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Making the Secretary-General Meaningful

Bug reports, general help, ideas for improvements, and questions about how things are meant to work.
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Sedgistan
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Making the Secretary-General Meaningful

Postby Sedgistan » Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:04 pm

Preface: The rate of new features added to the game looks to have slowed a little lately. Violet has indicated she is potentially able to put some time into coding new features; however the part that comes before (working out the merits of an idea, and hammering out details) takes up a lot of time, which is a limiting factor. I am not an admin, but I've been given clearance to work on conceptualising new features, and then pass them onto Violet for coding if/when they're ready.

There are other ideas, some of them bigger in scope, but I'd prefer to start with something relatively simple that makes use of existing code. For those with long memories, this won't be like the Summit of many years ago, but I'm also not going to offer any promises on timescales as they're not mine to keep.


Summary of change:

The "April Fool's" Secretary-General elections become a proper part of NationStates, with elections scheduled every 6 months. Elections work the same way as they did in the previous election, and include a Vice Secretary-General running-mate.

The Secretary-General has one Veto that they can use during their six month term to prevent a World Assembly proposal of either council from passing. EDIT: Updated later to apply to just the Security Council, not the General Assembly.

If the Secretary-General's nation ceases to exist, the Vice Secretary-General gains that Veto power. If the Veto has already been used during the term, they do not get a "fresh" one.

Why?

It adds a level of politicking to the game, and in the World Assembly, which ties a lot of disparate communities together. The change also uses existing code (for the elections), making it a simpler coding job. As for the various aspects of it:

6 month cycle - a balance between making the elections too frequent that they become overwhelming/people lose interest, and having terms that are too long for someone to want to serve for.

Dates - I haven't made a suggestion on these yet, but they need to factor in the "NS Calendar" of 1st April (April Fool's), 26th Sept (N-Day), and 31st October (Zombies), plus general holidays of Christmas and New Year. Initial thoughts are 1st February and 1st August.

Veto power - there are all sorts of potential powers the position could have, the most popular of the other ideas being impacting the proposal queue order, and providing some sort of voting recommendation on an at-vote proposal. Both strike me as too weak to make the position meaningful, though a voting recommendation is a potential future expansion. Before anyone suggests the S-G becomes part of the GA Secretariat, no - we are not electing site staff members or putting rules to mob vote.

The veto power is a significant power - it can be held over authors to try to get them to make changes, and timing in the WA is often vital so a veto can be crucial - however, the limit on use means it is actually tricky to use effectively, and requires real skill to do so. Use it too early and you're a lame duck; hold on too long and you potentially end up wasting it as legislation you oppose passes. A lot of work goes into passing resolutions, so the usage limit is to also prevent this from acting as a disincentive to participate.

Usage of it is also a key policy to influence elections - perhaps a promise not to use it on General Assembly proposals? Or to veto recognition of raiders? Or maybe a promise never to veto anything, because WA voters' opinions are what should count?

Vice Secretary-General - it's there and part of the code already; it's worth retaining as it provides a backup in case RL intrudes on a S-G's term. I don't feel there should be a separate veto for them, as that would encourage shenigans such as the S-G ceasing to exist to get their partner an extra veto. Shenanigans are fun, but I don't see that doubling of S-G position power as being desirable. Nor is it good policy in general to put players in a position that it's in their interest to let their nation CTE.

I considered alternate mechanisms aroung the S-G and Vice S-G, e.g. the Vice taking the position of S-G if the S-G ceases to exist, and then getting to choose a "Vice S-G" of their own - but I felt that over-complicated matters for little gain. If both partners CTE, WA members should make a better judgement on who they next elect.


There's lots more to be said on the topic, but the above is a starting point for discussion.
Last edited by Sedgistan on Sat Mar 13, 2021 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Praeceps
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Postby Praeceps » Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:14 pm

Presumably, a proposal being vetoed would not prevent that proposal from being submitted the exact same way again?
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Sedgistan
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Postby Sedgistan » Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:18 pm

Praeceps wrote:Presumably, a proposal being vetoed would not prevent that proposal from being submitted the exact same way again?

