The History of Ackanomic

(January 23, 1996 - July 23, 1997)

Ackanomic was begun on midnight of Tuesday, 23 January 1996 by Sean Crystal, or Ackers as he was more commonly known. Having selected the original ruleset, he began the game as the first Speaker with three other players: Wayne Sheppard, Anthony Polito, and Dave Chapman. They were quickly joined by Mitchell Harding and Paul Swan, and by the end of the first day Rusty Brooks and Austin Appleby had brought the number of players to eight.

Over sixty proposals were submitted during the first week, eight of which were deemed invalid by the first three Calls For Judgement. Most of the surviving proposals were voted down, but among the ones which were accepted were Proposals 306, 314, 344, 351, 329, and 339 -- all of which have survived, in some form or another, to the present day. Thirty-four of the first week's proposals were written by Mitchell Harding. (In fact, by the time his Proposal 339, "Keep 'Em In The Game", was accepted, he was already eligible to benefit from it.) Proposal 315, "Official Polls", was also voted in.

By the end of January, Julian Richardson, Wes Contreras, Jeff Zeitlin, Eric Sebesta, Amie Longenbaugh, and Andrew Baumann had joined the game as well.

The first political party, FOOZBALL (the Fraternal Order of Zebraic Bison And Leprous Llamas), was formed on February 1st by Mitchell Harding, Eric Sebesta, Paul Swan, and Amie Longenbaugh, who were soon joined by Julian Richardson. FOOZBALL was devoted to the championing of silliness and complexity within the ruleset.

With Ackanomic still in its second week, Proposal 391 was issued, authored by Mitchell Harding, and which created the Party Unity vote. At the time the proposal was issued David Chapman complained that it was poorly worded, and from this he became the subject of the first Politeness Moon. (The results were never reported, however: the original votes were lost when Sean Crystal stepped down as Speaker, not longer after which David Chapman left the game.) Proposal 391 was accepted by a narrow margin. (In fact, it was originally reported as having failed, but a few days later a missing vote was discovered.)

FOOZBALL was, particularly during the early weeks of the game, a force to be reckoned with. For a time the only Political Party, they recognized the value of their Party Unity Vote, and organized to ensure that it was used to their advantage. Their six votes were, in addition, nearly always accompanied by a seventh: Paul Swan would regularly sacrifice his score, with proposals guaranteed to fail, in order to maintain control of the Voting Gnome. (See, for example, Proposals 406, 407, 408, and 409.)

On February 1st, Wayne announced that he was increasing his score from 15 to 100 -- thus winning the game -- by Rule 115, "Permissibility of the Unprohibited". This resulted in the landmark CFJ 113, judged by David Chapman. The judge determined that because some methods of gaining and losing points were defined by the rules, gaining and losing points were therefore regulated in the eyes of Rule 115, and Wayne's actions were not permitted. CFJ 113 became a historical precedent, not only because it indicated that Rule 115 set limitations implicitly, but also because it providing a game custom of a "grace period" in which a claim that the game was over could be judged.

By this time it was apparent that the duties of the Speaker, even with a separate Tabulator, were too much for one person. On February 6th Sean Crystal offered to relinquish Speakership to anyone willing to take it on. Mitchell Harding immediately volunteered, and so Sean Crystal appointed Mitchell Harding Acting Speaker. (There have been rumors that Mitchell Harding's high level of activity was the main cause of Sean Crystal's abdication, but this chronicler has not been able to find substantiating proof.)

David Chapman, drawing on his experiences in Agora, put forth Proposals 396, 398, and 399, which successfully added the offices of Promoter, Scorekeepor, and Registrar. (Proposal 397, which described the Clerk of the Court, narrowly failed, and the office had to wait for Proposal 489.) Proposal 414 amended the Tabulator rule to permit the Tabulator to hold other offices as well, and thus before the end of the month, Wayne Sheppard became Ackanomic's first Promoter and Scorekeepor as well. (Proposal 425, in addition to fleshing out the Scorekeepor's duties, also changed the title to Scorekeeper.) Paul Swan became the first Registrar. (The duties of this office were also extended, by Proposal 424.)

Proposal 405 attempted to codify an issue that had already been addressed by many of the existing CFJs: it prohibited a proposal from suggesting a rule change that was dependent upon another proposal that was still being voted upon. (This was a more prominent issue at that time since each proposal could only contain one rule change, a fact attested to by a majority of the first CFJs. Furthermore, transmuting a rule's mutability was defined as being a rule change, so altering the text of an immutable rule required two proposals, and a third if the rule was to be transmuted back to immutable afterwards.) Proposal 405 was adopted, and then later strengthened by Proposal 416, effectively causing a proposal to be automatically removed from consideration if the effect of its adoption was dependent on another existing proposal.

By February 15th, Wayne had brought the nomicbot into existence, a collection of scripts which automatically recorded player votes. The nomicbot was quickly expanded to also do the actual tabulation itself, and as Wayne took on more offices, it also aided in proposal submission and scorekeeping. While a program could not do all the work in a game where the rules are constantly changing, its existence made it possible for Wayne to maintain his high standards through some of the busiest periods of the game. Wayne himself speculated once that the nomicbot, by allowing players to submit proposals at any time and see them distributed almost immediately (not to mention allowing the Tabulator to keep up with the voting that necessarily followed), may well have contributed to the highly active flavor that has become a hallmark of Ackanomic.

Proposal 421, "Proposal Revision", authored by Robert Sevin, created a method whereby players could fix errors in their own proposals, using the CFJ process. While the CFJ was being decided, voting on the proposal was suspended. If the CFJ was judged True, then the changes described within it would be applied to the proposal, and voting on it would then begin afresh. While generally a good idea (despite the complex implementation), it also proved to be a source of confusion. Proposals were no longer guaranteed to complete their voting periods sequentially, and could be held up for long periods of time by deadbeat judges. Furthermore, Wayne's Proposal 423, "Retractions", which was proposed almost simultaneously, provided a much more straightforward method of dealing with mistakes in proposals. However, "Proposal Revision" allowed a player to avoid the one-point penalty of a retraction, and so remained a rule long enough to cause its own share of chaos. It was finally repealed by Proposal 600, authored by a very frazzled Tabulator Wayne (although Proposal 458 made a creative attempt at the same).

March saw the arrival of a number of players who turned out to be "long-timers": pTang1001001sos, mr cwm, ThinMan, and Mohammed all arrived within days of each other (although ThinMan began as an observer, and did not join as a player until a few weeks later), and fon and Malenkai joined during March's third week. And in the last week ... but more about that later.

Proposal 465 was Wayne's first attempt to kill the Voting Gnome -- the beginning of a long battle. Wayne disliked the Gnome for a few reasons. Players with the lowest score had usually gotten there by incurring penalties, so it seemed wrong to then reward them with an extra vote. Also, FOOZBALL had proved that the Voting Gnome could be held onto and controlled by one member of a Party. (There was probably a third reason, which to this chronicler's knowledge Wayne never actually voiced, but must have been a factor, and that is the difficulty in tracking it. The Gnome always befriended the player with the lowest score, and the players' scores were constantly in flux. And the more score-changing rules that were created, the harder it must have become for the Tabulator to know which player had control of the Voting Gnome. Furthermore, the score changes due to voting meant that an incorrect determination of the results of one proposal could cause the Voting Gnome to be assigned to the wrong player, which could then affect the outcome of every proposal that followed until the mistake was fixed. Which could in turn affect who had control of the Voting Gnome on the next proposals, and so on.) Whatever the reasons, Wayne had to wait many months before he could convince a sizeable number of others.

By mid-March, the rule created by Proposal 416 (described above) came under serious scrutiny, sparked in part by pTang1001001sos's Proposals 454 and 455. The former attempted to create a form of Ackanomic currency called Quatloos, and the latter was written so that it had the potential to make use of Quatloos, but would not if such did not exist. In this way pTang1001001sos had hoped to avoid having Proposal 455 invalidated due to dependence on Proposal 454. The success of this maneuver was examined by CFJ 123, and determined to have failed. Although Calvin N Hobbes later admitted that his reasoning was faulty, due to a misreading of the proposal, he pointed out that his verdict was still correct, because Proposal 455 was also dependent on Proposal 465. In any case, it was becoming clear that "dependence" could take on many more forms than originally anticipated. CFJ 124 then proceeded to raise the issue that Rule 416, as it was currently written, did not require the dependent proposal to be the later one. This had far-reaching implications: a proposal could be made invalid while still in the voting queue if another, later, proposal was made which would affect the changes described in the first proposal. And a CFJ that merely claimed as much could then hold up a proposal until a decision was returned.

This issue was rapidly brought to a head by Proposals 474, 475, and 476 and the resulting CFJs 126 and 127. Proposal 474, authored by pTang1001001sos, proposed to invalidate all previously existing rules. To counter this, mr cwm authored proposal 475, proposing to switch numerical precedence to favor higher-numbered rules, and then invalidate all future rules, in an attempt to have both proposals be branded as invalid. CFJ 126 was called by pTang1001001sos, and (ironically) judged by mr cwm, to have 475 invalidated by Rule 416, and this was upheld. mr cwm judged further that 474 could not be likewise invalidated, as having proposals killed by proposals that were already invalidated themselves would be a serious violation of the spirit of the game. Mohammed then submitted proposal 476, which called for the complete repeal of Rule 416, and also CFJ 127 (again judged by mr cwm) which attempted to bring up the question of whether or not proposals 474 and 476 were both dependent on each other and both should be deemed invalid. However, due to a typographical error, CFJ 127's statement did not refer to the intended proposals, and thus was ineffective.

