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Imperative Rework

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An archived copy of Josh's November 2015 Second Stab proposal to sharpen up the game's definition of imperative "must" and "should" type actions, presented here split into sections for discussion and tinkering.

({{quote|your text here}} templates default to grey; you can add other colours as a second variable - {{quote|your text here|ffc}} - if you want to distinguish your quotes from Josh's originals.)

Comments struck through have been integrated into the text to some extent.

Stage 1: What Is Gamestate

Setup

In the rule Victory and Ascension, change the text:
This should specify the Past Memory’s chosen theme for the new Dynasty, and it may optionally specify that the terms Amnesiac and Past Memory will be replaced with theme-specific terms throughout the entire Ruleset, and/or list a number of dynastic rules to keep. When such an Ascension Address is posted, the Ruleset is updated to reflect any changed terms, and any dynastic rules which were not listed to be kept are repealed.

to read as follows:

This should specify the Past Memory’s chosen theme for the new Dynasty, and it may optionally specify that the terms Amnesiac and Past Memory will be replaced with theme-specific terms throughout the entire Ruleset, and/or list a number of dynastic rules to keep, and/or specify one or more wiki page that will be used for gamestate tracking in the new Dynasty. When such an Ascension Address is posted, the Ruleset is updated to reflect any changed terms, any dynastic rules which were not listed to be kept are repealed, and the first line of the rule Representations of the Gamestate is amended to refer to the new gamestate tracking page(s).

Tracking

Re-write the rule Representations of the Gamestate to read as follows:
Some or all of the gamestate in this dynasty is tracked on the wiki page called Community. Whenever a rule creates a gamestate variable that can be publicly tracked then it must be tracked on this page. A gamestate variable can be publicly tracked unless the ruleset mandates that it be secretly tracked.
For gamestate which is tracked in a specific place (such as a wiki page), any alteration of that gamestate as a result of an Amnesiac’s action is (and can only be) applied by editing that data in that place. One wiki update may contain one or more alterations, or one alteration may be split over multiple updates, as long as it is clear what is happening and the alterations are otherwise legal.
Any wiki page that tracks gamestate is itself gamestate. The data that is depicted on such a page represents but does not constitute the gamestate data that it tracks. Any action or rule that requires any Amnesiac or the Past Memory to change data on a gamestate tracking location may be considered to be changing the data in the gamestate; however, altering gamestate tracking in ways not authorised by the ruleset does not constitute changing the gamestate itself.
If an Amnesiac feels that any piece of gamestate tracking does not accurately reflect the gamestate then they should remedy it. This remediation can take one or more of the following forms, where words in italics are flavour text:
  • Change the gamestate tracking the reflect the gamestate. This is recommended only in situations where the error in gamestate tracking is minor or trivial, and where no otherwise legal actions have been carried out on the basis of the incorrectly presented gamestate.
  • Post a Call for Judgement. This is recommended in situations where there is disagreement or ambiguity regarding the correct value of the gamestate, or where gamestate tracking has become misaligned with the gamestate due to a complex series of interdependent actions, or where the way to align the gamestate and the tracking is otherwise ambiguous.

Legality

Add a subrule to that rule, entitled Legality:
The gamestate can be put into a situation where the failure of an Amnesiac or Past Memory to carry out or complete a required action puts the gamestate into a state of technical non-compliance with the ruleset.
To do: define this better, and figure out what the ruleset can meaningfully do about it. Probably not much? Encourage a CfJ or pass a rule that automatically ends the dynasty? Is all of this necessary - we've managed to go howevermany years without figuring out a "technically compliant" answer to what happens if an Emperor or Player disappears without finishing off a 'shall' action, so is this necessary to figure out and codify now? Josh (talk) 17:57, 19 May 2020 (UTC)

Stage 2: Imperatives and Frequencies

Removal

De-italicise all text in this proposal.

Remove the items “Can”, “Shall” and “Should” from the Glossary.

Remove the items “Daily Action”, “Daily Communal Action”, “Weekly Action” and “Weekly Communal Action” from the Glossary.

Remove the item "Dynastic Action" from the Glossary.

Definition

Add a new rule to the glossary, entitled Imperatives and Frequencies:
An Action is any activity that the ruleset specifically permits Readers to carry out, and regulates the usage of. A Dynastic Action is an Action that is permitted by a Dynastic Rule; a Core Action is an Action that is permitted by a Core Rule.
The ruleset regulates the usage of Actions through Imperatives and Frequencies. A Frequency defines how frequently an Action may be undertaken by each Reader. An Imperative defines the circumstances within which Readers can undertake an Action. The terms used below to describe Imperatives and Frequencies are considered to be keywords when used in the contexts defined in this rule. In all other situations, they take their regular English meaning.

Imperatives

Add a sub-rule to that rule, entitled Imperatives:
Imperatives in use within BlogNomic are as follows:
  • Can or May: An Amnesiac is permitted to carry out this Action at any time, with no restrictions beyond those otherwise explicitly defined by the Ruleset.
  • Should, Shall or Must: An Amnesiac is required to carry out this Action at their first opportunity. An Amnesiac is required to carry out this Action before they undertake any further Actions (unless the further Action in question is raising a CfJ).
  • Can, May, Should, Shall or Must Not: An Amnesiac may not carry out this Action under the defined conditions under any circumstances, or under all circumstances if no further qualifications are present.
No part of this rule restricts Readers from posting a CfJ, under any circumstances.

