OpenGeofiction

Collaboration

Posted by Ūdilugbulgidħū on 7 July 2016 in English (English)

I suppose this is another attempt to move the debate on from Demuth's previous entry (sorry Demuth). Basically, I think that some of us are struggling with fitting our countries into OGF, especially with new countries. Has the time has come to accept that OGF is not just a collaborative platform: it's a collaborative project? If that's the case, it means we need to work together.

How do we do that?

There are different ways. We could let it go on as it has been. That means people build individual countries and work out the framework those countries fit into afterwards.

The problem is, the more countries there are, the harder it is to do this. If two nearby countries have different ideas, its even harder. What if the country next door has a climate warmer than it 'should be' for the latitude; that will mean your country will have to be warmer too, or there is a 'verisimilitude problem'. So there has to be collaboration. Or you want to use English to map your country: there must be some connection with 'Ingerland' at some point in your country's history. Again there has to be collaboration.

In fact, there has to be a framework. Whether this framework is built after a country or before it still has to be there. This is an idea for how we develop a framework.

There is an order:

  • Tectonics: work out where the continental plates are, where the mountain ranges are, how the plates have moves
  • Climate: fix the climatic regions of the world, based on the distribution of mountains, ocean currents, weather systems
  • Work out the distribution of biomes and evolutionary history, including the evolution of humans
  • Work out the basics of human history, population expansion, major civilizations
  • Develop the major historical religions
  • Look at colonisation and imperialism
  • Look at modern social and political issues

Much more...

As you read down the list you may see that more recent things require increasing degrees of collaboration and of communication, mainly because there are a lot of countries already. But it makes sense to work out the things at the top of the list first.

As we work through this framework, we can make decisions that become fixed - the OGF canon. We can leave some things open-ended, but some things do have to be closed. Even things that are fixed will always be able to be added to, in detail and depth.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we do need some 'community guidelines', because what we will be collaborating on will be, in some ways, controversial; different people will see it in different ways. That is not 'political correctness' it is just 'getting on with each other'.

For example:

  • Criticism should be both given and received respectfully
  • Global decisions involve the community
  • The community decides whether a global decision becomes canon or not
  • The community works to ensure that developments fit into it the canon and add to it

We all know that in the real world anyone who ends up finding OGF is in a good position, with access to a computer, to the internet, to some spare time. We are a very small minority of the people in the real world. But the OGF world doesn't need to be like the real world in terms of 'fairness'. We should all have a chance to contribute our ideas and creativity.

Do we start?

Location: NikLelan Ylan

Comment from Leowezy on 7 July 2016 at 22:59

Very well said. Especially with naming the 7 "main tasks" and giving them an order; we need to get started somewhere.

The first two points have been addressed many times, but we yet have to come to a comprehensive result.

I think the most important thing, as mentioned over and over again, is a "binding" map of tectonic plates and, as a result, ROUGH guidelines about where there are mountains, where there are low mountain ranges and where it can be flat. This will be harder than it seems; on one hand this has to be done by one person only, who then "presents" their draft to the community to evaluate. On the other hand it will implicate major changes to many country's geology, and everyone should be on board. So, the big question; who is knowledgeable about tectonics and would be willing to provide such a draft, taking into consideration existing mountain ranges etc.?

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Comment from histor on 7 July 2016 at 23:22

As written in Demuth diary: If there are set timelines and conditions, continental-drift and colonialisation and so on as a "canon", then the structure of the OGF-world is fixed. Everybody then only has a small window for his imagination,

And it is a hard work to harmonisize that, was already is drawn and written. Who will change and update the wikis (and may be the maps) only for a consistent world? This energy can be given to a better thing. And I do not think, anybody will change the language of a country - means change 10.000s of names.

So it is like a dream in the clouds, to get a world with ONE structure. And yes - who will say, that "x" or "y" is part if the canon?

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Comment from histor on 7 July 2016 at 23:32

from Leowezy = ROUGH guidelines about where there are mountains,

Indeed this is an important point. But in OSM / OGF it is not easy to draw reasonable ranges and mountain-changes, visible in hi-zoom.

Most countries are like bowls - no water goes over the boundary. Here neighbours better could work together as first step. And if you set mountains, then you set the great rivers automatically.

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Comment from bhj867 on 8 July 2016 at 02:21

I think Wal, joschi, thilo, waa, Danny, KVH, and I did a great job of collaborating our river systems. The great rift sound was and idea I had that wound up looking pretty great, especially when kvh, and Danny starting playing around with the shape of the sound. Before central Uletha was a pretty barren place. My country had no liquid border, and I really at least one coastal city. (Port Emporia). Of course this was back in the day, but I also noticed GREAT collaboration between Joschi and adminero_us with Vinnmark recently. I think it really depends on the user. Many people on OGF I think are just too shy to talk to their neighbors and ask for collaboration. Topography in general I think is a great way of coming to start a conversation with your neighbors and eventually build on that topic from there. Joschi and I, for example, had to really try and work around each other, and then suffer a slight miscommunication about the Egyt Mountain range. But the end result looks great. (in my opinion).

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Comment from bhj867 on 8 July 2016 at 02:28

^^^^Ugh typo city

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Comment from Yuanls on 8 July 2016 at 06:34

I've got decent geological knowledge, and may be able to draw a basic map if some information is given to me.

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Comment from histor on 8 July 2016 at 07:46

@ Yuanis = Where countries are mapped, I think that is to taken as given. So you can make a geological map of the present and from this you can go in the past for an OGF- Laurasia, Gondawana or Pangäa.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 8 July 2016 at 08:56

@ Leowezy - I think there can be a few who work together on a geo-map. Yuanls, bhj867, Anyone else who posts here. First thing - does anyone have a good quality, clean 'world blank' .xcf or .svg? If so, lets get this out there and all work on the same one.

@ histor - "set timelines and conditions, continental-drift and colonisation" - a canon - is a way to make a world that makes sense. Without set conditions, it is really hard to do that - trying to fit things in to something that is already there, but isn't clear, is what takes up people's energy and time. Its pretty clear that some conditions ARE set, but its hard to know which ones those are. When I said "The community decides whether a global decision becomes canon or not" I mean we have to debate it. Then we have to vote on it. Following that, community - be that admin or individual - says when things don't fit into it, and finally, if absolutely necessary, acts to make things fit it. I could give the example of using the term 'Ingerish' rather than 'English'.

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Comment from Myrcia on 8 July 2016 at 09:02

It would have made it way easier, as a newcomer to OGF, to find an already set climate, geology. global history and an idea of languages / cultural areas. It took me quite a long time to realise by country was in the wrong place, with the wrong climate and to move my country up to Uletha.

Having this kind of information set doesn't restrict the creator, especially given that we have new continents which will give ample space for almost any type of country that may be created.

All we need to do is draw up and come to some sort of consensus on the global questions that Ūdilugbulgidħū has raised.

I have no specialism in natural geography or anthropology but I'd like to get involved somehow.

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Comment from Yuanls on 8 July 2016 at 09:31

In order to construct a map of geological history, I will need the locations of mountain ranges, rift valleys and areas of geological activity. I can draft up some plate boundaries and I'll try my best to keep them inside unclaimed countries for the sake of other users.

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Comment from histor on 8 July 2016 at 09:46

The climate is not the hardest thing, I think. You have your longitude and can compare with real earth-climate in rought sense.

More complicated are what poeple had done - where they come from, where which languages are grown, who had empires and colonies in the past. Few outlines are there (Latina is a former colony of Castellán, zylandian people are from Kalm). This arrangements are from user to user by occassion and not in a general plan.

If one day may be there a system, then it is clear, that new users take a land with given ranges, main rivers, language, ethnic basic and a great part of fixed history.

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Comment from refried sushi on 8 July 2016 at 14:08

Forgive a personal anecdote:

My very first instinct after joining OGF (and spending 7 days doodling some pittance in Commonia) was to try to understand the context drawn and written thus far. I didn't know how anyone could jump into something like this without at least some research; I thought owners of neighboring states would be hounding me almost immediately that I'm doing something wrong or ignoring some sort of cannon. As it turns out, there really is no check, very little cannon, and in fact it is the point of this enterprise to come in and let your imagination run wild, so long as your product is reasonably life-like in the end.

I went so far as to ask if there was any sort of unified history to at all and quickly found that the question doesn't even really apply. The project is, at heart, very interesting and purposeful chaos.

I think the near total decentralization is a weakness of OGF, and that some sort of limiting structure is long overdue. I think that fear of "rules" is short-sighted; there is an art to overcoming limitation, and it generally makes a better, richer product when you have to respond to constraint; ask any artist (which I do not claim to be.)

Udi's proposals would make OGF so much better and I want to help in any way that I can. I think a lot of people have put a tremendous amount of effort into this, and it is not a travesty to expect its users to (reasonably) adhere to 7 given characteristics for any piece of land. Seriously, sign me up.

PS) I hope those new continents stay off limits for a while. We don't need them spatially and we need to sort out issues in the known world first.

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Comment from Luciano on 8 July 2016 at 14:47

This is not a final thought: it's a "work in progress" - a reflection of constraints and mapping.

Here's the problem.

