Decentrally-governed projects can’t be roadmapped

Burak Benligiray
2 min readJul 22, 2021

People are used to see an official roadmap on a project’s website. No matter what the reason is, unfamiliarity breeds stress, and most people avoid this at all costs. In contrast, all worthwhile things are different, and the game is to figure out if things are different because they are good or bad (protip: most different things are bad).

So, why don’t we have a roadmap? Because a roadmap is a time-critical promise, and no one has the power to make such promises in a decentrally-governed project, especially multi-year ones. Therefore, if someone is giving you a roadmap for a decentrally-governed project, they are being dishonest in either of two ways:

  • They didn’t actually decentralize the governance, it’s all theater
  • They don’t care about having to be able to keep their promises

Say we really wanted to come up with a roadmap, and decided that a specific task will be done in Q2 2022. This is contingent on the DAO being onboard with the plan continuously until that time, which may not happen due to many reasons (for example, to pursue a more lucrative opportunity), and the DAO can enforce its will simply through budgetary control. Then, a roadmap for an actually decentralized project is just an uneducated good wish, which may be overruled by the API3 because it doesn’t care about your roadmap. But how do you know what to work towards without a roadmap? Simply speaking, the whitepaper is as good of a roadmap as there can be.

Then, do explicit roadmaps have no place in API3? Not at all. The monolith–undertaking structure allows projects to be broken down into a roadmap, and each step to be funded by a proposal. There, the team proposes to the DAO that if they choose to fund the venture, certain items will be delivered over a schedule (which may not hold, but this is the fault of the roadmapper more than the concept of a roadmap). This is only feasible because the teams that give proposals are centrally-governed within themselves, and can make reliable promises about what the granted funds will be used for.

Ending on a practical note, I will be discontinuing the API3 Roadmap board. I attempted maintaining this as a compromise between having a traditional roadmap and not having one, but it increasingly lost its effectiveness as we have become more decentralized, and I believe the launch of the authoritative DAO is the final nail in its coffin. The teams are free to come up with smaller-scale substitutes, but I no longer find it appropriate (or even possible) to curate a project-wide board.