Add the following to the bulleted list in the rule Fair Play:

  • An Amnesiac should not intentionally fail to perform an action that the rules state that Amnesiac "must" perform, nor attempt to gain an advantage from intentionally delaying such an action.
I commented in my vote that "should" and "must" seemed very similar under this wording - is "at their first opportunity" meaningfully different from "before they undertake any further Actions"? It seems like this proposal is breaking down "shoulds" into "if it applies to you, it's a must; otherwise it's a may".
Looking at existing rules I think "shoulds" generally would benefit from being flipped up or down to "must" or "may" depending on their context, but I'm not sure I'd trust a rule to make that call automatically. It seems safer to keep them all at "may", with the distinction that although the action is optional, other players would prefer that you did it. --Kevan (talk) 10:08, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
Tricky, here, as the distinction between Should and Must is one for the ruleset, not the player. The player should treat them as synonymous, but from a ruleset perspective it's to ensure that a player's failure to carry out a "should" action doesn't tip the gamestate into ongoing illegality. I'd expect that "must"s would be used sparingly, if ever. 14:08, 15 May 2020 (UTC)
I think the definitions here suffer from confusion about the distinction between the gamestate and the representation of the gamestate. In our rules at the moment, the gamestate, and the wiki tracking it, are different things; performing an action illegally changes the wiki but the gamestate does not change, so there's no way to "create an illegal gamestate". I'd prefer to keep that property in any rework. Ais523 (talk) 05:55, 19 May 2020 (UTC)

Countersuggestion by ais523:

Add a sub-rule to that rule, entitled Imperatives:
Imperatives in use within BlogNomic are as follows:
  • can: If a Player "can" perform an action, attempts by that player to perform it will succeed, unless specifically forbidden or limited elsewhere in the ruleset;
  • must: If a Player "must" perform an action, and that Player gains an advantage (even accidentally) from failing to perform it or delaying its performance, then all Players are encouraged to remove that advantage using a Call for Judgement; until that advantage is removed (or becomes irrelevant due to, e.g., a change of dynasty), that Player cannot achieve victory.
If a rule states that a player must perform an action (perhaps under certain circumstances), that by default implies that that player can perform the action (under the same circumstances), except when the context implies otherwise.

Add a bullet point to the Core rule "Fair Play":

  • An Amnesiac should not intentionally fail to perform an action that the rules state that Amnesiac "must" perform, nor attempt to gain an advantage from intentionally delaying such an action.

The nice thing about this is that it never leads to any doubt about the gamestate (any gamestate uncertainty gets neatly tied up into a DoV or CFJ and resolved by voting), and never leads to an illegal gamestate; rather, we just fix the mess via CfJ (or ignore it if nothing bad happened as a consequence) and move on. I don't see a need for more than two categories, and it avoids the confusion involved in "may" and "should". Ais523 (talk) 12:32, 19 May 2020 (UTC)

Frequencies

Add another new subrule to the rule “Imperatives and Frequencies”, entitled Frequencies:
Standardised frequencies in use in BlogNomic are as follows:
  • Daily: A Reader may carry out this Action once per Day, but not more than once in any ten-hour period.
  • Bi-daily: A Reader may carry out this Action once every two Days, but not more than once in any twelve-hour period.
  • Weekly: A Reader may carry out this Action once every Week, but not more than once in any twenty-four-hour period.
Action frequencies may be modified as follows:
  • Communal: Any Action that is marked as Communal may only be carried out by a single Reader in the stated Frequency period.
  • X-Usage: Any Action that is marked as X-Usage, where X is any integer, may be carried out X times in its Frequency period.
Why are you making dailies faster? There was much arguing about the correct limitation on repeating the action in the past, and the current value of 10 hours is something of a compromise. (If you make it much faster than that, you're giving a major disadvantage to scamsters who are normally asleep at midnight UTC.) For what it's worth, my preferred value for keeping scams fair is 18, but it was reduced because that can interfere somewhat with non-scam gameplay. Ais523 (talk) 05:58, 19 May 2020 (UTC)

Cleanup

In “Seasonal Downtime”, change “During this time no game actions may be taken” to “During this time game actions must not be taken”. In “Fair Play”, change all instances of “should” in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th bullets to “must”.

Are you sure about the first of those changes? It seems to contradict your definition of "can". (Also, the second change may be missing the point of the core rule in question slightly; it's to avoid BlogNomic accidentally getting frozen in time due to proposals being adminned out of order and nobody noticing, meaning that the "oldest pending proposal" is some random proposal from years ago, and the "can be failed" is basically only there to give a quick way to clear up old unadminned proposals if and when somebody eventually notices. It's expected that admins won't be aware of such a situation, if it does exist, so penalising them for not noticing it seems a little out of place.)

"Fair Play" itself uses "should", and I think it should use, it in an undefined way; the whole point of the rule is that it's for things that can't be enforced in a legislative way due to being too subjective, which is why it's enforced by CfJ in the first place. Ais523 (talk) 12:37, 19 May 2020 (UTC)