One key trait of Nomic that comes from its main spin as a game built around rule changes is adaptability. I am of the opinion that, as of right now, there is no perfect forum on which to play Nomic, but Nomic can and, with a reasonably wise group of players who each have the strengths and limitations of the forum in question in mind, will become more suited to its environment.

Agora, in its over twenty years of history, has adapted to the mailing list format because it had to to facilitate play. Emails are messages that can either be long or short, but that cannot be changed after they are sent. So we had to work around that.

The main manifestation of Agora's adaptation is reports. In BlogNomic, the Ruleset page on the wiki and the GNDT do most of the tracking, whereas in Agora, we publish the information every week because we can't keep a constantly changing record. If we were to transition off a mailing list, Reports would be one of the first mechanics to go.

Along the same line, we have the distribution system of proposals. This goes along with (1), but is still worth mentioning. In most other Nomics, proposals are immediately put up for voting since one post can represent a proposal. Of course, this is not something that would definitely have to go; it's not hard to imagine a blog-based Nomic in which proposals are distributed all at once.

Now, there are many issues with the idea of moving a Nomic platform. Suppose that the mail server went offline one day and a group of Agorans got together off-list to figure out what to do. Chances are, not everyone would agree on everything. It seems to me that there's a non-negligible chance that Agora would split into multiple games at that point, each one claiming to be the true successor to Agora in the same way FRC and Agora itself argue about who is the worthy successor to Nomic World.

Another point: remember how I said Nomic is adaptable? Well, I would like to add an important clarification: Nomic is adaptable, but it adapts slowly. It's likely that some forks of Agora would die out before they finished adapting to the new platform because it would just be so hard to play in its current state.

Now, let's discuss potential new forums for Agora. I believe that a bulletin board would be the best way to continue playing Agora should it be moved. Agoran threads get very long very fast, and a bulletin board would show every comment response. Gamestate tracking could be relegated to a specific category of posts; as could proposals and maybe even minigames. This may just be my personal opinion about bulletin boards being the best out of the current ways to play Nomic; however, I do honestly believe it would be the best way to go.

I hope this helps you with your research, o.

On 2/25/19 5:15 PM, Owen Jacobson wrote:
Hi Agorans! Please put the pitchforks down - I’m here with a question, not a 

It’s my view that the Rules and the structural properties of the fora in which 
Agora is played have a sympathetic relationship with one another. The Rules and 
CFJ case law combine to treat email as the preferred format for playing Agora, 
and in turn email contains properties that make it uniquely attractive to 
Agora’s players.

Rule 478 (“Fora”) sets out the basic requirements for an Agoran forum:

       Freedom of speech being essential for the healthy functioning of
       any non-Imperial nomic, it is hereby resolved that no Player shall
       be prohibited from participating in the Fora, nor shall any person
       create physical or technological obstacles that unduly favor some
       players' fora access over others.
A forum must, in technical implementation, be reasonably equitable,

       Each player should ensure e can receive messages via each public

It is the responsibility of each player to ensure that they can view each fora, 
before it is the responsibility of the forum’s operator to ensure the players 
can view the forum they operate,

       A public message is a message sent via a public forum, or sent to
       all players and containing a clear designation of intent to be
       public. A rule can also designate that a part of one public
       message is considered a public message in its own right. A person
       "publishes" or "announces" something by sending a public message.
A forum is a collection of messages, which may include sub-messages,

are collectively a pretty good description of the email system, as deployed on 
the internet.

However, the use of email (and the use of email distribution lists, in 
particular) is far out of favour on the internet at large. While most people 
can be taught to operate mailman and how to effectively participate in an email 
distribution list discussion, those skills are no longer as prevalent in the 
internet userbase as they may once have been. This shows up for Agora in terms 
of people failing to subscribe, or failing to understand where their messages 
have gone, and it probably shows up in terms of potential players we never hear 
about because they completely fail the initial task of “subscribe to the list” 
without asking for help.

(Lurking in Freenode’s ##nomic has convinced me that that barrier exists, at 
least for some users.)

With that in mind, I have two questions.

1. What, if any, web-based discussion systems would be effective for supporting 
Agora as it is today?

I did a cursory survey of the state of the art, and it appears that web-based 
discussions are dominated by:

* Discus, for discussions associated with some parent document (generally a 
blog post or news item),
* Discourse, for open-ended discussion venues dedicated to specific subject 
matter, and
* Social Media (as exemplified by Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit), for freeform 

None of these exactly map to the forum criteria established in Rule 478: 
Discus, for example, imposes a tree-shaped interface, and provides a completely 
separate discussion for each parent document, while social media systems 
invariably interpose some kind of attention-seeking algorithmic ordering, and 
often algorithmic *removal*, between author and reader. It would be quite hard 
to collate out a single, chronological list of messages (required by the final 
paragraph of Rule 478) from any of those systems.

2. What, if anything, would need to be amended to allow something like Agora to 
be played in a venue other than email?

My real motivation here is to find ways to adapt Agora’s decision-making 
systems for other use cases. I think Agora’s model of asynchronous 
deliberation, its system of votes, AI, and document power ratings, and its 
mechanisms for inclusion are a powerful alternative to the kinds of chaos I run 
into when organizing gaming groups, and I’ve got a personal interest in trying 
to use it to structure a user-owned cooperative enterprise in another sphere.



Reply via email to