by Max Barry

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by The Free Land of Southern World Assembly Initiative. . 251 reads.

Frequently Asked Questions about SWAN



Frequently and Infrequently Asked Questions (WIP)

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions as well as some infrequent ones.

Table of Contents
  1. General
    Contains general questions and issues.

  2. Data
    About statistics and censuses.

  3. History
    About the history of this initiative.

  4. Staffs
    About the people who are running this initiative and how to contact them.

  5. Game mechanics
    Some information about the delegate, endorsements, invasions, coups, and influence.

  6. Technical matters
    About the technical infrastructure that automates our initiative.

  7. Portrait
    About the Portrait of the South Pacific.

This part ontains general questions and issues

How do I do X?
Firstly, you should read our how-to guide which covers everything you need to know to participate this initiative. You can also read the game's FAQ for answers to more questions. If these along with this FAQ don't solve your questions, consider contacting us.

I didn't receive a World Assembly invitation email!
From the NationStates FAQ:

First, check your nation settings and make sure that you have entered an e-mail address, and that the address is correct. If it is, your e-mail is probably being blocked by an anti-spam filter. This might be something in your e-mail client, but more likely is a program running on your ISP's server. Anti-spam filters aren't perfect, and so sometimes block e-mail from NationStates. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do about this.

How do I disable the notifications that occur when dispatches mention my nation?
Click Notices at the top bar, click Subscriptions at the top right corner, uncheck Dispatch Mention, and then click Update.

Do the awards have any real value?
In theory, they only have spiritual value. But practically, they give you the advantage of popularity. Award volumes are published in areas people will easily see, so if you are featured on them, you will receive a great promotion and people will know you, endorse you, and maybe even make friends with you. The advantage of popularity is crucial if you want to, for example, win elections. (Local Council elections)

What can I do to further promote myself aside from getting awards?
You can write dispatches to show off your awards or anything else about your nation. To do that, click Dispatches in the left bar, click the Write Dispatch button at the top-right, choose your preferred category, enter the title and write away! Formatting can be done with a modified version of BBCode specific to NationStates; you can find a guide here. After that, just click Post.
You can also be active chatting with other nations on our Regional Message Board (RMB). Make sure to read the the RMB Etiquette.
And speaking of the Regional Message Board, you can also post on the Regional Message Board of Knowhere, which is a region specifically for short-form roleplaying by nations in the South Pacific.

Where can I find the logos, award badges, and other graphics used by this initiative?
You can check out our LinkImgur account.

About statistics and censuses

How do you collect the data?
All data comes from the daily data dump, which is a record of many statistics and census values of all nations and regions at a certain point in time. Most of the data processing is done by a Python library called LinkNetworkX. The data is archived in a LinkSQLite database.

Why do you show only a certain number of nations on the censuses?
NationStates dispatches have a maximum character limit. Displaying all nations on the census dispatches would quickly exceed this limit, as there are hundreds (and, hopefully soon, thousands) of nations to show.

Are there any known flaws in the calculations?

The values are off by only a small margin (around 1-10 from the real value) so it shouldn't be a problem for the award rankings.

Why did my number on the number of nations endorsing census drop even though I didn't withdraw my endorsement from anyone?
A nation you endorsed left the region or resigned from the World Assembly, which makes the endorsement invalid. A nation can only endorse another nation if both of them are in the World Assembly and in the same region.

Why do I only see 2 endorsements on the endotarting census even though I endorsed 10 nations?
This is because the software that manages this initiative does not track things in real time. The data comes from the daily data dump, which is generated every 24 hours. Therefore, if you endorse a nation and then that nation leaves the region or resigns from the World Assembly before the data dump is updated, the endorsement won't be recorded. This explanation applies to other similar errors such as the change values you see on the endorsement count, the number of nations endorsing censuses, and the statistics dispatch.

Will the problems be addressed?
Yes. In the near future, we will switch from using the data provided by the daily data dump to data provided by the game's API since it updates in near real-time.

About the people who are running this initiative and how to contact them

Who is running this?
This initiative is informally organized and run by a group of government institutions and individuals. Generally, the following institutions and individuals participate in the everyday running of this initiative:

Who participated in the creation of this initiative?

This initiative would not be running if it wasn't for the valuable advice from our friends in the North Pacific, most notably Asta (SillyString) and McMasterdonia.

And finally, the original idea behind this initiative as well as similar initiatives such as the North Pacific's World Assembly Development Program and Europeia's World Assembly Advancement Program came from R3naissanc3r.

How do I contact the staff?
Please read this.

About the history of this initiative

Why was the SWAN initiative created?
The idea came up in December 2017. The South Pacific was the feeder (regions where nations are founded) with the lowest endorsement count on the World Assembly Delegate. This low endorsement count severely lowered our voting power and influence on the world stage at the time, and our endorsement cap was similarly low to avoid security problems. All of this hurt the region's activity and attraction to new World Assembly (WA) nations. To change this situation, a World Assembly program like in The North Pacific was suggested. Such a program encourages nations to join the World Assembly and endorse each other via the usage of propaganda positive encouragement messages and awards.

How was this project planned and organized?
There was no strict schedule, and for much of the time it was rather a hobby than a formal obligation (a program like this is not required by South Pacifican legislation). The development history of the initiative can be summarized as follow:

  • Mid-January 2018: The development of the software that helps automate many tasks of this initiative started. At this point in time, it could already do basic data analysis and upload that analysis to a dispatch.

  • End of January 2018: The software can render a crude image with no background or annotations. At this point, it already had proper color and size mapping for nations.

  • Start of February 2018: The generated image now had proper background and annotations.

  • End of February 2018: The generated image could now be automatically uploaded to Imgur. Integration with a Google Spreadsheet was also added.

  • March 2018: Finished integration of SQLite to archive data of nations for awards. Started collecting data every day for testing.

  • Apri 2018l: The first award was published for testing purposes.

  • End of May 2018: Fixed various bugs that caused some nations that resided outside of the South Pacific to make their way into our data. Nations that resigned from WA are now removed from the data archive. Added support for multiple dispatch updating. Added some percentage statistics and census generating capability. There was some discussion with people from the North Pacific to get more ideas and advice.

  • Start of June 2018: Formal planning began with the Ministry of Regional Affairs, the Delegate, the Council on Regional Security, and some other government officials. Changed the strategy of calculating the number of endorsements given by a nation to increase accuracy. The high-resolution version of Portrait images were now being uploaded to Google Drive.

  • Mid June 2018: Started writing dispatches for the initiative. Added numbers that indicate how statistics variate. Began working on the graphics used by this initiative.

  • End of June 2018: Dispatch writing was finished, and the proofreading process began.

  • Begin of July 2018: Added new features like highlighting endorsement cap violators and monitoring Delegate transitions.

  • End of July 2018:Finished proofreading and graphics. Released a test award volume on July 26th. Began integration tests of the main system on July 27th.

  • August 1st, 2018: The official launch!

Game mechanics
Some information about delegate, endorsements, invasions, coups, and influence

Who is the WA Delegate, and why is the position such a big deal?
The WA Delegate of a region is the nation with the most endorsements in that region. The Delegate has total administrative power over the region. They can edit the region's World Factbook Entry (WFE), change the flag, suppress messages on the Regional Message Board (RMB), ban and/or eject nations from the region, establish/withdraw embassies to other regions, and much more (note that user-created regions with an active founder may not have a WA Delegate position with full executive powers - this does not apply to the South Pacific, though). Since the WA Delegate has so much power, the job is crucial for regional security purposes. Next to the WA Delegate, regions can have multiple regional officers. These are nations that have specific powers, granted by the Delegate, related to their job (for example, the nation that is responsible for foreign affairs can be granted only the embassy management power, as this is needed for their job). In the South Pacific, the regional officers are usually elected government officials. A list of them along with their administrative powers is available here.

How can a nation become the Delegate?
A nation will automatically become the Delegate of a region when it has the highest endorsement count in that region. Please note that this process doesn't happen immediately, but rather the Delegate is calculated by the game twice a day (see below for more information). That is only the mechanical process, however - choosing who to put into the delegacy using the mechanical means is different (see below).

How do you choose who will become the delegate?
In large regions such as the South Pacific, choosing the Delegate purely by whoever manages to rack up the highest endorsement count is not feasible, as a nation with bad intentions can gather many endorsements from nations that are unaware to launch themselves into the delegacy and abuse their powers. The game mechanic is just a tool for making a nation the Delegate, but deciding who the Delegate will be is typically done using other means. There are regions that have a monarchic system of government, in which the presiding Delegate or a defined "leader" decides who the next delegate will be. Democratic regions, such as the South Pacific, will usually hold elections in some fashion to decide who the next Delegate should be. You can read more about our elections Linkhere. Once an election decides who the next delegate should be, the government will tell nations to endorse the nation that won the election so that their endorsement count will be the highest in this region, and the game will then make them the Delegate of the region.

When does the Delegate transition happen?
The delegate transition in all regions only happens at a period called the update of the game. There are two such periods in a day, called major update which occurs at 12 AM EST for roughly an hour, and minor update which occurs at 12 PM EST for roughly 45 minutes. These are when the game updates data that it doesn't track in real-time, and includes the influence of nations, what nation should be the Delegate of a region, and more.

What are invasions? Raids? Coups?
A nation automatically becomes the delegate of a region when it has the most endorsements in that region. A nation or a bunch of nations can organize so that their endorsement count becomes higher than the current delegate and therefore, overthrow the region. A raw brute-force takeover of a region in this way is called an invasion or a raid. When nations organize to have other nations in the region endorse them to take over the Delegacy in a way that is not lawful in that region, or when a nation becomes Delegate legally but then decides to overthrow the government with their position, is called a coup. Usually, coups are accompanied by revolutionary propaganda and such.

Coups or invasions on a large region with more than 500 nations are rare, typically occuring only about once every 1-2 years. However, invasions of smaller regions happen every day as part of military gameplay.

How can a coup or invasion be defeated?
In a nutshell, just make the old overthrown delegate or another reliable nation that sides with you have the delegacy again by making their endorsement count higher than the enemy Delegate. This sounds easy but it is extremely hard and requires real planning and strategy. The difficulty is significantly reduced when the region has many friendly nations with a high endorsement count and high influence.

If you are interested in invasions and defending regions from invasion, consider participating in military gameplay by joining a military such as our LinkSouth Pacific Special Forces.

What is the influence thing and how does it work?
Please read the benefits dispatch which explains this.

Why does having many high endorsement count and high influence friendly nations help us defeat coups and invasions?
A ban or an ejection from a region costs the nation an amount of influence proportional to the amount of influence that the nation to be banned or ejected has. Therefore, nations with a high endorsement count will have more influence, which in turn will be harder to ban and/or eject by an invader or couper. Furthermore, having many nations with a high endorsement count means that there are many candidate nations that can be used by the liberating forces to usurp the invader or couper.

How exactly does the influence count increase?
It is known that a nation with no endorsement or World Assembly membership that was logged in no later than 6 days ago will have the influence increases by 1 naturally over time. If a nation has endorsements, the increase rate is 1 + endorsement count. The increase happens at update times of the game. There are two updates per day, so influence will change 2 times a day.

Why does my influence drop?
It is usually because:

  • You aren't in the World Assembly anymore, or have significantly fewer endorsements, so your influence will decay to a certain point.

  • You have stayed in another region and then migrated here. (This is an "illusion", read the question below for more information)

Overall, this will only happen if you have a relatively high influence count, more than 5000.

Why does migrating from one region to another region reduce my influence?
Actually, it doesn't! Internally, a nation has many influence scores, one for each region it has stayed in. A nation that has been in region A and B can have, for example, 120 influence in A and 90 influence in B. The number you see on the chart opened using the Trend button on the nation page, which is called the Soft Power Disbursement Rating (SPDR), is actually the sum of all these influence counts, not the influence count of your nation in the region your nation is currently in. When you leave a region, the influence count of your nation in the old region decays, while at the same time, the influence count in the new region increases. If you have accumulated a lot of influence is the old region, when you migrate to a new one, if the influence gain in the new region is smaller than the influence drop in the old region, the SPDR number will go down. Eventually, the gain will be larger than the loss and the SPDR number will go up again.

Only the influence you have in this region matters. The old influence is useless for this region, so you shouldn't care too much about it. The SPDR number is just the sum of all of them, so it is only a good measure of your current influence level in this region if you don't have influence in any other region.

I want to know more about influence!
You can read this article.

Technical matters
About the technical infrastructure that automates our initiative

So, what exactly is the tech thing?
It is a small piece of software written in Python which automates many tasks such as recording endorsements of nations and collecting various statistics of the region. In short, any task which is too overwhelming to do by a human.

Where can I get the software?
Because the current software is just an experiment rather than something properly designed to be user-friendly, it is not released publicly at the moment. However, you can contact United States of Vietnam to get it.

Why does everything update every 24 hours?
The software collects data from the daily data dump, a big file that contains data of every nation in the game. This file is updated every 24 hours by the game so the software can only run once a day to update the dispatches with new data..

About the Portrait of the South Pacific

How should I open the high-resolution version of the Portrait?
Any image viewing utility or the image previewer of Google Drive should be able to open it. However, if you want to be able to zoom or move around without lagging or blurring, you need a more specialized viewer such as Linknomacs. You can also use Microsoft Paint, as it handles large image files quite well.

How is the Portrait created?
The Portrait (Called a graph in graph theory terminology) is created automatically by a graph drawing software called LinkGraphviz. The software which runs this initiative feeds the data of nations from the daily data dump to Graphviz for drawing. The result is a raw image with circles and lines but with no annotation or a solid background. The grey background along with the annotation text are added in post-processing by a Python image processing library called LinkPillow.

What layout algorithm does the Portrait use?
The implementation of force-directed spring-model algorithm based on the Linkapproach of Kamada and Kawai by the graph drawing software Graphviz (neato) is used.

How long does it take to render the Portrait?
At 8000x6000 resolution, with an Intel Core i3 Sandy Bridge with 2 cores and 3.3Ghz clock speed, it usually takes around 2 to 3 minutes to render the raw image. Post-processing takes up an additional time of around 6 seconds.

If you want to know more about the SWAN initiative, check out our dispatch index.

This initiative is an informal joint effort between the Ministry of Regional Affairs, the Local Council, the Council on Regional Security, and some nerds who have no life. (Read more about who run this here)