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Paragon_Leon
08-21-2001, 04:53 AM
The Galactic Battlegrounds Senate

Rough Draft, Version 1.01
August 20, 2001


My fellow forummers,

Below is the first rough draft of what the Senate would encompass, how it would work and why things are the way they are.
I know from the Proposal-thread that we can debate this for months, and with as many opinions as there are members, it will be impossible to get everyone’s agreement on all aspects of this draft. This is why I’ve given very specific explanations to certain first decisions. There will no doubt be some that don’t agree. If you don’t, I would like for you to do at least two things before making this clear:
- read the explanation given and don’t disregard it off-hand; objections that disregard specific reasons simply lead to a ‘ yes-no’ debate which isn’t really going anywhere. At some point, there has to be a decision.
- Don’t simply object, but think of a constructive, manageable alternative. Keep in mind though, that we have already debated a lot of issues and that this draft comes from those debates. You will find that it has a lot of aspects that came from that debate. We don’t want to debate on the form endlessly. Better to have it up and running and, should we come across a problem, deal with it in a democratic way.

I’ve tried to come up with a set-up that would allow for a fair and equal balance in representation, posting and opportunity. There were no decisions based on personal relationships in the forums. If anyone feels that some decisions were, I would urge them to read my given reasons for that decision and take them at face-value.

I’m closing this thread right after the Draft is online, but will open a response thread so we can all dig in..
Enjoy the read,

Paragon_Leon

Paragon_Leon
08-21-2001, 04:54 AM
WHY A SENATE ?

As it happens with every gathering of people,there is difference of opinion. It could be different opinions on certain organisation-features, conflicts of interest, simply conflicts or other human struggles. The Permier Forums of Galactic Battles have so far seen their fair share of this, but are still in their infancy. To streamline decision-making in future tournament-rules, guide feedback on the forums and the game and have a platform for many other features that might get lost in a corner with an endless thread, the Senate is a way out.

The Senate is:
- a platform for forummers who can debate about specific happenings and gaming-rules;
- sort of a digest on what has happened on the boards in past weeks;
- a democratic board aimed at organised debate.

The Senate is not:
- a replacement for moderating the forums. The same rules for all other forums apply to the Senate. There are NO other guidelines;
- a ‘made-official’ off-topic thread, open for any kind of posting;
- an ‘elite club’ for the ‘best’ forummers. Senators represent other forummers and should keep their interests in mind.

THE BASIC SET-UP OF THE SENATE

a) There is a separate forum for the Senate, if possible, password-protected. This should enable anyone to read announcements and sessions, and could keep that forum spam-free. Voting could be done in the Announcements-forum, but vote-threads would be deleted after a decision came out of them; cleaning out the boards a bit.

b) The Senate consist of 7 Senators to begin with, with the possibility of growth should our member-count increase as time goes on (and no doubt it will). The number of Senators is chosen on the basic principle of majority of votes. If a certain Senator would refrain from voting on an issue, the tie would be broken by the Chancellor.

c) These Senators are nominated by moderators, then voted upon in threads – threads that simply show the votes, NOT a discussion on those votes. This is done because such a discussion would inevitably lead to certain sour responses on certain decisions regarding certain people. The numbers will do the talking and are final once the poll countdown is finished. A poll over a nominated forummer for Senator would last a week to ensure most forummers have a reasonable chance of voting. Remember; most forummers only get online every other few days, if not even less. Shortening the time-limit on polls would undermine their chance to influence the Senate. These Forums are for all the members; not just the ones that post most often.

d) Senators represent regular forummers. Forummers can make their ideas and opinions clear, and a Senator has the obligation to bring those ideas / opinions to the table. Any Senator neglecting forummers he/she represents, fails to abide by Senate-rules and is removed from office. However, those ideas and opinions should abide by the forum and Senate rules as well and a Senator has the right to neglect them if that is not the case.
Forummers can choose which Senator represents them. They can also ‘switch’ Senators over time without obligations. A list of who is represented by which Senator will be made and posted in a read-only post in the Senate-forum. It will be kept up-to-date by the Senate-forum Chancellor / Moderator.

e) Clans can choose to be represented by a Senator as well, but no Senator is solely a ‘Clan-representative’. This way, clans are represented on equal ground as regular forummers.

