The theme of this issue, therefore, seems to be "Looking back at Thring Game 2", with an overview of Game 2's history, an explanation of how Rule 340 came to be, statistics on proposals throughout Thring Games 1 and 2, and forgotten proposals - admittedly, from Game 1 still. (They seem to be falling further and further behind.)
This doesn't mean that Thring will stay dormant. There has been discussion (sometimes heated) as to the next game of "Thring" and what form its ruleset is to take; though, I believe, a start-up date and the identity of the "first" Speaker for the new game have yet to be decided.
Note also that there won't be another Thring Weekly for at least two or three weeks, due to a certain wedding. What the next issues will be called has yet to be decided.
So why put out this issue at all? Partly because there's a few interesting tidbits concerning Thring which it would be good to put together coherently; partly to provide Thring Observers (since there are currently no actual Thring Players) with some Thring-related stuff to try and stave off withdrawal symptoms.
"Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us dare to do our duty as we understand it."
--Abraham Lincoln, 1859.
"Mystery Player X think the goal is probably at the moment just trying to play the game without going insane. Mystery Player X would like to point out that Rule 340 somehow managed to get in despite the lack of penalties associated in voting against it. On the other hand, Mystery Player X find the current situation rather amusing."
--Anarchy, 29th April, 1995.
Game 2 of Thring was begun in the middle of a period of adventurous and prolific proposing. It encountered problems due to Speaker overload and finally died in a welter of Calls for Judgement invoking Rule 219. This is its story.
David Wilson the Astroboy formally ended Game 1 of Thring on the 3rd of April 1995, at the beginning of Week 16, stating that Adrian Corston the Geographically Jealous (as e was then known) had more than 100 points and thus was the Winner. The "transfer of power" (presumably involving disclosure of the identities of Proposers, as well advice as to the duties of the Speaker) took place in that Thring Week; the following Week, the new Speaker, now known as "Adrian Corston (Thring Speaker the Second)" distributed new Proposals and new Rules. E also set up eir own WWW pages for Thring, with pages for Proposals, old Rulesets and Voting Results for the first time.
Another allegedly notable event around the same time was the first edition of the electronic newsletter known as "Thring Weekly". Edited and largely written by Luke Schubert the Surreptitious, it lasted for six issues - but may yet be revived.
Some of the first Proposals to be adopted in Game 2 included "Unlock the Deadlock" - giving the Speaker a Casting Vote in cases of ties in Votes on Proposals, transmuting Rule 307 (unleashing Rule 303 to do its stuff), the Freedom of Information Act which enabled information to be purchased from the Speaker, the definition of Philanthropic Gestures (which might be Proposals which don't affect the score of the proposer) and the "1001 Arabian Nights" Rule, which encouraged Proposals with names referring to nursery rhymes or well-known children's stories (and was soon repealed).
A short time into Game 2, players of Agora Nomic discovered Thring. (Agora Nomic is the oldest and largest Nomic on the net, with 20 Players and 177 Rules as of April the 12th.) This was due to a mailing list called "internomic", which Luke Schubert was subscribed to. The internomic mailing list had been quiet for months when, on April the 10th, a query as to whether it was still active was posted to it. Luke replied, signing off as "Luke Schubert ((the Surreptitious)) -- of Thring Nomic" and was barraged with mail from Agora players asking about Thring. Within days, several had subscribed to the mailing list (though only one ever became a player in Game 2) and Thring had been officially Greeted by Kelly Martin, Ambassador of Agora Nomic. These new observers were active in Thring discussions, have subtly influenced the course of play and been a valuable reference for complicated "Nomical" matters.
Week 2 of Game 2 saw more interesting new Proposals, some of which were later adopted. These included Leech (a random player shall lose up to 3 points if e has that many), *Time*Warp* (none of the score changes of the last week actually occur for a random player), The Official Status of Names Act (which attempted to clear up some discrepancies in how names of Proposals and Rules were treated), and Pinocchio's Process for Proposals (proposing that Proposals must first be discussed as Draft Proposals before they could be voted on).
