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Quod Scripsi Scripsi

One of the fundamentals of how a project as large as IB has become is known as QSS -- quod scripsi scripsi -- and means "What I have written I have written" [Jn. 19 v.22]. In essence, this fundamental governs how canonical facts internal to IB are to be respected as unalterable and governs how established facts may be overturned. Even when the proponent of a fact ceases to take part in the IB project, these contributions shouldn't be swept away. These facts as they stand may be contested by a later idea, but have precedence by right of seniority. Any alteration to an established fact must be discussed and generally accepted before the violation of QSS is allowed as canonical. QSS has an alternate name, OGG -- 'O Gegrapha Gegrapha -- and means the same, only in the considerably more erudite Greek. The latter term is rarely encountered, but is 100% synonymous with QSS.

An old article from November 2002 on QSS-OGG from the Secret Archives:

Some thoughts on the philosophy of working in Ill Bethisad, the principal of OGG (or QSS in the Vulgar Tongue) and also on how to treat new members and their ideas, &c, &c.

I've been pleasantly surprised by the continual interest folks have in IB (at times quiet for some months, then awakening suddenly) and all the new history and such that's being developed.

I do have some concerns, though, and some thoughts on integrating all the information we've had recently, especially in light of new members' contributions.

As far as conciliation, I have no troubles with anyone taking up a part of IB and working on its conhistory *there* (after all, that's what IB is there for!). The only things I don't want to see are altering the "preexisting territories" of someone else (without their permission or cooperation) and altering a preexisting Fact without really good reason. I've always thought of that, the principal of o gegrapha gegrapha - what has been written has been written - as a sort of philosophy that binds the place together. It's a philosophy flexible enough to allow wide creative latitude; but just strong enough to reign in wild and uncontrolled development that threaten to destroy the whole project (or maybe worse, send individual participants away in a huff due to needless or overbearing restraint).

Facts *there* are often fleeting things mentioned in passing - and newcomers are often unaware of the years of discussion and banter that have made the world the way it is. Those facts shouldn't be tossed aside too readily, just because we fancy something else right now; as there has always been a respect for the internal consistency of the place.

The 1898 War and the 1898 independence of Florida and Cuba, while relatively unimportant thus far (Nov. 2002), are just two niggling little things like L/s/d currency or British Australia. They're old ideas long part of the Framework we work within.

Thus far, only one preexisting fact has been altered (and I think that the decision, if decision it really be, was for the better, as it has made for a wildly interesting world). That fact as far as I can figure is something like "world history *there* should be largely the same as *here*, except in that Western Britain will at all costs become Latin speaking". Naturally, later history would be different as Kemr made its effects on the world through colonisation and a rather different British history; but the only places so affected were to be those directly affected *here* by Britain. In the beginning, things were quite different: the rest of the world was like it was *here*. But all the rest of us came in and found out something quite different; and we had to have a way of keeping track of it all. [Andrew said it fairly well last year: "If I gave everyone freedom to work and rework Ill Bethisad it is because I was dismayed and reluctant to restrain any of it at an early stage."..."Instead of designing Ill Bethisad as an alternative history it is becoming a shared world for constructed cultures."]

But we still need (and perhaps need now even more than before) a way of keeping track of it all. I would propose that the best way of doing that and still discovering a pleasantly surprising history of *there* is to keep in mind what has gone before and weave our own histories amongst those given facts, even if the facts get in the way of our own whims and desires at times. This "Cultures of Ill Bethisad" page is intended to be a resource that serves the need for a place to "keep track of it all". It is by no means complete, though. Each Member of Lla Societad is encouraged to build a website that chronicles the individual histories and languages of his own part of Ill Bethisad (and there are quite a few Members that have done just that). Some are unable or unwilling to do so; and this page can, and should, also serve as a (temporary) repository for such information until that Member can make a page of his own. Naturally, there will be plenty of data, odds-n-ends and trivia that fit no where else easily. This page is a repository of that as well. In conjunction with this Page, the next best archive is John Cowan's archive of the old (and now defunct) Sessiwn Kemres, a private email list dedicated to the Brithenig language and the nascent Ill Bethisad universe.

Joe said: "A small point - The 'quod scripsit scripsit' rule is not necessarily a hard and fast rule. Or at least, it shouldn't be. In my opinion, if someone wants to violate the rule, this may be done if the general opinion agrees with the violator."

I replied: Actually, the rule is there for a reason, and that reason is to enforce some cohesion to the work of more than 25 people over several years. Some of whom are no longer active and can not defend their parts of this creation. It is a means of reigning in and channeling everyones' creativity; it protects things that have already been worked out; it helps create continuity between all the threads that make up the tapestry and helps ensure that the tapestry is roughly the same shape at both ends.

You are correct: the rule ought not be a Law set in stone where infractions are punished by outcasting into the Void; but it has to be more than just a cute philosophy or a guideline we can quote and then cheerily ignore when the fancy strikes.

If you want to tell me that Kemr doesn't exist or that the SNOR sacked all of Western Europe or that the NAL ought to be a Spanish realm - then we have to see many good arguments that override all the history and tradition that's been written up thus far.

The rule is more a matter of facts than our opinions. I can't even begin to calculate how many times I've said "oo, that sounds wonderful" to someone's neat idea; only to have John respond "but we've already established something else..."

Jan van Steenbergen said very nicely: "It means that when something has become canonical (which basically is the case when someone writes something and no one objects), it cannot be changed or undone. It is a very important principle in IB; without it, things would become a mess.

Imagine that you write a book along with someone else. He/she writes a paragraph, then you write a paragraph, and so on. Now what would happen if he or she would suddenly say: actually, I don't like paragraph nr. 2, I want to change it completely? It would mean that everything that was built on it (or around it) becomes invalid! Something you simply can't afford in a collaborative project."

Correspondence concerning these musings:

To: [email protected]
From: "Padraic Brown" <[email protected]> 
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2002 14:41:35 -0800 (PST) 
Subject: Re: [conculture] Re: IB: Philosophy was RE: Ibero America through 
19th century. 

--- Jan van Steenbergen <[email protected]> wrote:

> But the data on IB are numerous, and scattered all over a few lists and
> other places that even its greatest fan might not be aware of. Your
> reference page BTW is a very good beginning. 

Thank you. It's clear that some kind of general reference is in order. And a 
reference that deals with the important things - a lot of what you'll find 
in the archives is "chat" and tangential discussion.  It can be hard to sift 
through all that. We discussed religion and Brithenig a lot; neither of those 
are vital to what you need to know about IB now.

> No country exists in full isolation. If you write the alternate history of 
> your country, you simply cannot avoid entering somebody else's territory 
> from time to time. But what to do when the other territory is some kind of 
> terra incognita? 

That's a little easier. The Proprietor of such territory has great lattitude 
in what can be done. So long as space aliens or super advanced native 
technologies don't come into the scene, almost anything can be.

> What shall I do when, for example, Russia has some business with Mongolia, 
> and nothing has ever been written about it? Just presume that Mongolia looks 
> the same as *here*?

Yes. _Until_ you tell us something different. And if something important was 
already known about Mongolia, that point would sooner or later come up.

> Add it to the territories that are mine and from that moment on treat it as 
> such? Or throw it into the group under the header "What shall we do with 
> Mongolia?". Sometimes the answer is not so obvious as it seems.

But not an entirely difficult thing to deal with. You get more problems when 
you start dealing in a territory whose history directly impinges on the 
history of another preexisting territory. If someone were to take up Germany 
as their territory as make a Romance language there from long ago - that would 
be problematic, because there is the chance that their existence would 
adversely affect the Saxon invasions of Britain. Therefore, there would be no 
Kemr. Etc.

> It would be good if someone, who has been around for a long time and who has 
> a better overview than the others, could act as an arbiter in such cases, 
> eventually with the power to make an ultimate decision, if necessary. 

That's basically me or John or both. I would hope not to have to use that 
power. I'd much rather work with persuasion, negotiation and gentle teaching of
*there*'s facts. Telling people What Shall Be - especially new commers - can 
leave a bad taste in the mouth. I would want all us participants to have fun
doing this. Just that, with the fun, comes some simple guidelines and 
recognition of the fact that we _don't_ have limitless possibilities in what 
we can do.

An exchange on 21-March-2004 in Conculture illustrates some key concepts and applications of the QSS principal in action:

> Padraic Brown wrote:
Jan van Steenbergen wrote:

> > If you want to tell me that Kemr doesn't
> > exist or
> > that the SNOR sacked all of Western Europe or
> > that the NAL ought to be a Spanish realm -
> > then
> > we have to see many good arguments that
> > override
> > all the history and tradition that's been
> > written up thus far.
> Of course, all fine and nice. But what happens
> when someone expresses the will
> to withdraw his own creation from IB? 

That has to be done very carefully, as so many of
our creations impact on so many others.

> What would happen if, say, Kristian (who
> will surely forgive me for abusing him as an
> example) suddenly wrote: "Hey
> guys, I no longer believe in the SR. I've
> decided that from now on it has
> always consisted of 3655 independent
> principalities." 

That could be problematic, because this has not
been the assumption up til now. IF he wanted to
use that idea, we might have to persuade him to
devise a way to achieve it in the future, rather
than rewrite the past.

Such a person is, of course, also 100% welcome to
use that kind of radical idea as an alt-history
_within_ IB (and this sort of thing will not be
new to IB either!); or he could experiment
outside of this project using IB's framework.
There's no reason we couldn't help him with it if
he wanted.

> or "Hey guys, I'm totally
> fed up with y'all, I'm leaving IB, and I'm
> taking the SR with me, whether you
> like it or not!". 

That, at least, we've dealt with. This is, of
course, a sad thing; and I think we might try and
persuade him to "leave it as it is", even if he
won't stay. In the same way characters are
written out of soap operas - such a person that
decided to leave the Merry Association in that
way should consider a way to peacefully depart
without upsetting the apple cart unnecessarily.

> That would place us in an
> impossible position, and it would
> likely kill the project.

One reason why the rule was formulated in the
first place: to help ensure the survivability of
the project as a whole. There's a lot of chefs in
this kitchen; if we don't want the broth spoiled,
we need to be smart about it. If we all enter
this and discover that what we write has an
impact, we should also be aware that that impact
has (reasonably) permanent reprecussions.

> Until now, we have successfully managed to
> avoid situations like this one,
> although a couple of times it came dangerously
> close. But with the number of
> participants in the project growing steadily,
> sooner or later it will emerge,
> and we better be prepared for it.
> I think Andrew did the right thing when he
> withdrew from IB a couple of years
> ago. He could have insisted that Kemr and
> Brithenig are exclusively his
> creations (which of course nobody would have
> disputed), 

And that almost happened. IF the departing person
refuses to leave his creation be, then we'd have
to decide on some alternate structure that could
fill in the missing bits.

IF I decided that Florida-Caribbea was just too
much and had gone too far astray, we'd have to
find some way of explaining all the side effects
it has caused.

> and that they cannot
> exist without their master. That would have
> blown up the project, and Andrew
> certainly was in the position to do so. But
> instead, he was kind enough to
> leave both IB and Kemr behind for us to play
> with. 
> In my opinion, this should be a general
> guideline. In practice that would mean
> that stuff written for IB (including the
> contents of websites) cannot just be
> considered property of its authors, but belongs
> to the whole group instead.

Yes. We'd have to form some sort quasi official
"Societad dill Bethisad" that would hold the
property rights. As individuals, we'd have to
accept that work put into the project goes to the
project. Not a bad thing, and I think most of us
already think on it that way.

The other thing to consider is personal gain from
the project. If one of us should write a story
using IB as the setting, what happens to ideas in
that work? Are they part-n-parcel of IB
information or are they simply to be considered
alt-historical fantasy and totally apart from the
project? [In the way that a program like "West
Wing" uses ideas that come from actual events in
Washington DC, but is apart from those events.]
I'd prefer the latter perspective; and would
actually hope that, sometime, some one of us can
actually make a go of using IB as setting for
some stories.

Some other examples of changes in QSS:

When Daniel Hicken joined IB and began work on the Mormons' actions in IB, he had to explain the reason why they would not be based in Deseret. Through explanation of historical facts *here* that M. Hicken believed would apply *there*, QSS was overridden, but only after general agreement was reached that the historical imperative was stronger than what had been written.

When rodlox joined IB, he took *there*'s Afghanopakistan under his wing, but because this territory was largely an unknown, and was only called Afghanopakistan because that area of the world had not been subdivided, QSS largely did not apply and he had tabula rasa with regard to the internal history. When the effects of Afghanopakistan history affect the world at large, QSS applies.

With discovery of a Jewish kingdom in Yemen, a broad ranging discussion came to be, leading to the changing of the maps of the Middle East, Oman and UAE being united to form The Thousand Emirates, and Yemen a loose confederation of warring kingdoms & emirates.

A recently defined corollary to QSS, dating to perhaps late 2004 or so, is the notion of QAA: Quod Assumpsi Assumpsi. It is defined as the "degree by which assumed information about unclaimed territories with no direct importance to anyone's work is protected." This principle works hand in hand with QSS, but is thought of more as the yin to QSS's yang. The difference is simple: the principle of QSS protects mostly and especially Member generated data and can be only changed in rare instances by the consensus of the entire group; while in the case of QAA, the data in question is generally "primary world" data that was imported to IB and changes can be made more easily, especially once a proper caretaker appears.

It must be emphasised that even QAA matters can't be whimsically altered or severely distorted without justification; and once a region gains an interested caretaker, this does not "wipe the slate clean". Frequently, a new caretaker will discover that his region has QSS and strong QAA matters attached -- a good example being Louisianne, where the new caretaker had to simply accept the historical baggage already written and assumed about LA. He didn't have a clean slate upon which to write his history, nor was he able to simply sweep all the old facts under the most convenient rug. At best, he can whitewash the old graft-ridden and corrupt Louisianne and try to steer the future Louisianne into a more socially acceptable country. We of course wish him bon chance!

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