The Personhood Module in POKT DAO

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POKT Network
Nov 21, 2023
The Personhood Module in POKT DAO

POKT Network has pioneered democratic governance since its inception, steering clear of the centralizing forces we see in token-based voting models. As a result, we have a Gini Coefficient of 0 while the majority of DAOs have a Gini Coefficient tending to 1.

By protecting minority power, we enabled our community to remain empowered and active, leading Messari to observe “impressive engagement, proving a small but mighty DAO can stand out across various decentralization and operational metrics”.

We are now proposing that we evolve from our current 1-person-1-vote model to an expanded model that incorporates reputation and capital.

A key enabler of this expansion is a Modular Governance model (see here for more context).

Personhood is the first of these modules, because of its foundational role in establishing a core governance primitive – the notion of identity or humanity.

Personhood underpins our ability to understand whose rights we should protect, to measure activities (reputation) of our stakeholders across our digital ecosystem, and to reinforce limits on majority power. It is more than an ID, it’s the foundation for POKT Network’s vision of a world where digital infrastructure is owned and governed by its users.

Without Personhood, we are vulnerable to sock-puppets and Sybil identities that undermine the integrity of citizenship in our DAO and stop us from building the modular, future proof, governance we envision.

You can read a technical specification of the personhood module shortly.

We will also share more details about our other modules over the coming weeks.

Personhood as a core primitive

Personhood is more than an ID, it’s the foundation for POKT Network’s vision of a world where digital infrastructure is owned and governed by its users.

It is a foundational concept, particularly when it comes to:

Citizenship & Voting

Personhood is a prerequisite to establishing citizenship and citizenship is key.

One way to protect minority interests is by establishing the notion of citizenship.

Citizens are stakeholders who actively participate in the POKT Network community and work to understand and exemplify the project’s DNA, meaning they collectively understand and defend POKT Network’s vision, values, and culture.

We preserve the vision, values, and culture of POKT DAO by granting citizens a portion of overall voting power (proposed to be 10%). This limits the ability of the other two stakeholder groups (Stakers and Builders) from gaining a unilateral majority.

We reinforce these protections by requiring other stakeholder groups, Builders and Stakers, to also become Citizens in order to vote. And nobody will be able to vote without a Gitcoin Passport, ensuring that limits are preserved and that each vote is cast by a unique human.


Personhood facilitates the allocation of Reputation through unique identifiers.

POKT DAO has pioneered the use of reputation in governance, through our early iteration of what has now become widely known as “verified credentials” or “soulbound tokens”, which we have been calling “trophies”.

A core challenge in scaling this system is the ability to measure the activities of stakeholders across the platforms that comprise our digital environment, to build a full picture of their reputation in the DAO while tying it back to a consistent identity.

Currently activities are measured across Discord, Discourse, Twitter, Snapshot, GitHub, Telegram, and the POKT Protocol itself, but as far as the system is concerned these activities are all being performed by independent actors. It is currently up to the humans in our DAO to connect the dots between the platforms, although even then it can be difficult (looking at those of you who like to use different usernames everywhere).

A Personhood module provides us with a consistent identity that can integrate with all of our platforms, to connect activities and help build a reputation graph for every stakeholder, then integrates with our other governance modules so that they can leverage identity, citizenship, and now reputation as concepts.

Reasonable Limits

In enfranchising two new stakeholder categories (Stakers and Builders), it is important that we do not overcorrect and entrench them as the new authority in the DAO.

It’s no good establishing a system of loosely coupled modules if one of your modules exerts itself on the others. This is where one of the most common uses of Personhood comes into our governance model – we need to set limits on our reputation and capital modules, and we need sybil (sock-puppet) protection to ensure that these limits cannot be bypassed.

Within Staker House’s token-weighted system, Personhood ensures that the system we have designed to keep vote weight in balance – it’s similar to quadratic voting –  can’t be gamed by people voting with additional wallets.

Similarly in the Builder House, where there is a cap on how much vote a single builder can accrue, Personhood maintains the integrity of that cap and prevents people from spinning up other identities to circumvent that cap.

Personhood & Self-sovereignty

By selecting Gitcoin Passport within this Personhood module, we’re supporting self-sovereign identity because the reputation and track record that you build is wholly yours and entirely transportable.

This portable identity will be especially critical to our Reputation module, where you will earn credentials that you can take with you to any other DAO

More on the Reputation module coming soon.

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