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Author Topic: The Northern Lights Issue V  (Read 1362 times)

Offline Tomb

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The Northern Lights Issue V
« on: January 10, 2015, 02:02:52 PM »
The WADP or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Endotarters
by r3naissanc3r, Publisher
December 3rd saw the launch of The North Pacific WA Development Program (WADP): a large-scale campaign to encourage all nations in TNP to actively give and solicit endorsements ("endotart", in gameplay parlance). A few of you may be thinking that you have misread, but you have not. TNP is indeed asking every single nation in the region to try and gather as many endorsements as possible. The encouragement is not just theoretical: the WADP gives nations access to software tools to make massive endotarting easier, promotes endotarting through telegram campaigns, and hands out awards to nations excelling at this activity. So far, more than 8000 telegrams have been sent, and two volumes of region-wide awards rewarding more than 400 nations have been published.

Even before the launch of this program, TNP was already uniquely welcoming to endotarters among feeder regions. If you take a look at the other four pacifics, you will notice "endorsement caps" prominently featuring in their World Factbook Entries. The caps range between 5% and 50% of the respective delegate's endorsements, and apply to virtually all nations in the region. Anyone violating them is threatened with ejection. By contrast, in TNP there is a flexible endorsement cap equal to the endorsement count of the vice delegate, typically about 85% of the delegate's endorsements, and the cap is well-hidden within the forum-hosted regional laws instead of being advertised on the WFE. The WADP takes this policy of lax regulation even further, by almost completely liberalizing endotarting activity in the region.

The strict endorsement cap practice found in other feeders has become popular for, primarily, security reasons. The reasoning goes, endorsement caps are useful for preventing a scenario where a nation not approved by the regional government will endotart their way to the top and usurp the delegacy. However, given the current WA populations and delegate endorsement counts of feeders, as well as the widespread availability of tracking tools, it is very unrealistic that a nation could get dangerously close to the delegate's endorsement count without getting noticed and promptly dealt with. The more realistic scenario, especially in democratic feeders, is a nation becoming delegate through the means prescribed by the regional government, then once installed in the delegacy going "rogue" and acting against that government. Empirical evidence supports this: all modern successful or attempted feeder coups, as well as most sinker coups, have been the result of originally government-endorsed delegates going rogue.

Strict endorsement caps not only do nothing to prevent occurrences of this scenario, but also make it very difficult to counter them. Indeed, a strict endorsement cap means that the vast majority of WA nations in a region have negligible influence, making it very easy for a well-positioned rogue delegate to decimate the region's WA population, suppress opposition, and cause severe long-term damage to the region. Simply put, under realistic circumstances, strict endorsement caps do more harm than good and make a region less secure. To facilitate countering rogue delegacies, a more appropriate policy is to go in the opposite direction and encourage active endotarting. Doing so results in the creation of an expansive layer of nations with high endorsement counts, and consecutively high influence and high ejection cost. The larger this layer, the harder it is for a rogue delegate to perform mass ejections and cause damage; and conversely, the easier it is for the regional government to regain control of the delegacy.

The WADP has already resulted in a tremendous increase in endotarting activity within TNP. One way to quantify such activity is by using "endorsement saturation": a term coined by Eluvatar, this is equal to the total number of endorsements that have been exchanged in a region, expressed as a percentage of the total number of endorsements if every WA nation had endorsed every other WA nation. Since the introduction of program, TNP's endorsement saturation has increased from 6.5% to higher than 9%. This corresponds to more than 12000 new endorsements being exchanged. TNP now ranks first among the feeders in endorsement saturation, from third when the program began. As an additional benefit, the WADP has resulted in a strong boost in WA membership within the region: The ratio of WA to total nations has increased from 14% to 16%, with TNP's WA nation count marginally increasing despite the seasonal sharp decrease in regional population.

The WADP is particularly well-suited to TNP because of its uniquely large WA population and high delegate endorsement rates. Similar programs would also work well in other feeders, given their current sizes, and it will be interesting to see whether those regions will follow TNP's example. As for sinker regions, the situation is more complicated. As the Osiris coup of July 2013 demonstrated, a large layer of nations with significant influence is critical for countering rogue delegacies in these regions as well. However, the relatively small sizes of the sinkers make a complete liberalization of endotarting activity risky. Balancing a policy of increasing endotarting with maintaining endorsement count security is an intriguing challenge for all sinker governments.

