Rules for WA General Assembly proposals

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The rules for WA General Assembly proposals, also known as the Hackian Laws, dictate the standards for acceptable content and language in GA proposals. As the GA is tasked with writing international law, its proposal conventions comprise a much more comprehensive and complex ruleset than that for Security Council proposals, and as such it usually takes a bit more time for players to fully grasp them. But after a few months of forum activity, most WA players acquire a thorough understanding of the rules and can expertly advise newer players on how to iron out illegalities in their proposals, or hotly debate the intricacies of GA law with the most seasoned of veterans.

The first comprehensive GA ruleset was established by (now retired) moderator Enodia in 2004 (during which time the rules were commonly called the Enodian Protocols), and repackaged by The Most Glorious Hack in 2005. That ruleset is still in force today.

Basic rules

Most GA rules forbid types of proposals that are impossible for the World Assembly to enforce, such as those involving real world politics or figures, changes to game mechanics, activities occurring outside WA jurisdiction, and specific nations or regions. As GA law is applied equally to all WA members (and only WA members), it cannot single out nations for special attention or treatment any more than it can address the actions of Barack Obama or Vladamir Putin, change the way NS is played, or affect non-WA nations. Proposals must be written from an "in-universe" standpoint and thus proposal writers may not "metagame," meaning they cannot reference parts of the game or break the so-called fourth wall separating the in-game universe from gameplay. (This rule is typically difficult to understand, but players usually get the hang of it after awhile.) The game is simply not programmed to accommodate any of these concerns. (Just as it cannot enforce a law twice or create legislative paradoxes, hence the commonly cited rules regarding Duplication or Contradiction in proposals.)

Conflicts arising from the rules

Which isn't to say that many GA rules haven't been controversial. The longtime rule (since rescinded) forbidding a WA army or police force had been the source of much contention among players and moderators for years. For one, the idea of a WA army to intervene in cases of genocide, etc., or to deploy peacekeepers to post-conflict zones, is very popular among NS players (so much so that a 2007 resolution specifically banning such a force was overwhelmingly defeated), but since the WA cannot affect non-WA nations it makes it especially tricky trying to assure it only affected WA members (without them resigning in order to avoid having to deal with a WA force). Mods also contended that there was no one who can credibly play such a force in RP. Another rule that has sparked conflict is that banning enforcement mechanisms in proposals apart from WA committees that handle disputes or set specific regulations. Since the nature of WA compliance itself is a hot topic among GA players, it naturally follows that rules about it would generate discord.

Controversies have also arisen over rules with ill-established parameters or those that have strangely shifted or "evolved" over time. These include Branding, which used to forbid players from simply naming their own countries or regions (or their attributes) in proposals, but now seems to have expanded to include all sorts of out-of-place citations in proposals (which are usually illegal under other rules anyway but have little to do with "signing" legislation or "advertising" within it). Another one is "forced roleplay," which formerly nixed only legislative provisions that would require forum activity to effect, but has since morphed into a confusing mess trying to forbid "Earth-centric" or "human-centric" norms. It is not yet certain exactly to what extent the mods are willing to enforce these concerns, but the change is still annoying to older players. The rule regarding "NatSov" arguments in repeals has also been subject to some modification by players, many of whom now assume that it involves a lot more than just objecting to a resolution on the basis that it "violates national sovereignty."

Rules summit

So much contention had arisen in the past over the rules that the mods convened a "GA rules summit" in 2015. After exhaustive discussions thoroughly reviewing every rule, the mods finally announced a few minor rule changes in April 2016. The only major differences were that the WA Army rule had been removed, and that the Branding rule now allowed for three co-authors, instead of one. A clumsy rewrite of the Honest Mistake rule (forbidding factual inaccuracies in repeals) initially prompted a backlash, as it was thought the new wording allowed for lying, but quickly calmed down after it was explained that the rule was only intended to permit exaggerations or embellishments of WA laws, not outright lies.

Secretariat oversight

Moderators typically enforce these rules swiftly and with utmost care (though mods have been criticized for issuing "erratic" and inconsistent rulings on some), and penalties for rules violations are generously dispensed. That of course doesn't mean that illegal proposals don't make it through the pipe. Max Barry Day is one oft-cited example of a proposal that should have been deleted before it made it to vote. Prior to 2013, the rule was that if an illegal proposal made it to vote, there wasn't anything the mods could do about it. Max Barry Day had be repealed just like any other passed resolution. But now mods have a "discard" tool at their disposal, which allows them to invalidate a proposal even if they didn't have the chance to review it before voting time, with the results of the vote being deemed purely symbolic and the resolution not being enforced or counted among other passed resolutions. There has been much back-and-forth regarding under which circumstances the new tool be used. It has been proposed by the mods that they be allowed to place "holds" on proposals/resolutions, as an alternative to deleting/discarding them outright.

Additional materials