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
Rule 478 (“Fora”) sets out the basic requirements for an Agoran forum:
A forum must, in technical implementation, be reasonably equitable,
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.
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 forum is a collection of messages, which may include sub-messages,
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.
are collectively a pretty good description of the email system, as deployed on
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
* 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.