Index ← 3859 CFJ 3860 3861 → text
===============================  CFJ 3860  ===============================

      G. cast a valid ballot on Proposal 8458.

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Caller:                        omd
Submitted to:                  Referee

Judge:                         ATMunn
Judgement:                     FALSE

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History:

Called by omd:                                    02 Jul 2020 03:24:17
Assigned to ATMunn:                               02 Jul 2020 10:15:49
Judged FALSE by ATMunn:                           03 Jul 2020 20:45:36

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Caller's Arguments:

>> CoE: This resolution is invalid because the decision was already
>> resolved the previous time, because G.’s vote was invalid, because it
>> did not "clearly set[] forth the voter’s intent to place the identified
>> vote".
>
>
> In what way was it not clear? It was certainly not conspicuous, but it
> was clear.

Although "clear and conspicuous" is a common legal term, I consider it at
least partly a legal doublet, like "null and void".  It may be possible to
be conspicuous without being clear, but it is much more questionable
whether something can be clear without being conspicuous.

For example, Google’s dictionary definition of "clear" is:

1. easy to perceive, understand, or interpret.

However, the ballot in question went out of its way to make it hard for
players to perceive it, or understand or interpret that it was a ballot.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gratuitous Arguments by G.:

Hidden intent message forwarded in full when the action was actually
performed:

https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-business/2018-October/039325.html

(shorter report, but payload lines are even more hidden within the report
- see if you can find without peeking at the answer).

CFJ was 3670, called here but with no Caller's Arguments:
https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-business/2018-October/039327.html

Judged here:
https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-business/2018-October/039452.html

And unfortunately, by that time it looks like everyone pretty much
accepted that the hidden message was fine, and the arguments were all
about a contract thing that might have been wrong.  Here's what that
CFJ 3670 judgement says about clarity:

 > As the intent was
 > published to a public forum, e had given sufficient notice, and the
 > intent, although it followed a quoted statement, was not buried, the
 > condition is fulfilled and e did, in fact, perform the three given
 > actions.

So the judge says that intent was "not buried" (though to me it looks
pretty buried!)

So where this sort of thing got judged or entered custom to count for our
version of "clear" is still a mystery.  So at this point, I'm honestly
happy if the judge just mentions "this sort of thing worked before, but
the precedents are confused and let's look at it fresh" or "this one was
*extremely* buried" with maybe a quickie comparison between the actual
past hidden messages (not worrying much more what the past judgements
thought).

I'll add a gratuitous coda/final argument for the record:

This chapter in Agoran history ended soon after the Bank Heist, which
brought about a dependent action fix by Proposal 8107 (Buried Intent
Prevention Act v2, adopted 27-Oct-18).  That proposal changed this text:

 >  “1. A person (the initiator) announced intent to perform the action,
 >  unambiguously and clearly specifying the action and method(s)
 > (including the value of N and/or T for each method), at most fourteen
 > days earlier.“

to:

 > “1. A person (the initiator) conspicuously and without obfuscation
 >  announced intent to perform the action, unambiguously and clearly
 > specifying the action and method(s) (including the value of N and/or T
 > for each method), at most fourteen days earlier.“

This separation made "without obfuscation" part of the whole announcement
message (meaning 'no hiding' the intent overall), but separated
"unambiguously and clearly specify" to refer only to the intent contents
(asking once you find the intent in the message, is it clear?)  That
distinction currently persists in game custom, and in the dependent action
rules text (game custom seems to apply the standard to all action
specifications not just intents), and is the basis for my vote counting.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Judge ATMunn's Arguments:

tl;dr: Hiding a ballot 500 lines into a report with no indication that
there's a ballot there is not very "clear"; precedent sort of agrees but
the situations weren't to the same extreme. FALSE.


In the message in question, G. attempted to vote on Proposal 8458. E
quoted the (very long) Herald's report, with the following text on lines
574-576:

> This is a break in the quoted portion of this message.
> I, G., vote FOR the referendum on Proposal Eight Four Five Eight.
> You are now returned to the quoted portion of this message.

It was clearly intended to be hidden so as to not be noticed by the
average player. The message also contained an obvious Notice of Honour
at the top. Unless a player is suspecting something, e would likely see
that and assume there were no other actions in the message.