Correct. But (more so with the SC) timing can be key, so that can be seriously disruptive, and there's no guarantee it'll pass second time.

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Greater Cesnica
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Postby Greater Cesnica » Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:21 pm

Would there be any additional requirements for a candidate to run besides membership in the World Assembly?

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Tinhampton
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Postby Tinhampton » Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:26 pm

Full support. Approximately three questions - first, will the appointment of a Vice S-G during the SecGen elections be voluntary (as it was in 2020) or mandatory; and if voluntary, who becomes the SecGen if the officeholder CTEs without an active deputy (or will it just revert to the pre-2021 state of no vetoes)? Second, how long would the third and future SecGen elections be: would they be split into multiple rounds or one?

Third, there are currently three different types of line that can appear besides each council's Recent line in page=un:
  • Commend Sedgistan was passed 12,345 votes to 6,789.
  • "Commend Sedgistan" was defeated 12,345 votes to 6,789.
  • "Commend Sedgistan" was discarded by the WA for rule violations after garnering 12,345 votes in favor and 6,789 votes against.
What would you (Sedge, not general you) envisage that the Recent line would look like for a vetoed proposal?
Last edited by Tinhampton on Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Wallenburg
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Postby Wallenburg » Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:26 pm

This is an abysmally bad idea. Why don't you just remove the WA from the game if you want to turn people off to it so badly?
Last edited by Wallenburg on Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:30 pm

Wallenburg wrote:This is an abysmally bad idea. Why don't you just remove the WA from the game if you want to turn people off to it so badly?

Concur.

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Astrobolt
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Postby Astrobolt » Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:31 pm

I personally don't see any potential benefits this change could have.
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Postby New Excalibus » Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:39 pm

While the veto system this suggests could screw around with a fair amount of things, I really don't have any huge objections to this suggestion. I disagree with others in this thread saying that it could turn off people to the WA. In fact, it could add a bit more depth and flavor to the WA and discourse within it, potentially making the chance for new players becoming more invested within the WA if done correctly. So, this being said, support.
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Wallenburg
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Postby Wallenburg » Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:43 pm

New Excalibus wrote:While the veto system this suggests could screw around with a fair amount of things, I really don't have any huge objections to this suggestion. I disagree with others in this thread saying that it could turn off people to the WA. In fact, it could add a bit more depth and flavor to the WA and discourse within it, potentially making the chance for new players becoming more invested within the WA if done correctly. So, this being said, support.

I'm not sure how involved you are in the WA, but both times we had a Secretary General election event, the WA suffered for it. Thousands of people blocked WA telegrams, and we spent months dealing with various ego projects in the Security Council. We don't need that to become a permanent, debilitating fixture in the WA.
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grestin went through the MKULTRA program and he has more of a free will than wallenburg does - Imperial Idaho
Kiu Ghesik wrote:harris' interpretation of bidenism and subsequent establishment of a bidenist vanguard party to root out malarkey and revisionist elements in society was revisionist in and of itself and should never have been implemented.

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Sedgistan
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Postby Sedgistan » Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:06 pm

Greater Cesnica wrote:Would there be any additional requirements for a candidate to run besides membership in the World Assembly?

No.

Tinhampton wrote:Full support. Approximately three questions - first, will the appointment of a Vice S-G during the SecGen elections be voluntary (as it was in 2020) or mandatory; and if voluntary, who becomes the SecGen if the officeholder CTEs without an active deputy (or will it just revert to the pre-2021 state of no vetoes)? Second, how long would the third and future SecGen elections be: would they be split into multiple rounds or one?

Third, there are currently three different types of line that can appear besides each council's Recent line in page=un:
  • Commend Sedgistan was passed 12,345 votes to 6,789.
  • "Commend Sedgistan" was defeated 12,345 votes to 6,789.
  • "Commend Sedgistan" was discarded by the WA for rule violations after garnering 12,345 votes in favor and 6,789 votes against.
What would you (Sedge, not general you) envisage that the Recent line would look like for a vetoed proposal?

