Index ← 3812 CFJ 3813 3814 → text
===============================  CFJ 3813  ===============================

      Agora is a contract.

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Caller:                        Cuddle Beam

Judge:                         Gaelan
Judgement:                     FALSE

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History:

Called by Cuddle Beam:                            13 Feb 2020 22:53:54
Assigned to Gaelan:                               19 Feb 2020 15:21:59
Judged FALSE by Gaelan:                           04 Mar 2020 06:23:32

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Caller's Arguments:

- CFJ 3706
- Falsifan's doubts below.

On Thu, Feb 13, 2020 at 5:03 AM James Cook wrote:
> On Sun, 9 Feb 2020 at 22:04, Cuddle Beam wrote:
>> Agora, by CFJ 3706, is a contract by nature. It's a contract because of
>> the way it exists.
>>
>> And it's probably still invisible because the Ruleset and all of its
>> parties (players) still haven't been posted as a *single* publication,
>> all together ("this publication must include its full provisions and
>> list of parties, along with a certification or adequate proof of their 
>> accuracy and completeness"). If it continues to be invisible, it will 
>> block this thing from ever happening, because it can't destroy Agora as 
>> part of its effects:
>>
>> "When the transitional period is ended, each invisible contract or 
>> pledge ceases to exist in the order they were created, and then this 
>> rule amends itself by deleting this paragraph."
>>
>> We'd also need "certification or adequate proof for their accuracy and
>> completeness", which I think the Rulekeepor and Registrar would be
>> appropriate for.
>>
>> What do you guys think?
>
> Your arguments make sense to me. However the rules have changed since
> 3706. I wonder if the new fairly narrow language in R2608 and R1742
> now mean "contract" is a somewhat narrowly-defined term of art that
> doesn't include Agora itself? Whether or not that's true now, I'd be
> in favour of making sure it's true by proposal.
>
> - Falsifian
>

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Judge Gaelan's Arguments:

CFJ 3813 asks us whether Agora is a contract.

As noted by the caller, CFJ 3706 (Feb 9-14, 2019) asked a similar 
question. It was judged TRUE by G.

As I see it, the questions before me are:
1) Was CFJ 3706 judged correctly?
2) Has there been a change in circumstances since then that would affect 
that ruling?

I’ll start with the second question. It appears that the version of the 
rule in question there was 8139/20. (The court admonishes G. for failing 
to include revision numbers in his rule citations, by the way.) The 
current rule, 8139/22, is largely similar, with the following changes:
* Lowered the minimum party count to one.
* "may make an agreement” -> "may publicly make an agreement”
* “agreement between parties” -> “consent of all parties” throughout
* The new stuff about provisions being public and the body/annex 
distinction
* A requirement that things be permitted "explicitly and unambiguously”
* Clarity in wording about asset changes

Nothing here changes the fundamental nature of what a contract is. The 
addition of “publicly” is closest, but the agreements that form Agora were 
all (AFAIK) made publicly, so that doesn’t change anything.

Therefore, this CFJ is TRUE iff 3706 was correctly judged TRUE. This 
leaves open the question of whether I should overturn that judgement. I 
certainly *want* to—Agora as a contract is unintuitive and inconvenient to 
deal with as Notary, and results in contract rules applying to Agora, 
which is weird. But can I?

There is one point in 3706’s logic that at least isn’t clearly to me. I’ve 
reproduced it below: {
- R1742 states that “Any group of two or more consenting persons (the
parties) may make an agreement among themselves with the intention that
it be binding upon them and be governed by the rules. Such an agreement
is known as a contract.”  This simply applied the label “contract” to
this type of agreement.

- Therefore, the “contract” label applies to Agora.
}

The R1742 quote in question could be interpreted in one of two ways:
1) It simply describes an existing thing that people can do "may make an 
agreement among themselves with the intention that it be binding upon them 
and be governed by the rules” and gives it a name.
2) It defines a new type of game action (forming a contract), analogous to 
creating a proposal, calling a CFJ, or any other action that is only 
possible because a rule defines it as such.

G. went with #1 in his judgement, but did not explain eir decision or 
address the possibility of the second interpretation within the judgement. 
Before the judgement, G. initially seemed to believe #2 
(https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-
discussion/2019-February/053314.html): {
Here, contracts are defined by how people MAY create them.   This rule is
not written retroactively (e.g. "all agreements that people have made in 
the
past that fit these criteria are defined as contracts"), but such that it
takes a specific, initial act of agreement to create contract.  The Rules
predate this creation mechanism.  And Agora was not re-created by this
creation mechanism since then.  Therefore it is not a contract, in the 
R1742
sense.
}

D Margaux responded with something vaguely resembling #1 
(https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-
discussion/2019-February/053315.html): {
I don’t see why it needs to have been created as a contract to be a 
contract. To me, it seems like “contract” is merely a term defined to 
encompass a certain class of entities (viz., agreements between players 
that are to be governed by the Rules). That class appears on its face to 
include Agora itself. Not sure why under the text of the Rule it makes any 
difference that Agora (and the agreement(s) that created Agora) preexisted 
the class defined by the Rule. Still seems like Agora is a member of that 
class of entities.
}

Personally, I find that the phrase “players may” strongly implies the 
definition of a game action under a common-sense interpretation (although 
it is inconsistent with Agora’s usual use of the word MAY). Nevertheless, 
the fact that players have read it both ways strongly indicates that the 
rules are “unclear”, so let’s look at the four factors.

Game custom: Contracts specifically have been implemented both ways under 
various past rulesets, so there’s no strong precedent here. Other entities 
are also mixed: proposals and CFJs are entities explicitly created by 
announcement, but pledges and players are written as reflections of real-
life phenomena.
Common sense: The players’ common senses seem to be divided on the issue 
of the interpretation of that specific sentence, but generally the 
treatment of Agora as a contract is not consistent with common sense—I 
don’t think a casual reader of the ruleset (if such a thing exists) would 
consider that Agora might be a contract.
Past judgements: G’s past judgement here followed interpretation #1, but 
did not discuss interpretation of that sentence, so I do not weigh it 
heavily.
Best interests of the game: Both Agora as a contract, and the general 
possibility for things to unexpectedly become contracts, are bad for the 
game. This would require the Notary to duplicate the work (or at least the 
reports) of both the Rulekeepor and the Registrar, complicating eir work 
and creating unnecessary noise in the report. It also opens the 
possibility for many rules to apply to the rules themselves in 
counterintuitive ways, making the game harder to understand.

All of the factors either are neutral or support interpretation #2.

Therefore, Agora is not a contract, because it was not created by the 
R1742 mechanism, because it didn’t exist yet. I judge CFJ 3813 FALSE.

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