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Many people in the web3 space are in more Discord servers than they can count. In these communities, they may have obligations ranging from administrative tasks, to major writing or audio/video assignments, or even nebulous directives like governance coordination. In light of all this, one thing is certain: DAO fatigue is real. So how do we avoid getting burnt out on DAOs?
Here are seven suggestions:
This may seem like a small thing to do, but how many of you have been in some level of sleep only to hear your Discord notifications going gang-busters because someone posted a funny meme from Australia? Choosing to engage with your DAO 24 hours a day is a serious psychological factor to consider.
The first step to combating DAO fatigue is to engage your DAO on your own terms. This doesn’t mean you have to turn off notifications, but that you turn off push notifications (the ones that show up on your phone no matter what) and limit regular notifications to the isolated zones of a Discord server that are relevant to you.
If you, like me, are in it for the long haul, then consider that notifications don’t have to appear on your mobile phone the instant they happen. You know you’re going to engage your DAO, so just pick the times that work for you. This is a lot less overwhelming than seeing them in your palm every time you check your phone. Think of it like DAO housekeeping.
Side note: there is a subliminal tax that is paid every time we check a notification. Whether it is for a like on Twitter or Facebook, an updated post on a forum we follow, or a simple ‘sup’ from a long time friend. Control your phone, your computer, and manage your notifications. Engaging your DAOs on your terms is a huge leap forward in combating DAO fatigue.
Before you go to a weekly meeting ask yourself, “Is this weekly meeting critical to how I can help this project, team, or group of people?” Chances are there is work you could do that would further the cause more than draining another hour on the old Discord audio.
DAOs are non-local, asynchronous groups that collaborate and coordinate across time zones toward mutually shared goals. While granted, voice-syncs are inherently valuable for social morale building and getting things done “in real time”, the fact of the matter is, we’re in UTC mode. DAOs follow the sun with their efforts, and are not optimized for worldwide synchronous sessions. Finding ways to enhance efforts being equally valuable any time they are contributed is a key value-set for successful projects.
Another idea might be to swap out one meeting every week to five separate micro-sessions across as many time-zones, twice a month, where small pods of people voice-sync on what they’re all working on, or want to work on. Make deliverables required to attend the meeting. Create skin in the game.
If we make non-critical meetings non-mandatory and create a culture where attendance doesn’t equal performance then people will get used to creating and completing bounties or assignments non-synchronously. Once-a-week doesn’t seem like a lot for the first few months when we’re on our DAO honeymoon, but 52 times a year (times the number of teams you’re on that meet weekly), times a multiple year commitment may become too much. Often what takes place in a meeting may be supplanted by a few targeted DMs, and a couple of shared gDocs. This maximizes a DAO’s strength: people do the work and engage when they want to.
Your time is valuable and if you want to avoid DAO burnout, keep your focus on the producers, engage the newbies a-synchronously, and put your attention into meetings where things get done, while also encouraging more asynchronous work.
Okay, this is a hard one but think about it. There are too many DAOs to choose from and you can’t be in all of them. Pick a like-minded group or niche that furthers your goals in web3, and dig in. Let go of the superficial involvement in a myriad of DAOs, and drop the big-game POAP hunting.
If you want to avoid burnout, then pick it, and stick it. Everybody has seen that one DAO member who is gonzo for two to five weeks — then crickets. If after a substantial amount of involvement in a single DAO things aren’t working out, then offload your obligations and start dating again.
If you really wanna go the distance in web3, stop working for governance tokens.
This isn’t exactly what it sounds like, and is a controversial take, but many DAOs reward efforts with what many affectionately call worthless governance tokens, which enable holders to vote in Snapshot or other web3 governance protocols. Often, governance is merely a synonym for token-weighted voting, and since these tokens often have no other utility (other than perhaps representing equity in the DAO or providing access to gated systems), and since most Snapshot votes are overwhelmingly in favor of a proposal, then one could argue that people are simply working for something that doesn’t have a ton of value.
To go the distance in web3 you need to find a way to pay or earn in hard currency; that’s BTC, ETH, or a stablecoin. The optimistic side to consider here is that if you’re doing work to learn a new skill, or become better at something that makes you more marketable in web3, or to build your social network and influence in the space, and governance tokens are a by-product of those efforts, then self-improvement is the value set you are working for, and that is very healthy as self-development is crucial.
