A Guide to Charters

You have IRC. You have Forums. Now you need to figure out what your alliance is going to look like, and write a charter to sum that up and guide your alliance.

To help you setup your charter, is the following guide, written by Duncan King, and formatted/edited by Mikey.


 

Choosing your Charter and Governmet


A charter is like a constitution and legislation all put together and is the framework of an alliance. It determines not only an alliance's laws, but also its ideology and the conduct of its members. Because of the great importance of this document, it is vitally important that it be written correctly. Sometimes, people are so caught up with content that they miss structure and grammar. If your charter is not written well, it will hurt your alliance's development. Some alliances can cope with a bad charter, but many are handicapped by it.

One of the most important purposes of the Charter is establishing the government of the alliance. Having the right type of government is important for an alliance. In terms of government structure, the general rule is the fewer decision makers, the better. Activity issues and time zones can make large governments unworkable. For example, some alliances have governments composed of seven members and can only make decisions based on majority rule. This means that they have to wait for 1/2 + 1 of the government members to log in and voice their decisions. While this message can be quick if everyone is on the same page and keeps the same hours, it can take days if the government members are in different timezones or just forget to check the boards that day. It can take even longer if they don't agree.


Triumverates

One of the most popular types of government in other nation sims is a triumvirate. These bodies are composed of three leaders that make decisions by either majority or full consensus vote. My preferred method is the first because if one triumvir isn't available, the other two can still make the decision. The composition of a triumvirate can be determined in a variety of ways and each way says a lot about the alliance's priorities. Many alliances with have a trium for FA, a trium for IA, and a trium for either IA, or someone who has dabbled in all the different gov areas(a generalist).

Another way to arrange the triumvirate is to just have three generalists. While this method has its benefits as all three are experts in most areas, the structure does not give weight to either Internal or External affairs and may be lacking in one of them if none of the triumvirs have worked in that area before.


Empires

The final common type of government is an Empire. Empires have one central official. While this type is good because it makes it obvious who is in charge, having one central official bear the weight can burn out that person. Plus, if he or she is sick, the government can totally stop.



Once they type of government has been chosen, the method of choosing the government must be chosen



Democracy

Although many alliances aspire for Democracy for certain OOC reasons, on PT and where, Democracy does not usually go that well. Having a democratic alliance demands an active and involved member base, something that is hard to come by in a game. To be run well, a democratic alliance needs members with experience. If the elected leaders do not know what they are doing, the alliance suffers. While it's true that some democratic alliances are fairly stable and successful, what often happens is either not enough people run for office to fill the positions or people who are inexperienced win by default. If you are insistent in having a fully democratic government, I recommend that whatever type of government you use, the terms be at least two months but preferably three months long. Alliances with one month terms have a lot of turnover. Plus, when someone is newly elected, it takes at least a week for him or her to get going. This, combined with the fact that the typical election period lasts at least a week means that the government that is elected is only able to concentrate on governing for about a two weeks. This does not give a lot of time to get anything done.


Meritocracy

Another popular type of government is the totally appointed government or meritocracy. These governments work like they sound, the head authority, usually the Emperor, in the alliance appoints the other members of the government and these officials serve at the pleasure of the head authority and serve until they either resign or are removed. While this method has its benefits, mainly consistency and making sure that the people who are in positions of power are qualifies, it also means that the positions are static and a log jam can develop at the upper ranks, with there being more experienced people than there are positions for. This can result in a high rate of resignations among experienced players as people get frustrated at the logjam at the top.


Hybrids

A compromise, and a type of government that I recommend using is the hybrid. It has a mix of permanent and elected members, so new members have a way to get into government but there is some stability. In Zenith, for example, we have a permanent triumvirate and five elected ministers. The Ministers are the ones that actually run the day to day workings of the alliance and the triums have oversight and fill in where needed. We also have two appointed Ministers at Large. The MaLs are flexible players who assist the other ministers when needed. The positions were created to give people who either cannot win an election or won't run a chance to be in government. When we were writing the charter, we thought that doing this would be a good idea to take some of the stress off of the ministers and get more people into government. Thus far, the have worked out really well.


Ministries

As for the specific ministers, the bare minimum an alliance should have is ministers of Domestic Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Finance, and Defense.

Domestic Affairs: Keeping membership rosters, organizing trades, setting up an alliance bank and aid system, running alliance competitions (this could be shared by citizens affairs)

Education Department/Citizens Affairs: Running an academy if you have one, handling recruiting and masking, writing guides, coordinating with Domestic Affairs on competitions and things.

Foreign affairs is responsible for foreign affairs such as diplomacy and making treaties.

Finance is responsible for organizing alliance aid and member growth.

Defense is responsible for organizing the military.


Disciplinary Measures

Once you have the government established, make sure you have codified procedures for disciplining members and amending the charter. While you may like to think that you will never have a problem with discipline, stuff does happen sometimes and you will need to have to deal with it.

Some alliances have long, drawn out disciplinary processes, but these have their drawbacks as sometimes, some situations are too severe to wait. When when of your members goes rogue on a member of another alliance, that alliance does not want to wait a week for you to act. The best disciplinary action is quick and fair.

Additionally, you need to make sure that you codify a way to amend the charter. Without a way to amend the charter, your alliance will not be able to adapt.


Review

Before you post your charter for the view of the world, read over it again to check for spelling, grammar, and look. Make sure that your spelling and grammar are correct. Many readers of the Big Boards are very well educated and will point out the errors in your writing. In my experience, I find that a simple outline structure works well. By making the charter short and simple, it will be easier to follow.