All those who contributed to my article get a copy of The Rejected Times! Thankyou for your contribution GRO.
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Issue XXII, June 12 2014.
I'm very pleased with this edition. It begins with Joe Bob's must-read feature (which includes commentary from some very well respected players like Grub, Anumia and Big Tex) and ends with Gruenberg's magnificent and very sharp piece on the National Sovereignty movement in the World Assembly.
Between this sandwich of perfection includes some clever opinions articles from Afforess and myself, plus some new stories on recent events that have broken this week in the Sinkers, among other regions. FIFA? Nazis? Lazarus v. Osiris?
You can't go wrong with this issue!
How to Build a Region
FEATURE | JOE BOBS
The Rejected Times asked some of the leading minds in NationStates, what's the key to a successful region?
As we all know, creating a successful region is tough. Like start-up businesses, the majority will fail within the first year, the majority in the first month or so. So how can the entrepreneurial would-be founder make their region succeed? To find out The Rejected Times has asked some people who have got it right.
Westwind TWP Delegate, Former TNP Delegate and Emeritus Rex of Equilism
Grub Founder of 10,000 Islands
Shizensky Founder of Renegade Islands Alliance
Wintermoot Founder and Monarch of Wintreath
Goddess Relief Office Founder of Yggdrasil
Avakael Founder and Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
BearNation Founder and Delegate of Gay
Northern Chittowa One of five Founding Fathers of the GRA, Co-Founder of the FRA
Tim Founder and Minister of Defence for Spiritus
Big Tex Founder, Governor and Delegate of Texas
Anumia 'The One, The Allfather' of Europeia
So what are the lessons for all the wannabe founders out there? What do you need to make a region work? Leadership, having the right people, creating a constitution, putting the time in, vision, experience, an active founder, dedication and loyalty, persistent recruitment, finding your audience, patience, bonding, effective prioritization, image and presentation, openness, communication, memory, activities, integration… no wonder so many fail, it’s a tall order ticking all these boxes!
There is another ingredient I'd like to add: a unique selling point (USP). All the most successful regions have something original that makes them stand out from the crowd, whether it's representing a real world location (such as Canada, Texas and Belgium), playing a specific role within NS (such as Gatesville or Gay), or a particular theme or vision (like Wintreath, Region Inc or Mordor). If no one else is doing it, you have an advantage. If they are, make sure you do it better! Another key that I find is often forgotten: word of mouth. Yes, many players are recruited into a region, but a lot of the players that stay active are those who come as ambassadors or visitors, especially if you offer something different to their home region.
I would like to give a huge thanks to all the contributors for this article and the work they have put into their statements. Hopefully this will inspire some would-be founders, and we may see another great community launched into the rich tapestry that is NationStates.
Should we boycott NS Marriages?
EDITORIAL | UNIBOT
Unibot breaks the “sweetheart” on NS Marriages…
Three marriage proposals. A week after becoming “single” again on NationStates, a player (who shall remain anonymous) received three marriage proposals. Yes, a week. There’s a point when good fun crosses the line and becomes systemic harassment – and I think that might just take the marital rubicon. Stories like these remind me that my experience as a male player on NationStates is radically different than an openly female player.
Remarkably, I don’t have most of the game closing in on me like a wake of vultures, or at least when they are, it’s after something I’ve done politically, not because of my gender or my sexuality.
I have to confess that most of this article will stand as a personal about-face for myself on my own prior beliefs regarding marriages on NationStates. I’ve been married twice on NationStates and I don’t intend to pursue a hat-trick any longer. Instead, I would like to share my reasoning with you as to why I won’t be pursuing a third marriage (besides the fact that it is incredibly tacky to continue to remarry) -- and I hope after reading, you too will be convinced that it is time to boycott this archaic social practice once and forevermore.
Certainly some marriages are indeed happy on NationStates. Individual cases have proved to be constructive, collaborative and playful relationships. However, individual cases set social expectations – and this is where the social practice of marriage goes terribly wrong in NationStates. Frequently, newer, male players see weddings for the first time and an expectation is built in their mind: I need a wife. However, as you will quickly realize, there are not enough women in NationStates around to satisfy this high demand, which only escalates the problem of accommodating a mob of male players pursuing marriages to sate some dire self-esteem issues.
