============================  Appeal 1258a  ============================


Panelist:                               Steve
Decision:                               REVERSE


Panelist:                               Wes
Decision:                               REASSIGN


Panelist:                               Chuck
Decision:                               REASSIGN

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History:

Appeal initiated:                       14 Jan 2001 21:35:41 GMT
Assigned to Steve (panelist):           16 Jan 2001 06:48:10 GMT
Assigned to Wes (panelist):             16 Jan 2001 06:48:10 GMT
Assigned to Chuck (panelist):           16 Jan 2001 06:48:10 GMT
Steve moves to REVERSE:                 16 Jan 2001 22:45:56 GMT
Wes moves to REASSIGN:                  21 Jan 2001 20:00:12 GMT
Chuck moves to REASSIGN:                22 Jan 2001 23:25:03 GMT
Final decision (REASSIGN):              22 Jan 2001 23:25:03 GMT

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Panelist Steve's Arguments:

I was one of the Players (Crito being the chief other), referred to in
Blob's admirable summary of the arguments surrounding this CFJ, who argued
on the basis of the continuity principle enshrined in R1586 that Blob
remained the Notary when the position ceased to be defined as an Office.
Blob's summary has been attached to this CFJ as a Dissenting Opinion.

However, I have considered the arguments advanced by Blob in eir Dissenting
Opinion, and find myself persuaded by them. On reflection, I now consider
mistaken the whole line of argument commencing with the assertion that the
Rules which still mention the Notary succeed in providing an implicit
definition of a non-Official position of Notary. Blob is correct that
reference to a (possibly non-existent) entity, and definition of that
entity, are very different things. What we have in the Rules is series of
references to the Notary stating various things that Notary is supposed to
do. What we do not have is a definition of what the Notary is. We should
conclude, on the basis of the other principle enshrined in R1586 (which we
might call the "non-continuity principle") , that the Notary, as a legal
entity, ceased to exist when its definition was amended out of R1458. I
think this treatment of the situation sets the clearest, most sensible and
logical precedent for the future.

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Panelist Wes's Arguments:

We find Blob's arguments to be very convincing. We agree that there is
no concrete entity which is called "the Notary." We do not agree,
however, that this completely invalidates the Rules which use that
term. It simply means that the term has no special meaning. So what
does the term refer to?

The Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1996) indicates that a
"notary" is "a public officer who attests or certifies deeds or other
writings, or cpies of them, usually under his official seal, to make
them authentic, especially in foreign countries." Hmmm....

This may be rather difficult to apply to someone within Agora,
particularly since "the Notary" implies a singular entity. So what
meaning shall we assign to this word? Or shall we leave it undefined?
It is our opinion that common sense, and the best interests of the
game, are far better served by at least examining the word to
determine if there is a reasonable meaning which could be assigned
to the word, rather than simply discarding it because the easy
solution proved to be incorrect.

The purpose of language in general is to communicate ideas. All a
dictionary can do is provide a record of the general consensus of
the meaning of a particular word. It does not actually define the
meaning, but merely reports it. There exist entire worlds of
language which do not appear in dictionaries, simply because the
meaning of a language can change when one's social setting changes.
For example, when working in a particular workplace, a few words
may change meaning based on the worker's peculiarities. Could this
type of change have been made here in Agora with respect to the
word "notary"? We think it quite possible. How do we tell?

If the purpose of a word is to communicate an idea, then the ultimate
test of the definition of a word is to utilize the word and determine
what idea was successfully communicated. For quite some time, the
word "notary" was used, and it successfully communicated a particular
idea. Specifically, it informed the Agoran community that Blob, then
later Peekee, were assigned certain tasks. Was this meaning supported
by the Rules? No. Was it the successfully communication of an idea
due to the normal use of language, as defined by the meaning of these
words within the specialized community which we all share? Perhaps.
The idea at least deserves further examination.

We therefore move to OVERTURN this Judgement and reassign to a
new Judge in the hopes that the new Judge will take into account
these later arguments to reach a more comprehensive decision.

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Panelist Chuck's Arguments:

I find both Blob's and Wes' arguments on this issue to be insightful.
Like Wes and Steve, I find Blob's arguments that the Rules-defined
role of notary ceased to exist upon the amendment of Rule 1458.

Wes raises an interesting point, however: should "the notary" be
interpreted according to its common meaning?  I am inclined to
disagree: in common English usage, there is no one person who
is known as "the notary," lacking any particular context to
indicate one particular notary (of which there are thousands).
(This is in contrast to, for example, "the president," which
at least in the U.S. may be reasonably assumed to mean the
President of the United States, unless context indicates that
a different president is meant.)

I would tend to reject Wes' argument that a term not specially
defined by the Rules may acquire a meaning in Agora, different
from its common English usage; on practical grounds if nothing
else (how is one to determine this specialized meaning?)  At the
same time, I recognize that this is a point on which reasonable
people may disagree; thus, I order that the Judgement on CFJ 1258
be overturned and reassigned.

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