It is hard to say what might have resulted, had all this actually been taken to its logical conclusion. It is entirely possible that the game could have been made to crash. However, pTang1001001sos's and mr cwm's intentions were only to illustrate a point. What did happen is that pTang1001001sos retracted Proposal 474, and Proposal 476 was voted in, thus removing invalidation by dependency from the game. (pTang1001001sos also submitted Proposal 500, as further encouragement for everyone to repeal Rule 416.)

It is also amusing to note CFJ 130, called for by pTang1001001sos and judged by Malenkai (who had just arrived), which attempted to brand later proposals as invalid for being dependent on 474, even though 474 had already been retracted. The decision was of course no. (It is also interesting to note that there seems to be an odd tradition in Ackanomic -- namely, that CFJs seem to wind up assigned to either the player with the greatest conflict of interest, or the player who has most recently joined the game and thus has the least prior knowledge of existing game custom, rather more often than pure chance would dictate. However, this often-repeated situation has just as frequently inspired players to rise to the occasion and deliver thoughtful, unbiased verdicts.)

Meanwhile, Calvin N Hobbes (who had been discussing these ideas since the day he joined, and had already made an earlier omnibus attempt with the giant Proposal 460), successfully laid the foundations of the Ackanomic economy: Proposals 480, 481, and 482 created the Ackadollar, Political Favor bonds, the Free Market, and the Office of the Financier. (Calvin N Hobbes became the first Financier on March 27th.) And in addition, his Proposal 478 created the Senate.

Fast on the heels of these successes, Calvin N Hobbes went on to build up a more complete Ackanomic government with Proposals 504, 507, and 508, adding the President and the Supreme Court. With the distribution of these and other proposals, people began to seriously discuss the need to have a set of rules that standardized the creation and management of offices.

Finally, Robert Sevin's Proposal 489 created the Clerk of the Court, to which position Mohammed was appointed.

On March 18th the Independent Party was formed, by Gumby, Mohammed, and pTang1001001sos. Its stated goal was "enhancing the voting power of anyone who wishes to have no political affiliation."

Also on March 18th, Dr McSpong resigned from FOOZBALL, leaving Robert Sevin and chess piece face with a defunct party. Within the span of two days, however, they convinced pTang1001001sos to leave the Independent party (thus causing it become defunct) and join them in resurrecting FOOZBALL.

NOAZBALL also closed up shop not long afterwards, with Bobalugah Rajiboo leaving the game.

All the new Offices called for elections, and so elections there were. On March 31st, the hardworking Speaker Robert Sevin became Ackanomic's first President, defeating Mohammed 9-3. (Mohammed ran with the stated sole intent of giving the voters a choice.) The first Senators were chess piece face, fon, Mohammed, and Simon Marty Harriman. And the first Supreme Court Justice was Malenkai (joined much later by Bascule). Of course, none of the political offices had many powers, responsibilities, or game effects, and so their roles in Ackanomic were slowly expanded upon throughout the coming weeks.

March 26th planted the seeds for what later became known as the Quorum Crisis. Robert Sevin, once again holding the office of Publicist (Bobalugah Rajiboo had been appointed Publicist five days before he announced his leaving), immediately dispatched his duties by, to be frank, spamming Usenet. (One ensuing spam-cancellation notice reported a Breidbart Index of 83.) Suddenly the Registrar was being flooded by inquiries. In the following week alone, no less than thirty-three new players were introduced into the game.

To be sure, with this flood came many welcome additions, such as DevJoe, Niccolo Flychuck, De'ghew, snowgod, Techno, this is not a name, and of course the previously mentioned ThinMan. However, for each interested player, there were two who left almost immediately. Or, just as likely, simply stopped participating. It was these players that caused the crisis. The active players realized that they were, rather suddenly, on the verge of being outnumbered by players who were probably not even reading their email. On April 2nd, Wayne (who had just returned to his duties after a one-week vacation) publicly announced that of the more than fifty proposals currently in the voting queue, not a single one had yet achieved quorum. (And CFJ 147, which determined that a Present vote, as currently enacted, was actually equivalent to voting No, didn't help matters.)

The next day, Proposals 527, 529, 533, 534, 535, and 536, all of which had over 2/3 votes in favor, failed due to lack of quorum. Proposals 537, 538, and 541 similarly went down the day after that. Players began to wonder whether it would even be possible to fix the situation, since it seemed that the rules currently could not be changed at all. After much discussion of the situation in the public forum, pTang1001001sos hit upon a solution: CFJ 150. This CFJ proposed that the term "active player", as used by Rule 201, did not include new players who had yet to vote or submit a proposal. This was a bit of sleight-of-hand: while the term was likely intended to mean "players who had not left the game", no other rule used the term, and it had never been an issue before, therefore its precise meaning was in fact open to some interpretation. The Governer was the second judge selected for CFJ 150, who ruled it to be TRUE, and so the Quorum Crisis was resolved. (Also, by this time enough of the new players had finally quit the game properly that it was possible for the participating players to get proposals through, as long as everyone was diligent about voting.) Proposal 588 immediately proceeded to codify this new game custom, and Proposals 589 and 590 further applied the term "active player" to proscribe new arrivals from initiating or judging CFJs.

One interesting aspect of the time of the Quorum Crisis is that the volume of email on other subjects did not significantly decrease. Discussions about everything from crisis management proposals to how to wage inter-Nomic wars continued unabated. And strangely enough, new proposals were still being submitted. Finally, Robert Sevin, as President, publicly requested that players minimize all unnecessary discussion until the crisis was over and everyone had had a chance to recover. (Since then, it seems to have become something of a unofficial tradition that every Ackanomic crisis has to have the President make one speech calling for order and a banding together just before the light at the end of the tunnel can be seen.)

As soon as the Quorum Crisis appeared to be settled, pTang1001001sos immediately reproposed his Office proposals, as Proposals 607, 608, 609, 611, 612, 613, 614, and 615. These proposals, which laid down a consistent framework for existing and future Offices, had already been carefully worked over in the public forum some weeks ago, and every one of them, though involved and non-trivial, passed with little or no opposition.

On April 22nd, Speaker and President Robert Sevin authored the silly Proposals 644, 645, and 646. He then immediately retracted them, thus bringing his score to exactly 257, the amount needed to win. Observing this in the public forum, he stated: "I win the game. Therefore, by Rule 110 I am the Speaker in the 'next game'. I decree that the 'next game' will simply be a continuation of this one... We need to make some rules to deal with winning the game."

Some people agreed that this was what should happen next. However, others believed that without rules to describe what should happen next, the game was simply over, and the rules no longer applied.

Malenkai quickly decided to take action, and, as the sole Justice of the Supreme Court, issued AOJ 101. This Act of Justice "nullified the President's decision" to retract his proposals, thus leaving his score at 260. Robert Sevin, rather taken aback, submitted CFJ 153, claiming that the AOJ was not legal, for a variety of technical reasons.

Needless to say, a flurry of debate resulted from all of this. Could an AOJ nullify any decision made by the President? And wasn't the game over the instant Robert Sevin's score became 257? Wasn't it far too late to change that? Wasn't it too late to even be issuing CFJs on the subject? Or anything else, for that matter. After all, the game was over. On the other hand, didn't CFJ 113 prove that a claim to have won couldn't instantly end the game? Didn't there need to be a "grace period" in which the claim could be judged? So didn't that mean the game was still going, at least until CFJ 153 came back?

It didn't take long for people to take sides, and the population was almost evenly split on the matter: half believing that the game had ended and it was now time to figure out what the second game should look like, and half believing that the game was still in progress, and it should be patched to handle the situation immediately (after which Robert Sevin could be allowed to win). Debate was heated -- though friendly -- and volumnious.

On April 26th, Wayne, deciding to play it safe, continued in his duties as a Promoter. One of the proposals he released was pTang1001001sos's solution to the problem: the apocalytically numbered Proposal 666, which defined the Ackanomic Cycle. In addition to describing the end-of-Cycle effects (such as resetting scores), it contained a self-deleting paragraph that awarded Robert Sevin the first Cycle win.

Meanwhile, many other CFJs had been submitted by various players. CFJ 154 tried to argue that not all decisions made by Robert Sevin could be construed as "decisions made by the President". Mohammed, originally selected to judge, disagreed; however, Mohammed was actually ineligible to judge CFJ 154, as CFJ 161 showed, and so it was reassigned. The first verdict to be returned was for CFJ 158, issued by The Governor, who pointed out that winning a game does not necessarily mean that the game has to be over, and should not be so interpreted without any rules declaring such. As it happened, Robert Sevin was the judge, and he agreed with this assessment. This appeared to at least solve the question about whether the AOJ (or any of the CFJs) could have been issued in the first place. However, just when things looked like they might get back on track again, judgement was returned on CFJ 154 (again), this time with a False ruling -- meaning that the AOJ was invalid (again) -- and on CFJ 157, which stated that the game had ended, period.

(And then, there were these two CFJs, which just added icing to the chaos cake: CFJ 153, which ThinMan judged True, said that the Act of Justice rule did not have the necessary precedence to nullify Robert Sevin's retractions -- but ThinMan immediately appealed his own decision, having realized he had made a fatal mistake in his logic; and CFJ 163, from Robin Hood, which attempted to argue that in order for the one-point retraction penalty to be a true penalty, it should move away from the desired goal, and therefore Robert Sevin's score should have been increased three points.)

