How to use Alchemy Earth
DAOstack’s first user interface for governance
Alchemy Earth is the latest version of Alchemy, a platform where users can interact directly with DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) powered by DAOstack, making collaborative decisions about budgeting, policy, and anything else necessary for their organization. There are three basic actions users can take on the platform: proposing, voting, and staking. Together, these actions make up the bulk of a DAO’s decision-making activity.
This article will be of use to those starting out with Alchemy and also to blockchain governance enthusiasts. Alchemy features DAOstack’s initial holographic consensus protocol, which uses Reputation-voting rather than token-voting and features a prediction game for sorting proposals by relevance. Both of these elements may be of interest to anyone involved with blockchain governance.
Selecting a DAO
Note: If you’re new to interacting with Ethereum apps, know that you’ll need to use a wallet like MetaMask to interact with Alchemy, just like many other Ethereum applications. They have a great tutorial on their site.
In Alchemy Earth, users can select which DAO they would like to view. Each DAO has a title, a description, and a few activity statistics. Select a DAO to interact with it.
Anyone with an Ethereum address can create proposals for a DAO in Alchemy.¹ Proposals are DAOs’ basic method of making decisions, and thus funding work and taking collective action. Alchemy Earth supports a number of different proposal types.
From a DAO’s Home tab, you will see a number of different “schemes”: these are the different types of proposals the DAO currently has installed. Think of “schemes” as features the DAO can install and uninstall. Common schemes include “Contribution Reward” for distributing funds/Reputation and “Scheme Registrar” for changing the schemes of the DAO. You can either start the proposal submission process by clicking the “+” button on one of the schemes or click on the scheme and view all the proposals inside it:
Alchemy will ask you to give your proposal a title, description, URL, and other fields depending on the scheme you are submitting the proposal for.
Once a proposal is submitted, it will enter the voting process, where it will either pass or fail. Proposals that pass may be executed (“Execute” is an action anyone can take). They then show up in the “Redemption” tab, where anyone can “redeem” them, sending the rewards to the addresses named in the proposal.
Creating proposals is the governance engine of a DAO. Everything a DAO does in Alchemy, it will do through proposals, and through proposals, it can do almost anything. A DAO will often begin with a narrow, defined scope like giving grants or managing a whitelist, but it need not stay narrow. Alchemy will eventually allow the submission of proposals to do anything possible on the Ethereum blockchain. Simply by submitting proposals, DAOs can go wherever our imagination takes them.
Proposals are passed or failed through a voting process. Only users who hold Reputation in a DAO can vote on its proposals, and their votes have weight equal to their Reputation score. Any user with Reputation in a DAO can vote once on each open proposal, and they cannot change their vote once it has been submitted. The entire weight of their Reputation score is applied to the vote — if you have 100 Reputation, your vote is worth 100 Reputation for a given proposal. Votes and the addresses that placed them are currently public, due to the difficulty of fully anonymizing such transactions on the Ethereum blockchain, but private voting is a potential feature for future versions of Alchemy.
The voting process works differently for regular proposals than it does for boosted proposals. Once submitted, every proposal starts off in the regular queue. Proposals in the regular queue are open for voting for a default period of 30 days (this length can be changed by the DAO) and will pass or fail immediately if 51% or more of the DAO’s Reputation votes for or against them. If neither pass nor fail achieves 51% or more within the time limit, and the proposal is not boosted, it will simply expire without passing or failing.
Proposals with a high enough ratio of positive to negative predictions join the pending queue.
If pending proposals maintain this high ratio for a minimum time period specified by the DAO, they can be boosted into the boosted queue. If they lose this ratio, however, because too many negative predictions are placed on them, they go back to the regular queue.
Boosted proposals are more visible than regular proposals, as they are sorted to the top of the proposal queue, and are much easier for the DAO to pass — this is key to achieving holographic consensus. Boosted queue proposals are open for voting for a default of 3 days (again adjustable by the DAO) and will always pass or fail after the full 3 days are up, depending on whether pass or fail has more Reputation voting for them, and no matter what percentage of the total Reputation votes. Boosted proposals must also have a quiet ending period: if the relative majority switches from pass to fail or vice versa in this final period of the boosted proposal’s voting period, extra voting time is added. The quiet ending helps prevent the “saving” of votes for the last minute.
The act of voting is simple in itself, but in context it touches complex issues, including the timing of a vote in a proposal’s life cycle and the inter-group politics of each DAO. Voters will want to consider whether to vote on a proposal during its time in the regular queue or the boosted queue, for example. Voters may also want to take advantage of Alchemy’s in-app commenting system, which allows voters to have conversations around each proposal during the voting process. Each DAO will likely develop its own practices around off-chain communication, and these may reach beyond Alchemy into forums, social media, or chat programs.
Staking is the most novel action available in Alchemy, and it will probably be the action that will seem most strange to users at first. Staking, however, is relatively simple in practice and also vital to helping a DAO sort through large numbers of proposals.
Anyone with an Ethereum address can place stakes (predictions) on proposals in DAOs using Alchemy. A stake is a backed prediction placed by a user on a proposal using a tradable token, GEN. The prediction is either that the proposal will be passed or failed by the DAO. If this prediction ends up being correct, the staker will win back their stake plus a bounty reward — a portion of the stake lost by incorrect predictions on the proposal. If the proposal times out without passing or failing, all stakes are returned.
Making correct predictions is both profitable for the staker and useful for the DAO because staking is also the key to the proposal boosting mechanism. The proposals with the highest ratio of GEN staked on passing to GEN staked on failing become boosted, making them faster and easier for the DAO to decide on. Importantly, stakes cannot be placed on boosted proposals, only on regular proposals.
This system is designed to support a network of predictors (the GEN Predictors Network) who will, through their predictions, provide a valuable proposal sorting service across many different DAOs. If that sounds appealing to you, we encourage you to try it!
We have included this prediction game in our initial governance protocol because we believe it is vital for DAO scalability and resilience. In short, the boosted queue for proposals increases scalability by allowing boosted proposals to be decided on via a relative majority, and the prediction game ensures that only proposals aligned with the DAO’s collective values will be boosted. In all, the system allows a large-scale DAO to make a high frequency of representative decisions.
To learn more about the context for the prediction system and GEN Predictors Network, read our article on the utility of the GEN token.
Join the DAO ecosystem and open Alchemy Earth! (enable Metamask)
If you’re not already part of a DAO using Alchemy, there are a few great ways to get involved:
- Explore existing DAOs on Alchemy (MetaMask required)
- Learn more about the Genesis DAO, the first DAO built on the DAO stack
- Find conversations about other DAOs in the DAOstack ecosystem in the DAOtalk forum
- Inquire about launching your own DAO on Alchemy
We hope this article has served as an approachable introduction to the Alchemy platform and we welcome you to the world of DAOs, whichever way you choose to participate. Thanks for reading!
¹ Alchemy, like all Ethereum-based applications, requires users to pay “gas” in order to take actions that affect the Ethereum blockchain. Gas is a very small amount of Ethereum (usually less than ten cents), and it’s a vital part of what lets Ethereum achieve a decentralized, global consensus on complex computations.