Zendo-like Induction Game for Playing Online

I re­cently en­coun­tered the in­duc­tive logic game Zendo 1, and it looks like a great game for as­piring ra­tio­nal­ists. I’d like to play a game like it among the peo­ple on this fo­rum. How­ever, Zendo is very vi­sual, with an em­pha­sis on color and po­si­tion of pieces, so it would be difficult to play over the In­ter­net. So I’ve adapted the con­cept and rules of Zendo to a for­mat that can be played in an LW thread.

The ba­sic premise of Zendo is that of try­ing to figure out a rule by ob­serv­ing which en­tities do or do not com­ply with it. One player, the “Master,” de­vises a rule and pre­sents one struc­ture that does and one that does not com­ply. In the on­line ver­sion, these are strings of 1-digit num­bers. For in­stance, the rule might be “at least 2 of the digits are odd.” Then “2 5 1 0 ” would satisfy the rule, and “8 3 2” would not. The rule can be any level of com­plex­ity and may con­cern any­thing about the num­bers, like “The string must con­tain at least 4 digits” or “The sum of the first two digits must be greater than the sum of the last two” or what­ever. It may not con­cern any­thing other than the string, such as the times­tamp of the post.

Play­ers take turns by propos­ing a string in re­ply to the com­ment with the first two strings, and say­ing ei­ther “Master” or “Mondo”. If the player says “Master,” the Master will re­ply to the com­ment con­tain­ing the string and say “yes” if it com­plies with the rule and “no” if it does not. If the player says “Mondo,” all play­ers have some amount of time to post a re­ply guess­ing whether or not the string will meet the rule be­fore the Master judges it. Cur­rently this time is 8 hours so ev­ery­one will have time to see it, but if this seems too long it can be short­ened. Tra­di­tion­ally this is done by con­ceal­ing a col­ored stone in one’s hand with no­body see­ing any­body else’s guess un­til time is up, so if you want post your guess in rot13 sur­rounded by gob­bledy­gook (e.g. fyqxws­fyxqw­st­fyxlrffyqxwsyfqxwtsfy). Please don’t read other peo­ple’s rot13. At the end of the time pe­riod, the Master will judge the string and give ev­ery­one who guessed cor­rectly a guess­ing point.

At the end of your turn, af­ter your string has been judged, you may spend one guess­ing point to re­ply to the “Guess the rule here.” com­ment and guess the rule. The Master may ask clar­ify­ing ques­tions about am­bi­gui­ties in the guess. When the Master is satis­fied that e un­der­stands the guess, e will ei­ther pro­nounce the guesser the win­ner or provide a string satis­fy­ing the guess but not the true rule or vice versa. The guesser may guess un­til e wins or runs out of guess­ing points.

I’ve de­cided an ini­tial rule, and started a game in the com­ments. To join the game, re­ply to the com­ment con­tain­ing the first two strings. To com­ment on the mer­its or prob­lems of the game, say that this shouldn’t have been posted, ask ques­tions, or sug­gest changes to the rules, re­ply to “Meta stuff goes here.”

1: The link is bro­ken. It’s sup­posed to go to http://​​en.wikipe­dia.org/​​wiki/​​Zendo_%28game%29 .

EDIT: The first game was fun, but time differ­ences made it a bit chaotic. The sec­ond game will be at­tempted on IRC chat. To join, sug­gest a time, or vol­un­teer to be Master, post a com­ment to that effect.