WA Commend & Condemn controversy
The WA Commend & Condemn controversy saw the World Assembly subject to substantial changes following the introduction on May 27, 2009 of new proposal categories allowing players to commend or condemn specific nations or regions. Given the changes were introduced without the knowledge of the moderators or players, and that the new categories self-evidently contradicted one of the basic principles of the rules for WA proposals, the "C&Cs", as they would be dubbed, were the subject of a substantial and quite fractious argument. The situation led to the creation of the WA Security Council and relegation of the WA to the function of "General Assembly".
- Now for something fun. The World Assembly has just gained two new Resolution categories:
- A Commendation expresses the World Assembly's warm support and approval for the nation or region in question; a Condemnation, its outrage and dismay. Either way, the recipient is branded with the graphic you see above, ensuring their fame (or infamy) is broadcast for all to see.
- The usual Resolution rules apply: you need to be a WA member with at least two endorsements to Propose a Commendation or Condemnation, and passed Resolutions can be repealed (which removes the badge).
- And, of course, exactly when and why these Resolutions should be employed is a matter for World Assembly members. But I'm sure you'll think of something. - Max Barry's announcement introducing the changes
The enthusiasm with which the new categories were introduced did little to convince observers that the new categories did not fundamentally violate the metagaming section of the WA proposal rules, which forbade specific mention of a particular nation or region. Furthermore, while the first commendation to be submitted was in honour of Neville, bartender at the Strangers' Bar, the first to be backed by serious telegram campaigning were gameplay-oriented.
|Wait, I get it, you're saying that those Gameplay types are going to rush in and get their muddy feet over everything. They won't appreciate the WA's dignity and stature and will use it as their personal trophy case. Right? -- [violet] reacts to complaints|
Making reference to "the player behind" a nation or to regional activities such as invasion had always been illegal in the WA. When this contradiction was pointed out by WA forum participants, game admin [violet] reacted by saying the WA was "stagnating" and had "already debated pretty much every kind of legislation there is". 
When it became clear the C&Cs were only the first step of a plan to completely transform the WA from what [violet] dubbed an "irrelevant" roleplay-oriented institution to a gameplay tool, concern grew. This eventually led to the sectioning off of C&Cs into a separate "Security Council" nominally distinct from the "General Assembly" - though both used the same mechanism, and WA players were unable to vote on legislation while SC resolutions were at vote.
A further problem was that the initial announcement had stated that the "usual Resolution rules apply", yet they clearly did not. Four C&Cs reached quorum, with more on their way, yet there was no ruleset in place. Quintessence of Dust suggested all quorate C&Cs be deleted (with a temporary moratorium until the rules were finalised, exactly as had happened with the Bookkeeping category - other categories had been introduced with rules already prepared), a move that Kandarin, the subject of the first Commendation, opposed.
In the end, the C&Cs did go to vote, leading to the complaint that the fourth wall had been broken. (This was not a concern so much with the first C&C at vote as it was with a string of others that followed.) Numerous arguments persisted, over the possibility of reconciling gameplay with WA roleplay, the nature of "gameplay IC", what form the rules should take when they did eventually appear, whether the players or mods should write the rules, and, well, pretty much everything. [violet] did eventually dub the changes "a mistake".  By which time many viewed it as a bit too late, really.
In a Christmas news post dated December 23, 2009, Max Barry acknowledged the continuing discontent over the poor implementation of the new WA features, and said, "we still have to finish cleaning up that mess." 
The first change saw the addition of two new categories; a third, Liberation was later added. The World Assembly was split into two distinct Councils for the purposes of voting (though membership, delegacy, etc. was shared by both): the General Assembly voted on traditional WA issues, the Security Council on new gameplay ones. Quorate proposals from the two Councils would alternate. Resolutions were also renumbered: Condemn Macedon had been Resolution #51, but it was renumbered to SC Resolution #1. The renumbering of resolutions was perhaps the only thing all parties agreed on. Sorry, sorry: many viewed the renumbering as perhaps the only thing all parties agreed on.
Regulars of both Councils complained for months about the inefficiency of the shared queue and requested that the two chambers be given their own queues and sidebar links, arguing that it would help enhance play for both branches. Admins brushed off these requests, stating that the problem was not sufficiently "catastrophic" to warrant diverting admin resources, until February 2010, when a separate voting system for both Councils was implemented. 
Despite the occasional statement by game staff that the changes were meant to "bring together" the two groups of players, the controversy arguably increased divides between the two. During the early stages of the controversy, for instance, gameplay- and roleplay-oriented regions mocked each other's arguments on the changes with satirical "news posts."   Later, members of Equilism voted against Commend Jey on the basis that they had not liked WA players' conduct during the initial discussions and associated Jey, who was being commended for his activities in the United Nations, with this. Several WA players resigned, and the traditional competition to win the delegacy in Antarctic Oasis, one of the most active regions in the WA to that point, was cancelled.