==============================  CFJ 1885  ==============================

    Eris' votes of ROOT on Proposal 5412 were valid.

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Caller:                                 Taral

Judge:                                  Zefram
Judgement:                              TRUE

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History:

Called by Taral:                        26 Jan 2008 20:19:46 GMT
Assigned to Zefram:                     26 Jan 2008 20:28:22 GMT
Judged TRUE by Zefram:                  31 Jan 2008 13:37:24 GMT

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Caller's Arguments:

I never specified what I meant by ROOT, and the Rules only provide for
votes of FOR, AGAINST, and PRESENT. BobTHJ has established a
convention for eir votes of ROOT. Should that convention be permitted
to extend to other players who use it in a similar fashion?

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Judge Zefram's Arguments:

BobTHJ has, until yesterday, consistently defined what e means by a
vote of "ROOT" in each message in which e uses it.  That is obviously
effective: we have always permitted locally-defined abbreviations.
No other potential meaning for "ROOT" in a vote-value context has been
supplied.  The question is whether the abbreviation, thus defined, is
valid in the wider context of Agoran communication, such that it can be
used without per-message definition.

We have many cases of jargon developing and being generally adopted
without definition in the rules or any other explicit agreement between
the players.  "TTttPF" is a prime example, with quite a sophisticated
meaning that is not even entirely captured by the literal expansion
of the initialism.  In the past couple of days we have had "AAA #1",
referring to the first of the two contracts that call themselves "The
Agoran Agricultural Association"; this has had a semi-formal definition
from BobTHJ, and then been used by others without explicit definition
or reference.

So this kind of process for definition of jargon is customary, and must
generally be allowed.  But this permission is not absolute.

Rule 754 lists several classes of terminological definition and says
that each of these applies "by default".  It is not clear where customary
definitions fit into this, as they are not explicitly mentioned by rule
754.  Perhaps they are non-default meanings, permitted as exceptions to
the default meanings, but perhaps they attempt to establish a different
default, in contradiction to the "by default" clauses.  A standard of
reasonableness must be applied where there is such a potential conflict,
and perhaps the bounds of reasonableness differ for the rule's different
classes of definition.  Rule-defined meanings are presumably less
susceptible to redefinition than ordinary words.  I shall not rule on this
issue in full, because I find it is not necessary to do so for this case.

A less obvious statutory restriction on customary definitions is supplied
by rule 101's provision that "every player has the right of participation
in the fora".  CFJ 1738 determined that this right generally extends
to the dissemination of information that the sender believes is true,
and includes the right to do so without requiring unreasonably tortuous
circumlocutions.  If customary definitions were to completely override
many natural-language or rule definitions, making it difficult to make
utterances about certain concepts in the wider world or especially
in Agora, this would violate the rule 101 right.  Certain classes of
definition cannot be allowed to become customary due to this issue.
Again, a reasonableness standard must be applied.

An interesting case to consider for a reasonableness standard is "AGAINT".
That word, with precisely that spelling, was originally defined privately
as a synonym for "FOR".  This was devised so that a certain message,
directed to an individual (who was in on the private definition) but
redundantly published, would be interpreted differently by spectators than
by its intended recipient.  It is a deliberately confusing definition,
the word having been designed specifically to appear as a misspelling
of the antonymous "AGAINST".

Obviously the private definition of "AGAINT" cannot not on its own
be applied to public messages (see CFJ 1805 regarding "nkep...").
But when the private definition was publicly revealed, this opened
up the possibility of it becoming a customary definition.  During the
nkep... episode OscarMeyr clamed to cast a vote of "AGAINT", raising
the question of whether e was in fact using that definition.  Eir `vote'
actually went to the discussion forum, so it was moot.  comex later voted
AGAINT on proposal 5383, and this was interpreted by assessor Murphy
as AGAINST, which (following the discussion of OscarMeyr's pseudo-vote)
was accepted without comment.

Evidently "AGAINT" == "FOR" has not achieved the status of custom.
This is correlated with its apparent unreasonableness.  It has two
main aspects of unreasonableness.  Firstly, it changes the meaning of
a word that already has a rule-defined meaning.  "AGAINT" itself is
not explicitly defined by the rules, but "AGAINST" is, and item (1)
in rule 754 extends that definition to "AGAINT".  The redefinition of a
likely typo borders on infringing the right of participation in the fora.
Secondly, the definition is misleading: the notional meaning is quite
contrary to the interpretation that the word would have without that
definition.  A word or phrase can in general reasonably acquire a new
meaning, of course, but to be reasonable the new meaning should be an
extension or specialisation of a former meaning.  Any attempt to give
"AGAINT" a customary meaning of "FOR" would lead to a judge having
to determine whether these specific aspects of unreasonableness are a
barrier to the legal acceptance of the definition.

I find that "ROOT" meaning "I vote in the same manner as the player root's
final vote on this decision" is a reasonable definition as applied to
decisions where players are not themselves valid vote values.  It does
not clash with the rule-defined vote values, would not otherwise be
valid as a vote value, and is a reasonable adaptation from the use of
"root" to refer to the player.  (In office elections, however, where
the valid vote values are player identities, there is a direct clash,
so it would be most unreasonable for this meaning of "ROOT" to supersede
the existing use of "ROOT" to mean a vote in favour of player root being
installed into office.)

In the context that this case is concerned with, BobTHJ's definition of
"ROOT" is reasonable and not in conflict with any rules.  Due to the de
facto adoption of that definition by other players, it is in the process
of gaining customary status.  I find that Eris's votes in question were
validly expressed via BobTHJ's definition.  No other reason has been
presented to doubt the validity of the votes, so I judge CFJ 1885 TRUE.

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