Category Archives: CSM Hijinks
So the CSM election is underway. I haven’t covered it a lot. Then again I haven’t written a lot. I’m going to talk about two people. Mike Azariah and Ripard Teg. I’m endorsing one. I’m not endorsing the other.
The guy I’m endorsing? Mike.
PUT DOWN THE FLAMETHROWER.
TELL HANS TO RELEASE THE HOSTAGES.
There are reason.
I have no doubt that both are eminently capable at filling their place in the CSM. Both are intelligent, articulate, and dedicated. I don’t read as much of Mike’s blog as I do Ripard’s. It just rubs me the wrong way. I do keep an eye on it and look for “the point” if you will, but he just doesn’t capture my thought the way Ripard does. Ripard I read voraciously. Ripard also reminds me of someone. Mynxee. He has that same combination of knowledge, dedication, and sensitivity that drove Mynxee to ruin. She didn’t have a huge blog to maintain. She didn’t have the stakeholder role and the schedule that the CSM has. Ripard Teg in a CSM seat is EvE burnout times 20. I don’t think anyone can keep up the schedule Ripard has NOW. I really don’t. Add the CSM to it? Add the stress of trying to find things to write about without violating NDA. Now I have had some discussion with Hans that have convinced me that at least for every topic he’d lose, he’d gain insight that could well be invaluable for the community, that is, the muzzle would be relatively loose for someone like him, and that he’d compensate for it well by using his insight to write well about topics he can write about and using his new knowledge to contribute even more than he normally would.
I still don’t see him keeping up with the CSM, his blog, playing the actual game on occasion, oh and his real life job, family, friends, what have you. I just don’t. I’m not saying don’t vote for him. He’s eminently qualified. He’s completely capable. I just don’t think it ends well.
Mike offers a perspective of a casual, hisec player. The guy that logs in a couple times a week. Maybe undocks, maybe doesn’t. At the same time he has a deep understanding of the game, the meta-game, the mechanics, and social structures. He communicates well, he works very hard. I also don’t worry nearly as much about him burning out and exploding in a ball of fiery ennui. He may not contribute a lot to the discussion major issues confronting alliances with tens of thousands of players, but he does offer some perspective on the activities on the tens of thousands of unaffiliated players. Players like myself in the old days.
In general I agree with Hans voting list. *I* won’t be voting for Ripard. I won’t tell you not to vote for him, just that I’m not. I know it’s a big difference, but it’s something to consider.
There’s one other name I won’t have on my list. Roc. Now I have a better opinion of him than I used to, but frankly his biggest weakness is in the praise he links on his own video.
Committed to improving discussions and bringing player ideas to the table, even those he disagrees with.
-Ali Aras (emphasis mine)
I can argue strongly and well for ideas I support. I can argue articulately in favor of things I don’t have a strong opinion. I cannot argue as well on issues I disagree with. I couldn’t argue that, say, suicide ganking should be removed from the game. I also wouldn’t do it. It would violate my integrity on two points. First: I would be telling you something I believe is untrue. That weakens my standing and it means I am less effective because my detractors could say “Well how about all times you said suicide ganking was awesome, or when you blew up my mining barge you asshole!” To which I’d have to say “Be quiet I’m suicide ganking to get the taste out of my mouth.” The second part is that I could not portray myself as capable of arguing against that because someone who actually believes that suicide ganking is bad needs to be stopped. I would actually be sabotaging the efforts of the people who deserve good representation on their horribly misguided ideas. It’s possible Roc could argue better than me. In fact it’s likely. But if your biggest strength is the ability to argue for things you don’t believe in… no vote. Sorry, better luck next year. I suggest you tell me what YOU believe in, what YOU want to see. Then i’ll put you on the other side of the list.
Next year could be a very interesting year in the blog community. Ripard Teg seems to be almost a lock to earn a seat, and maybe a ticket as a CSM. Mike Azariah is also running, so is Roc Wieler. Riverini has also thrown in his hat.
I don’t get it. I really don’t. Any one of these guys has the ears of New Eden to a greater or lesser extent. They can influence both the activity and thinking of the game sitting at home in their boxers and bathrobes. What’s more they offer a check on both the players and CCP by having the ability to raise the bullshit flag when things go crazy. Ripard Teg us a fantastic example. His clear, well written analysis is obviously brilliant, communicative and almost always spot-on. He’s volunteering to wear a muzzle for a year to serve on the CSM. If he wants CCP to hear what he has to say he can do it. He can post a blog and watch for the hits from Iceland. If he wants to influence and communicate to the players he can post a blog or send it to The Mittani Inc. Ditto for Mike. Ditto for Roc. Even more so for Riverini.
