r/ethtrader debates the viability of Donut-based governance

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Jun 11, 2019

The great Donut experiment of r/ethtrader seems to be imploding.

One of crypto’s biggest subreddits is debating whether to roll back their doughy, 6-month old governance mechanism - donuts.

If you’re not up to date on autonomous governance of crypto social media channels, here’s how r/ethtrader describes their Donuts:

“Donuts are a form of community points that are (currently) exclusive to the r/ethtrader subreddit. You can think of them as similar to Reddit karma, except exclusively representing contributions on r/ethtrader, rather than all of Reddit.”

“They have a few uses. Currently they include tipping other users' posts and comments, adding weight to your votes in governance polls, buying limited-edition subreddit badges, and buying the [subreddit’s] banner [...]. You can also turn any amount of your Reddit Donuts into an ERC-20 cryptocurrency token at a 1:1 rate, and vice versa.”

And while that might have been the case at the start, the Donut use cases have since expanded and evolved. There’s now even a donut-based Community Fund, used to - among other things - compensate one of the subreddit’s own, u_carlslarson, for his work on developing a Donut bridge:

When it was first implemented, even Vitalik himself praised Donuts as an important experiment in online community governance, tho he did advise caution about what it might evolve into.

Judging by the recent crowd sentiment, however, that experiment is flying off the rails - and quick.

The latest donut-related drama seems to have originated from two day-old threads by DCinvestor (a popular member of r/ethtrader), who’s asking for a stop to weekly stipends paid out to carlslarson for the Donut bridge development:

This idea quickly metastasized into general anti-donut sentiment, and calls to remove the embattled governance mechanism altogether:

From there, chaos ensued. An avalanche of impassioned arguments for banning donuts of - at least seemingly - varying degrees of legitimacy flooded the subreddit.

Some claim the donuts went from a promising governance mechanism to a for-profit tool that eroded the quality of r/ethtrader’s discussions over time:

That they incentivize spam and promote mass-appeal content:

That they are inherently ripe for abuse and malintent:

Just like all coin-based governance systems:

That they’ve been doomed to fail from the get-go, due to unequal resource allocation:

Especially to r/ethtrader mods:

That they don’t even work for all subreddit users:

That they’re analogous to China’s now-infamous social credit scores:

And that, even after all this hullabaloo - they still remain a mystery for a lot of users:

r/ethtrader’s governance woes have once again attracted Vitalik’s attention, who posited that a purely token-based governance mechanism of public resources was doomed to fail sooner or later:

Whether they survive the latest pitchforking or not, donuts have already inspired some quality new entries to the real governance tool of all crypto subreddits - memes:

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Jun 11, 2019

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