case something doesn’t work, there are rules, which give every member of Steem-community the possibility to step up and stop things going the wrong direction, providing he or she has good arguments derived from purpose and mission.

Mission - What are the goals in this proposed foundation and how will they be achieved?
Purpose of the foundation is to stengthen communities on Steem. Strong communities may be characterised by

engaged community members

noticeable outcomes for members

good visibility of community action

a large number of community members

resilient community structures

a culture of innovation and curiosity.

These may be achieved by a diverse set of actions developed and performed by communities’ working circles. Actions may be:

campaigns like the 10k minnow project from @steemvc

contests, like those of @surfermarly, focussing on marketing (strategies)

development of software tools, like Stratos from @shredz7, strengthening communities on Steem

pilot projects on incentive mechanisms and token economics within communities

onboarding projects like @steemonboarding

social media campaigns on Twitter or within specific communities outside of Steem village

generating membership fees or collecting donations

doing business with a part of the profits being returned to the foundations

No finite list of actions can be given here, because the creativity of Steem community is assumed to be infinite.

Organizational Structure - What will the actual structure of the foundation look like?

DeCentraSteem is an ever-fluctuating structure of self-organised and self-determined working circles within Steem community.

Every group of at least five Steemians with all together at least 2000 SP, willing to fulfill a task in favor of DeCentraSteems’ purpose, may form a working circle to do so. Such a working circle becomes and stays part of the foundation and thus may access its resources if it follows

the rules of setting up working circles and
the rules for active working circles.

We propose to start with a basic structure of working circles:

a circle for strategic budget planning in favour of the fore-mentioned goals
a “trustee” circle distributing budget according to the foundations’ rules and strategic allocation
a circle for funding through sponsorship and sharing profits with businesses directly profiting from circles’ work
a circle for further development of rules for the foundation
and some circles on topics to be voted for by the community.

This is an exception to ensure a good start. Normally, new circles don’t need to be voted on by the community.

Working circles may be strategical or operational as well. Some may focus on generating plans for action on Steem, creating a proposal to circles that specialize in funding and other circles realising these plans.

Basic rules for all working-circles make this structure, based on trust, work:

  1. When a group makes a proposal for a new working-circle, it has to get the approval of at least two other already existing working circles. To achieve this, the group has to explain how the new circle serves the purpose of the foundation, especially what benefit it adds, taking into account existing circles and projects on the worker-proposal system. Furthermore, the proposal has to be made transparent. This gives everybody the possibility to step up and make suggestions or oppose, always relating to purpose and goals of the foundation. Suggestions on the proposal don’t have to be taken into account but if they are turned down, an explanation has to be given. On approval of its proposal the working-circle becomes a part of the foundation. If part of the proposal is usage of foundations’ resources these are assigned with the approval and the “trustees” circle has to distribute them according to the proposal.
  2. Any working-circle may decide to dissolve after giving notice to the community at least two months in advance.
  3. Every working-circle has to make a post on its work, output ad/or impact at least every two weeks. Resource distribution will be stopped, if this transparency rule is violated. Post rewards will be distributed amongst the members of the working circle in equal parts.
  4. If Steemians think, a working-circle doesn’t act in favour of the purpose anymore, they may step up and ask the circle to do a correction or in the worst case stop the work completely. Any group of at least two Steemians may ask for a correction. Asking to stop a working circle requires five Steemians with at least 2000 SP. In case of arguments a mediation process is initiated, which in the worst case leads to a voting process amongst the members of all active working circles whether to stop this working-circle or not. The same procedure will be applied if anybody thinks, approval of a new working circle isn’t done according to the fore-mentioned rule.
  5. Working circles which perform tasks generating profit, have to share this profit with the foundation.

Experience shows, that in well-working decentralised 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 thing we’d suggest is 2-3 paid-for facilitators, helping to set up the structure and the working circles.

Foundation Members - How will the members of the foundation and their roles be decided?

Members of the initial working circles will be voted on, using the same voting mechanism as the one for selecting a foundation proposal.

A member of a circle may step back at any time. The other members will then appoint a new member.

Leadership - What levels of leadership, if any, will be involved?


Community Involvement/Communication - What role does the community play in your structure? How will they be represented? How will communication be kept open?

