In May 2023, we launched a survey to collect community feedback about voting delegation in on-chain governance. 187 community members participated in the survey, which found that respondents are interested in governance, and increasing participation requires only a few tweaks — namely, a more streamlined voting process.
Governance and decentralization are at the heart of Web3, and user input is important as the Moonbeam Network grows. OpenGov brought a multi-role delegation feature to Moonriver, with Moonbeam soon to follow, enabling token holders to delegate their tokens for voting purposes based on tracks. Today, delegated voting exists, but a complicated user interface deters many users from engaging. As we roll out a new delegation feature aimed at improving the user experience, we wanted to get a sense of what the community is looking for when participating in governance.
What is Voting Delegation
Delegated voting is a mechanism that empowers token holders to delegate their voting power to a trusted individual or group, enabling them to vote on their behalf. This system is implemented to enhance decision-making efficiency and ensure that governance matters are handled by individuals possessing the necessary expertise and knowledge.
According to the survey results:
- The vast majority of community members aren’t actively voting in governance referenda, but the issues preventing better engagement vary broadly across education, user experience, and communication.
- Token holders don’t vote due to the technical nature of the knowledge required to understand some topics and UX complexity
- The vast majority (82%) of respondents are interested in delegating their vote to other community members at least some of the time, in the right conditions
- To feel confident delegating voting power, users would want to know a delegate’s level of expertise and their identity, and require them to be active in the community
- Generally, a majority of respondents would prefer to delegate to one delegate for all referenda and revisit their decision every 6 months
Participation in Democracy
Of the survey respondents, over half (54.5%) had not voted in any governance on Moonbeam in the past six months. While 14.4% voted once, 19.8% voted 2-5 times, and only 10.3% reported voting more than 6-10 times.
Factors Preventing Voting
Based on the results, one factor preventing more frequent governance participation is a combination of UX complexity and information that is difficult to understand.
- 33.2% of respondents expressed that they did not know where to go to vote
- 32.6% said they don’t know what the referenda are about
- 25.7% reported that it’s tedious to educate themselves on referenda
Anecdotally, some respondents expressed that they needed to be made aware that governance existed, citing that they were new token holders or learning more about the crypto space.
The survey found that respondents needed to be more motivated to vote due to the complicated nature of the governance process than due to the content and frequency of the referenda.
- 17% said they didn’t know why they should vote,
- 20% said there are too many referenda, and
- 20.2% said the most recent referenda were about things that the respondent did not care about
- 11% of respondents offered other responses, noting lack of incentive to vote, language and technology barriers, and poor market conditions as reasons for their lack of participation.
Positive Attitude Toward Voting Delegation
Survey respondents were asked about vote delegation for more specific information about the factors affecting their decision to participate in delegation and the parameters they would consider. Survey respondents expressed an interest in voting more often, and the sentiment toward the option to delegate was positive.
Interest in Delegation
A majority of survey respondents were interested in delegating their voting power. Significantly, more than 82% of respondents were interested in delegating at least some of their voting power some of the time.
- 31% said they would like always to delegate their vote
- 51.3% indicated they would sometimes do so
- 18% said they would never delegate.
But What’s the Catch? Concerns about Delegation
Concerns about vote delegation were expressed in a question that allowed respondents to select multiple answers or add their ideas.
Survey takers indicated they had several lingering questions regarding how delegation might be implemented on Moonbeam and Moonriver. Chief among their concerns was the centralization of voting power: nearly half (45.5%) were worried about how delegation would impact centralization.
40.1% worried about network safety and potential downtime, and 33.7% indicated that elected delegates needing to stay educated on referenda would be an issue regarding their decision to delegate.
49% of survey respondents said they want to retain their voting power, 9.6% had no concern whatsoever, and 2.1 percent had other concerns, including feeling secure about a delegate’s technical expertise, worry about protocols gaining voting power, and agreeing with a delegate’s opinion about treasury proposals. Transparency was also mentioned.
Choosing a Delegate
Survey respondents were asked about factors that would affect their choice of delegate (whom they would delegate their voting power to). A multi-select question asked what information respondents would want to review before choosing a delegate to vote on their behalf, and the results were fairly evenly split across several criteria.
- 67.4% said they would want to know about the delegate’s authority or expertise on a given topic
- 62% said the level of participation overall in the Moonbeam community
- 58.8% need to know the identity of the delegate
- 56.7% also indicated access to the delegate’s voting history — how they vote and how frequently
- 43.9% would like to be apprised of the delegate’s stance on important issues.
Overall, when asked to choose only the most important factor, the results shifted to highlight authority and identity as the two biggest concerns:
- 32.6% Authority/expertise in a given topic or subject area
- 27.3% Identity
- 17.6% Participation in the Moonbeam community overall
- 12.8% Platform/stance on important issues
- 9.6% Voting history/engagement
Interestingly, when we break out this data by how often each respondent votes, we can see that almost everyone cares about authority/expertise in a given topic, but infrequent voters (0-1 time in the past 6 months) disproportionately care about identity/who they are (36%) while occasional and frequent voters (2-5 times and 6+ times in the past six months) much more heavily favored information on community participation and how the delegate stands on key issues.
|Authority/expertise in a given topic or subject area||33%||32%||35%||33%|
|Identity (who are they)||27%||36%||8%||10%|
|Participation in the Moonbeam community overall||18%||14%||27%||24%|
|Platform/stance on important issues||13%||8%||22%||29%|
The top issue affecting the choice of delegate was their active and consistent community contribution (68%), followed by prominence and community backing (64%). In comparison, status as serving as a collator proved to be less important (26%).
How Many Delegates to Use
Overwhelmingly, 42% of respondents wanted to delegate their voting power to one person. 26% and 23% wanted to select one delegate per track or split their vote across multiple parties.
What to Delegate for
When asked how often they would like to delegate their voting power for each type of referenda, except technical updates, governance administration, and collator programs most respondents chose” sometimes”, most survey-takers would like to always delegate their voting power.
|Topic||Always (%)||Sometimes (%)||Never (%)|
Once their voting power has been delegated, 64% of respondents wanted to be notified when their delegating fails to vote in five referenda in a row, 56% wanted alerts if their delegate was getting too much power, and 57% wanted to see voting records for all important issues.
How Long to Delegate
When asked what length of time respondents would like to delegate, most (33%) said six months or less or to define their own terms (33%). Very few people wanted term length to be unlimited (3%), and two years (7.5%), though a fair number would be satisfied with one-year delegation periods (23.5%).
Who Wants to be a Delegate and why
65% of survey respondents had no interest in being a delegate themself. Some added that they may be interested in the future, though.
Survey respondents gave their opinion about why someone might want to become a delegate, with most (49%) citing a desire to influence the network. 35% said prestige, 33% said potential for increasing stake in their collator, and 24% said none.
Some respondents added that community members want to grow the network and community by becoming a delegate.
Other Ways to Participate
We also asked about other ways they would like to be involved in the governance of the Moonbeam Network. In a multi-select answer:
- 51.9% of respondents said they want to participate in proposals in Polkassembly,
- 50.8% said voting in on-chain decisions
- 35.8% chose forum discussions on Moonbeam Community Forum (Discourse),
- 29.9% said they would view recaps of voting history or summaries of the latest activities
- 27.8% said they would vote in off-chain signal or sentiment voting on Snapshot while
- 11.8% indicated they do not want to participate in any additional way.