Index ← 3453 CFJ 3454 3455 → text
=============================  CFJ 3454  =============================

      Some Agoran Decisions have authors.


Caller:                      G.

Judge:                       ais523
Judgement:                   TRUE



Called by G.:                28 Sep 2015
Assigned to aranea:          29 Nov 2015
aranea recused:               9 Sep 2016
Assigned to Walker:           9 Sep 2016
Walker recused:               5 Jan 2017
Assigned to ais523:           5 Jan 2017
Judged TRUE by ais523:        6 Jan 2017

Caller's Arguments:

R1950/30 reads in part:
An Agoran decision with an adoption index has the following
essential parameters:

a) Its adoption index.
b) Its author (and co-authors, if any).

But nothing in the Rules grant authorship to Decisions.  Assuming
the author of a Proposal transfers to its decision has no basis
in common definition, either: a Decision is what takes place by the
Public *after* an author is done with it.

Note that if a Decision with an AI has no Author, a Notice to
Initiate it could be invalidated by anyone for lacking an Essential
Parameter (R107(d)).


Judge's Arguments

First off, it's fairly easy to confirm by inspecting the ruleset that
the word "author" is rarely used in relation to Agoran Decisions;
nearly every use in the text of the rules relates to the author of a
proposal, a term that's explicitly defined (as the person who 
submitted it). The problem, of course, is that an Agoran Decision can 
be invalidated if its author is incorrectly identified, and thus, we
need to determine who it is in order to be able to identify em.

It's interesting to note that there are a few other uses of "author"
in the FLR; the rule /annotations/ (which are of course not part of 
the ruleset proper, as they can be changed by Rulekeepor fiat) often
use it to mean, apparently, "the person who submitted a message". The 
reason is, of course, that "author" is a standard English word, not a
technical term. Although the rules define it explicitly in relation to
proposals, this seems to be because it would otherwise be ambiguous in
cases where multiple players had cooperated on writing the text of the
proposal. Even so, though, the player who submitted a proposal is
typically the best candidate according to normal English usage to be
the author of the proposal /itself/ (as opposed to the author of the
proposal's /text/, which is only a subset of the proposal); it's rare
for people to collaborate on things like the title of a proposal, or
the proposal's coauthor list.

Now, we don't have an explicit definition of "author" in relation to
Agoran Decisions, so there are three real possibilities:

 a) The definition of "author" on proposals implies a similar
    on Agoran Decisions too;
 b) The word "author", when applied to Agoran Decisions, has its 
    normal English meaning (and is not an Agoran-technical term);
 c) The word "author" has no meaning in the context of Agoran

In situations like this, in which it's unclear how the words in the
rules are to be interpreted, we turn to the first paragraph of rule
217, which sets out the appropriate test:
      When interpreting and applying the rules, the text of the rules
      takes precedence.  Where the text is silent, inconsistent, or
      unclear, it is to be augmented by game custom, common sense,
      past judgements, and consideration of the best interests of the
(Incidentally, someone once started a nomic with this as its only 
rule; it's perhaps the only paragraph in the entire ruleset that's 
capable of being a nomic by itself. That sounds like the sort of thing
that might be worth trying again some time, if it's possible to get
enough players together.)

There used to be considerably more guidance in the rules, e.g. via
specifying that legal and mathematical meanings of words were
preferred, and that words had their normal English meaning unless
defined otherwise, but that's all been repealed since. So we wouldn't
expect that sort of definition to guide gameplay (especially as IIRC
that was part of the reason for repealing it!), except inasmuch as 
it's affected game custom. It /is/ reasonably clear, though, that the
ruleset is going to use a number of words that it doesn't define; the
game would be utterly unplayable if such words had no meaning
(something which both rules 217 and 1698 go to a lot of effort to
platonically prevent). So under the common-sense test and the best-
interests-of-the-game test, I can only conclude that words mean what
they normally mean unless the ruleset at least /implies/ otherwise
(of course, outright /stating/ otherwise would immediately overrule
any other considerations, but the ruleset is silent on what "author"
means for Agoran Decisions). And in this case, the ruleset certainly
doesn't imply that Agoran Decisions have no author; if it implies 
anything on the subject, it's the opposite.

In terms of past judgements, CFJ 1500's judge's arguments held that
"In the absence of formal definition in the rules, we should take 
words that appear in the Ruleset to have their usual meaning" (and 
that case was fairly similar to this one; in that case, "Politician" 
was being used as a marker/intentionally defined word, but the rule 
defining it got repealed, and it was ruled that it reverted back to 
the normal English definition, with G. being held to be a Politician 
due to being active in the more political aspects of Agora). CFJ 1607 
was similar, dealing with the accidental repeal of the definition of 
the word "index" (note that AI stands for Adoption Index, one of 
Agora's most fundamental concepts, and so damage there could have been
bad); it found that there was no conflict between the standard English
definition of "index" and the attempts in the rules to set it to a
number, but importantly, assumed that the standard English definition
applied. CFJ 1939 found that "regulated" has its common-language
meaning, applying similar reasoning in reverse (the rules at the time
gave a definition of what things were regulated; the CFJ held that
common English definition of "regulated" meant that this would have
some effect even if the rules themselves didn't look at the

It's also worth considering the history of the (now-repealed) rule
754, which was intentionally designed to prevent low-powered rules
defining out words in higher-powered rules from beneath them (thus
changing their meaning); it's currently unclear whether this trick
works, or whether rule 2140c blocks it, but the mere fact that it was
ruled out via preventing low-powered rules defining words in high-
powered rules implies that there's a general assumption that words in
high-powered rules have definitions that can be figured out via 
common-sense, natural-language processes (otherwise this fix would be
worse than useless, making most of our high-power rules meaningless).

So in other words, I'm pretty clear that the author of an Agoran
decision, as defined by the ruleset, is the author of the Agoran
decision, as defined by a typical English dictionary. The one I
checked described an author as a person who creates or originates
something (typically but not exclusively a literary work); this would
strongly imply that the author of an Agoran Decision on whether to 
adopt a proposal is the Promotor. My personal understanding of what an
"author" is is that it's the person who's responsible for the creative
work behind something; again, all the creativity that goes into
creating an Agoran Decision, apart from that in the proposal or other
matter that the proposal's about, comes from the Initiator. (And 
although Agoran Decisions themselves are pretty regimented, and for
good reason, there's still often creativity that goes into the process
of creating them, because that process requires sending messages, and
the format and content of those messages is not fully specified.)

I think there's scope to argue that there's sometimes ambiguity in who
the author of an Agoran Decision is (ideally, the rules should be
amended so that it doesn't matter, especially as the rules care that
the author is correctly identified but not as to who the author
actually is). However, equally, sometimes there isn't ambiguity. For
example, a Silver Quill Ceremony is very much the work of the Herald,
both in terms of its creation/initation, and in terms of the
creativity behind it; the term "author" isn't even particularly 
inappropriate for something like that. As such, the statement of the
CFJ is definitely TRUE – there are some Agoran Decisions which
unambiguously have authors – and I thus hereby assign that judgement
to CFJ 3453.