DAO Tools Research - Idle DAO Modular Stack


Treasury League, DAO Architecture area - @emixprime, reviewed by @Biaf @Teo @Felix @RTP2016


Lately, we’ve seen many discussions happening in the DeFi space about DAOs regarding how to improve and scale them long-term. Most of the discussions have focused on DAO tooling - infrastructure and applications to help DAOs to be more efficient and effective in various areas of DAO management.

That said, some areas of tooling are more developed than others and many tools are still refining their core features.

*added Idle Leagues to this overview made by @nichanank

In addition, to facilitate the experience of the core contributors of a DAO, these tools also include features to increase democracy within a DAO (with new voting methods) and meritocracy (by rewarding those who contribute).

Given the proven usefulness of some of these tools, during the last mandate, we decided to explore the other more well-known tools to understand which of these tools could be adopted by the Idle DAO to make day-to-day operations and community building/governance more efficient and effective.

Idle DAO Modular Stack

First of all, to understand and better identify which tools to test, we asked ourselves what the difficulties and problems that a user in the governance processes could find were.

Thus, we have summarized DAO activities that are mainly performed, listing for each activity what were any barriers or problems experienced during the process:

  • Voting (off-chain & on-chain)
    All votes related to proposals and initiatives discussed in the DAO.

    :mag_right: Problem: actively participating in voting is not for everyone, and if the voting platforms to use become multiple, there’s a risk of making the voting experience harder for community members. Currently, Idle DAO provides three sites for voting:

    • Snapshot IDLE (off-chain vote for IDLE holders)
    • Snapshot stkIDLE (off-chain vote for stkIDLE holders)
    • Idle Governance Dashboard (on-chain vote for IDLE holders, while for stkIDLE holders there’s the approved voting framework);
  • Proposals (Discussions)
    How an idea, novelty, or proposal is born, grows, and is submitted for a vote in the Idle DAO. The discussion aspect is the core of this activity.

    :mag_right: Problem: for this activity, currently, we use the Governance forum (Discourse), where all ideas are brought from creation to discussion to on-chain voting and then implemented. A lack that can be highlighted for it is that there aren’t many options to encourage the active participation of users. But other than this, we haven’t found any problem to highlight.

  • Bounties (Grants & Rewards)
    Being rewarded for contribution on something the Idle DAO needs to get. This activity consists of creating specific discussions to pay a reward to the contributor who worked on some task for the Idle DAO, then possibly initiating payment directly from this discussion if there are no votes against it.

    :mag_right: Problem: for bounties or grants completed by external and internal contributors, we have always processed payments and the creation of tasks separately (after the completion of a bounty, ask for the contributor’s address, copy and paste the address, have the signatures from the other League’s members, then pay the contributor).

  • Notifications (off-chain & on-chain)
    Receiving notifications for any new event in the DAO: could be a new discussion, a new vote, a reminder, or an important announcement.

    :mag_right: Problem: sometimes, we published snapshot polls or IIPs in a short period, and we noticed some missing votes. The reason could be that some users forgot to vote in one poll rather than another or could be unaware of these polls at all. Until now, Leagues’ members were in charge of manually communicating the start and end, with the outcome, of these votes. Thus, something automatic and synced with governance events would be helpful.

With this highlighted analysis, we decided to find a model that can include several tools, helping to aggregate what is currently multiple and simplify and make it more interesting what is single.

So, we chose to follow a modular approach.

In this context, a modular approach describes the flexibility and easiness of integration and interaction with these tools and platforms. Having a modular approach could allow us to use tools and integrate on some platforms and later, or simultaneously, to new ones that might be more complete than others.

This approach would also avoid the constraint of being too tied to a single platform.

Tools and Platforms to Adopt

As seen from the scheme above, we added a platform where these activities can be carried out (or will be carried out if they are new activities).

The idea of having a stack model is also to use, through integration, multiple tools, and platforms, even for a single DAO activity (e.g., Snapshot, which could be integrated into multiple platforms).