The structure itself follows the purpose of strengthening the community. The more Steemians engage, the stronger the foundation will be – and vice versa. Through the transparency rule (rule no 3), all activities are transparent within the Steem community.

Accountability - How will this foundation (under your structure) hold themselves accountable to the community? How, if any, will the community be able to remove members if they fail to hold true to the principles and mission put forth by the approved structure?''

See rule no 4

Fiat Legal Structure - What type of entity is it?

Every working circle chooses the legal structure best suited for its tasks. If there is a need for a legal entity of the whole network it could be an association, which is a legal structure well suited for a fluctuating membership. But – more or less – this is quite similar to a DAO based on off-chain rules. What kind of entity is a DAO?

Foundation Funding - How will your structure be funded? Will it depend on fundraising, profit based ideas, donations, etc?

Details of funding will be worked out within the corresponding working circle. It is open for profit-based funding and sponsorship. Maybe it would be appropriate to charge a small fee to establish a working circle. Profitable businesses built on Steem should support the foundation in an appropriate manner.

Project Funding - How will future projects be funded? What process will be included? What role, if any, does the community play in this?

Rule no 1 in combination with strategic resource allocation leads to resource allocation for projects. Anybody within the community may get involved.

Collaboration/Interaction - How do you see your foundation design interacting with projects like the coming Steem Worker Proposal (Steem DAO) by Blocktrades?

We leave this to the community. It will prevent overlaps applying rule no1. The Steem Business Alliance could be a working circle within this foundation, if it decides so.

How could this work in practice?

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

Assume the Dolphin Council is already 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, decides 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.

Underlying theory*
If you are interested in the underlying culture model of organisations, please have a look at this video

. What we propose is a so-called teal-organisation, adopted to the necessities of Steem community.

Such 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.


Hey there! I’m just reviewing the questions here again to ensure I understand each proposal fully, I did want a bit make clarification though on the description of the first initial working circles (which will be selected by a poll vote)

a “trustee” circle distributing budget according to the foundations’ rules and strategic allocation

Does this mean there will be one centralized working circle that will be responsible for allocating funds? How do the funds get approved? Or as long as a separate working circle brings forward a project for funding, it’s accepted? How does the community hold this one working circle accountable? Also, would funds then be kept on chain?

I hope that’s not too much! I just wasn’t clear on how that aspect would work and I wanted to be sure I asked for clarification. Thanks!

Hey! Thanks for asking. We have received some questions on this circle of trustees and will revise the description for the final version to be voted on.

The trustees circle is a pure administrative circle, taking care that rules are obeyed. It is not responsible for any approvals. Rule 1 describes the process of approval:

When a group makes a proposal for a new working-circle, it has to get the approval of at least two other already existing working circles.

Framework for this approval are the purpose of the foundation and the results of the working circle for strategic budget planning. Thus, the trustee circle is purely active in an administrative way distributing funds.

Legally and technically the whole process would work like this.

Money allocated by someone for the purpose of the foundation would be transferred to a specific account. In case of big allocations, keys to this account would be held by the donor and at least two members of the trustee working circle. In other cases - such as membership fees or revenue flow from a working circle being active as business entity - at least two members of the trustee working circle hold the keys to the account (there will be several accounts). Legally at this state of the process, funds are dedicated to finance the purpose of the foundation but not yet legally transferred. They still belong to the giving party.

As soon as a working circle asks for money according to its approved plan, the parties holding the keys (giving party and trustees) perform the transfer of the money together using multisig. Legally this would be a direct transfer between giving party and receiving party.

Establishing this process of distributing money, leads to peer2peer transfer of funds, without a necessity for the foundation to be any kind of legal entity, since it doesn't join any contracts or liabilities. We will change this in our final proposal as well.

The trustees working circle is held accountable like any other working circle:

If Steemians think, a working-circle doesn’t act in favor of the purpose anymore, they may step up and ask the circle to do a correction or in the worst case stop the work completely. Any group of at least two Steemians may ask for a correction. Asking to stop a working circle requires five Steemians with at least 2000 SP. In case of arguments a mediation process is initiated, which in the worst case leads to a voting process amongst the members of all active working circles whether to stop this working-circle or not.

I do hope this answers your questions. If not, don't hesitate to ask again. I'll try to be present this evening.

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