First - I would suggest mandatory. Voluntary only made sense last time round as they were introduced part-way through.
Second - I envisaged them being run essentially the same way as present.
Third - I hadn't considered that, but I'd suggest:
"Commend Sedgistan" was vetoed by the World Assembly [Vice] Secretary-General after garnering 12,345 votes in favor and 6,789 votes against.

Wallenburg wrote:This is an abysmally bad idea. Why don't you just remove the WA from the game if you want to turn people off to it so badly?

I don't. How/why would this turn people off the WA?

Wallenburg wrote:I'm not sure how involved you are in the WA, but both times we had a Secretary General election event, the WA suffered for it. Thousands of people blocked WA telegrams, and we spent months dealing with various ego projects in the Security Council. We don't need that to become a permanent, debilitating fixture in the WA.

I think the first point is a good one - it's not a problem I was aware of, but if people feel that would be an issue, it would potentially be possible to have a separate TG tag/filter for Secretary-General elections.

Ego projects in the SC - what exactly are you referring to?

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Wallenburg
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Postby Wallenburg » Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:12 pm

Sedgistan wrote:Ego projects in the SC - what exactly are you referring to?

You're hilarious, Sedge.
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Kiu Ghesik wrote:harris' interpretation of bidenism and subsequent establishment of a bidenist vanguard party to root out malarkey and revisionist elements in society was revisionist in and of itself and should never have been implemented.

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9003
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Postby 9003 » Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:13 pm

Wallenburg wrote:
New Excalibus wrote:While the veto system this suggests could screw around with a fair amount of things, I really don't have any huge objections to this suggestion. I disagree with others in this thread saying that it could turn off people to the WA. In fact, it could add a bit more depth and flavor to the WA and discourse within it, potentially making the chance for new players becoming more invested within the WA if done correctly. So, this being said, support.

I'm not sure how involved you are in the WA, but both times we had a Secretary General election event, the WA suffered for it. Thousands of people blocked WA telegrams, and we spent months dealing with various ego projects in the Security Council. We don't need that to become a permanent, debilitating fixture in the WA.
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Sedgistan
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Postby Sedgistan » Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:26 pm

Wallenburg wrote:
Sedgistan wrote:Ego projects in the SC - what exactly are you referring to?

You're hilarious, Sedge.

You've made three posts in this thread. Two, including the one quoted above, are of no usefulness at all. The other was, and raises a good point that I've acknowledged and responded to, and another point I've asked for clarification on. I'd like you to provide that clarification.

If you want to know why: much of the SC could be considered an "ego project". I don't know if you're referring to the crop of C/Cs that follow any NS-wide event before disappearing quickly, Kuriko's brief attempt at an S-G roleplay in the SC, CCD's various tantrums about the way the election went down, or something else I've forgotten about. Which is it?

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Postby Graintfjall » Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:36 pm

Could this be limited to the SC please? Leave the WA the fuck alone.
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Wallenburg
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Postby Wallenburg » Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:40 pm

Sedgistan wrote:
Wallenburg wrote:You're hilarious, Sedge.

You've made three posts in this thread. Two, including the one quoted above, are of no usefulness at all.

I'm sorry you don't consider "useful" my genuine distaste for people who don't seem to care about the WA trying to make it worse for others.
The other was, and raises a good point that I've acknowledged and responded to, and another point I've asked for clarification on. I'd like you to provide that clarification.

If you want to know why: much of the SC could be considered an "ego project". I don't know if you're referring to the crop of C/Cs that follow any NS-wide event before disappearing quickly, Kuriko's brief attempt at an S-G roleplay in the SC, CCD's various tantrums about the way the election went down, or something else I've forgotten about. Which is it?

It seems you are at least aware of some of the things which I include when I refer to post-election ego projects. I was skeptical that you didn't know what I was talking about.
Graintfjall wrote:Could this be limited to the SC please? Leave the WA the fuck alone.

