Arnhelm: A City in Ruin

Calvin Coolidge

Spellcaster
Forum Administrator
Vice Chancellor
Associate Justice
Honoured Citizen
Citizen
For over five months, our region has been constructing a new legislative body on the grave of the Citizens' Assembly. In the debate leading up to its death, legislators stated that the longstanding lack of activity in the Citizens' Assembly meant that something was better than nothing, and in the words of Senator Astrellan, "[Arnhelm] sounds like a good time".

As someone who has served the most terms as Citizens' Assembly Chair in Europeia, I sympathized with those who saw the lack of activity in this body, and yearned to see something more. Astrellan's other points in favor of abolishing the CA were also persuasive: that mostly ex-Senators were making use of the CA, and that it was only active when a competent Chair served, but those periods never lasted too long. In all honesty, as much as it pains me to admit, it was the right move to scrap the Citizens' Assembly, and try something new with Arnhelm. However, now the time has come to examine what Arnhelm has become in the months since. Has Arnhelm become what the Citizens' Assembly had failed to be? Was it a useful legislative training tool? Was it active? And perhaps most important of all, was it fun?

Well, for a good while Arnhelm wasn't much of anything. After the Citizens' Assembly was abolished and the City Council (the name for Arnhelm before they would pass their charter) was put in to replace it, not much happened. The first order of business for Mayor Olde Delaware was getting a charter together, but that process took several months, with hardly any activity in October as the Senate debate the Arnhelm Authority Act, which led to some minor changes in how the charter and the Mayor would be voted on. The month of November passed with often a week of a gap between any progress being made, before the charter was finally put to a vote and passed by the middle of December.

With the charter now passed, new leadership was elected as Prim, and later GraVandius were elected to be Mayor. Before going into their tenures, though, let's examine what the charter accomplishes. Essentially, Arnhelm will deal with legislation on real life topics, that does not impact the outside region of Europeia, and will serve as a place to train people on how to write legislation. Fittingly, in the two months since the charter was recognized a budget ordinance has been passed, and discussion is ongoing on bills dealing with healthcare, littering, and other matters.

So, if the CA couldn't motivate people to write legislation on Europeian matters, it appears there are early signs that Arnhelm might be able to motivate people to write legislation on real life matters. But, who is participating? Is it mostly former legislators, as was the problem in the CA? Mostly yes. Aside from cookiespaigentland, and more rarely Gabingston, the main contributors to the conversation are Drecq, Prim, HEM, and GraV. Hardly a crowd that needs legislative training. At the same time, the Grand Hall has played host to Europeian legislative proposals with lively discussions from cookies as well as TheNationofthePeople, before either got involved in Arnhelm.

That answers most of our questions from the start, then. It seems that the legislative training potential is mixed, while activity levels are tied to the activity level of the Mayor, much like the Assembly was tied to the activity of its Chair. Bringing us to our final question: is it fun? Unfortunately, there's no definitive answer here, as fun is wildly subjective. I can answer only for myself here by saying that I am not at all interested in legislating real life issues, and find no fun in participating in those discussions. The practicality of discussing this legislation is designed to be limited, and I'd much rather discuss matters relating to Europeia when I'm in Europeia. I can get political debate everywhere, but Europeia offers unique debating opportunities that I feel are a much better use of my time, and the time of all our citizens, which is why I have avoided joining Arnhelm, despite my name being transferred over from the dead body of the Citizens' Assembly. I do not view Arnhelm as much more of a success than the Citizens' Assembly, honestly. It has become something similar in almost every way, with many of the same problems, and not much use outside of it being a hobby for those who already know how to legislate.

Personally, I think the region would be better off if we shut down Arnhelm and instead directed interested legislators over the World Assembly if insist on making legislation outside of the Senate only deal with real life matters. By training legislators in World Assembly drafting we can expand our influence in a way that helps our region grow, and maintain our gameside presence, and show off our legislative prowess abroad. Right now we have Arnhelm, which helps hardly anyone at all, and finds itself playing second fiddle to the Grand Hall, which itself plays second fiddle to the Senate.

We should always strive to make our government serve its people in the best way we can, and if we all think that the Citizens' Assembly was a failure, then we need to recognize those same signs of failure in Arnhelm, and get out ahead of things while the drive for reform is still with us. Help the World Assembly and help Europeia by ditching Arnhelm. Until next time, this is Calvin Coolidge, removing his nameplate from the door.
 

