Saturday, August 07, 2021

To revert or uphold?

Something which perennially seems to lead to arguments is what to do when there’s been a mistake (by which I mean, someone inadvertently doing something that wasn’t permitted/possible according to the rules). I think it would be worth having a discussion about the correct course of action in this respect, in the hope of pre-empting those arguments in the future.

Some opinions on the matter that each seem to be held by at least one player (some but not all of these are opinions that I personally hold, and some of them contradict each other), as starting points for discussion:
a) If a mistake was made sufficiently recently, it should be reverted, as should everything that depended on it. This reversion can normally be done by editing gamestate trackers directly.
b) If a mistake was made sufficiently long ago that players have already based actions on the mistaken gamestate, reversions should only be done via CFJ, not via reverting all the actions since.
c) If a mistake was made sufficiently long ago that players have already based actions on the mistaken gamestate, but is still recent enough to fix, the gamestate trackers should be reverted immediately (together with a note of what happened) in order to prevent the problem getting worse (potentially to the point where a revert is infeasible).
d) Reverted mistakes are considered never to have happened – in particular, there was no period of time during which the mistake was actually part of the gamestate.
e) If a mistake was not made recently, the effects of that mistake should be upheld by CFJ.
f) If a mistake was made a long time ago, it should be ignored, and we should play on as though it didn’t occur.
g) If a mistake was made a very long time ago, the effects of that mistake should be upheld by CFJ, but there is no urgency to do so – we can fix it next dynasty as easily as we can fix it this dynasty.
h) If a mistake was made which had catastrophic effects (e.g. making it impossible to enact proposals or CFJs), it is important to revert rather than uphold that mistake, no matter how long ago it happened – the fact that it was technically illegal is a helpful excuse to revert those catastrophic effects and play on from a less broken gamestate.
i) If players disagree as to whether something was done in error / illegally or not, then it is a good idea to uphold or revert it explicitly by CFJ, in order that everyone agrees on the resulting gamestate – even if a majority of players have a consensus as to what happened.

I think it would be helpful to reduce friction if we came to a consensus about guidelines for when to revert a mistake, when to uphold it, and what mechanism to use to to revert/uphold it – in particular, this would be a useful guide for “neutral” CFJ voters, to help them decide which side to back when this sort of argument gets contentious (which would reduce the amount of contention, because it would make it much more predictable which side of an argument would win).

In particular, I expect (but am not certain) that a majority of players would agree that there’s some sort of fuzzy boundary between actions which are too new to uphold by default, and actions that are too old to revert by default (possibly with a grey area in between). I think it would be nice to get some sort of informal consensus about where that boundary is.

I’m making this post to try to get a spread of opinions on what people think the correct course of action is in this sort of situation in the abstract, and ideally a consensus (probably not unanimous agreement, but some sort of widespread agreement). If we get such a consensus, we can codify it into the rules, in order to help new players understand what the social expectations are, and in order to help existing players who are in the minority to recognise that they’re in the minority, and avoid performing actions that will annoy everyone else.


Josh: he/they

07-08-2021 20:20:31 UTC

I’ll respond to this in more depth in a sec but 👍 for the approach.

Clucky: he/him

07-08-2021 20:22:02 UTC

I think the game needs more than one day away from the break before people have the energy to deal with a giant wall of text like this


07-08-2021 20:34:12 UTC

I generally defer towards upholding when possible.

Mainly because it’s the easiest for new players to understand and requires the least effort.


07-08-2021 20:34:44 UTC

My post above was an attempt to set out the basic range of opinions I think we need to discuss. This comment is listing my personal opinions, which may be minority opinions or very controversial.

I agree with a, d, e, g, h, and i (but particularly h). I have sympathy for both b and c, even though they are incompatible with each other. I consider a and f to be incompatible approaches with each other, without rule changes – if we decide to informally revert recent mistakes and uphold older mistakes, we need some rules-enforced boundary in between, or else people will disagree about what the gamestate is. I get the sense that a is a highly favoured option at BlogNomic (and it’s even effectively enforced in the Appendix), and as such am opposed to f.

As for the boundary between reverting and upholding, placing it too far back in time leads to “late-reveal scams”, which used to be quite common at BlogNomic, but I get the sense that many of today’s players would prefer to avoid them. During the Age of Scams, it appeared to be several dynasties in size. I think that under the current ruleset, the boundary is placed at the most recent DoV – but I also think (but am not certain) that that’s too long for BlogNomic’s current playerbase, who would prefer to have more certainty about the dynastic gamestate, and that rules changes to shorten it would be preferable.

For dynasties which have a regular update action, I think a good boundary may be along the lines of “if something went wrong in the dynastic gamestate prior to (not during) the most recent update action, it should be upheld unless it was challenged at the time, or a player intentionally performed a dubiously legal action close to the update action in the hope that players would uphold it rather than winding the update action back”. This is especially true if there’s any subjectivity or randomness in the update action – winding it back could be more trouble than it’s worth.

It may also be worth considering having different “challenge periods” / “revert periods” for rules changes (especially core rules changes), as opposed to dynastic gamestate; dynastic gamestate rarely has far-reaching effects (the mantle for the next dynasty is based on whose DoV passed (core-defined), not on who actually won (dynastic-defined)), whereas we need to be more careful with the core.


07-08-2021 20:53:34 UTC

I don’t think it’s going to be possible in practice to have enough people agree to some kind of standard because:
- Players come and go, each with (sometimes wildly) different opinions on what is cool or not.
- Many people just don’t care enough or have enough motivation or time to analyze a mistake and will just bandwagon, even if doing so would contradict one of their previous stances.
- This is a game with covert personal interests and I have seen people change their stance (or at least suddenly be very welcoming of a new position) to what is most favorable to them at the time.

People are sneaky and lazy, man. I don’t think we can realistically do much about it.


07-08-2021 21:16:04 UTC

@Clucky: I’ll give it a few days before I do any actions bsaed on the opinions here.

Josh: he/they

08-08-2021 10:17:16 UTC

So I’ve thought about this overnight, and have also considered my general belief that BlogNomic uses nomic as a tool for collaborative game design, rather than being purely about the form of nomic in an abstract sense, like something like the Fantasy Rules Committee.

For me, in BlogNomic, that makes it okay for things to sometimes just work, and it means that the fix/revert/uphold/exploit decision works a little differently from how other people seem to perceive it. I don’t think we have to swing at every pitch; I don’t think we need to wrangle over the finer points of every word meaning; it’s okay for something to just work, and therefore every issue has to pass some tests to be worth the time:

* Is it fun or interesting? Is the application part of a good, worthwhile play? Or the obverse: is it just wrangling over words to no real effect? If the former then we get into the question of revert, uphold or exploit; if the former then a non-disruptive fix is fine but there’s always going to be a large part of me that just wants to leave it alone.

The last dynasty failed for a few reasons, but one of the big icebergs was the double-hitter of the run where Jumble’s Influence surprisingly accreted to lemon and then, immediately after, ais’ point-blank reversion of a chunk of the gamestate based on a fringe reading of the rules on glyphs. I thought that the Influence issue was fun an interesting; I was wrong. I don’t know what ais was thinking with regards to the glyphs, but the outcome was obviously not fun. The dynasty never recovered from the several days of wrangling that was needed to unpick those two issues; clearly both of them failed this point, and should have been ignored or quietly and undisruptively fixed and upheld.

So to your list I’ll add a j): If a mistake can be resolved or exploited in a fun way that improves the game, do so; otherwise resolve it with as little intrusion into dynastic play as possible.