These are the platforms we tested, listed by type of activity:

  • Notifications (off-chain & on-chain)

    • EPNS: This platform sends any notification from a protocol, whether there’s an off-chain or on-chain event. As officially announced, we’ll be able to send notifications about governance activity to DAO members with this integration. We can also create further and personalized notifications in addition to the governance ones;
    • Commonwealth*: they have in-app notifications & opt-in email notifications, so the DAO members can stay up-to-date whenever there is a new discussion or proposal. (*provides notifications only for governance events);
  • Voting (off-chain & on-chain)

    All of these platforms (except Tally) are pretty similar in what they offer, having the option to integrate Snapshot, and being able to cast off-chain votes directly on their platform. Votes and the status of the Snapshot polls are updated in real-time.

    In addition to the integration for off-chain voting, these platforms offer the option to integrate on-chain voting, in this case directly from the Idle governance dashboard. DAO members will also be able to delegate their voting power directly from these platforms.

  • Proposals (Discussions)

    • Discourse integration
      • Commonwealth: the Idle forum can be exported and integrated; DAO members can create new proposals and comment directly on the Commonwealth platform;
      • Boardroom*:Easy integration of the Idle forum; users can read all forum discussions via Boardroom (*read-only, it’s not possible to create new discussions or comment posts)
      • Messari Governor*: Currently provides the main info (author, post title) of the forum post linked to an on-chain or off-chain vote and redirects users in the Idle Governance Forum.
  • Bounties (Grants & Rewards)

    • Colony: this platform runs on the xDAI chain (now Gnosis Chain).
      It offers many features, and by enabling the motion feature, DAO members can create discussions to send a reward to contributors for tasks done. The process of a motion creation is unique: the creator must stake X amount of token to publish this motion, and members in favor must stake X amount of token as well. Once the staking period is over, and there weren’t any disputes (read more here to see how a motion can be rejected), the payment is ready to go, and members can claim back the funds staked.

Conclusion :arrow_right:

There is an ongoing integration on some of these platforms as we look to improve the various processes within the IDLE DAO, others are completed, and others are yet to begin.
All of them have been tested by us to see if Idle DAO could benefit from them.

Having all the tools used by the Idle DAO so far in a single platform is a great way to improve the ease of engagement of new users in making governance activities.

On the other hand, modularity remains essential to be flexible enough to adopt new tools if there are any in the future.

:loudspeaker: Now there are some points on which we would like to hear your opinion:

  1. Forum integration - Commonwealth
    The peculiarity of this integration is that, once the forum is imported to the Commonwealth platform, the discussions will continue there, without being synchronized at the same time on the discourse forum as well.

    :question: What do you think? Would you rather have a testing period to see if it might be better than staying here on the forum?

  2. Reputation system - Colony
    It is a very interesting concept that makes the members of a DAO actively involved. Reputation can be earned through rewards for work done or if a dispute is resolved (but the reputation is not recognized for being active in discussions or in the DAO channels) and is necessary if you want to create motions, disputes, and votes. If the DAO member is no longer active for a specific period, the reputation incrementally lowers.

    :question: What do you think? Is the reputation model something we could use in Idle DAO?

    (To get more ideas about Colony and the structure behind it, you can read this article written by @Felix).

  3. One single platform which integrates all the Governance tools
    As you’ve seen from the explanation above and the stack scheme, some platforms offer features to cover almost all DAO activities (Messari Governor included, it’s close to this setup but it lacks a real forum integration inside, @jpurd17 do you think would be possible in the future)?

    :question: Would having all the governance tools integrated into one platform be practical for you?
    Do you feel a risk of centralization in some ways?

