Index ← 3868 CFJ 3869 3870 → text
===============================  CFJ 3869  ===============================

      A player CAN send a message to agora-business by some method.


Caller:                        Jason

Judge:                         Aris



Called by Jason:                                  18 Jul 2020 18:27:45
Assigned to Aris:                                 25 Jul 2020 18:16:22


Caller's Arguments:

First, I think it is clear that sending a message is an action - it is
something that can be performed.

Rule 478 says that "no Player shall be prohibited from participating in
the Fora". A plain reading of this seems to indicate that Rule 478
"permits" players to participate in the Fora - preventing someone from
being prohibited from doing something is ensuring that they are
permitted to do it. Participating in the Fora also necessarily entails
sending messages to the fora, so it seems Rule 478 also permits sending
messages to the public fora.

However, if Rule 478 "permits" sending messages to the public fora, then
Rule 2125 states that sending a message to a public forum is an action
that is regulated by the statutes of Agora (under condition (1) for an
action being regulated). This means that the second paragraph of Rule
2125 applies. This paragraph applying would mean that the statues of
Agora limit the action of sending a message to being performed only by
the methods "specified" within the statutes of Agora. Since, AFAICT, no
rule actually specifies a method of performing the action of sending a
message to a public forum, R2125 implies that there is no method to send
a message to a public forum. This would imply a judgment of FALSE.

I also note that, even if "permit" is found not to have applicability,
the Rules may also "allow" or "limit" sending messages to the public fora.

Counterarguments to the above:

R478 takes precedence over R2125 by number. Since R478 uses lowercase,
(i.e.) natural language "prohibit", a finding that it is IMPOSSIBLE
would make participating in the Fora impossible, thus "prohibiting" it.
This would mean that the permission of participation would prevail over
the lack of methods.

Any one of:


R478 only permits participation in the Fora, which is not equivalent to
permitting sending message to the Fora.

R478 does not "permit" persons to send messages to the Fora, only
prohibit a prohibition on it.

R478 does not "permit" persons to send messages to the Fora, because
that is an ability that exists outside of the Rules.

}. All of these would mean that sending messages to the public Fora is
not a regulated action, so R2125 does not apply.

Even if the action is regulated, people are able to send messages
outside of the Rules, and the Rules cannot disable them from doing so,
so they have a method anyway.

If R217 can be forced into the discussion, the best interests of the
game clearly align with TRUE, since FALSE would be an extremely
disruptive judgment.

Caller's Evidence:

Rule 2125/12 (Power=3)
Regulated Actions

      An action is regulated by a body of law if (1) its performance is
      limited, allowed, enabled, or permitted by that body of law; (2)
      that body of law describes the circumstances under which it would
      succeed or fail; or (3) it would, as part of its effect, modify
      information for which some person bound by that body of law is
      required, by that body of law, to be a recordkeepor.
      If a body of law regulates an action, then to the extent that
      doing so is within its scope, that body of law prevents the action
      from being performed except as described within it, including by
      limiting the methods to perform that action to those specified
      within it. A body of law does not proscribe any action which it
      does not regulate.

Rule 478/38 (Power=3)

      Freedom of speech being essential for the healthy functioning of
      any non-Imperial nomic, it is hereby resolved that no Player shall
      be prohibited from participating in the Fora, nor shall any person
      create physical or technological obstacles that unduly favor some
      players' fora access over others.
      Publicity is a secured forum switch with values Public,
      Discussion, and Foreign (default), tracked by the Registrar.
      The Registrar may change the publicity of a forum without
      objection as long as:
      1. e sends eir announcement of intent to that forum; and
      2. if the forum is to be made public, the announcement by which
         the Registrar makes that forum public is sent to all existing
         public fora.
      Each player should ensure e can receive messages via each public
      A public message is a message sent via a public forum, or sent to
      all players and containing a clear designation of intent to be
      public. A rule can also designate that a part of one public
      message is considered a public message in its own right. To
      "publish" or "announce" something is to send a public message
      whose body contains that thing. To do something "publicly" is
      to do that thing within a public message.
      Where the rules define an action that a person CAN perform "by
      announcement", that person performs that action by unambiguously
      and clearly specifying the action and announcing that e performs
      it. Any action performed by sending a message is performed at the
      time date-stamped on that message. Actions in messages (including
      sub-messages) are performed in the order they appear in the
      message, unless otherwise specified.


