Adopt Snapshot + Aragon for binding governance

I am open to exploring Aragon-related governance tools and how they may benefit Yearn; however, I would be absolutely against turning over jurisdiction of Yearn to the Aragon Court for reasons that have already been mentioned in this thread.

Yearn is chartering new ground as a DAO with substantial cash flows with a generally engaged and informed set of active owners. I think the current community governance process is adequate and we should bolster it iteratively as we learn more, but it’s too early to remand it to another app. I believe the current mulit-sig construction provides a good balance of adequate security and the ability to still move quickly to adapt to a rapidly evolving market. If more decentralization is desired, I would recommend instead moving towards more multi-sig signers for now.

There may be value in looking at elements of the Aragon stack in the future, but for now, I would personally prefer to keep things clean and not add unneeded complexity to DAO operations.


EDIT: I’ve updated this post to reformulate my thoughts. What I get for posting while tired :sweat_smile:

I think this point of view is more than reasonable.

I would love to hear how multisig signers feel about the OP and the discussion. We plan to submit a formal proposal based on all of the excellent feedback we have received thus far though I can’t help but think the input of the signers is among the most relevant feedback for us and the rest of the community to hear.

Some in this thread wish to maintain the status quo. Some have said they support our tentative proposal. Andre happens to support it, which we’re grateful for, and value highly, but understand what the community wants is all that matters. That includes the signers. What do they support?

It has been suggested we’re trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Make no mistake, it exists, it’s called multisig governance.

Kicking the can down the road to transition away from multisig governance will always be a temptation.

When would be the appropriate time to begin transitioning to community governance? When there’s a disruption to the status quo? What sort of disruption? Is that when we want to start transitioning?

Starting this transition sooner than later is what’s in the best interest of yearn, despite how uncomfortable that may feel to some. I hope the community can recognize the excellent position they are in to start this process.

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Aragon is one of the most trusted and well-formulated Governance pertaining in the Blockchain space. as we all know.

Would be more than happy to have Yfi integrate with them.

Just being a bit formal here… would be nice if Andre could actually make decisions on futuristic proposals relating to the governance model.


Disclosure: Jose here from Delphi Digital. Delphi Ventures holds positions in both YFI and ANJ

I totally agree that governance in itself is a library to import rather than a product to pay for. That said, while “governance as a service” is what Aragon provides (and it is indeed free), it’s not what Aragon Court provides nor is it the point of this proposal.

Simplistically, courts in the traditional world act as an external, independent third party which individuals/organisations can access in case others act in a way which doesn’t abide by either: a) their predefined contractual relations b) the governing law. While b) doesn’t exist in crypto, a) does, representing the wet and dry code individuals agree to when coming together to form a DAO.

I understand the concerns regarding sovereignty, but from my perspective Yearn’s governance would still be self-sovereign. The Yearn community defines the rules and values by which it seeks to operate while the Court merely enforces them in case they’ve been broken. Crucially, it seems to me that this enforcement role must always be played by an independent, neutral, external third party since it is effectively a bug in the governance system and thus cannot be solved recursively by the very governance system where the bug lies. For a simple example of this, see the link on DAO 51% attacks that Jorge posted.

To use an analogy from the traditional world, Yearn would still remain the legislative and executive branches, creating the laws, making decisions and executing them. The Court would be the judiciary, an independent branch acting as a check on faulty governance decisions. In the long term, separation of powers ensures Yearn can be run optimistically, with an agreement specifying Yearn’s values and by-laws, and a few appointed people making decisions quickly, all held in check by the possibility of being taken to Court.

To be clear, Yearn should still ensure its governance is as robust as possible such it is mostly self-sovereign and the Court is called upon as infrequently as possible. Court cases and decisions will also help this by providing data to the Yearn legislative branch (i.e. the DAO) which can be used to alter the by-laws to ensure cases don’t happen again… That said, I believe the Court should still always be there as a safety valve or governance insurance layer to protect from governance bugs, i.e. actions that aren’t in accord with Yearn’s values/by-laws.

In terms of rent-seeking, similar to a Layer 1 PoS system, the Court’s security is based on its market cap and it’s pretty important that a robust fee market develops to sustain this (as well as to prevent Sybil attacks in the form of spurious claims). Over time, the fee market should trend to the cost of security with minimal to no rent extraction on top of this. In addition, as should be clear above, the Court should be used as little as possible and merely exist as an insurance layer, with the agreement being altered by Yearn holders in response to each case to prevent future disputes. That said, I agree its current market cap is a serious security issue and would endorse gradual adoption where multi-sig users retain veto power.