Making Sure Everyone Finds Their Slice of Pie
by The Democratic Republic of Tomb, Game-side Correspondent
Among the ministries comprising the executive government of The North Pacific, one finds the Ministry of Home Affairs. It is currently the newest addition to the government, though ministries with related portfolios have existed in the past under other names. What is it responsible for? Recruitment. "But feeders don't recruit!", I hear you contend. The term "recruitment" in NationStates context usually refers to inviting nations to join a region, which is not critical for feeders and indeed conventionally not practiced by them. But there's a lot more to it.

The Ministry of Home Affairs works to increase nation retention and encourage nation participation in the government and regional activities, especially participation on the regional forum. You could describe it as the regional advertising agency: The ministry designs and runs campaigns to promote the many different things nations can do in TNP, such as become citizens, legislate in the Regional Assembly, protect regional interests in the North Pacific Army, run the government in the Executive Staff, roleplay in the Democratic Union, endorse and vote in the World Assembly, and so on. By the nature of its portfolio, Home Affairs is a very interdisciplinary department. The ministry staff work closely with officials from other ministries or areas of government, to understand their needs and organize for them the best advertising campaigns possible.

Home Affairs uses many different means to advertise the region. Telegramming is, naturally, a large component of the ministry's campaigns. Various target groups of nations are contacted for activities that they are likely to be interested in, through automated, mass, and manual telegrams. More than 100,000 telegrams, including more than 5,000 manual telegrams, have been sent as part of campaigns by the ministry since its creation eight months ago - and that excludes region-wide and welcoming telegrams sent by the delegate using the regional administration tools. At any given time, there are at least seven standard automated telegrams and one specialized telegramming campaign going on.

The ministry also makes effective use of dispatches. This includes the Press Release program, which produces short announcements keeping nations abreast of important developments, as well as longer reference and promotional material such as regional handbooks and activity guidelines. The ministry staff coordinates to make sure its publications are strongly upvoted - there are always at least two TNP dispatches near or at the top of both the New and Best dispatches page. Other gameside activities coordinated by the ministry include frequent promotional posts on the Regional Message Board, regional polls, as well as extensive region-wide surveys gauging nations' views on various issues. And the ministry's work continues after nations join the forum, with more reference and promotional material and initiatives such as the mentoring program.

The effectiveness of these efforts is reflected clearly on the bustling activity seen nowadays in TNP's regional forum. The forum community contains many new faces, fresh ideas, conversations and debates. The number of citizens, North Pacific Army soldiers, Executive Staff members, RolePlay and World Assembly participants has increased greatly since the creation of the Ministry, and posting activity has remained consistently among the highest within gameplay regional forums. Constant effort is required to sustain these rewarding statistics. For this reason, the Ministry of Home Affairs continues to work to make sure that TNPers have the best resources available to them, and to ensure that everyone finds their slice of pie in the region.

 The RP Government of TNP
by mcmasterdonia, Culture Reporter
During the last few months, The North Pacific has seen a revival in its roleplay section, with many players, old and new, contributing dozens of posts per day. A major drive for this activity has been the founding and development of the Democratic Union (DU).

The DU was founded in July 2014, and is an international institution whose members are nations within TNP, as roleplayed by their owners. It is a roleplay government within a government, of sorts, providing a formal framework for collaboration among the members on various issues of importance to them. The DU has its own charter, officials (in the form of IC representatives from selected nations), elections, legislative procedure, admissions - all the basic elements one would expect to find in a standard gameplay government. It additionally has many purely roleplay characteristics, such as a place for its own headquarters on the map of TNP.

The DU charter provides that membership is reserved for democratic nations, with the democratic tendencies of each nation being quantified using NationStates metrics such as the Diebold Election Inking Scale. A Chairman and a Deputy, elected from among national members, comprise its leadership. The government of Malvad held the inaugural Chairman, replaced in November by Scandigrad after a hotly contested election.

Since its creation, the DU has debated and enacted multiple resolutions, ranging from amendments to its charter to international agreements. These include a free trade agreement, a collective defence agreement, and measures for the regulation of weapons of mass destruction. The increased legislative activity has motivated the formation of committees, to improve the efficiency of the DU's response to specialized areas.

