[Phase 1] HIP-11: Establish a set of Guiding Principles for Proof of Humanity

Simple Summary

This proposal delineates the implementation of a set of core principles that guide decisions in the DAO.


Currently, rules and procedures in the PoH are made without any guiding principles or common framework. Although decentralization of governance creates new opportunities and benefits for centralized governments, it can also create opportunities for bad actors to abuse or exploit the system. This set of principles are made to counteract them. This will generate a normative hierarchy for the Principles, HIPs, and individual actions within the system.


The intention is to have a core set of guiding principles developed that support the system’s governance. Each decision would be tested against these guiding principles to ensure we keep on the path of our vision.

Proof of Humanity is at risk of following the rules and decisions the way they were written, rather than in the project’s spirit. We are building technology to serve fundamental human rights. Without a guiding set of core principles, it is challenging to create the context for each decision.

Models of governance like the Bill of Rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and The 10 Principles of Burning Man are guiding approaches that support countries and communities to develop better governance.


The following is a suggestion for a list of principles:

The Guiding Principles of Proof of Humanity

  1. The principle of humanity - humans must always come first.

  2. The principle of equality - all humans must be treated equally and have equal opportunity on the system.

  3. The principle of fairness - all humans must be treated fairly in all interactions on the system.

  4. The principle of transparency - all interactions must be fully transparent.

  5. The principle of abundance - money must never be a barrier to access the system, participation in governance, tribunals, or leaving the system.

  6. The principle of kindness - all systems and processes must be kind.

  7. The principle of do no harm - all systems and processes must not create harm to any human.

  8. The principle of 7 generations - all systems must be built with the next 7 generations in mind

  9. The principle of having fun along the way - the way we get there is as important as where we are going

  10. The principle of sovereignty - each human in the system has its own will and will not be coerced to act against its will.

  11. The principle of free speech - each human is free to express their ideas, their dissent, as long as they are not hateful nor inciteful.

  12. The principle of free assembly - persons in the system have the freedom to form collectives to defend or share their ideas, as long they do not violate other principles.

  13. The principle of the spirit of the law - the spirit of a law must take precedence over the letter of the law

  14. The principle of language neutrality - no language in the system should be a disadvantage over the other.

  15. The principle of parsimony - all things being equal, the simplest solution to a problem should always prevail.

  16. The principle of environmental stewardship - taking into account the responsible use and protection of our planet.

  17. The principle of decentralization - all precautions should be taken to ensure systems remain protected against centralisation and control.

  18. The principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Proof of Humanity explicitly endorses this declaration until such time a decentralised version is available.

Hat tip to @ludovico and @Justin for collaboration on this. It would be great to get some feedback on this overall approach.


Thanks Marc for sparking this conversation!
Let’s bring back humanity to PoH!


I like it!
Have questions on the scope of principle 4. regarding transparency. What do we mean with this?

Also with “having fun” on principle 9. (I would include “as long as it doesn®t violate other principles”) People may have the most varied ways of having fun haha

And last, on the 14. language neutrality, how would this interact with the guideline where we demand to use English as language for registering.

Great work ! thanks!! @marcwinn


This is fantastic work folks. Thanks. I would perhaps add something if I may? I think it may be a little backwards to establish principles without establishing an over-arching purpose. Why does the DAO exist? What does it hope to achieve etc? A good starting point - and a pointer to the fact that deciding these things is not a ‘quick fix’ proposition, is this excellent article on Chaordic Organisations, which I believe provides a strong template for DAO governance in general.

It’s a long time since I studied law, but it is clear that we need to be very careful of the terminology we use in order to ensure absolute clarity and unambiguity. For example, a lawyer would tell you that introducing a ‘spirit of the law’ rule raises all sorts of potential confusion. Who defines this spirit? What does it encompass? In what cases is it valid and when not?

