MCS policy faces new scrutiny

HUB.MN – It has been almost three years to the day since the MCS adopted its last major systemic reforms; however, change may again be on the horizon for the nearly-seventeen year-old intermicronational organization.

The increasingly-dominant presence of large micronations such as Shireroth, Stormark, Natopia and Alexandria, as well as the division of the community into two major alliances motivated Giles Melang to put forward a proposal that, if adopted, would limit the total Micras territory any one micronation can hold. The proposal is unique in that MCS Charter reforms are usually driven by the opposite desire to reduce minimum requirements so that micronations can retain their assigned territory longer through bouts of low or inactivity.

“We live in an age of, well, empires … through cleverness or sheer brute force (and popularity) [some can] extend their reach across the majority of Micras,” suggested Melang. Such a scenario unfolding, in his mind, would impede the progress of the smaller micronations, though admittedly he does not foresee it as an impending or given event. Rather, his proposal is meant to guard against the mere possibility in the future. To that end, his suggested territory limit on any one individual micronation is a generous one-half of the Micras map.

The proposal has generated wider discussion. “On Micras, anyone with a sufficiently narcissistic approach to the narrative development of their subject realms is free to bloat their holdings across the plant without reference to the inherently finite or cyclical nature of colonial power,” Krasniy Yastreb observed, proposing that the limitation instead apply to individuals than micronations.

Such an application is seen as a way to prevent one person from creating or controlling a majority of the Micras micronations, and therefore its territory, as their personal fiefdom. In such a lopsided situation, Yastreb worries that the amount of claimable land would run short for other participants and newcomers.”What is acquired is acquired forever, subject to the ruler’s activity level,” he suggested, referring to current policy governing forced territory reduction/removal by the MCS Administrative Council. Under that policy, the subject micronation’s population must maintain a minimum average of one post per two days, or similar wiki activity; failing to do so for three consecutive months may result in territory reduction or complete removal.

Like Melang, the current situation on Micras does not suggest that Yastreb’s worries are likely to become reality in the near future. Such a view is held by Barnaby Hands, a key member of the Administrative Council. “We’re far from reaching that problem yet,” said Hands, indicating his preference that the Administrative Council simply say to any person or micronation starting to dominate the map, “hey, leave some room”.

Other key members of the Administrative Council, including Chairman Craitman Pellegrino, have not voiced an opinion on the matter as of press time.

Micras activity at year-low

“So many <1 PPD nations …,” said Jezza Rasmus discouragingly in reply to the MCS’ thirty-eighth monthly forum check statistics released on March 1. And rightfully so, as the MCS reported that 16 of Micras’ 27 member micronations had yielded an average of less than one post-per-day on their national forums over the course of the month of February.

The benchmark of activity measures within the Micras community, the average PPD indicator has been central to the MCS’ management of the fictional world map project for much of its near sixteen-year history. At present, generally, a member micronation that fails to achieve a minimum of 10 posts per month (an average of 0.33 PPD) for three consecutive months may be declared inactive and unceremoniously have its territory reduced or otherwise be wholly removed from the Micras world map if it fails to receive any posts in that time frame.

Yet Rasmus’ discouragement may well be misplaced. While 16 of 27 micronations failing to achieve enough interest or participation to attain one PPD may be disappointing, this number has been fairly constant over the last year (see chart). This indicates that the phenomenon may not be as destabilizing to the community as one might think.

20160303-Chart-Micras-Activity

Of greater concern is the plunge in the average PPD across all Micras micronations that shows a steady decline in the overall activity of the community since March 2015. According to the thirty-eighth instalment of the forum check statistics, the community averaged a total of 66 PPD last month. That is in down from an average of 193 PPD a year earlier and the lowest of any month since.

The 66 PPD figure is expected to increase once the bastion of activity in the community, Stormark, reports its statistics; however, the figure nonetheless paints a dreary picture of activity in the community outside of Stormark’s borders.

Perhaps Rasmus’ discouragement, while statistically misplaced, is sadly warranted.

MCS objects to Hammish gripe

HUB.MN – In joining Alexandria’s objection to two appointments to the MCS Administrative Council made last month, Hamland has raised the ire of the organization’s Administrator General.

The June 3rd appointments of Jack Lewis and Jezza Rasmus to the Council as a Junior Councillor and Senior Councillor, respectively, was perceived by some to be an unfair increase in representation from the Bastion Union sector of the Micras community.

