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Spectrum Theory

By anonymous, commentary and edits by Ferrous


From time to time, people claim that there is an "ideal" government setup. I believe there is no such thing as an ideal government setup, otherwise there would only be one alliance in the game. Every alliance has its own government structure, one that everyone can agree on. Assuming that it works, each government structure therefore serves something of a "niche" in the market of alliances, making no single structure "ideal." However, from historical evidence we can see that there are some systems of government that tend to be more effective than others. While a good alliance requires much more than a good government structure, an organized government can help the growth of an alliance considerably.

The following is an idea that was proposed by a friend of mine, as a hypothetical setup for an alliance. While the system itself may not be ideal for your own alliance, it proposes a number of ideas that may be valuable. The one major problem with this setup is that there is no central leader, but rather a bunch of different ministries that are supposed to handle only their own ministries and not have a hand in any others. While the lack of any centralized power in the alliance may be a problem, the other ideas should not be discounted. The ruling on how the leadership is chosen differs from ministry to ministry, with a mix of meritocratic, democratic, and chronatic (rule of time) elements, tailored to each department.


A meritocratic chronocracy with democratic elements

Spectrum places an emphasis on specialization and seniority and is designed to create a high level of autonomy within the alliance allowing for quick decisions and high efficiency. The alliance structure is broken down into seven specialties with two non-specialized categories. Each specialty is run as a mostly autonomous unit with very minimal oversight from one of the two non-specialized groups in order to ensure cohesiveness for the alliance as a whole. The specialties and non-specialties break down as follows:

  • Red - In charge of the military
  • Orange - In charge of member education
  • Yellow - In charge of R&D (Studying game mechanics and finding methods for using them to maximum efficiency)
  • Green - In charge of the alliance economy
  • Blue - In charge of foreign affairs
  • Indigo - In charge of internal affairs
  • Violet - In charge of recruitment
  • Black - New, pre-specialized membership
  • White - Guiding force of the alliance

Each member goes into one specialization for helping run the alliance and each specialization is run with its own self-contained hierarchy. The members of each department are considered the authority on that specialization within the alliance. A member with authority in the military branch can give a command pertaining to the military to anyone in another specialization, regardless of the members rank within their own specialization. The hierarchies break down as follows:


  • Diffuse red - Military foot soldiers. They have no real authority, but will be the first deployed against rogues, ghosts or sudden attacks. They will be expected to be on for update whenever possible, regardless of whether the alliance is at war. This is the level achieved immediately by members who opt into the military.
  • Brilliant red - The officers. They have the authority to order attacks against specific nations (rogues, ghosts, or hostiles during war) and are in charge of drawing up target lists. Members are eligible to be elevated to the level of Brilliant red after at least two months of service as Diffuse red. They are promoted by a member of the Infrared level.
  • Infrared - The council of seven that is in charge of the military. During war time, they are put in charge of the alliance except for peace talks, which remain the responsibility of Blue. They are in charge of overarching war strategy. They elect one member from amongst the seven to be the head of the council. This imparts no extra powers except for the ability to promote Brilliant red to Infrared when vacancies exist on the council.


  • Diffuse orange - Akin to teaching assistants. They study the alliance's library on game mechanics and direct new members to relevant guides or answer basic questions. This is the basic level achieved upon entering Orange.
  • Brilliant orange - These are tutors. They are in charge of looking after and personally teaching new members in order to ensure a solid understanding of the game and alliance structure as well as helping to involve them in the alliance community. After spending a month as Diffuse orange, a member may be elevated to the level of Brilliant orange by someone at the level of Deep orange.
  • Deep orange - They may continue taking on students, but are also in charge of developing the lesson plans and keeping the guides up to date with current information. They may also help train Diffuse orange members to help ready them for advancement to Brilliant orange. After spending three months as Brilliant orange, a member becomes Deep orange.


  • Diffuse yellow - The guinea pigs. Entry level members will spend their first two months in yellow providing raw data for the research team and conducting whatever in-game experiments are required by the upper ranks.
  • Brilliant yellow - The lab techs. They gather and compile the raw data provided by the Diffuse level yellows and test the numbers provided by guides and any calculators to check for accuracy and consistency. After two months at the Diffuse level, members become Brilliant.
  • Radiant yellow - The experiment directors. They work with the information to figure out the formulas underlying the game mechanics. They can then use these to produce more accurate guides, more efficient growth techniques or military strategies and to program calculators. They are the only ones privy to the base formulas behind the guides and programs produced except in cases where it is determined that another group can only most effectively benefit from access to the calculations themselves instead of models created using them. After two months as Brilliant yellow, members may be promoted by a majority vote of current Radiant level members.