Kuramia

Trust me.
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Vice President
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I have to say, while I agree Arnhelm could pick up the pace, I've enjoyed the relaxed legislation you can get into there. It's a good place for new people to show off their chops, get interested in the region, and provide valuable feedback for beginning legislation.

I do not agree that we should shutter it for the WA. The WA is much harder to break into. Not only does it have a much stricter standard for writing, it also requires a lot more research and time spent in the WA forums on NS side. There, it is best if you're active in discussions and a known name because you will have to post your resolution there for it to have a chance at passing.

I might be convinced if you hadn't picked the WA to compare Arnhelm to.
 

Ervald

“I love to be directed. They can trust me and go.”
Citizen
I am not sure if I am entirely convinced shuttering Arnhelm would shift newcomers interested in legislation to author WA legislation.

But, there absolutely need to be an intense effort to get more Europeans to author WA legislation. For a long time, we have seen it as only roleplay when...it is really a form of soft power through legislation, even if that legislation is IC. We got Arnhelm focused on IC legislation so it is isn't insane to get some folks who were interested in Arnhelm to also get interested in the WA. We're focusing on diplomatic relations, we're focusing on our military, let get focusing on WA resolutions. I don't want to say shutter Arnhelm, but perhaps we reach out to people active in that project to check out the MoWAA?
 

Kuramia

Trust me.
Forum Administrator
Vice President
Honoured Citizen
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I am not sure if I am entirely convinced shuttering Arnhelm would shift newcomers interested in legislation to author WA legislation.

But, there absolutely need to be an intense effort to get more Europeans to author WA legislation. For a long time, we have seen it as only roleplay when...it is really a form of soft power through legislation, even if that legislation is IC. We got Arnhelm focused on IC legislation so it is isn't insane to get some folks who were interested in Arnhelm to also get interested in the WA. We're focusing on diplomatic relations, we're focusing on our military, let get focusing on WA resolutions. I don't want to say shutter Arnhelm, but perhaps we reach out to people active in that project to check out the MoWAA?
We've tried this. We've spent terms and terms trying to drum up interest in writing WA proposals. Those who want to do so are a rare breed, and rightly so. I find it amusing the two people encouraging WAA involvement aren't themselves involved. :p
 

Calvin Coolidge

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I'll admit that I am not the best person to make the case for WA involvement, having never been involved in the WA myself, but I see it an untapped legislative arena to train our citizens that provides real gains for our region in a way that RL legislation never will. Honestly, even if we have the same problems as the CA and Arnhelm (same legislators, activity levels tied to the leader, etc) then at least we have more productivity in an area that desperately needs it. Plus, if we eliminate the alternatives, then people will go where we direct them. Why bother directing people to Arnhelm when they could learn legislation elsewhere? As for our old hand legislators, if they want a new area of legislating to explore, why shouldn't they try the WA?
 

Kuramia

Trust me.
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Vice President
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I'll admit that I am not the best person to make the case for WA involvement, having never been involved in the WA myself, but I see it an untapped legislative arena to train our citizens that provides real gains for our region in a way that RL legislation never will. Honestly, even if we have the same problems as the CA and Arnhelm (same legislators, activity levels tied to the leader, etc) then at least we have more productivity in an area that desperately needs it. Plus, if we eliminate the alternatives, then people will go where we direct them. Why bother directing people to Arnhelm when they could learn legislation elsewhere? As for our old hand legislators, if they want a new area of legislating to explore, why shouldn't they try the WA?
We'd love to see you join the WAA, writing IFV's and drafting up your own proposal. That's the best way to say 'hey come try this!' imo.
 

Prim

Senator
Citizen
Discord Moderator
I am saddened by a number of people who were gung-ho about the Arnhelm concept before it was implemented, but have now completely failed to show up for the actual process.

Arnhelm wasn't meant to be solely a legislative training arena either -- it was also meant to be an RL political simulator for experienced citizens here as well. So, I'm not personally as concerned about Arnhelm being mainly experienced legislators as I was about the CA.

That being said -- what would the point be for closing down Arnhelm? It's a completely separate RP experience, why would you need to close it down just because you don't like what it does?

As for our old hand legislators, if they want a new area of legislating to explore, why shouldn't they try the WA?

Former CoWAA here -- thanks for the tip. I enjoy Arnhelm's new area of legislation.
 
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Calvin Coolidge

Spellcaster
Forum Administrator
Vice Chancellor
Associate Justice
Honoured Citizen
Citizen
I'll admit that I am not the best person to make the case for WA involvement, having never been involved in the WA myself, but I see it an untapped legislative arena to train our citizens that provides real gains for our region in a way that RL legislation never will. Honestly, even if we have the same problems as the CA and Arnhelm (same legislators, activity levels tied to the leader, etc) then at least we have more productivity in an area that desperately needs it. Plus, if we eliminate the alternatives, then people will go where we direct them. Why bother directing people to Arnhelm when they could learn legislation elsewhere? As for our old hand legislators, if they want a new area of legislating to explore, why shouldn't they try the WA?
We'd love to see you join the WAA, writing IFV's and drafting up your own proposal. That's the best way to say 'hey come try this!' imo.
I'll do what I can.
 

Olde Delaware

Honos Habet Onus
Cabinet
Citizen
It would be great if Arnhelm were marketed better. Give it the best chance of survival before considering shuttering it.
 

Calvin Coolidge

Spellcaster
Forum Administrator
Vice Chancellor
Associate Justice
Honoured Citizen
Citizen
Arnhelm wasn't meant to be solely a legislative training arena either -- it was also meant to be an RL political simulator for experienced citizens here as well. So, I'm not personally as concerned about Arnhelm being mainly experienced legislators as I was about the CA.

That being said -- what would the point be for closing down Arnhelm? It's a completely separate RP experience, why would you need to close it down just because you don't like what it does?
That's not really my point. I don't like what Arnhelm does, but that's not why I want to shut it down. I have concerns about its potential as legislative training ground however, because right now it looks like we don't have one. That was always the thing that motivated me when I was Chair of the Assembly was getting it viable to be a place where people could actually learn how the Europeian legislative process worked. If we don't want that in Arnhelm, then that's very disappointing. I'm willing to concede that not everyone interested in RL legislation will want to be a part of the World Assembly, but if any of them will, then that's a win. And since they are very similar in their scope, I don't see the harm in consolidating.
 

Kuramia

Trust me.
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Vice President
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Arnhelm wasn't meant to be solely a legislative training arena either -- it was also meant to be an RL political simulator for experienced citizens here as well. So, I'm not personally as concerned about Arnhelm being mainly experienced legislators as I was about the CA.

That being said -- what would the point be for closing down Arnhelm? It's a completely separate RP experience, why would you need to close it down just because you don't like what it does?
That's not really my point. I don't like what Arnhelm does, but that's not why I want to shut it down. I have concerns about its potential as legislative training ground however, because right now it looks like we don't have one. That was always the thing that motivated me when I was Chair of the Assembly was getting it viable to be a place where people could actually learn how the Europeian legislative process worked. If we don't want that in Arnhelm, then that's very disappointing. I'm willing to concede that not everyone interested in RL legislation will want to be a part of the World Assembly, but if any of them will, then that's a win. And since they are very similar in their scope, I don't see the harm in consolidating.
One has to wonder how much of your bias comes through on your analysis on Arnhelm then....

Honestly I like to go into Arnhelm to relax. I don't enjoy spam games. I still want to rp politics, and in Arnhelm I can do it better than I can even in Europeia, where the role I play there is to make sure I do my job and have fun doing it. In Anrhelm, I can just have fun, and not worry so much about anything but the rp experience.

I think it's too soon to judge it. It's slow. It was slow to start but it's steady from what I've seen. New people come in and legislate and there's no heavy burden and pushback (which I imagine @Izzy can remember fondly) to legislate perfectly.
 

Sopo

venerable joe
Forum Administrator
Honoured Citizen
Citizen
I will probably never do Arnhelm, but I only rarely did the CA, so not much has changed for me. I supported the change, but I'm pretty ambivalent now.
 

GraVandius

Part Time Troll
Senate Speaker
Senator
Citizen
It is entirely premature to considering shutting down arnhelm at this point. It largely stumbled out the gate with getting tangled up in the Senate and then amendments to the charter. From my point of view there are still arguably some things that should be cleaned up to make it a more smooth running machine. Additionally, that this call to close the city has come following it's most active and productive few weeks, in which a newcomer did actually practice drafting skills. "Go Do WA" is not a suitable replacement for arnhelm and surely would not attract as much interest given the author of this article did not partake in it. Further WA clearly lack the realistic possibility of seeing your draft through to conclusion. Additionally, there is a shitload more past WA proposals to look through to give the relevant context before starting on an idea in comparison to Arnhelm or Euro's law index for that matter. WA is clearly not a comparable alternative to the CA or Arnhelm and that kind of tears down the entire premise of this article. If there is not clearly any net negitives from Arnhelms blossoming existence while the alternatives of "Go Do WA" and perhaps bring back the Assembly are demonstratively worse or unproductive suggestions there is no reason to shut down Arnhelm. This article seems to be a weird angsty hand wringing that Arnhelm wasn't immediately a uber-vibrant, 2014/15 CA peak-like institution, while offering no real alternative.
 

Kari

My name is Kari, and I am a Legion of One.
This article seems to be a weird angsty hand wringing that Arnhelm wasn't immediately a uber-vibrant, 2014/15 CA peak-like institution, while offering no real alternative.
1000% this.

Will probs give a fuller response tomorrow.
 

Calvin Coolidge

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It is entirely premature to considering shutting down arnhelm at this point. It largely stumbled out the gate with getting tangled up in the Senate and then amendments to the charter. From my point of view there are still arguably some things that should be cleaned up to make it a more smooth running machine. Additionally, that this call to close the city has come following it's most active and productive few weeks, in which a newcomer did actually practice drafting skills. "Go Do WA" is not a suitable replacement for arnhelm and surely would not attract as much interest given the author of this article did not partake in it. Further WA clearly lack the realistic possibility of seeing your draft through to conclusion. Additionally, there is a shitload more past WA proposals to look through to give the relevant context before starting on an idea in comparison to Arnhelm or Euro's law index for that matter. WA is clearly not a comparable alternative to the CA or Arnhelm and that kind of tears down the entire premise of this article. If there is not clearly any net negitives from Arnhelms blossoming existence while the alternatives of "Go Do WA" and perhaps bring back the Assembly are demonstratively worse or unproductive suggestions there is no reason to shut down Arnhelm. This article seems to be a weird angsty hand wringing that Arnhelm wasn't immediately a uber-vibrant, 2014/15 CA peak-like institution, while offering no real alternative.
I don't think there's that much more to learn WA-wise than there is in terms of Europeian legislation. Both require a lot of training to really get right, and both require mentors to truly navigate. The differences in education are, to me, not overwhelming. If we need to look at every WA proposal to understand WA, and every law proposal to understand law than I think we're doing something wrong.

I don't expect Arnhelm to be active out of the gate, but we are now five months into the program's existence, we're past the starting phase. There has been some action in Arnhelm, as I say in the article, but by and large, there isn't much benefit to having Arnhelm that the Grand Hall doesn't already offer. Doesn't it matter that we've had more newcomer proposed legislation in the Grand Hall than Arnhelm in the past month? It should. What are we truly gaining by keeping Arnhelm opening? What training is being provided that legislators aren't able to get elsewhere? If the answer is none, or minimal, then let's devote our resources elsewhere.
 

GraVandius

Part Time Troll
Senate Speaker
Senator
Citizen
I don't expect Arnhelm to be active out of the gate, but we are now five months into the program's existence, we're past the starting phase. There has been some action in Arnhelm, as I say in the article, but by and large, there isn't much benefit to having Arnhelm that the Grand Hall doesn't already offer. Doesn't it matter that we've had more newcomer proposed legislation in the Grand Hall than Arnhelm in the past month? It should. What are we truly gaining by keeping Arnhelm opening? What training is being provided that legislators aren't able to get elsewhere? If the answer is none, or minimal, then let's devote our resources elsewhere.
What resources are you actually concerned about at this point?, my personal time? I'd generally like to reject the seeming idea that taking away something people are legitimately interested, atleast Cookie, Prim and Myself to the highest degree, will be an effective strategy of making them get involved in something else. If Arnhelm goes away and we replace it with nothing we have gained nothing. I'm not going to all of a sudden become an active member of the World Assembly after marginally ignoring it for years just because Arnhelm stops existing. This is a voluntary game and the best we can do to keep and retain members is to provide a diverse aray of experiences that get people involved. Arnhelm is a distinctly different experience from other opportunities in Euro, certainly WA, that a sizable handful of individuals are interested in. "Redirecting resources" is not a concept that can be applied here as it is everyone willfully and freely getting involved in a mini-game withing a side-quest of a game that is Nation States. The region is not currently, in any official way directing resources from anything else to Arnhelm so what on earth are you talking about?

In summary we are not losing anything from Arnhelm's continued existence, AND it provides a different and arguably interesting upside of building a unique system within Europeia to people who want to start from scratch.
 

Calvin Coolidge

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You raise a good point, "resources" in a game like NationStates do often boil down to time. So where we devote our time matters. As I've stated, and you have yet to address, we need to spend our time providing a place where legislators get a feel for Europeian legislating. I don't think Arnhelm does that as best it could, and it seems like Arnhelm has no interest in teaching people legislative skills that they can use in Europeia. If that's not what Arnhelm is, then they need to change their mission statement in the charter. Why should we outsource the substantive legislative discussions and proposals solely to the Grand Hall? We shouldn't. We should have substantive legislative discussions and proposals in areas where we can capitalize on them. An area that use the attention and "resources" (time) of our players is the World Assembly. It seems to me that Arnhelm is on the path to becoming a time sink with less benefit than we all had hoped it would be, and I want to avoid that path by redirecting things while we still can.
 

Prim

Senator
Citizen
Discord Moderator
You keep coming back to this "are newcomers getting proper training?" issue --

Arnhelm was not intended solely as a training ground for newcomers, period. That is one aspect, especially as Arnhelm is mainly keeping to Senate formatting and our deliberative process, but I repeat that Arnhelm is also a space for experienced citizens to discuss and sandbox with RL legislation separate from Europeian law.

I get it, you don't like the concept, wonderful, then don't join. Trying to knock down someone else's sandcastle because you think it looks pointless is the height of arrogance and disrespect.

I usually like your salty and unpopular opinion pieces here, Calvin, but this one seems way off-base and a tad spiteful.
 

Calvin Coolidge

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Vice Chancellor
Associate Justice
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You keep coming back to this "are newcomers getting proper training?" issue --

Arnhelm was not intended solely as a training ground for newcomers, period. That is one aspect, especially as Arnhelm is mainly keeping to Senate formatting and our deliberative process, but I repeat that Arnhelm is also a space for experienced citizens to discuss and sandbox with RL legislation separate from Europeian law.

I get it, you don't like the concept, wonderful, then don't join. Trying to knock down someone else's sandcastle because you think it looks pointless is the height of arrogance and disrespect.

I usually like your salty and unpopular opinion pieces here, Calvin, but this one seems way off-base and a tad spiteful.
I'll admit that I am putting a lot of weight on the training aspect of Arnhelm, but that's something I did a lot with the Citizens' Assembly as well, so as this has become the spiritual successor to the CA, I have migrated my lens to it instead. That being said, the mission statement for the charter reads "The City-State of Arnhelm is a collaborative, role-play body designed to allow for mock legislation on Real-Life topics, provide opportunities to develop legislation writing and formatting skills, and foster new methods for citizen interaction in an environment isolated from wider Europeian politics. "

So, there are three main aspects of Arnhlem. 1) Real Life legislation. 2) Legislative training. and 3) Isolated environment from wider Europeian politics. For Arnhelm to be successful, they need to provide all three of these things, right? If you take away legislative training and just have real life legislation and an isolated environment, then you've got the Republic Square. Similarly, if you take away real life legislation, then you are left with legislative training isolated from wider Europeian politics, or the Law Clerks. Lastly, if you take away the isolated environment, then you're left with real life legislation and legislative training, or the World Assembly. So, the value that Arnhelm provides relies on all three aspects being provided, or else something else in Europeia already covers it. And I think it is most important that Arnhelm doesn't become the Republic Square out of those three options, so that's why I believe it not being able to provide that is a pretty large failing of the system. I hope that gets my point across better, because your sandcastle attack is sort of out of nowhere, and I'd prefer not to be viewed as a spiteful actor.
 

Drecq

Honoured Citizen
Citizen
The point of the CA, as with Arnhelm in my opinion, is training. The primary point at least. And yes, as of right now the main contributors are mostly people that dont need training. Though we can all use more experience. Everyone can. But guess what? If only people who really need training participate then its pretty useless for training. The part where we actually get to legislating is new. How many active newcomers interested in legislating have actually joined the forum since we graduated to that part? For now let the experienced guys create some activity so that when interested newcomers show up they see theres an active place to go to participate. This shit aint helping though. Newcomer comes in and first thing they see is an op-ed declaring this thing that could have helped them dead.
It is definitely waaaaaay too early to decide the whole thing is a failure and chuck it, but shit like this certainly does its bit to try to make it a failure.
 
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