With Stormark’s candidate for the Council, Sigrdrifa, having lost out to Lewis and Rasmus during voting, the Stormark-bloc of micronations, consisting also of Alexandria and Hamland, immediately perceived a pro-Bastion Union bias in the process. Alexandria subsequently lodged a formal protest to the appointments after a June 21st decision of its parliament to support such a measure.

Hamland followed Alexandria with the tabling of a motion in its parliament to voice no-confidence in the new appointees to the Council that was passed unanimously and filed with the Council yesterday. The author of the Hammish motion, Donat Ravaillac, suggested in it that the appointments represented the “severe compromising of the organization’s impartiality,” while encouraging a more balanced representation between Bastion Union and non-Bastion Union micronations on the Council.

The MCS Administrator General, Craitman Pellegrino, took exception to the accusation of bias within the Council in favour of the Bastion Union. “I would personally say that one full Council member has a particular association with the Bastion, alongside our junior member; so 2/6,” he argued, noting that the total representation on the Council by Bastion Union micronationalists has consistently hovered around two individuals.

Pellegrino concluded his remarks by alluding to a political, as opposed to factual, motivation for the Alexandrian and Hammish objections. He noted, in a dry sarcasm, that if the representation of any one community within the Council was such a serious matter, there has yet to be any concerns voiced to half of the current Council being from the MicroWiki Community.

Unrealistic river on Micras map re-thought

HUB.MN — The humble – and geographically inaccurate – beginnings of the Micras map have caught up with it this week as individuals began to question whether its depicted rivers should be called such.

Under the microscope in particular is the river in eastern Keltia, the northeastern-most continent of the Micras map, which drains into two different seas and is, using the specified map scale, tens of kilometres wide at its most narrow points. The river is a by-product of the early drawing of the Micras map by the Micronational Cartography Society at a time when realistic geographic detail was not a primary concern.

In the more than decade since the river was drawn, the map has more and more been used as a basis for realistic geofiction undertakings, leading to geographical improbabilities inherent in the map raising concerns for simulationist micronations who wish to make realistic maps for their micronations. The issue of the Keltian river was thus raised by Shyriath Bukolos who is the developer of the popular Gloria Mundi presentation of the Micras map.

On the Gloria Mundi map, Bukolos had divided the river into two distinct bodies separated by a large tract of land (see image at the end of this article for comparison). “I made the decision not to follow [the MCS depiction of the river] in the name of geographic reality; rivers, by and large, do not behave like that, and in my soul I felt uneasy about portraying one as doing so,” explained Bukolos in seeking public input on whether his map should be changed to reflect the official MCS depiction.

In a poll on the matter, the large majority of individuals agreed that Bukolos’ map should accurately portray the official depiction, but offered support to re-classify the river to be a narrow sea to resolve lingering questions regarding the improbable nature of the river.

A former member of the Society’s Administrative Council, Ailin of Uantir, agreed with the reclassification. “Calling it a river is nonsense,” stated Ailin, explaining that the narrow sea option would be more realistic and explainable using plate tectonics, for example. He suggested that the Council address the issue officially as “unless that’s explained somehow or somewhere, we will always and forever deal with new people eventually noticing that the ‘river’ … is topographically ‘wrong’ and bring up the subject of ‘fixing’ it.”

If the decision is made by the Council to treat the river as a narrow sea, Ailin suggested that the map be re-drawn to make the feature wider and therefore reduce any potential confusion as to whether it is a river or a narrow sea when viewed against other rivers on the map.

As of press time, the Council has yet to undertake any formal discussion of the matter.

Side-by-Side Comparison of the Keltia River depiction. MCS Claims Map on the left; Gloria Mundi map on the right.
Side-by-Side Comparison of the Keltia River depiction. MCS Claims Map on the left; Gloria Mundi map on the right.

MCS moves away from activity-centric claims process

HUB.MN (CS) | As discussions continue in response to the controversial open letter seeking extensive reforms, the MCS Council has laid out proposals in an attempt to appease the boisterous group.

The chief concern of the group of nine micronations that signed the open letter was how the Micronational Cartography Society adheres to a strict system of using website or forum activity to determine territorial allotments. The concept of activity is a key measure used by the Council in determining a member micronation’s ‘health’ and whether it has enough momentum to support a sprawling territorial claim, or to retain the territory which it currently holds.

While not wanting to give into original demands that would significantly reduce the importance of activity in determining territorial integrity by requiring a member micronation to only have ten forum posts a month (from the current 30), MCS Administrator General Craitman Pellgrino has nonetheless signalled his willingness to compromise. In his counterproposal, Pellegrino suggests a more modest reduction in the minimum post count to an average of one post per two days, with a reduction being warranted if the member micronation fails to maintain this level of activity for a period of three months. Activity would also become just one of six key considerations in determining whether to grant a territorial expansion application, with cultural development, internal government, international collaboration, history, and current use of their territory (in-simulation) being considered in such applications.

Pellegrino has also agreed to allow one-man micronations to launch claims on Micras, subject to minimal conditions, while each micronationalist would be allowed to have up to three of their one-man micronations on the map at any given time. This would specifically appease the small group of micronationalists in the community who launch multiple micronations each year as cultural exploration projects.

Discussions continue as of press time, with no indication yet as to when the Council will vote to adopt the proposed reforms.

Crunching the numbers – Micras territory reductions

As the primary cartographic organization for the Simulationist Internet Micronational Community, the Micronational Cartography Society (‘the Society’) has played a key role in the depiction of micronational territory since December 2000 through its Micras world map projection.

The popularity of the Micras world map amongst Simulationist micronations has often resulted in politically-charged accusations of misconduct and favouritism on the part of the Society’s executive, even resulting in the founding of rival cartographic organizations, such as the Geographical Standards Organisation. Often such accusations were a result of the Society’s leadership being perceived as insensitive to the requirements of certain member micronations or otherwise favouring others. These accusations resulted from the autocratic structure of the Society in its first six years. As a means of standardizing its treatment of all member micronations, in order to eliminate such accusations, starting with the leadership of former Administrator-General V.C. Vehendi, the Society began to implement reforms from 2007 onward to address concerns over the democratic-deficit within the organization.1

Vehendi’s reforms would soon be followed in subsequent years by policies designed to alleviate concerns over favouritism playing into the allocation of territory on the Society’s primary political map projection, which it calls the “Claims Map”. This map displays the amount of territory held by individual member micronations. The amount of territory held is often in flux as a means of assigned a level of relative diplomatic power to each micronation, based on the micronation’s performance across several indicators: cultural development, population, and activity levels1. The latter of these indicators is often the most referenced, and forms the basis for the analysis undertaken in this article.

The authority for the acceptance and modification of all territorial claims on the Claims Map lies with the Administrative Council (“the Council”) that Vehendi originally founded. The Council has since 2009 adopted a systematic approach to the granting of territory that is directly-correlated to the active presence of the applicant or member micronation. A micronation must provide evidence that it is an active online community to support its initial territorial claim on the map. The Council accepts evidence such as the existence of a forum, bulletin board, or mailing list, and a website.2

The active and regular use of a forum, or other similar social platform, is critical in the administration of territorial claims by the Society, forming the basis of a system that must cater to the demand for limited territorial land. Aside from intensively-detailed cultural projects, such as exploration narratives, the easiest – and most commonly utilized – method by which a member micronation acquires further territory on the Claims Map is by demonstrating a heightened level of activity (which may or may not reflect the micronation experiencing a population gain).2

  1. MicrasWiki – Micronational Cartography Society [] []
  2. Micronational Cartography Society – Frequently Asked Questions [] []

Group of micronations seeks Micras reforms

HUB.MN (CS) | A group of nine prominent Micras micronations have delivered a plea to the Micronational Cartography Society (MCS) Administrative Council to implement several reforms.

The open letter, delivered by Orion Ilios, called for the Council to undertake changes with how it approaches the waiting period for new micronations wishing to obtain membership, how it treats one-man micronations, and how it deals with inactivity and expansions, among others. Said the letter, “It is the common belief that the Council has been approached in the past … to either review or institute these changes, but only for said suggestions to fall on deaf ears or unanimous dismissal,” calling the roadblocks to reform “frustrating”.

Among specific reforms proposed is the waiving of the three-month waiting period for a new micronation to gain territory on the Micras map and a greater focus on cultural development for justifying territorial expansions for one-man micronations. Also included is the discontinuation of the one post-per-day minimum activity level to avoid territorial reductions, with it being replaced with a more easily attainable ten-post-per-month minimum. A more professional representation of the Micras maps would also be implemented to replace the Microsoft Paint depiction that has existed since the organization was founded in 2000.

MCS Administrator General Craitman Pellegrino welcomed the letter’s concerns as a discussion point though he argued that many of the proposed reforms were grounded in a fundamental misunderstanding of how the organization operates. Others, including representatives for Hamland and Senya, were outright opposed to the proposals.

As of press time, the following micronations have signed onto the letter: Shireroth, Alexandria, Stormark, Safiria, Maraguo, Natopia, Gralus, Brettish Isles and the Free Cities.