The OxNomicker

Issue 1, 9 November 1997



Welcome to the first issue of the OxNomicker, a fresh attempt at providing a journal to document the lunacy of Oxford University Nomic. A lot has happened since the last newsletter was produced. The fourth game of OxNomic is now in progress; it looks like continuing for a long time because the current Speaker has indicated his disinclination to take on the rôle again and Voters are aware of the workload they create. Does anyone feel like a Proposal to ensnare Ian Collier in the Speakership forever? After all, he does an excellent job, and more importantly, he can't vote...

Since the recent reappearance of master-stirrer Chris M. Dickson - of which more later - there have been 14 players in the game, the majority of whom are more or less active. I'd like to think that Chris will return to the game the sense of silliness balanced with procedural insight that is evident in other Net Nomics such as Agora and Ackanomic. It's surprising that OxNomic isn't stranger, giving house-room as it does to madmen of the calibre of Simon Cozens, Chris M. Dickson and Colin Batchelor.

OxNomic celebrated its first birthday recently, and some players may be surprised at the lack of development in the ruleset, and the lacunae still unremedied. This is unfair: yes, OxNomic has been around for a year, but it can only effectively be played during the eight weeks of Full Term as votes outside that time are likely to be inquorate. The provision of Suspended Animation has allowed rules to be drafted without endless hedging to accommodate the special strictures of a game played by students.

Finally, to let the real world intrude into the artificial paradise that is OxNomic, I remind all players that Rule 342(0) [Remembrance] forbids the playing of OxNomic for two minutes on Armistice Day.

The Scribe


The game shuddered back into life at the start of Full Term when the Speaker, Ian Collier, used his privilege under Rule 430(0) to publish corrections to the many mis-spellings that had been introduced to the ruleset. Ian Snell noticed that this would involve amending immutable rules [see Judgements] and this has led to a particularly careful style of play for the first few weeks.

The first major innovation came from Ian Snell, in the form of Fast-Track Proposals. These were inspired by the plethora of calls for Judgement and the resulting confusion over the applicability of the Judgements delivered. A Judge now has the option of enshrining the effect of their Judgement via a Fast-Track Proposal, with a telescoped voting period and restrictions on funny business such as Bribes. To ameliorate the miscarriages of justice that could arise from such a procedure, any rule enacted as a result of a Fast-Track Proposal is dubbed a Probationary Rule and may be Overturned with some ease. I think this is a nice idea, elegantly executed, and I wonder if Fast-Track Proposals might be extended to normal gameplay - just as Preproposals became the norm, and we now have what are effectively Pre-Preproposals!

Ian Snell also made a Proposal (P29) allowing Judgements in the case where 'a player feels a rule is in contrast to the intention of the proposer'. There have been plenty of occurrences of this, as even the most diligent checking of a Proposal cannot allow for all possible interactions with future rules. In a similar vein Gordon Aickin suggested that appeals could be made against Judgements, with three new Judges considering the statement. (The Scribe has strong reservations about these ideas which may or may not be aired fully in next week's OxNomicker.)

Chris Dickson's joining the game led to a number of problems, apart from the obvious; he was awarded 10% of the current highest score under Rule 443(0), but this was a fraction, and it was realised by Ian Snell that under one interpretation of the rules, players leaving and re-joining could bankrupt the Bank. Helen Broadie made her first Proposal, following a Judgement, to tidy up this situation.

Finally, Gordon Aickin proposed an extension to the rôle of the Scribe: that they should act as a barker for OxNomic, encouraging and inviting people with an interest in Nomical ideas to join OxNomic. It remains to be seen whether this will be adopted: this Scribe has something to say about it...


This Scribe has often regretted that no record is made of Judgements that occur in OxNomic. Although Judgements are not binding, it would be useful to browse through previous decisions on doubtful sections of the ruleset. Therefore, the OxNomicker will list all calls for Judgements and the decisions made on them.

Suitably, there has been a spate of calls for Judgement recently, reflecting players' concerns over the ambiguities in the ruleset. (I shall use the abbreviation CFJ for a call for judgement; note that the phrase 'Call for Judgement', though conventional, has no official meaning within OxNomic.)

The first CFJ of the term was made by Owen Massey, on 22.x.1997:

Rule 430(0) states that its last paragraph shall be repealed when all
rules are found to be correct. Rule 452(0) states that when a rule is
amended, its Version Number shall be increased by one. The word 'amended'
could be interpreted as referring only to amendments resulting from
Proposals, in which case 430(0) remains 430(0), or it could be interpreted
as including any textual change, in which case 430(0) becomes 430(1).
The judge was Ian Snell, who decided as follows:
The word "amended" is deemed to refer to any and all textual changes. This
requires 430(0) to become 430(1) upon the occasion of the repealing of its
last paragraph. Furthermore, this interpretation also requires any and all
rules corrected by the Speaker under the action of the aforementioned
paragraph to be deemed as amended also, such that their Version Numbers
shall also be increased by one.
Next, Ian Snell made the following query, on 27.x.1997:
    418(0), 3. is exempt from rule 417.
    418(0) 3. is not exempt from rule 417.
with the following explanation:
From rule 417(0)

     When ever CV points are gained by a player the Bank will lose an
     equal number. Whenever CV points are lost by a player the bank will
     gain an equal number.

From rule 418(0)

     3. Every new player who joins the game will recieve CV100
     4. Whenever a player leaves the game all their CV points will be
        transferred to the bank and the bank will lose CV100.

Section 3 from 418(0) can be interpreted in two ways : either as separate
from rule 417, so the CV points mentioned are added to the total pool, or
as included in 417, so the bank gives CV100 to the joining player.
However, the second option could lead to the bank losing all CV points, if
people leave, then new people join. The first possibility is what I
believe was intended, but this ambiguity requires judgement. This
situation requires judgement now, as Chris has rejoined the game.
Colin Batchelor gave judgement in the following - rather curt - manner:
I would rule that 3. is...
...exempt from rule 417.
Gordon Aickin called for the third judgement on 30.x.1997, in connection with point 3 of Rule 418:
1. The phrase "new player joins the game" refers to any non-player who
becomes a player.

2. The phrase "new player joins the game" refers only to non-players who
have never previously been players.
Helen Broadie judged as follows:
I judge that in 418 point 3:

"Every new player who joins the game will receive CV100"

the phrase "new player joins the game" refers to any non-player who
becomes a player.
with the following obiter dicta:
While neither option would have conflicted with any of the present rules I
chose this one partly so that it would fit in best with the rest of rule
418 and partly because it seems unfair for people to be penalized for
leaving and rejoining, especially as we want to lure back all those who
have left.  A proposal is in the pipeline, though, to stop people leaving
and rejoining for profit.
Finally (I hope!) Ian Snell called for judgement on the following question:
What effect does 384(0) have on the other
rules and on the players?
Gordon Aickin was chosen to judge it, and spake thus:
None (as established by precedent).