Sure they get to strut on the stage. Fly overseas a couple times, enjoy the limelight, but they trade off a lot. They get access to CCP directly, both formally and informally. They get to hear CCP’s plans and have some influence on where they go. Sometimes that even works. They have to sign an NDA too. They are limited in what they say by their agreement with CCP. Some of the most outspoken and capable critics of CCP, the communities, the structure of the game, and even other bloggers are going to be strictly limited. It’s one thing for an alliance leader like The Mittani to bear the muzzle, or even a middle manager like many of the current crop. Their responsibility is to their alliance. The muzzle sits lighter and they just have to avoid “insider trading” type moves. Their conflict of interest is in putting the profit of the alliance over the knowledge they gain. Bloggers are the whistle-blowers. When they get inside information that they disagree with their need is to trumpet it. When they get inside information that something amazing is coming out, they want to trumpet it. Their goal is to be a seamless conduit. Information spread openly and completely.
I know the CSM is supposed to communicate, but it’s far from seamless. Minutes take forever to release. They are heavily edited. CSM members are strictly limited in what they can say on their own. Sometimes they may not take full advantage of everything they can say, but other times they are very limited and suffer for it. The responsibility of the 4th Estate, the price for the pleasure we take in blogging is a responsibility to share. To take ourselves seriously (because internet spaceships ARE serious business) we have to hunt down stories, break them, follow up, and find out what we think EvE players need to know, and make sure they know it. A CSM might know things players need to know. They also might not be able to do a damn thing about them. Hopefully the muzzle rests lightly on the mouths of the bloggers. Hopefully those that serve on the CSM are able to maintain their level of service to the community. Their voices are valuable, make no mistake and if CCP wants to know what they think, you know they have the blogs bookmarked.
So CCP said “Fuck No” to Fon Revedhort. Good on them. I’m a defender of free speech. You have the right to say any damn thing you want. You also have to deal with the consequences. Fon has made his statement. He truly believes he is blessed to be a member of the ultimate race and that he has the right and responsibility to defend it at the expense of everyone who is not pure. Fan-Fucking-Tastic. He has spoken publicly about his beliefs, and expressed a degree of extremism that casts doubt on his ability to work on a multi-national group, that will be required to communicate well with multiple groups of people, of multiple ethnicities and genders to be effective.
CCP finally got off the fence (they are uncomfortable) and decided that the Stellar Advisory Board aspect, which requires communication and teamwork, is more important than the “Stellar Management” aspect that requires votes and is subject to the tyranny of democracy at times. CCP has decided not to hold themselves hostage to the voters and simply say “no” to Fon.
Frankly it’s an easy call. It’s also the correct call. It might not be the “right” thing to do from a “Freedom of Speech” standpoint, but CCP has a bigger responsibility to ensure that they provide their paying customers with the best experience possible, and the feedback and communication provided by the CSM is a key to that service. CCP decided, with the help of feedback from the players, that Fon did not offer enough upside to offset the considerable downsides of: Bad Publicity, Communication Difficulties, Outright Hostility, and possibly full blow PR Disasters. CCP attaches its brand to the CSM. They’ve already had a nightmare with The Mittani a year ago and they decided to pull the plug BEFORE the potential issue could become a real issue.
Poetic Stan talked at length about why he should have been allowed to run. He makes good arguments, and I can’t say deconstruct them or destroy them. I can simply say that the responsibility that CCP has to provide services to its players, and the utility of the CSM in that role, is too important to risk on the chance of having a bomb in the room whenever the CSM meets.
I do wholeheartedly support Poetic’s call against hate-speech. I think it has no part in the game. Casual hate speech, whether towards Jews, Gays, Women, people of any ethnicity, has no place in recreation. If you wouldn’t say it to your mother, you better be careful saying it in a public forum. You are probably offending someone, and you never know who. Fon spoke out publicly. This is his right. Today he faced the consequences. This is CCP’s responsibility.