GP doesn't have a great history of "leaving the GA alone". I highly doubt this proposal, were it by some horrible chance of fate to actually be implemented, would be limited to the SC.
Last edited by Wallenburg on Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Hulldom » Thu Mar 11, 2021 3:03 pm

I actually really like this idea, though I have three ~minor~ concerns and an idea that may hopefully quiet Wally and IA's nerves on this.

1. How long would standing last and how low long would elections last? Even if we say the term is February 1-July 30 and August 1-January 30, that won't factor the time used in electing it. So would there be a reformation of the process of standing and voting?

2. Would there be term-limits attached to the position since it would now be subject to a shorter tenure in the position than it had been in the past? Might encourage more people to run this way, but...could also have a negative impact if people feel they don't have time to make an impact.

3. If this is a new badge in terms of time-sensitivity in all of that, would there be some kind of new badge added to a player's thing (like GA/SC authors, Easter Eggs) that would denote their status as a "Retired" Secretary-General? Also, would that badge, if it existed, factor into a player's card when/if we get the next season or in future seasons?

4. One suggestion I had that I've kicked around the WA Discord is giving the General-Secretary a right to break ties in terms of legality. I know that moderation would do so normally, but having this person with a badge who supposedly is a luminary calling that shot would make a lot of sense in my opinion. Additionally, looking at Wally and IA's concerns, it would incentivize someone who knew the rules to begin with to actually run because they very well could use their expertise if it was needed!
Last edited by Hulldom on Thu Mar 11, 2021 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Altmoras
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Postby Altmoras » Thu Mar 11, 2021 3:05 pm

If the Veto is OP an alternative to make SecGen meaningful could be to show voters how SecGen voted the same way it shows how your regional delegate has voted.
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Sedgistan
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Postby Sedgistan » Thu Mar 11, 2021 3:06 pm

Graintfjall wrote:Could this be limited to the SC please? Leave the WA the fuck alone.

Why?

Wallenburg wrote:
Sedgistan wrote:If you want to know why: much of the SC could be considered an "ego project". I don't know if you're referring to the crop of C/Cs that follow any NS-wide event before disappearing quickly, Kuriko's brief attempt at an S-G roleplay in the SC, CCD's various tantrums about the way the election went down, or something else I've forgotten about. Which is it?

It seems you are at least aware of some of the things which I include when I refer to post-election ego projects. I was skeptical that you didn't know what I was talking about.

The C/Cs that follow any event - as I said, these disappear quickly. Maybe you get them every six months. But then maybe the S-G election isn't such a big thing now it's not just a once-in-four-years event, so there's less motivation to base C/Cs around them. Kuriko's roleplay didn't go anywhere; I'd anticipate a meaningful S-G position would warrant the S-G having a thread in the WA as a necessity. The CCD stuff - they weren't exactly any less of a nuisance in the WA before the S-G election came along.

Wallenburg wrote:
Graintfjall wrote:Could this be limited to the SC please? Leave the WA the fuck alone.

GP doesn't have a great history of "leaving the GA alone". I highly doubt this proposal, were it by some horrible chance of fate to actually be implemented, would be limited to the SC.

I expected the suggestion of limiting this to the SC to be brought up. I'm not convinced of the merits of doing so at present. For a start if the whole S-G thing is going to be dominated by "gameplayers" then it stands to reason they'd be more interested in influencing the more gameplay-focused side of the SC, so the GA is likely to have little to worry about from the veto power.

Secondly, the GA already has to deal with what you'd call "gameplay" - the mechanics of the WA are rooted in gameplay, and also large "gameplay" regions have significant voting power within the WA, same as they have back to the Gatesville days and before. Many of those communities - especially feeders and sinkers - have evolved over the years to become not just much more interested in the GA, but also much more involved in the chamber. That helps to draw people into involvement in the GA, and I think this implementation of the S-G position would do the same - getting people more interested in, and engaged in, the GA.

