Flippant introduction aside, this is an open letter wherein my objectives are fourfold-- I wish to justify several of my actions, and apologise for several others; but most importantly I'd like to seek a measure of reconciliation and lay out a concept for a change of pace regarding some of my behavior and perhaps also the behavior of others. I suppose I'll mention now that when I recount specific events, I do so in the most accurate and impartial way I can manage, and try to keep the identities of as many relevant parties as possible a secret for the sake of not involving them in something they may not want a part in anymore. If my retelling is inaccurate in some way, please point it out and know that its an honest mistake.
Towards these goals, I suppose the easiest place to start is the flashpoint for this to begin with. Without indulging in unneeded detail, the controversy started when Jo asked that another user stop using a word for which she felt was distasteful. A small debate ensued which I, otherwise having no dog in this particular race, joined in on. Quite bluntly, my contribution to this otherwise silly and banal debate was unnecessary pontification. While the Jo and the other user buried the hatchet, I prolonged the debate unnecessarily which involved another admin who made a ruling against offensive speech-- when I asked for a citation for the rule (which I had never heard of before) Jo, doubtless already rather agitated by my behavior, snapped. She lost my patience, and I at her, and while I can't speak for her I for one said several things for which I regret, and for that I would like to sincerely apologise.
While I think her behavior during the argument was unjustifiably-caustic, I don't want an apology from Jo-- partly its due to the fact that I of all people understand that one often says or does things they don't really mean when upset or angry, so I hold nothing against her for her outburst anyway, but also because to exchange apologies simply wouldn't fix the problem that's far larger than
a single controversy. SporeWiki has had a consistent issue with pushing inconvenient social and interpersonal issues under the rug-- ignoring them for a while until they inevitably boil back to the surface with a vengeance as opposed to addressing the problem once and for all. I feel that all a mutual apology would be would be a truce of sorts until the next major flashpoint sends me and Jo into another argument, and subsequently sends me packing for a couple of weeks, my reputation not-unreasonably in shambles and nobody coming out the better for it. It'd simply add to the growing list of issues buried under the social substrate of this wiki that occasionally make themselves known.
Instead I'm going to solve the issue, personally, on my end. I don't think its any great secret that I've become more argumentative in the past few months, and perhaps also a bit snappier. Why this is I can't say-- perhaps the lack of schoolwork to keep myself busy has given myself too much time, perhaps its something more serious or personal. I don't know. But I do know that ultimately the cause is irrelevant as either way there remains the issue of argumentativeness that so cost me my moderatorship-- which while essentially being an honourary title, the revokation of my metaphorical badge and aviator glasses still brought the issue into somewhat sharper focus.
Essentially my personal solution will be to think before I type from now on and to force myself to assume good intentions and be positive. All this is easier said than done, but its also essential. My marked change in attitude over the years is something akin to becoming jaded, I think, and its disturbing. I was rather comfortable in my former position as an in-between between new and old users, and as something of an unofficial guide. I don't want that to fall by the wayside because I find myself preoccupied tilting at windmills. Perhaps my effort to do this will make the wiki as a whole better, and perhaps it'll mend some doubtless-frayed relations between a few people whom I have alienated. I hope so.
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Your reply to my question about surface borders is very interesting, so let's talk a bit about the "One Species, One Culture" trope if you have time.
The thing you are pointing out is but true. I'm trying to prevent it with Medwedia, too. Let's begin by showing a recap of pre-interstellar Medwedian history.
Medwedia was a normal country on the planet Ærd, just like France or Russia were on Earth. Ærd had (and still has) distinct Ursoid cultures and ethnicities, and there were other countries (the most important being Rodunia, Lumistan, Araz-Nul and Gargona).
During the "Great War of Planetary Unification", the Ursoid equivalent of WW3, Medwedia quickly captured and annexed the already weakened rest of the planet. Nuclear apocalypse could be prevented because Medwedia gradually weakened the other countries before the war and confiscated all nukes. De facto, it was not a voluntary unification into a new state but an annexation and absorption.
Shortly after the GWPU, interstellar travel started and colonies were built.
