A heated debate about the organization’s finances descended into conspiracy, and the decentralized governance project Aragon has banned at least six community members from its town square. In an email to CoinDesk, Aragon’s director of communications, Jessica Smith, said that on Tuesday, “coordinated” individuals deluged the Discord server with “probing questions” and “inappropriate language.” The upsurge in conversation and new members coincided with a long-delayed attempt to take back control of Aragon’s coffers. The community members’ questions were answered by exiling them, emphasizing the conflict between a DAO’s appearance of “power to the people” and the reality that a small number of stakeholders can retain enormous influence.
Decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, are cryptocurrency clubs where token owners have a role in operational decisions. Aragon creates software to assist DAOs. Nearly a year ago, the ANT community of Aragon’s users voted to have more direct control over the project’s use of its treasury, which contains cryptocurrencies worth more than $70 million. The transition has not been easy at all. Aragon’s power brokers eventually began transferring money into a new structure under the DAO’s authority after months of delays and slow-walking. Around the same time, though, its moderators started to ban ostensibly anyone who criticized the project and its leaders.
The banned members, according to Aragon, have a history of “similar incidents” in prior DAOs. The community members who had questioned Aragon’s leadership, procedures, and legitimacy as a legitimate DAO were exiled as a result of Aragon’s reaction. The bulk of persons affected by the ban were ANT investors, making them DAO members or long-time users of Aragon’s Discord.
The participation in ROOK, which disbanded its DAO last month in response to activist investors’ demands that the initiative restore funds to its token holders, is one factor that unites the blacklisted individuals. Jessica Smith from Aragon failed to explain why the company thought the claimed actions were being carried out by “coordinated” people, although she did claim that the information came from a “trusted source.” Actions taken by Aragon’s moderators that go against the concept of “censorship-resistant” cryptocurrencies include the ability to remove dissidents and delete their thoughts in order to “set” (or “rejigger”) the discourse.