Part of what complicated the issue was that there were no rules to determine precedence between CFJs with contradictory verdicts. (Malenkai later attempted to address this by initiating CFJ 168.) Furthermore, CFJ appeals currently had no "statute of limitations", so if you accepted the "grace period" argument, you also had to accept that it was not at all clear how long that period should last. Mohammed had already appealed CFJ 157, but who was to say that CFJ 158 could not be appealed as well?

By now the frustration with the situation was noticeably growing. More players were beginning to think they should declare the game over and start a new one, just to be rid of the current situation. Others began to talk of quitting outright. Debate, still heated, was becoming less friendly, and more than one Politeness Moon was called. Alternate proposals to handle the end-of-game situation were submitted, which made the odds of reaching consensus on what state the game was already in look even smaller.

In an attempt to get things back on track, Robert Sevin, after being privately petitioned by a number of players, announced that he was formally asking everyone to accept the decision of CFJ 157 as final, ignore CFJ 158, and go on to create a new game, one that would be a continuation of this game. This message was answered with a broad show of general support. But, while this was going on, Malenkai was returning the Supreme Court's decision on CFJ 157, which not too surprisingly overturned the original verdict. (In fact, the verdict was sent less than eight hours after Robert Sevin's announcement.) And so the whole discussion went back into a tailspin.

Soon it was clear that further debate was pointless (not that that fact slowed it down). Both sides -- "start a new game that looks a lot like the old one" vs. "accept the current verdicts on the CFJs and keep going" -- felt that their scenario was more correct and/or in keeping with the spirit of the game. Finally, Robert Sevin called for an unofficial straw poll to determine what people wanted, promising to abide by the majority. And then, while people were doing this, the voting results for Proposal 666 were announced: it had passed, without a vote to spare. (In fact, not only was the voting exactly 2/3 in favor, but one less vote would have caused it to fail quorum.) This event, it seems, finally tipped the scales. One by one, the players went back to playing the game as it currently was -- or seemed to be, anyway -- and the whole incident was eventually regarded as having been more or less decided. And Robert Sevin was, as of May 3rd, the undisputed winner of the first Cycle of Ackanomic.

Now, you may think that all of the above was more than enough to keep the denizens of Ackanomic busy. But in actuality, happening simultaneously with all of above:

... Calvin N Hobbes, near the beginning of the crisis, was begging for someone to tell him what the scores were. As the Financier, he needed to know if the scores had been set back to zero, which would mean that everyone stood to lose a fair bit of money. Since this information had to wait on at least one CFJ, no answer could be given. With the words "I hope the Historian is having a field day with this," [I am] Calvin N Hobbes decided to shut down the Free Market by going on vacation. pTang1001001sos, being a Financial Assistant, reacted by taking over the full Financial duties, and called for the Financier to be impeached. pTang1001001sos also stated that the vacation rule, as currently written, did not allow a player to return from vacation earlier than the stated return time. (Fortunately, Calvin N Hobbes was able to retract his vacation request before it could be acknowledged by the Registrar.) CFJ 162, issued to disprove pTang1001001sos, was instead ruled to agree with him, and it had to be appealed (where it was eventually overturned). Inspired by the heated debate that sprung up around this, this is not a name announced that the rules did not regulate players putting each other on vacation, and so by Rule 115 he was putting everybody else on vacation. It was intended as a joke (and in fact he himself judged the resulting CFJ 165 False), but the event, like everything else, only added to the tensions of the time.

... pTang1001001sos himself was suddenly forced by RL concerns to leave the game, early on in the crisis. By the time his Proposal 666 passed, he was no longer a player.

... And as for the Supreme Court, everyone felt that it was high time that a second Justice was appointed. In a surprise move, President Robert Sevin selected a newcomer, Bascule. Bascule had joined right after the crisis had begun, but had already made a name for himself with his quasi-weekly newspaper articles.

And with the crisis safely in the past, proposals began to pour out again -- proposals dealing with anything besides the end of the game.

Malenkai introduced crime to Ackanomic with Proposals 709, 710, 711, and 712, with the Call For Criminal Justice, the Appeal For Pardon, the Gaol, and the Office of Gaoler. (Brinjal eventually became the first Gaoler.)

As soon as it passed, it was immediately put to the test by the Governor: CFCJ 101 accused Wayne of not distributing a call for a Constitutional Convention. (The Constitutional Convention, regulated by the rule created by Proposal 629, allowed a player to submit a call to the Promoter as if it were a proposal. If the "proposal" was voted in, then a Constitutional Convention would be called.) A consideration was that this is not a name had posted his request to the public list, rather than submitting it directly to the Promoter. The judge, SnafuMoose, ruled that Wayne had indeed committed a crime. (Wayne finally distributed it during the June chaos, when it failed.)

With Proposal 729, Bascule brought the Middle Ages to Ackanomic by legislating not only the fact that the Earth was flat, but that publicly stating, or even implying, that the Earth was anything but flat was grounds for being burned as a witch (subject to a popular Hearing). Calvin N Hobbes and mr cwm were the first to be sent to the stake.

Several proposals were immediately put forth to deal with the situation, including outright repeal of the rule. The only proposal that passed was Proposal 767, authored by Calvin N Hobbes himself, which instantiated the Ackanomic Afterlife, and gave it the power to "decombust" a player.

On May 15th, President and Speaker Robert Sevin went on vacation with an expected length of two days, and did not return until July. In addition, fon and chess piece face had begun vacations the previous week, and Simon Marty Harriman had gone on vacation in April. Mohammed thus became the only Senator not on vacation (and he later resigned as Senator, so that he could run for the newly-created Office of Inventor). The Senate had never quite finished confirming Bascule as Justice, so Malenkai was still the entire Supreme Court. (And when Malenkai went on vacation for two weeks, the Supreme Court became completely vacant.) Mohammed, being the Clerk of the Court, was thus automatically given the position of Acting Speaker -- and therefore also Acting President, Acting Web-Harfer, Acting Appointer, Acting Publicist, Acting Registrar and Acting Welcomer.

When Robert Sevin left, the web pages had fallen a bit behind, which he had promised to fix when he returned. As May continued to see many new accepted proposals, the web pages became seriously outdated, and players were having a difficult time following the current state of the game. Mohammed had been working at keeping the web pages minimally up-to-date, but it was becoming a bit much. At this juncture, /dev/joe threw himself into the business of maintaining accurate and up-to-date web pages with a vengeance.

Finally, Robert Sevin sent out a public message, extending his vacation (citing technical problems) and resigning from all his offices -- but since he did all this while still on vacation, his message had no effect. Finally, on March 28th, he took himself off vacation, tendered his resignations, appointed a few players to key offices, and returned to vacation. Thus /dev/joe became Acting Registrar and Acting Web-Harfer, and Bascule became Acting Appointer. (/dev/joe remained in the position of Web-Harfer for over a year, and the invaluable work he did while in that Office was consistently sterling.) Bascule and Mohammed immediately started initiating the processes necessary to fill the fifteen different positions that were currently empty or filled only in an acting capacity.

June might accurately be called the month of chaos. E-mail volume once again became a blizzard, and simultaneous, interdependent events became the rule rather than the exception.

The Great Old One kicked the busy month of June off to a roaring start by surfing a loophole in the rule created by Proposal 663, which due to poor wording appeared to allow any player to declare any pending proposal to be a resolution instead of a rule change. The Great Old One declared that several proposals currently in the voting queue were now resolutions. snowgod, having just been elected to the Office of CSRR, attempted a quick fix with CSR 101. When this was objected to, he then claimed he was changing them back to proposals by Rule 115.

The Great Old One submitted CFJs 175, 176, and 177, in an attempt to leverage a paradox win from the situation, and all of them were shot down. Furthermore, CFJ 176, judged by SnafuMoose, ruled that the altered proposals still defined rule changes, irregardless of The Great Old One's labelling them as resolutions. CFJ 178, submitted by snowgod in regard to his invoking Rule 115, and eventually decided by the Supreme Court, ruled that proposals were in fact regulated and thus did not fall under the domain of Rule 115 (CFJ 113's precedent invoked yet again). And finally, Bascule submitted CFJ 179, for judgement by Wayne, who judged that proposals could in fact be turned into resolutions, as a rule expressely permitted it, although they apparently still effected rule changes. (snowgod also submitted CFCJ 103 in an attempt to incarcerate The Great Old One for his obstruction of the game; it failed.) Despite the muddle, The Great Old One did not attempt to surf the loophole any further, and /dev/joe submitted Proposal 849 to fix the ambiguous rule.

Before the first week of June was over, the situation at the Supreme Court was getting quite confused. Malenkai had just returned from a two-week vacation, and nobody had any idea if Bascule had yet been confirmed to the Supreme Court. Malenkai had attempted to issue a CFJ on it some time ago, but it had never been distributed. (It was theorized that this may have been the lost CFJ 169.) However, with the revised vacation rule, there were other options: Mohammed appointed several players to be Acting Senators, and they eventually succeeded in confirming Bascule to the Supreme Court on June 6th.

Meanwhile, a number of elections were coming to a close. Mohammed, still the Acting Speaker, announced that this is not a name had been elected to the Presidency, but almost immediately it surfaced that a number of votes had been lost, somewhere along the line. Mohammed was forced to hold another election, and /dev/joe became Ackanomic's second President.