If we have no (or few) constraints, creative mappers who "need" constraints still have an opportunity to use OGF - they can make their own constraints and then work within those constraints. This is exactly how I do all my own work, when confronted with a blank slate: I make some constraints and then try to work with them. Indeed, I could plausibly argue, I think, that my entire "polygon landuse project" (across the Ardisphere) is an exercise in intentional, randomized self-constraint-creation.

On the other hand, if we insist on constraints, those creative mappers who are unable to feel comfortable with such constraints will no longer have a "home" for their geofictions.

So the constraintless (or minimally constrained) OGF will serve a wider set of potential "customers" than the constrained form.

Thus, although I agree completely with @refried sushi's point at one level, I feel like we, as a community of geoficticians, can only be maximally welcoming to new potential members by avoiding excessive constraint.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 8 July 2016 at 19:21

The main issue is that there are global conditions that make the world believable. If the world is to make sense, those can't be avoided - its just a question of whether these conditions are considered before or after 'ownership'. It affects the whole OGF world, rather than individual countries, so its something the community has to work out together.

We are mapping in a 'realistic world'. That is a fixed rule and it means that the constraints that make a world realistic have to be part of what we are working on. Like Luciano, this realistic world' condition isn't necessarily one I'd have chosen at the start. But it is certainly fixed now, and it makes sense to stick to it. However, I disagree with some of what Luciano says: the 'minimally constrained OGF' doesn't exist any more. Constraints are imposed because one fact leads to another. If 'Ingerish' arises somewhere, countries that speak 'Ingerish' have to have a connection to Ingerland. There are a lot of things that lead on from this: as Myrcia found, to have a believable country that has a long history and speaks a dialect of Ingerish it has to be located near to the place where Ingerish arose. So there is already a 'plan', or a canon. But there is also freedom to be creative within those constraints; connections can be tenuous, they can build on other parts of the OGF world to become intricate and beautiful - and to pick on Luciano again - surely that is one of the things the Ardisphere does best? If we can help new potential members to find the place where they will fit in too from the start, that would be a great way to welcome them - and better than coming back to them when they build a mountain on a border we thought was a river, or they speak an unusual language in a place we thought was 'normal', or have a different history and government system from the one we were expecting.

So it depends if we want to focus on building individual countries (which, so long as they can explain why they're not part of a global system, is fine) or on building a coherent world.

The problem now for me (and I think for some other users) isn't that these constraints exist. The problem is that we don't know what constraint applies where, or what the 'canon' is. If this carries on we'll just spend more and more time retrofitting our countries into a world where, even if we do collaborate with neighbours, we end up with major inconsistencies at larger scales. I think that puts off future users - and maybe current users. It probably puts people off much more than the freedom to map anything at all anywhere they want.

Back in Luciano's diary entry about blue countries in June we talked about some of the issues with new users. Although I was thinking then that new users need freedom to experiment - like some of the larger blue territories, particularly Commonia - isleño made some very clear points about how small-scale, focussed, coherent mapping is the best way to learn about OGF, both about the tools and about the realism. I think this is also relevant to fitting our countries, and new countries, into OGF. isleño said "By its very nature, OGF is a highly constrained project. It demands small scale work with careful attention to detail, realism and coherence... and I think a lot of the 'bad mapping' you mention happens when people are unaware of these constraints."

But to got to the list: 1. geology. @ Yuanls, bjh867, Leowezy - I've uploaded a reasonable (I think) 'world blank' that we could start adding tectonics and geology info onto. Its greyscale/terrain map - but if you want to sketch on it, I can upload a white one, or coloured. As bhj867 said, there's some great stuff already in central Uletha. The 'blank' also has a start for a heightmap for Pretany based on some of the wiki; its just a suggestion - there might be a better way to do it. If we can work out a way to bring existing height and topography together that would be a good start to working out some of the tectonics. I'm happy to do some of that - the thing to work out first if the best method to use. Then identifying where info exists already and bringing that together is probably best split between a few different people. So perhaps a focus on different continents might work best. @Paxtar - have you got any thoughts on this - topo stuff particularly?

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Comment from clik on 8 July 2016 at 19:48

I'm reading everything and I'm very happy that we start talking about it again. I don't think I'm able to write that much tho.

If the canons seem to create lacks of liberty, the lack of canon also leads to a lack of creativity. At least this is what I think because when I map (on paper or here), it's way more interesting and source of creativity to have at least some contraints (ex: topography (yep, Troie is amazing)). Also it can be frustrating to map close to a frontier of an unclamed territory, not knowing at all what will be there.

I want to contribute in any way to this with my small knowledge on human sciences, linguistics and historical anthropology. Also Udi I wanted to make sure you've seen this : http://opengeofiction.net/wiki/index.php/Category:Elevation_map

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Comment from Luciano on 8 July 2016 at 20:08

Well, I'll leave aside my concerns about constraints and the issue of being "maximally welcoming." I do think that although Thilo is apparently quite busy these days, as our nominal "founder" and patron, he needs to weigh in on these topics before people invest too much in how we proceed. If creating complex constraints on unassigned territories in the OGF world is not something he's willing to sign off on, it makes this whole discussion rather moot. I do think we have a careful balance to strike between the "open" part of Opengeofiction and the "geofiction" part. This is the barrier against which the waves of verisimilitude must crash.

RE @clik's pointer to the Category:Elevation Map - I didn't realize this existed. I would hope people are also taking into account the world's TopoMap layer: several of us (including myself and Thilo) have made some limited efforts to populate this. The TopoMap layer is, ultimately, where I would expect to see "official" elevation info recorded, rather than a piecemeal of individual country maps.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 8 July 2016 at 23:08

Thanks clik - didn't know about all those topos! I've added categories to a couple of other files, so they'll appear there too now (though maybe Pawl will comment if the Wesmandy one is a bit out of date).

Luciano - at this stage I don't think it would be feasible to think about making a TopoMap layer for whole OGF world - but you're right to mention the places that already have one. With a global terrain map I think there might be a possibility of conversion to contours in the future. And it might also be possible to work the other way, from contours to terrain map. I suppose both of these are just representations of ideas in numbers, which we then interpret in different ways. They have different advantages and disadvantages - particularly since elevation maps are quite easy to make. What wouldn't make sense is if they were different.

I see your points about the openness of OGF - it is not something easy to decide on. Lets hope thilo comments.

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Comment from Luciano on 8 July 2016 at 23:25

@Udi - I hate to say it, and perhaps I'm revealing my own limitations, but I DON'T find the elevation maps "easy to make." I'm happier drawing contours, although that's quite slow going. Then again, I am functionally illiterate in any kind of conventional graphics program (e.g. Photoshop, GIMP, etc.). What tools, exactly, are being used to make elevation maps? I assume those sorts of tools. Don't ask me why I've never felt comfortable with those tools, but the honest truth is I have never mastered anything beyond MS Paint. I tried teaching myself Inkscape, and got frustrated and found myself using JOSM to design flags. Flags! In JOSM! I find the data-oriented approach to vector-drawing as in JOSM much more intuitive than having to memorize what buttons do what things to who knows what layer in e.g. Inkscape.

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Comment from clik on 8 July 2016 at 23:53

(Just for information about the terrain map of Egani : I had already done many drafts on paper. Then I screenshot the map and glue it in Paint (simple version). Carefully erased everything except the borders and coastlines. Then I looked at real terrain maps to see how steep I wanted my mountains to be. Glued and used the scale Rasmus made for the colours. Spent about 5 or 6 hours during 3 days to make it look like the way I wanted (too perfectionist..). Then I had to change it a bit because with Thilo we planed a river as border between Sathria and Egani.

In fact it is not easy to do, if you want it to be carefully done, and I still think that my terrain map is not as accurate as I would like it to be..) Luciano, you're not the only one who doesn't understand graphic programs ;) I spend days understanding with tutorials how to contour my country from a screenshot, using Gimp.)

Added Steran to the category. :)

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Comment from clik on 9 July 2016 at 00:00

Rasmus or Deltanz made the scale? sorry guys !

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 9 July 2016 at 00:20

Ok I agree - I didn't mean easy. Mostly, the images are just in GIMP. I am trying out Blender for heightmaps - but I think it may be too complicated for me. Paxtar is using that program. But all these elevation drawings are really sketches - they are less fine scale, so can be done at a gross scale first, improved later. The improvement and the decision making is what takes time, the painting is very quick once its set up. Not as simple to do that with contours, or vector lines.

The other thing is that they can be fairly rough, so there is still a lot of leeway to fill in details later: 6 colours over 3000m is basically contour lines 500m apart. For me, so far, all they've really shown is the approximate locations of mountains, which can help with deciding where rivers are, among other things. Mountains are hard to picture in OSM - but if you overlay the elevation map in JOSM it gets much easier.

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Comment from clik on 9 July 2016 at 00:33

I'm sure there is an easier way than Paint, and I agree with the fact that our terrain maps only show the location of mountains. They are mostly useful to be superimposed over the editable map in JOSM, to guide the rivers' and roads' course.

But in fact, the first idea is not to set up a detailed terrain map of the world, but a rought one to see where the mountains are situated according to tectonics. If we already do that it would great. I guess that it doesn't give too many constraints.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 9 July 2016 at 01:08

Maybe there is - and I think I was getting sidetracked from what we could/should do. Which is something like this basic (real world) tectonic map. I've uploaded a totally blank OGF world map - maybe useful to sketch on, anyway.