We are keen to hear your opinions, especially from @unicorn @Falcone @Coinballers @JonnyReid @8bitporkchop @AllinCrypto @wlamhk @tom @FedeCrypto @idal @idlehusbandry @emilianobonassi who have actively contributed in the forum and for the growth of the ecosystem, some of them since the real beginning of the Idle Governance :shield:

We want to thank @Jaf from EPNS, Kevin from Boardroom, @jpurd17 from Messari, @georgebeall from Commonwealth, and Jack from Colony for the help and the support provided during our integration tests, helping support and provide all the information needed from us to start the integrations and test their platforms :slightly_smiling_face:


Thanks @emixprime for the great post! I love the emphasis on modularity, which allows the DAO to evolve and switch out individual components as better fitting ones emerge or the needs of the DAO change.

I would appreciate ppl reading my article on why I think Colony is great for sustainably decentralized & agile DAOs (the one @emixprime linked in the post). When using Colony for distributing regular or irregular reward payments in IDLE, there is automatically reputation being awarded to the contributors. There will also be a possibility to award reputation per governance decision in regular time intervals to account for other contributions that haven’t been rewarded in IDLE (tbd how this should be implemented exactly - potentially by using sourcecred, which is however less sybil resistant and thus on-chain reputation awards should not be automatic).


Congrats to all League members involved in this research. You manage to review all the best options right now for DAO management. https://atlantis.world/ shows great potential too but we are early.
I agree with the League’s pursuit of a modular stack and both commonwealth and colony are great tools with amazing DAOs supporting growth and functionality.
Discord has become the hub for DAO management and coordination: tracking reputation, contributions, conversations, organizing teams, and even payments.
Commonwealth and colony are putting a ton of resources building deep integration with discord. After this happens, the door is open to migrating the Idle DAO cafe to discord.
This will both make rewarding contributions and coordinating users easier and more efficient.

What I also like about commonwealth and colony is that they also OPEN the door for MORE value creation within the existing Idle DAO. From my experience using both of them, it’s very likely to expect the idle DAO to become the LAUNCHPAD for new products, new teams, and even new tokens… in a nutshell: Idle SUBDAOs, where Idle can become the “parent” DAO.

As always, Idle finance keeps taking big steps in the right direction.


Great piece @emixprime! It’s great to see the DAO tooling landscape building up and how it fits into Idle’s future. I think modularity fits into the composability nature of DeFi and allows the right level of flexibility in case of superior options that may arise in the future.


Having one platform could be nice but we would just need to be fully confident of the platforms’ future commitment to delivering the tools we would need (and want) to operate the DAO efficiently and effectively. It’s very rare one platform does everything well.

I do think a reputation system like Colony would be great to use to help cultivate the Idle community.

Looking forward to implementing some of these new tools soon! :raised_hands:


Hey all! I’m George from the Commonwealth team.

We are an all-in-one DAO tooling platform and are super excited to work with the Idle community. Currently we support dYdX, Osmosis, Redacted, New Order DAO, Solana, Injective, Near, Celo, and 650 other DAOs.

We offer:
-DAO creation
-crowdfunding (still in alpha)
-crypto native discussion
-crypto native chat (still in alpha)
-off chain polling
-full Snapshot integration
-onchain voting
-and much more

You can see more about the platform and these features in action here: https://www.notion.so/hicommonwealth/Scalable-Governance-a6178aa0eb6544feb7c8ad0e31ac82f8


This is a great research-backed insight into DAO management. Really appreciate you pointing out the significance of Push notifications for this process.

As you’ve rightly mentioned, not all community members actively participate in the voting process and this is especially true when there are multiple platforms involved. I believe the lack of direct communication between users and the platform is the primary cause of concern here. It is hard for users to keep up with the process if they have to manually check for updates at every stage.

EPNS circumvents this problem through push notifications. We send out notifications from protocols to their users for both on-chain and off-chain events. For the Idle DAO that incorporates both on-chain and off-chain voting, these notifications could prove to be very useful. The notifications can be fully customized to suit keep the community members updated at every stage of the governance process, thereby increasing participation rates.

We’re excited to be on-board with Idle DAO. Here’s to taking the right steps towards decentralization.


Hi @georgebeall

The notion link you provided is not working. Only whitelisted email accounts can access it.