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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:
The poke-in-the-eye-with-a-sharp-stick answer:
``Well, Y sucks even worse!''
(Not really to the point.)
The best-of-all-possible-worlds answer:
``Well, that's the price you pay for G
(Begs the question of whether you couldn't have G
and H even without F.)
The that's-not-a-bug-it's-a-feature answer:
``What's wrong with F? F is
It is this last answer that is the basis for the game of
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
``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
``On my keyboard, the numbers keys are in the order 8642019753.
This is much better than the usual 1234567890 because...''
- ``...because the commonly typed digits in the calendar year, 19 and
20, are always right under your index fingers.''
- ``...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.''
- ``...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.)
- All the commands in my operating system are made of
punctuation characters only, rather than of letters.
- The disk drives on my computer lose all the information stored
on them when you turn off the power.
- My computer is controlled by foot pedals instead of a keyboard...
- The school of therapy to which my analyst subscribes believes
that the best path to mental health is to re-enact the
source of the patient's trauma in the doctor's office...
- To type an extended command in my favorite editor, you must
hold down one key with your left pinky while typing a
multi-word sequence of letters with the other fingers.
- The seat on my bicycle faces backwards instead of forwards...
- My diet consists only of raisins and frankfurters...
Want to play?
Just send any message to email@example.com.
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.
- The number names in my language follow no particular system of
- My yoyo doesn't come back up.
- My umbrella is concave upwards.
- My Rice Krispies(tm) are individually wrapped.
- All of the lights and appliances in my home are powered
pnuematically via a network of flexible rubber hoses.
- 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).
- In my house, the walls, floors, and ceilings are all surfaced
entirely with mirrors.
- 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...
- My car has no wheels. Instead, it has four extremely
powerful springs. The car moves by hopping up to 50 feet in any direction.
- 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...
- 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 ...
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
- 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
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...
In my world, all organized religions are run by the Publisher's
Clearinghouse Company. This is much better than the ordinary way
I have some web pages up about Round
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]