Now to the culture: due to Medwedian dominance, many elements of Medwedian culture spread on the planet. Not like "Everybody suddenly turning Medwedian" but like American and European pop culture is spreading over Africa and Asia. As the Medwedian dictatorship was (and still is, albeit not admitting it) goddamn racist and saw the Medwedian ethnicity as the superior of Ærd, nobody from the other countries could become a part of the elite. Still today, most high-ranking positions are clad by those ethnically Medwedian (there are some Rodunians, too, because the country historically had a good relationship to Medwedia and cultural similarities because it bordered it). Due to racist policies and breeding programs, approximately half of the population of Ærd is ethnically Medwedian now.
There still are other ethnicities and cultures and languages other than Medwedian being taught and used, but they are kept in the background. Religions other than Medwedian Orthodoxy are practiced, too, albeit illegally and on pain of the death penalty for heresy. The "One Species, One Culture" cliché is being artificially worked towards by the government, but it is not the natural state of the Ursoid civilization (I'm not saying "Medwedian" on purpose). Think of the Nazis trying to make everybody and everything Aryan, but on a larger scale, in more subtle ways and without sterilizations or concentration camps.
Instead of subjecting non-Medwedian ethnicities to genocide (after all, the Medwedian government is already committing genocide towards non-Ursoids), several things are done:
Propaganda. Let's begin with the name of the country, which did not change since it started out as a regional power in the pre-industrial era as a fusion of multiple kingdoms under one military junta. Medwedian culture is Medwedian culture. When alien tourists get to visit Ærd (this happens very, very rarely), they are only shown historically and ethnically Medwedian regions and cities or completely cleansed and assimilated parts of non-Medwedian regions such as Lumistan. Medwedian literature, music and art is encouraged and everybody is forced to learn the Medwedian language as their first one. When a delegation, let's say from the Stellar Union, visits the southern region of Kralland (which has never been part of Medwedia before the Great War of Planetary Unification), they are greeted by people wearing Medwedian folk costumes and eat Medwedian dishes.
Encouraging ethnical Medwedian reproduction. The ethnically Medwedian working class is severely encouraged if not forced to breed more than non-ethnical Medwedians (which are encouraged to stay modest, some regions even enacting one-child policies). Medwedian families get rewards and privileges per child born. Officers are promoted quicker or people accepted into the party easier if they are the eldest son of a large family, as it is believed that they learned responsibility and commanding in their childhood.
Encouraging assimilation of non-Medwedians into Medwediandom. As said before, non-Medwedians are not sterilized or gassed. Instead, propaganda encourages families to marry their daughters into Medwedian families. Many families choose to embrace Medwedian culture voluntarily as they want their children to have better career chances. Children of working-class families are not allowed to study and forced to undergo vocational training - exceptions are only made for very smart, Medwedian kids. The Medwedian language is the only official language of all provinces; anybody who does not know it well is disadvantaged. Some non-Medwedian parents choose to only talk to their own children in Medwedian, treating their own native languages as worthless, primitive dialects.
Social engineering in colonization. The government sends out large colony ships at a rate of one per week - it functions as a "sink" for the populations of Ærd and the old colonies, to prevent life becoming uncomfortable due to high population density. Of course, the Ministry of Colonization gets to choose which people get a ticket - every colony ship must be 80% Medwedian and the remaining minority is encouraged (another term for "forced under threats of being thrown out of the airlock") to fuse with the Medwedian majority. In the 100 most recently colonized systems, 92.7% of all residents consider themselves "ethnically Medwedian". Bingo!
Do you think that this is a realistic approach to the aspect of cultural (un)diversity? It must be considered that the Medwedian Democratic Federation is a totalitarian, dystopian dictatorship where thieves have their hands amputated and there are whole universities dedicated to inventing new methods of torture. Democratic societies will have much more cultural diversity and regionalism (albeit cultures will slowly fuse into the most popular one); I'm not even speaking about multi-species nations here!
This is... a fantastic justification for the trope! I really must commend you for the thought put into this, as it takes the tired trope, but gives it a very new, very dark dimension rarely discussed. I'd be very happy to discuss this and other fiction further on Sporewiki's Discord channel!