As a general outlook, I don't view it as a positive thing to have different communities within the game wall themselves up from each other, and never interact. But I also don't think that having another community ride roughshod over you is desirable either. My hope is that this change strikes a balance between the two - the regular S-G elections, with the position having a level of power over the WA, would increase interest in regular WA affairs through the campaigning -- but balanced out by the strictly limited veto power.

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Wallenburg
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Postby Wallenburg » Thu Mar 11, 2021 3:07 pm

Hulldom wrote:4. One suggestion I had that I've kicked around the WA Discord is giving the General-Secretary a right to break ties in terms of legality. I know that moderation would do so normally, but having this person with a badge who supposedly is a luminary calling that shot would make a lot of sense in my opinion. Additionally, looking at Wally and IA's concerns, it would incentivize someone who knew the rules to begin with to actually run because they very well could use their expertise if it was needed!

Actually, that does just the opposite. Such a system would allow anyone with a sufficiently large fan base to functionally rewrite the rules. Legality is not a matter of opinion, and most certainly is not a matter which should be decided by people who won a popularity contest.
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Wallenburg
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Postby Wallenburg » Thu Mar 11, 2021 3:10 pm

Sedgistan wrote:The C/Cs that follow any event - as I said, these disappear quickly. Maybe you get them every six months. But then maybe the S-G election isn't such a big thing now it's not just a once-in-four-years event, so there's less motivation to base C/Cs around them.

I simply don't see it playing out that way. People write C&Cs for pretty much anything. Once again, look at what the SC just voted on. The only way to prevent flurries of proposals after every Sec-Gen election is not to have Sec-Gen elections. Now that sounds like a good idea to me.
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Kiu Ghesik wrote:harris' interpretation of bidenism and subsequent establishment of a bidenist vanguard party to root out malarkey and revisionist elements in society was revisionist in and of itself and should never have been implemented.

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Sedgistan
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Postby Sedgistan » Thu Mar 11, 2021 3:15 pm

Hulldom wrote:I actually really like this idea, though I have three ~minor~ concerns and an idea that may hopefully quiet Wally and IA's nerves on this.

1. How long would standing last and how low long would elections last? Even if we say the term is February 1-July 30 and August 1-January 30, that won't factor the time used in electing it. So would there be a reformation of the process of standing and voting?

I would think the existing S-G remains in power until the new one is confirmed. Alternate thought is you have a day or two while the election happens when there's no incumbent, but I don't see the advantage in that.

Hulldom wrote:2. Would there be term-limits attached to the position since it would now be subject to a shorter tenure in the position than it had been in the past? Might encourage more people to run this way, but...could also have a negative impact if people feel they don't have time to make an impact.

I wouldn't think so. That strikes me as the kind of thing that probably wouldn't turn out to be a problem, so there's no point making a decision on it / coding for it unless there turns out to be a problem with a lack of term limits.

Hulldom wrote:3. If this is a new badge in terms of time-sensitivity in all of that, would there be some kind of new badge added to a player's thing (like GA/SC authors, Easter Eggs) that would denote their status as a "Retired" Secretary-General? Also, would that badge, if it existed, factor into a player's card when/if we get the next season or in future seasons?

I would think badges would stay the same as they currently are - the S-G and Vice S-G have them, and I believe Caepales prior to CTEing had one as a retired S-G. Retired Vice S-Gs should get one too. As with any badges, those could/should go on cards in future seasons.

Hulldom wrote:4. One suggestion I had that I've kicked around the WA Discord is giving the General-Secretary a right to break ties in terms of legality. I know that moderation would do so normally, but having this person with a badge who supposedly is a luminary calling that shot would make a lot of sense in my opinion. Additionally, looking at Wally and IA's concerns, it would incentivize someone who knew the rules to begin with to actually run because they very well could use their expertise if it was needed!

I'm with Wallenburg on this. As stated in my first post, I also don't want anything to do with deciding rules to be determined by player vote/elections.

Altmoras wrote:If the Veto is OP an alternative to make SecGen meaningful could be to show voters how SecGen voted the same way it shows how your regional delegate has voted.