Some interesting new facts:
Kelduum has spoken to Sreegs about this directly. Hmmmmm somehow missed that. Somehow Sreegs has gathered conclusive proof that John was botting. At least proof to him. Sreegs admitted one mistake, and he ran down the list of people that look at their petitions.
What looks like it may have happened is a petition from a CSM member went straight to the senior security guy, and was reviewed (likely by Sreegs) and the IA folks to make sure I’s were crossed, Ts dotted and niceties ignored. Which is how I assume the GM team operates as while I tend to have some success there are times when it’s like pulling teeth from an angry T-Rex.
Kelduum’s allegations are basically struck down by Sreegs, but partisans will believe who they will as there is not and, under the current rules, cannot be a third party involved. A third party is just as likely to cause this sort of ruckus, but then there can at least be a degree of collusion between the other parties to say the essential “Shut the fuck up” and draw a clear line between the reasonable concern and blatant tinfoil hattery.
I tend to believe Sreegs, because he has a professional reputation at stake, because he’s established himself as someone who takes stock THEN acts decisively, and because I dislike Kelduum’s general beliefs about EvE, nothing personal against the guy, he is clearly an EXTREMELY effective leader, I just don’t like his style of the game and that colors me against him in matters like this.
Which is the last point I’ll make today. Odds are there are one or two GMs that I myself have rubbed the wrong way. I don’t know if any of you have noticed but occasionally I am a bit…. aggressive with my language and I can land on people. I know I’ve blasted a GM or two, and while I have on occasion gone back and apologized on the survey, I’ve also used a survey or two to fire a missile at the GM when I felt things were mishandled. If a GM who had dealt with that in the past saw my name again he might not have much ability to say “Ok he’s a jerk but he makes a point” and it might help to have a third party say “Ok look, we both know he’s a jerk, but here’s MY point.”
I think it would be interesting to see more information from the GMs in response to petitions as well as more transparency, for example have the GM’s submit a “redacted” report with information on some petitions for release if it has to do with a particularly public event, like this one.
TL;DR GM TEAM: BLOGGERS WANT GM TEARS!
Ok I’ve already said CCP doesn’t seem to have a plan and is staffed with people who don’t seem to get the game most of us play, or at least the one we want to. I blame CCP for this of course, it is their company, but that’s only because they’ve set themselves up with the wrong advisory board. Yeah, THAT dead horse. The current CSM is a very knowledgeable group. Their prowess within EvE is well know, but this isn’t a “Revolutionary” group. These are established people, with their own niches to tend to, and their own document talking about future development of EvE doesn’t talk about a specific vision, merely the mechanics that would improve the game we inhabit. In their defense this was not the intention of the document, but still they seem to be listening to the same music as CCP, if not dancing the same dance.
The CSM is a grand experiment in democracy, and it’s achievements should not be ignored, however if the purpose of the CSM is to “represent society interests to CCP,” then they really aren’t built to do the job. They represent big blocs of voters, because that’s who wins elections. They respond to issues that hit them hard, and work best when responding to issues that affect them or those near them directly. Their fields of expertise are limited, and while they are at least familiar with most of the game, there’s a lot they just don’t know.
CCP first has to pick a direction. The current CSM can certainly serve to advise them on that. For the next CSM, CCP needs to engage with them both as a council, and as individuals. They also need to screen them to some extent. CCP needs to be proactive at seeking out and finding advisors who can provide good and useful input as much on what CCP *NEEDS* input on as well as people who can represent every aspect of EvE from the most ignorant, blissful carebear to the most unrepentant pirates. They need to bring in people who run Large POSes all by themselves, an people who think triple tanking their new retriever is a good idea. More on that in a moment. They need to reach out to people who join, run, and help organize 10,000 man alliances, and people who start solo tax shelters. They need to find trainers who take the time to teach this game to new players and work HARD to bring their lessons to Iceland.
New players offer a very important resource to CCP. I know GMs reach out to new players, I had a new alt that got convo’d by a GM a while back. I think picking out a few (screening for real name and billing information to make sure they are real) and getting them on skype to talk about what perceptions they have about the game might be very illuminating. Heck a survey to see what information they have gleaned about the game could be quit interesting. CCP recognizes players as a resource of more than just money, but they haven’t acted to capitalize on that resource. As a result CCP often grasps at straws and has even fallen into the dreaded “It was not intended” mindset so hated in WoW devs. Now CCP has the right and responsibility to make sure game-breaking behavior doesn’t happen, but it is a VERY powerful and loaded phrase. Unintended consequences are what makes EvE awesome. Whether it’s battle-badgers, Hulkageddon, triage-coasting, or any of a host of other creative responses to tactical problems or boredom, what players achieve should far outweigh what the devs intend.
