Hi, o!

I always thought the MUD (Nomic World) was the best place to play nomic in.
Because you could have all three of (1) real-time conversation, (2) message
boards for long threads and (3) automated systems, smoothly linked in a
single environment with user authentication, and you could adjust the
balance of types of interactions on the fly.

ITT one essential ingredient of Agora-style nomic play is that we use
natural language to Do Things.  It might be tempting to start automating a
bunch of stuff, and some automation is good, but half of what we do is find
clever ways to say we do things under the constraints of language and
written communication.  So a key feature to preserve is "keep conversations
intact, and keep the actions as part of the conversations".

As an exercise, if you wanted to move Agora to a wholly different medium
with minimal rules modification, I think it would be quite easy to move to a
more blog-post like system, provided that message replies are kept
sequential (no ranking mechanism) at first.

To begin with, you'd just need a slight Rules tweak - make a new blog post
each day, and the official forum moves to be replies to that day's thread.
Almost exactly the same as now, entirely sequential conversation.  Then,
once moved in, you can start migrating rules you no longer need - reports
have been mentioned, but having parallel threads for each proposal/CFJ -
those things could be implemented Rule-by-rule as you go.  It seems pretty
straightforward to give proposals, CFJs, etc. a new initiation method, "by
blog post" rather than "by announcement", with some thinking about handling
simultaneous events.

-G.

On 2/25/2019 4:15 PM, Owen Jacobson wrote:
Hi Agorans! Please put the pitchforks down - I’m here with a question, not a 
request.

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
       forum.

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 
conversation.

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.

-o

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