Duncan Richer

Imperial Nomic


The Infrequent Ackan

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Volume 1, Issue 23

May 21, 1998

This issue's slogan:
"Frequently Infrequent and Self-Tangled While We're At It."

In this issue:

  1. Editorial
  2. Apologies and Retractions.
  3. Poll Question #8
  4. More Ackanomic News
  5. The Way We Were
  6. Sub-Game Summary
  7. Advertisement



The Anti-Voting Mess (& Warm Fuzzies)

During the last week, another anti-voting abolition proposal went down in a ball of flames. There seems to be a reasonably large consensus in favour of anti-voting. So why is it so popular when its proponents are so reviled?

Anti-voting has been with us for quite a long while. It is a Nomic tradition which seems to be, in many games, inextricable from the basic principle of earning points as a way to a win. (Perhaps this is part of the reason why some anti-voting abolition proponents are also outright points abolitionists.)

As things stand in Acka, there are ways to minimise the impact of anti-voting on one's own proposals, but they are not free. To reduce the anti-voting benefit to 1 point, you must of course declare your proposal Modest, halving your own potential point gain.

Anti-voting increases the likelihood of proposals coming close to the acceptance / rejection edge, thereby turning possibly boring contests into interesting questions. The Prisoner's Dilemma it puts us all in creates some level of tension in the minds of Proposers, which may lead to better proposals.

The two most recent attempts to eliminate anti-voting took very different forms. JT's most recent effort was a simple removal of the anti-voting points, without any substitute. While this may well be a reasonable tack to take, it neglects the fact that, at times, anti-voting points provide the great majority of points accumulated in Ackanomic. The last statistical survey that was taken, over 20 proposals, found that approximately 75% of points from those proposals were the result of anti-voting. Could you see 75% of all moneys entering Ackan pockets in Fortnightly Dividends disappear? I wouldn't want to.

The other tack was taken by saaremaa, as part of an overall vote overhaul package. Unfortunately, this proposal contained a number of flaws which rendered its debating points moot. Firstly, its timing was unfortunate, being less than a fortnight after the successful introduction of BAA! points on proposals. Two changes to the proposal scoring system, one cancelling the other, in such a short time would seem excessive.

Secondly, it would have reversed the effects of other proposals in the queue (or just out of the queue) at the time it was submitted. Notably, if it had passed, the Ackan Reserve would have lost its newly gained ability to manipulate the rise and fall rates of the Positivity Index which they fought so hard for.

Thirdly, the recent introduction of automation into Nomicbot meant that the vote-handling capacities of the system would be dramatically reduced if the change to saaremaa's proposed "Fuzzy Voting" system were to occur. breadbox's voicing of opposition on this ground was most likely the main reason that the proposal failed.

Perhaps at some later time some resubmission of part or all of saaremaa's proposal would be warranted. It would need to be at a time when Nomicbot could be easily modified to cope with integer votes and averaging to determine success or failure. This might not be for a long while, given that Nomicbot is a privilege, not a right, and that we are already in breadbox's debt for resurrecting it. Fuzzy voting is an interesting concept, but this month would not have been the time.


Letters to the Ackan are always welcome. We will publish contributors within reason, because our aim is to provide Ackans with a comprehensive news and opinions service. This includes opinions contradicting the paper, so feel free to criticise editorial comments.

If you want your opinions heard, or letters published, please send them to dcr24@cam.ac.uk.

Send a stamped self-addressed email to the address listed above, marked "Acka: Ackan" and we'll do our best to get back to you.

Have another good Ackan week - banna willing we'll be back next week.

Editor, The Infrequent Ackan 


Apologies and Retractions

The Ackan apologises for a couple of blunders which beset last week's issue. Firstly, we apologise for making the insinuation that The Gingham Wearer had primarily set up the Klingon party in order to obtain a Swinger seat. While the Swinger seat was obtained, this was not the primary aim of founding the party, according to The Gingham Wearer.

Also, last week we were taken to task for not apologising about our lack of apologies. Our new apologist, fresh from the Ackan Insitute of Genetic Replication, has yet again has nothing to apologise for this week. This makes an unbelievable two issues in a row without a single retraction. While this personal best has many sub-editors at the Ackan celebrating, it is hoped they do not over-indulge too much.

If you think you have found an error in the Ackan, point it out! My shotgun is getting a littl erusty, and the sub-editors are starting to become a little complacent.

The Ackan heartily apologises for any damage or difficulties caused by the omission of such errors and/or omissions.


Poll Question

Question Number 8 this week. There have recently been some attempts to clear out old Harf to enable introduction of new silliness to keep Acka fresh. The supply of Harf is limited mainly because the creation of Harf requires compensatory Harfing to balance it. So...

Which piece of ancient Harf is the least worthy of being retained in the Ruleset?