f) Moderators can be Senators. But they have to abide by the Senate rules and have to stick to them as much as other forummers have to. There is no apparent pressure on mods that makes it impossible to take on any other ‘task’. Look at the set-up reasonably and one can conclude the Senate is about posting certain discussion-points, which is exactly what moderators do as well. The difference is in the decision-making where mods don’t have the final say. The majority of Senators does. The basic fear people have with mods being Senators, is that they would somehow ‘abuse’ their power or have too much ‘power’ as it is.. The Senate is not about ‘power’; it’s about representing forummers and guiding decision-making in a democratic way. Anyone who believes being in the Senate brings along ‘power’, misses the point of the Senate itself. In the Senate there will be certain ‘house-rules’ regarding debates, and any mod that believes he is above those rules, is expelled from the Senate. The rules for the Senate will be known by the Supermods and webmaster as well, to ensure that they are met with the approval of the site-creators and to make sure that Moderators are forced to abide by them as well. This should ensure equal ground for moderators and forummers. I believe that any other reason for not allowing mods to be Senators is based on perception instead of facts; the reality of the day-to-day workings of the Senate will show off the basic workings of what is stated here.

g) A Chancellor is appointed and has the basic task of overseeiing Senate meetings. Basically, a Chancellor guides the debates, but doesn’t participate in them as an active party. The Chancellor can, however, make his personal wishes known to a Senator who could bring it to the Senate floor. Again, the decision is made by the majority of Senators.

h) Now for the tricky part: the Chancellor would preferably have to be a Moderator. Here’s why:
in a debate, once things get out of hand, there’s no turning back if you can’t moderate the forum. And an outside moderator cutting into debates of the Senate would seriously harm the decision-making process. Since the Senate-forum is a new, separate forum, the Chancellor can be the sole mod for this forum as well, ensuring a clean, manageable and on-topic board. And most importantly, the Senate-forum would basically be in Senate hands.
The suggestion was made that mods would have to drop their mod-work on other forums if they would become Chancellor. This is based on the same reasons why Senators shouldn’t be mods according to these people; too much ‘power’ and too much ‘work’. Again; if a Chancellor is abusing power and acts against Senate rules, he can be voted away, which could be enforced by the Supermods and/or webmaster if (and only if) it is according to the rules. This works beneficial in both ways. On the one hand, Senators have the power to vote a Chancellor out of office if he really abuses his position and goes against Senate rules, and on the other hand the Chancellor is backed by those rules and the Supermod/webmaster so he can’t simply be voted away because some don’t like him and get other Senators far enough along to get him voted out. A Chancellor is judged on his efforts and accomplishments, and –read with both eyes open- so are the Senators. Of course, future Chancellors can be regular forummers that are made mods for only the Senate-forum. But with that, any objection to Mod-chancellors is gone, since there’s no elitist reason to it.

i) Here’s another part that will probably lead to discussion: I’m taking up the position of Chancellor for the first term of the Senate as it is formed. There’s two main reason why:

1) The Senate is in many ways my brain’child’ and this ensures a start according to that vision
2) The first term, in this way, will serve as an example on how things are done in the Senate, how the rules are followed and what happens if they’re not.
I feel I must be very, very, very specific about this to avoid pointless debates. This is no ‘power-grab’. It’s not a decision to ‘ensure a position of influence’. It is a rationally made decision based on my own plan after weighing both sides of the spectrum. I believe this decision will benefit the Senate in making the rules work and setting an example. There’s not a single doubt in my mind that few will be opposed to this. From the responses so far, the arguments offered go in two directions: either it would be too much ‘power’ (which I just explained twice is not the case), or it wouldn’t be fair to regular forummers (which is not the case since any forummer can be voted upon to become Senator / Chancellor). I specifically made the decision to be Chancellor now to guide the board through it’s first term and pave the way for future Senators / Chancellors to follow suit. Call it a ‘nursing an idea to full health’.

j) The Chancellor is in that position for half a year. This may seem long, but keep in mind that, if you have bi-weekly sessions, he would only oversee about 13 of them. (26 of course if sessions are weekly). To ensure consistency and stable representation, this term is created. If there’s a vote on new Chanchellors every other few months, the Senate becomes the sluggish, voting-bureaucratic-kind of body that spelled doom for the Old Republic. Let’s not make the same mistake here. After a half year term is over, a successor is nominated out of the Senators, and voted upon in the Senate AND in the main forums, where the forum-vote counts as two Senator-votes. (Two so it can make a genuine impact and keep the vote-balance uneven). Regular forummers should have some kind of say in who is a future Chancellor, since it is some kind of safe-guard against ‘under-the-table-agreements’ between Senators. The Senate is a body to represent forummers, not to act as an elitist club.

k) Senators are in position until they either cannot continue their work in the Senate or until they go against the rules and are removed from office. If there would be Senator-elections every other half year / few months, it would be the same mess as in point H. Expansion of the Senate is always possible, but new Senators of course would have to be voted upon. With a start of 7 Senators, there’s plenty of room for future growth and enough of a base to ensure some solid decision-making.