Just think, a year ago I didn’t know how to use MetaMask, Coordinape, Snapshot, DeWork, Mirror, Uniswap, OpenSea, Optimism, Polygon, Guild.xyz, Collab.Land, Poap.xyz, and a myriad of other tools in my web3 kit. My take is that I wasn’t working for governance tokens. I was working to learn these new skills, and if a multi-sig sent me a bunch of governance tokens on the tail end of that, well that’s fine too, but it’s not why I did the work.
So figure out what you’re working for, and adjust accordingly. To the degree DAOs can, they would do well to pay, operate, and calculate in BTC, ETH, and DAI only.
Another method to combat DAO fatigue is to think about how you apply yourself. Marshal your skills and select your tools carefully. You gotta build a niche. Aim to be the, “Oh, you need to talk to that person” person…” You don’t want to be the “Anybody can do this job, but I’m doing it because I said I would” person. Specialize how you contribute to DAOs.
If you have a particular specialty, let that be known, and deliver on that, and only that. Don’t just raise your hand for tasks because “it takes a village”. Let people that don’t have specialties or don’t want to cultivate them take on those jobs. In fact, if you have a specialty and are doing anything that doesn’t tailor to that skill set you are doing your DAO a huge disservice. With that said, everyone needs to “earn their stripes”, so to speak, so some amount of, “hey, I’m just here to help” may be in order for a while. But once you find your groove, stick with it. Applying your expertise, effectively, will greatly reduce any chances of you encountering DAO burnout.
Here’s another controversial take. What the majority of people want to happen is rarely the best thing for a DAO. Typically what happens is that someone comes up with an idea, and people are excited, so they vote for it. But not all of these ideas are winners and a DAO can hurt itself by trying to do too many things at once. This is what I call “death by democracy”. Instead, DAO’s could trust individuals who have already built trust via results, more and more over time. To accommodate this accreditation theory, voting could be weighted against demonstrated efficacy, that is by reputation, and results. Voting should not be weighted by the number of tokens held, but by the clout built up by delivering results that benefit the DAO.
Without some centralized nodes of authority that these trusted contributors represent, DAOs can end up treading water. Just think of all the multi-sigs that have funds sitting there since the last bull cycle simply because 4 out of 7 people can’t figure out what to do with them? That “slack energy” isn’t just represented financially, it occurs in DAOs politically and socially too. Garnering a small amount of consensus amidst trusted DAO members can alleviate that slack, which brings up the last tip.
Voter fatigue is real. If every decision needs to be put to a vote, and every forum post needs X amount of “Yes” and every Snapshot needs Y amount of signatures, then things just can’t get done in an expedient manner. If you don’t think voter fatigue is real just look at Snapshot participation rates during the bear market.
A possible remedy to this is that DAO members could appoint a small batch of their team to make decisions for the whole guild, project, or DAO, within an agreed range of influence, at the onset of some fixed interval of time (quarter, season, year, etc). That’s it. Take time to delegate voting at the beginning of a season, and then the delegates take it from there. DAO members could withdraw their delegations and re-delegate after fixed periods if performance was lacking. Otherwise, they could roll forward. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Sometimes too much rotation in DAO leadership can cause a lack of progress. Other times no rotation can halt growth. Either way, this delegated authority would enable DAOs to move faster, and grow more quickly, as well as reduce contributor burnout across the board.
These seven tips to avoid DAO burnout are just that, suggestions. This may not be right in every case or for every DAO, but hopefully some of these tips help you manage your efforts in the web3 space to build towards sustainable, repeatable efforts and contribution, such that we can all grow faster and stronger, together.
A version of this article appeared in Bankless Publishing on December 7, 2022.
Hiro Kennelly is a writer, editor, and coordinator at BanklessDAO, an Associate at Bankless Consulting, and is still a DAOpunk.
Chameleon is a designer and creator in the web3 space.
BanklessDAO is an education and media engine dedicated to helping individuals achieve financial independence.
This post does not contain financial advice, only educational information. By reading this article, you agree and affirm the above, as well as that you are not being solicited to make a financial decision, and that you in no way are receiving any fiduciary projection, promise, or tacit inference of your ability to achieve financial gains.
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