A special thanks to @Keegan, @rohit, @VanArman, and @hex6c (among many others) for their input on this initiative, as well as @chikai, @Lauren-SuperRareLabs, and @justanidea for all their work on the new Space Race tool.
I propose that the DAO adopt quadratic voting for the next space race to ensure that the election results more accurately reflect the will of the community while still allowing individual token holders to demonstrate strong support for individual applications.
Coming off of Space Race 4 (SR4) we have received clear feedback, both from voters and applicants, indicating that large votes from individual wallets made the election feel less representative of the community’s interests. Ultimately, this is a symptom of the linear voting model (one token one vote) used to determine the winners of the election, which incentivizes voters to allocate all their resources to the application they care most about, creating a zero sum game where the loudest voices with the most resources win.
Whereas the power of each vote in a linear system is equal to the number of tokens allocated, the power of your vote in a quadratic system is equal to the square root of the number of tokens allocated. Under quadratic voting, users could still show how much they support a proposal, however it becomes much harder for the loudest voices (or those with the most resources) to unilaterally determine the results of the space race.
Based on the authority granted to them in the SuperRare DAO’s first governance proposal, the council has the power to iterate on the governance tooling and methods used to administer the space race. I propose that they use this power to implement quadratic voting in Space Race 5. The purpose of this post is to gather community input and gauge support for this initiative. If sufficiently supported (or in the absence of objection), I will submit a proposal to implement quadratic voting in Space Race 5 during the next Council meeting.
Spaces play a critical role in defining which artists have access to the SuperRare platform. Because attention is a scarce resource, curation is necessary to maintain a high signal to noise ratio, positive brand image, and a healthy marketplace economy. This means that even though spaces act with individual autonomy, their actions impact the network as a whole. As such, it is critical that we continually work to increase the integrity, security, and accessibility of the Space Race so that the interests of the community are adequately represented. Quadratic voting represents just another step towards that goal, made possible by the amazing work done by Chikai on the new space race tool.
How does quadratic voting work?
The main difference between quadratic voting and linear voting is that while in linear voting, voting power is equal to allocated token quantity, in quadratic voting, voting power is equal to the square root of allocated token quantity, as demonstrated below:
For additional information on quadratic mechanisms, I recommend reading Quadratic Payments: A Primer, by Vitalik Buterin. For an interactive demo of quadratic voting, I recommend this fun page created by the Economist.
How would quadratic voting affect the Space Race?
Using a .csv export of the Space Race 4 results (available upon request), Keegan and I performed some analyses on how things might have gone differently if quadratic voting were used. Unsurprisingly, quadratic voting would have changed the order of the winners, though there would only have been one difference in who did / did not make the cut.
While the overall impact on which spaces would have been whitelisted is small, the election results are more representative of the community. This is especially visible when you plot the votes cast/voting power against the number of voters for each application. Under linear voting, there is a very weak correlation between votes cast and number of voters, whereas under quadratic voting, there is a strong correlation between vote power and number of voters. This indicates that the results, as determined by quadratic voting, would be far more representative of the overall voter base than they were under linear voting.
How would quadratic voting be implemented?
While the exact implementation will be determined by the product team, I can share some high level, anticipated changes that could be made to implement this functionality. Anywhere that we show the amount of $RARE allocated to each application, we could also show the vote power of that application. In addition, the list of space applications could be sorted by vote power rather than $RARE allocated. While voting, the user could enter the amount of $RARE that they would like to allocate and see how much vote power that allocation would generate. All that said, the product team has ultimate decision making power over how the user experience of quadratic voting is implemented, though they should take all reasonable efforts to ensure it is intuitive and that the conversion between $RARE allocated and vote power is clear to the user.
As shown in Specification, implementing quadratic voting results in a more even playing field, increasing perceived fairness in the election, and as a result one could expect increased voter turnout. In other words, if voters know that their vote has a higher probability of influencing the election, they will be more likely to participate. In addition, by decreasing the efficiency of large amounts of $RARE allocated to individual applications, I would expect that we will see far more wallets voting in favor of multiple proposals. This will ultimately result in a more accurate representation of voter preferences.
Quadratic voting may be difficult to understand for some users, and as such some effort should be dedicated to creating or, at the very least, linking to, educational resources which explain the functionality and benefits of the new system.
In addition, quadratic voting may be vulnerable to sybil attacks in which a bad actor could distribute their $RARE across many wallets in order to increase their vote power. While this is a significant issue in QV implementations such as Gitcoin grants where attackers can collect matching funds, I do not believe the incentive to attack the space race is anywhere near as strong. Even so, the product team is encouraged to investigate means of detecting and preventing sybil attacks through the use of advanced statistics, verifiable credentials, and captchas.
By implementing quadratic voting, we would expect to see increased voter turnout, satisfaction, and representation. These factors will be measured using data from the election, site analytics, and engagement with the community through surveys and regular communication channels. A retrospective report about the use of quadratic voting in Space Race 5 will be released publicly in a timely manner following the end of the election.