As per the caller's arguments and prior discussion, this obviously does
not constitute a conspicuous attempt at voting. The question, then, is
whether it is "clear." In fact, this is really the only question
involved, as the Agoran rules for submitting a ballot do not actually
use the word "conspicuous." The conditions for publishing a valid
ballot, from rule 683, are as follows:


       1. The ballot is submitted during the voting period for the
          decision.

       2. The entity casting the ballot (the voter) was, at the
          initiation of the decision, a player.

       3. The ballot clearly identifies the matter to be decided.

       4. The ballot clearly identifies a valid vote, as determined by
          the voting method.

       5. The ballot clearly sets forth the voter's intent to place
          the identified vote.

       6. The voter has no other valid ballots on the same decision.
	
	
#1-#4 and #6 are all satisfied without question. The issue is #5. Did G.
clearly set forth eir intent to place the identified vote?

This comes down to the definition of "clear" again. From the caller's
arguments:

"For example, Google’s dictionary definition of “clear” is:

1. easy to perceive, understand, or interpret.

However, the ballot in question went out of its way to make it hard for 
players to perceive it, or understand or interpret that it was a ballot."

The message certainly did try to make it hard for players to perceive
it. One could disagree with the second half of the statement, as it is
easy to understand and interpret that it was a ballot - but only if it
is perceived. Let us look at another definition of clear.

Merriam-Webster defines "clear" the following way:

3 a : easily heard
       "a loud and clear sound"
   b : easily visible : plain
       "a clear signal"
   c : free from obscurity or ambiguity : easily understood : unmistakable
       "a clear explanation"
		
The ballot is certainly not easily visible or plain. It is not free from
obscurity, nor is it unmistakable. Even if you were to disagree and
claim that the ballot complies with some parts of or some definitions of
clear, one would agree that does not satisfy enough of the definition to
truly be clear.

Concerning the second piece of evidence provider by the caller (see
below): I would say that it is over-exaggerating the situation somewhat,
but it gets the point across. A notice, however clear the notice itself
may be, if it is hidden in an obscure place, does not do much good at
all. If Arthur had said, somewhere visible to all, "hey, I put a notice
on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused
lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard,'" though
it would be inconvenient, the notice would have still been useful.

Likewise, if G. had placed a piece of text near the top of the message
saying something to the effect of "there is a ballot lower down in this
message," then despite the text being hidden, it would be easily
understood that one should look there, therefore it would be clear.
However, e made no such mention (that would have defeated the purpose of
eir ballot).

We should, however, look at precedent before jumping to conclusions. To
my knowledge, there are 3 prior CFJs dealing with this type of issue,
those being CFJs 3667, 3670, and 3676.

In CFJ 3667 [3], after a self-filed Motion to Reconsider due to a
misunderstanding, judge G. found that an action taken inside a quoted
message, so long as it is actually separate from the quoted message,
could still work. That would seem to apply here as well, and make a case
a judgement of TRUE. However, I argue that the scenario is different in
this case. In the message in question in CFJ 3667, the attempted action
was only on the 98th line of the message, and only 65 lines from the
beginning of the quoted portion. Simply scrolling down a little is
enough to notice it. In our scenario, the attempted action is hidden far
further down in the quoted message and is much less conspicuous.

CFJ 3670 [4] is interesting. It, like CFJ 3667, was found TRUE, and
allowed an action to take place within a quoted report, only delimited
by "Not part of report:". It was not even placed on a separate line.
However, as G. said in eir gratuitous arguments:

"And unfortunately, by that time it looks like everyone pretty much
accepted that the hidden message was fine, and the arguments were all
about a contract thing that might have been wrong.  Here's what that
CFJ 3670 judgement says about clarity:

 > As the intent was
 > published to a public forum, e had given sufficient notice, and the
 > intent, although it followed a quoted statement, was not buried, the
 > condition is fulfilled and e did, in fact, perform the three given
 > actions.

So the judge says that intent was "not buried" (though to me it looks
pretty buried!)"

The judge's definition of "buried" seems a bit odd to me. The intent in
CFJ 3670 was not as far down in the quoted message as in our scenario,
but it was definitely less obvious once seen. Either way, the judgement
was not focused on the hidden message. The judge seemed to be more
focused on the matters relating to the contract than the hidden intent.
For these reasons, I argue that CFJ 3670 is not relevant to this case.

Finally, there's CFJ 3676 [5]. Unlike the others, this one was judged
FALSE. The message in question here was actually in the quoted portion
of the message, not on another line. From judge Murphy's arguments
there:

"In particular,
D. Margaux intentionally used a misleading form factor that causes some
mail readers to hide some or all of the relevant text by default, and
was presumably aware of same. This is a concrete step beyond merely
burying a separate paragraph in the middle of a long report."