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Comment from deltanz on 9 July 2016 at 01:16

@clik I think I was the first to draw the terrain map that was than followed by Rasmus and other people. I did it quickly on MS Paint just to have a physical look of Neo Delta and I used the scale and colors of other tarrain maps I so on google image, that was all. I didn't intend it to be an official representation of Neo Delta, it was just a representation of what I imagine to the country and I uploaded it to the wiki.

I HAVE NO IDEA how to work in the TopoMap Layer, that has been a huge mystery for me since I found out OGF. If that's official, than the world is flat to me.

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Comment from Thunderbird on 9 July 2016 at 11:52

I think this is a good long-term goal for the OGF community to work toward.

I wouldn't mind having someone upload a first draft tectonics map, then users can comment changes they'd like. Then, from that we can create a second draft, and so on. The climate map is already up, although I can't seem to find it today.

I would love to collaborate with my neighbors if they were actually active!

-Thunderbird

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Comment from Yuanls on 9 July 2016 at 12:01

Here is my very rough draft of major fault lines and their directions. It is not accurate at all, as it takes little account of each country's conditions and topography, and it solely relies on the map provided Udi. This may serve a basis for a proper map, so feel free to add or subtract from it.

http://imgur.com/pfkLbgE

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Comment from Thunderbird on 9 July 2016 at 12:18

@Yuanls Nice job. There are three types of plate boundaries, maybe also consider including some "Transform" plate boundaries as well. Divergent boundaries tend to be in the middle of oceans and convergent boundaries are tend to be next to landmasses.

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Comment from Yuanls on 9 July 2016 at 12:49

@Thunderbird I left the transform boundaries blank, since we need to establish the directions of the plates, and we haven't even decided on any plates yet. However, I envisioned the OGF world to have just come out of a supercontinent phase around 40-50 mya, which is why there are so many divergent plate boundaries on land or in narrow stretches of sea.

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Comment from Thunderbird on 9 July 2016 at 13:46

Ah, that's true, I didn't think about that. That also makes sense given there is more land on the OGF planet than on Earth.

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Comment from Leowezy on 9 July 2016 at 16:15

I like that first sketch. It implies that off the kojolese coast in the Sound of Pa there will be some kind of seafloor spreading causing an undersea rift, but I think I can work with that. However, would this setup still be able to contain mountains that border Kojo in the north? Until now that was the major theme I saw on the larger south east Ulethan peninsula, to have a mountain chain run through it from west to east. Maybe everyone should have a look at ]Yuanls's map](http://imgur.com/pfkLbgE) and give some feedback how it fits with their countries geology.

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Comment from Yuanls on 9 July 2016 at 18:30

@Leowezy

Yes, your country may still be able to have mountains. Ranges like the Urals or Transantarctic Mountains were formed hundreds of millions of years ago by faults and plates that have since disappeared.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 9 July 2016 at 20:53

Great work Yuanls, Leowezy. Can we section this off between us a bit so that we look at areas we're more familiar with? I'd be happy to look at Antarephia/Archanta and the Asperic Ocean area south of the island chain that runs out to Nahuwa Atoll (does it have a name?). I'll be working off Yualnls imgur map and adding to that.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 9 July 2016 at 21:15

I've set up an OGF page on plate tectonics here: (http://opengeofiction.net/wiki/index.php/Talk:OGF:Plate_tectonics) so we can try and keep things a bit more in one place.

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Comment from isleño on 10 July 2016 at 16:25

Reposted from the plate tectonics page, where I was asked not to post this:

I have to say I'm not entirely sure how useful a world map of plate tectonics would be. Geology is something that most people don't think about very deeply, and at the shallow level where they do think about it ("I want mountains" or "I want flatlands" or "I want volcanoes" or "I want earthquakes") there's a lot more wiggle room for people to imagine what they want, much more so than in an area like climate or history. For example if someone wants a couple of volcanoes, we could just imagine that there are a couple of "hot spots" beneath their country, and leave it at that — it's not like the neighbors need to have matching volcanoes. If a mountainous country borders a flat country, or an earthquake-prone country borders an earthquake-free country, it's not necessarily unrealistic in the same way as an arctic country bordering a tropical country, or a long-inhabited country bordering a newly discovered country. I think we need to be careful about the number of constraints we place on empty countries, and whether those constraints are really needed for realism. --Isleño (talk) 04:35, 10 July 2016 (CEST)

@Isleño: This page is there because there was a high level of interest in developing a world map of plate tectonics. For example, some people do think deeply about what the geology of their country is and what in fits into before and they map it, and while they map it. And, for example, what happens if you go away from your country for a week or two and come back to find someone else has mapped a mountain range next to your flatlands or a lake where you thought there were mountains? If there's no overall plan, one or other of you has to go back and change things. Having no overall plan might be fine if all countries are big, but the more small countries there are the more needed a framework becomes. Been said before. This page is to discuss tectonics, not whether tectonics are needed, or even exist. Don't knock that. Thoughts about 'hot-spots' appreciated, but please post meta-discussions somewhere else. --Udilugbuldigu (talk) 10:42, 10 July 2016 (CEST)

Sorry for posting in the wrong area, it seemed the discussion had moved over there. My point is that plate tectonics aren't necessarily relevant to small-scale questions like what to do when someone maps a mountain range next to your flatlands, or puts a lake where you thought there were mountains. These issues don't require a global plan for plate tectonics, they're just a matter of coordination among neighbors to avoid transitions that look unnatural. In the new continents we have lines sketched out for a few mountain ranges, but I'm not sure we want to be constraining new users any further than that. I appreciate the interest in creating this map and am not trying to "knock" it, but (like Luciano) I am warning that putting complex constraints on empty territories may simply not be feasible.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 10 July 2016 at 23:45

Thanks isleño - that request wasn't intended as a reason not to have the discussion, just to keep the 'tectonics' page on tectonics, and not stray to other, broader, subjects. I hope you don't mind that, since its now copied in here, I've just set up a link to this page and removed the meta-elements preciously posted in the plate tectonics section.

I do see your point on the problem of creating complex constraints. However ....I disagree that the distribution of mountains can be completely uncoordinated. Because there are so many closed, abandoned, neglected, un-collaborative and free-to-edit territories its often impossible to co-ordinate large geological features. You said 'plate tectonics aren't necessarily relevant to small-scale questions like what to do when someone maps a mountain range next to your flatlands'. I disagree that those are small-scale questions. In the real world, mountain ranges are very large-scale features that span multiple countries (Canada, Russia and USA - the three largest countries in the world and all larger than any single OGF country) - perhaps being exceptions).

The simplest - and least restrictive - way to work towards natural-looking maps is through tectonics, which basically say things like 'mountains good here' or 'flatlands good here'. That isn't necessarily restrictive if mappers/prospective mappers are able to pick areas to map which contain one or other or both features (or similar parallels).

Why do you think this is unfeasible?

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Comment from isleño on 11 July 2016 at 02:06

In the real world, mountain ranges are very large-scale features that span multiple countries.

A few are, but most aren't. On Earth there are only a handful of mountain ranges that span more than six countries, and most involve far fewer. So the vast majority of topography can be planned out among neighbors, and for the very few ranges that are longer, we can simply draw a line on the map and label it "mountains," without involving the additional complexities and constraints of plate tectonics. (Plate tectonics implies much more than "mountains" and "flatlands" — different kinds of plate boundary may imply volcanoes, rift lakes, offshore trenches, faults, earthquakes, and other specific types of stuff.)

I disagree that the distribution of mountains can be completely uncoordinated.

So yeah, I'm not saying that it should be "completely uncoordinated." What I'm saying is that most ranges can be easily coordinated between neighbors, and that the handful of longer ones can be simple lines on the map. The result may not be maximum realism, but at least it's a result where realism is balanced with freedom and simplicity, which are also important goals for us.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 11 July 2016 at 17:26

I understand that there has to be a balance between realism and freedom/simplicity, but my main point is that if you don't consider tectonics you basically have NO geological realism. The map will always be illogical. We still have a chance to put the pieces together, but because ideas are constantly being added this won't go on for much longer. I have to say, I think the facts you give above are rather more connected with the distribution of countries than with the connection between tectonics and mountain ranges. There are also important things to think about regarding the scale and size of ranges and linked to that of the height of mountains in those ranges.

Although you could have 'mountains all over the place', there are big distinctions between ranges. Young ranges like the Himalaya, are different from smaller ranges, like, say, the Western or Eastern Ghats in continental India (see image below), or ancient eroded larger ranges like those in Greenland and Northern Scotland. The biggest mountain ranges - the Himalya, the Andes, the Rockies - are global features. They are huge (Himalaya = >1 million km², so bigger than the Kingdom of Pretany). At a guess, at least 10-15 % of the world is directly affected by these features 'on the ground', but they also have significant climate effects. Outside of these big ranges there is nothing of similar scale or height; they are 'roofs of the world'. So I have to disagree that these are small-scale questions.