Rule 340, the Random Discrimination Act, had been part of the Ruleset for a long time. However, it had been believed that it was "muffled" by (or deferred to) Rule 336. (For a justification of both these Rules, as well as their complete wording, see Adrian Corston's comments in the article in this issue.) On April the 10th, Rule 336 was repealed. However, it was not until April the 18th that the full horror of Rule 340 was brought home to Thring Players and Observers.
On this day, Adrian Corston (Thring Speaker the Second) distributed Proposals which had had certain words removed and replaced with "mystery player X". From part of Proposal 408:
"There shall be a duly elected Official Position of Thring Banking and Tax Commissioner. The duties of the Banking and Tax Commissioner extend to, but are not limited to, the following:
- Mystery player X shall maintain the Thring National Bank. Players may deposit Points gained in a private and confidential (between mystery player X, mystery player X and the Player concerned) account maintained by mystery player X. At anytime the Player may query mystery player X as to the current contents of their account but it is the responsibility of the Player to maintain records concerning the prior status of their account. A Player may store an unlimited amount of Points in their account subject to:"
There was much discussion. Adrian revealed that as the last line of Rule 340 referred to creating a new "law" and not a new "rule", it did not in fact conflict with Rule 107.
Upon reflection, e discovered that e had not been strict enough in replacing all cases of "unique identification" and re-issued all Proposals on April the 20th. Now Proposal 408 began:
"There shall be a duly elected Mystery player X. The duties of mystery player X extend to, but are not limited to, the following:
- Mystery player X shall maintain the Thring National Bank. Players may deposit Points gained in a private and confidential (between mystery player X, mystery player X and mystery player X) account maintained by mystery player X. At anytime mystery player X may query mystery player X as to the current contents of their account but it is the responsibility of mystery player X to maintain records concerning the prior status of their account. A Player may store an unlimited amount of Points in their account subject to:"
Proposals affected by Rule 340 were variously referred to as "corrupted", "mystery-corrupted" or "340-ified"; in the next few weeks, somehow, some were voted in and remained for some time. (Indeed, there is still discussion as to whether some should be preserved as "historical artifacts".)
There were proposals (and Proposals) to amend Rule 340, but most of them were affected by Rule 340 and became useless! One such read:
"Proposal 429 - The Slightly Less Random Discrimination Act
That Rule 340 shall be amended to exclude Official Positions held by players as a unique identifier of those players, including mystery player X and Voter. Specifically, that the first sentence in the Random Discrimination Act shall read:
"The wording of any proposal which mentions one or more player(s) by name, epithet or other identification unique to mystery player X other than by Official Position (including mystery player X, mystery player X [should there come a time when there is only one], or any other Official Position defined by these rules) shall be altered as follows:""
There may have been interesting Proposals made during this time, but in general they were "mystery-corrupted" and became useless. Notable was the Repeal of Rule 371, leaving Players with no clear way to win by points.
Meanwhile, Adrian was struggling under the workload of Thring Speaker and a regular (paid!) job. For three weeks, there were no Proposals distributed; then, Adrian announced his retirement as Speaker. Luke Schubert was nominated for next Speaker and in fact was probably the only person at the time who actually wanted the job. In due time, there was another Transfer of Speakership.
On May 24th, the new Speaker posted the voting results for the last set of Proposals; on May 29th, e posted new Proposals. The Game of Thring was back. Shortly, Luke Schubert changed eir epithet to "(Transitional Speaker)" and Adrian Corston eirs to "has no epithet".
There were several interesting consequences of accepted Proposals at this time. Mystery Player X now received all points from voting on Proposals; Rule 220 was repealed, so that Players could make up to 3 Proposals per Week; penalties for breaches of the Rules were specified; all proposed transmutations became Philanthropic Gestures, stopping points-scoring by proposing something which would get a majority of votes but not get in.
The next few weeks were characterised by an increase in the number of Calls for Judgement. (For a list of all CfJ's, email Luke or see this link.) There had been 3 Calls for Judgement between the start of Thring Game 1 and the 24th of May; from the 25th of May to the end of Game 2 on the 19th of June (a time period of less than a month) there were 13.
