Brian Greer | 30 Jun 18:57 2016

DIS: Happy Birthday Agora!

I would like to wish a Happy Birthday to Agora.

I award myself a magenta ribbon.

Jonatan Kilhamn | 30 Jun 11:28 2016

DIS: Re: BUS: and not to forget...

On 30 June 2016 at 03:41, nichdel <nichdel <at>> wrote:

On 06/29/2016 07:00 PM, Gaelan Bright Steele wrote:
On Jun 29, 2016, at 4:57 PM, Kerim Aydin <kerim <at>> wrote:

Happy Birthday, Agora!!!

Happy Birthday, Agora!!!!

Happy Agora-birthday!!!

Happy Birthday!

How old is it now? 22?

- Tiger
nichdel | 28 Jun 00:46 2016

DIS: Rule Improvements

Now that we've discussed the technical improvements to Agora and plans
seem to be underway, I thought it'd be worthwhile to talk in more
detail about possible changes to the rules, especially since that's an
area where more of us can contribute. Here's my thoughts on what could
be improved in the current ruleset:

1) Winning

I think having an attainable victory condition is really conducive to
keeping up activity in the community. Right now there's two unrelated
conditions: Ribbons and Trust Tokens. I personally am indifferent to
Trust Tokens. I actually quite like Ribbons, but I wonder if (at least
until we have more players) we should make it possible to win with
only a subset of the ribbons rather than the full collection. As is,
some ribbons are unlikely to be obtainable for newer players (u, v,
m, and i particularly). If we lowered the threshold to something like
10-or-12/14 newer players would be able to get a victory from 'easy'
ribbons such as gray and white while older players would be more apt
to pursue the more distinguished ribbons.

2) Reports and Deputising

I wonder if it might be better to hasten deputising for report
publication. It's a bit frustrating to have to announce intent in
advanced and then remember to publish the report later. Could we allow
anyone to publish a delinquent report at any time, and ratify it by
Agoran Consent or some other mechanism that reduces the publisher's

3) The Logical Ruleset and Supplemental Text

The ruleset itself seems a bit disorganized right now. It's not
obvious, without historical context, why "The New Map" and "Silver
Quill" are under winning right now. This sort of thing is minor, but
it does add one more barrier to understanding the rules. Maybe we
should encourage a ~monthly consideration of how the rules should be

Another issue is the lack of supplemental text to explain some of the
more complicated parts of the rules. For instance, it's quite hard to
get a grasp on the causes and effects of 'lockout' because its
definition is split across nearly every "Organization" rule. Obviously
players should be encouraged to read the rules themselves, but it
doesn't seem unreasonable to have a glossary that states something to
the effect of:

     "A player can be *on lockout* if they put themselves on lockout or
     if they become *bankrupt*. Lockout prevents a player from
     performing most organization-related actions. Lockout lasts for 90

     Relevant rules: 2456-2458, 2460-2462"

In my mind, this kind of supplemental document is one of the
advantages of including a wiki with Agora. It could be informally
maintained by all players in one place without adding yet another
office or report. And due to the magic of wikis, it can point readers
directly to the relevant rules. For the time being I'll host a WIP
glossary on my own wiki:

Thoughts, concerns, critiques?


Charles Walker | 27 Jun 14:11 2016

DIS: Re: BUS: Future of Agora

On 19 June 2016 at 23:13, omd <c.ome.xk <at>> wrote:
> It’s not that I want it to be over.  My interest, presumably like many other
> players’, has waxed and waned over the years, and after such a long hiatus I
> for one would probably be pretty active if there were a new spurt of
> activity.  If some of the usual cadre of longtime players showed up, and we
> could somehow recruit a bunch of new players, Agora could rise again.

Belatedly joining this thread. I'm just starting a long university
vacation and have very little to do until October, so I'm willing to
join in with a new burst of activity. However, I've overcommitted and
dropped out several times in the past, so I'd be wary of taking on too
much responsibility. I don't have the programming skills that many
Agorans do, but I can help with parts two and three of your masterplan
(simplifying/explaining the rules and getting the word out).