It may sound boring and unnecessary, but I would suggest that each principle (and a purpose?) be discussed individually to ensure that it is clear, and most importantly that those to come in 7 generations understand how and why the principles were adopted in the first place. Contexts change dramatically over time. We need to give them every bit of help we can to manage that chaordinated change.


We just want to get some feedback before we take it to snapshot. We may update it first if there are some things that we have missed that the community comes back on.

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Cool. Will be monitoring it. However, if I don’t see it early enough, send me a DM pls :slight_smile:

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For me this applies on many levels. The DAO (example spending reserves), the registry (on-chain with full transparency of every action), etc.

Agreed, this could be expanded on (or maybe removed?)

This is exactly the point. These principles don’t have to appease the rules already in place. Instead they will be a framework to adjust everything else around. Demanding English does violate the spirit of #4. So if the community ratifies as-is then we would need to work on the English rule because it would be out of alignment with our core.


Although I don’t disagree with items on the list, I will offer an opinion on why we might not want to establish this (at least at this point).

My feeling is that people end up falling back on “but these are our guidelines”, and it can really stifle our ability to discuss and react to the world around us. That can be a very good thing too! it can help us not become reactionary in our decision making, and it can force us to do work that we might not be bothered to do otherwise, we force ourselves to live up to our ideals.

But the nice thing about not having this is that at the moment in every discussion we have we must discuss all of these topics again! We have to redefine what is guiding PoH in every conversation, rather than defining it once and falling back on that definition. I think that is incredibly valuable. I think this semi-spoken, evolving, collective consciousness can continually guide us, and keeping that unfettered and informal keeps it alive in each of us. Does that make sense?

Each time a new action or proposal occurs we must all discuss “what am I doing here, how does this help PoH”, and that allows us to presence ourselves in every decision we make, and not fall into ideas of “this is what we said we are, and this is how we do things”.

I think that we can allow ourselves, at least in these early days, some breathing room from our own judgement. The world is messy, we can let ourselves be a bit messy too.

That said, I understand the motivation behind this too. If we pass these principles then we are forced to find technical solutions to our problems. If we say it is language neutral then we have to start implementing multiple languages somehow.
But I would rather see direct challenges to existing issues, and creative solutions presented, and discussion on how that issue can be solved.


There’s currently HIP-5 that stipulates 3 phases for a binding proposal. A first signalling poll will be launched at phase 2.

If the Principle of the spirit of the law would have been in place, we would not have the catastrophic failure of rule #4 of video submissions, where a lot of 360p videos measuring 352 pixels wide were not accepted as valid. This is just one example of a use case of this principle.

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I see your point, Isaac. This is just the ideation phase and there is a long road to make it binding. I agree that flexibility is key in developing DAOs, but it is also important to have the minimum foundations of it to build it upon. Maybe the removal of some of the principles is a way to be less stiffened on the way forward.

The language principle is indeed a complicated thing to build upon within the platform from a technical standpoint, but you have to admit that when you impose someone else to learn a language that is not your mother tongue, you are creating a different set of opportunities for them. 360 million people speak English as first language, 4.6% of world population. This means that 95% would need to learn English to operate within the platform (second-language percentage of world population is hard to estimate but worst estimates say that 75% do not speak English at all). This must be discussed and it is going to be a hot debate. I personally say half joking and half seriously that everyone should learn Esperanto in the long way. That is the only way we all play in a leveled field.

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Yes absolutely language is an issue. The fact is that English is the de facto language of the web, and unless we want to stray into dark waters (Cantonese anyone?) perhaps it would need better, easier to keep things simple for now? I don’t have a solution.

You have to ask yourself “simple for who?”. I am a priviledged person in my country because I had very expensive English language education and this is why I am able to debate with you right now. How many of the brilliant minds on the 75% of the world would not be part of this conversation?


I agree with you, I also admire the effort and thought put into this, and I share the motivation behind it.