The subject of the Statements for Judgement varied from whether or not certain Proposals were in fact legal and/or Proposals to enact a Rule, through what should happen if a Judge returns the Judgement UNDECIDED, and finally on whether the game should end.
New Proposals included a revision of the Appeals process (this revision has not yet been tested), a Speaker Slush Fund for awards of up to 5 points per week, as well as an Election Procedure for Official Positions and the Official Position of Records and Voting Commissioner - these last ideas had been proposed before, but were 340-ified. Also, points became awarded for voting FOR an accepted Proposal, incidentally disallowing Players voting for their own Proposals.
Especially noteworthy was a Proposal described as an "Instant Cash Squabble" :
"Let the number of people who voted FOR this proposal be denoted 'f'. All people who voted FOR this proposal shall have 'f' points added to their score. All people who voted AGAINST this proposal shall have 'f' points subtracted from their score.
Let 'my' and 'I' refer to the proposer of this rule. My points shall be adjusted to the effect that I will not have gained any points from any other rule, due to the votes on this proposal.
If this proposal is adopted unanimously I shall gain 4 points.
After acting, this rule will repeal itself and will cease to exist.
The middle bit is just so that you don't think I'm getting 2F-2A points for thinking of this. I need the 4 points clause there just to give some of you the incentive to vote against me. This ought to be fun!"
It passed 7-0.
Shortly after the above Proposals were distributed, the first hint of trouble loomed on the metaphorical horizon. Anarchy submitted a CfJ that Rule 329, stating that Players who were inactive for three weeks should cease being Players, would cause too much disruption and should be considered null and void. Luke Schubert (Transitional Speaker), for reasons of eir own, waited a week and then defaulted on the Judgement. (At that time, e was first Judge for every CfJ e did not submit emself.) Duncan Richer the Slakko was the next Judge; e promptly Judged the Statement FALSE and submitted a CfJ that further play was impossible and the game should end. Luke delivered a Judgement of UNDECIDED.
In the meantime, David Wilson the Astroboy had submitted a CfJ that there was currently no way to win by points, in contravention of Rule 112, and that this was a paradox. Again, Luke judged UNDECIDED.
The next batch of Proposals saw a Proposal to clean up (repeal) all Rules whose only purpose was to Name or Repeal other Rules, a Proposal to replace Judgements with Referenda and another submission of a "Draft Proposal" Proposal (this time with provision for "Emergency Proposals" that didn't have to go through the Draft process, but would automatically be Philanthropic Gestures). Also proposed were a Proposal to erase the laws (which had no actual legal force) created by Rule 340, a potentially cruel (to the Speaker) Proposal to award points for Proposals based on the formula "5-ln(Number of words in Proposal)" (where ln is natural logarithm, and no rounding was specified), a Proposal to create a Thring Lotto draw with its own Commissioner, and a Proposal to allow Rules to be Smote by their Proposal at any time.
Following the Voting Period for these Proposals, a Call for Judgement was made that forgetting laws was a worse "punishment" than forfeiting the game. No Judgement was ever delivered on that CfJ (though a related CfJ, that the invoker of the previous CfJ did not really believe this, was Judged UNDECIDED).
The next Week saw a record number of Proposals - twenty-two, where the previous high was fifteen. Notable here were several Proposals to round up or down a Player's points, and some alternative scoring systems (including one with letters instead of numbers). We also saw the Titles Act - a long time on the drawing board - which specified how Players were allocated titles and how these titles changed from week to week, with provisions for amending these processes, of course. After discussion on how to actually transmute an Immutable Rule (previous attempts failing by one or two votes to achieve unanimity), there was a Proposal to sidestep the process by defining Confounded Rules, which Immutable Rules could be "changed" into. There was also a Proposal to create a Thring Universe, parametrised as an Euclidean Plane, on which all Players have a Location; a proposed reformation of the "performance related pay" rule so that the proposer gets 2F-2A points for eir Proposal; a Proposal to randomly select the first Judge for any CfJ; several Proposals (in a surge of inter-Player cooperation) to repeal 340-ified Rules; and Proposal 479, reproduced below.