1The difference between the small ranges on the Indian plain (e.g. Ghats) and the Himalaya

Regarding mountain ranges, both size and height, two points are particularly clear:

  • all mountains over over 7200m are in the greater Himalaya

  • all mountains over over 6000m are either in ranges in the Himalaya, Karakorum (or other associate Asian range), Andes or North America (one peak - Denali only)

  • all mountains over c.6000m are the result of subducting plate boundaries

Thanks Thunderbird!

  • subducting plate boundaries and rifts result in continental-scale features, not local features

In summary, there are rules for 'mountain building' just as there are the rules for river flow I think you once clarified.

So I hope this makes it clearer why I think that this list for example, has to be treated with caution.

Isleño:

What I'm saying is that most ranges can be easily coordinated between neighbors

How can this happen:

  • where there are no neighbours - unowned territories?
  • where the neighbour does not collaborate - owned territories that do not respond to messages?
  • where neighbours disagree

I don't think its as easy as you say it is. And what do you mean about mountain ranges here:

the handful of longer ones can be simple lines on the map.

Which map? Simple lines just don't show up on the OGF map and could easily be missed by a new country owner.

I think what we're discussing on the OGF:Plate tectonics page is a logical and simple overview of where mountain ranges should be. But the mountains have to be realistic, or the world isn't realistic.

There is a separate issue that if we don't consider tectonics we can never move on to realistically consider vegetation and faunal history, evolution, speciation, biomes, ecology or the origin of humans. Small points? I think some users would disagree.

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Comment from isleño on 11 July 2016 at 19:04

I understand that there has to be a balance between realism and freedom/simplicity, but my main point is that if you don't consider tectonics you basically have NO geological realism.

No, there can be plenty of geological realism. A system of mountains and valleys can be realistic on its own. A volcano or a canyon or a glacier can be realistic on its own. Just because they don't all conform to a single global network of plate tectonics doesn't ruin every shred of geological realism.

The map will always be illogical. We still have a chance to put the pieces together, but because ideas are constantly being added this won't go on for much longer.

The map will always have illogical geology, unless we start instituting detailed restrictions for the geological profile of every territory, and I simply don't see that happening. We're not going to be telling people they need a subducting plate boundary to have a mountain of 6000m. If someone wants to build a few 6000m mountains in the middle of a plate, I don't think the violation of realism is so obvious that it's going to offend large numbers of people. (And honestly, judging by the proposals on the OGF:Plate tectonics talk page, even the people who are really interested in geology don't have a clear idea of what is/isn't realistic.)

What I'm saying is that most ranges can be easily coordinated between neighbors

How can this happen:

  • where there are no neighbours - unowned territories?

  • where the neighbour does not collaborate - owned territories that do not respond to messages?

  • where neighbours disagree

It's not hard — where there are no neighbors, the other side is simply blank for now. If your neighbor is unresponsive, send a message to admin. If your neighbor disagrees, work it out like grown ups.

the handful of longer ones can be simple lines on the map.

Which map? Simple lines just don't show up on the OGF map and could easily be missed by a new country owner.

The easiest way is probably to add a note to the territory label on the overview map, like "Mountains on western border," just as we've done with the rudimentary climate labels.

There is a separate issue that if we don't consider tectonics we can never move on to realistically consider vegetation and faunal history, evolution, speciation, biomes, ecology or the origin of humans.

A lot of these issues are going to be equally problematic, I'm afraid. Let's just say that the tectonic patterns of this planet are disputed by scientists. Let's just say that there's been enough exchange between continents that most flora & fauna can be found everywhere, and where many of them originated is unclear. Let's just say the origin of humans is shrouded in debate and controversy. Let's just say that any biome that's broadly realistic for its location is permissible.

In fighting for realism, we need to pick our battles, and with a lot of these issues I just can't see that they're worth pursuing. The smart thing to do, in my opinion, is focus on violations of realism that are widely obvious, and solutions that are minimally constricting and easily understandable.

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Comment from bhj867 on 11 July 2016 at 20:15

This really has turned more into a philiaophical/technical debate about how restrictive/coordinated we want ogf to be. Frankly this is a discussion we should have had long ago. At the end of the day ogf is slowly turning into a free for all the commonia freeway problem is an example symptom of this issue as well as the tectonics discussion. We need to hold a Democratic vote on these rules and we need to do it now

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Comment from bhj867 on 11 July 2016 at 20:18

label 4 or 5 big issue,, cast a yes or no "ballet" and the winner takes all

Tectonics/geographical rules / prepakaged geographical countries for newbies

Climate

Commonia?/sandbox island

Etc etc

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Comment from bhj867 on 11 July 2016 at 20:21

let's just hope it doesn't turn into a brexit situation lol.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 11 July 2016 at 21:07

Ok, lets stay calm - sorry I got a bit carried away there.

I understand that there has to be a balance between realism and freedom/simplicity, but my main point is that if you don't consider tectonics you basically have NO geological realism.

No, there can be plenty of geological realism. A system of mountains and valleys can be realistic on its own. A volcano or a canyon or a glacier can be realistic on its own. Just because they don't all conform to a single global network of plate tectonics doesn't ruin every shred of geological realism.

I was probably a bit strong saying 'no geological realism', obviously we have some geological realism already where people have worked well across borders. I think part of the constraint in trying to make things realistic is that we're constrained by what's already there, so whatever the case is we have to work within that.

Do we want to carry on with things as they are? I think you're saying that we should, and that we should ignore these issues.

If someone wants to build a few 6000m mountains in the middle of a plate, I don't think the violation of realism is so obvious that it's going to offend large numbers of people.

I agree that would be fine, But what about some 10,000m mountains, anywhere. Wouldn't you say that's one of the 'violations of realism that are widely obvious,'? I would guess its not a deliberate violation - but because there isn't any 'structure' in place I think this does happen.

Let's just say that the tectonic patterns of this planet are disputed by scientists. Let's just say that there's been enough exchange between continents that most flora & fauna can be found everywhere, and where many of them originated is unclear. Let's just say the origin of humans is shrouded in debate and controversy. Let's just say that any biome that's broadly realistic for its location is permissible.

I'm quite tempted by this approach, but I guess I just start thinking 'that doesn't make sense' and get paralysed by it. I agree we should pick our battles, problem is I'm at a sort of dead end for imagining the 'how did that happen'. Tectonics isn't meant to be an imposition. Like i said, overall it would be a small proportion of the continental area that would be affected.

Anyway, I think I made the point that these are continental features. If you feel we don't need continental features I think that is just going to have to be a difference of opinion.

The point is that collaboration, piecemeal can't achieve something that spans multiple countries - the proof is in the map and wiki. Although having many of small countries has lots of benefits, over a wider area this isn't one of them. To achieve consistency, you need a framework. I'm thinking, if the framework can't be global, could it be regional?

So here's a proposal: allocate an area of one continent to a project that could come up with construction of a 'world feature' like one of these subducting plates or a major mountain range. That might be good some mappers and lead to something longer term that kept people's interest?

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Comment from isleño on 11 July 2016 at 22:54

@bhj867:

Believe it or not, I share a lot of your frustrations.

Just please understand that very few of the things being discussed here can be easily solved with simple yes/no answers. Some of these issues are a matter of degree (like the number and complexity of restrictions on empty territories), while others are a matter of selecting one or more options to form a coordinated solution to a multifaceted problem (like the issue of blue territories).

Not only is it difficult to strike a good balance between promoting realism, defending creative freedom, and preserving ease of use, but we also have a responsibility to respect the vision of OGF's founders, and to consider the wishes of people who aren't actively engaging in conversations like this. I wish these were straightforward problems with simple answers, but unfortunately I don't think they are.

@Udi:

Do we want to carry on with things as they are? I think you're saying that we should, and that we should ignore these issues.

I'm not sure exactly what "these issues" are, in terms of what's actually drawn on the map. If it's that there's no string of mountains running from one end of Uletha to the other, or that a line of volcanoes in one country doesn't necessarily continue into the next, or that some people have built high mountains without an obvious subduction zone, then I guess I don't have a problem ignoring them. Geology is really complicated and I think very few people are going to be bothered by such issues (and the ones who will be, will be bothered no matter what, haha). As for determining when a violation of geological realism becomes 'widely obvious,' I think there's a gray area. But when something is too prominent and egregious to ignore, we've seen people unafraid to speak up and/or step in, like with Commonia's 'Charlington Canal' or the new gulf in Vinnmark. So I think that might be a good model to follow.

In terms of specific proposals, I do support two things:

(1) Sketching out a few long mountain ranges using simple notes on the overview map territory labels (e.g. "Mountains on western border"), and without getting into detailed geology that would make things more complex/constrained/realistic. These lines are actually already laid out in the new continents, and I think we could easily create a few running through empty/willing territories in the existing continents.

(2) Encouraging new regional projects, like you suggest, but decided by neighbors instead of outsiders. If a couple of large countries want to build a specific formation on their border (like the Himalayas for example, imagining that one area is being subducted beneath another), then they're definitely encouraged to. But I think that decision should be made by them, not by a global map. We've already seen some great examples of neighbors working together, and we can definitely do a better job of promoting similar collaborations.