We are now a community of less than 5000 registered people, and I dare to day less than 300 that are active in the forum. It seems to me that it’s very early to establish principles that were not developed organically. The Burning Man principles were created 18 years after the first burn, we can a wait a few months.

I can see how some of the principles come from pre-established ideas of what they are trying to accomplish. I would rather prefer to discuss the proposals without any written “binding” principles that can murky the waters for a proper discussion. We already saw how one of the principles would have affected the discussion on requiring challengers to be registered, even before it was approved: HIP-9 [Phase-1]: Require registered users to challenge profiles - #31 by 0x6687c671980e65ebd722b9146fc61e2471558dd6_Ethereum

An an alternative, maybe we can discuss 5 of them at a time, with the proper time and engagement?


+1 for the idea. This reminds me of the famous Python Easter Egg, Zen of Python, which serves as guiding inspiration in that community:

>>> import this
The Zen of Python, by Tim Peters

Beautiful is better than ugly.
Explicit is better than implicit.
Simple is better than complex.
Complex is better than complicated.
Flat is better than nested.
Sparse is better than dense.
Readability counts.
Special cases aren't special enough to break the rules.
Although practicality beats purity.
Errors should never pass silently.
Unless explicitly silenced.
In the face of ambiguity, refuse the temptation to guess.
There should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it.
Although that way may not be obvious at first unless you're Dutch.
Now is better than never.
Although never is often better than *right* now.
If the implementation is hard to explain, it's a bad idea.
If the implementation is easy to explain, it may be a good idea.
Namespaces are one honking great idea -- let's do more of those!
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Values statements like this are important because they enable an organization to maintain a moral compass:

Values [lead to] Goals [which lead to] Tasks

Each thing we do should be traceable back to a core value.

Style Suggestion: Chunking in Groups of 3–5 items

Humans are only good at keeping a limited number of things in their heads. A common speechwriting guideline is to make your three best points, etc.

A relevant example for us: The Six Pillars of Character See how they “chunk” many good ideas together, and made tough choices. E.g., courage can be found under trustworthiness.


I think it would be important to say that we should create in a way in alignment with all principles. The ‘keep it fun’ principle is the most important one. From a value creation point of view, fun is free. One of the biggest issues I see in change-making is that people take it too seriously. Virtue doesn’t bridge as deep into communities as much as humour does. Algorithmically it is a deliberate ploy to get scale. Taiwan’s use of memes to deal with misinformation is a good example. Humour over rumour? The world can learn a lot from Taiwan’s approach to fake news | Arwa Mahdawi | The Guardian

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I think this is a fair and interesting point. There are two aspects at play here as well. Is the purpose of this platform to reliably identity every human or solve global poverty? I find that the essence of projects is best described by the initiators. I’d be interested in how @santisiri would articulate the core purpose of the project. Yes I think it should be the first thing to be mentioned before the ‘how we travel there’ is laid out.

French translation

[Phase 1] HIP-11 : Établir un ensemble de principes directeurs pour Proof of Humanity

Cette proposition dĂ©finit la mise en Ɠuvre d’un ensemble de principes fondamentaux qui guident les dĂ©cisions de la DAO.

Actuellement, les rĂšgles et les procĂ©dures du PoH sont faites sans aucun principe directeur ou cadre commun. Bien que la dĂ©centralisation de la gouvernance crĂ©e de nouvelles opportunitĂ©s et des avantages pour les gouvernements centralisĂ©s, elle peut Ă©galement crĂ©er des opportunitĂ©s d’abus ou d’exploitation du systĂšme de la part de mauvais agents. Cet ensemble de principes est conçu pour les contrer. Cela permettra de gĂ©nĂ©rer une hiĂ©rarchie normative pour les principes, les HIP et les actions individuelles au sein du systĂšme.

L’objectif est de dĂ©velopper un ensemble de principes directeurs qui soutiennent la gouvernance du systĂšme. Chaque dĂ©cision sera testĂ©e par rapport Ă  ces principes directeurs afin de s’assurer rester aligner avec notre vision.

