W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-credentials@w3.org > June 2020

Re: Digital Bazaar corporate position on upcoming election

From: Moses Ma <moses.ma@futurelabconsulting.com>
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 2020 14:13:50 -0700
To: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>, Credentials Community Group <public-credentials@w3.org>
Message-ID: <873cd183-2257-0703-1d51-ea5461ddfb21@futurelabconsulting.com>
First, I wanted to thank Manu and Digital Bazaar for hosting the meeting 
system for so many years. It was a significant contribution!

Second, about voting and governance... a simple one member/one vote 
model is fine for now, and we only need something more exotic if there's 
a chance that a bad actor wishes to subvert things by leveraging the 
"hope for the best" voting rules. The best example I've heard of, for 
what a bad actor can do to an optimistic collective, is what the 
Rajneesh cult did to a church in Laguna Beach California. They moved a 
large number of cult members to that area, posed as Christians and 
infiltrated the membership. Eventually, it voted out the board and 
turned the church into an ashram. Obviously, lawsuits followed.

If the chairs feel that it would be wise to install a safeguard – for 
example, using the UN model with a "security council" that can veto 
things, installing a poison pill into the charter, or establishing a 
"separation of powers" system like the US government. However, the model 
I like the best for decentralized management of the commons is based on 
Elinor Ostrom's work 
(https://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/bios/Ostrom.html).

    One of the best pieces of work on public choice was done by Elinor
    Ostrom of Indiana University, /Governing the Commons/. Her best
    example is the Swiss alpine cheese makers. They had a commons
    problem. They live very high, and they have a grazing commons for
    their cattle. They solved that problem in the year 1200 A.D. They
    have a simple rule/: If you’ve got three cows, you can pasture those
    three cows in the commons if you carried them over from last
    winter./ But you can’t bring new cows in just for the summer. It’s
    very costly to carry cows over to the winter—they need to be in
    barns and be heated, they have to be fed. [The cheese makers] tie
    the right to the commons to a private property right with the cows.

In this case, what we can do is provide a "proof of work" staking 
process, by requiring voters to have actually attended one workshop 
and/or have contributed a minimal number of comments on the discussion 
forum. Or whatever else the chairs and membership decide.

Moses





On 6/10/20 10:55 AM, Manu Sporny wrote:
> Dear W3C Credentials Community Group,
>
> I'm sending this email as a representative of Digital Bazaar based on
> our concerns related to allowing multiple individuals per company to
> vote. As some of you know, W3C Member voting polls (a different process)
> limit voting to one vote per company. This ensures that organizations
> cannot pack a room with employees and skew the outcome of a vote. The
> CCG has chosen to do individual votes, which we believe is a fitting way
> for a community group to pick its leaders.
>
> This triggered an internal ethics discussion at our company, which we
> are sharing in the spirit of being transparent about the guidance that
> we've given our employees.
>
> The question raised in the company was whether or not we were voting on
> our personal behalf or on behalf of the needs of our company. We
> explored voluntarily restricting our organization to one vote, which
> almost immediately led to concerns around vote suppression among
> employees. We explored voluntarily restricting our organization to only
> the people that are actively involved in the work here, which led to
> concerns around inclusion.
>
> Ultimately, we decided that the only choice aligned with the morals of
> our corporate culture is to publicly state that Digital Bazaar (the
> corporation) will not be participating in casting a vote in this
> election. Our employees and contractors, however, are urged to make
> their own decision on whether or not to vote and, if they choose to
> vote, to do so according to their personal conscience, with no direction
> from Digital Bazaar.
>
> We are stating this on this mailing list to ensure that it is in the
> public record. I realize that this may come across as being overly
> concerned about a simple community vote. Nevertheless, this vote is
> setting a precedent and we want to make sure that we are being
> upstanding citizens in all communities in which we are involved. We also
> recognize that other corporations in this group may not choose to do
> this, and that is their choice.
>
> On behalf of Digital Bazaar in my capacity as CEO,
>
> -- manu


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Received on Wednesday, 10 June 2020 21:14:13 UTC

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