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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: What We Learn from Thrifty DAO Redeployment

by Denise Thwaites and James Simbouras

Marcel Duchamp, ‘Fountain’ , 1917. Photographed by Alfred Stieglitz.
Our pre-loved DAO on DAOstack’s Alchemy Platform
  • You are an initiator or facilitator, but ultimately the DAO (even a neglected one) is a decentralized community that may or may not share your vision. If initiators have existing reputation within this community, you have greater agency to revive these discarded systems. But if you are entering as a new member within this community, expect to work for this project.
  • Know your DAO. Why was it abandoned in the first place? Part and parcel of the crowded experimental DAO scene (as aptly put by Cem F Dagdelen) is that participants’ attention will be divided, making it difficult to sustain long-term engagement. Relatively low voter-participation is a challenge identified by some of the most established DAOs such as Genesis (See DAOtalk forum). For larger operations in this space, there are dedicated (and often under-appreciated) community organisers to facilitate and support this aspect of DAO creation (see thread). So if you are initiating the recycling or reviving of a DAO, researching how and why this system and community stopped participating should shape your expectations and tactics for re-use.
  • When you deploy a second-hand DAO, you inherit its ‘wear and tear’. This could be the aforementioned existing community dynamics, skewed reputation allocations, awkward life-cycles for proposals or outstanding proposals waiting to be executed by now distracted community members. With enough time, you can patch holes and change parameters through mechanisms such as DAOstack’s scheme registrar. But for quick and dirty re-deployments, adapting to existing parameters and DAO idiosyncrasies is part of the fun!
  • The speed of community activation, when you’re re-activating and replenishing an existing community. Like a dormant volcano, dormant DAOs may become explosive upon reactivation!
  • Opportunities to establish inter-DAO networks around short or long-term objectives. Such community cross-cultivation could serve to break down the “tribalism” often associated with online communities.
  • The chance to leverage and increase the value of existing DAO work, both on the level of community building and technical development.



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Denise Thwaites

Assistant Professor, Digital Arts and Humanities at the University of Canberra. Co-founder @blocumenta . Views expressed are my own.