=============================== CFJ 3575 ===============================
G. owns the Estate of Dawsbergen.
Judge: V.J. Rada
Called by G.: 12 Oct 2017 21:57:03
Assigned to V.J. Rada: 13 Oct 2017 20:29:58
Judged TRUE by V.J. Rada: 15 Oct 2017 00:16:07
Regard the following hypothetical Rules clause:
A player CAN do X by A, by B, or by C.
I think there's only one reasonably clear interpretation of this clause,
that the player has three independent methods for doing X, either by A,
by B or by C. The grammatical clues for this construct are the
repetition of the term "by", and the "or" which (by clear grammatical
rules) distributes over the list to "A or B or C." It's pretty darn
clear, and really the only sensible reading.
Compare this directly with the language of R2491, with line breaks
inserted for emphasis:
The player who placed the winning bid CAN, and SHALL in a timely
fashion, cause Agora to transfer the auctioned Estate to the winner
by paying Agora the amount of the bid, or
by causing the winning Organization to pay Agora the amount of the
Exactly the same as the hypothetical example. So I have simply opted
for the first method (by announcement) for making the transfer, instead
of the other methods ("by paying").
That's my whole argument. It's an argument, and it's mine. But I've
anticipated some counterarguments for your convenience:
Q: But don't you have to pay by announcement? I thought that was the
point of recent rules changes! So the 'by announcement' shouldn't be
separated from 'by paying Agora' because otherwise 'paying Agora'
A: "paying" is already a by-announcement action by R2166 (Assets).
Moreover, CFJ 3557 recently found that the CAN and SHALL imply 'by
announcement', so that implication should map onto all three methods in
terms of announcing the reason for the payment.
Q: But other rules have this compound! What about this:
Any player CAN flip a specified proposal's imminence to "pending"
by announcement by: b) spending the current Pend Cost in shinies
b) by announcement, and spending the current CFJ Cost in shinies,
A: None of those examples have an "or", real or implied. And
"spending" *isn't* a 'by announcement' action on its own, so it needs
the support and the strongly-implied 'and'.
Q: But can't we read '...by A, by B, or by C' as 'by A and either
(by B or by C)'?
A: That's a really poor inference from the grammar, and substituting
a weakly-implied "and" for a strongly-implied 'or' is a complete
reversal of meaning, not a minor grammatical quirk.
Q: But the *intent* of the rule is clearly...
A: This is Agora - text of the rules, dude.
On Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 3:57 PM Kerim Aydin
> On Tue, 10 Oct 2017, Owen Jacobson wrote:
> > This auction ended at Tue, 10 Oct 2017 19:30:33 -0400, with the
> > following bids:
> > * o, 1 sh., for emself.
> > * o, 80 sh., for emself. (Incuded a blurb.)
> > * G., 1,010 sh. for emself.
> I transfer the Estate of Dawsbergen to myself.
Rule 2491 ("Estate Auctions")
[Note: the most recent SLR/FLR has this rule incorrectly-written due to
a copy/past error. I've taken this text from Proposal 7888.]
At the start of each month, if Agora owns at least one Estate,
the Surveyor CAN, by announcement, and SHALL in a timely
fashion, put one Estate which is owned by Agora up for auction.
Each auction ends seven days after it begins.
During an auction, any player CAN bid a number of Shinies on
eir own behalf, by announcement, or on behalf of any
Organization for which such a bid is Appropriate, by
announcement, provided the bid is higher than any
previously-placed bid in the same auction.
If, at the end of the auction, there is a single highest bid,
then that player or Organization wins the auction. The player
who placed the winning bid CAN, and SHALL in a timely fashion,
cause Agora to transfer the auctioned Estate to the winner by
announcement, by paying Agora the amount of the bid, or by
causing the winning Organization to pay Agora the amount of the
Judge V.J. Rada's Arguments:
I start with this CFJ's facts. On October 4, o. initiated an auction
for the Estate of Dawsburgen. On October 10, G. bid 1010 shinies on
this auction. It is undisputed that e is the winner of the auction
under rule 2491 (Estate Auctions) . Eir win of this auction therefore
triggers the third paragraph of that rule, which states
"The player who placed the winning bid CAN, and SHALL in a
timely fashion, cause Agora to transfer the auctioned Estate to
the winner by announcement, by paying Agora the amount of
the bid, or by causing the winning Organization to pay Agora
the amount of the bid.".
The question here is did G. transfer emself the Estate of Dawsburgen
by eir announcement on Oct 13, or must e pay the winning amount of
Shinies to gain control of Dawsburgen?
In CFJ 3533, Judge omd noted that "We don't usually write "A or B or
C". When all the clauses start with "if", we do sometimes write "if A,
or if B, or if C", but "if A, if B, or if C" is still grammatical and
common.". This is a similar case. The list given here provides three
methods of transferring an Estate to oneself: by announcement, by
transferring one's own Shinies, or by transferring an organisation's
Shinies. And it uses the "by A, by B, or by C" format. If someone
asked you to transport their piano "by plane, by boat, or by train",
it would be clear that you would not have to somehow put a train ON a
plane. If someone told you "You have to win this game by brute force,
by skill, or by luck", it would be clear that you could use any of the
However, imagine you were asked to see a performance "at Seaworld, at
6am or at 8pm". It is similarly clear in such a case that their
performance would occur only at Seaworld, and not in any other place.
What if somebody asked you to win a fight "by any means necessary, by
luck, by brute force, or by skill". It is clear that that person would
always expect you to use any means necessary. The difference comes
from the nature of the first clause. In the later two examples, the
first clause is general and followed by a list of specific examples or
limiting items. Is the list at issue in this CFJ similar to the later
two examples? Arguably so, yes. Near every action in the Agoran
ruleset must be done "by announcement". It seems quite reasonable to
interpret the text at issue here the same as the two examples in this
paragraph, with the transfer of Shinies limiting the general "by
announcement". Does this trigger the game factors analysis?
It does not. The inclusion of an Oxford comma makes this case quite
clear. An Oxford comma, of course, is a comma "used after the
penultimate item in a list of three or more items, before ‘and’ or
‘or’". In the text at issue here, there is a comma before the "or" in
"by paying Agora the amount of the bid, or by causing the winning
Organization to pay Agora the amount of the bid.". This comma is
grammatical under G's interpretation because eir interpretation
provides for a three-item list. Under the other interpretation, the
list of the two methods would be two items, and the comma makes no
sense. Under real-world legal traditions, it is certainly within a
judge's power to detect and correct small punctuation errors that
produce odd results. In the Agoran tradition, it is not. See rule 217
("the text of the rules takes precedence") and several CFJs (eg CFJ
3548, which refused to apply the obviously intended effects of the
Dependent Actions rules because the text commanded otherwise). The
text here clearly indicates that an auction winner may transfer an
Estate to emself by announcement.
For the above reasons, I rule CFJ 3575 is TRUE