The bottom line is CCP lacks vision, it isn’t using its tools and resources well, and while it continues to maintain an interesting game it’s improving by increments, and giving itself no chance at revolutionizing its niche. Some of this is by design, but failure by design is still failure.
I’m a bit of a preacher on the topic of “Meetings” as I feel they are badly misused over 90% of the time. Most people in real life are non-confrontational, they don’t want to speak up and rock the boat, and meetings are often convened for the express purpose of letting someone stroke his ego. Several days of meetings wouldn’t improve this. If I’m a CSM rep am I going to choke-slam Fozzie on day one meeting one knowing that for the next three days I have to work with him? Hell no, he’ll stop responding to me productively and we’ll be wasting our time, so I go cautious, I go neutral and I save my bullets. The minutes is full of this sort of thing.
Groupthink is a phenomenon that occurs when everyone in the room adopts the stance of the “Alpha Male” if you will. The person presenting is in a position of authority, the people in the room, unless primed to resist, will tend to agree unless things are egregiously wrong, or the presentation is actually a question. We see this on gate guns, we see this on Seleene and Elise talking about Supercaps like having 16 or 17 titans is “Not a lot.” We see this throughout. The minutes don’t read like a concerned player group holding the game developers responsible, but instead they generally read like a long meeting on a friday afternoon, heads nodding let’s get to the bar.
I don’t lay this at the CSM’s feet though. Because it isn’t. It’s meetings. It’s the environment. On the forums and even on their blogs the CSM’s will rail strongly for or against, not bleating, not head bobbing, strongly voicing their opinions. Hans has been extremely candid whenever I’ve been able to corner him on Skype whether on the record or off. These aren’t timid people. You don’t get on the CSM by being timid, but, except for the CSM 6 emergency summit and the CSM 5 laying some smack down, there’s no real urgency, there’s no fire, there’s no confrontational push.
In the absence of that we get a CSM that head-bobs on an issue that should have ticked them off, that should have lit off some warning flags, that should have gotten their spider-sense tingling, if not their common sense. Instead we get non-confrontation, followed by months of silence, followed by the minutes, followed by GAMER RAEG!!1!!1!!!!11!one!! followed by Hans waking up from his Icelandic booze and women induced coma and saying:
“After the flood of player feedback as well as my own urging for him to reconsider this, its no longer an idea that is being pushed forward anyways.”
It’s one thing for CCP to present in Iceland. It’s certainly more productive than emailing PDFs with super-secret-squirrel youtube links to their CSM reps. It’s another to plan on three days of meetings being productive when, in order to fulfill it’s duties as a sounding board, the CSM has to be free to be confrontational, even harsh, in an environment that is conducive to anything but. The more impersonal the contact is, the more people in the meeting are free to “Be a dick.” When people on both sides need something from the people on the other side, there tends to be either very little conflict, or tons of it. When the goal is to be at the bars in three hours there tends to be very little conflict.
The presentations in Iceland need to be just that, presentations. If there’s any feedback sought it needs to be open proposals, not “We want to make this change” but “What changes would you want to see with regards to this.” Details need to be picked over with more time available, with more distance, and with more gravity. It’s much easier to tear apart your shiny proposal when I don’t have to depend on you to buy my drink in a few hours.
CCP is and should be lauded for their use of the CSM. The last three CSMs should be highly regarded for their activity and impact, but there’s always a way to improve. There’s ways to make this better, more effective, and more useful both to CCP and the players.
Why does Cheese need a King? Why not!
Kinda silly when you think about it. Almost as silly as being elected the Chairman of the Council of Stellar Management. What do they manage? Well let’s look at what Management means:
1. the act or manner of managing; handling, direction, or control.
2. skill inmanaging; executive ability: great management and tact.3. the person or persons controlling and directing the affairs ofa business, institution, etc.: The store is under new management.4. executives collectively, considered as a class ( distinguished from labor).