My main fiction, the Drodo Empire, is a refutation of the trope outright. Essentially the Empire is the body which rules over the vast majority of the Drodo race, and within it almost all of its hundreds of cultures and ethnicities, all equally proud of their racial, cultural, and clan heritage and suspicious of federal overreach. This makes governance difficult, to say the least. The compromise that allows the Empire to exist comes in the form of a relatively-weak federal government tasked mainly with military and foreign affairs, and a devolution of power to the lowest, most direct possible levels-- provincial governors, clan elders, and the Drodo Empire's aristocracy (which is one of its major forces of social cohesion, as they are generally more culturally intermixed and federally-minded).
Despite the aforementioned difficulties, there are a couple of forces of cohesion in Drodo Imperial society-- the aforementioned aristocracy; the Drodo Emperor, Jilnaris I Kilar, who is immensely popular with the people; and the nature of Drodo religion. Drodo religion takes the form of paganistic folk-faiths which have much in common by ethnicity, and there exists a general principle in Drodo theology that all pantheons and faiths are in fact valid and coexist under the same cosmic umbrella, but simply have power over their faithful or in different lands. Therefore the Drodo people have a long history of religious tolerance and will often pay respects to local deities other than there own when abroad. This almost entirely avoids religious hatred, which is some of the most devastating.
However it still remains that the Drodo Empire is among the most ethnically diverse of any such states, and with it comes the associating difficulties and benefits. I've likened it to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the past and I believe such a comparison is apt, but not perfect, due to the Drodo Empire being the result of a political unification as opposed to military conquest, and the lack of a clearly-dominant ethnic group.
Also, unrelated question - about the Out of Timers, and since you created the page, I decided to ask you about this. I was reading the article and the thought came to my head if surviving precursors such as Arkarixus, Tyromairon, and similar beings all could count as being "Out of Timers", considering that they were removed from their former lives by a matter of millions, or billions, of years.
The Discord's been used by the wiki now for a few months, at least. I can't recall the exact amount of time. While there was some resistance to the idea, it had been thrown about for a while and the thing that convinced the community as a whole was the fact that Discord is just generally a superior platform that is more recent and popular, with more potential features than IRC-- such as integrating it into the wiki's UI.
As to your second point-- technically, you might be right. Though these cases are moreso those that fit the (ill-defined) letter of the law as opposed to its spirit, so to speak. As it stands the general implication with Out-of-Timers is that they are mortal/semimortal, and that the event that caused them to go into stasis or otherwise reemerge in the future was an accident or deliberate act inflicted upon them, from which they needed rescuing. These two went into a period of hibernation deliberately, and are beings of incredible power by contrast. Nonetheless, that's a good observation but I don't see either being granted French citizenship and philanthropic support because of that!
Oh, that thing. Yeah I wrote that because I was bored-- its non-canon and very old, and I've thought of getting rid of the page entirely actually. I'd be open to collabing or at least helping you start, but I'd sooner not develop that story anymore.
Actually, it gave me an idea on how to introduce a Spartian faction into the fictionverse. My idea is that a group of Spartians, the Confederacy of Independent Spartians, fleeing the collapse of their empire, mount an assualted upon the Drodo, trying to carve out a new home from their colonies. The Spartians would be undermanned and not very well equipped, but rigid discipline, their war glorifying mentality and desperation means they are prepared to go any lengths to at least carve out something for themselves.
Since I already made the lesser arms for Halifaxia, I thought it'd make sense for me to make a flag based on it too. It's pretty simple, though.
The greater arms I'll do tomorrow. Any preferences? What kind of supporters should there be, for example? Should I use a royal crown or a mural crown (you know, with towers)? Anything about the crest?
Also, I considered adding some Koldenweltian iconography to tie Halifaxia together with the rest of the world. Do Halifaxians worship any important Koldenwelti deities, for example?
Since you weren't there yesterday, I finished the arms myself. The only problem is, I am not sure about the colours. Adding gold makes the arms a bit too flashy, keeping everything silver makes the figures blur together.
SEAD (suppression of air defenses) aircraft are dedicated ground attack aircraft which are meant to engage, suppress, or destroy hostile ground-based anti-air to make way for friendly airpower. It used to be that they were regular bombers specially trained to do this (their pilots had to be very, very brave), but on the modern battlefield there are specialized aircraft and weapon systems to fulfill this role.