============================== CFJ 3538 ==============================
In the message to agora discussion stating "haha suck it",
V.J. Rada broke a Pledge.
Caller: V.J. Rada
Called by V.J. Rada: 05 Jul 2017
Assigned to omd: 05 Jul 2017
Judged TRUE by omd: 07 Jul 2017
1. Pledge and promise are synonyms in ordinary meaning.
Does that mean a promise counts as per the rules?
2. Can a post to A-D have the effect of breaking a pledge,
even if it doesn't have other game effects?
3. Pledges to refrain from an action have to be for a limited
time. Does that include the practically unlimited period of the
On Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 10:26 AM, V.J Rada wrote
> I promise not to post in agora discussion within the period of
> the sun's existence
On Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 10:27 AM, V.J Rada wrote
> haha suck it
Gratuituos Arguments by ais523:
"Pledge" and "Promise" have both had formal definitions in Agora in
the past (which made it clear that they were two different things),
but both of these definitions have since been repealed. Have these
influenced game custom? Or does the fact that the definitions were
repealed mean that any precedents from the time no longer apply?
Under the old definition of "pledge", players have been punished in
the past for actions unconnected with any Agoran fora. For example, a
player pledged to ascend a game of NetHack on a public NetHack server
(unrelated to the Agoran mailing lists) and failed to do so, leading
to a CFJ ruling that a rule was violated.
The first paragraph of rule 478 contains "it is hereby resolved that
no Player shall be prohibited from participating in the Fora". This
has in the past been taken to mean that rules penalising people for
communicating via the Fora (as opposed to communicating something in
particular via the Fora) have no effect. Does that apply in this
Note that IIRC there's more than one discussion forum (##nomic on
irc.freenode.net is the other one, but it's an IRC channel not a
mailing list). If it does apply, did the /making/ of the pledge
violate rule 478?
Judge omd's Arguments:
On Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 6:25 PM, Alex Smith
> > > 1. Pledge and promise are synonyms in ordinary meaning.
> > > Does that mean a promise counts as per the rules?
Previously, Rule 2450 (Pledges) stated in its entirety:
Breaking a publicly-made pledge is a cardable offense.
In this version, it's pretty clear that the rule doesn't define a
special game object called a Pledge or anything; rather, it refers to
ordinary-language pledges, and identifies a subset of them (those that
were publicly made, where "public" presumably refers to the
definitions in Rule 478) as relevant to the game.
11 days ago, it was amended by "Betterer Pledges" to add the following
(the online ruleset still hasn't been updated to reflect this):
If a publicly-made pledge says that the creator of a pledge will do
something, without providing a time limit, then e SHALL in a timely manner
in order to not break said pledge.
A player CANNOT make any pledge that would create new obligations for
any other person or office, without the other party's explicit consent.
The first of those two paragraphs doesn't make a difference, but the
latter arguably does: by stating circumstances under which a player
CAN make a pledge, the rule is effectively creating its own definition
of "pledge". Nevertheless, it is still vague enough about what
constitutes a pledge that this new definition should be understood as
a refinement or modification of the ordinary-language definition, not
Thus, there is no specific wording required to make a pledge; arguably
even a simple future-tense statement like "I will do X" might count,
though I'm not ruling on that here. In this case, "I pledge" and "I
promise" mean basically the same thing in ordinary language, and V.J.
Rada's message was sent to a public forum, so e indeed made a
Incidentally, the CFJ statement:
> > I CFJ on "In the message to agora discussion stating "haha suck
> > it", V.J. Rada broke a Pledge."
seems to assume there *is* something special called a "Pledge", but
I'll interpret it as referring to "publicly-made pledge".
> > > 2. Can a post to A-D have the effect of breaking a pledge,
> > > even if it doesn't have other game effects?
Yes. The rules don't exist in a bubble: they can pay attention to
whatever aspects of the 'real world' they want to. Most rule-defined
actions are explicitly required to be performed via the public fora,
but even there, the gamestate depends on /who/ performed a given
action, which is not knowable solely by reading the fora - a
longstanding loophole with a long history of exploitation, most
recently by scshunt.
I could imagine a hypothetical game custom that the gamestate must be
knowable by reading the fora, and rules that, on their face, refer to
the external world must instead be interpreted as referring to a
reasonable observer's /model/ of the world, based on reading the fora.
Under such a custom, for example, if an existing player tried to
create a sockpuppet - i.e. started sending messages under a new
pseudonym, pretending to be a different person - we would say that a
reasonable forum reader would perceive the sockpuppet as a distinct
person, therefore the game should treat em as distinct. But we
definitely don't have that custom! Under actual Agoran precedent, the
game ignores the deception: any messages e sends attempting to take
actions 'as the sockpuppet' are treated the same as if sent from eir
usual alias, affecting eir existing status as a player (even at the
cost of massive gamestate recalculation when the sockpuppetry is
By the same principle, since Rule 2450 sets no explicit limitations on
what a pledge can refer to, or what sorts of actions can break one, we
should take it at its word, not read anything into it about public
> > > 3. Pledges to refrain from an action have to be for a limited
> > > time. Does that include the practically unlimited period of the
> > > sun's existence?
Unless I'm missing something, there's no such requirement about
pledges to refrain from an action.
TRUE: V.J. Rada indeed broke a publicly-made pledge.
> > Gratuitous arguments:
> > [...]
> > The first paragraph of rule 478 contains "it is hereby resolved that
> > no Player shall be prohibited from participating in the Fora". This
> > has in the past been taken to mean that rules penalising people for
> > communicating via the Fora (as opposed to communicating something in
> > particular via the Fora) have no effect. Does that apply in this
> > case?
> > Note that IIRC there's more than one discussion forum (##nomic on
> > irc.freenode.net is the other one, but it's an IRC channel not a
> > mailing list). If it does apply, did the /making/ of the pledge
> > violate rule 478?
I agree that the pledge, if effective, would be a severe enough
restriction on V.J. Rada's participation in the Fora as to run afoul
of Rule 478 (as even though e is not strictly required to send
messages to agora-discussion to participate, we have a strong
expectation that players will). Although Rule 478 uses the word
"shall", that doesn't necessarily mean "SHALL", and both game custom
and the best interests of the game strongly favor giving the clause
teeth. When it comes to attempts to prohibit participation through
the legal system, it should be interpreted as overriding such
prohibitions altogether, not merely criminalizing their creation.
Thus, even though V.J. Rada broke a pledge, e did not break the rules,
because Rule 478 overrides Rule 2450 as to whether e MAY send messages
to agora-discussion. Nor did e break the rules by making the pledge,
as this was merely a failed attempt to prohibit emself from
participating in the fora, which Rule 478 definitely doesn't
criminalize. (I leave open the question of whether Rule 478 ever
creates criminal liability, e.g. if someone prohibits participation by
technical means, or by legal means that take precedence over that