Governance in Decentralized Platforms and DAOs: Braintrust Case

5 min readJan 28, 2022

What is a DAO? What makes a platform decentralized?

Decentralized Autonomous Organization

  • Decentralized, the rules can’t be changed by a single individual or centralized group;
  • Autonomous, they operate based on a smart contract, meaning they will continue functioning as long as the underlying blockchain continues to function;
  • Organizations, coordinated activity among a community of stakeholders: ex: developers and users on a specific blockchain network; Ethereum, Avalanche, Tezos etc.

DAOs run with on-chain governance. In traditional corporate governance, companies have bylaws that dictate certain policies; for example, to select board members. DAOs replaces bylaws with smart contracts.

‘’The Meaning of Decentralization’’ by Vitalik (founder of Ethereum) is an important milestone to deeply understand decentralization.

Decentralized platforms of Web3 uses Discord as the workspace.

Core team to community managers, contributors to lurkers; they all discuss the most important things about work, host live meetings, announce news, have casual chats: all in Discord. For many web3/blockchain/crypto related people, Discord is home now. This is where we hang out online with all the memes, bots and humans together.

However I love Discord, it’s not our centre today and I highly suggest you to read more about the importance of Discord for modern communities here: ‘’Discord-Imagine a Place’’ by Not Boring x The Generalist.

Inside the Discord Server of Braintrust

Before I started writing this Medium, I searched for the most suitable decentralized platform to use as an example here explaining on-chain governance.

What were the spesific features i looked for in a healty governance system?

  • Having a well structured governance system and documenting it
  • Making clear statements about how to participate in governance
  • Using a good voting system like Snapshot
  • Having appropriate amount of active and past proposals
  • Having communication spaces like Forum or specific subchannels on Discord under the name of ‘Governance’ for community members where they start discussions and have conversations about proposal ideas

A user-owned/controlled talent network, Braintrust seemed like it suits those features above. Braintrust is a top talent platform like Toptal, Upwork, Gigster but with a difference, it’s on blockchain and decentralized.

Braintrust’s blockchain-powered model aligns the incentives of the network itself with the people building it. This is made possible by awarding control and user ownership through BTRST tokens based on contributions to the network. The token powers the entire decentralized network’s governance, incentivizing the community to build the network through referring clients and inviting and vetting new talent.

Governance allows any community member to propose an idea that can improve the platform+contributors.

If you have any amount of token from the platform, in our case $BRST, through voting with their tokens, you are able to:

  • Control the future of the network,
  • Decide which categories it expands into,
  • How disputes should be resolved,
  • What platform fees should be,
  • What the platform rules should be,
  • Other network governance topics you want any change.

Any DAO like Braintrust discusses the governance proposals, ideas, plans etc. first on Discord. Remember I told Discord is the workplace? That’s what i meant. Even there are subchannels on the server for it.

Governance subchannels
  • It all starts with an idea that materializes into a proposal, which is a write-up of the idea in more detail with description and arguments.
  • Community then express their opinion on the proposal by voting with the tokens they hold in their crypto wallet (Metamask, Rainbow etc.). More tokens you have=more voting power you will have.
  • If the results of the voting process for a proposal are favorable, the proposal gets executed via code on the blockchain and a new governance goes live.
Proposals of Braintrust on Snapshot

Let’s explain with a real example.

  1. Some community members of Braintrust started a conversation around fees.
  2. Discussion went deeper and they turned the convo into a proposal.
  3. The proposal went live on Snapshot, which is a decentralized voting system.
  4. Token owners voted and the proposal passed.
Proposal on Snapshot: Changing the fee payment model for Braintrust

As a result of the proposal:

In governance side; the Client Fees (GSV) are going to be used for buying BTRST on the open market and will be transferred into the Braintrust DAO treasury for the community.

In community side; contributors are really excited about this given the growth of GSV in the network.

How the fee converter works:
1. Client pays an invoice
2. Fee collected in USD
3. Nodes convert client fees collected in USD into USDC to send to the new Fee Converter smart contract
4. Fee Converter buys BTRST
5. BTRST goes to DAO
6. DAO funds community programs and network referral bonuses

How did it get added to the protocol?

This was a community-driven initiative — proposed, voted and completely implemented by the community.

What will the purchased BTRST be used for?

Client fees converted to BTRST will pay for referral fees, fund community grants and replenish the Braintrust on-chain treasury, aka. the whole community benefits.

Why does this matter?

The demand for BTRST is now programmatically linked to the GSV of the network as 10% of all GSV will be used to purchase BTRST. This is a huge upgrade to the protocol and we as a community should be proud of accomplishing this milestone.

In conclusion:

Ownership in centralized platforms is highly concentrated between a few people and investors.

In decentralized platforms, it’s controlled by their token governance community. Decisions about how the network evolves are made by the people who use network the most, which we call, community.

Which of them do you think we should have more in 2022 and upcoming?

More about governance:

How to participate in governance (Video Tutorial):

To understand how it works better: