The Wank-power theorem (or Knoot's theorem as it was originally called) was inspired by a discussion on what constituted a 'superpower' where it was argued that no single nation is -capable- of achieving the level of dominance that is necessary for superpower status. This led the original creator to ask the question of what actually determines power in NS. The theorem was developed that power equals wank. (P=W), which is limited only by credibility.
The biggest power in NS is, by definition, the player or nation with the wankiest claims whose claims are still accepted by the players of other nations. The amount of power a nation directly corresponds to the amount of wank. There is a “Wank-power optimum”, at which any marginal increase in the claim of existing power would not increase but decrease a nations power through the use of IGNORE.
Wank is defined here as “the abusive over-use of a particular strategem, technique, or style.” (For more on power see the main article on power. The theorem presupposes a more or less rational player striving for power optimalisation. This may not be true for all players.
Postulations of the Wank-power theorem
Postulate of irrelevant population
There are no vast differences in power as a result of population. Because NS nations grow very rapidly, populations soon reach a level of economic production where ‘everything is possible’. A nation of 3 billion population and a nation with a 3.5 billion population are essentially peers, when speaking in terms of capabilities. With such numbers, the population becomes much less important then it would have been when comparing a nation of 50 million to a nation of five million people because a nation of five million people will have a hard time maintaining, say, a carrier or a huge nuclear arsenal that is sufficient to have MAD with its rivals. In NS, virtually every nation has all these strategic options.
In addition, virtually every player who is the least bit senior has a three billion-or-so population and this makes relative differences between the potential powers small.
Postulate of irrelevant economy
Economic ranking is fairly unimportant in determining superpower status. This is because any man and his dog can have a frightening economy. Any half-wit with ambitions can figure out how to answer the issues in a way that you get a frightening economy (with or without hurting other rankings.) In the NS economic system rankings are effectively determined independently, so nations do not gain at the expense of other nations. There is no limit in terms of resources. A “frightening” economy is a deliciously vague asset that everyone who takes this game seriously has or can have. Nations with top rankings are common. The same goes for rankings: just answer the issues and you’ll reach the top percentile eventually. It does not matter if you rank 400th for your IT or 1200th because in both cases you are in the top of the NS world. The relative difference is small.
Taking care of these two indicators of things you can actually ‘see’ in the game, in turn, leads to the...
Postulate of equal power
Once a certain level is reached in terms of population and economy, all nations are essentially peers. There may be differences, but no nation has a huge leverage over another nation.
From the postulations follows that everything that was coded is essentially irrelevant to power. So… if hardcoded aspects of the game are unimportant in your quest for becoming the biggest superpower in NS. What remains, then? Answer: “everything that is not hardcoded power”.
Postulate on the source of power in NS
Power, therefore, lies in everything that is not specifically coded. These are the things you claim on how it is in your nation, the things you roleplay, “the shit you make up”. The only theoretical limit is the imagination of the player behind the nation and his ability to type really high numbers when describing the size of his army and the abilities of his or her demi-god mechanoid commando telepaths in gravships. Therefore, the more exaggerated the claims are the more powerful a nation becomes. The only way to become more powerful is the abusive over-use of a particular strategem, technique, or style. Wank. The amount of power a nation directly corresponds to the amount of wank.
Hence, in NS, power = wank. An accepted superpower is just another player like you whose wanky claims of being superior to his/her peers happen to be accepted. (Honorary C'tan wank is the NSWiki term, see the article linked above.)
The limit to power through wank is other players. At some point, ones claims become so outrageous that other players will ignore them. Impenetrable shields, invisible bullets, divine intervention and armies that encompass 50 percent of the population will generally (but not always) get ignored.
Where exactly this limit is, depends on the crowd you hang out with. In the International Incidents forum, limits to the size of ones army are strongly relaxed compared to what NS players will deem acceptable. Different rules apply to future tech and modern tech. More on this below...
There is, therefore, a shifting optimum of wank and power. The optimum situation for a nation is to make claims regarding power that are so big that they are just not ignored, while everyone in the same situation claiming anything more powerful would be ignored. At this point, any marginal increase in the claim of existing power would not increase but decrease a nations power through the use of IGNORE.
This optimum is not an “objective value” that is the same for everyone. OOC reasons and roleplaying ability heavily affect this. About a player who successfully balances near the wank-power optimum: "[He] rips off the wankiest science fiction [he] can find, while being accepted as existing ... [because he knows] what a 'paragraph' is."
Some nations can get away with roleplaying a God, a personification of evil or an Elven Queen with many gravships purely by merit of other players accepting it for whatever reason whereas other would be ignored for claiming exactly the same. Roleplaying ability, likeability and such heavily weigh in here.
Corollary to the theorem
A great number of nations voiced concerns that Roleplaying ability was disregarded. According to a developed corollary to the theorem (originally: the Liang corollary) there is not once source of power (wank) but two (wank and roleplaying ability).
A nation's wank can be negated by a certain amount of Roleplaying ability, and Roleplaying ability can increase (and likewise, decrease) one's relative power. Greater Wank will negate one's acceptance, and thus also result in a decrease of power when met with Roleplaying ability.
Wank (W) Roleplaying ability (A) = Power (P) limited by Credibility (above the P-W optimum)
Uses of the theorem
The Wank-power theorem was not developed to encourage nations to seek the wank-power optimum for themselves. Rather it was an attempt to describe the situation as is. Metagaming and wanking on the brink of what is acceptable does not equal good and/or fun roleplaying.
The so-called "Power-wank theorem" is not in fact a theorem as it is unproved. It is additionally arguable that, as the "theorem" is not inherently falsifiable it does not even constitute a valid theory, or a useful hypothesis.