Our Work on Comparative Analysis of Centralized and Decentralized Developer Autonomous Organizations Accepted by IEEE Transactions On Computational Social Systems

Blockchain Human Factors

Our recent work, “A Comparative Analysis of Centralized and Decentralized Developer Autonomous Organizations Managing Conflicts in Discussing External Crises”, is accepted to be published in IEEE Transactions On Computational Social Systems.

Understanding how online developer communities address conflicts that arise in discussions is essential to the collaboration issue. However, few studies have focused on the conflicts caused by external crises, such as geopolitical events. In this work, we comparatively studied how a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), Aave project community, and a centralized autonomous organization (CAO), GitHub project community, managed the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian Crisis caused conflicts. Our mixed-method analysis showed that a DAO could be better than a CAO for mitigating conflicts. And blockchain technologies (i.e., voting and cryptocurrency) played vital roles.

There are four conflicts in developer communities: task conflict, affective conflict, process conflict, and normative conflict. After the eruption of the Russo-Ukrainian crisis in Feb. 2022, crisis discussions occurred and the task conflict was triggered in both communities (Fig.1 and Fig.2). According to our observation, NLP, and co-occurrence network analysis, task conflict could be resolved by staff locked discussions in GitHub and blockchain-based member voting in Aave (the changes of yellow highlights in Fig.3 and Fig.4). But task conflict transformed into affective conflict on GitHub because of its centralized conflict management (Fig.5), while Aave’s DAO model averted the conflicts transformation (Fig.6).

This work presents the sociological reasons for DAO’s conflict alleviation. Conducting QCA method on governance data of these two communities, we found that in face of an external crisis, Aave fits the four conditions of contact theory (i.e.,equal status, common goals, intergroup cooperation, and support of neutral authority) well depending on its DAO model. Hence, it is more likely to alleviate community conflicts (Fig.7). 

Then, we further analyzed the vital role of blockchain-based voting and cryptocurrency during the process. Firstly, the more anonymous interaction method can make community members focus on governance details and avoid harmful personal attacks. Secondly, as shown in the VAR analysis in Fig. 7, the token-based vote is expected to bring a positive return of 36.65 USD (-46.36, 118.36, 95% CI) after being executed. Therefore, it is easier to combine the interests between DAO members and their community. Considering the low voting rate within DAO, we proposed to add a monetary incentives during the voting to encourage more community members to participate in forming common goals (Fig. 8). In the future, we will cooperate with a DAO and run an experiment to figure out the effectiveness of our improvement.

We would like to thank Dr. Zikai Alex Wen from HKUST(GZ) for his dedicated support and guidance. This study also acknowledges the support from SeeDAO and the inspiration from its researchers.