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You're undoubtedly familiar with `OS wars' and `editor wars' in which partisans of various pieces of computer software argue over which is best. If not, here's a short summary:

One person will disparage software X, pointing out a feature F and complaining that is it a big problem. Partisans of X will reply in one of three ways:

  1. The poke-in-the-eye-with-a-sharp-stick answer:

    ``Well, Y sucks even worse!''

    (Not really to the point.)

  2. The best-of-all-possible-worlds answer:

    ``Well, that's the price you pay for G and H.''

    (Begs the question of whether you couldn't have G and H even without F.)

  3. The that's-not-a-bug-it's-a-feature answer:

    ``What's wrong with F? F is GREAT!''

It is this last answer that is the basis for the game of Advocacy.

Advocacy goes like this: An apparently stupid variation or feature of a common technology is selected; either it is drawn from a book of examples specially prepared for this game, or one of the players just makes one up.

The example is announced to the rest of the players. The formula is:

``On the version of X that I use, it is like Y instead of the more usual Z. This is much better than the usual arrangement because...''

The other players anonymously contribute reasons why Y is good and Z is bad. Players vote on the `best' (most ingenious, most absurd, etc.) reasons. The owner of the best reason gets a reward and possibly gets to select the next technology feature.

For example:

``On my keyboard, the numbers keys are in the order 8642019753. This is much better than the usual 1234567890 because...''
  1. ``...because the commonly typed digits in the calendar year, 19 and 20, are always right under your index fingers.''
  2. ``...because the labor of typing the digits is distributed evenly between the two hands, instead of being given more to the left hand than to the right.''
  3. ``...because if you mispress a key, the resulting digit is always quite different from the one you should have pressed, making it more likely that the error will be detected---except in the 1/0 case. But often the transposition of a 0 with a 1 is often in a number like 1,000,000, where it will be quite obvious.''

No doubt the ingenious readers of this page will be able to come up with better justifications.

I find this particular example very funny; I'm sure with just a little effort, one could come up with a hundred examples that are much more amusing. For example:

(Experienced players are invited to spot the ringer in the list above.)

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On 10 March, 2000, we had just started round 29. I often forget to update these web pages for a really long time, but that doesn't mean the game is stopped; it just means I forgot to update the web pages.

  1. The number names in my language follow no particular system of organization...
  2. My yoyo doesn't come back up.
  3. My umbrella is concave upwards.
  4. My Rice Krispies(tm) are individually wrapped.
  5. All of the lights and appliances in my home are powered pnuematically via a network of flexible rubber hoses.
  6. In my country, the government requires that all sports be played using standard rules, but with an American football instead of the regulation projectile (be it a ball, a puck, a frisbee, or whatever).
  7. In my house, the walls, floors, and ceilings are all surfaced entirely with mirrors.
  8. My style is terse. Maybe it is minimalist. Sentences have four words. Some have fewer. None have more. (I count contractions twice.) This beats ordinary writing. It's much better. Here's why...
  9. My car has no wheels. Instead, it has four extremely powerful springs. The car moves by hopping up to 50 feet in any direction.
  10. The volunteer firefighters in our fair city wear uniforms made of aluminum foil and crepe paper. These are the best firefighters' uniforms yet devised because...
  11. My face (in fact my whole head) is on upside down. This isn't a bug - it's my features! And they're laid out much better than yours because ...
  12. In my country, our political leaders and representatives are selected by means of a nationally televised staring contest. All the appropriate candidates are herded into a gigantic plaza and, at noon, begin staring at one another. The last one to blink gets to be Ruler of the Free World for the next six months. This system is obviously superior to public elections because...
  13. As mid-term examination time approaches I think it appropriate if we ponder what the world would be like if you are born knowing everything, and you have to study in order to lose knowledge.
  14. I'm a fisherman by trade. When it comes time for me to put food on the table for my family, well, that means fish. But I don't catch fish the same way these namby-pamby "modern" "fishermen" do, with their "trawlers" and fancy "nets". I catch fish the same way my pappy and grand-pappy did-- by diving from a hot-air balloon into deep water armed only with a whoopee cushion and a cudgel. This is far superior to newfangled "fishing" techniques because...
  15. In my world, all organized religions are run by the Publisher's Clearinghouse Company. This is much better than the ordinary way because...

I have some web pages up about Round 1.

Mailing List Archive.

Note: I never update these pages. They are very much out of date. Nevertheless, the game itself is going on and has been without a major interruption, since 1998. We are presently in the middle of round 50. [11 November 2001]