These marriages aren’t about formalizing or recognizing some long-time friendship or partnership… no, no, no, you don’t even need to know the person to ask to marry them! Because it’s never about who you marry, but the fact that you’re married, period. Hence why men on NationStates barely wait to learn a female player’s nation name before asking them to marry them – because it’s about asking them first and sealing the deal, not about getting to know someone. This perpetuates the hawkish, aggressive state of affairs which I highlighted in the beginning of this article: a sad, pathetic status quo of young men, tolling around, hoping to fish a new shiny “wife-thing” from the pond.
Is this the kind of user experience we want for female players? Nay, it sounds like it would be incredibly harassing and downright annoying to experience first-hand.
The "million dollar question" that lies before us is how do we positively change the gender relations in NationStates?
I believe that the only true option is boycotting the practice of marriage in NationStates. In the case of monarchial and imperialist communities, where marriage plays an integral part in the politicking and the system of governance, the solution is less clear, of course. However, in Gameplay in general, boycotting can serve as a greater movement. Absolutely, it is a possibility that some of us are capable of some sort of respectful, pseudo-relationship in NationStates – however, it is also those some of us who set the standards of Gameplay and capture the imagination of newer players. Without being the change that we want to see in NationStates, we are not going to able to “break the cycle”.
On this note, I should say even if we accomplish this collective about-face on the issue of marriage, there will still be a load of issues with sexism that we will have yet to have addressed in NationStates Gameplay, but at the very least, eliminating the practice of marriage will remove one area where it directly and obviously affects the user experience of female players.
FIFA World Cup comes to NationStates!
COMMENTARY | TRR NEWS
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The FIFA World Cup may begin tomorrow in Brazil, but some regions in NationStates have taken it upon themselves to bring the game to NationStates as well.
Three regions, The Rejected Realms, Lazarus and The South Pacific, all close friends and allies, will be observing the FIFA World Cup hoping to achieve victory or at the very least celebrate and cheer on one of the many teams competing in the international sporting event.
This unique cultural activity began as a suggestion from Unibot, Delegate of The Rejected Realms and Libetarian Republics, Officer of Internal Affairs in The Rejected Realms (who initially suggested a FIFA-related poll). Each of the involved regions was given four days to choose which team they would support during the FIFA World Cup and all three regions agreed to not choose to support the home team and expected winner, Brazil.
“I just thought it seemed like a fun idea,” says Unibot, “I’ve never had a team in the FIFA World Cup who I could support on a partisan basis – Canadians aren’t exactly known for their football. It’s going to be a blast getting to cheer on “my” team for once”.
The Rejected Realms chose England as their regional team with 40.7% supporting the English in a regional poll held last week.
“Couldn’t have found a better fit for The Rejected Realms,” says Unibot delightedly, “not only are a number of our contributing members, English, but our region feels very English. We’ve got an enviable public broadcasting service, a collective stiff upper lip and a penchant for complaining about the weather from time to time, or at the very least, complaining about something!”
Lazarus, likewise, chose Germany after a long, enthusiastic regional discussion on the tournament.
“I'm glad that Lazarus, The Rejected Realms, and The South Pacific are able to come together in a friendly competition about the World Cup,” Funkadelia tells The Rejected Times.
Funkadelia, the Vice Chairman, explained that the choice was a natural one for Lazarus, because Germany is the home country of Marx and Engels, the fathers of Communism.
“Personally, I am excited for some friendly competition with TRR and TSP!” says Funkadelia.
Meanwhile, The South Pacific will be donning blue, white … and orange during the FIFA World Cup, in honour of the Dutch. In real life, of course, The Netherlands played a major role in colonizing the actual South Pacific. The South Pacific took a vote, via regional poll and decided to support The Netherlands with a narrow lead (32.5%) over the other popular choice, The United States (26.5%).
Kringalia, Delegate of The South Pacific, shared his enthusiasm for the tournament with The Rejected Times over a Dutch breakfast (which could put a diabetic into the hospital).
