Preserving Pseudonymity in DAOs
March 30th, 2022

This post was written by Kagami. Thanks to DAO Masters contributor Zvi Band for their edits and revisions, as well as Jocelyn Hsu from Editorial Team!

Pseudo-anonymity or pseudonymity is like a digital pen name where a person adopts a new name to represent them online. It’s an important feature of web3 that allows a person to explore digital identities and areas of interest that aren’t associated with their in real life (IRL) names.

For many people, pseudo-anonymity is an important choice to protect their IRL identities. This is especially true for marginalized demographics, victims of harassment, and people that may not accept their interest in web3. Preserving and respecting their pseudo-anonymity is important as they explore and onboard onto web3.

DAOs are at the forefront of attracting and onboarding talented contributors into web3. While this practice isn’t new, pseudo-anon contributors are. With web3 being so nascent, DAOs are faced with an important question–how can DAOs attract, evaluate, and onboard talented pseudo-anon contributors while preserving their pseudonymity?

Pseudo-Anons Want to Contribute

Pseudo-anons are interested in participating in DAOs and carving out a space for themselves in web3. While it’s easy to join a DAO’s Discord and read through their docs, not every DAO has a pseudo-anon-friendly contributor application form.

Pseudo-anons may feel self-conscious about masking their IRL identity, so DAOs should create forms that put them at ease and respect their choice. This can be accomplished with a small series of changes to most contributing forms.

Replace current fields with these psuedo-anon friendly ones.
Replace current fields with these psuedo-anon friendly ones.

Many pseudo-anonymous contributors worry that their anonymity may put them at a disadvantage. DAOs should leverage contributor application forms to quickly address this and put them at ease. DAOs can create separate forms that are tailored for doxxed and pseudo-anon contributors and begin their form by saying all contributors, including pseudo-anons, are welcome.

Pseudo-Anons Are Hard To Evaluate

Pseudo-anon contributors understand DAOs may have trouble evaluating their skill levels. Given how nascent web3 is, many pseudo-anons don’t have an extensive on-chain resume and may not be able to share their traditional resume or portfolio for a DAO to evaluate.

This can be a difficult situation for many DAOs to solve. While DAOs need talented contributors, it can be risky to trust a pseudo-anon contributor who lacks any on-chain or proven experience with a project. Traditional companies solved the lack of experience problem through internships and degrees, but that requires an organizational structure and oversight that DAOs do not currently possess.

In order to address this situation, DAOs can implement three techniques that allow pseudo-anons to showcase their talent and previous experience. This allows DAOs to gather extra data points to evaluate pseudo-anon contributors and the quality of their potential contributions.

Three techniques for how DAOs can become more accessible for psuedo-anons
Three techniques for how DAOs can become more accessible for psuedo-anons

While open-ended application questions and improved Discord organization are relatively easy to implement, bounty programs are a large commitment for DAOs. Building an effective bounty program is a powerful way for DAOs to solve difficult problems they face and potentially attract and onboard contributors, including pseudo-anons.

Pseudo-Anons Juggle Multiple Identities

Pseudo-anons juggle multiple identities that may lead to accidental doxxing depending on the tools DAOs use. Zoom, Google Meets, and Google Docs are common tools in any DAO tech stack. While everyone is familiar with these tools, they may automatically connect to a pseudo-anon’s personal or work email and accidentally dox them.

In order to preserve privacy for pseudo-anons, DAOs should leverage tooling built around wallet addresses or that are web3 friendly. While tooling is still a growing area, there are some tools that replace traditional web2 tooling.

Web3 friendly tools to use instead of common Web2 tools
Web3 friendly tools to use instead of common Web2 tools

While leveraging web3 friendly tools creates a less seamless experience, it helps preserve privacy for pseudo-anon contributors. As web3 grows and tooling improves, DAOs that develop these practices will position themselves as pseudo-anon contributor friendly and organically attract pseudo-anon talent in the future.

Preserving Pseudo-Anonymity in DAOs

DAOs have a large talent pool of potential pseudo-anonymous contributors. In order to attract this talent, DAOs can make adjustments that preserve their privacy. DAOs can start with small adjustments like stating that video is not required for a meeting and refraining from asking seemingly innocuous questions like “where are you based”.

These adjustments can progress to creating pseudo-anon-friendly contributor forms, web3 friendly productivity tools, and running effective bounty programs that allow pseudo-anon contributors to showcase their talent and reduce the risk DAOs face onboarding them.

As web3 grows, pseudo-anon contributors will showcase their talents and build on-chain resumes and reputations. The DAOs that adopt practices that preserve pseudonymity will be positioned to attract, onboard, and retain top pseudo-anon talent.

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