  • Diffuse green - These members' nations will make up the core of the economic force using nations to produce tech, extra aid slots or cash for members of the alliance.
  • Brilliant green - The coordinators. They assign aid targets to banks set up trade circles and arrange tech deals. After two months as Diffuse green, they are available for promotion to Brilliant by any member of Neon level.
  • Neon green - The organizers. These are the people that develop the various programs that the bank uses and which the Brilliant level members are responsible for carrying out. After two months as Brilliant green, a member may be raised to Neon status by a majority of those currently at the Neon level.


  • Diffuse blue - These are the basic diplomats that are sent out to establish relations with other alliances. They have no real power, but are responsible for establishing and maintaining relationships with other alliances.
  • Brilliant blue - These are the coordinators of the diplomatic team. They assign diplomats to alliances that need them and are capable of dealing with minor diplomatic issues such as negotiating reparations for rogue attacks. After three months as Diffuse blue, members are eligible for promotion Brilliant status by the person at Royal level.
  • Royal blue - The head of the foreign affairs of the alliance. This person can sign treaties, negotiate peace during war time and otherwise develop the diplomatic policy of the alliance. In the event that the position is vacant, Brilliant level members of Blue will vote one of themselves into the position. Any Brilliant members with at least one month's experience at that level are eligible to occupy the position.


  • Diffuse indigo - Something of the message boys of the group. They are responsible for sending out whatever in-game messages they are assigned by higher level members.
  • Brilliant indigo - These are the ones responsible for making sure that members lists are updated, ghosts are found and any messages that need to be sent out are going out on time. After two months as Diffuse, members are eligible for Brilliant and may be promoted by anyone of Intense status.
  • Intense indigo - Responsible for coordinating the internal affairs team. They create the the messages that need to go out, the schedules for doing so and make sure that the Brilliant level members are doing their jobs. After two months of work at the Brilliant level, members are eligible to be appointed to Intense status by any current member of that level.


  • Diffuse violet - They do the grunt work of the recruitment team, sending out PMs to new nations, hanging out on the forums watching for people who are looking for an alliance or going to offsites to try to get new members into the game.
  • Brilliant violet - These do a good deal of the upper management. They create PM lists which can be handed out to Diffuse members for easy division into CC boxes, create standard recruitment messages, review incoming applications and run any background checks that may be needed on new members. After three months as Diffuse, members are eligible to be appointed Brilliant by a majority of Ultraviolet.
  • Ultraviolet - A group of three, they are responsible for approving and masking incoming members and creating recruitment programs to increase efficiency within the department. They are also in charge of making sure everyone is doing the job they are supposed to be doing. In the event of a vacancy in Ultraviolet, the incoming member must be agreed upon by the remaining members of Ultraviolet and selected from those with at least one month's experience at the Brilliant level.


There are no levels in Black. This is the level at which every member begins. They have no powers or responsibilities and may not take part in any alliance programs which are reserved for those in a specific department. Members remain at the Black level until they are passed by either a Brilliant or Deep level Orange member.


There are also no levels in White. To obtain White status, a member must have achieved the highest rank in at least three of the Colors and served in those positions for a minimum of two months. Once they are eligible, they must be voted to White status by the other Colors. Each color receives one vote. Those at the highest level of each color vote on which way their vote will go. If a majority vote in favor, it is a yes vote. If at least 5 of the seven colors vote in favor, the member achieves White status. Those at the level of White have all of the powers for any of the highest level positions they achieved before becoming White.


Anyone of the highest rank of a color may suspend a member within their color from that color. If the suspension is not overturned by that person someone of the same rank, it will carry over to a full expulsion from the color after 72 hours. Anyone of Brilliant rank may be demoted according to a reversal of the promotion process to that level depending on the color. A member of the highest rank of the color may be demoted by a member of White. A unanimous White decision may expel a member from the alliance entirely. If a member of White has not voted on a matter within 48 hours, they are considered to have abstained. A member of White may be removed from the position by a 6/7ths vote of the Colors.


War can be declared by a unanimous decision of the Whites or by a unanimous Color vote. Peace may be declared if the Royal Blue negotiates the opponent's surrender, the Whites give the enemy White peace or the membership as a whole votes in favor of surrendering to terms negotiated by the Royal Blue.


