Written by atareh.eth for Lil Nouns DAO Datapod | Published on August 11, 2022.

Abstract

Lil Nouns is a “speed-run” experiment on the Nouns DAO governance model. Meaning, what happens if we sped up Nouns governance 50x by issuing that many more tokens. As such, problems and hurdles that Nouns will face far into the future will surface much more rapidly in Lil Nouns. A big hurdle in governance - which is beginning to show in Lil Nouns - is voter fatigue. This report summarizes findings in the literature on the factors that affect voter fatigue in real-world elections and dives deeper into the current state of voting for 6 DAOs (Lil Nouns, Nouns, Bancor, Balancer, Uniswap, Doodles) and offers suggestions on how voter turnout can be tackled.

We find that elections in areas with large populations are correlated with lower turnout. Unblinded results for live elections and lower asset cost (and therefore less skin in the game) also correlate with lower voter turnout. On the contrary, establishing voting as a habit, and running concurrent elections (or proposal voting) increases voter turnout. We offer specific suggestions on how voter fatigue in Lil Nouns can be tackled.

Introduction

As Lil Nouns grows in size, a concern within the DAO is to increasingly expect voter turnout to fall off. This is natural and expected as Lil Nouns DAO grows in size. However, with this comes certain concerns. If only a small proportion of Lil Noun owners actively participate in discussions and voting, this will have adverse consequences, such as increasingly centralized voting relying on a few whales and; conversely, difficulty reaching quorum for proposals.

Figure 1 - Total voter turnout in Lil Nouns per proposal.

Figure 1 - Total voter turnout in Lil Nouns per proposal.

While reaching quorum has not been an issue to date with Lil Nouns, as more Lil Nouns are issued and the minimum quorum threshold increases, if voter turnout does not increase, this will be an issue. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to front-run this problem now to understand deeper why voter engagement decreases in a DAO. For this, we’ll dive into research articles which have long studied the problem of voter turnout and fatigue in real-world elections across the world. The findings from these are summarized below and the original papers will be available to read in full (linked at the bottom of this report).

With that baseline understanding of the core issues, we’ll then dive into the voting trends of 5 other DAOs: Nouns, Bancor, Balancer, Uniswap and Doodles. These 5 were chosen to maximize for similarities (i.e. Doodles, Nouns), differences (Bancor, Balancer), and overall scale (Uniswap). The idea was to start wide and look at a variety of DAOs and narrow our scope as we understand what each DAO does well. Mainly, we’ll be looking at participation and voting data to understand which DAOs have maintained consistent voter turnout and which ones have not. With this understanding, we can then explore the deeper questions of how DAOs have maintained voter turnout, study their methods and experiment with them in the Lil Nouns DAO.

After this report, we’ll have a better understanding of why voter turnout and fatigue settle in, and we’ll recognize which DAOs have maintained high engagement. These insights will be used to tackle voter turnout in Lil Nouns with a data-driven approach and build the foundation for future qualitative DAO research.

Findings

Part I: Voter turnout literature review

Historically, all elections at every level of government have dealt with voter fatigue and low voter turnout. Turnout is the most common and probably the most important component of an individual’s participation in the political process (Burden, 2000). There is a robust literature that dives deeper into the reasons why this occurs and offers some suggestions on how voter turnout can be increased. While not all findings from studies and books will be applicable as IRL elections and DAO voting has many differences, we can garner some deeper insights about the psychology of voting and use that to guide our understanding. The findings are summarized below.

Larger population size and unblinded results in decreased voter turnout

Powered by Fruition