"Proposal 479 - The "Chaos? You want Chaos?" rule.
That all currently immutable rules be transmuted."
After a record number of Proposals, there followed a startlingly low voter turnout. Of 12 eligible Voters, only 4 voted. For the first time since Week 9 (i.e. 13 Thring Weeks later) there were Proposals which did not meet quorum, i.e. had only two votes either FOR or AGAINST them. A further effect of this low turnout was that some Proposals had no Votes FOR them and hence, by Rule 303, were accepted; these included the Proposals concerning Confounded Rules and "alphabet scores". Proposal 479 was also accepted.
The next set of Proposals contained some interesting and worthwhile ideas, which I won't be discussing here as these Proposals had no actual effect on play. I liked Proposal 483:
"Proposal 483 - Khhe dijhs fhihiis rljekjf
Heleld ss ofe efofoos ehhs foouias mmlxc. Oiuuer Kkeeu!
But in the midst of more Calls for Judgement, Adrian Corston has no epithet submitted two CfJs that the legality of the Rule Changes contained in Rule 479 could not be determined with finality, since these Rule Changes were not Proposed, and thus it could not be determined if they had amassed the required majority of votes, or met quorum.
Shortly afterwards, Troy Porter the Marvellous Insectoid attempted to win by transferring points so that e, under the "alphabet" scoring system, would end up with "n" points (exactly) and thus satisfy Rule 112's implicit condition. Eir move was disallowed (by the fact that the receiver of these points would end up with more than 90% of the points needed to win) and the mailing list erupted with debate on what exactly was legal in this situation.
For this and other reasons, Luke Schubert (Transitional Speaker) judged TRUE to both of Adrian's CfJs, ending the game. Adrian was thus the Winner of Game 2; Luke also pronounced Duncan Richer the Slakko and David Wilson the Astroboy Honorary Winners for their previous CfJs, and Troy Porter an Almost Winner for "a valiant attempt".
Under Rule 219, there was no provision for starting another game; however, it was suggested that the Ruleset be revised (and, hopefully, corrected) and used as the Initial Ruleset for a new game of Nomic (still called, presumably, Thring). The discussions on the revisions to the Ruleset are a story in themselves.
So ended Thring Game 2; with a whimper and not a bang. It has been suggested that its troubles stemmed from the increasing occurence of competitive, erudite bickering by email over Rule interpretations, whereas in the earlier stages of the game people were having fun and experimenting. Can the successor to Thring (whatever its name) avoid the same fate - and should it try to?
[On Wednesday the 19th of April, Adrian Corston (Thring Speaker the Second) posted a message to the Thring mailing list, of which the following is an extract. E was replying to a question from Kelly Martin.]
Some annoying person (me, actually :-) submitted this Proposal on 27/02/95:
|Luke Schubert be penalised 10 points apon the enactment of this rule.
|He's too far ahead already :-)
At this early point in the game, Luke was on 29 points, and his closest rivals were Ian Wanless and I (both on 6 points respectively).
Luke subsequently sent out this Appeal For Decency (note: this was not an official "Appeal" as defined in the current rules, as it preceeds that concept).
|It may not surprise you that I am opposed to Proposal 330, which states
|that I shall be penalised 10 points. I'd like to state some reasons
|why you should vote against this Proposal.
|As it stands, the proposal is a penalty not for anything that I've done
|wrong, but simply for gaining too many points. How did I gain all these
|points? By submitting something (Proposal(s) and/or sentences for a
|Story) every week. That's all. Not through a scam or any dishonesty;
|not even through skill. Note that several people have submitted
|Proposals and then not voted _on their own Proposals_ - so it's not my
|fault that they haven't got as many points. My points were earned the
|hard way, and 10 of them may be lost through this one Proposal.
|I seem to have been targetted because I'm leading. What does this mean
|to all of you? Suppose that you were leading the game; is there any
|obstacle to the rest of the Players voting that you should lose 10 or
|more points? Who will be the next Player to lose points? Why not say,
|'Luke Schubert shall not win this game' if you (collectively) intend
|to restrict my score every time I'm ahead?