“I am really excited about this activity,” says Kringalia, “The South Pacific has chosen to support the Netherlands in the FIFA World Cup and this will be a great opportunity to unite as a region and celebrate this awesome sporting event. I’m also glad that we are able to join Lazarus and the Rejected Realms in this celebration and wish the best of luck to their teams as well”.
The delegate also admitted his love for Amsterdam, having visited there once.
“It was so quiet and relaxing,” says Kringalia, “and so many people used bikes instead of cars”.
The first matches for the representative teams begin on Friday and carry through till Monday…
(TSP) Netherlands v. Spain. June 13, 3:00 PM EST.
(TRR) England v. Italy. June 14, 6:00 PM EST.
(LAZ) Germany v. Portugal. June 16, Noon EST.
TRR, Osiris Agree to Milestone Non-Aggression Pact
COMMENTARY | KOGVURON
The Rejected Realms and The Osiris Fraternal Order have agreed to a Non-Aggression Pact. The treaty, which was ratified on June 9th in Osiris and on June 11th in TRR, provides for reciprocal diplomatic recognition and non-aggression. The act passed with similar numbers in both regions: 13-5 in The Rejected Realms and 13-7 in Osiris.
For some, the treaty represents the triumph of "pan-sinkerism" over traditional defender-raider lines. TRR and Osiris, on opposite sides of the military spectrum, seem to be setting aside their military differences in hopes of closer GCR cooperation. The benefits of the treaty were touted in both regions, as the resultant increased security and political recognition were seen as mutually beneficial. In TRR especially, this seemed to be the case, with very little resistance to the treaty coming from the citizenry. In fact, the pact was proposed by The Rejected Realm's delegate, Unibot, often cited as one of the leading moralist defenders.
In Osiris, however, some citizens believed that the treaty was not in the region's best interests. It sparked rather contentious debate between supporters and detractors of the bill. The pro-pact faction was led by Cormac, Vizier of Osiris, who ardently supported and defended the bill, saying that Osiris's relations with other sinkers were more important than military partisanship. The opposition was led by a variety of Osirans, with Venico and Cassius Cerebella being two of its major detractors. The major reason cited by them was the perceived uselessness of the treaty, with Venico saying, "I see no reason for this treaty... Useless treaties are useless."
Overall, this treaty provides a welcomed improvement in relations between Osiris and The Rejected Realms.
Unibot told The Rejected Times that he was "excited" about the new security pact.
"Today, The Rejected Realms returns to recognizing Osiris" says Unibot, "and it can do so on fresh footing between neighbors who act like neighbors. It's a great thing to see. Unlike The Empire, which lead Osiris with self-serving, dysfunctional personal politics, The Osiris Fraternal Order has proven itself to be a more stable, lawful government for whom we are happy to share a welcoming mat. We both put aside our reservations for a shared goal: peace and as I told the Assembly, I'll take peace. Peace is good".
We here at The Rejected Times hope that this pact is the start of a new chapter for two regions that have often been at odds with each other in the past.
Osiris severs relations with Lazarus
Anti-Imperialism sparks diplomatic controversy
COMMENTARY | TRR STAFF
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Osirans hold their shoes to Lazarus.
Osiris has severed relations with Lazarus. Calling Lazarus’s path towards anti-imperialism, a threat and insult to Osiris, Severisen, Pharaoh of Osiris, in a recent open letter, criticized the rumored internal discussion in Lazarus which concerned plans to use propaganda and even direct force against Osiris’s fellow sister sinker, Balder. Open hostility with virtually all of Osiris’s allies, made the move both easy and necessary, according to the Pharaoh.
“We believe that the People's Republic of Lazarus has chosen of its own free will to take a stance of hostility toward our allies and indeed, toward the principles that our region has chosen to adopt,” says Cormac, Vizier of Osiris.
“We will not tolerate this stance of open hostility and this stated intention to take aggressive action against our allies and still make pretense that there can be friendship between our regions”.
Milograd, Director of Lazarene Foreign Affairs, told The Rejected Times that the move had been inevitable.
“It would've happened sooner or later,” says Milograd, “our relationship fell in stature once George was purged and Cormac was allowed to start advocating for a coup of us despite being Vizier of Osiris, and, really, it's no secret that the PRL opposes imperialist regions”.