And throughout much of the first half of June, players were very busy sorting out the various messes that had resulted from the huge transition of Offices, tracking down loose threads and unresolved situations. (One CFJ decision, for example, had been lost completely and could only be reconstructed from memory.)

Meanwhile, still within the first week of June, Bascule's score was declared to have hit the magic number. It quickly surfaced, however, that his last three points had come from anti-voting on a proposal that had actually been retracted. Simultaneous with this, Malenkai, as the Supreme Court, finally returned judgement on the appeal of CFJ 170, overturning the original verdict, and so Bascule's score was suddenly five points higher -- all told, leaving him two points above the Magic Number. Bascule dealt with this by submitting two new proposals, and then immediately retracting them. However, since he did not yet know the proposal numbers at the time he retracted them (as they had not yet been distributed) he retracted every proposal he had pending (less one). This worked -- except that he accidentally also retracted a forgotten third proposal of his that had been distributed some time ago, thus leaving himself one point short of the Magic Number. Several days later, Bascule finally did manage to land on the Magic Number, but it was not obvious at first that he had. Determining his score forced Scorekeeper Wayne to go back over the events of the past few days and apply them carefully in the order that they occurred. Bascule used CFJ 185 to ensure that this assessment was formalized, and players began to seriously consider the need for rules that clarified how to determine the precise time of changes to the game state.

Even so, Bascule still did not necessarily have his win. There were several other players close to the Magic Number, and a number of CFJs could change everything. CFJs 178 and 180 were still being decided, and while nobody seriously believed either of these would give their initiators a win, they still had to wait for their verdicts to be returned. More important was CFJ 92.9 + 2.718i (numbered as such by Mohammed, Acting Clerk of the Court, who at the time had lost track of the current CFJ count). Back when The Governor left the game, he had given the entities in his possession to this is not a name, and this is not a name had argued that this included his 61 points -- resulting in Malenkai filing the aforementioned CFJ. During a public discussion over the merits of this CFJ, this is not a name facetiously claimed to give to Wayne five of his points. Since this transaction would actually be legal if CFJ 92.9 + 2.718i came back with a decision of False, and since Wayne went on to later have a score exactly five points short of the magic number before Bascule hit it, the CFJ's decision could have the side effect of retroactively naming Wayne the winner of the Cycle. Bascule (and everyone else) waited on pins and needles until Niccolo Flychuck finally returned his verdict, which agreed that points, being protected, could not be traded without rules that specifically permitted such. Bascule was, finally, pronounced the winner of the second Cycle of Ackanomic.

Also on June 11, Wayne declared the beginning of the first Festival of Torkola, with a length of four days, in the hopes that this would allow some time for things to slow down a bit and get disentangled. And, somewhat surprisingly, they actually did. The new officers had finally been elected. /dev/joe was the new President, Malenkai was the Clerk of the Court and a Justice, along with Bascule (finally), and Mohammed stayed on as Acting Appointer and Speaker. Wayne, of course, remained the faithful Promoter, Tabulator, and Scorekeeper. Loose ends were slowly but surely being tied up.

Into this festival Malenkai issued CFJ 184, which became Ackanomic's first successful Paradox Win. Malenkai pointed out that the comment rule, created back in March by his own Proposal 545, "attempted" to retain the commented text which would otherwise be stricken by its own words (so the example would be still present in the rule itself) by stating: "This rule explicitly does not apply to this rule." This statement, being a part of the rule itself, unintentionally undermined its own authority to except itself, and created an irreconcilable situation in the fashion of the classic Liar's Paradox. CFJ 184 was judged True on June 12th, and the third Cycle was over before the scores of the second Cycle had even been finalized. And due to an odd corner case in the new game-vs-cycle rule wording, Malenkai also became the Speaker.

One result of the Paradox Win was to automatically initiate a Constitutional Convention. This had been part of the later fixes to the end-of-cycle rules, caused by ThinMan's Proposal 829. The idea was that the Convention Delegates should mend the discovered paradox before allowing the end-of-cycle process to begin. The required voting periods of the Constitutional Convention meant that the game would be suspended for a full two weeks, minimum. During this time proposals, CFJs, and other official business not directly a part of the Constitutional Convention would be suspended.

This extensive, enforced "vacation" gave the players time to catch up on other things. Besides starting religions, players continued the heated strict-constructionalism vs. loose-constructionalism debate (a schism which seemed to be somewhat oriented on lines parallel to Nobs vs. The Church of the Markovian Dream), continued to track down missing data, and discussed how to fix the Constitutional Convention rule to allow it to get over faster next time. They also had time to examine the current state of the rules with more care than usual. Unfortunately, one of the things they slowly realized was that the end-of-cycle process was seriously broken.

CFJ 186, submitted by mr cwm, shattered the calm by claiming that the Constitutional Convention rule lacked the necessary precedence to suspend the game as it intended to. This caused a thread split, since if it were judged False it would not be legal to even distribute the CFJ. De'ghew, the judge, returned a verdict of True, however, and the Constitutional Convention, already half over, was determined to never have happened. But even before the game could be set back into motion, De'ghew extended the implications of his judgement and proceeded to submit CFJs 187 and 188, both claiming Paradox Wins. And both postulating that the game had already completely crashed.

Central to the problem was that Rule 666 stated that its procedure was set in motion "whenever a winner was declared". But after the rule "suspended" gameplay, it proceeded to "declare a winner" in its third step. Furthermore, the phrase "winner of the current cycle" became noticeably ambiguous, seeing as the current cycle was supposed to be changing at that point. The players envisioned Rule 666 executing itself over and over in an infinite loop, and perhaps invoking a new instance of Rule 666 every time, and all the while suspending and restarting Ackanomic gameplay, doling out Right-Handed Grapefruit and Chartreuse Goose Eggs, and rapidly decreasing everyone's account balances. Although it was not at all clear what the rules said was happening, it certainly seemed unlikely to be what they were intended to do. (And meanwhile, Wayne was still working out what all the scores were when the Cycle ended.)

At least with the Constitutional Convention definitively not taking place, normal Ackanomic business could proceed without further bifurcation. And as it turned out, CFJs 188 and 189 were eventually both judged False, but only after long and serious consideration, as well as help from the later CFJ 193. /dev/joe's CFJ 190 also questioned the ability of Rule 666 to accomplish what it claimed, and was also judged False. Other CFJs followed later, but the judges all called upon these previous decisions for precedent, and the game was determined not to have actually crashed.

On the other hand, /dev/joe did garner a successful Paradox Win with CFJ 192, which was just a repeat of CFJ 184. /dev/joe took advantage of the fact that the paradox Malenkai had won with was still very much there. (He also submitted Proposal 911 to fix the paradox.)

And residual effects continued on past the end of the crisis as well: CFJs 201, 202, and 203 were more failed attempts to find a paradox in Rule 666. All this took well until the end of the month before it was completely sorted out.

The various experiences of the preceding weeks may have left the players a bit shaken; in any case, the rest of June was considerably quieter. While business did continue, much of the important work was putting things back together and hashing out the various CFJs that were the result of traveling through a Paradox Win (two, actually). Several proposals were put forth to fix this, but the only one that passed was /dev/joe's Proposal 935, which simply repealed the Constitutional Convention Rule outright. Other proposals and CFJs that were submitted focused mostly on working out details in the existing rules, rather than creating new additions.

In July, things began to pick up again, and Ackanomic resumed its rapid pace. In addition to the arrival of Mellon and Habeous Corpus, July saw the return of pTang1001001sos.

At this time there were still many players on unannounced vacations, including the entire Senate (currently the Players discharging the minimal Senatorial duties were only there in an acting capacity). The rule created by Proposal 362 outlined a process for determining if these vacationing players should be declared dead. However, Malenkai, the current Speaker, did not want to see this happen, as many of the players in question had a great deal of seniority. When the issue was pressed, Malenkai attempted several methods of doing an end run around the rules, including putting off the task indefinitely. When those failed, he quit the game and rejoined fifteen hours later, thus absolving him of all of Offices and official duties.

To improve the process of re-integrating former players, pTang1001001sos and /dev/joe authored Proposals 962, 963, 964, and 965, which made former players into "Undead". These undead would then "haunt" most of the players' possessions until such time as they could rejoin the game. (See also CFJ 210.) Malenkai was reappointed to all of his offices except Supreme Court Justice, to which he encouraged to have mr cwm be appointed, who eventually was, though not without some complications (namely, CFJs 223 and 224). Later, Malenkai sought to effect a compromise by using Impeachment to remove long-absent senators from Office without actually declaring them dead, and this was in fact what was eventually done. (Malenkai also submitted Proposal 971 to set an official three-day time limit for dispatching duties.)

On July 2, 1996, ThinMan announced that he was changing the number "n" in Rule 110 to six. Since this was his current score, he claimed to be the winner of the game, which the rule created from Proposal 904 would make him the winner of the cycle. In fun, De'ghew responded by claiming to change "n" to every number from -200 to 200, in rapid succession. Which meant that everybody, including players on vacation, won the game (and thus a cycle) at that point -- assuming, of course, that any of this was in fact possible. /dev/joe submitted CFJ 214 to determine the matter. There was also a question of exactly how the Fat Lady rule fit into this, which CFJ 216 addressed as well. In the end it was determined that the attempted actions of ThinMan and De'ghew had had no effect, but it took nearly two weeks for the CFJ to find a judge.