> But that’s really the issue - new players.  We’ve never really been
> effective in actively recruiting new players, as long as I’ve been around,
> despite proposals over the years (may I call them slacktivist? :) to solve
> the problem by defining an office responsible for solving it.

I also remember proposing that there be some economic benefit for
recruiting a player. This never produced results either.

> We have to use methods that will let us reach a large audience of
> potentially interested people, not just rely on word of mouth, which will
> never work very well in our player count range.  IIRC, at least one of
> Agora’s big bursts came after getting linked on Slashdot.  Today there are
> Reddit and Hacker News, and Agora might well reach the frontpage of an
> appropriate subreddit or of HN, if submitted, but those aren’t sustainable.
> As an alternative, why not go for real Internet ads?  I could pay for a
> Reddit ad campaign, or even Google ads.  Target programmers.  Of course we’d
> need to improve the website first, as I described above.

Happy to chip in a little towards advertising. Perhaps we could set up
a donations page?

I understand that there are certain things about nomic which attract
programmers, but is there not also a certain element of like
recruiting like? I'm sure there are other demographics (law students,
philosophers?) likely to be interested, and Agora would probably
benefit from a little diversification. The web interface is probably a
prerequisite for getting the less technically-inclined involved,


Kerim Aydin | 27 Jun 03:17 2016

DIS: Re: BUS: might as well try for a show of hands

On Tue, 21 Jun 2016, Alex Smith wrote:
> On Mon, 2016-06-20 at 10:41 -0700, Kerim Aydin wrote:
> > 
> > (on my "I'm going to do this ... any day now" list):
> > 
> > I announce my intent to act Without Objection, to deregister each
> > and 
> > every Player who is in a state of having not sent a message to a
> > public
> > forum in the month prior to me resolving this intent.
> > 
> > Please do not object, but merely ping/say hi/raise your hand in a 
> > public message to not be included in said deregistration.
> Can you even make an intent that's not fully defined until resolution?

I wondered if someone would ask me that.

If you see it as "shorthand" for:  "I intend to deregister all players;
to not be deregistered post a message" it works.  Dunno if that's a

The only precedent I'm aware of is the one that you can't pre-object to 
future intents (i.e. you can't say "I object to any future notices of 
intent to do X").  That's written into the rules now, but there was a 
precedent before it was written in.

ais523 | 26 Jun 05:26 2016

DIS: Re: BUS: might as well try for a show of hands

On Tue, 2016-06-21 at 15:23 +0100, Alex Smith
<ais523 <at>> wrote:
> On Mon, 2016-06-20 at 10:41 -0700, Kerim Aydin wrote:
> > 
> > 
> > (on my "I'm going to do this ... any day now" list):
> > 
> > I announce my intent to act Without Objection, to deregister each
> > and 
> > every Player who is in a state of having not sent a message to a
> > public
> > forum in the month prior to me resolving this intent.
> > 
> > Please do not object, but merely ping/say hi/raise your hand in a 
> > public message to not be included in said deregistration.
> Can you even make an intent that's not fully defined until
> resolution?
> Anyway, this is a message.

Huh. I've never seen that email address before. OTOH, that's the
message I attempted to send.

I'm assuming that what happened is that the lists didn't recognise the
address and held it back for moderation. More of a mystery, though, is
why it sent from the address in the first place. I assume it's the
consequence of some sort of reorganization at Birmingham University's
end. (If so, though, it's a little bewildering why they chose that one,
because I'm not actually a student there, having graduated some time


omd | 26 Jun 01:49 2016

DIS: Re: BUS: Registrar's Weekly Report

On Sat, Jun 25, 2016 at 5:26 AM, ais523 <callforjudgement <at>> wrote:
> I attempted to post to a public forum. Maybe it didn't go through?

Note that the mailing lists are configured to hold all messages from
unsubscribed addresses, the vast majority of which are spam, without
notifying the sender.  Bouncing doesn't work because of forged return
addresses.  It would be better to reject them at the SMTP level but
back when I set this up, I couldn't get that to work for some reason.
Hopefully that'll work after I switch list software.  At the moment,
the held queue consists of... hrm... 70,000 files, for a total size of
1.4GB.  I should probably empty it.