When asked whether the allegations against Lazarus (that it hadn’t “ruled out” direct force against Balder) were true or not, Milograd laughed.
“No LOL,” says Milograd, who refused the presses from running his statement without the “LOL” retained, purely for the sake of justice, we were assured.
“There is absolutely no place where the LLA is seriously considered being used offensively against Balder, or anywhere, at that,” says Milograd.
Later, the next day, Milograd called out Osiris’s move publicly on The North Pacific boards, denying the allegations of interregional aggression and condemning the lack of prior diplomatic dialogue.
“Our commitment to non-violence is as strong as it was at the time we created embassies with Osiris,” says Milograd unwaveringly, “We were never granted the courtesy of clarifying your worries. You, as a diplomat from Osiris, should've spoken to us if you were concerned, and we would've cleared up the matter fairly quickly. But you avoided that”.
Since the time of the announcement, officials have clarified that one of the major concerns surrounding Lazarus had been Funkadelia’s anti-imperialist rhetoric displayed while on the campaign trail. The outspoken Vice Chairman is considered the front-runner to win the ongoing elections in Lazarus, which began today – the same day as the announcement. Some Lazarenes that spoke with us suggested that this move might be an attempt by Osiris to sway the elections, while others still suggested that plan could see the opposite outcome as Lazarus, the mother sinker, coalesces together around what they consider to be a diplomatic insult.
How Regions Get Growth Wrong
OPINION | AFFORESS
Writing for "The Leaky Bucket" series...
If you're in a user-created regions (any region that was not the default starting point for your nation), you've probably wondered how you can make your region bigger. Bigger is better. Most regional administrations have recruitment as a core theme. Some even have "Recruitment Ministries" or departments, with individuals dedicated to recruiting new members to their fine regions. Recruitment is "good". I have never seen a region that actively discourages new members from joining (password regions excluded).
As a preface: I'm not going to tackle whether bigger regions are better regions, today. I don't think bigger is universally better. But due to the way NationStates is designed, in general, bigger is better. This is a whole different tangent, and there are design flaws (or features!) that make this the case.
So how do regions get bigger? It's the economy recruitment, stupid! Your region needs new members to gain population. There are a variety of ways to recruit new members, and most of them involve telegrams of some form. The reader has doubtless received one of these finely crafted instruments of manipulation, with its siren call to move to greener pastures (and likely deleted it, posthaste). Ever since recruitment was legalized (most recruitment was illegal before 2011) nearly every region worth the term, and many more that don't, have launched tens of thousands of these telegrams in the hopes that a lucky few will hit their mark, swaying users to their fair shore. Nowadays, the number of recruitment telegrams being sent is enough to blot out the sun in most areas of NationStates. (At the peak of recruitment, all telegram communication was being slowed to a crawl due to the massive volume of recruitment telegrams. Recent changes in how telegrams work has alleviated this)
The standard solution to this barrage of telegrams is for regions to fight fire with even more fire. After all, if they can increase the number of telegrams they send, then they have more chances someone will see theirs. This ends up as a lesson in what the tragedy of the commons is. While it is entirely reasonable for individual regions to increase recruitment through increased volume, the net effect is that all the regions spin their wheels ever-faster, to simply stay in the same place. (This behavior has been observed in biology and has been given the name "The Red Queen Hypothesis", which lifts its name from a character in Alice in Wonderland)
This maelstrom, while entertaining for the average bystander, causes regions to miss the point of recruitment in the first place. Recruitment isn't simply for recruitment's sake, the original goal was to make your region bigger, to increase its population. Recruitment is only half of the equation. Every day, nations cease-to-exist. After 28 days of inactivity, their nation is vaporized, leaving behind nothing more than dust and memories. And these nations are ultimately ignored, even though they are the reason your region is shrinking. Recruitment can't expand your region if you are losing members to attrition. Filling a leaky bucket is an endeavor in pointlessness. The faster you pour water in, the faster it exits out the bottom. The same is true with regions, the more members they have, the more members die each day.