Even though all of this came to nothing, it had quite an impact on the game while it was being debated. (For example, if there actually had been twenty-six wins in a single day, then everyone was broke again.) Add to all of this CFJ 220, which theorized that Rule 204 meant that every player was permitted to vote exactly once (which had to be appealed), and CFJ 221, which stated that the rules still required players to vote on a retracted proposal (thus a retracted proposal could still cause a quorum failure).

And then there was CFJ 222. Though its statement seemed rather ludicrous -- no one had ever voted in accordance to the rules -- it was in fact a bit worrisome. Its actual argument hinged on the fact that game custom seemed to be "protected", and therefore could not be altered or manipulated except as specified by the rules. The only rule that manipulated game custom was Rule 216, which that said that CFJ verdicts become "an explicit part of currently accepted game custom". Therefore game custom could not be created in any other way.

/dev/joe noted, in the discussion centered around this CFJ, that the rule created by Proposal 660 explicitly stated that game custom was protected, so the argument that game custom did not mean what it was intended to mean began to look rather certain. /dev/joe then submitted CFJ 227, which went even farther: it stated that it was impossible to determine what was and was not game custom (which meant Paradox). Malenkai reacted by initiating CFJ 228, which argued that CFJ 227 could never be judged True, as Rule 215 required a judge to consider game custom when reaching a verdict. To protect himself, /dev/joe pointed out via CFJ 229 that "spirit of the game" was still unprotected. (See also CFJs 231 and 232.)

All of this took some time to work through, and the overlapping CFJs, exacerbated by declining and deadbeating judges, made the game state rather difficult to follow. At one point /dev/joe identified no less than six viable game threads, some of which had different Justices sitting on the Supreme Court. (Add to which almost every Justice, in every thread, had to go on a short vacation at some point during their potential term, thus also multiplying the number of thread-dependent Acting Justices.)

Meanwhile, Wayne was unsure if he should release the voting results with CFJ 220 still being judged. While he was trying to decide how to proceed, he noticed the heretofore-unused dormancy rule, created by Proposal 558, which stated that "entities can be granted the power to make proposals, rules and CFJs dormant." Realizing that there was a bit of leeway in the wording, Wayne stated that he was creating a R115-entity called the Magic Doormat, and granting it the power to make rules dormant. He then used it to make Rules 219 and 115 dormant. /dev/joe, not to be outdone, took advantage of the fact that players were alreadly recognized as entities, granted himself the same power and then made the everything dormant -- proposals, CFJs, and the entire ruleset.

It briefly appeared that the game had been completely crashed at that point. However, Malenkai (after recovering from the shock) issued CFJ 234 which was (for a change) rapidly judged True, determining that Rule 558 was not capable, nor ever had been, of allowing rules to be made dormant. /dev/joe contested it, but Malenkai also issued CFJ 235, which was judged True by Brinjal, whose reasoning was cited in the appeal verdict CFJ 234.

After this, the decisions on the many other CFJs finally started rolling in, and by mid-July, most of the game threads were disentangled and laid to rest. No one had won the game, and while there may have been plenty of other problems, at least there were no paradoxes. Proposal 1025 repealed dormancy, and took game custom out of the list of protected entities.

On July 25th, Malenkai discovered that the Vacationing rule was broken, and had been broken since mid-May, with the adoption of Proposal 732. The problem was that the rule forbade a vacationing player to do anything except take themselves off vacation. This conflicted with Rule 111, since a player was permitted at any time to leave the game. Therefore, by Rule 108, the Vacationing rule was wholly void. (This danger posed by Rule 108 with mutable vs. immutable rule conflicts had always a been a source of problems, but this was probably the most spectacular example.) Many other rules made reference to vacationing players, so vacations were still recognized by the rules. But with Rule 732 made void, no one could voluntarily go on vacation, and no one on vacation could return -- and worst of all, vacationing players still counted towards quorum.

Going back through all the old voting results, Malenkai discovered, to his great relief, that adding in the vacationing players only caused three more proposals to fail quorum. Even more fortunately, they were all recent proposals that had been rejected anyway. Thus, scores were only mildly affected, and only in the current cycle. Malenkai immediately submitted Proposal 1043 to fix the conflict in the Vacationing rule, and actively removed enough AWOL players to bring down the quorum requirements, and everyone was very careful to vote for the next seven days.

In the last week of July, Ackanomic experienced its first witchhunt craze. Malenkai, who currently had a witchhunt in progress called upon him by this is not a name, submitted Proposal 1038. This proposal defined players which had been burned once to be Enlightened, and prevented witchhunts from being called on Enlightened players. snowgod noted that he was the only player to have been burnt twice, and therefore this would put him beyond hope of Enlightenment. (Not quite true, though: Calvin N Hobbes had also been burnt twice.) Having nothing to lose, he began spouting heresies again; this is not a name called for a witchhunt. snowgod retaliated by attempting to call for a witchhunt against every player who had voted in favor of his Proposal 974. /dev/joe reacted by submitting CFCJ 107, and this is not name reacted by calling for another witchhunt against snowgod.

Calvin N Hobbes, after getting a witchhunt called on him (again, by this is not a name), attempted to call two hundred thirty-nine simultaneous witchhunts upon himself. Once again, /dev/joe was ready, and CFCJ 108 got Calvin N Hobbes thrown in Gaol instead (as the rules did not allow players to call witchhunts on themselves). But, of all of the valid late July witchhunts, only Wayne was exonerated, and snowgod became the only player to have ever bent burnt as a heretic four times.

Furthermore, CFCJ 107 was judged True, causing snowgod to be sentenced to Gaol. He appealed the verdict, and the Supreme Court did in fact overturn to False, but due to an oversight in the rules, snowgod still had to serve his sentence. After some delay, /dev/joe granted him a Presidential Pardon.

Nonetheless, some good came out of all of this. Firstly, /dev/joe's CFCJs brought up the issue of the difference between something that the rules forbid and something that the rules say is impossible, and the difference between retractable and non-retractable errors. (For more on these issues, see Steve Gardner's essay Breaking the Rules.) The lengthy discussions that ensued eventually contributed to the clarification of the Crime rules.

And secondly, on July 30th, this is not a name, attempting to call for yet another witchhunt, stated: "[he] thus implies that the earth is not Round, when, of course, it is." Though it was obviously a typo, a witchhunt was called on this is not a name in under ten minutes. this is not a name requested leniency, but for naught. Finally, he attempted to escape burning by becoming the first player to take the altar by the horns, as per the rule created by Proposal 1014, and thus ran to the Church of the Markovian Dream. snowgod, the Church's founder, attempted to expel this is not a name from the Church, but was unable to, being in Gaol at the time. Malenkai, however, noted that the rule contained insufficient language to override Rule 729, and thus could not have its intended effect. The witchhunt ended, and with only one dissenting vote, this is not a name was burned.

Before "Coke it is" was repealed, Malenkai submitted CFCJ 106 against himself for drinking, and thus manipulating, Coke, which was mentioned in the rules and was thus a protected entity. Other players noted that food and drink in general was mentioned in the new Party Chess rules, and thus it seemed that everyone would have to either break the rules, leave the game, or starve. Malenkai thus submitted Proposal 1062, which restricted protection to entities within Ackanomic. CFCJ 106 was judged to be True, with a three-day Gaol sentence. (Thus began the Ackanomic tradition of punishing Crimes in inverse proportion to their severity.) Malenkai appealed for a Presidential Pardon, which /dev/joe granted.

August began with /dev/joe and this is not a name becoming the first to make use of Contracts, which were created by Proposal 514. Their contract attempted to make use of ambiguous wording in the rule so as to have all money transferred to their accounts, and to require all players to vote the same as themselves. Malenkai quickly submitted CFJ 249, which argued that Contracts could not be enforced on players who were not a party to its signing. By chance /dev/joe, and then this is not a name, were first selected to judge. They wisely declined, and it was ThinMan who ruled that such a contract was in fact valid. But then, ThinMan submitted CFJs 250, 251, and 252, which between them all showed that this particular contract was not Enforceable. (CFJs 257 and 258 also dealt with problems in the contract rule.) Contracts were later repealed by Proposal 1088.

CFJ 256 also dealt with the Contracts rule. In fact, it was ThinMan's Paradox Win CFJ, and brought to the forefront the issue of inter-rule precedence (i.e., precedence between clauses within a single rule, something that Rule 210 did not address). The issue was hotly debated in the public forum. Niccolo Flychuck originally judged it to be False, and ThinMan appealed it.

On August 10th, snowgod became Ackanomic's third President, defeating Niccolo Flychuck and incumbent /dev/joe (who unofficially dropped out of the race).

Malenkai's Loophole got taken out for another spin around the block in August, as Malenkai tried to use Rule 115 to instantiate a Vending Machine, a Gadget for which Inventor snowgod has announced a blueprint but had yet to use. CFJ 263 decided that this time, though Malenkai's entity did exist, it was not an actual Gadget (and that furthermore it was in violation of " ").

Then, on August 23rd, CFJ 256 finally came back from the Supreme Court, overturning the original verdict and making ThinMan the winner of the sixth and (at the time) briefest Cycle of Ackanomic.