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Comment from bhj867 on 12 July 2016 at 08:54

I think the overview map will be a great way to map what's existing grologically while keeping creative freedom. An example is the owner of mazan and I were discussing building a giant inland sea on our southern border but so close to the egyt mountains I was afraid to do it. I didn't want everyone saying that it looks weird.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 12 July 2016 at 12:11

@bhj867 - overview map - good point: its very hard to know what's actually there in the OGF world. I know I'm banging on about 'realism' in geology, but I think many active mappers really want to try and make their creativity fit into the world logically. Its hard to do that without an overview. I think that relates to your point 1. isleño - if we had some of these lines to show where current mountains are, we could extrapolate from that to notes in the overview map labels. So I think its worthwhile carrying on with this, putting everything together.

Neighbour collaboration & people thinking 'that looks weird'. Since we don't have 'forums' the diary has to serve for this sort of thing. Maybe make it clearer (on the 'making realistic countries page?) that big changes to a country's borders can be discussed by the community in a diary entry if one of other of the neighbours wants views or advice - but that at the end of the day it is the individual mappers with the boundary who decide what to map near that boundary.

I'd also make the point that users can go back later and re-imagine some things to explain their geology - if they want to. I've found some of this discussion/analysis useful in that way, maybe others will too. I intend to do this for Ūdzđąnąrąt where there are discrepancies between what I originally wrote and what I've learned about the mid-oceanic ridge, since then. I tried to think carefully about mountain heights at the time I was mapping, but I was quite 'fuzzy' about their origin. I no some people won't care, I like to think it might make sense though. But I don't want to discuss the new continents here!

Point 2. isleño , I see it slightly differently. Neighbours can work together, yes, but so far this has led to very few, if any, continental-scale features, when in fact there should be many. We can't just 'build the Himalayas' on the boundary between two countries, because its 'too big' - like I said, the size of the whole of Pretany. Is that the 'issue' I meant? Maybe one of them. For some people, this gradation from really big scale to really tiny is what makes zoomable maps like OSM interesting. I know the render isn't great for distant views, but that doesn't mean these massive features shouldn't be there on the map, or on some map. So that's why I think a project somewhere in the OGF world to bring a few collaborators together to work out a large area's geography - with some big features - would be a positive thing, even if it isn't 'global'. There is the interest and the space for it to happen at the moment. Users don't have to be neighbours to collaborate - see the wiki - and some of us are better at some things than at others. Collaboration (which is basically what this diary entry is about) could pull all these expertises together.

I guess what I'm really proposing then is to make a large, currently undeveloped area of map collaborative for a period of time to develop its 'natural' geology, working bottom up. See if that works. If it doesn't, scrap it.

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Comment from isleño on 13 July 2016 at 10:26

isleño - if we had some of these lines to show where current mountains are, we could extrapolate from that to notes in the overview map labels. So I think its worthwhile carrying on with this, putting everything together.

I think it's definitely worthwhile to record and catalogue where people have built mountains, and perhaps propose where those mountains may be connected through free/willing territories. But I wouldn't try to determine anything more specific than that (e.g. plate boundaries, etc).

Neighbour collaboration & people thinking 'that looks weird'. Since we don't have 'forums' the diary has to serve for this sort of thing. Maybe make it clearer (on the 'making realistic countries page?) that big changes to a country's borders can be discussed by the community in a diary entry if one of other of the neighbours wants views or advice - but that at the end of the day it is the individual mappers with the boundary who decide what to map near that boundary.

Sure, I don't think anyone would object to a short note in OGF:Making realistic countries saying something like "Your topography and coastlines should be designed to blend naturally with those of your neighbors. If you want to propose major changes, we recommend asking in advance for feedback in User Diaries and contact your country's neighbors for their input."

Neighbours can work together, yes, but so far this has led to very few, if any, continental-scale features, when in fact there should be many. We can't just 'build the Himalayas' on the boundary between two countries, because its 'too big' - like I said, the size of the whole of Pretany. Is that the 'issue' I meant? Maybe one of them.

Again, I disagree that there should be "many"... but if you want something the size of Pretany, such a feature could (theoretically) be built coextensive with Pretany itself, or half in Pretany and half in Mazan, for example. Pretany is already quite well developed of course, but there are at least a dozen other countries that are even larger than Pretany, and many of them have significant undeveloped areas. So I think there's plenty of space for large projects coordinated between neighbors, and they could probably happen if someone was interested in encouraging users to create them. But in general, this should be the choice of the territory owner, not imposed by someone else.

I think a project somewhere in the OGF world to bring a few collaborators together to work out a large area's geography - with some big features - would be a positive thing, even if it isn't 'global'. There is the interest and the space for it to happen at the moment. Users don't have to be neighbours to collaborate - see the wiki - and some of us are better at some things than at others. Collaboration (which is basically what this diary entry is about) could pull all these expertises together.

I guess what I'm really proposing then is to make a large, currently undeveloped area of map collaborative for a period of time to develop its 'natural' geology, working bottom up. See if that works. If it doesn't, scrap it.

Most people seem to enjoy imagining their own topography, which means we don't want to create detailed topography for lots of unclaimed countries. What might work, however, is such a project for the large collaborative territories we'd like to open in the future, UL099 and AR120. If you'd be interested in that, it might be doable.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 13 July 2016 at 17:00

@ isleño, thanks for the reply, sounds quite positive.

I think it's definitely worthwhile to record and catalogue where people have built mountains, and perhaps propose where those mountains may be connected through free/willing territories. But I wouldn't try to determine anything more specific than that (e.g. plate boundaries, etc).

Plate tectonics is about plate boundaries - so that is what this is looking at. The exact location of the boundary doesn't always need to be determined, but where it can be, that would seem very helpful to the owners of countries who have chosen to have a boundary in their territory. I have looked at distribution and size of mountains. BelpheniaProject has revised heights of many of Belphenia's peaks. In fact, I see very few others that would have to be affected by current tectonic activity. I only count 5 mountain peaks over 6000m, the highest being 6925m. The North border between Renkistan and AR08 (3 mountains) is one place where there might be a boundary fault. AR08 (currently free) would be affected by the mountains here - positive for someone who wants to build near mountains! The NE of Suria is the other place - but clearly this could be entirely within the country and not affect anywhere else. Anyone know better?

I've uploaded a more recent scribble of the Asperic area, which - I'm afraid - does have some plate boundaries in it. Not all discussed with individual owners - but some have been. Perhaps, as in the real world, the 'complex/uncertain' boundary line (currently in orange) would be a good tag to use more extensively.

What the map does give is some indication of crustal movements (the other 'point' of tectonics). I think it's all pointing to a fragmenting super-continent...

Neighbours can work together, yes, but so far this has led to very few, if any, continental-scale features, when in fact there should be many. We can't just 'build the Himalayas' on the boundary between two countries, because its 'too big' - like I said, the size of the whole of Pretany. Is that the 'issue' I meant? Maybe one of them.

Again, I disagree that there should be "many"... but if you want something the size of Pretany, such a feature could (theoretically) be built coextensive with Pretany itself, or half in Pretany and half in Mazan, for example. Pretany is already quite well developed of course, but there are at least a dozen other countries that are even larger than Pretany, and many of them have significant undeveloped areas. So I think there's plenty of space for large projects coordinated between neighbors, and they could probably happen if someone was interested in encouraging users to create them. But in general, this should be the choice of the territory owner, not imposed by someone else.

Fair enough, there would't have to be 'many' features, after all there is only one Himalaya. I suppose I meant that these features should extend to 'a fair percentage' of the world, and they would be big features. So - many mountains - but not many massive ranges.

Most people seem to enjoy imagining their own topography, which means we don't want to create detailed topography for lots of unclaimed countries. What might work, however, is such a project for the large collaborative territories we'd like to open in the future, UL099 and AR120. If you'd be interested in that, it might be doable.

I agree that many mappers like making topography! And I think you're right, we don't actually want to make detailed topography for many (any?) unclaimed countries. I don't know what you'd envisaged for these large territories - has it been discussed somewhere? But I do think a big collaborative project to develop the geology and natural geography of an area like AR120 would be interesting. Whether it should be one single 'collaborative country' as well, I'd be less sure of.

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Comment from isleño on 13 July 2016 at 18:15

I've uploaded a more recent scribble of the Asperic area, which - I'm afraid - does have some plate boundaries in it. Not all discussed with individual owners - but some have been. Perhaps, as in the real world, the 'complex/uncertain' boundary line (currently in orange) would be a good tag to use more extensively.

As I said, I'm not a fan of this. I don't think it's something that needs to be imposed on existing users or on empty territories. Generally speaking, people anywhere should be free to imagine whatever geological features they wish to put in their own territories, up to and including plate boundaries.

I don't know what you'd envisaged for these large territories - has it been discussed somewhere? But I do think a big collaborative project to develop the geology and natural geography of an area like AR120 would be interesting. Whether it should be one single 'collaborative country' as well, I'd be less sure of.

For our world map to look realistic, we need a mix of small countries and large countries. So when several inactive users were removed from these two areas, we saw a good opportunity to create a couple of large countries to help balance out the smaller ones. The original thought was to appeal to people interested in specific styles of mapping. For example, AR120 might be similar to the US, so those who want to imagine an "American-style" superpower would have a place to pursue that kind of mapping and those types of storylines. In other words, purple countries where participants are united by some kind of common theme/style/interest.

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Comment from bhj867 on 13 July 2016 at 18:20

I would encourage all users to please refer to the geography section of already existing countries/area.. Garlis already sits on a giant plateau located in the Egyt mountain range. Maybe not as high as Tibet but that's something Joschi and I developed ages ago for our border. the pretanic border with Mazan is still a work in progress. Wal and I have been discussing the possibility of an inland sea due to the unrealistic nature of the very long meandering river there. We haven't decided yet due to the closeness of the Egyt Mountains .

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Comment from isleño on 13 July 2016 at 18:26

@bhj867: I agree. Just to be clear, Pretany and its neighbors were only mentioned as part of a discussion of whether current countries were large enough for these types of features, not that Udi or I were actually proposing anything for Pretany.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 13 July 2016 at 19:30

@Isleño

I've uploaded a more recent scribble of the Asperic area, which - I'm afraid - does have some plate boundaries in it. Not all discussed with individual owners - but some have been. Perhaps, as in the real world, the 'complex/uncertain' boundary line (currently in orange) would be a good tag to use more extensively.

As I said, I'm not a fan of this. I don't think it's something that needs to be imposed on existing users or on empty territories. Generally speaking, people anywhere should be free to imagine whatever geological features they wish to put in their own territories, up to and including plate boundaries.

I wouldn't see this as an imposition - these are guidelines that can be adopted or ignored 'at will'. You say: 'people anywhere should be free to imagine whatever geological features...'. But there is a limit to this: people do have to liaise with their neighbours about borders and the features along their borders (e.g. see the adminero_us diary entry (here on the map). They certainly shouldn't be moving their sea borders without at least consulting neighbours or the community. Doesn't the same apply to large-scale terrestrial features? What I'm saying is that large-scale geological features have as much of an impact as the location of the coastline does, so they need to be at least partly collaborative. If someone builds a big mountain on their border that affects the country next door. A basic 'framework' could help show what is already there so the mountains would end up in a more logical placement that would make the OGF world look a bit more 'realistic'. Isn't that one of the aims of the project?

(1) Sketching out a few long mountain ranges using simple notes on the overview map territory labels (e.g. "Mountains on western border"), and without getting into detailed geology that would make things more complex/constrained/realistic. These lines are actually already laid out in the new continents, and I think we could easily create a few running through empty/willing territories in the existing continents.

This is what you said earlier in the discussion. The sketch is basically just some lines running through empty/willing territories, plus some extrapolations which could easily be ignored. Those would help the mapping 'be realistic' (which is rule 1 on the list of rules). I'm a bit frustrated that you seem to be saying something different now to what you said above.

I agree there aren't enough big countries for realism. There is already a lot of US-style mapping, some of it great - perhaps a collaborative US-style building project would appeal. I don't think a collaborative geology project could be constrained like that. But that's a personal opinion, it might be worth finding out if others felt the same.

@bhj867 sorry if my lines are't in the right place for Pretany - they're just supposed to be following what you drew. There is no wiki information on the geology/height of the Garlis plateau - except on your map, as discussed in the [wiki talk(]http://opengeofiction.net/wiki/index.php/Talk:OGF:Plate_tectonics) - and no peak heights mapped in Garlis that I can see. I'm not sure what you're saying here - is there a specific issue? Mazan border mapping sounds like good collaboration. Does tectonics affect it in any way? I don't see that it does; for example - you don't need a rift to have a lake or an inland sea. But you could have one if you wanted.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 13 July 2016 at 20:25

If AR120 is already earmarked, maybe an alternative location for a collaborative - geology - project would be UL99 - though that is very big. I don't know why, it also looks sort of flat to me though. Or a 'clump' of territories from AR13 to AR 99. Those territories could either be resplit to countries after mapping natural features - or kept as one.

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Comment from isleño on 13 July 2016 at 21:30

You say: 'people anywhere should be free to imagine whatever geological features...'. But there is a limit to this

What I said was, "Generally speaking, people should be free..." so of course I agree there are limits, and I've already discussed what I see as some reasonable limits. I've already said that neighbors should coordinate. I've already said that the new continents will have a few mountain lines sketched out (and that we could add some to areas of the old continents too — in willing/empty territories only). And I've already said that instances of 'widely obvious' unrealism can be and should be (and often already are) addressed by neighbors and/or the community.

But within those reasonable limits, generally speaking, I think people should be free to build the land features they want. So if bhj867 wants a rift valley, then (as you say) he can have one. My point is that anyone else who wants a rift valley on their own territory should be able to have one too — provided they coordinate with neighbors, don't make it obviously unrealistic, etc. A map purporting to show the world's plate tectonics would seemingly tell such a person that they can't (or shouldn't) have the rift valley they want, even if such a feature wouldn't otherwise violate geological realism in any obvious way.

To be as clear as I can: I don't have a problem with encouraging some large-scale continuity by marking a few empty/willing areas as "mountains here," and I don't have a problem with neighbors coming together to work out their common geology or to help someone with clear violations of realism. But I do have a problem with saying, "this is the map of the world's plates, plate boundaries, boundary types, plate motions, etc." because I don't see how defining all these things would add to the palpable realism of our world, and it seems that the more these things are specifically defined, the more unnecessary constraints form around what people can realistically do within their own countries.

I agree there aren't enough big countries for realism. There is already a lot of US-style mapping, some of it great - perhaps a collaborative US-style building project would appeal. I don't think a collaborative geology project could be constrained like that. But that's a personal opinion, it might be worth finding out if others felt the same.

I'm not sure what you mean by "I don't think a collaborative geology project could be constrained like that." You mean constrained to one very large country? As long as there was some reasonable coordination with the neighbors, I don't see why it couldn't be.

If AR120 is already earmarked, maybe an alternative location for a collaborative - geology - project would be UL99 - though that is very big. I don't know why, it also looks sort of flat to me though. Or a 'clump' of territories from AR13 to AR 99. Those territories could either be resplit to countries after mapping natural features - or kept as one.

At this point there's nothing necessarily "earmarked" about AR120 or UL099 (and remember UL099's size is greatly exaggerated by the Mercator projection), but I imagine we'd expect any "geology collaboration" for one of these countries to form part of the larger collaboration building the rest of its features. (Again, I don't think we want to create too much detailed geology for empty territories... so the "clump" from AR013 to AR009 would not be ideal.)

In any case, I'm honestly glad that you're enthusiastic about this issue and I hope we can find a good place to translate it into some great works of geology. :-)

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 13 July 2016 at 23:30

Wow, we're getting shunted down here...

It depends how you define ''generally speaking', I suppose. Generally speaking, you have to collaborate with your neighbour. There must be limits to that too, no doubt.

What we disagree on then - I think - is whether having more structure can limit people's creativity (your point) - or encourage it - (my point). So we are drawing this line in a slightly different place.

I don't think either one of us will easily change that position.

But to give you an example - Shadze-Ma. I mapped these islands somewhere where I thought it wouldn't be affected too much by neighbours - thinking the boundaries were fixed. Unfortunately they weren't - and the coast of the adjacent country ended up about 20km closer to the islands than it had originally been. The way I'd designed the country just didn't work with the other country so close - I eventually decided the best thing to do was to move the islands away, which thankfully you all agreed to. And I think it works now where it is; kingfries is a great neighbour. But with a land boundary you can't do that. Say a 6000m peak rises up on your border, that affects your country. The only way you can make the map look right is if you both imagine there is this mountain there, and map accordingly. You don't even have to speak to each other but 1) you have to realise there is a mountain there and 2) you have to react to it.

My point would be that if there was a basic, simple structure, it would be less likely that things like this would happen, and people would feel more able to say 'I planned that, bearing in mind what is already there...'. The canon would support the creativity, not impinge on it.

There is lots of evidence that good collaboration – in general, not just mountains - isn't happening. Many countries looking like ‘bowls’ is just part of it. We covered that already, I think.

Lines on a blank map show locations of mountain ranges much better than a few peak symbols - only visible at high zoom - on the OGF map. Its simply hard to see mountains on the OGF map. But are we just mapping to the OGF map, or are we mapping a world? I think some of us are now imagining a world, rather than just a map. If a line - on an overview map, or a tectonic map - is there you'll both know there are probably mountains there. And so will the rest of the community when you say 'someone's built a big river and a delta next to my mountain range with my ski resorts in it' - while the other mapper says 'but I didn't know there were mountains there'. So I'd also see it is a way to help prevent these disputes happening, and, if they happen to help achieve a compromise.. I totally agree with reaching a compromise - I think it often adds to the whole thing. I'd encourage people to speak up if there is a 'dysfunctional boundary' - diary, or pm, or message to admin. With Shadze-Ma I was worried about doing this more insistently because I thought it might impinge on the other mapper's freedom. I maybe should have done it more insistently - though its all turned out ok in the end.

Another reason to have tectonics is basically that countries mapped with tectonics in mind can look as though they're responding to physics. Countries that aren't may, or may not, at random. That is really a different technical discussion, I would cover it better if I had more time – but you probably get what I mean?

I'm not sure what you mean by "I don't think a collaborative geology project could be constrained like that." You mean constrained to one very large country? As long as there was some reasonable coordination with the neighbours, I don't see why it couldn't be.

No, sorry, I meant constrained because - after the geology had been determined - the country would then become a different project, and people who had mapped the country might want to put something else there, rather than an American - or Bazque -or Zoolian - superpower. Not over all of it by any means, but on parts of it. In other words, the country would become a bit fragmented and ... superpowers don't usually have holes in them, or even inconsistencies in language.

But if you don't think that would be a problem, it could work.

Alternatively, for the "clump" from AR013 to AR009 the compound territory would have to be retained as part of the 'geology collaboration project', but parts could be allocated - like individual territories - to mappers who are more interested in mapping urban and landuse than in imagining or mapping natural features. I think it would need 'a new colour' after the main geological collaborative phase was over: 'available with geology mapped'?

I suppose that could apply to any big territory. But maybe not, if there are other plans for them.

Finally, not quite seriously, I'm wondering if this is actually going anywhere - should I just request an area the size of Tibet/Nepal and build 'the Himalayas' in it in isolation?

But enjoying the discussion, thanks for your interest.

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Comment from isleño on 14 July 2016 at 06:54

I don't think either one of us will easily change that position.

I could be wrong, but my impression is that the admin team is unlikely to endorse the level of structure being proposed here for the realm of geology. I definitely share the desire to encourage collaboration and realism, but I also recognize that it needs to be done in ways that balance well with the equally important goals of simplicity and freedom. We have a responsibility to consider the needs of all users, not just the ones who post here enthusiastically, who are eager to work with others, who are interested in these questions and passionate about these issues.

Say a 6000m peak rises up on your border, that affects your country. The only way you can make the map look right is if you both imagine there is this mountain there, and map accordingly. You don't even have to speak to each other but 1) you have to realise there is a mountain there and 2) you have to react to it. My point would be that if there was a basic, simple structure, it would be less likely that things like this would happen, and people would feel more able to say 'I planned that, bearing in mind what is already there...'. The canon would support the creativity, not impinge on it.

I don't think there's any chance for a framework so complete that people will be dissuaded from the simple act of building mountains on a border. I mean, I'd assume that the vast majority of borders wouldn't feature any plate boundaries at all. So this type of disconnect between neighbors will continue to happen all the time, regardless of the plate tectonics... and in any case, I expect most people can handle it like adults, working it out among themselves.

There is lots of evidence that good collaboration – in general, not just mountains - isn't happening. Many countries looking like ‘bowls’ is just part of it. We covered that already, I think.

I definitely agree that collaboration should be encouraged more. But as I've said, it's important to pick our battles, promoting collaboration in ways that provide the biggest return on investment, in terms of sacrificing small amounts of simplicity and freedom in exchange for large gains in realism. I can't imagine that the potential restrictions and complexity being proposed here would result in an obvious increase in realism, especially when compared to the much less restrictive/complex solution of encouraging a few longer mountain ranges with some simple notes on the overview map labels (e.g. "Mountains on western border").

Lines on a blank map show locations of mountain ranges much better than a few peak symbols - only visible at high zoom - on the OGF map. Its simply hard to see mountains on the OGF map.

Like I said, we can add simple notes to some of the overview map labels, which would be visible to everyone shopping for a territory. And I've also said it's definitely worthwhile to record/catalog where mountains have actually been built (a map in the wiki would be a great way to do that). So I don't disagree with making a map, I just disagree with its scope.

If a line - on an overview map, or a tectonic map - is there you'll both know there are probably mountains there. And so will the rest of the community when you say 'someone's built a big river and a delta next to my mountain range with my ski resorts in it' - while the other mapper says 'but I didn't know there were mountains there'. So I'd also see it is a way to help prevent these disputes happening, and, if they happen to help achieve a compromise..

For one thing, different lines on a tectonic map can mean different stuff: depending on the type of plate boundary, such a line could be mountains, or volcanoes, or rift valleys, or transform faults, or who knows what. So either the descriptions of the lines would need to be very specific/restrictive, or they wouldn't really solve the problem as claimed. And again, I really don't see any possibility for guidelines so extensive that most borders would have a predefined character. (I'm also unaware that these border disputes are happening in large numbers, or that they're that big of a problem — and even if they were, I'd still expect neighbors to achieve a resolution themselves.)

No, sorry, I meant constrained because - after the geology had been determined - the country would then become a different project, and people who had mapped the country might want to put something else there, rather than an American - or Bazque -or Zoolian - superpower. Not over all of it by any means, but on parts of it. In other words, the country would become a bit fragmented and ... superpowers don't usually have holes in them, or even inconsistencies in language.

Ah okay, yes, the project would not be constrained to geology alone. So the people who work on the geology of one of these large territories would likely be intermixed with the people who work on the rest of its development, in order to minimize discontinuity.

I think these have the potential to be great projects, actually... bringing together people with similar interests in a highly coordinated way over a large area. Hopefully we can get them up and running before too long. :-)

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 14 July 2016 at 10:49

The first point I don't think is particularly hard to explain - it doesn't have be endorsed. It could be a fictional map of the tectonics of a fictional planet. It would be 'Plate tectonics' rather than 'OGF:Plate tectonics'. Whether anyone believes it or not is a different matter - some people believe it, some don't. The OGF:Plate tectonics page could just say 'plate tectonics is not endorsed by admin', if need be. I wouldn't see that as being particularly positive, but if you think that's the case, it isn't hard to resolve.

But if it's only relevant to the people who are interested in it, where's the problem?

I don't think there's any chance for a framework so complete that people will be dissuaded from the simple act of building mountains on a border. I mean, I'd assume that the vast majority of borders wouldn't feature any plate boundaries at all. So this type of disconnect between neighbors will continue to happen all the time, regardless of the plate tectonics... and in any case, I expect most people can handle it like adults, working it out among themselves.

In the real world, boundary disputes 'handled by adults' regularly end up in warfare. So perhaps not the best term to use. In OGF it's probably reflected by people leaving - or leaving doing what they wanted to do in the part of their territory affected. Of course, I know you're just trying to focus on getting neighbours to come to an agreement - negotiated or implicit. And I think most OGF mappers are very responsive to other mappers and to trying to make it part of 'a world' - see comments above. And of course, I don't think there's a problem with different 'styles' of mapping across borders, this isn't OSM. So exactly, this wouldn't be relevant for most boundaries, most mountains.

I'll try and wrap this up now, because you're right, there are other ways we could pick our battles...

promoting collaboration in ways that provide the biggest return on investment, in terms of sacrificing small amounts of simplicity and freedom in exchange for large gains in realism.

I don't think there's any chance for a framework so complete that people will be dissuaded from the simple act of building mountains on a border.

Yes, I agree. But they might think more about the height of the mountain, the size of the range and how it fits into the other mountains in the world. That I would see as a large gain in realism (and in fact it has already started to happen as a result of this discussion).

At the end of the day, is there any big difference between having a line on the map or saying 'mountains on western border'. Wouldn't someone have had to imagined there being mountains on the western border before they wrote that? Or Is it the location/thickness of a line that might be seen as constraining? A line could always be dotted, or duplicated - i.e. disputed - as some lines on real world tectonic maps are. But how are these lines being drawn if there is no thought to the 'bigger picture'. Is it just random? Or is is 'that looks a bit like a mountain range would look in the real world'. If the latter, it is extrapolated from tectonics, or at least the 'effects of physics on planetary plates'.

For one thing, different lines on a tectonic map can mean different stuff: depending on the type of plate boundary, such a line could be mountains, or volcanoes, or rift valleys, or transform faults, or who knows what. So either the descriptions of the lines would need to be very specific/restrictive, or they wouldn't really solve the problem as claimed.

Yes, the first part is true - but it could be 'softened'. I'm not sure the second point follows. I don't think they'd be restrictive in terms of mapped features except big/huge mountain ranges but they would indicate the direction of plate movement. Do you think having some overview of plate movements would be a constraint for mappers who aren't concerned about tectonics? I can't see how. Anyone concerned can either ask for it to be changed, which it can be, or ignore it, which some probably would.

Or do you think some mappers would feel constrained by even thinking about the history of the world? If so, I have to say that is a different issue. As I see it, that sort of mapper isn't going to be thinking about a 'world', rather their own country, in isolation, or in isolation in this case from the physics and geology of the rest of the world. This project is sold as building a map of a world. I don't think you can at this point argue that it isn't that. Therefore, every country has to fit into the world, and plate tectonics has to exist. The map is a map of a globe, spinning in space. Or am I missing something?

Ah okay, yes, the project would not be constrained to geology alone. So the people who work on the geology of one of these large territories would likely be intermixed with the people who work on the rest of its development, in order to minimize discontinuity.

Yes, in order to minimise discontinuity or because people just get attached to what they've mapped.

I'd also say that this isn't just me and Isleño having a ...long... discussion - it is open, anyone else can chip in.

I'll continue on the 'project' theme when I can.

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Comment from isleño on 14 July 2016 at 19:00

The first point I don't think is particularly hard to explain - it doesn't have be endorsed. It could be a fictional map of the tectonics of a fictional planet. It would be 'Plate tectonics' rather than 'OGF:Plate tectonics'. Whether anyone believes it or not is a different matter - some people believe it, some don't. The OGF:Plate tectonics page could just say 'plate tectonics is not endorsed by admin', if need be. I wouldn't see that as being particularly positive, but if you think that's the case, it isn't hard to resolve.

