Contributor vs voter idea selection

Comparing the voter (passive idea selection) and contributor (delegated idea selection) decision approaches

The key difference between independent decisions and passive idea selection is that with passive idea selection it is accepted that all voters do not need to try and vote on all ideas. Instead voters are only encouraged to vote in areas they are more interested in or have expertise in. This more relaxed stance and expectation on voters expected involvement in idea selection becomes far more scalable for handling a growing number of voters by helping to more drastically reduce the time required and the expected complexity to compare and vote on ideas. This is because voters would only spend time on the ideas they want to spend time on due to their own interests or expertise rather than all of the available ideas.

The delegated idea selection approach focuses on the contributor being the group of individuals who are responsible for selecting which ideas they actually execute. The following comparison will look at comparing the more scalable voter selection approach (passive idea selection) with the contributor idea selection approach (delegated idea selection).

The analysis below helps to highlight the wide range of issues that exist when trying to scale voter idea selection. If good decision outcomes can be achieved with either approach the delegated idea selection approach is still highly preferred as it would be far more effective for reducing the total time required and amount of complexity for voters to participate. Pushing the responsibility of idea selection towards the voters needs to be fully justified due to the large cost of trying to scale the number of voters with a decision process that is highly time intensive and complex. This complexity is only increased when the voters don’t necessarily work full time in the area or have sufficient context to understand all of the nuances of each idea that is worth considering. Scaling an ecosystem to handle millions of voters is a significant ongoing challenge for Web3 ecosystems. Considerations are needed on how the time and complexity can be further reduced so that voters can more feasibly and willingly want to participate.

Voter idea selection


  • Exact outcome influence - The voter has a direct influence over which ideas get executed meaning they can apply their experience and expertise in supporting the decision about which ideas are the most promising to get executed.


  • Participation scalability limitations - The larger and more complex an ecosystem becomes the harder it also becomes for voters to be well informed about the trade offs of different ideas across the many different focus areas and markets in the ecosystem. Even if the voter wants to participate in many different idea related decisions this might not be possible once the ecosystem reaches a certain size due to the complexity and diversity of the range of ideas involved.

  • Lack of experience & expertise - If voters are responsible for selecting which ideas to execute there is a risk that the people who do vote don’t have the sufficient expertise and experience to fully understand the nuances and tradeoffs involved of executing one idea over another. There is a risk of making non optimal decisions if the vote is determined increasingly by voters with less expertise and experience due to these voters outnumbering the more informed contributors who are actually executing those ideas in the ecosystem.

  • Lack of accountability - The voters selecting the ideas to execute won’t be responsible for executing the ideas themselves or the outcomes that idea generates if they are not publicly sharing that voting choice. Contributors are more accountable than voters for their selection of ideas to execute as if they don’t create any impact over the course of one or multiple ideas they might not get selected again during disbursement.

  • Slower responsiveness - If ideas need to have a community wide level of support through community voting before they can be executed there is a higher risk that the responsiveness of the ecosystem reduces. This can mean slower responses to new promising ideas or suddenly changing priorities. If a new idea could be executed that helps to address a changing priority it would need to be approved by community voters.

  • Higher risks around support for novel research & innovation - If the ideas being executed are decided by the majority there is a risk that novel ideas that are not as supported in the beginning fail to be executed. Novel areas of science or research that are less obvious or well known could lead to fundamental changes in the ecosystems understanding of certain areas or could help with identifying new discoveries or approaches to solve certain problems. The dynamic nature of exploring potentially impactful ideas could be more easily stifled if a large population is responsible for having to select which ideas will be executed or not.

Factors that increase the practicality of voter idea selection

  • Smaller ecosystem - A smaller ecosystem will make it easier for voters to remain well informed on certain areas when making selection decisions.

  • Lower complexity ideas - If the ideas being suggested are of lower complexity it will be easier for voters who don’t have the same expertise and experience in those areas to more effectively understand, compare and select the most promising ideas.

  • Voters having more accountability - If votes were public or there was some form of reputation attached to voters choices this might help with increasing the amount of accountability for voters to spend enough time on becoming sufficiently well informed decisions when making a decision.

  • Compensating voters - If the vote is compensated sufficiently there would be more incentive for voters to spend a larger amount of time to truly understand the nuances of the ideas and participate. This does mean that voters could choose to just game this approach so that they just receive the voting rewards so this isn’t an effective solution.