That just seems such a weak power to have, and doesn't really justify having the position regularly elected. I think it's something to consider as an add-on, but not as the main "perk" of being S-G.

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Bananaistan
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Postby Bananaistan » Thu Mar 11, 2021 3:19 pm

Yay. More opportunity for GPers to shit all over the GA. Altogether opposed. The GA works just fine as is.

SC folks might want this, IDK, but please leave the GA out of it.
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Graintfjall
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Postby Graintfjall » Thu Mar 11, 2021 3:19 pm

Hulldom wrote:it would incentivize someone who knew the rules to begin with to actually run because they very well could use their expertise if it was needed!

Imagine thinking a WA player would actually win this kind of election. :lol2:
Sedgistan wrote:
Graintfjall wrote:Could this be limited to the SC please? Leave the WA the fuck alone.

Why?

The only people who would win an election such as this are gameplayers. Giving them even more power over the WA has zero positives for WA players. I don't see you have advanced any new arguments that were not hammered to death last time.

You even admit the veto is pointless for the WA as it could be immediately overriden but apparently timing is vital in the SC. OK, so just have this feature for the SC. Leave the WA alone. Every single change you have made to it since 2009 has been for the worse.
Sedgistan wrote:I expected the suggestion of limiting this to the SC to be brought up. I'm not convinced of the merits of doing so at present. For a start if the whole S-G thing is going to be dominated by "gameplayers" then it stands to reason they'd be more interested in influencing the more gameplay-focused side of the SC, so the GA is likely to have little to worry about from the veto power.

Great, sounds like we have nothing of value to lose by limiting it to the SC.
Sedgistan wrote:Secondly, the GA already has to deal with what you'd call "gameplay" - the mechanics of the WA are rooted in gameplay, and also large "gameplay" regions have significant voting power within the WA, same as they have back to the Gatesville days and before.

Yes, all of which is a bad thing. II players are not subject to the whims of NSG players, Issues players do not have to ask permission from NS Sports roleplayers.
Sedgistan wrote:Many of those communities - especially feeders and sinkers - have evolved over the years to become not just much more interested in the GA, but also much more involved in the chamber. That helps to draw people into involvement in the GA, and I think this implementation of the S-G position would do the same - getting people more interested in, and engaged in, the GA.

Lol. If this is already happening why is the WA so much worse now? And you really think the missing ingredient in getting people involved in the WA is the absence of a feature to have their inbox filled with campaign junk every six months?
Sedgistan wrote:As a general outlook, I don't view it as a positive thing to have different communities within the game wall themselves up from each other, and never interact.

I do. That separation saved the WA from totally combusting in 2009. That you've spent every waking minute since trying to tear it down is pretty unfortunate.
Sedgistan wrote:But I also don't think that having another community ride roughshod over you is desirable either.

Again, lol. Yes you do. You repeatedly said you wanted gameplayers to destroy the WA.

The funny thing is, you literally cannot conceive of anyone being interested in the WA because they actually like roleplaying international law. It's why you're such a poor fit to be the one overseeing this.

Please, leave the WA alone.

All above would be rendered irrelevant, though, if you just limited this to the SC.
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Bananaistan
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Founded: Apr 20, 2012
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Bananaistan » Thu Mar 11, 2021 3:23 pm

Graintfjall wrote:
Sedgistan wrote:Many of those communities - especially feeders and sinkers - have evolved over the years to become not just much more interested in the GA, but also much more involved in the chamber. That helps to draw people into involvement in the GA, and I think this implementation of the S-G position would do the same - getting people more interested in, and engaged in, the GA.

Lol. If this is already happening why is the WA so much worse now? And you really think the missing ingredient in getting people involved in the WA is the absence of a feature to have their inbox filled with campaign junk every six months?


Worth noting here that the most recent election has already made things more difficult for WA players with how many delegates blocked campaign TGs when it was already the case that it's impossible to get a proposal to vote without campaigning delegates.
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