I think we can throw out #2 and #4 in this case. Neither really applies in context, so what does the CSM control what affairs do they direct? None and None. The CSM is not a management board and it is not a governing body. We treat it as such and we elect it as such but they have no responsibility as a government or a managing agency. The Council for Stellar Management serves two functions. They advise CCP on such matters as CCP deigns to bring them in on, and they report to the players and to CCP on matters of concern to both parties. I think this is where Ripard’s “Customer Relations” bit comes from, not to put words in his mouth, but it does seem the shortest chain of inferences. The CSM talks to players as a sort of adjunct to CCP, and talks to CCP as representatives for the players. They do not manage anything, they advise and council on key matters.
And yet we elect them like it’s a political matter. We vote on them as if they were senators, not advisors, the Chair is treated like the presidency, not a “First Councilor” or some such. This is silly. This needs to change. Any discussion of “election reform” in EvE that doesn’t take this into account is just kicking the can down the road.
I know I’ve advocated for this before, but somehow it didn’t stick so I’ll just wave my own flag again:
Stellar Advisory Board
The Stellar Advisory Board is an elected body of variable size, chosen by CCP and the players in concert. CCP determines its needs for the year based on planned expansions and hot issues. They take the slate of positions to the players, players announce their candidacy and are vetted by the current SAB and CSM in concert to make sure they are somewhat relevant. Having Kelduum as a Null rep is about as asinine as having The Mittani as a dedicated PvE expert. There’s better people for both jobs and having people from unassailable blocs filling those spots wastes time and resources and denies both players and developers valuable assets in that area and elsewhere. Once the candidates are vetted we go into the election cycle. Each account will get three votes to put in three different candidates, letting them pick which areas (plural) are important to them. Yeah in theory the superblocs could potentially sweep by covering all the bases, but they will still need to pick what’s *really* important to them and cover the bases.
Imagine next year CCP says “Ok we’re going to commit to Nullsec here’s what we need”
- Alliance Management – 3 people
- Fleet Management – 3 people
- Group PvE – 2 people
- Large Scale Industry – 2 people
That’s 10 people and covers the areas CCP wants to hit hardest, now they turn to the secondary areas, all of which get 1 for the year
- Lowsec Specialist
- Wormhole Specialist
- Dust Link Specialist
- EvE Community Expert
- At Large Seat (3)
Total number is 17. I would bring all these people to Iceland, but just once. With the technology available to do meetings between continents and without the need to have all 17 there for many of the meetings I don’t feel that bringing them all there for a special summit is absolutely necessary howeve; I am told by Hans Jagerblitzen that “… you cannot undersestimate the value of having people in Iceland, in person. And also, on record, other than the summit, which is highly publicized, all the other meetings we have with CCP are smaller number of people involved and ARE done electronically” which goes two directions, first it says that the CSM needs face time with CCP. Second it says that there’s a lot that can be done with technology. Bring them all in, couple days after fanfest, instead of 14 trips this hypothetical SAB is doing 17. CCP can handle it for the far more directed information they will get.
Hans brought up another point which I hadn’t considered. The CSM can help get CCP on to some sort of long-term vision for EvE Online. The sort of “We want to see changes along this philosophy” from the perspective of the players who really do contribute the most to the game. I think that CCP needs to have an “Emeritus board” of the most well-regarded CSM / SAB members to help CCP find that long term vision that has been notably absent from more recent developments. I think it would be excellent to get the advice of people like Mynxee or Z0D or Sokratesz, especially as they’ve seemingly all left despite long and storied careers, on not just the nuts and bolts of the progression of the game, but the actual underlying philosophy.
Imagine if there were people representing the players who helped instruct new employees on why the game exists a certain way. You think CCP Greyscale would have ever even briefly entertained the notion of having a situation where an agressed player was prevented from defending himself by game mechanics if someone like Mynxee or The Mittani had sat down with him at some point and said “Undock = consent to a level of PvP.” You think that whole “Greed is Good” fiasco would have happened if T’amber had had the standing to make a statement to CCP on other ways to implement the RMT store? Also to plug T’amber check him out on Facebook and check out the photo galleries. You will be floored.
Bottom line: The CSM doesn’t make sense. We elect politicians to advise, we don’t select advisors to advise, or elect governors to govern. We need to fix that. We need to use this resource, this incredible community that supports EvE Online and match it up more precisely with CCP, not politicians, but advocates, not managing, but advising. Not wasted. Used.