(a) - The Magic Potato.
(b) - Politeness Moon Hearings.
(c) - Prosthetic Foreheads.
(d) - Phoebe the Steel Flea.
(e) - Other (please write in reply)
(f) - Thou Shalt Not Touch The Harf.

Remember, your opinion does matter to us here at the Ackan (but we of course reserve the right to ignore opinions which are obviously based on malice and/or sheer stupidity :-)) The now standard A$10 Trinket is on offer, to be given to one entrant randomly selected (regardless of the response you provide, provided it is one of the six above).

It costs very little of your time to enter, and there's always the chance of that Trinket, so please respond to the Great Infrequent Ackan Poll Competition!



More Ackanomic News

Getting Cross

Another player has joined the brigade of grand proposers. It takes an effort to provide enough changes to keep Acka happy, and many leave this realm before they achieve such a task. K 2, one of the late 1997 brigade, has stuck around long enough to achieve it, though. This has created the first situation where three players listed consecutively on the Proposals Page (i.e. three whose first proposals were "next" to each other) all possess Blue Crosses (Slakko, K 2 and The Gingham Wearer).

Also this week, Niccolo Flychuck received eir first Stripe for quite a while (over 500 proposals in fact), when e reached a Blue Cross Rank of 110. Surprisingly for someone of his time and activity in Acka, this Rank was reached without the aid of a Blue Cross Bonus. This is despite Niccolo having served a pair of terms as President.

Scam, Scam, Everywhere a Scam

This week saw two scams, one clearly a failure, the other with a miniscule but non-zero chance of success. The worse scam came second, so we will deal with the scam with a chance first.

Alfvaen and The Gingham Wearer managed to concoct a supposedly self-deleting amendment that wasn't, courtesy of its presence in Rule 340. They then claimed that the non-self-deleting nature of this text led it to have infinitely many effects on the gamestate, giving Alfvaen infinitely many points. Fortunately there is significant game custom, dating right back to the Magic Potato, which would interpret such instances as only occurring once.

The second scam relied on the non-entity nature of the Dispensations List. However, a quick reference to Rule 101 quickly indicated that Slakko's Rule 500 claims were null and void, and hence any attempt to include extra items on the Dispensations List unilaterally would be met with a harsh stare, an unregulated thbbpth! and no result.


Court Report

Supreme Court judgements in the last few days have confirmed saaremaa's successful existence, and, simultaneously, eir correct name. However, this has pointed out a flaw in the wording of the Undead rule at that time, which fortunately has been corrected in saaremaa's case at least.

Also out from First Round Judge K 2 this week was confirmation of the burning of /dev/joe and Vynd when they were considering the Silver Moon situation. This unfortunate burning led to the loss of two Spell Books of Chorg (shame about that), and a brief dark and smoky look being in vogue amongst members of the Senate. Governmental watchers condemned it as "one of those passing trends" and hoped that "no-one else will go through the whole process simply to copycat the Senators."

H*bert Makes His Mark

The Witchfinder General business is, as always, hotting up! This week H*bert showed eir prowess as a Witchfinder by simultaneously having 7 players burnt at the stake. In a surprising move, a large number of these were members of the Church H*bert is a member of, the Church to the Evil Ballot Stuffer. One can only wonder what kind of rigid Church Dogma can demand such effective purification by fire.

Financial Follies

The Stock Market reforms now appear to be complete for the time being. The elections for the final post are temporarily underway (with a last minute CSR fixing the situation possibly injecting a monkey wrench into the works). Things should be back to normal in the Stock market, once else...if applies a firm hand to the economic indicators.

The Infrequent Ackan Stock Indicator Tip for the week is: SELL SELL SELL. Despite historically high proposal acceptance rates, the dramatic increase in the N-rating has led to a reappraisal of the Stock Market's trend line. With each positive vote only worth one quarter of a negative, expect a slow but steady downward step.



The Way We Were

This time last year in Acka was a time for proposal rejection. On the 19th of May last year, a large number of proposals had their results distributed. Out of 23 proposals whose results were distributed, a mere 7 passed. Given Acka's historical acceptance rate is running at at least 57%, this was no doubt a dark day for the proposers.

Those changes which did manage to gain the grudging approval of Acka that day included "Swing High", a minor reform of Swingpoints organised by Niccolo Flychuck, and "How Drab a Home Otherwise", in which Alfvaen allowed free descriptions of Houses to be posted (the prior cost being an excessive A$2 per word).


A more notable change was P1995, which resurrected Contracts. After some initial scam attempts, the original Contract rules were torn up. Red Barn got them reintroduced in a hopefully less harmful way. However, due to their inability to really do anything wonderful, the concept of Contracts has since been removed from the ruleset again.

