Conflict of Interest

 

Strap yourself in for a bumpy ride because I am fucking furious. I will try and keep this as objective as possible but no promises.

Consider the following headline you spotted on a friend’s Facebook page:

MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR CORPORATION CEO PRESENTS EVIDENCE DISPROVING GLOBAL WARMING

Interesting story. You do a bit more digging around. On looking for the story on your particular favourite, slightly more reliable news site of choice, you find the following headline:

BP CEO DENOUNCES GLOBAL WARMING AS NONSENSE

Ahhhh, that changes things. Exact same story you but with a little more embellishment. I realise this is an over-exaggerated, extreme example but it illustrates a serious point.  You see, when you read a piece of writing, you often have to be acutely aware of what the writer is and isn’t telling you to give you a good feel for any potential bias. Often what isn’t said is vastly more important that what is down in black and white.

Now consider this post from earlier today by Ripard Teg on the latest Somer Blink story leaked by TMC here. I urge you to go read Ripard’s piece if you haven’t already before going any further. The thrust of the Ripard’s post seems to be that a lot of the community who are making the most noise are complaining because another site has been given something they haven’t. And, after all, CCP are free to give those sorts of things to whoever they so wish. The implication is that the community is somehow jealous.(1)

Now I strongly disagree with Ripard on this. It goes without saying that CCP can give these gifts to whoever they wish, however they wish. But to do so quietly rather than making a public announcement that ‘Hey, this website is awesome and as such, we are rewarding them with this cool stuff’ is an incredibly strange decision. It infers that CCP suspected the community would be unhappy had they done so. This is purely supposition on my part however. Perhaps you agree with Ripard however. That isn’t the key point of this post.

Let’s consider what Ripard didn’t tell us. Let’s pick out the following quote from his post:

So SOMER Blink’s employees got some rare Scorpions out of this.  They weren’t the first, they won’t be the last.

They weren’t the first. Some were given to participants of the Eve Poker Tournament at Fanfest 2013. We know some were given to Somer Blink. We also know that some were given to the staff of the Syndicate Competitive League as a reward for running successful tournaments.(2) Yes, that’s the same organisation in which Ripard has been a long time supporter of, a some-time guest host and now, the recently promoted main studio host.(3) That’s the same SCL in which several of Ripard’s corpmates, including Bacchanalian and Apathetic Brent are both commentators in. That’s the same SCL which, should CCP decide to reward them after SCL6 for a job well done with another gift, Ripard would be a direct recipient of.

disclosure_cartoon

That’s right folks, if you are outraged by CCP, this Somer Blink fiasco and the ships they hand out as they see fit to whoever they wish with little rhyme or reason, the Vice Chairman of CSM8 considers you to be overreacting or green with envy. There’s no scandal here according to him. The fact his colleagues and corpmates have benefitted from this to the tune of around 100b ISK (six Ishukone Watch Scorpions at 15-20b a pop) isn’t at all a conflict of interest and there was no need to mention it in his piece. Those of you who didn’t get one are just jealous or generating unnecessary controversy.

No need to mention that in his piece though. No need for the Vice Chairman of CSM8, main host and long time supporter of the SCL to point out a fucking stratospheric conflict of interest in his post.

On top of this, we have yet to hear any other response from any other members of CSM8 yet as the time this piece is published. I went out of my way in CZ30 to avoid calling out a specific CSM8 member who I believe handled themselves in a way in the forums after the TOS stuff from a few ways back that screamed CCP advocacy as opposed to representing the playerbase. The vast majority of the community appears to be angry about this Somer stuff and yet we have the Vice Chair not only defending CCP but actively attacking those who believe CCP have strayed here. Nothing from any other individual members and nothing from CSM8 as a collective.

Remember the example from the start of the article? Sometimes the most important information is what they don’t say explicitly…

Fly safe,

Xander

1. I want to confirm that we at Crossing Zebras have never been offered anything other than the bog standard Fansite rewards of a single Eve Online account and two passes to Fanfest itself. I’m not suggesting we deserve any more either, simply pointing out that CCP have never contacted us to offer anything extra. And there are many, many more deserving entities and individuals before they got down the list to us.

2. By the way, I think SCL are richly deserving of those ships. They do an amazing job and work very hard to produce amazing player-run content.

3. To be absolutely clear, Ripard did not get an Ishukone Watch Scorpion. He was a guest host at the time and not staff.

Tags: ccp, ripard teg, scl, somer

About the author

Xander Phoena

The good looking, funny, intelligent member of the team, Xander set up Crossing Zebras with Jeg in April 2012 mainly because he was talking too much about Eve on his other podcast. Playing the game for almost five years, Xander still has absolutely zero clue about how to actually play Eve but somehow still manages to talk a good game.

