Topic Proposed for Diamond DAO's first Open-source Research Lab: Anonymity

Hey Frens,

@amphiboly.eth @lemp.eth and I have been burrowing into potential research topics for an extended research lab that Diamond DAO can support for the benefit of creators across Web3. We’ve discussed compensation and diversity as prospective topics, however, upon closer inspection, every topic we consider collides in one way or another with anonymity as it is embedded in the social ethos and technology of blockchain. I propose anonymity for our first season of research.

Further exploration of the topic area follows, discussion is welcome and encouraged!


Anonymity benefits & risks

Anonymity is a celebrated part of crypto culture because of the many perceived benefits.

Convenience in lieu of control

For example, with a crypto wallet address, a pseudonym, and an array of digitally encrypted tools, we are able to earn money, conduct business, and form relationships without ever revealing our real (or complete) identity.

Liberates personal freedom

Under the cloak of anonymity, we are free to make more radical choices that may reflect a truer, deeper identity that we cannot in other contexts. We escape assigned familial, civic, local, or other identifiers (and the pressures that come with them). We join DAOs with causes we are passionate about, connecting with new “tribes” online.

Prevents overt discrimination

When we join groups anonymously or pseudonymously, we can’t be overtly discriminated against due to skin color or gender. (A more complete perspective on exclusion shows that systems can discriminate en masse more effectively than humans.)


Anonymity helps protect assets from theft and token holders’ physical security.

Anonymity in the workplace can have harmful side effects regardless of positive intent.

Unequal representation arises unchecked

One of the most significant sacrifices due to anonymity is the blocking of pertinent demographic information that is vital to the social design of DAOs. For examples, facts about age, race, gender, education level, abilities, location, dependencies, household income, or languages spoken are critical information in creating accessible organizations. If you can’t measure representation, you cannot set up the appropriate scientific parameters to make interventions to help DAOs self-cultivate into diverse, equitable and inclusive communities.

Cannot locate accountability

In the governance context, anonymous voting makes it difficult to hold people accountable for their votes. It’s one thing to have anonymous voting in the civic context (1 person 1 vote), but generally in commercial context, when large sums of money are at stake, we ask for more transparency. A real world precedent is donations to political candidates or standard PACs are not anonymous. Anonymous voting for protocols that are supposed to represent public good doesn’t seem wise when people have unequal voting power.

Anonymity makes it hard to put people first

Anonymity is an obstacle to building trust with teammates or supporting each other. Studies show that seeing a person’s face, knowing where they live, and being privy to other personal details help managers organize work better and propose higher rewards. When work is done highly anonymously, it is much easier to avoid acknowledging if someone is struggling, wither because of circumstances caused by their involvement at the DAO or outside of it.

Blockchain data alone doesn’t tell the whole story

A convincing notion exists that DAOs operate with a high level of transparency because all transactions are on-chain. However, on-chain data separated from real world context (via anonymity) renders the bulk of transaction data irrelevant to understanding. Inequity arises unchecked without systems to create an intelligible reports. Anonymity blocks key characteristics, such as gender, that would be highly relevant to creating a report, for example, on compensation differences between men and women.


I’m a big proponent of this topic and deeply curious to learn about community preferences for their data and privacy in web3. There are so many opposing forces here - economics of data control, ethos of privacy, decentralization and open access protocols - that an informed guidebook with principles on privacy would be a great resource for builders, creators, and dreamers of new web3 applications.

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+1 this as an area for focus

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Super interesting questions !

A few ideas/comments that came to my mind as I was reading:

  1. Anonymity vs Pseudonimity, does having a relationship in cyberspace through a pseudonym sufficient to reconcile the feeling of “knowing one other”
  2. What method or what protocols could be used to study this ?
  3. Would this be more of a qualitative research piece of a quantitative, or a mix ?
  4. What’s the current literature on the topic, I feel like philosophers and though experiments like the panopticon about the induced effects of “transparency” could definitely help here as well!

Amazing talk with you today! I’m really looking forward to us working together, especially developing these questions towards a quantitative/qualitative research methodology.

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@Xqua that last comment was meant for you!

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Thinking purely in terms of data availability… two things that come to mind (a) decentralized identity protocols and (b) Web3 profiles in dapps.

For (a) I am thinking things like BrightID, Proof of Humanity (Kleros), etc. For (b) I am thinking 3box, the Web3 LinkedIn (@jovian do you remember the name? Meta…something?).

So we could see like how much information people provide, what are the characteristics of people that provide a lot of information, etc.

I guess you can add Civic as well right?

But even if some of the data is available, I guess I was curious about what question would be asked on it. Also, maybe adoption of ZK system could be an interesting metric ?

MyMeta is a newish interoperable profile by MetaGame. It combines data from a few different profiles together, and in the words of Peth… “is customizable as f—”

Do we want to have a jam session with Peth (MetaGame) or Adam Stellard (BrightID)? I am friends with both.

This is a super interesting thread, tracking MyMeta’s progress over the past year / trials and tribulations. Lots to learn. MyMeta - Open Raids - MetaGame