Malenkai, who was doubtful of the rigidity of the paradox, soon submitted CFJ 269, which claimed a Paradox Win based on a similar inter-rule conflict in the new Harfmeister rules. /dev/joe submitted Proposal 1160, which codified a method of resolving conflicting statements within a single rule. CFJ 269 was judged False by Habeous Corpus, but it did not end here.

New players IdiotBoy, Guy Fawkes, and fnord joined Ackanomic as the bug-fixing and paradox hunting continued into September, and with the end of the month came the return of Mohammed.

A strange tangle of events began on September 6th. Wayne appealed CFJ 269 and CFCJ 112 to the Supreme Court, without reasoning, in an attempt to lower his score as quickly as possible and thus obtain control of the Voting Gnome. (Though note that he had to get CFJ 276 judged True beforehand, since Wayne was currently sitting in as an Acting Justice for the vacationing Bascule.)

Bascule returned from vacation not much later (upon which Wayne immediately added CFJ 276 to his list of frivolous appeals). He and Malenkai (currently Acting Justice for mr cwm) quickly determined that CFCJ 112 should be upheld. Since CFJ 269 was Malenkai's Paradox Win, though, Malenkai resigned as Acting Justice and appointed ThinMan as Acting Justice instead.

Somewhat surprisingly, however, CFJ 269 came back from the Supreme Court on September 9th, with an overturned verdict of True. Not only did this deny Wayne the 25-point penalty, but this meant that everyone's scores were to be reset, as Malenkai was the winner of the current Cycle.

Or maybe not. /dev/joe, immediately realizing that there was nothing stopping CFJ 269 from being appealed and overturned again, submitted CFJ 280 to clarify that Malenkai could not be declared the winner until the four-day appeal period for CFJ 269 had expired. (This should have been the case with the previous Paradox Wins as well, but had been forgotten at the time.) And it was a good thing, too, because CFJ 269 was in fact immediately appealed again, this time by breadbox (who, unlike Wayne, wrote a lengthy appeal reasoning). Ironically, breadbox had had an opportunity to judge this CFJ back at its inception, but had missed it due to bouncing email. In fact, his technical difficulties had caused him to miss a number of CFJ appointments, the penalties of which had contributed to the fact that he was currently the player with the lowest score, meaning that he was the player that Wayne was competing with to acquire the Voting Gnome. breadbox had also been selected to judge CFJ 280, and he ruled it True (but not quickly enough to avoid drawing out the thread splits).

While the appeal of CFJ 269 was sitting in the Supreme Court, Malenkai submitted yet another Paradox Win, CFJ 281. Simply put, the CFJ pointed out a formula in one of the Party Chess rules that was contained in square brackets. Since brackets were used as Notes (see Proposal 466), this effectively left a sentence fragment in the rules. In keeping with Ackanomic's tradition of irony, this CFJ was also assigned, after two declines, to breadbox.

Meanwhile, Wayne continued to work at degrading his score with Underworld-empowering proposals guaranteed to fail, such as Proposals 1207, 1212, 1213, 1217, and 1231. (In an attempt to guard against Proposal 1217, snowgod temporarily changed his name to frozenwaterdiety [sic].) Several players speculated that with enough finagling, and control of the Voting Gnome, Underworld might actually be able to get one of them to pass. Underworld players reminded everyone that, as always, their votes could be purchased.

Finally CFJ 269's appeal came back, with the True verdict upheld. And at the same time, breadbox returned CFJ 281 with a judgement of Invalid. breadbox argued that such a trivial error should not earn a Paradox Win, even though he could not actually judge it False. Malenkai chose not to appeal this decision, as he already had one Paradox Win (though not the one he expected to have). Malenkai was, finally, declared the winner of the seventh Cycle of Ackanomic after the four-day appeal window had expired (and he very nearly won by points before then as well, but instead overshot), on September 21st.

Two days later, the acceptance of Proposal 1243 spelled the death of the Voting Gnome. In its place, though, as compensation, Proposal 1243 also created the Chartreuse Goose.

On September 23rd, Underworld leader Wayne announced that the market in selling their votes had not been very profitable, and that they had realized that people weren't going to buy what they could get for free. Therefore, effective immediately, they were going to vote No on all proposals for which they had not been bribed. It was unlikely any proposals would be accepted with a guaranteed six No votes. And sure enough, in the voting results a few days later, one proposal was accepted (Proposal 1253, which Malenkai had bribed Underworld to vote for), and fifteen were rejected. To be sure, none of the Underworld-empowering proposals (which were now being authored by IdiotBoy, but still on a semi-regular basis) came particularly close to passing either, but it was nonetheless clear that the Underworld Strike was real.

The non-Underworld players quietly retreated to a private forum to discuss their options. After a while it became clear that, while they might have enough resources to ram one or two proposals past Underworld, there was no acceptable long-term solution. Furthermore, there was no way to make it illegal to hold such a strike; it was not something that could be easily regulated by the rules, short of censuring the specific players. Malenkai did submit such a proposal, Proposal 1281, so as to have something in the queue as a last resort, and let it be known that he would retract it immediately if Underworld ended the strike.

The members of Underworld were a bit nonplussed at this. They had expected the other players to either submit to their demands or to consolidate their voting powers and fight back. They were not prepared for disenfranchisement. The next day, Wayne announced he was ending the strike, but requested a concession in the form of Proposal 1289, saying that the strike may have to be resumed if it did not pass. The other players were not pleased by this either.

Finally, President snowgod made a general speech. He announced his intent to vote No for Proposal 1289, as he felt that it was tantamount to extortion. He publicly acknowledged that Underworld was trying to create a fun challenge, but that it had not worked out that way, and expressed his desire for the game to continue. Malenkai then retracted Proposal 1281 and added his comments to those of snowgod's, and Wayne responded by retracting Proposal 1289. The members of Underworld explained that they had expected from the start that the strike would not be continued for very long. Both sides wound up feeling that they had miscalculated, and ruined what had had potential to be a fun situation. A couple of the members of Underworld left the party soon after, and when Bash quit the game, Underworld became defunct for the last time, on October 2nd.

On October 13th, this is not a name, Wayne, and Techno announced that they were leaving the game. They became the first inductees into the Hall of Elders. After the mourning period, a mad scramble ensued to deal with the vacated offices, Wayne's in particular. Guy Fawkes volunteered for the position of Promoter. Malenkai, as Speaker, became the Acting Tabulator very briefly -- in fact, just long enough to release the voting results for Proposal 1326, at which time President snowgod became the Acting Tabulator. Guy Fawkes and snowgod fulfilled their duties in these offices for some time.

Meanwhile, CFJ 305, submitted by Mohammed, finally discovered a true Paradox Win in Party Chess (though nowhere near where everyone else was looking for them), and a rather elegant one at that. Mohammed thus became the winner of the eighth Cycle on October 22nd. Niccolo Flychuck fixed the paradox with Proposal 1378.

By the time November had arrived, Guy Fawkes had acquired a reputation for locating minute bugs in the rules and trying to wrangle Paradox Wins out of them. (See CFJs 283, 288, 299, 314, and 318.) None of them ever succeeded. The majority of players, however, were becoming a little annoyed with the recent spate of paradox wins (both successful and unsuccessful), and felt that the game needed to focus on something other than accumulating points and nitpicking through the rules for inconsistencies. The Chartreuse Goose had been one response to this; another was Malenkai's Proposal 1395, which changed Rule 219 for the first time.

Still another was a call for creating other winning conditions for the game. Malenkai offered a bounty to the first player that created a new way to win the game. This bounty was collected by Habeous Corpus for the passage of Proposal 1430, quite likely the most complex single rule Ackanomic ever had. The rule first allowed players to propose a special rule that would describe a method by which players could find the Vault of Crystal Chalice. Once such a proposal had been adopted, the rule brought into existence six colored keys, which players needed to collect in order to open the Vault, and thus win the game. Each key had different restrictions on what players could be eligible to receive it and maintain possession of it.

Another possible effect of this sentiment was the sudden decrease in CFJs, of every kind. The months of November and December each saw the initiation of no more than four CFJs (less than were initiated during the last week of October alone).

But probably the biggest effect of this sentiment was that players began working on wholesale revisions to the ruleset, in order to weed out the minor paradoxes and inconsistencies. In particular Malenkai and Mohammed, but others as well, starting putting much effort into developing large-scale "re-org" proposals, and work on these became a major focus for discussion in the public fora.

Probably the first of these was Mohammed's Proposal 1396, which created a standard for Hearings, the non-proposal voting that had first been introduced with the Politeness Moon. A more important re-org proposal was Proposal 1416, which codified the concept of "entities". Others were to come in the following months.

In December, after an unusual period of quiet, new players began arriving again, such as Jammer and Swann, as well as the return of Techno.

Also during December, snowgod bravely agreed to continue as Acting Tabulator until someone else volunteered to take the job, as he did not want this task to prevent people from running in the upcoming Presidential election (in which he had already decided not to compete). Guy Fawkes remained the Promoter until December 20th, when Mohammed volunteered for the job.

On December 11th, Malenkai's score hit the Magic Number (with some help from CFJ 323), and he became the winner of the ninth Cycle of Ackanomic.