  • FunkyBacon

    Both Mynna and Ali came out yesterday in support of the position I laid out. I guested on podside last night with Mike Azariah (I think that was him, was REALLY late and there were quite a few on) and he seemed not happy about this situation. I’ve heard tell that James Arget lit into CCP about this as well.

    • Noizy

      That was Mike. And I still think this whole thing is David Reid being David Reid.

  • GrouchyOldGamer

    You really should get a few more writers for your blog, you’d have the
    #1 blog to go along with your podcast.

    Jester has really misread the reasons many people find CCPs
    practices and frankly passing it off as jealously and bitterness is pretty
    insulting to people like myself who aren’t happy with the way CCP have gone
    about this. I voted for Jester, I may not again – I’ll need to think on that.

    For the record I’m neither jealous nor bitter that anyone at Somer, or
    indeed any other community service CCP deem to reward, get a thank you from CCP. I can’t blame anyone who accepted these gifts, they have done nothing wrong.

    I can however be deeply unhappy with the way CCP have gone about this. Colluding in a secret process makes it appear seedy and underhanded. If it is a reward why not celebrate it in a public way to encourage other people to contribute to the community? The free Eve account that some earn through creating community services undoubtedly prompts others to create content. It’s the secrecy that has annoyed many people.

    It is rather odd that the CCP Vice Chair’s response to this is pretty
    much along the lines of ‘it’s their game, they can do what they want’ which
    makes you wonder they he’s a CSM in the first place?

    We’re not bitter Jester we just don’t like being taken for fools.

    • xanderphoena

      This. A million times this.

      • GrouchyOldGamer

        I’ve also got to point out that I’m more than disappointed that a CSM who stood on a platform of better communication with the player base has no problem with CCP choosing to hide a community program from the player base at large …. really WTF.

        • Akely

          This is just the exact thing that always have nagged me. The whole CSM from my paranoid, bitter and fucked up mind is CCP’s way of keeping their enemies closer, scratching their back, giving them perks and feeding them just enough information to keep them happy and a lot of smoke to keep them occupied so they don’t see the real things. If this was true (and only my paranoid part do think so) then I suspect it would be really hard not to swallow that lure whole.

          I know this is not the whole truth and I’m not slagging individual CSM members here… It’s just that as of lately CCP have taken most of the trust I’ve had in them and pissed upon it.

          Was not the CSM instituted as a direct response to sordid underhanded giveaways? And Rip does not think think such clandestine giveaways are bad? Wow. Just … wow.

          • GrouchyOldGamer

            I have a slightly different view to you in that I believe the CSM has zero practical effect on the CCP. I think Mittens proved during the last CSM that public opinion has much more influence on CCP that the CSM ever will. The biggest impact in the last year has come from CCP hiring players to balance the ships – the CSM have achieved what?

            However, when I look at the CSM reaction to this situation I really do have to ask how long does it take for a CSM to go native?

            Jester really doesn’t seem to care about this and I can only assume he doesn’t because he’s now inside the little clique that benefits from being pals with CCP.

            He really should care because what appears to be happening here is that CCP marketing have an adhoc system of showering people they like with gifts. I’m honestly bemused by his blasé attitude because it really does have huge potential to damage relationships in one of the most important parts of Eve; the community
            service providers – of which before his elevation to CSM he was part of.

            CCP has developed a mechanism that they can gift players in game items under the guise of rewards for services to the community. There is no rhyme or reason to how this is done other than someone in CCP Marketing likes you.

            This demonstrably is not a community scheme. There are no criteria, guidelines or publicity around these rewards. They appear to have modelled the scheme on ‘jockstrap
            medals’ which are those awards that can only be given in secret by Governments.

            In the context of a community reward this is bizarre because the community never hears about them and therefore the fundamental reason for having a reward – encourage a beneficial behavior – is never achieved.

            It is undeniable that this isn’t a rewards scheme, it’s a secret circle jerk for a small coterie of people whom
            CCP like and a massive fuck you to all those other people who create websites, blogs, podcasts and third-party tools to enhance CCPs game. I wouldn’t blame
            these services in they boycotted the CSM for the next few months so they could get a sense of what it was like to not be in an old boys club. The CSM really needs services like podcasts and Eve Radio far more than they need them.

            I can only assume that Jester, the CSM who said that CCP had to communicate better with the players and he’d be that conduit doesn’t care because it’s much harder to throw bricks at a greenhouse when you’re
            on the inside.

            It’s all rather sad.

          • Akely

            Of course it’s a circle jerk. That’s what I was getting at with the ‘keeping their enemies closer’. The saddest part of this for me is that even though it easy to logically deduct it IS a circle jerk (as a reward would be public as GOG points out) some people maintain it is not. I’d be fine with “I don’t care that it was under the table’ but not with blind ignorance or stupid fact spinning.