But if it's only relevant to the people who are interested in it, where's the problem?

To turn your question around: if it's only relevant to the people who are interested in it, where's the benefit?

Sure, it might benefit those interested people, in places where they happen to have adjoining territories. But the bigger talk of building a more coherent worldwide portrait of realistic geology, of using an authoritative plan to help resolve disputes all over the globe, of enhancing the creativity of all mappers by giving them a common structure... surely you realize it won't make much long-term difference if it just gets buried somewhere in the wiki.

If you're able to compromise on a plan that admin can support, it can have a much greater impact. Working together, we can do a better job of building solutions into the official overview map, raising awareness though the intro messages to new users, etc.

That's why I'm taking the time to engage in this long conversation. Because I actually value what you're trying to do and I want it to have maximum effect. But the only way that's going to happen is through compromise and cooperation.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 14 July 2016 at 22:24

Yes, this very long conversation. Getting somewhere?

To turn your question around: if it's only relevant to the people who are interested in it, where's the benefit?

Sure, it might benefit those interested people, in places where they happen to have adjoining territories. But the bigger talk of building a more coherent worldwide portrait of realistic geology, of using an authoritative plan to help resolve disputes all over the globe, of enhancing the creativity of all mappers by giving them a common structure... surely you realize it won't make much long-term difference if it just gets buried somewhere in the wiki.

So, perhaps its a question of where is the benefit for the effort it would take. Frankly, I sort of agree. But I'm at an impasse for taking on any mapping without a sort of 'geological history' existing, so I'm starting with that. Islands only get you so far. An 'authoritative plan to help resolve disputes all over the globe' isn't actually where I'm coming from, at all. There is no 'authoritative' in it, anyway, and I'm not sure it would be a 'plan'. Maybe even a 'framework' would be too much. I'd see it more like a sketch of how the world might be, built out of what is already there and extrapolating from the real world to say things like 'if there was a mountain there and a mountain there there would probably be a mountain there as well' - do you see what I mean? And people being able to see that, refer to it, and say 'that's what we decided for this area - you can change it, or you can ignore it, just try and make it 'realistic', and consider your neighbours'. You could see that as a compromise - but personally I think its just that that's what would work in creating a vibrant, realistic map in a collaborative environment. Some people have suggested more radical 'frameworks'. I don't necessarily think 'voting for things' would work - sometimes I think it might be a good idea, other times not. Some people have suggested that there should be less structure and more freedom. We know we can only go so far with the freedom, but I do have to say I wouldn't want there to be less freedom to do some things. What I'm trying to propose is that, while retaining the freedom you can make the OGF map/world better if there is something that shows 'the bigger picture'. The OGF project is still only starting; new mappers will come (we hope). New countries will be mapped. They will want to know what is there already and why it is there in the way it is. They'll want to know how their country might fit into it.

If you're able to compromise on a plan that admin can support, it can have a much greater impact. Working together, we can do a better job of building solutions into the official overview map, raising awareness though the intro messages to new users, etc.

Yes. Ever the case. But you said in comment xxx:

I could be wrong, but my impression is that the admin team is unlikely to endorse the level of structure being proposed here for the realm of geology.

Happy to compromise. What level of structure would admin endorse?

You accept the point that lines on maps or comments about where mountains on maps are located are basically the same thing - ideas (i.e. a structure) - just ideas expressed in a different way?

I appreciate you're time and energy Isleño, truly I do. But if the compromise is that 'it's not worth having any plate tectonics in OGF' - well, what can I say? I suppose all I can say is what I said above: that there can be tectonics in an imaginary country that has imaginary geologists who go and study their imaginary planet. That would be realistic.

Alternatively, there could be a form of structure. The structure would be arrived at by collaboration and compromise. Isn't that what the whole OGF:Plate tectonics page is trying to achieve?

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Comment from isleño on 15 July 2016 at 22:56

Happy to compromise. What level of structure would admin endorse?

To be clear, I'm not speaking "officially" on behalf of anybody, just speculating based on what I know:

  • To serve as a guide and promote coherence, I think admins would endorse a "map of known mountains" using lines to illustrate all the current mountain ranges in the world. This would allow people to easily view where mountains exist, and make better decisions about how their mountains might fit into larger patterns. So this would be similar to the plate tectonics map, but just mountains; i.e. none of the complexities and restrictions implied by plate boundaries/boundary types/plate motion/etc. People would be encouraged to update the "map of known mountains" to include the mountain ranges in their countries.

  • To create longer mountain ranges spanning more territories, I think admins would endorse adding some nonexistent mountain ranges to the "map of known mountains," running along the borders of some unclaimed areas. These mountain ranges could be incorporated into the labels on the official OGF overview map using the notes mentioned earlier (e.g. "Mountains on western border"), so that anyone claiming such a territory would be aware of them. In addition, the same notes could be applied to unclaimed territories sharing a border mountain range built by a neighbor — so that if you build mountains along your border with an unclaimed territory, anyone claiming it would be aware of your mountains.

  • To engage new users, I think admins would endorse linking to the "map of known mountains" as part of the intro email exchange, and/or from the Making realistic countries tutorial, so that new users are more mindful of what exists around them, and are more inspired to consider how their countries might fit in.

  • For those who want to address the issue of plate tectonics in-world, I think admins would endorse a wiki page saying something like, "Although geologists agree on a wide range of regional features, the locations and types of plate boundaries remain unclear in many areas of the world, meaning there is currently no overall scientific consensus about what a global map of plate tectonics would look like. Despite substantial agreement that most continents are likely moving apart after a supercontinent phase, there are numerous competing theories about the details, making the area of plate tectonics a very active field of study." There could even be a section showing sketches of different plate tectonics models proposed — but the important thing is that none of these would be put forward as a guide for new users (too much complexity) or for the purpose of implying where people should/shouldn't build certain geological features (too much limitation on freedom). So rather than suggesting what gets built, these maps would be reacting to what gets built.

Put together, these steps would increase realism by helping everyone become more conscious of the patterns of mountains around them, by encouraging us all to do a better job of blending with those patterns, by reducing the number of geological disconnects at borders, and by promoting some continental-scale ranges like we have on Earth.

The negative impact on freedom would be kept small, because there would be no limitations such as might be implied by a structure of plate tectonics (like, you shouldn't have rift valleys away from the plate boundaries, or you shouldn't have high mountains away from the subduction zones, etc). So people would still be able to build basically whatever geology they want, as long as they fit reasonably well with their neighbors and avoid obvious unrealism.

And by focusing on mountains instead of plate tectonics, the increase in complexity would be minimal, since no one would be expected to decipher a map of plate tectonics and there would be no complex restrictions described or implied for any territory. People would be able to easily view their neighbors' mountains, and plan their mountains accordingly, in whatever way looks natural to them. No one would feel pressured to figure out what a subduction zone or a transform boundary is, or what it might mean for their mapping. Some territories would have a simple note like "Mountains on western border" but nothing more difficult or intimidating.

Again, I'm not speaking on behalf of anyone. But based on what I know, I'd expect that a compromise along these lines would likely satisfy the need to maintain simplicity and freedom for everyone here.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 15 July 2016 at 23:30

If that's what would be acceptable, all those points sound very reasonable to me, way down here at the bottom of the diary page. Its a good clear description and something to work off.

I agree on the balance between simplicity and freedom as well. Obviously, realism is in the eye of the beholder, and the "we'll come to it if it arises" approach doesn't always work out. It sort of depends how much real world physics and geology is applicable to OGF. I'd say that we should try and work out the 'hows and whys' before doing something; but not everyone's like that. We already have a fairly unreal world, even putting some of 'experimental mapping' to one side.

I've created two 'research bodies' one for geology, one for climate which may encourage people to think about these things. A 'map of known mountains' sounds like a good project to start with. It would be good to have that in an obvious place for new users to see. I think all the wiki text has to be kept quite open, and I agree that these pages would work best if kept up to date. I suppose they would only be suggesting that some things are more realistic than others, as the 'making realistic cities' OGF wiki does.

I'll not have much time for this in the next few weeks, but will come back to you about collaborative projects too. Meantime, it would be ideal if some of those large areas could be kept open - and perhaps also that smaller clump in mid-Archanta. I couldn't see a really big scale project getting off the ground at the moment.

Thanks Isleño for all your interest and contributions to this discussion. Udi out.

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Comment from isleño on 15 July 2016 at 23:49

Thanks for understanding, Udi. I definitely appreciate it and I'm really glad you're working on these issues. :-)

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Comment from Ernestpcosby on 17 July 2016 at 06:18

I'll just say that I have personally had very good experiences with neighbors willing to cooperate and collaborate. :) Robert (or Roberto, I think his name is different on the wiki) officially owns Narghena and unofficially owns Nature (which I chopped off the northwest corner of Freedemia). He was more than happy to work with me in fixing and improving borders, mountain ranges, rivers, and even railways and highways. Not to point anyone out negatively, but Omniville has been much harder to collaborate with due to lack of communication. I've kind of just resorted to using the borders with Nature and Narghena much more heavily for the time being, with only a few things entering Omniville at the moment.

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