But grepping it for ais523, I find... a 2014 message from the
dicebot... a short 2015 message from Michael.Norrish <at>
wishing Agora a happy birthday... two attempts to vote from
michaelhousser390 <at>

Oh, here it is.  Two messages from ais523 <at> to
agora-business and agora-discussion.  ais523 <at> is subscribed
but not  <at>  I'll approve the existing messages, but
please subscribe (and disable delivery if desired) if you want to
continue sending from the latter address.

Kerim Aydin | 25 Jun 21:33 2016

DIS: Re: BUS: Registrar's Weekly Report

On Fri, 24 Jun 2016, nichdel wrote:
> Further down is the official registrar's weekly report, but I'd also
> like to include this unofficial player count of everyone that has
> posted since 6/19. Note that if you are in the "not to a public forum"
> category you are still at risk of being deregistered if/when the
> intent to deregister stated by G. is resolved.

No worries, I'll object to my own intent on behalf of those who obviously 
aimed to get to the public forum but ended up in discussion; want to be
as inclusive as possible here...


Nich Del | 22 Jun 08:31 2016

DIS: An Agoran Wiki

I've got a wiki for Agora hosted here:

It's running on Gollum [1] and being backed up nightly to a publicly accessible github repository [2]. Anyone can edit without any sort of authentication, and everyone should feel encouraged to add any agora-relevant documents. Let me know if you want any changes or enhancements and I'll see what I can do.

I'll spend some time this week adding the most recent copies of reports to the wiki, but I also think we should strongly encourage officeholders to keep their reports up-to-date there.

P.S. There may be short outtages in the next week or two while I do misc server work.



omd | 21 Jun 02:35 2016

DIS: recordkeeping

I alluded to this in my original post, but let me elaborate.

I've never really liked the "weekly ASCII email report" paradigm, for
a few reasons:

- In practice, a week is often too long to wait to be updated on the
latest state, so officeholders often maintain a continually updated
web copy on their personal sites (sometimes including automation, like
the CotC DB, but often just .txt files at a URL), sometimes actually
with more information, or in a more structured format, than the
published reports - but those web copies often lack history tracking;
the URLs often break after the officeholder quits, without anyone
archiving the data; not everyone knows how to put up a site; and the
need to set something up increases the initial investment of effort
required to take over an office.

- If they don't have a website and only publish a weekly report, it's
easy for gameplay to suffer as a result - especially the kind of 'pure
gameplay' (i.e. points, competition between players, etc.) systems
that often seem to falter in Agora, since they tend to have more
interdependent state and move faster than the proposal/CFJ systems.

- The system expects one person to do all the tracking, and makes it
difficult, requiring setting up separate external infrastructure, to
adopt any alternative, such as sharing the work among a group, or
self-service (where players would be expected to update the state
themselves after performing actions, and the official recordkeeper is
responsible merely for reviewing the history for mistakes).  The
latter in particular would be quite helpful during times of decreased
activity, since even if the office is empty and no review occurs,
players could still check the current state and try to take actions.
We've often gotten into situations where an office is empty, the last
report was published several months ago, and some people have tried to
perform actions since then but nobody really knows what the state is.

- Maintaining report formatting is something I still find kind of
annoying; I imagine it can be a bigger obstacle for new players.

The obvious answer is to track state on some sort of wiki, as many
(most?) other nomics have.  This has been brought up before, but IIRC
there have been some concerns, mainly around issues like
centralization and difficulty of archival.  If you just set up some
MediaWiki instance, it's easy for the site to go down, taking a
significant chunk of history with it - or even for the software to
become obsolete, considering how long Agora's life has been.  In
comparison, plaintext mailing list archives will be readable for a
very long time, and everyone subscribing to the list 'archives' it in
their own email archive, unless they delete old mail.  Also, wikis are
a bit harder to use as backend storage for automation.