Gratuitous Arguments by ais523:

a) The reasoning in the caller's arguments for this CFJ effectively
says "rule 478 says that players can't be prohibited from sending
messages, thus players are prohibited from sending messages". It's hard
to define a rule to mean the opposite of what it says! In particular, I
don't think a rule can defined another rule to mean the opposite of
what it says without taking precedence. Rule 478 and rule 2125 have
equal Power, and 478 has a lower number; thus, rule 2125 cannot do
something that contradicts the plain language of rule 478 without an
explicit precedence claim, and it doesn't have one.

b) A finding that sending messages is impossible would, AFAICT, most
likely also find that Agora is ossified. Rule 1698 would have prevented
such an ossification from occuring throughout a large portion of
Agora's history (I can't remember all the old revisions of the rule,
but it seems very likely that at least 1698/4 would have prevented
this, so any ossifying change would have to have occurred prior to 7
April 2014). If the Ruleset contains a combination of rules that
prevent sending messages, then the Ruleset is wrong; whatever proposal
caused it to disallow the sending of messages would have been
impossible to apply. It might take some effort to figure out what the
rules actually say, but this is preferable to being unable to play at

(If this reasoning turns out to be determinative of the final
judgement, the judge should also check whether the emergency backup
method of performing actions, "send an email to every player", is
similarly blocked; if it works, then a failure of the fora to function
would not be an ossification.)

c) Even though it probably doesn't determine the result of this case,
the "limited" part of rule 2125 is clearly broken in combination with
the "limiting the methods to perform that action to those
specified within it" part and should be fixed; it is entirely
reasonable for a rule to limit how something can be done without
needing to give an explicit method of doing so. It is quite possible
that, although sending messages is sufficiently fundamental to Agora
that it's almost impossible to break, the bug observed by the CFJ
caller is a real bug and is breaking a number of less important actions
which don't have as much protection from high-powered and low-numbered


Gratuitous Arguments by G.:

It might be good to look at a reductio ad absurdum when it comes to
defining a R2125 method.  Following this line of reasoning, we might
decide that a full definition has to be "a person CAN think of a sentence,
and CAN compose the sentence, and CAN open eir email client, and CAN hit
the send button..." etc., and even that presupposes we don't have to
describe how thinking itself happens.

So where does an explicit rules definition need to stop?  Where's the
dividing line between "external things that can be done physically outside
of the rules" (which the rules can explicitly refuse to recognize, but
absent such a refusal we assume they happened by the evidence of our eyes)
and consequences of the external events (processes that the rules must
enable for them to happen)?

There's several lines of evidence that "sending a message to a forum" is
the former, rather than the latter:

- CFJ 1895 makes it clear that we assume "free will" (the formal cause of
a person sending a message) is an input outside the game and a fundamental
principle of play, and R101 makes it clear that inputs from 'agents of
free will' (persons) are received via Fora;

- The idea of "technical domain of control" only makes sense if we assume
a message is part of that physical reality under the control of the sender
until after it is sent, therefore putting the act of sending on the
"natural free will" side;

- CFJ 3793 finds that a R2125 method is 'a procedure by which the rules
specify that an action contemplated can actually be realized [...] it may
be a wilful natural action of a sentient being that starts things [...]
where only some details are missing, then a good litmus test, in line with
legal interpretation of contracts that need to be explicit, is whether the
correct missing details are fairly immediately clear.'  This suggests that
we have to trace those methods back to last acts of conscious will (e.g.
the sending of the messages) and that we can fill in clear details that
aren't explicit (such as the fact that messages can be sent).

- The first paragraph of R478 ("Freedom of speech"...) is primarily
directed towards the Distributor or other technical aspects of the forum.
Note that it generally assumes messages will be received and can't be
prohibited from being sent by players.  Further, the fact that the right
of participation is limited to "players" and not "persons" is a
recognition of the physical reality that messages CAN be sent by non
players and are allowed to be blocked (i.e. it enables the use of spam
filters to block incoming messages, it doesn't assume those messages
haven't come through).

- Common sense?