In addition to international legislation, the DU has been actively involved in addressing international incidents involving its members. In one instance, the DU met to discuss a political crisis in McMasterdonia, where the Monarchy decided to suspend elections and has been accused of suppressing the freedom of the press. The discussion saw the McMasterdonian ambassador accuse the then Chairman from Malvad of attempting to deflect attention from internal problems that had been plaguing Malvad in recent years. The government of Malvad eventually recalled their DU ambassador, though they denied the accusations and insisted that an investigation should be carried out in McMasterdonia. Another contentious issue has been the Cronaal Civil War. The war saw Syrixia invade the nation with a 5000 strong force, characterized as a "peacekeeper force", without proper consultation of either the DU or the government of Cronaal. The decision drew criticism from many national ambassadors to the DU, and the subsequent discussion led to the withdrawal of Syrixian forces.

With recruitment and promotional support from the Ministry of Culture of the gameplay government of TNP, the DU has quickly become a vital regional institution. Its success has lead to discussions about establishing another such body, open to nations not admissible to the DU, with an intention of creating a rival to the DU's monopoly on international power in the region. How such proposals will pan out remains to be seen. What is certain is that it is an exciting time to roleplay your nation in TNP.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2015, 09:19:28 PM by Tomb »

Offline Tomb

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Re: The Northern Lights Issue V
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2015, 02:03:10 PM »
An Interview with Cormac
by mcmasterdonia, Foreign Correspondent
This column does not represent the views of the Government of The North Pacific.
This interview was conducted in early December, as the follow-up to an interview with Funkadellia published in the previous issue. Since that time, some of the circumstances referenced in this interview have changed or further developed, whereas recently Cormac has announced his retirement from the game. We decided to still publish this interview, as it offers interesting insights on diplomatic affairs of the summer and fall of 2014.

mcmasterdonia: Today, I am joined by Cormac Stark, two-time former Pharaoh of Osiris and one of the co-founders of the Osiris Fraternal Order.

What are you up to in NationStates right now?

Cormac: Well, I am currently a Regional Assembly representative (an elected legislator) in Spiritus and a sergeant in the Spiritus Defense Force. I have re-applied for the Regional Assembly of The North Pacific, where I've had membership before. I have also founded a new region, Camelot, though it has been slow going, due in large part to computer problems for me over the past month. I'm not entirely sure about the future of that project.

mcmasterdonia: In your few years in NationStates, you have been quite a controversial figure. Do you enjoy controversy?

Cormac: It depends on the nature of the controversy. Do I enjoy good-natured, in-character controversy that enhances game activity? Yes, and I strive to generate it whenever I see an opportunity that meshes with my interests. Controversy that turns personal and ugly? Not so much. And unfortunately the former can often lead to the latter, though it shouldn't.

mcmasterdonia: I'd like to ask you some questions about your time as Pharaoh of Osiris and specifically about the war with Lazarus. First off, did you enjoy serving as Pharaoh of Osiris?

Cormac: Well, I've served twice. There were parts of it I enjoyed and parts I didn't. Osiris has a great, friendly community, but its politics can be extremely contentious at times. Being heavily involved in the leadership of that political community for as long as I was, with no break, didn't mesh well with my temperament. It became a lot of pressure but I would like to believe, overall, that I've done a lot of good for Osiris, and I certainly enjoyed the positive contributions I've made to the region.

mcmasterdonia: What did you find to be the greatest challenge of Osiris?

Cormac: Balancing the needs and interests of various factions within the community. Interest groups may be a better word, as factions implies that they were only looking out for their own group's interests and that largely wasn't the case. Specifically, I had difficulty balancing the needs and interests of independents, imperialists, and raiders in Osiris, all of whom had different goals for the region. Sometimes those goals intersected but there were some disagreements and I didn't handle those well.

mcmasterdonia: Do you believe that the OFO revolution has been a successful one for the community of Osiris?

Cormac: I think it's been successful, on the whole, with some caveats. The Osiris Fraternal Order has brought an unprecedented level of liberal democracy to Osiris, and certainly the community is now far less fractious than prior to the OFO. I don't think the focus on militarization, on imperialism, has been beneficial to Osiris. That was a mistake, and it was a mistake the entire community made together. No external entity forced imperialism upon Osiris.

mcmasterdonia: What are your thoughts on the Empire, given that more than a year has passed since they were removed from Osiris?