Why do people quit NationStates? Did they just forget how awesome the site is? If a player took enough time to read your recruitment telegram and move to your region, why didn't the region take the energy to reciprocate that? Why didn't you collect the contact information for the player (email addresses or chat handles)? No a forum doesn't count - the forums most regions have on NationStates are pure garbage. If your region isn't taking the same time to actually meet, get to know, and talk to its new recruits, as it does filling the leaky bucket, why are you surprised with the results?
Nazi Europe Invaded
War on Nazis Rolls On...
COMMENTARY | JOE BOBS
Propaganda from the Front...
On June 3rd, Nazi Europe was invaded by a united force from The North Pacific, The UIAF (i.e., The New Inquisition, The Land of Kings and Emperors and Albion), The ISRA forces of Osiris and Balder, Europeia, Lone Wolves United and Kantrias, with reinforcements from Mazeria, The Red Fleet and The MT Army.
At the time of going to press, the region is still held by this force and is passworded, under the lead, Tancerlo, with Evil / Blue Wolf masterminding the invasion.
"The raid on NAZI EUROPE is one of the most successful and important missions the NPA has ever done," stated The North Pacific's Minister of Defence, Gladio. "This was an excellent opportunity for us to work with our allies and shows that when we work together we are a force to be reckoned with and it shows our strong commitment to the cause against Nazism."
Opposition to fascism and Nazism in NationStates is a powerful uniting force which is respected by many and has clearly been able to draw a large support base, as Tancerlo has received 94 endorsements, representing one of the largest piles in recent memory. Evil Wolf stated on the RMB that "Today, we have achieved a victory over the impossible. People gave up on ever being able to control this region, and we have proved them wrong". Meanwhile, Vippertooth of the MT Army commented that "something deeply hateful has been allowed to fester here for far too long. For over a decade of Anti-fascist fighting as the leader of The MT Army I have witnessed countless Nazi/Fascist regions fall, this one has been the most resilient but history shows that they all fall in the end, it’s just a matter of time. NE has a long history of heinous crimes/raids against innocent regions and its ruin is way overdue. I am glad to be still around to witness and be a part of this, thank you to all involved, it is an honor to fight alongside each and every one of you. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing!"
However, this view is not held by all. "Repeal "Liberate NAZI EUROPE" passed this spring under a heightened understanding that the War on Nazis was helping to perpetuate the growth of Nazi communities.
"This absolutely is a step backwards for NationStates Gameplay," says Unibot, Delegate of the Rejected Realms. "We were just moving forward from the "War on Nazis" - admitting to ourselves that aggressive action against Nazi communities feeds the recruitment of Nazi communities. The original "War on Nazis" began because it was squarely in the interests of those involved - independents looking for something to do desperately, imperialists looking to make uncompassionate fools out of of defenders, invaders wanting to use these missions as stepping stones towards Nazism. I thought we had moved past this, but apparently not. The sad reality is these folks always wave the banner of "we're doing the right thing", but they're insulting the memory of those who fought in the War against real Nazi communities, while perpetuating the growth of Nazi communities. This is an international circlejerk, not a compassionate stand against prejudice and genocide".
Whatever the reason behind the invasion, or the effects thereof, it is unlikely to be the final word in the Anti-Fascist movement in NationStates. Wherever the next battle may be, it is likely to be just as controversial.
The Rise and Fall of National Sovereignty
OPINION | GRUENBERG
National sovereignty - the argument that individual nations should have broad authority and the World Assembly restrictions on its powers - took a long time to become established as a reputable argument. The World Assembly, in its current form or in its previous incarnation as the NSUN, is fundamentally designed to erode national sovereignty: it has far more teeth than comparable real world international organizations, with the authority to rewrite national laws and legislate on domestic matters. Despite this - or perhaps in part fuelled by that game mechanics situation - national sovereigntists worked hard to promote the legitimacy of their arguments, and then achieve real success. For a time, their successes were so real that the prevailing conventional wisdom in the World Assembly was decidedly national sovereigntist - "NatSov" - in tone; even that (largely imaginary) biases on the part of moderators were perceived in favour of the camp. Now, that hard work all appears to have been in vain, and the intellectual legacy of national sovereignty lies in tatters. The modern generation of national sovereigntists have no legitimacy.