|So what I object to is how arbitrary this proposal is. Proposals like
|this may well lengthen the game, but they detract from its spirit.
|This proposal may seem like a good idea now, but it isn't really
|decent or fair, and may set a nasty precedent.
|Thanks for listening,
Proposal 330, unsuprisingly, did not pass (actually - 2 FOR, 3 AGAINST - more FOR votes than I expected). In the next weeks' Proposals we saw:
|No Rule may discriminate against, or for, any Player on the basis of eir
|name, score, or Epithet.
|Any Rule which does so discriminate is rendered null and void.
|This Rule takes precedence over all Rules which do discriminate, including
|those which claim to take precedence over this one.
|Proposal 340 - The Random Discrimination Act:
|The wording of any proposal which mentions one or more player(s) by name,
|epithet or other identification unique to those player(s) shall be altered
|Before posting the proposal to the voters the speaker shall change each
|occurrence of a player's name (or other identification) to the phrase
|"mystery player X". All players are forbidden from discussing the identity
|of "mystery player X" until the result of the vote on the proposal is
|announced. At this stage the speaker shall reveal the original wording of
|the proposal, which becomes the wording of the new law, if the proposal was
|Proposal 341 - The Rare Demisters Act:
|No player may choose the epithet "Mystery Player X"
All three Proposals subsequently passed. Rule 336 overrode and nullified rule 340 until its recent demise.
Here endeth today's lesson in Thring history. Luke, you're welcome to include this as an annexe to the Thring Weekly when your "Forgotten Proposals" gets to an appropriate point.
And I'd like to apologise for making Proposal 330 in the first place :-)
[Apology accepted. I'd always suspected that you had proposed it, anyway. :) Note also that I proposed Proposal 336 - perhaps a bit of an overreaction. - Ed.]
I thought that people might be interested in seeing some stats that I just worked out for Proposals.
Most of the column titles should be self-explanatory. I focussed mainly on the number of Proposals and what percentage passed. There are some notes as to relevant events in the game.
|Week #||Date||Start #||Total||Pass||Fail||Dnmq||%age|
|18||18/04/95||405||13||7||6||0||54 (or 20th?)|
 The batch of Proposals distributed at the beginning of this Week included Proposal 335 (F^2-A^2); Rule 335 was repealed by Proposal 372 at the beginning of Week 16.
 After distribution of Proposals at the beginning of this Week, Adrian Corston became Speaker.
 In the Voting Period for these Proposals, Luke Schubert became Speaker. Also, Proposal 420, to Repeal Rule 220, was in this batch and was subsequently passed.
 The game ended after these Proposals were distributed.
Also, I think that there actually was no Proposal 392 ...
Week 7 saw two whole Proposals being made. The Voting turnout was again low; there were two votes for each Proposal, one FOR and one AGAINST. Thus, neither Proposal passed. However, I think that both are interesting historically.
Again, editorial comments (those made at the time of writing this issue) are in square brackets.
Proposal 316[It was a while before another name was suggested. What might the fate of Thring have been if it was called Logos instead?]
That the name of this Game of Nomic shall be Logos.
Proposal 317[OK, so I submitted this Proposal. Some time later, I discussed with Adrian the possibility of resubmitting it; he rewrote the above in a clearer and less holed form, and I submitted the result as Proposal 352. Rule 352 was recently amended and became Rule 433. I traded half the points I got from Proposal 352's acceptance to Adrian Corston, which was a factor in eir winning of Game 1.]
At any time during the Nomic Week in which a Judgement has been posted, any Player may post an Appeal regarding that Judgement directly to all Players (i.e. not to the Speaker). All Players except the Judge of that Judgement may then post their votes on the Appeal to the Speaker before the end of that Nomic Week; the Appeal is treated as a Proposal for purposes of determining a quorum, but only passes if all votes are FOR the Appeal; it can not gain the Appealing Player any points directly. If the Appeal passes, then that Judgement is overturned and a new Judge shall be selected as specified elsewhere in the rules.
The Appeal may contain reason(s) that the Judgement is faulty. It must specify which Judgement it refers to.