Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Proposal: The Maxim of Quantity

Self-killed. Failed by Kevan.

Adminned at 15 Mar 2017 17:26:04 UTC

Add a new rule to the Appendix called “The Maxim of Quantity” as follows:

The ruleset is assumed to follow Grice’s Maxim of Quantity, that is, that it must be as informative as possible, giving as much information as needed and no more.  Specifically, a clause with “may” specifies the limits of an action that may be performed (“may collect three items” does not allow for an interpretation of “may collect any number of items, including three”, but only the meaning “may collect only three items”) and it cannot be interpreted to mean that abiding by the limitation is optional unless “may” is followed by “choose to”.

To put a stop to Cuddlebeam’s shenanigans.



03-14-2017 01:57:38 UTC

This would mean that the entire ruleset is invalidated when I’m drunk af (or in some other state of reduced intellect) because it doesn’t have enough simple terms for me to understand (which I need in order for the ruleset to be informative, and its entirely possible to describe the ruleset in really simple terms).

That or the “is assumed” and “as needed” isn’t referring to the assumptions and necessities of the Organs, in which case I could just ignore the rule entirely because its not referring to me (nor any other Organ? I dont think it would be functional like that, unless the ruleset itself has needs and assumptions like people).


03-14-2017 02:04:30 UTC

Also, this would also mean that the nomic would be invalidated the moment that we agree to make a clarification in the ruleset, because in the former state, it wouldn’t have been “giving as much information as needed and no more” - because that’s why a clarification to give more information would be needed.

This is really dangerous stuff man. I’d limit the proposal to just the “may” keyword tbh, or more specific stuff, not the ENTIRE ruleset.

Oracular rufio:

03-14-2017 02:12:14 UTC

“As much information as needed” is not really a subjective thing.  You can compute the information content of a sentence in English, using math, or represent its (surface) semantics in the language of first-order logic.  (For a more detailed representation of semantics that can be parsed by a computer, see Minimal Recursion Semantics.)  These things apply to you even if you’re drunk, and they don’t change because of it.

There is no rule here that you can’t state the same information multiple times in different ways.  That is what a clarification is.


03-14-2017 02:16:24 UTC

But if so, then the reverse is true too, that I can make a statement in a sufficiently esoteric and advanced way that nobody (except me) understands, and you’ll all have to gobble the consequences of it up, because I would be giving enough information - whether you can parse it or not isn’t my problem, going by your example.

Oracular rufio:

03-14-2017 02:21:14 UTC

You might have trouble getting votes for it if it’s really esoteric.  But if you write something that is informative enough, but people make incorrect assumptions about it, that is indeed a valid way of getting ahead in nomic.


03-14-2017 02:26:46 UTC

Well if I’m looking to exploit this and play Nomic then I shouldn’t be telling you how to fix it for


03-14-2017 07:23:52 UTC

for interesting


03-14-2017 09:39:07 UTC

This seems a bit powerfully broad, and “must [give] as much information as needed and no more” does seem like it might make in-rule example text (or any rule that states something overelaborately) illegal. “As needed” for what?


Wasn’t Cuddlebeam’s “may” issue just a confusion over how the word was used in two different ways? Permission to give actions (“players may eat apples”) versus the ability to possess a quality (“apples may contain worms”). Would a clearer glossary entry for “may” be enough here?


03-14-2017 13:04:24 UTC

I thought it was about permission and limitation. Someone “may perform an action” vs someone “may jump up to three times”. The second doesn’t just permit an action, but places a limitation at the same time.

I might be wrong, that’s just my understanding. A glossary entry clarifying it would be better, this seems too unclear and broad.



03-14-2017 13:55:13 UTC


yes, glossary is better.

Oracular rufio:

03-14-2017 15:09:15 UTC

Kevan, nowhere is the word “must” used here.  This is a rule about how the ruleset should be interpreted, not about how rules must be written.

In the link Cuddlebeam gave me, they were clearly interpreting “may” as indicating that the limitation was optional, not in the sense of “apples may contain worms”.


03-14-2017 15:12:13 UTC



03-14-2017 16:23:59 UTC

[Oracular] Doesn’t your rule break down to The ruleset is assumed to follow Grice’s Maxim of Quantity, that is, that it must be as informative as possible, giving as much information as needed and no more.?

I’m not sure what link Cuddlebeam referred you to, but at one point last dynasty they were interpreting “Each Villager may exhibit one or more Symptoms” to mean “Each Villager has permission to choose to exhibit one or more Symptoms” and was declaring they could toggle between having the Symptoms that the game had given them, and having no symptoms at all, at will.

Oracular rufio:

03-14-2017 16:37:53 UTC

Ahh, you’re right, I meant “must” in the sense of “that must be the bus now” but in the sense that it’s defined in the ruleset it means something different.  I’ll repropose it.  against

The link was to the CFJ where they demanded some huge amount of well water because villagers “may carry three remedies” and they were choosing not be able to carry only three remedies.  With the “may exhibit one or more Symptoms”, that actually looks like a genuinely sloppily-written rule to me, given that “may” is explicitly defined in the ruleset and thus that meaning overrides the standard English usage.


03-14-2017 16:51:53 UTC

The glossary doesn’t actually attempt to define “must”, I assume because it’s obvious.

Saying “players may carry coins” to mean “players always carry zero or more coins” is reasonably common across past dynasties, I think, and seems natural enough language. I’m not sure how easy it would be to write a glossary entry distinguishing the two usages.

Oracular rufio:

03-14-2017 17:09:45 UTC

Ahh, I could have sworn it defined must.  Oh well, it’s probably better to be clearer in any case.

I agree about “may”, but Cuddlebeam seems determined to interpret it always according to what is in the glossary, and there doesn’t seem to be any counter to that, so it may be best to just stick to using it that way in the future.  It’s easy enough to just write rules like that without using “may”.


03-14-2017 17:56:28 UTC

People who are reading these comments might remember, but not everyone is reading, and players a year from now won’t be aware of it ever having been a thing. (We actually have “The statolith may store any number of nutrients it is given” in the ruleset right now, with nobody noticing.) It’d be better not to have an unintuitive common-English trap in the glossary if possible.

Cuddlebeam’s basic argument about “may” sentences being toggleable (such that the Statolith can dump all nutrients into limbo by choosing to ignore the “may store” clause, and get them back at any time by choosing to obey it again) may well have simpler flaws.

Oracular rufio:

03-14-2017 18:11:39 UTC

Right, but a proposal like this one would fix that by specifying that the limit imposed by “may” is not optional.  In the case of “the statolith may store…” it’s saying that the limit to what the statolith can store is “any number of nutrients”.  It’s not saying that the statolith may or may store nutrients.


03-14-2017 21:44:54 UTC

It probably does need to be a paragraph, but I don’t think this paragraph is it - “it cannot be interpreted to mean that abiding by the limitation is optional unless “may” is followed by “choose to”” will instantly switch off every “may” action in the ruleset, won’t it? None of them say “may choose to”.

Oracular rufio:

03-14-2017 22:26:26 UTC

No, it just means that the limitation is explicitly binding.  The problem with the previous CFJs is that Cuddlebeam is interpreting “may” to mean that they may or may not choose to abide by the rules, when the point of “may” is often to impose a limit on an action.