Example scenario highlighting the issues with voter idea selection

There aren’t any easy to find case studies of larger corporations using an approach where the employees across the company vote on the ideas that get executed across the company. There are numerous reasons this wouldn’t make sense, even within corporations where people are working full time at that same company. If an engineering team was working on a set of new potential features and the decision on which ideas will be executed was left to the whole company to decide the amount of governance complexity this introduces is profound. Now teams who work in completely different areas of the business such as in marketing, recruitment or legal could now vote on which ideas are executed. The engineering team would have a lot more context on what might make sense as they have all the engineering background and context of what is and isn’t feasible and practical, they also have deeper knowledge about any analytical history that they introduced and monitored and also have general experience from working with end users and across that particular area for a number of months or years. If everyone in the company was able to vote on this selection of ideas it would create the situation where other employees could have a greater influence on the ideas that get selected over the team itself whom has the most expertise and experience. This problem is then duplicated across the whole company where the engineering team would also be able to vote on the ideas selected for other areas of the business. The time costs of trying to become well informed in numerous areas becomes unattainable very quickly on top of any existing full time job responsibilities. In situations where the wrong idea gets selected by the employees of the wider company who is accountable for that decision? Do those other employees now get fired or receive a warning? If the decision is spread across many people and those employees don’t have accountability for being fully informed or don’t need to help in executing those ideas it is also hard to put much responsibility onto the team who are executing as they weren’t given the responsibility and influence over the outcome. If the engineering team is given a higher amount of influence over their own execution efforts it becomes far easier to apply a higher expectation around the accountability of that team selecting the right ideas to execute as they have the full experience and expertise required to make those decisions. The key decision that the wider group of employees does need to make when forming these teams is which people should be hired into the organisation to work on these different areas. For Web3 ecosystems these problems around the number of potential participants, complexity and accountability are far worse than this example of a large corporation! It is far more challenging than this example as the voters in Web3 ecosystems aren’t often working full time in the ecosystem, meaning they will often have even less experience and expertise on what is possible and pragmatic compared to the full time contributors who have months or years of experience. Although it might not be scalable and practical to push the responsibility of idea selection towards large groups of individuals, it is important that individuals can share their preferences and opinions about what ideas are most promising in both corporations and Web3 ecosystems.

Contributor idea selection


  • Aligned incentives - Contributors are elected by the community to help with executing ideas and generating impact for the ecosystem. If the contributors do not align their contribution efforts with generating impact such as by addressing existing priorities or other potentially impactful initiatives they are less likely to be selected in future decisions. It is in their best interests to work on the most impactful ideas.

  • Expertise & experience - A contributor who is spending their full time on executing ideas across different areas of an ecosystem will have a growing amount of expertise and experience about what works and what doesn’t, why ideas might be approached in one way or another and have all of the context that they’ve learned through working in the ecosystem. This expertise and experience can help with making more informed decisions about what is most promising and practical when suggesting and selecting ideas that they can contribute towards.

  • Accountability - Voters will want to continue selecting and supporting the contributors who are producing the most impact for the ecosystem. When a contributor is compensated through disbursement they are accountable for aligning their contribution efforts with generating impact. This same accountability to generate impact will mean contributors will be incentivised to select the most promising ideas.

  • Scalable - Using contributors to select the ideas they execute is far more scalable than pushing this responsibility towards the voters. With a contributor selection approach only the contributors who are relevant and interested in an area of work will need to participate in the idea selection process. This maximises the chance that the contributors involved are more informed on this focus area and reduces the need for contributors to spread themselves too thin across every possible focus area in the ecosystem. This approach means that voters are only responsible for electing the contributors that are the most competent and effective at generating impact. This approach is much easier and will take far less time than expecting voters to compare and select promising ideas.


  • Lower voter outcome influence - The voter will need to have higher levels of trust in the contributors ability to personally select the most promising ideas to work on to help with addressing the community selected priorities. The voters should still be able to express their preferences and opinions about any of the ideas that are being submitted and considered in the ecosystem. Voters can still have a high level of influence over how ideas get refined and executed if they are able to express those preferences and opinions to the contributors who are executing them. The key difference is the contributor is who is accountable and responsible for selecting which ideas they work on to create impactful outcomes.

Last updated