The final fix of the lost ZZimsy entities was also accomplished in these proposals. Undead had lost many of their possessions in an unfortunate harfing catastrophe. This included a surprising amount of Ackan land, and houses being haunted. The homeless ghosts were finally fixed up and restored to their rightful places.

So that was the week that was, one year ago!





Sub Game Summary

Every week - every subgame going. The Party Chess Report which usually accompanies Sub Game Summary has been held over this week, due to the game ending in the previous issue, and the start of the new game being fairly uneventful at this stage.


Game 1 is still lying in the doldrums, with no player able to get a sequence of successful plays going. We are still unsure as to whether a Prophet will ever emerge, given that Hubert has started looking through his stock of hints to no avail.

Meanwhile, Ayla continues to manage Game 2 as an effective Prophet. Unfortunately, the slow nature of these games means that little significant progress has been made over the last couple of weeks for the other players.


Round 6 has finally forced JT to submit a vote. Yes, for once a definition eluded em, "sourdine" not being correctly defined. Despite that, though, we were still left with only 8 definitions to deal with, due to some definitional duplication. With "" appearing, one wonders if this was the definition duplicated, or whether two people actually submitted sufficiently similar real definitions.

Votes are progressing, rather well spread at this stage, but not much time is left, if any. Still, the results should prove to be most interesting reading.


Robert Sevin became the latest victim of Ghost recently, failing to continue play after a first letter picked by Hubert. The game is now halfway completed, with 4 of the 9 players eliminated, and hence only 4 more eliminations to go.

Ayla was the previous victim, being unable to continue after a very sneaky start of "sr". Obviously Ayla "misread" her play, and so control passed on to Hubert, who only had to wait for three days in order to have Robert Sevin eliminated.


The first three rounds of Grab-a-Donkey have been a rip-roaring donkey-grabbin' time. Round 1 saw a massive 8 eliminations, although two of those were voluntary resignations. Since then the capture rate has declined, but the amount of donkey grabbing still appears to be at an all time high.

With the latest Grab-a-Donkey game employing a new gaming system, there is now greater incentive to get out there and grab donkeys. As captured donkeys now join the captor's herd, opportunities are there to see herds rise in size and some real robber barons develop.

Currently only Vynd and Rex Mundi are in this position, being safe from elimination for Round 4. Meanwhile, a much larger number of players are still fighting to reach the safety zone, all on 1 and 2 donkeys and therefore capable of being eliminated in a single round, should they fail to grab someone else's donkey.

Grab your boots and saddle up! Grab-a-Donkey looks like being a wild ride.



Pure Skill

Game 1 of Pure Skill is poised delicately at this stage, with no player able to achieve the dominance that Alfvaen showed in Game 2. Only a few rounds remain, so hopefully we will see the finale inside one week (two at the worst), when it becomes known who is the most skilful. Perhaps some kind of tournament is in order, so that we may truly find out who is the best at this game.

Word Un-Association 

Word Un-Association has apparently gone moribund. Questions are being asked as to the whereabouts of the Referee, and why no link word from llano has yet appeared. Stay tuned as we bring you more news on this late-breaking crisis.


After a stunning performance in which the longest word ever to be used in a YORL game was introduced by Attila the Pun, e promptly fell asleep. The current Bard should also be asleep unless a play has been made very recently. Sam is no doubt getting bored with all this waiting, and hoping that soon some Bard will come along capable of progressing the story at least a little further.


Duel Summary

The Spades Duel between Hubert and Goldenmean grinds on and on. We now near the end of Round 5, but due to some idiocy from Slakko we will be miles away from a win regardless.

New amendments have ben put into place dealing with Spades, in order to liven it up and enable long-running games to be ended sooner. The introduction of Blind Nil will give losing players a double-or-nothing chance to even the stakes, while the introduction of a 500-point mercy rule will be handy for those games where the combatants insist on both going backwards.

Also in progress is the first ever YORL Duel, The Gingham Wearer up Koxvolio. Heads of Churches trying to tell the better tale. As it stands, The Gingham Wearer fumbled on gem, failing to get the element into the story properly. Koxvolio has since taken up the story with City, hopefully in enough detail that the Referee will accept a play for once.



The Ackan is still looking for more interviews. If you have yet to respond to the Ackan call for interviews, and have held a public office in Acka for at least one month continuously at any stage in Acka's history, then the staff of the Infrequent Ackan would like to hear from you. Just email us at dcr24@cam.ac.uk with the keywords "Acka: Ackan" and say you would like to do an interview. That's all. If you are accepted (which, let's face it, is still pretty likely at this stage) then someone from the Ackan will be around to contact you shortly.








The Infrequent Ackan, first to you with Ackan news.

Copyright © Duncan Richer writing under the pseudonym of "Slakko", 21st May 1998.

Check us out on the web, at http://dcr24.quns.cam.ac.uk/Nomic/Acka/infrequent.html