Polkadot OpenGov: How does it work? Print
Modified on: Thu, 15 Jun, 2023 at 6:04 PM
Any decentralized system must be able to be governed from within the system itself. Polkadot's on-chain governance system allows users like you, those with the greatest interest in the network, to be the ones who democratically decide on its future.
From the initial "Gov1" to the current Polkadot OpenGov, the governance system on Polkadot has been improved by giving it more flexibility and decentralization without sacrificing the network's famous security.
The following article explains some key concepts related to Polkadot OpenGov, but if you want to learn more about it, visit our wiki for more in-depth information.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What's on-chain governance?
- Gov1 vs Polkadot OpenGov
- Key features of Polkadot OpenGov
- Create a referendum
- Tools for Polkadot OpenGov
What's on-chain governance?
On-chain governance allows the users to make decisions that affect the network on the network itself. Decisions are easily audited in real-time as any vote is recorded in the network.
From its inception, Polkadot has embraced on-chain democracy as the way to make decisions about forkless network upgrades and any treasury expenditure. And the token holders are the main decision-makers in this process. They create proposals for referendums and vote to approve or reject them. This ensures that the community has a direct say in shaping the network's future and how the Treasury funds are used.
Gov1 vs Polkadot OpenGov
For about two years, Gov1, as the first version of governance in Polkadot has come to be known, has achieved its goals: Hundreds of referenda created and voted by the community have facilitated seamless on-chain governance of the Polkadot Relay Chain.
However, an improved version of Gov1 has been deployed in Polkadot and Kusama. Each change from Gov1 to Polkadot OpenGov has pursued a greater decentralization to improve user representativeness and participation.
Although the main differences between Gov1 and Polkadot OpenGov are highlighted below, you can see a more exhaustive comparison in our wiki.
Although Gov1 relied on the decisions of the token holders, being a relatively new system, a small group of trusted individuals watched over the safety of each referendum. Although these bodies were elected democratically by the token holder, they could be seen as a somehow centralized organism against the spirit of Polkadot.
As much as Gov1 was a solid system, it could have too much rigidity when it came to acting in systems as dynamic as the Polkadot network.
Despite its potential improvements, Gov1 has set the characteristics of on-chain governance. Thanks to it, a new version of the system can inherit the strengths of Gov1 and improve its weaknesses. This system is Polkadot OpenGov.
Polkadot OpenGov has been built on the foundation of Gov1, giving it greater decentralization, more flexibility, and promoting larger participation.
- The bodies that could have been considered partially centralized entities (i.e., the Technical Committee and the Council) have been dissolved. Some of the work of the Technical Committee has been inherited by a group with meritocratic scales, the Technical Fellowship, with the limited power to scale certain referenda to ensure the safety of the network.
- Governance is more flexible thanks to the creation of "tracks." These tracks allow running several referenda in parallel on different tracks or even within the same track.
- Although delegation of voting power was possible in Gov1, it did not allow for a flexible delegation. With Polkadot OpenGov, you have the power to delegate your voting power to different delegates for different tracks. This is known as "multirole delegation."
ℹ️ GOOD TO KNOW
Despite of its name, Polkadot OpenGov is being used in both Polkadot and Kusama networks.
Key features of Polkadot OpenGov
Polkadot OpenGov is active on both Polkadot and Kusama, with similar characteristics and parameters on both networks. The most distinctive parts of Polkadot OpenGov are explained in the following sections.
The referenda are the key piece of Polkadot OpenGov on which all other parts rely. All referenda are proposed and submitted by members of the community like you.
Each proposal must be accompanied by a "decision deposit," and after the "lead-in period," the votes of the token holders start to be part of the "support" and "approval" of the referendum.
The "approval" represents the current percentage of voting power (balance multiplied by conviction) in favor (ayes) of that referendum. "Support" is defined by the percentage of "ayes" plus abstentions out of the total possible number of votes that can be made within the system (excluding conviction adjustments).
For a referendum to be approved, it must be "passing" by keeping both approval and support values over the track's own minimum curves during the entire "confirmation period."
Once a referendum is approved, a usually short "enactment period" must pass before enacting the referendum content on-chain.
ℹ️ GOOD TO KNOW
Polkadot OpenGov referenda are enforceable on-chain by design. They are not "suggestions" or "polls" that may be implemented or not at the discretion of developers. They are executed automatically after they are approved.
Check the wiki for a more detailed explanation of referenda, parameters, and timelines.
As mentioned above, one of the advantages built into Polkadot OpenGov is the flexibility provided by the different tracks. Each referendum must be submitted with an associated origin corresponding to a track. Each track has certain restrictions regarding the type of the referendum, requirements for submission (i.e., deposit), minimum approval and support values, and duration for each phase. For example, a track that can execute extrinsics that can make drastic changes on network parameters must be executed in the "Root" track, which has much more conservative parameters and confirmation times than the "Small Tipper" track.
If you are curious about the differences between tracks, visit the wiki article about them.
Voters and voting power
In Polkadot OpenGov, as in Gov1, token holders decide whether a referendum will be approved or rejected by voting with their tokens. Polkadot OpenGov has also inherited the possibility to multiply this voting power by blocking the voting balance for longer periods. With the flexibility added to the system for multiple referenda running in parallel, you can simultaneously vote with different conviction locking periods on each one.
ℹ️ GOOD TO KNOW
If you want to learn more about how to vote on Polkadot OpenGov, take a look at the article:
"Polkadot OpenGov: How to Vote"
Since it is now possible to have several referenda happening at the same time on the same or different tracks, it is not easy for a regular user to be aware of all the news and to be able to cast an educated vote for every referendum.
If you want to participate in Polkadot's democracy but can't do it as often as you would like, Polkadot OpenGov allows you to delegate your voting power to delegates you trust. But not only that, you can delegate to different delegates for different tracks.
For example, you can delegate your vote to someone with a more technical profile on technical tracks (e.g., "Root") while delegating the same voting power to a delegate with an economic background on tracks related to the treasury (e.g., "Small Spender" or "Big Tipper").
ℹ️ GOOD TO KNOW
Delegate their voting power is a convenient way for users who are aware of the importance of the on-chain democracy, but who cannot be as attentive as they would like to be. That's why these articles can help you delegate either from the Polkadot Delegation Dashboard or from Polkadot-JS UI:
"Polkadot OpenGov: How to Delegate your Voting Power"
"Polkadot-JS UI: How to Delegate your Voting Power on Polkadot OpenGov"
Tools for Polkadot OpenGov
Although the entire process required to participate in Polkadot OpenGov can be done from Polkadot-JS UI easily, there are several tools available for you to facilitate participation in on-chain democracy:
You can find below a quick explainer video of the features and benefits of Polkadot OpenGov.
Did you find it helpful?Send feedback
Disclaimer: We always strive to provide you with the best support we can and we take all care to ensure that our instructions are accurate and concise. However, following these instructions properly, as well as the general management of your accounts and funds, is ultimately your responsibility. Web3 Foundation cannot be held liable for any accidental loss of funds or any other damage you might incur.