Proof of Humanity court le risque de suivre les rĂšgles et les dĂ©cisions telles qu’ elles ont Ă©tĂ© Ă©crites, plutĂŽt que dans l’esprit du projet. Nous construisons une technologie au service des droits humains fondamentaux. Sans un ensemble de principes fondamentaux, il est difficile de crĂ©er le contexte de chaque dĂ©cision.

Les modĂšles de gouvernance tels que la DĂ©claration des droits, la DĂ©claration universelle des droits de l’homme 1 et les 10 principes de Burning Man sont des approches directrices qui aident les pays et les communautĂ©s Ă  dĂ©velopper une meilleure gouvernance.

Ce qui suit est une suggestion pour une liste de principes :

Les principes directeurs de la preuve d’humanitĂ© (POH)
Le principe d’humanitĂ© - les humains doivent toujours passer en premier.

Le principe d’égalitĂ© - tous les humains doivent ĂȘtre traitĂ©s de la mĂȘme maniĂšre et avoir les mĂȘmes chances dans le systĂšme.

Le principe d’équitĂ© - tous les humains doivent ĂȘtre traitĂ©s Ă©quitablement dans toutes les interactions au sein du systĂšme.

Le principe de transparence : toutes les interactions doivent ĂȘtre totalement transparentes.

Le principe d’abondance - l’argent ne doit jamais ĂȘtre un obstacle Ă  l’accĂšs au systĂšme, Ă  la participation Ă  la gouvernance, aux tribunaux ou Ă  la sortie du systĂšme.

Le principe de bienveillance - tous les systĂšmes et processus doivent ĂȘtre bienveillants.

Le principe de non-nuisance –tous les systùmes et processus ne doivent faire de mal à aucun humain.

Le principe des 7 gĂ©nĂ©rations - tous les systĂšmes doivent ĂȘtre construits en pensant aux 7 prochaines gĂ©nĂ©rations.

Le principe de prendre plaisir Ă  participer - le chemin parcouru est aussi important que la destination.

Le principe de la souverainetĂ© - chaque humain au sein du systĂšme a sa propre volontĂ© et ne sera pas contraint d’agir contre sa volontĂ©.

Le principe de la libertĂ© d’expression - chaque humain est libre d’exprimer ses idĂ©es, son dĂ©saccord, tant qu’elles ne sont pas haineuses ou incitatives.

Le principe de la libertĂ© de rĂ©union - les personnes du systĂšme ont la libertĂ© de former des collectifs pour dĂ©fendre ou partager leurs idĂ©es, tant qu’elles ne violent pas les autres principes.

Le principe de l’esprit de la loi - l’esprit d’une loi doit primer sur la lettre de la loi.

Le principe de la neutralitĂ© linguistique - aucune langue du systĂšme ne doit ĂȘtre dĂ©savantagĂ©e par rapport Ă  une autre.

Le principe de parcimonie - toutes choses étant égales, la solution la plus simple à un problÚme doit toujours prévaloir.

Le principe de la bonne intendance de l’environnement - prendre en compte l’utilisation responsable et la protection de notre planùte.

Le principe de dĂ©centralisation - toutes les prĂ©cautions doivent ĂȘtre prises pour que les systĂšmes restent Ă  l’abri de la centralisation et du contrĂŽle.

Le principe de la DĂ©claration universelle des droits de l’homme - Proof of Humanity endosse explicitement cette dĂ©claration jusqu’à ce qu’une version dĂ©centralisĂ©e soit disponible.

Remerciements Ă  @ludovico et @Justin pour leur collaboration sur ce sujet. Nous serions ravis de recevoir vos commentaires sur cette approche globale.

Hat tip to Dan Acher for this.


I think there is a good argument to discussing each item individually. There is also a good argument to go an initial binding vote to suggest that we are governed by a guiding set of principles which will then be discussed and voted on individually.