But the solution to *that* has been around for many years now.  We can
use wiki software that uses a Git repository as its backend - there
are a few open source implementations around for that, or we could
just use GitHub (centralized isn't a big deal if migration is
trivial).  The content would be formatted in Markdown, which is highly
portable between different software and also generally readable as
plaintext.  Anyone could edit either through the wiki interface or by
cloning the Git repository locally; in the latter case, just like with
any other Git repo, they'd get a full copy of the history, and
migrating to another host would just be a matter of pushing to a
different remote.  Since it's a wiki, the server would be open to
unauthenticated pushes, except for force pushes (deleting history).

Git itself may become obsolete someday, but revision control systems
have a pretty good history of migration mechanisms - today you can
convert from RCS or CVS or SVN to Git, between Git and Mercurial, etc.
The same will be true for any Git replacement.

By the way, I once bashed Wooble's decision to migrate the ruleset
from RCS to Mercurial on the grounds that RCS was simpler and made it
easier to understand what history is being kept (just a plaintext file
with a list of diffs), edit history, migrate, etc..  I was, uh, dead
wrong.  Migration isn't hard, and if necessary it's easy to edit
history with Git using rebase.  (But unlike the old ruleset RCS
history, I don't propose that the history of this wiki repo be edited
or used as an authoritative source of anything - it should just be a
real history of when the document was edited.  Old rulesets can be
tracked with more explicit metadata.)

Anyway, I envision that:

- The wiki wouldn't just be an unofficial backup store.  It would be a
new type of Forum (for reports only, not actions), and office
requirements would be changed from "publish X each week/month" to "at
least once each week/month, modify the wiki page to reflect the
current gamestate, and add an 'up to date as of' stamp".  For some
things the requirement could work differently - e.g. if Patent Titles
are only awarded/revoked by action of the Herald, then the Herald
could simply be required to update the wiki immediately after such
action, without any actual periodic duty.

I suppose we could also require occasionally republishing wiki reports
to a public forum, but I don't think it's necessary.

- Actions would still have to be taken on a public forum (we're not
BlogNomic), but for some types of records we might decide to encourage
updating the wiki page oneself afterward.  For other records
self-service might be disallowed/discouraged, with an exception if the
office is vacant (or perhaps the officer delinquent).

- For now there wouldn't be any explicit system in the rules for
sharing duties, but with a wiki it would be easy for the officeholder
to work that out with 'deputies' if desired, and it might be a good
use case for contracts someday...

- There would be no more fixed-width formatting for anything,
including the ruleset; just Markdown and soft wrapping.  If anyone
likes reading in fixed width (I kind of do), scripts could be used for
alternate presentations.

This way, anyone with a web browser can maintain reports through the
wiki interface without having to do anything fancy.

Ideally we'd have some basic scripting for things like counting rows
in a table, etc.; not crucial though.  (How many times have
Registrar's reports been published with a mismatch between the stated
player count and the actual list?  Too many.)

- Probably, for most types of records, there should be a history
section (like what you see in reports) which would be updated along
with the actual state; relying on the wiki history isn't good enough
because it conflates modifying the gamestate and merely updating the
records to match the gamestate.

- There would be one wiki/repository for most of the game, rather than
dividing by office or game aspect; this way the implicitly propagated
repo history includes obsolete stuff.

- Officers would be encouraged to maintain any unofficial
recordkeeping on the wiki too rather than their own site.  Even for
automated systems, if possible, using the wiki as a backing store
would be ideal.

Any comments?  Anyone really hate wikis?

Sprocklem | 20 Jun 23:14 2016

DIS: Re: BUS: might as well try for a show of hands

On 2016-06-20 11:41, Kerim Aydin wrote:
> Please do not object, but merely ping/say hi/raise your hand in a 
> public message to not be included in said deregistration.

I'd like to stay.

Later, e write:
> What are the pros/cons of starting by using a Reddit sub as a 
> straightforward additional forum?

As a con, reddit's default is to sort by hotness, and (if there's enough
activity), new posts could be missed. This is especially relevant if
it's a public forum.