Cormac: When the Empire group was expelled from Osiris last year, I was very angry at how they had conducted themselves during the Delegacy of Detective Figs (Astarial) and not yet ready to acknowledge that the way some others, myself at times included, conducted ourselves also contributed to the deterioration of her government. That anger is long since gone and the self-reflection has long since happened. There are winners and losers in every battle for control of a Feeder or Sinker, or any region for that matter; the Empire group lost in this case. I was one of the winners and perhaps the highest profile of the winners. It was, literally, my job to make our case against them, and I did it very well.

For the record, I don't think they're actually terrible, as my rhetoric would lead one to believe. I think they're great players, I think they're good people out-of-character, they can be strong allies in-character under the right circumstances, and politically -- in the best sense, as this is a political game -- I think they're dangerous.

mcmasterdonia: I will now move on to some questions about the war with Lazarus, which dominated your last term as Pharaoh of Osiris.

Did you make any effort, to discuss the issues you (and the OFO Government) had with the Government of Lazarus prior to the declaration of war?

Cormac: No significant effort. I did send a very hostile telegram to Funkadelia, Chairman of Lazarus at the time, expressing my discontent with the threatening remarks made by LLA General Aperi (Karpathos). I never received a response, though I didn't actually expect one given my own hostile tone. No efforts were made beyond that.

mcmasterdonia: Were you surprised or disappointed by the responses of other regions to the declaration?

Cormac: Largely I was neither surprised nor disappointed. Most regions I expected to side with Lazarus did, most regions I expected to remain neutral also did so. I was somewhat surprised and disappointed by the lack of explicit support from Osiris' independent, imperialist, and raider allies. But I suppose they had their reasons, and given the way the war turned out that may have been the better decision for their regions.

mcmasterdonia: Do you stand by your complaints about the attendants of the Regional Sovereignty Conference as being a forum for discussing the war effort?

Cormac: No. The complaints were ridiculous, but were manufactured to give us a convenient excuse to sever even the most basic relations with several regions that were in alliance with Lazarus and opposed to Osiris' interests -- and thus to remove any accountability to or pressure from them in regard to the war or other matters. Unfortunately, some other regions, such as The West Pacific, were collateral damage, and in hindsight I should have differentiated between more friendly regions and those that were actually hostile to our interests.

mcmasterdonia: Do you stand by the decision to close embassies with regions who attended the Conference?

Cormac: Some of them. The regions that were, and are, hostile to the interests of the Osiris Fraternal Order know who they are, and I don't for a minute regret closing their embassies and severing diplomatic relations with them. The charade of diplomatic relations was nothing more than that, a charade. In regard to other regions -- again, most notably The West Pacific -- I regret my actions, and I sincerely apologize for damage done between more friendly regions and the Osiris Fraternal Order.

mcmasterdonia: Do you have any regrets regarding the handling of the Osiris-Lazarus War?

Cormac: I regret the war itself. It served no positive purpose for Osiris, for Lazarus, or for the broader NationStates world. I maintain that it could have served positive purposes, but both the handling of the Regional Sovereignty Conference and the squeamishness of some Feeder and Sinker communities prevented any of those purposes from coming to fruition.

mcmasterdonia: Not long after the end of your term as Pharaoh, the ISRA was officially abolished, do you believe this was a good thing for Osiris?

Cormac: Yes. ISRA was an institutional failure from the beginning. Neither Osiris nor Balder had the personnel to staff that kind of joint military. ISRA also revealed some significant differences in the political and military aims of Osiris and Balder, differences that would have been no problem for bilateral treaty allies but did pose a problem for a joint military institution. Those differences actually created tension rather than strengthening unity. Had ISRA not been abolished, it may have completely destroyed the alliance between Osiris and Balder over time. For the sake of that alliance, I'm glad ISRA was abolished.

mcmasterdonia: Do you have any regrets from your term as Pharaoh?

Cormac: Focusing on my second term, I do have a few regrets. I regret that I focused so heavily on external policy; I don't think it was at all what Osiris needed, even had I handled it better. As noted, I regret the war and I regret some of the embassy closures. Finally, I regret the rash decisions I made without consulting my cabinet -- notably including the embassy closures -- and my difficulty with compromising, particularly in the early days of the term in regard to some domestic issues.

mcmasterdonia: What do you believe is the greatest challenge for the OFO in the months ahead?