Meanwhile, on December 10th, snowgod created a new Buried Treasure (Treasure 111). The map, which was simply a hexadecimal encoding of ASCII characters, required the treasure-seeker to post a public message that said only "Hubert", three days in a row. This simple treasure hunt had two unexpected consequences. The first was, since three or four players began to fulfill the conditions at the same time, there was a "race" to be the first to post the third and final message. Two players' messages appeared within a minute after midnight; however, determining which one was first depended on whether you were measuring when it was sent, or when it arrived at the Postmaster's computer. Guy Fawkes called CFJ 324 to determine the matter, and the players in question actually had to check their computers against the atomic clock in order to honestly determine who was first. Thus the question of "when are certain actions actually considered to happen" became an issue once again. As a result of snowgod's treasure, the term "a Hubert situation" came to be synonymous with a race to be the first to complete an action. (Such a situation arose again much later with The Machine that Goes *ping* -- see CFJ 341 -- which finally prompted Mohammed's Proposal 1714.)

The second consequence of this treasure was that it seemed to have somehow opened the floodgates. Prior to this, Malenkai and snowgod were the only players to have buried any treasures worthy of note; three new treasures were buried soon after snowgod's, and more continued to be made, and discovered, in the coming months.

By the time 1997 rolled around, subgames had become a major focus of Ackanomic play, thanks to the various Games & Contests, not to mention all kinds of Treasure hunts the players were creating for each other. Work still continued on the ruleset, and the stream of proposals continued unabated, but the CFJ dry spell continued until the middle of January.

The remaining winter months also heralded the arrival of new players Strider, Red Barn, Narf, Vynd, and the return of IdiotBoy.

Throughout the winter months a discussion ran concerning the possibility of Ackanomic becoming much larger. The population was at a high point (in terms of actively participating players), and some players wanted to see it continue to grow. This naturally would require some form of breaking it into subgroups, as the amount of activity going on in the game was already more than many people would want to have to follow. Robert Sevin was a strong proponent of this concept, which he called "townships". Other players expressed a preference to keep the players unified, and some doubted that the subnomic model would actually keep the workload manageable. (It is worth noting that something similar to this was actually proposed once, namely Calvin N Hobbes' Proposal 2026.)

On January 20th, Habeous Corpus' score exceeded the Magic Number, and he became the winner of the tenth Cycle of Ackanomia (though relatively inactive, Habeous Corpus was the proud owner of multiple Whamiols). Proposal 1657 was submitted soon after, which more than doubled the Magic Number to better reflect the current point inflation.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of the upcoming one-year anniversary of the game, snowgod submitted Proposal 1630. The voting results were announced, and the proposal adopted, the day before the celebrations began. Malenkai, ready as always, submitted CFJs 333 and 335, looking for a Paradox Win, or at least a way to work out the ambiguity in the new rule. Fortunately, there was no paradox, and verdicts were returned in time for the festivities to proceed on schedule (such as it was). The rule was buggy enough, however, to warrant Proposal 1666.

On January 28th, Mad Scientist Swann announced that he had completed the Blueprint for his Frankenstein Monster "Tickle-Me-Elmo", and that its final sentence, contributed by Guy Fawkes, prevented any further additions to it -- thus Guy Fawkes would become the winner of the Cycle in ten days, once the Monster had been built. Malenkai, seeing a problem with the relatively new Frankenstein rule, submitted CFJ 342, which indicated that due to the constraints on what Blueprints could contain, the Tickle-Me-Elmo Blueprint was instantly destroyed upon completion. Although ThinMan refuted Malenkai's argument, he judged that Guy Fawkes' sentence did not in fact prevent further additions, and so the Blueprint was not actually finished.

On February 6th, a quorum failure occurred for the first time in months with Proposal 1700, and ten players were suddenly put on vacation (including Promoter/Tabulator Mohammed, both Justices, and three Senators), and had to stay on vacation for two days. This was a bit unforeseen, as the two-day minimum was not part of the vacation rule when the quorum failure procedure was passed.

With the vast majority of Offices being held in an acting capacity, Malenkai and /dev/joe took advantage of the situation: as Acting Justices, for example, they rapidly cleared the Supreme Court docket of appeals. When President Niccolo Flychuck released the voting results for the following proposals, he pointed out that they also failed quorum, something which the enforced vacation had been created specifically to prevent. What everyone else had overlooked is that the players were only placed on vacation at the time the voting results of Proposal 1700 had been released -- well after the voting periods of the following proposals had ended. So five more proposals failed quorum, and an eleventh player was forced onto vacation, leaving only six active players. This might have been a problem in its own right, as the Offices of Speaker, President, Praetor, Supreme Court, and Senate could only be filled by the same player so many times. But since the rules permitted three days for replacements to be found, the absentee players were able to return from vacation before the rules were violated.

Malenkai finally created a rule for finding the Vault of the Crystal Chalice with Proposal 1719, and the six keys were created. Narf, the recipient of the Purple Key, disliked the Chalice Vault rule (in fact his pending Proposal 1738 would repeal it), and so to rid himself of the key, he buried it as treasure and claimed that it would be found by the player who repealed the Chalice Vault rule. This act earned him a bit of censure at first (see Proposals 1752, 1754, and 1755), but it also wound up sparking a discussion about whether it was possible for a treasure-seeker to find a Key if there were ineligible to receive it (see CFJs 354, 356, and 357). Narf, ironically enough, later wound up owning the Chartreuse Goose, thus making him responsible for tracking the Keys.

No one ever managed to collect more than a few Keys. The fact that the responsibility of tracking the keys, and noting when they were required to change ownership, changed hands with the Chartreuse Goose caused the information to occasionally get lost or simply forgotten about.

Proposal 1758 and Proposal 1764 were more Mohammedean reforms; the first created the Public Actions rule, and the second redefined Organizations, and turned Political Parties into types of Organizations. (Mohammed also proposed several Organizational Powers, most of which were voted down.) Almost immediately after Proposal 1758 passed, Mohammed submitted CFJ 349, which hypothesized that voting was now a public action. It was judged True by Narf, and for the next few days players had to submit their votes to the public forum. Postmaster /dev/joe helped out by making a temporary change to the Postal Code that designated Mohammed's email address as a public forum, and Mohammed submitted the fixup Proposal 1792.

On March 13th, Malenkai paid A$200 to send away the Chartreuse Goose and became the winner of the eleventh Cycle (by points). The twelfth cycle was started with the new Magic Number of 541. Vynd took advantage of this situation to complain about losing six points when the scores were reset, and this was found to be legal by CFJ 358 (which, ironically, was judged by Red Barn). Two other carefully timed complaints made Vynd the first player to receive the title Crazy French-Scostman (a stunt which was nominated for a Silver Moon).

During April, new players Amtimatter and two-star arrived in Ackanomic, and Elder Guy Fawkes returned as well.

On April 3rd, snowgod, much to his surprise, was elected to a third term as President. Running only as a default, he tied in votes with Malenkai, and was selected by the Ackanomic Magic Dice. He immediately announced his intent to abdicate as soon as he had appointed a few Functional Officers (mainly Financier and Bond-Harfer, although other offices were currently unfilled). Less than an hour after snowgod had begun the nominations, though, his grace period on CFCJ 132 expired, and he went to Gaol for three days. (As Gaoler, snowgod had failed to describe the cells of the Senators who went to Gaol for being In Contempt after being late on announcing the Silver Moon candidates; see CFJ 363. Ironically, Senator breadbox was the winner of the Silver Moon, for his attempted scam with Proposal 1727, and was in Gaol at the time he received the award.) Niccolo Flychuck used the Purple Key (from the Crystal Chalice rule) to spring him early. (It was later revealed that he had been prodded to do so by /dev/joe, who needed snowgod to perform some duties as part of his hunt for the Runestone of Jukkasjarvi treasure.) Despite his promise, however, snowgod did not get around to resigning from the Presidency until a week before it would have ended anyway.

On April 12th, /dev/joe completed a minor exploitation. Vulcan had purchased an Underground Laboratory (one of Mohammed's new Organizational Powers) and used it to construct a Vending Machine, which was transferred to /dev/joe. /dev/joe then set it to vend Rocks to Wind a String Around at A$2, purchased five hundred Prosthetic Foreheads (all of which he described), and then donated the lot of them to the Museum (which only had two Prosthetic Foreheads at the time, and so accepted his donation). /dev/joe thus became the winner of the twelfth Cycle. (snowgod exacted a minor revenge, however, by calling for three Forehead Hearings, two of which found the respective Prosthetic Foreheads to be copies.)

A similar exploitation was completed by Malenkai two weeks later. Malenkai announced an auction of one of his possessions (a Gimme Shelter), and then submitted a bid on it himself: A$1800, to be precise. At the end of the auction he used an Otzma Card, Share my Expenses, to have Ackers' undead pay one-third of the bid -- thus netting himself an extra A$600. He then converted all of his money into a trinket (the Loophole Surfboard, with the description "It is green") and donated it to the Museum, becoming the winner of the thirteenth Cycle of Ackanomic on April 28th.

Also on April 28th, the Sinister Aliens had their second successful abduction. (The first, on April 7th, was the abduction of Rule 1307, the Gravity rule.) This time, the aliens removed Rule 106, "Voting on Proposals". In addition to robbing everyone (except the Tammany) of the ability to vote, it also caused the voting periods for the current proposals to be temporarily suspended.