The rise and fall of national sovereignty in the NSUN/WA is sometimes mapped to the fortunes of Gatesville, easily the most prominent "anti-UN/anti-WA" region. Once a powerful force in gameplay politics and one of the largest UCRs, their influence has relatively declined (and their region relocated entirely). But in truth, Gatesville was not the most significant or successful national sovereigntist region - simply the loudest. Texas and Antarctic Oasis have had more actual impact on the course of the WA and the legitimacy of national sovereignty arguments. Despite labelling every repeal a "victory for Gatesville", the authors of those repeals usually found themselves scratching their heads trying to recall any assistance in drafting or campaigning from the region.
Instead, other factors significantly contributed to the rise of national sovereignty - and those same factors now correlate to its fall. Easily the biggest boon for national sovereignty was the advent of repeals. For the first couple of years of the NSUN, no resolution could be repealed. That legislative process meant that resolutions were destined to pile up and it was impossible for those wanting to limit the NSUN's power to ever push back. Repeals changed that: national sovereigntists soon realized they could use repeals to target resolutions they felt had encroached on national rights. Initial efforts were faltering - a repeal of "The 40 Hour Workweek" failed, a repeal of a resolution legalising prostitution saw it quickly replaced by another resolution legalising prostitution - but over time the method was refined and became an important component of national sovereigntist policy. Powerhungry Chipmunks is easily the most important player in the entire history of the NSUN/WA game, and the lack of credit he is afforded is a bit embarrassing.
Yet today, it's not even clear that national sovereigntists know how to write repeals. Confronted with the spectacle of an "International Criminal Court", their attempt to repeal it is founded on lies, misunderstandings, and misrepresentations, and yet fails to ever once make the basic principled argument that such a Court should not exist. The intellectual timidity of this approach is matched by the rank lack of principle in the accompanying forum conduct, refusing to even engage in a debate about the merits of the repeal. It is a distressing sign of a lack of faith in one's own beliefs to refuse to open them to public scrutiny - and saddening to recall national sovereigntists of previous eras who would have thirsted for an opportunity to mount a passionate repeal argument against a resolution of the nature of the ICC without being scared of their own shadow.
Nor does modern national sovereignty have any kind of intellectual consistency. Its lead drum-banger is Mousebumples, proudly proclaiming the soubriquet of an "adorably marvellous NatSov" as delegate of Monkey Island, but wielding far more influence through her roles in Europeia, Texas, and as a newly crowned moderator (a role that should seriously call into question conflict of interests; other moderators have avoided such questions by transferring their WA activities to puppets); she has even seen fit to recently publish various "Lessons" on the WA through the Dispatches feature. Yet this is the same player who vigorously campaigned for "Reproductive Freedoms", possibly the least sovereignty friendly resolution in the combined history of the NSUN and WA. Whatever one's personal beliefs, a political philosophy of "national sovereignty, except for uteruses", makes absolutely no sense. Maybe it's not so surprising there is an unwillingness to mount an intellectual defence of it.
There was a time when national sovereigntists were so successful in the NSUN/WA that moderators had to make up new rules to try to check their power: a rule limiting arguments in repeals, and a rule limiting "blockers" (resolutions preventing the WA from legislating on certain issues, such as nuclear weapons ownership or prostitution legality). Both are to this day vague and difficult to understand, but it's instructive to remember a time when moderators had to struggle to find a way to address the national sovereignty movement. Now, such have their arguments declined in substance and their intellectual consistency withered away that it's impossible to imagine such a situation: if anything, the moderators' disgraceful conduct during the recent attempts to repeal "Rights & Duties of WA States" demonstrate they're inclined quite the reverse tendency.
Until the national sovereignty is willing to reconsider its core principles and work out what it actually stands for, no one should take it seriously. All of which, for those who remember the heyday of the national sovereignty movement, the campaigns of the National Sovereignty Organization, the essays of Frisbeeteria and HotRodia, the legislative successes of Powerhungry Chipmunks and Jey, and the sheer sense of fun which Omigodtheykilledkenny and Yelda added to the game, is not a cause for celebration, but for mourning. Irrespective of one's positions on any particular political issue, or on the total vision of what the WA should do or stand for, seeing such an important bloc shame themselves into nothing is a clear sign of how completely the WA game as a whole has declined.