F = Ferrous

A = Anonymous

F: I don't see anything glaring missing - you've covered everything needed for an alliance, except for possibly espionage activities.

A: Actually, I'll make it a Q&A. Anything specific you're curious about?

F: That's fair.

Q1: Can there essentially be an unlimited number of whites?

Q2: Why 7 Infrared? You only have one Head of Foreign Affairs to decide essentially the entire course of the alliance from a political standpoint.

Q3: You said 18 months to be white. I count that you can do it in less: 15 months. However, this requires that the individual be both a member of infrared and a member of ultraviolet (you don't have any time constrictions to get into those groups).

Q4: Whites do have an enormous amount of power - couldn't that conflict with the heads of other colors? For instance, should alliance XYZ approach Spectrum with an offer for an MDP, a white could reject it, but Royal Blue could sign it later.

Q5: What about amending your constitution?

Q6: Tech Raiding policy?

Q7: Nuke policy?

Q8: Any other kinds of policy?

Q9: Membership rights on OWF? (some alliances restrict how much their members can say on OWF)

Q10: Supposing that you wanted to have a newsletter - under which category would that go?

Q11: Getting to the top rung in any color is different - I just want to make sure that I have this straight:

Red: Appointment to Infrared, elected to be head of Infrared

Orange: Gets to highest level automatically by time

Yellow: Voted in by highest members

Green: Voted in by highest members

Blue: Voted in by brilliant members

Indigo: Appointed by highest member(s)

Violet: Voted in by remaining members

White: Voted in by colors

**The Indigo discrepancy is what I'm looking at.

Q12: I'm looking at how many people you need to run this alliance. Not counting all of the people underneath the top people, I'm looking at (bare minimum):

R: 7

O: 1

Y: 1

G: 1

B: 1

I: 1

V: 3

W: 1

White is not necessary, so to speak, but it's hard to fathom an alliance without some kind of figurehead. So that brings the number up to 16, including white. That's huge for an alliance. It's the same basic idea as None*, but with 5 times as many officials. I'm curious if you think this would be an issue or not.

Q13 (follow-up to A4): Maybe, but you could argue that you could still have two leaders, both very competent, but have very different political outlooks. Obama/McCain would be an example (if you had McCain in his younger days, at least). Granted, by that point the White (with blue experience) and the Royal Blue would probably in agreement, but one could still go behind the other's back. At this point, I may just be playing devil's advocate, but I figure I might as well poke in as many holes as I can.

Q14: How many people are we looking at for Admin status?


A1: Yeah, it's that important... Anyway, yes, there could technically be an unlimited number of Whites. Keep in mind, though, that achieving White status requires a bare minimum of six months in three colors for a total of a year and a half of work. It also requires people who've been the boss for two months in whatever their first choice of specialization was to give it up and go back to be the bottom rung for quite some time.

A2: During war time, it's very important to have your military commander on as much as possible. Having a total of seven means you can cover pretty much an entire 24 hour period, without killing the person you're relying on to manage your defense and prevents any unexpected inactivity from completely destroying your coordination. I actually offset the issue a bit by creating the head of the council. Technically, they have no extra authority, but because they were elected by the council, it means that all or most have an elevated respect for that individual which has now been put into concrete terms, conferring them at least a bit more deference, even if not out of necessity. The fact that they don't have actual elevated authority prevents the problem of Infrared members feeling as though they have to wait until the person is on to consult, wasting time.

A3: Oops, I forgot.

A4: Technically, this is a possibility, but only if the White in question achieved Royal Blue status. This is far and away the most difficult to obtain all things considered. In the event it does happen, the Royal Blue and the White in question will have already proved competent in Foreign Affairs. While this isn't a guarantee of anything, it does make it considerably less likely that they would make any moves that they know would contradict each other without consultation. So while it isn't fool proof, it does make it somewhat unlikely that an issue will occur. And any issues that prove unresolvable have the removal function left as a last resort. The checks, especially for White, are put in place to make sure complete idiots aren't put in sensitive areas. At some point, you have to trust that this has worked and leave an escape route just in case it didn't.

Q5: It's obviously perfect and needs no amending! Really, though, I focused more on an outline of running the alliance itself. If I ever wrote it up into an actual constitution, I'd add more of the traditional extras.

A6: Set by those at the Infrared level.

A7: See above. I don't believe in making policy an integral part of the alliance, but allowing the government to determine it as needed.

A8: Pretty much see above.

A9: This one I actually considered, and may still decide to restrict to Blue members, but I'd rather leave that open, I think.

A10: This would fall under Indigo.

