There has been a lot of talk over the past week about the recent attempts to start up a new "foundation" on the Steem blockchain (with the current working name of "Steem Alliance" - @steemalliance). There has also been a lot of confusion and even a little bit of outrage about what has taken place so far. Much of this confusion and anger is likely due to some less-than-adequate explanations, indistinct language, and/or a simple lack of reading the posts and the conversations taking place off-chain.
Since I've been pretty active in the recent dialogue with the first working group, maybe I can help set a few things straight...
What the "Steem Alliance" is NOT.
1. First and foremost, this new foundation will NOT be new blockchain governance. It will simply be an elected group of users that will attempt to allocate donated funds to development projects for the Steem blockchain. These funds are not redirected from the existing rewards pool - they are funds that are already owned by Steem users.
2. The new foundation will NOT be controlled/managed by anyone at Steemit, Inc. - as far as anyone can tell. None of the current Steemit, Inc. employees appear to be nominated for any elected positions. Ned Scott has also publicly stated that he will refrain from participating in any foundation elections. (Whether this agreement is honored going forward is certainly anyone's guess.)
3. The new foundation will NOT be tasked with proposing, reviewing, promoting, and/or accepting any hard forks for the Steem blockchain. I believe this is outside the scope of the early foundation proposals. (If that does happen to become one of the proposed or accepted responsibilities of the foundation, then I would withdraw any support for it and reject its "legitimacy.")
4. The new foundation is NOT a circumvention of DPoS protocols. Just like any other committee, group, or foundation on the Steem blockchain, this entity will be formed by a free collection of individuals who are willingly participating in discussions and will be willingly accepting roles within the created entity. These individuals are not making decisions about what any other Steem user can do with their stake, so if you don't want to support it, you are free to not participate in it and not donate any of your resources to it.
What can we expect?
Honestly, expectations should be kept to a minimum, since there's no guarantee that any of the current discussions and proposals will lead to anything worth supporting with your own money or other resources. As far as I can tell, this is an experimental and somewhat disorganized process, but the organization is currently being hammered out. I cannot make any promises about efficiency or effectiveness.
I understand that there are many people excited and hopeful about this and probably equally as many people who think this is stupid and will spectacularly fail. I honestly think that either side could be right, but also that both sides can be tempered and give this a chance to see what happens - as I also think lots of people are already doing.
Personally, I am not very optimistic about actual results, but that is only due to what I have observed over the past two and a half years on this blockchain. I would like to be pleasantly surprised and have been offering feedback about the early processes with the hope that sane and experienced voices will be heard and ultimately elected as members of the foundation. So far, I think the process has gone fairly well, even if I have valid concerns with some of the people who have been involved.
Given the current state of "leadership" in this ecosystem, I don't think that attempting to create a foundation (as it was proposed) is necessarily a bad thing. It would be hard to imagine worse leadership than we currently have, but again - this foundation wouldn't even be new "leadership," just a new community-based voice in how to allocate donated funds. It could possibly find itself in a sort of de facto leadership role on the Steem blockchain, but that's up to stakeholders/donors to decide.
What would I like to see this foundation become?
This is only my opinion, of course, but here's what I would like to see:
1. A foundation comprised of a diverse cross-section of people with complementary skill sets.
2. A foundation comprised of people with differing visions and viewpoints for and about the Steem blockchain and its ecosystem. The necessity to find compromise and consensus rather than cheerleading and various forms of group-think is vital for finding those development projects with the most potential to improve the Steem ecosystem.
3. A foundation with a robust set of ethics and standards for its members and for the fund allocation process. Avoiding conflicts of interest and any perceived favoritism - as well as properly vetting all potential recipients of foundation funds - is critical to gaining trust and courting donors. The ability and willingness to expel members who violate ethics and eschew standards is crucial for addressing and eliminating any corruption, real or perceived.
4. A foundation that is not controlled/steered by its donors, but rather trusted by donors due to the demonstrated independence of the entity and the acts of good faith by its members. No individual member or the foundation as a whole should feel beholden to any donor to direct funds to any specific project.
5. A foundation that operates transparently and is willing and able to seek outside counsel if wanted or when necessary.
This is not an exhaustive list, but if any foundation can operate in the manner described above, we would be miles ahead of the larger crypto community and the current group(s) that have been leading the development and narrative of the Steem blockchain.
The creation of any foundation should never prevent anyone from creating a group, committee, or organization that they think would better serve the blockchain and its community. It also should not preclude the adoption of any protocol changes such as a worker proposal system, as @blocktrades had described in a recent post. There is plenty of room for competing/complementary organizations/protocols within this ecosystem and healthy competition can lead to more productive dialogue, better standards and practices, and greater innovation.
If you don't believe that the "Steem Alliance" will result in anything worthwhile, then that's OK. You don't have to like it or support it. If you'd rather support something else, or multiple ideas/projects at once, then do it. As stated above, there are no guarantees that this new foundation will "work." There are no guarantees that the members will act in good faith, that the funds will be used properly, or that there will be any funding at all.
The only thing that can be guaranteed is that this foundation will be what we make of it.
If bad decisions are made about its membership and/or there is a failure to hold the entity accountable, then it will just be added to the list of failed experiments and we'll be right back in the same position we're in today...but with a little more experience and possibly a little less hope and lower expectations. Whatever ultimately happens, it's up to each one of us to decide how we want to proceed with our stake in this blockchain - or if we want to proceed at all.
I hope this was helpful. Let me know what you think!
I have been nominated for membership in the future foundation, whatever it becomes, and intend to accept that nomination if the proposals for its purpose appear to align with my own vision and expectations of the foundation and the blockchain/ecosystem.