Paragon_Leon
08-21-2001, 04:55 AM
HOW DOES A MEETING WORK ?

a) The Senators and Chancellor set a certain time to meet in the Senate-forum. All Senators and Chancellors vote on a few times in a poll and once the most common time is set, they meet then. So far the best idea seems to be to meet every two weeks. Once the game is out, this could be shortened to once per week. The Chancellor opens the debate by posting the agenda and making sure that that agenda is followed. One agenda-point is one thread and this thread should remain on-topic. The Chancellor gives the word to Senators, making sure the discussion is in order. All Senators will have their say during a meeting on every thread. Once the stage of voting is reached, the Chancellor posts a vote-thread in the forum which is voted on right away. Same rules apply to this poll as for Senator-nominee-polls. Then it’s on to the next agenda-point / thread. Should a vote be a tie, the Chancellor will have a decision-vote, but only then. Senators can refrain from voting.

b) Remember; prior to a meeting, a Senator could be contacted by other forummers asking him to bring certain things to the table. To make sure a meeting is swift, it works best to have a Senator make a brief note on his position in a Wordpad or something, and then copy/paste it in a post once the meeting is underway. This saves considerable time at the start and once the Senator has his turn to speak again, he can already work on his new post.

c) The meeting has to be done by a certain time (say, one hour) to ensure that most Senators can attend. Remember, not everyone has 24 hr cable, no social life and time to burn. Also, to make sure that the most ‘ in-your-face’ Senators don’t get the upper hand by simply overshouting the rest, the Chancellor gives the word in the debate. Anyone speaking without that has his/her post deleted from the debate and receives a warning. When there’s a continuation of interrupting / posting out of turn, a Senator is expelled until further notice. These measures seem harsh, but look at the forums and you’ll find them necessary to ensure a solid, on-topic session.

d) The session-thread remains online for everyone to read. A brief announcement on the voting decisions is posted in the appropriate forums.


HOW DOES THE FIRST FORMATION OF THE SENATE WORK ?

a) The Chancellor is basically set. Please read the above text to see my reasons on this decision. Since a Chancellor doesn’t act like a Senator and has to abide by the votes in the Senate, it doesn’t seem like a big deal anyway. The Senators are nominated by the moderators for this first period and voted upon these following weeks. We will set a minimal amount of votes needed within a certain time. If that amount is not met, the nomination is off. There’s a few criteria Senators will be voted on, all (or at least most of them) based on forum rules.

- a future Senator must be consistent in posting meaningful discussion-posts, adding value to the boards;
- a future Senator must be serious about debating and refrain from digressing;
- a future Senator must be honest in his dealings and not set people against each other;
- a future Senator must…you get the idea.

After the first Senate-term, future Senators can nominate themselves. This will be voted upon in a Senate-meeting. Again, this set-up is made because of the ‘nursing’ of the Senate in it’s first period.

b) Once someone is nominated for Senator, a poll is started in the Announcements-board. Only votes are shown in the stats. Any discussion-posts regarding votes are deleted, even if they simply state who voted for who. Most of the time, forummers who simply go by the thread tend to make their decision on that thread-content, leading to the election of the person with the biggest mouth. That should not be the case. Forummers will make their decision based on the posts of the nominee in all the boards.
The polls run for a week and to make it to Senator, a nominee needs more than 50 votes on ‘ yes’. That seems like a lot, but the Moderators will get the word out about the polls to ensure enough people voting on them. Once the week is over and there’s less than 50 votes (even at 49), the nomination is off. This is a final decision and not open to debate. Any flaming on such a decision is acted upon with the forum-rules in mind. Of course, a rejected nominee can try again, but only after half a year. This ensures that someone doesn’t try continually, day by day, to get nominated.

I have not yet fledged out everything in complete detail yet, but this is the basic set-up, people.. Voice your opinions, particularly on time-tables, amounts, etc. Those are the things that are dependant on what you can or cannot do on these boards in regards to time, etc.

Greetings,

Paragon_Leon