A11: This will be easiest to explain if I outline my reasoning for all for them:

  • Red I already explained above, but yes, that's correct
  • Orange is the simplest, and most solely reliant on experience. It also doesn't really suffer from anything that could be perceived as conflict of command, so simple direct promotion over time makes sense there. If anyone is really stupid, there is plenty of time to demote or expel them from the color before they reach the top.
  • Yellow isn't really as naturally hierarchical as many of the other areas being more of a research group than a government one, however, the higher level has access to material that most alliances probably will not, and should be considered a bit sensitive, so a check to make sure nobody that shouldn't be in gets in needs to be in place.
  • Green is one where talent in the upper ranks is important, but there isn't much need for a centralized authority the way there is in the military. That leaves a vote by the experienced members as the most logical form of advancement to the top level.
  • Blue I decided should have someone capable of making decisions quickly without much consultation, and doesn't require the kind of speed that the military might, so enough people to be on a 24 hour watch would be unnecessary. They'd also be much more likely to trip each other up with conflicting plans, as you pointed out. It would be more of a concern at this level as they would all feel equally entitled to the decision making power, where the relationship between a Royal Blue and a White would be necessarily quite a bit different. Election from below is also a good way to make sure that the person has the charisma and diplomatic skill to convince a group of people that they are correct. Necessary for a top level diplomat.
  • Indigo is a government structure, but one in which work ethic is the most important part. There isn't a huge amount of specialized talent or access to really sensitive details. Laziness needs to be avoided, so a straight you're in as long as you wait long enough, is a bad way to rank it, however, there is little reason not to allow ease of promotion to those who prove good at the job. That's why it's appointment based, but not very rigorous.
  • Violet is in charge of membership access. The fact that they have the power to let people into the alliance means that allowing huge numbers of people into the office is not necessarily a good thing. Especially as there are lower ranks that can take care of a good deal of the time consuming issues of the process. Having a set of three prevents people from having to wait too long for approval without allowing everyone and their brother the power to approve applications.

A12: There is no question that this alliance would be significantly harder to found than most. It is not impossible, and I believe could actually function well with just under 100 members. That said, it's definitely designed to function optimally as a large alliance rather than a small one. In fact, I think this one could grow rather significantly without a significant breakdown in efficiency. Better, at least, than a majority of modern alliances, anyway. It's designed to work optimally with large growth.

A13: Yes, it is still always possible that there will be issues regardless. It's expected that, as Royal Blue and the head of the actual FA department, he should be considered the authority in that regard. If there are significant legitimate concerns from one or both sides, of the dispute, however, there are ways of removing both Royal Blues and Whites from office. Anyone that can't resolve an issue with another member of the government will cause issues for everyone more than they are helping.

A14: I'd go with Ultraviolet and Royal Blue for masking purposes and the Whites for authoritative reasons, especially as managing the upper levels is a prime purpose of their existence.


My analysis:

The structure of Spectrum is geared entirely towards trying to fulfill the duties of the alliance in the most efficient manner as possible, with the most qualified people as possible. You have a mix of three elements for each duty (depending on the subject area), of democracy, meritocracy, and this newer idea of chronocracy. The introduction of chronocracy is certainly an interesting one, that has only been touched upon by other alliances, but never taken to this full extent (e.g., other alliances may require that you've been in the alliance for a month before you can run for a position). Obviously, this approach gives Spectrum something unique.

The largest flaw is that in order for the alliance to work, you need at least two prerequisites:

1. A large enough membership to fulfill all of the positions, and get as many members in the intermediate positions as possible

2. A well-educated membership that understands the system.

The first problem proves a difficulty for a smaller alliance - they would be unable to fulfill many of the positions, leaving spots vacant. Vacant spots would lead to either a reformation of the charter, or a demoralizing factor in the alliance, as members would see vacant spots and think, "gee, this isn't working." The problem can be corrected with a large enough membership, but getting such a large initial membership is difficult. You'd have to bring in an outside "invasion" group (Fark, FAN, Legion, RIA), get a merger of several smaller alliances (doesn't occur often), or get a splinter group (most splinter groups are too small for this to work).

The second problem is harder to ascertain. In order for the alliance to work, everyone would need to know exactly what their job is, and how to switch to a different position. Granted, if you are in a given color, you do not need to worry about the rules regarding a different color. However, learning all of the rules of Spectrum is daunting. This does mean that only the most qualified people can get on top, but the confusion at the bottom may be discouraging to people who are not well educated.