This would make me simply dismiss this CFJ as irrelevant - if it were
not for the last sentence, "this is a concrete step beyond *merely
burying a separate paragraph in the middle of a long report.*" The
matter at hand is precisely that - a separate paragraph buried in the
middle of a long report.

The precedent seems to be that these hidden messages *do* work as long
as they are not actually embedded in the quote itself - which this
action was not - so is this any different? I would argue that yes, it is
different. As I have stated before, this action was buried *far* deeper
in the message than in any prior case. In the other cases, it is
reasonable that someone could discover the action without much effort.
One has to be far more intentional about looking for the action in this
case.

There is one final matter that must be examined before we can come to a
conclusion, however. The prior cases all deal with intents. This case
deals with a ballot. Let us take a look at G.'s final gratuitous
arguments:

"This chapter in Agoran history ended soon after the Bank Heist, which
brought about a dependent action fix by Proposal 8107 (Buried Intent
Prevention Act v2, adopted 27-Oct-18).  That proposal changed this text:

 >  “1. A person (the initiator) announced intent to perform the action,
 >  unambiguously and clearly specifying the action and method(s)
 > (including the value of N and/or T for each method), at most fourteen
 > days earlier.“

to:

 > “1. A person (the initiator) conspicuously and without obfuscation
 >  announced intent to perform the action, unambiguously and clearly
 > specifying the action and method(s) (including the value of N and/or T
 > for each method), at most fourteen days earlier.“

This separation made "without obfuscation" part of the whole announcement
message (meaning 'no hiding' the intent overall), but separated
"unambiguously and clearly specify" to refer only to the intent contents
(asking once you find the intent in the message, is it clear?)  That
distinction currently persists in game custom, and in the dependent action
rules text (game custom seems to apply the standard to all action
specifications not just intents), and is the basis for my vote counting."

I have two counters to this argument. First, the text changed by the
proposal e mentioned is not the current text in the ruleset:

       1. A person (the initiator) published an announcement of intent
          that unambiguously, clearly, conspicuously, and without
          obfuscation specified the action intended to be taken and the
          method(s) to be used;
		 	
The current text, in my opinion, seems to steer more towards the idea of
the whole intent needing to be unambiguous, clear, conspicuous, and
without obfuscation.

Secondly, and more importantly, as I have said, the matter at hand deals
with a ballot, not an intent. E argues that the "game custom seems to
apply the standard to all action specifications not just intents," but
the rule only deals with intents.

In fact, one does not submit a ballot by announcement either. As rule
683 states, "An entity submits a ballot on an Agoran decision by
publishing a notice satisfying the following conditions: ...". The term
"notice" is not defined in the rules, but "publish" is:

                                                                To
       "publish" or "announce" something is to send a public message
       whose body contains that thing.
		
G.'s attempted ballot was a public message whose body contained
something, that thing being the notice. So as per my previous arguments,
it all comes back to this: did it clearly set forth G.'s intent to place
the identified vote? And as I have already explained, most definitions
of "clear" would say no.

Therefore, I find CFJ 3860 to be FALSE.


Judge ATMunn's Evidence:

Evidence [1]:

https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-business/2020-June/043813.html

Evidence [2]:

     “Oh, yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them,
     yesterday afternoon. You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call
     attention to them, had you? I mean like actually telling anybody or
     anything.”

     “But the plans were on display…”

     “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

     “That’s the display department.”

     “With a flashlight.”

     “Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”

     “So had the stairs.”

     “But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”

     “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of 
a locked
     filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door 
saying
     ‘Beware of the Leopard.”
	
Evidence [3]:

CFJ 3667 original judgement: 
https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-business/2018-October/039379.html
reconsideration: 
https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-business/2018-October/039380.html
final judgement: 
https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-business/2018-October/039409.html
intent: 
https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-business/2018-September/039218.html 

Evidence [4]:

CFJ 3670 judgement: 
https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-business/2018-October/039452.html
intent: 
https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-business/2018-October/039325.html

Evidence [5]:

CFJ 3676 judgement: 
https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-business/2018-October/039428.html
original intent: 
https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-business/2018-October/039261.html
apathy attempt: 
https://mailman.agoranomic.org/cgi-bin/mailman/private/agora-business/2018-October/039320.html

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