Jonathan Van Matre on 6 Feb 2002 18:17:51 -0000

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spoon-business: Ruling on CFJ 325

This is going to be a very judicially-activist ruling, because I think it's warranted in this case.  There's going to be some serious interpretation-guiding going on.

OK, let's take the statements one at a time.

"(1) This CFJ is permitted by the rule 129"

I'm ruling TRUE on this one, primarily because ruling it FALSE would require me to refrain from even considering the second statement, and I already *have* considered it at length.  So, I'm taking Iain's CFJ to refer to the "action" it replied to, which is Uncle Psychosis's message *calling attention* to eir repeal action more than 1 nweek prior.  

This may be stretching a little, but I consider it within the realm of fair play since Uncle Psychosis had been posting signature lines in several previous messages with imperative phrases such as eir "Repeal rule 10! " on 1/16.  Thus, the change to "I repeal rule 10" was rather sneaky and easy to overlook.  

Furthermore, Uncle Psychosis has posted a great many things in eir signature line that have not been treated as actions, so the abiding game custom at the time was for players to regard anything in the signature line as a non-action.  The Administrator's recognition of a point transfer in Uncle Psychosis's example is the only counterexample I have been able to find in examining *all* of eir signature lines.  Chalk that up to administrative overzealousness -- 1 example does not make a convincing precedent.  

Game custom was and is to regard signature lines, disclaimers, and the like as useless effluvia.  We haven't seen the Daily Recognizer recognizing "DISCLAIMER: This message is intended only... " actions on a regular basis.

Under the circumstances, I'm going to allow a CFJ on the first public notice that the signature was meant to be taken as an action, since it would have been customary not to consider it as such at the time.  Yes, rule 17 specifies that "Actions occur upon reaching the appropriate Fora", but considering the absence of any administrative or player response to the putative "action", it is my interpretation that the forum was never truly reached in this case until notice of the intent was given.  Text arrived in spoon-business, but as our resident Platonists might say, spoon-business is merely a shadow of the true form/forum.  


"(2) and Rule 10 is not repealed."

This is also TRUE, but pay close attention to why.  Under a strict interpretation of Rule 129, UP's action would be legalized after 1 nweek; indeed, *any* action that happened more than 1 nweek ago is legalized, even if previously ruled illegal by a CFJ.  Rule 129 is severely, severely crippled.

Blessedly, there are no restrictions on what I must consider in making my ruling, so I'm not entirely limited to the letter of the rules.  I'm going to be guided by game custom and go from there, staying within the letter of the rules as much as possible.

If we take rule 129 at face value, not only is rule 10 repealed, but also a whole cavalcade of prior illegal actions must now be treated as if they were legal.  It is my argument that rule 129 is directly opposed to current game custom, because as a matter of course we have *not* treated as legal *any* of these prior actions, and we would probably break the game irreparably if we did so for every single one of them.

Therefore, I hereby establish that our current interpretation of rule 129 is that *recognized* actions are considered legal 1 nweek after their occurrence, and only when not ruled illegal by a subsequent CFJ.  

It's how we have been playing the game thus far, notwithstanding the letter of rules 17 and 129.  Until we fix the rules, I'm going to let custom dictate on this issue, but I hope everyone recognizes the point Uncle Psychosis has quite glaringly made here.

I highly recommend overhauls to both rules, and plan to propose them myself if no one else does so first this nweek.  Meanwhile, let's go with the interpretation spelled out above, or we may have a very broken game on our hands.

[[Note that an alternative way of treating this statement is to allow the effects of Rule 129 to apply, let the action attempt to occur, and then let rule 18 kick in to prevent it because a Rule Change in a signature line is not explicitly permitted by the rules.  

However, that establishes a precedent for following the letter of Rule 129, and in the process does a lot of unpleasant, game-breaking stuff.  I'm generally not a fan of unnecessarily avoiding unpleasantness caused by the legal ingenuity of another player, but given the widespread consequences of this particular judgement (well beyond the relatively trivial existence of rule 10), and the fact that UP appears to be trying to make a conspicuous point rather than maliciously break the game, I'm choosing to avoid it.  

Otherwise, note that we'd have precedent for now considering legal the actions of CFJ 227, CFJ 234, CFJ 249, CFJ 251, etcetera.  Mayhem for players and administrator alike.]]