The second major flaw are the time constrictions. For an old, established, largish alliance, this would not be an issue. However, for a new alliance, few people are technically qualified to be at top, which can leave a poor precedence for trying to fill out the color. The people at top need to be fully aware that they should be delegating powers to those under them. Additionally, the time constrictions can a major stumbling bloc for those who are competent and wish to serve the alliance in greater capacity, but cannot do so because they have not been around for long enough. Case in point: I joined TTK at the end of October. By mid-January, I was approached by Gran the Terrible to be the External Preceptor - that's head of War and MoFa, and second-in-command only to the Grand Master (same rank as Internal Preceptor). I was in the alliance for no more than 2 and a half months, but I was well on my way to being the Grand Master if I had wanted it. This is system can discourage competent people from sticking with the alliance, when they can "fast-track" their way in a different alliance.

The third and final flaw in the system is that there is very little collective action for the entire alliance. This mostly is in reference to the Blue color, since only one person has any real say over how the alliance shall move politically. High-ranking members of other colors may feel like they were left-out of the process, or may have a say over the direction of the alliance, but no actual power outside their own color. Granted, this is an incentive to become "White", but getting that rank takes nearly forever.

The one major benefit of democracies that is typically overlooked is that should the alliance take an action, nobody can complain about the direction it's taken. By definition, the action of the democracy is the will of the people (or at least the majority of the people), so it was their choice to elect certain people, or to vote in a particular direction. Meritocracies do not have that - it's more of a, "if you don't like it, then you can get out." kind of attitude. However, as we've seen with Vox, actions that are taken could be unpopular, thereby forming a resistance.

That's all I can think of.


As to the first point, this alliance, to properly function, needs a bar minimum of around 50-60 active members. I realize the issues inherent in that, but it focuses solely on the initial formation rather than actual running of the alliance. Getting it off the ground would be highly difficult, but once it's going, it should run fairly well. As far as education goes, this is why the education department is so important and why the uneducated have an entire group to themselves. Members simply can't become involved in the process unless they have at least a basic understanding of the game and the alliance. That said, the lowest levels, across the board are highly reliant on following directions from above. This gives members an introductory period into the functioning of the color before they necessarily need to make decisions for themselves, and provides a goal to work toward that is both reachable and rewarding if they desire it. The especially competent or ambitious will always have a goal to strive for up to White, which encourages working at high performance. The fact that Whites are not heavily relied on for running the alliance as the leaders are in man alliances means that someone who has reached their peak position an loses some work ethic will not drastically hinder the functioning of the alliance. It removes a bit of the promotion past the point of competency effect that tends to happen.

The second flaw you point out is more of an issue in alliances with smaller active member bases. This alliance is designed specifically for either a medium but highly active alliance like TOP or a rather large one that can draw a percentage of active members that equals a high total value. In such situations, it is very rare for a new member to be fast tracked to high government after only a couple of months in the alliance. As it is, the four or so that are required are not particularly high when compared to the time it takes the vast majority of people in government to reach that level. The extensive time it takes to reach White is designed to filter out the most dedicated and ambitious members and encourage them to try varied positions before becoming high gov in order to maximize the turnover rate to allow new people into government without drastically reducing competency. The time and effort necessitated to become White give people a long term goal within the alliance itself, but the concrete terms that make up the requirements, make sure it never seems unattainable while the constant need to do at least some work and make your way up through the ranks ensures that it doesn't get too dull just waiting for time to pass.

This is actually something I'm still working on simply because cohesion is necessary for a strong alliance.. While I'm sure there can be some loyalty inspired for the color to help with patriotism, it's better if I can find some true universal cohesion as well. That said, I'm not as concerned as I could be, as a considerable number of people simply don't feel the need to have control of everything as long as they have control of something, or, in some cases, feel as if they are part of a group. The main problem with people who don't feel as if they have enough say in outside areas are the very ones that are going to strive for that White goal, and the time and effort will just make the achievement all the better.

As far as democracy goes, I've actually seen a considerable reverse of this attitude within the game. Many democracies tend to have large numbers of people who are outspoken in their disagreements with government moves and a high degree of complaining tends to exist. Conversely, the more meritocratic alliances tend to inspire a sort of fierce loyalty for the leaders. I tend to think that this is a result of the fact that those who don't mesh as well with authority tend to gravitate to the democracies of CN. The simple fact that it is so easy to pick up and change alliances in CN actually means that the "if you don't like it, get out" attitude of meritocracies causes them to only have members that, well, like it.



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