    • Errant

      If you didn’t want to be taken for a fool maybe you should have got your facts straight before making this post.

      • GrouchyOldGamer

        A well thought out and detailed response.

  • Primus Fortune

    One thing that Tneeds too see is afaik the out rage is a gifting 3rd party sites not community run sites.
    Also this gifting taking place “behind closed doors”.

    Somer is a 3rd party site and exists to make money.

    Gifting community members/sites for what ever reason. Should be celebrated to the whole of MMO world how cool the EvE community can be. What with all the back stabbing and big heist articles that make news.
    Surly the biggest reward for gifting a community site / indervidual is the exposure not so much the reward.

  • Jayne Fillon

    Very well written. After just having been in a shit slinging argument on Reddit about this, it’s refreshing to see someone in agreement. Ripard’s actions scream of Conflict of Interest – not only through his involvement with the SCL, but as his role as CSM where he was elected to represent players not the interest of himself or his corporation.

    Keep up the great work.

    • CMIV

      Shit was flung in your direction because you titled your reddit post thusly:

      “CSM Ripard Teg also received secret Ishokune Watch Scorpion”

      and then you quoted from the exact same article which clearly states he has never received an iScorp.

      You were the instigator of the shit flinging. Your hypocrisy in crying on here because some of it was thrown back at you sums you up perfectly.

      • Jayne Fillon

        The article that I quoted was from TMC, not Ripard’s where he denied ever receiving the Scorpion. That was and has since been clarified, as I misunderstood what had occurred.

        But… I see you’re still around failing to acknowledge that there is anything wrong with the situation at all. So keep on keeping on, I guess.

        • CMIV

          Maybe you’ve learned your lesson – quoting from TMC and not the original source means you risk posting bullshit. Which is exactly what you did. You then begrudgingly said “it had been clarified”. Laughable, as it was always clear. You just refused to make any sort of effort at all in your eagerness in getting the daggers out ready for action.

          Unless you’ve read all of my correspondence across the net, you’re making stuff up again too. I’ve said before that gifting Somer employees the iScorps was a bad decision and as far as I’m concerned, there are far more deserving cases (though I do not know if they have or have not received anything).

          I have also questioned why there was a need to keep hush.

          I base my opinion on facts, not bullshit. You should try it some time.

  • Drackarn

    I don’t mind CCP giving iSkorp’s out. But… and its a huge but…. they should go to those who make a big contribution to the community for little or no reward. SCL, yes. The multi-trillionaires at Somer? No. They may sponsor in game events, but that is for advertising to make more money. Big companies don’t sponsor sports teams ‘to give to the community’, its paid advertising.

    So please CCP, think about who you are rewarding and give to those deserving, not the ones swimming in ISK in a Scrouge McDuck styleeeee they made from thier ‘community contribution’.

    • Devore

      This is why this was done in secret. Why Somer and not others? Why this site, and not another site? Why not eve-central, or EveMon, or Chribba? Certainly, the amount of game media (and even real media) publicity any war involving Goons and their numbers brings, yeah, why not Goons?

      The answer is because CCP said so. There is no process or any sort for selecting who gets rewarded above and beyond the standard community site rewards. Sure, this is CCP’s game and they can do whatever they like. But just because you CAN do something, does not mean you SHOULD. CCP, more than any other subscription MMO, depends on their community and goodwill. What is EVE without the community, but a shitty space PVE game and a gankfest on the PVP side? If it was not for the community, would any of us still be playing? With multiple accounts? Doing right by the community is strictly in CCP’s financial interests.

      If CCP admits they mishandled this, and it should not have been done in secrecy, they will have to develop and publish (and stick to) a well-defined and clear process. Most likely, a large part of it will have to be delegated to the community.

      We’ll see what the next few days bring.

  • Silver

    Beside the fact that Jester agrees to the point that it needs more transparency what else is the problem?
    We all agree on secretly handing out is bad.

    But turning every stone and finding out that the friend of friend thats niece got a reword and there for there is a conflict of interest…

    well, have it your way. Yes CCP should make that giveaways more transparent. No not everyone complaining about the lack of said transparency is jealous.
    And no, I don’t think this giveaways are bad in general. They are well earned for a service these individuals provide to the game.

    • GrouchyOldGamer

      Jester was the only CSM member who essentially said people were upset because they were jealous. He acknowledges doing it in secret was silly but then spends the majority of he post crafting the analogy of a greedy group of people jealous of others who received gifts.

      That’s what he was called on and he’s now painting it as a smear job. I like Jester, but he was simply wrong there.

  • Don Melon

    I bet CCP Mint-shit chose that somer deserves them! 😀

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