Further down the line, I also see the Court as potentially playing an interesting role in facilitating inter-DAO collaboration and agreements. Given the size of YFI and the number of verticals in crypto that it touches, it seems to me the Court could be a pretty important piece of infrastructure to enable it to keep growing synergistically alongside other DAOs and expanding the design space for potential collaboration.


Governance is a feature, not a product…Aragon trying to sell us to pump their bags…unless there’re specific use cases this would enable, and I’d be more comfortable with our multi-sig as the judicial branch than a bunch of people we don’t know with their own incentives


Finally read through all of this. What a delight to read such a thoughtful discourse.

@jorge thanks for such detailed and considered posts and for sharing your insights here. DeFi’s community is our superpower, the composability and camaraderie. I am inclined to work together and support each other.

I also don’t think any partnership needs to be equal as long as it’s mutually beneficial positive for DeFi and the world. DeFi needs conflict resolution processes, every multi-person system does. I’m not sure Aragon court is the best one but I sure as hell want to help it if we can, so no problems here paying jurors and helping Aragon grow if it provides benefit to yearn too.

That being said, I also agree with many of the counterarguments here. I don’t think we need to rush this. I don’t see an immediate need for Aragon Court yet and would rather evolve our systems and take on the workload and stress of change and growth based on present tensions, not speculative assumptions.

But the beauty is this does not need to be a binary decision. I think we can modify this proposal in way that does solve immediate pain points and allows us to experiment and learn at a natural pace.

I think 1 is already in our YIP template, though perhaps needs more emphasis. And 2 is a great addition and I love the wisdom in foregrouding this now.

Current Problems to Solve

  • Guiding Principles
    • We don’t have a clearly written set of guiding principles to aid in aligning and cohering our collective intelligence.
    • why now? many have asked for this and it would help with everything from our copywriting to strategy creation
  • Conflict Resolution
    • We don’t have a conflict resolution process beyond reliance on trusted elders. I have to say though I think with our community and elders this is like 99% fine for now, but it would be nice to start experimenting with alternatives
    • why now? less pressing but worth starting to think about and experiment with now
  • YIP Process
    • Our current UI for YIP development is github and requires a lot core team support, team members spend a good deal of time checking the forum for proposals that could become YIPs and working with authors to create them
    • why now? save a lot of time, make it easier for anyone to participate in governance
  • Execution Automation
    • We need to add automation to the YIP process and snapshot execution
    • why now? hmm, not certain actually but I defer to Andre and the team on this

I can’t imagine a better partner than Aragon to work with on a lot of this stuff. Let’s find a way to do this.

The Court Problem

I’m not going to repeat the many wise posts concerned with adding the courts and jumping into an untested system. I agree with them. And I want to play with Aragon Courts! And I think they could come in handy.

Modification to this Proposal

  1. Implement the Aragon DAO for the UI
  2. Draft Aragon Agreements to hold and iterate on our principles
  3. Work with Aragon and Balancer to add execution automation to Snapshot
  4. And keep the multisig as it is but give it a new option: send to Aragon Court.

Mutlisig would still be empowered and it would still have the capability to execute and veto as it does now. We’d just be giving it a 3rd option. If a case arises where there is a conflict and the mutlisig feels it’s appropriate for Aragon Courts, they can pay from the treasury to send the conflict to there for adjudication. This would give us a nice fallback in case a sticky issue comes up we can’t deal with on our own and also let us test out the court system by sending some stuff there even if we could solve it ourselves just to experiment.


maybe u are comfortable with this but are the people in the multisig comfortable taking on this liability for an extended period of time? and anyways shouldn’t we be striving toward trust minimization rather than relying on trusted third parties? in this case the multisig is the trusted third party, we only have their word to go on that they will be honest while aragon court jurors have an incentive to issue correct ruling.

the multisig has been great for removing power and liability from andre as the centralized founder. and as jorge proposal says the multisig will still have a role to play for the forseeable future. but imo this move toward more decentralization, more direct control by yfi holders with aragon court as neutral third party arbitrator in case of a dispute is important to strengthen the resilience and therefor the value of the project.


Echo @aliatiia’s concerns, in particular the security assumptions. While absolutely for decentralizing governance and removing the need for Multisig, I am against adding this many external dependencies to the governance process.


I want to reiterate that yearn would not use Aragon Chain at all. 100% of the interactions and dependencies are native to Ethereum.

The implementation of the current proposal would depend on Aragon Court indeed, but that’s a protocol running on Ethereum mainnet.

Does Aragon have a plan for layer 2 scaling?

Would we be able to stay that way? What are your plans for Aragon Chain?

If we started using Aragon for governance and liked it, would we have to switch to Aragon Chain sometime in the future?