New player Alfvaen, who came to Ackanomic on the first of May, was especially chagrined at at the delay in being able to shed his pending status. He fared better than most, however: When the rule was returned, seven days later, many proposals became immediately due. (The Alien Abduction rule was supposed to cause the deadline to be extended, but CFJ 381, submitted by Alfvaen and judged by Guy Fawkes, determined that this failed to work as intended. The bug in the rule was later fixed by Alfvaen's Proposal 2019.) Proposal 1967 thus failed quorum, and eleven players were changed from voting to non-voting, leaving nine voting players. Proposal 1974 failed quorum next, forcing five more players to become non-voting. Finally Proposal 1975, which had been distributed just before the abduction, had received exactly one vote. /dev/joe became the only voting player in the game. (Fortunately the quorum rules had been rewritten after the previous experience so that the abstaining players did not lose their offices immediately; the resultant chaos was thus more annoying than game-threatening.)

Throughout spring a small group of players had been publicly opining that Ackanomic had become too safe for its own good. In particular, it was felt that the drive to clean up the rules had been much too successful -- that Ackanomic had become all but sterile, and the players were unwilling to vote for anything that was in any way risky. snowgod was perhaps the most vocal of these players; Niccolo Flychuck also expressed such sentiments as he announced his resignation from Vulcan.

Niccolo Flychuck soon went on to found two new Organizations. The first, MetaMorph, was founded on May 13th, and eventually became a Political Party (in early July). The second Organization was The Church of Odo on the Wormhole, created on May 20th. Although he released nothing specific as to the church's dogma, other than to mention a vision involving "the Winds of Change that are the breath of life of nomic", it proved very popular, and by that time the next day it had six new members. The success of the Church's founding, and the addition of several of the members-to-be, was also the source of some confusion due to numerous "lost votes" on Proposal 1981, which legalized polytheism. (But see also CFJ 384.)

When Acting Speaker ThinMan began nominations for the Office of President after snowgod's resignation on May 25th, he received replies from Niccolo Flychuck and Mohammed -- both of them coming after the three-day period. As a result, Niccolo Flychuck, who had been first (he missed the deadline by nine minutes), automatically became the Ackanomic President on May 30th. Announcing that he intended to be on vacation for the majority of the term, Niccolo Flychuck suggested that Mohammed be appointed Acting President in his absence.

Malenkai returned from vacation the next day, and immediately noted that when snowgod/Mr. Nacho resigned as President, he was no longer the Acting Clerk of the Court, and thus several CFJs had been illegally distributed and assigned. (This was confirmed by CFJ 390.) Thus CFJs 385, 386, 387, 388, and 389 were found to never have existed, since they had not been sent to the Clerk of the Court, and the existing CFJs were reassigned anew. For some reason, many players were in a declining mood, so the CFJs were flying back and forth for a few days. CFJ 384 had the worst time of them all -- having already been declined by three judges before Mohammed finally judged it True, it had to start over from the beginning, and it was again declined three times before Malenkai wound up with it. (Fortunately he also judged it True.)

And so, on to June. The players who felt Ackanomic was becoming moribund were in for a surprise, because June was a month of non-stop scams, loophole surfing, and high bandwidth usage in general.

On June 1st, Mohammed used his Orbital Mind Control Laser on /dev/joe, causing him to automatically accept a trade of his Vending Machine, which was currently equipped with a Bonus Vote Add-On, for a A$10 trinket from Guy Fawkes. /dev/joe immediately submitted CFJ 393, in order to get his Vending Machine back. Meanwhile, Guy Fawkes gifted the Vending Machine to Mr. Nacho. A few days later Mr. Nacho reattached the Bonus Vote Add-On and set its vending price at A$200. His first customer was, ironically, Voting Gnome, who purchased one vote. snowgod then proceeded to split the profits from the sale with Guy Fawkes, Malenkai, and mr cwm -- the other members of (None Yet).

Meanwhile, Malenkai was surfing loopholes in the Organized Crime rule. As the Godfather, he announced 530:1 betting odds against someone posting a public message in the following week. Malenkai then, as a player bet A$1 "against the odds", and thus won A$530 (leaving the Narfalones with A$11). Alfvaen used a technicality to seek retribution via CFCJ 135, the penalty being A$530 and a five-day Gaol sentence. (See also CFJ 412.) Bascule ruled it True, but upped the penalty to A$1060. Malenkai appealed the CFCJ, or, more precisely, the CFCJ's penalty. The Court chose to ignore the political context and ruled solely on the Crime itself, penalizing Malenkai one day in Gaol. (Meanwhile, Organized Crime was repealed by Proposal 2052.) Bascule expressed surprise at Malenkai's reaction to his penalty, and went on vacation, stating his belief that the game had become "too serious".

Meanwhile (again), Malenkai was also surfing loopholes in the Frankenstein Monster rule. Alfvaen had recently been elected to the Office of Mad Scientist, and begun work on his own monster, named Azpiazu. Malenkai, realizing that monster parts could come from Blueprints, announced, as the Wizard, a new blueprint for a seemingly useless Gadget called the Cheez-Whiz. The final sentence of the Blueprint was: "All sentences that follow this one are, or describe, attributes of grapefruit, and they conflict with this one," and then delivered this sentence to Alfvaen, after replacing grapefruit with Azpiazu. Alfvaen disclosed his one-sentence Monster Blueprint, and began building Azpiazu, giving Malenkai another Cycle win in ten days. (Alfvaen, annoyed at having been surfed, submitted Proposal 2054, but later retracted it.) Malenkai then submitted Proposal 2056 to fix the loophole, which disallowed anything but rules as raw material for monsters. /dev/joe, however, did not believe that the Blueprint was actually complete, and so submitted CFJ 402. Vynd judged False, as did the Supreme Court when /dev/joe appealed it, and Malenkai became the winner of the thirteenth Cycle of Ackanomic on June 14th (though this fact was not determined until July, when the appeal verdict was finally returned).

Now, getting back to the first scam. CFJ 393, /dev/joe's attempt to regain possession of his Vending Machine, had been submitted to two-star, who, after six days, returned a surprise verdict of False. /dev/joe appealed it, naturally, but the quirk of the Orbital Mind Control Laser was that the stolen items would only be returned at the time a True verdict came back. (That is, the CFJ would not determine that /dev/joe still owned the Vending Machine all along, but merely caused it to be transferred back to him at that time, in accordance with its blueprint). Mr. Lunatic Fringe (aka Mr. Nacho, aka snowgod) then proceeded to bury the Vending Machine. (The burial, however, did not stop it from returning to /dev/joe when CFJ 393 was overturned by the Supreme Court.)

Not yet sated, Guy Fawkes offered another trinket in trade, this time for Bascule's Vending machine. (Bascule had purchased a Vending Machine a long time ago, when they could only vend Rocks to Wind a String Around.) Mohammed once again fired up his Orbital Mind Control Laser. Mr. Lunatic Fringe then (voluntarily) sold his Bonus Vote Add-On to Guy Fawkes for A$1. A few days later, Guy Fawkes strapped the Bonus Vote Add-On to his newly acquired Vending Machine, and set the price at A$2. Malenkai immediately purchased no less than twenty-eight Bonus Votes, in lots of four, burying each lot as he went. Guy Fawkes then buried the Vending Machine itself, moments before other players attempted to access the Vending Machine. The scam was complete. Guy Fawkes returned the Add-On to Mr. Lunatic Fringe, who buried it as well, and then caused Bascule to find the Vending Machine Treasure. Over the remainder of the month, the seven Bonus Vote treasures were found by various players (the key in each case being a passphrase used in a public message). Besides Mr. Lunatic Fringe, /dev/joe and Mohammed, Guy Fawkes disinterred no less than three of them, giving several Bonus Votes to Malenkai and others.

In mid-June, Proposal 2059, the second proposal of newcomer CV1701, was accepted. The rule it create, "Amung Gods", described a somewhat ambiguous process whereby a player could attain the rank of "GOD". It didn't take long for the wording of the rule to pose problems. One sentence stated: "If anyone has an objection to this player becoming a 'GOD' they may publicly say so and the matter will be brought to a CFJ." Malenkai and /dev/joe both requested the rank of "GOD" immediately following its acceptance, and fnord was the first to object. Malenkai finally decided that the rule itself was initiating the CFJ, and so distributed CFJs 408 and 409, two of the odder Calls for Judgement in Ackanomic history. (Worse, the two judges arrived at contradictory verdicts. Malenkai chose to appeal the later verdict, and it was overturned.) To avoid further problems, the rule was repealed with Proposal 2149.

Meanwhile, a large number of pure-harf proposals were being submitted (mostly by the members of the Harf party, unsuprisingly). Most of them were old, or "foolish", proposals that had been voted down the first time round, such as Proposals 2096, 2098, and 2099. Others were intended to add to the game's complexity, such as Proposals 2083, 2084, and 2090. And still others were simply harfy, such as Proposals 2082, 2092, and 2093. A surprising number of them were accepted. Some players were not pleased with these new proposals, and a couple of Politeness Moons resulted. The year-old "Nobs vs. Markovians" debate over what direction the game should be taking began anew.

On the 19th of July, Malenkai's score exceeded the Magic Number (currently at 199), and won the fourteenth Cycle. Malenkai had argued heavily against having the Magic Number be this low (Proposal 2016, which had changed it, had been voted on while Malenkai was on vacation), and his quick win, especially given his handicap, made a persuasive argument. Malenkai submitted Proposal 2250 to move the Magic Number to the compromise 379, which was accepted.

So, as July was coming into its final weeks, the game was very much in flux, and filled with controversy over what state it was in and where it should go. Very few players guessed, however, that much more flux and controversy was just around the corner....

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