Cormac: Domestic recovery. Activity has completely died since I resigned from office. Rebuilding foreign affairs can't be the immediate focus, as it won't even be possible until other regions can see that Osiris has restored internal activity and stability. Part of that is going to be elevating some fresh faces with fresh perspectives, ideas, and above all, energy, into higher office, with a stable and orderly transition from the OFO "old guard" -- if you can call it that -- to newer and more energized citizens. A newer citizen shouldn't just be thrust into the office of Pharaoh, but it's time to start elevating these people so that they will be ready to serve as Pharaoh in the near future.

mcmasterdonia: Do you see yourself returning to Osiris and serving in the regional government again in the near future?

Cormac: I feel that I do know what Osiris needs to do in order to restore activity and stability, and I feel that I have the experience necessary to effectively take those steps. Ultimately, whether I'm the right person for that job at this time would be up to the people of Osiris, if I return. I would be lying if I said I weren't seriously considering a return to the region and the possibility of a run for Pharaoh, given the state of the region since I resigned from office. If I were to do that, I would be pursuing just one term with an emphasis on making a transition to newer citizens with fresh ideas and energy.

mcmasterdonia: What advice do you have for future Delegates of Game Created Regions?

Cormac: Well, the circumstances of each Delegate are diverse. The Delegate of The Pacific is not going to have the same experience as the Delegate of The South Pacific, for example. In general, I would advise future Delegates not to try to be a one person government. Delegate to your cabinet. Consult your cabinet. Listen to your cabinet. Don't go it alone, on any matter, unless absolutely necessary. Consult as broad a sample of your region as possible under varying circumstances; from autocracy to democracy and everything in between, it's still their region. You're just leading it.

mcmasterdonia: Future plans?

Cormac: I'm happy with my role in Spiritus and I'm looking forward to getting involved in The North Pacific again. As I noted, I'm considering a return to Osiris. Beyond that, I don't really have any solid plans for the future. Wherever the road takes me, I suppose!

mcmasterdonia: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Cormac, all the best! Thank you, and my best to you and to all the people of The North Pacific as well!

Citizenship Reform in TNP
by r3naissanc3r, Legislative Reporter
For the first time in its decade-long constitutional history, The North Pacific has a citizenry. This is the result of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which TNP's legislature, the Regional Assembly (RA), passed on December 26th, 2014.

The act effects two changes. The first is a rebranding of the membership status granting the right to vote and stand for office, from "Regional Assembly member" to "citizen". The second is a change in the activity requirements for maintaining this status: In the past, one needed to vote frequently in the RA to remain a member. Now, a citizen needs instead to post frequently on the regional forum, even outside the RA.

Though seemingly simple, these changes are expected to have far-reaching effects on both the size and the make-up of TNP's electorate. To see why, one needs to consider regional members that actively participate in the forum community and government, but are not necessarily interested in the legislative activities of the RA. Frequently these members would either choose not to join the RA, or fail to meet the voting activity requirements and be removed shortly after joining. As a result, these members would be disenfranchised during elections, despite making valuable contributions to the region.

This issue had become very pronounced over the last year, due to a shift in demographics in TNP's regional community: Unlike an emphasis on RA that characterized TNP in the past, nowadays the RA makes up a small percentage of regional activity, and most of it can be found in the regional forum's vibrant roleplay, World Assembly, executive and military sections. In response to this shift, the VRA removes this bias towards RA activity, and expands franchise to include all the non-RA inclined active members.

Following the enactment of the VRA, the government has embarked upon an extensive campaign to raise awareness about the new citizenship policy among regional members, both on the forum and the game side. This has resulted in more than 50 new citizenship applications, from both old and new members, and so far there does not appear to be a slow down in the rate in which applications are received. An interesting test for the new citizenship system will be the January 2015 General Election. Expectations are high that, thanks to the new policy, there will be a new record for number of votes cast in an election - the current record is 53 votes, recorded in th November 2014. The new policy has also encouraged a change in the way candidates have been running their campaigns, with a lot emphasis being placed on gameside campaigning through telegrams, dispatches, and regional message board posts.

The Northern Lights: Beauty in Truth
Publisher: r3naissanc3r :: Managing Editor: The Democratic Republic of Tomb :: Graphic Artist: SillyString

The Northern Lights is produced by the Ministry of Communications on behalf of the Government of The North Pacific and distributed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Except where otherwise indicated, all content represents the views of the Government of The North Pacific.[/small]
« Last Edit: January 10, 2015, 09:18:43 PM by Tomb »

Offline Eluvatar

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Re: The Northern Lights Issue V
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2015, 10:05:45 PM »
A great collection of good articles!

I'm particularly fond of the first one :P
(click to show/hide)