Modular Politics: Toward a Governance Layer for Online Communities

DGOV Friends,

Some collaborators and I have put together a new paper draft proposing a framework for a governance layer for online communities, which I think will be of interest to this community. It’s meant to be not dependent on blockchain tech, but potentially compatible. Our main partners are a multiplayer game company and a social-media network.

You can read and comment on the draft here.

Thanks in advance for your consideration and feedback!


Hi Nathan! Very welcome and interesting piece! I got a little carried away with comments and builds on the paper, but overall I think it’s important work. Personally I would like to see more focus on ‘real world’ governance components or patterns (I really liked the examples you provided) and their typical role in complex systems, showing not just static relationships, but also the dynamics inherent in human communication systems, resulting in stable / unstable behaviour of the system. I think there’s a lot of opportunity to align governance taxonomy with identity work, especially as there is so much great related activity in the field at w3c and IIW.

Thank you for sharing this with us!


Thanks so much for your comments and engagement! I look forward to exploring. And yes, we’d certainly love to engage with the main standards bodies when the effort is mature enough. Really appreciate your feedback!


I began an EU-related bid response a while ago in the area of governance of discourse and led on three main themes:

"We propose three key elements as topics of action research:

Who said it?

  • How to promote and sustain authoritative sources by assuring uniqueness in identity (i.e. authentic individuals or organisations) among many pseudonymous ‘voices’. How to achieve uniqueness without undesirable compromise of individual privacy.

Is it true? (legal, decent, honest, truthful)

  • How to ‘fact check’ statements or claims using the collective judgement of the community, rooted in EU values.

Who will enforce it?

  • How to govern and maintain a distributed, collaborative network of volunteer moderators with the scale and reach necessary to maintain public trust in social media and marketplace platforms."

We planned to construct an ‘architecture’ around these themes (or “business components”) - standards-based… this is more or less as far as it got:

On reflection, so much of the ‘architecture’ of successful digital spaces depends on the intent and focus of the co-creators and designers of those ‘virtual’ spaces. There’s a lot we can still learn about the way to approach this from those who are engaged in the design of the physical world (post below from the #DGOV telegram chat):

BTW for those here interested in Systemic Design (I guess in #DGOV we have to be, as by definition ‘governance’ governs a ‘system’!) IMO ‘architects’ of digital spaces and DAO’s could pick up some tips from the work of Pask and Glanville. Viewpoint: -

“engineering is about recording the world as is and the use of scientific problem solving formulations; while designing relates to a wish to change the world through an act I describe as cybernetically circular”

See this talk and transcript from the late Ranulph Glanville on Knowing and Designing at RSD3:
RSD9 in 2020:

Grateful for your thoughts…

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Interesting, thanks. This is certainly a challenge many of us are struggling with. Have you seen the project? Might have some relevance for what you’re up to.

Do you have next steps in the works?


Thanks for the link on the digital juries project. I tried it. Interesting indeed! (Despite having to sign up to the truly odious Amazon Mechanical Turk terms and conditions in order to participate :wink: !)

As for next steps, over at Resonate we are rebooting after a difficult last year and want to make our cooperative artist/curator/listener community the heart of this, and that means getting community discourse right from the outset, not as an afterthought.

That also includes a Resonate proposed project on a less centralised and privacy-respecting approach to identity which has a lot in common with another post on this forum. It might perhaps be possible for DGOV and Resonate to work together?

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