Aragon Court is our layer 2 scaling strategy for now. I will write more on this soon.

Yes, always.

No, this will not be forced. Aragon on Ethereum will always keep on working and be at feature parity with Aragon in Aragon Chain (except for potential improvements that we can do because we control the L1, but those are not planned for the short term)

Yearn could decide to migrate, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Currently planning to launch mainnet before the end of the year. The idea is that it will be a completely different environment targeted for another user group: new communities that are not necessarily crypto native.

Aragon One’s strategy is to focus supporting projects like yearn on Ethereum. We have two devs (out of ~10) part time helping ChainSafe getting Aragon Chain ready for mainnet right now, we will probably ramp up a bit before launch and the idea is to scale down before the end of the year. Ideally in 2021, no Aragon One developer will work on Aragon Chain since someone else will own the effort completely.


We should test drive this idea. I’d prefer to be able to slowly experiment with big new changes so the community can experience something firsthand. Not sure how many of us have actively used Aragon — I’ve only played with the one @misato set up.

For those in the yearn community that have used Aragon I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What area of governance could we break off to put in an Aragon DAO now?

We could run the Delegated DAO Vaults in Aragon when they are ready perhaps?


I had a chance to think this through a lot before I formed my conclusion, and ultimately I am strongly opposed to this proposal. For a few reasons:

  1. It adds an unnecessary layer of complexity, trust, and oversight to the Yearn governance model. Yearn will be relying on the Aragon Court for dispute resolution. There are tons of game theory scenarios that could play out, which could jeopardize governance. Fees per dispute transaction are currently $0, but it is naive to assume these won’t be raised in the future. The Aragon model will inevitably increase governance costs.

  2. This proposal somewhat implies that the current governance model/multi-sig implementation is inadequate or faulty. I don’t agree that it is. There is going to be level of trust in a multi-sig governance approach or an Aragon Court one regarding how proposals are executed on-chain. I would rather have this process overseen by the multi-sig than an external party, whose actions are tied to another crypto project. The multi-sig members both have direct financial stake related to Yearn and social capital. I find it unlikely that there would be such a control breakdown the majority of the signers would act in a way that would jeopardize the Yearn governance process.

Alternatively, in an effort to increase decentralization I would support increasing the multi-sig member count, but even at this moment I don’t think this is warranted and the multi-sig appears to be working as intended. Since the multi-sig can veto any Aragon Court action, you have to wonder what benefit does Yearn get then if the multi-sig still has the final say?

In short, it adds an additional layer of complexity, trust, potentially fees. Aragon has much more to gain to this, and since the multi-sig still retains veto control, not sure the utlimate benefit Yearn really gets.

I support no changes to the current governance/multi-sig model. If there is evidence of faults or breakdowns we can reassess.


I support not changing governance.

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I hear so many arguments here vouching for governance a a library versus governance as a service and while I kind of agree I think you may be confusing the role of Aragon here.
The core Aragon governance tools are free to use and can be adopted like a library, and on top of that (optionally) Aragon Court provides dispute resolution as a service.
The court is only needed here as a trustless bridge between snapshot voting and on-chain execution. If you guys want to do the voting on-chain then there is no need for the court, although it can still be used for protection against 51% and other threats.
In the future we may be able to do the offchain bridge with some wizardry like zk-rollups but in the meantime the best way to do it practically is by leveraging the Aragon Court.
It would drive more investor confidence if the governance process could be fully decentralized in the hands of the token holders instead of a multisig.


Hey hey,

sorry for the radio silence. It has been a busy couple months in Aragon land. We have most definitely not forgotten about yearn and we are still very much looking forward working together.

We took a lot of the feedback here (along with the one received from other key users and partners) and made some big decisions such as rebuilding our entire smart contracts system or discontinue Aragon Chain. A couple weeks ago we released a developer preview of Aragon Govern, the core smart contract system in Aragon 2. Aragon Court got a lot of improvements and it is being relaunched as Aragon Protocol, using ANT as its staking token (higher market cap, more security)

This is the new, simpler, Aragon 2 (tweet-sized explanation):

Keep in mind that we are still weeks from release and the pieces are still being polished and coming together, but a cohesive experience is quite close.

Some links (:hole::rabbit2:):

We are in contact with @tracheopteryx and we are very close to being ready to demo the community on how a yearn DAO could run on the new stack.

Happy to answer any questions while the team does the last push to get it ready :slight_smile:


Very excited to see the demo and looking forward to how the new Aragon Govern can help governance with yearn.


I think this thread should be archived. I read though a bunch of it to find out in the end it’s all moot. And a whole new system will need a new proposal