CZ Minutes: What makes a CSM?


Another week, another episode of CZ Minutes. The CSM9 election season has ramped up substantially in the last week with a number of individuals confirming they are standing for election, including our very on incumbent Mangala and long-time CSM fanboy, Xander. It seems a suitable time to discuss what makes the perfect CSM candidate? What are you looking for when you are deciding who to vote for?

Xander: The CSM9 election season has kicked in to top gear at long last with people declaring left, right and centre. Jita Park is awash with individuals who fancy themselves as the latest Space Bill Clintons or Arnold Schwarzenegger. Indeed, two CZ staff, one incumbent, the other less so, reckon they both may have what it takes.

And therein lies this week’s question – what do you look for in a CSM candidate? What are the desirable attributes you look for when decided who takes what slot in your ballot? Is it simply a case of whoever represents your particular area of space or gameplay or is there something less tangible that attracts you to a particular candidate?

Niden: Being that lowsec is hardly spoilt with CSM candidates each year, I look for a lowsec platform first and foremost. Next I look at a candidates ability (regardless of *sec platform) to represent the core interests of lowsec; Small gang PvP and freedom. By that I mean knowledge that stems from hands-on experience, preferably with an ear to the will of the lowsec community. Someone that doesn’t get their hands dirty can’t really represent a community like lowsec since it’s very hands-on in nature.

With the above concerns satisfied I look for the candidates ability to communicate both verbally and in writing, and do so in a relevant and clear fashion. I need to see that the person in question has clear ideas on what they want and has the ability to argue in support of those ideas. Lastly I look at their ability to understand the needs other parts of the EVE Online community than their own, the ability to at least understand the dialogue and be aware of the main issues of said entities.

An overarching concern however is the candidates ability and willingness to be the conduit between the players and CCP and the time to do the job properly.


Xander: So Niden, would you vote for a lowsec candidate first, even if you felt he was marginally a poorer communicator or had what you suspected to be a less than perfect work ethic? This isn’t a jab by the way – I’m not trying to catch you out – I am genuinely curious as to how much weight voters give to the region of space or specific gameplay type (industry springs to mind) the candidate represents.

Niden: I think it depends on the region of EVE the candidate represents. Null, for instance, has no shortage of candidates – a luxury lowsec does not have. So, yes, when it comes to lowsec candidates, the fact that they represent lowsec weighs more than any concerns I may have. To reasonable extent of course. The candidate must at least be able to get by when it comes to both communication and work ethic.

Jeg: I don’t look, I literally think the whole CSM thing is an utter waste of time. I will cast my vote based on a 30 second review, or second hand information, and in this case for Xander because I know him. The council is so shrouded in “NDA” and things take so long to come to the surface that it is practically irrelevant, and I don’t have the patience or inclination to care.

Niden: What Jeg said is hardly unique. Many players feel the same way. It is, however, in my opinion slightly misguided. It would be easy to blame Jeg, but the fact of the matter is that he, and those that feel like him, haven’t been given a reason relevant to them to get involved. I think a large chunk of the the CSM debate should be on how to solve this. An important part of a CSM’s job, in my opinion, is to reach out to players like Jeg and see what they can do to to clarify how the CSM does do the work they were elected to do and that it does make a difference for the day-to-day life of players. It can be argued that some players vote by not voting.

Another hurdle that must be considered when talking about the election of CSM is that it takes a whole lot of time to get informed about CSM candidates and what they stand for. How can this be simplified? There should be ways for the electorate to get quick information on candidates and not have to spend hours upon hours learning about them.

Concerning the NDA business; it’s akin to sending a team of astronauts to the moon. Even when they are out of radio communication you expect them to do the job they were sent to do. Given the excellent communication from CSM 8, I am quite confident that the council represents the players well and is doing the community and indeed CCP a great service – even though I don’t get to know what they have done until after expansions get rolled out.


Xander: I can’t agree with you Jeg. By the same argument, what CCP are doing right now is a waste of time because ~NDA~. I think what you are saying is a little of a self-fulfilling prophecy – I don’t think you will ever get much from the CSM as a process if you don’t actively engage in it. And that’s fine if you don’t want to involve yourself in it but CSM8 have outputted a LOT of data to the community and I think they have reciprocated with feedback for the CSM and CCP both positive and negative. I think calling it a waste of time is a little unfair. I appreciate your votes all the same 😉

Proto: Ah, politics. “My voice doesn’t count” or “It doesn’t matter anyway”. Farbeit for me to force someone into a voting booth, I’d rather people not vote than vote unconcerned or uneducated. The CSM elections are not immune from the same type of voter feelings as that of any other type of election. That said, it does make me concerned that although the participation has been unremarkable. What I’m concerned for is that the CSM selection process can be construed as that of a popularity or name recognition contest. I’m certainly not suggesting that big names in the community shouldn’t use their popularity to their advantage, but what I am saying is that it opens the door to get someone elected as CSM who may not have a full vested interest. Failing that, someone looking to use it for self-gain.

Anyway, I got off track (big surprise, right?) While you can’t MAKE someone have an interest in something, you should never stop encouraging. Take this article segment for example. I realize that not everyone is interested in industry, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to wedge a few words to increase participation just a little.

Niden: I like to use myself as an example; one year ago I didn’t give a shit about CSM, hardly knew what it was. It was something aloft and far away in my mind, it did not concern, and was not concerned with, lowly plebs like myself. But around this time I had also picked up the habit of listening to EVE Online podcasts (due to long drives mostly). My introduction to the CSM and what it was all about came via listening to Crossing Zebras.

The core of this problem is a catch 22: I did not have the interest required to learn about the CSM, but learning about the CSM was exactly what was required for me to get interested. The CSM coverage provided at CZ solved that issue for me by leveraging the information in a format that was easy for me to access and easy to understand for someone who had no clue on / no interest in the CSM

I think CSM need to encourage CCP to provide more media outlets and processes for CSM candidates to get in touch with the large majority of players that do not vote. I’m willing to bet they are in the same situation that I was in.

On a separate note: bloc-level voting is something that concerns me. Large swathes of the electorate don’t actually vote from their own informed position; they are told whom to vote for by their superiors. They are in fact part of the aforementioned group that doesn’t really know much about the CSM and doesn’t really care – focusing the voting power to a select few individuals.

Forlorn: The perfect CSM? The guy I can talk to any time, about anything EvE related. Fortunately I have the luck that I have CSMs on my fingertips or on voice as often as I really want to. Even though outside of PL our CSM always seem to be not so good on the PR side they work a lot and get stuff fixed that we encounter. This is not only stuff that concerns PL but also all other players like client issues or TiDi and pretty much all PvP related bugs. And that’s how PL rolls, we get somebody competent in many areas of EvE, give him enough roles and love him as long as his term is up, nothing is more annoying than losing a fight due to EvE bugs.

Mangala: Going back to the original question, way back when I would always look at candidates based on how their platform/interests intersected my own interests in game. Hell I voted for that Ankh spoon throwing lady the first go round based on some of her ideas gelling well with my own thoughts – not the 100% safe HS nonsense of course. Around CSM 5 going forward I started to look at more than just a common ingame ground with a candidate, I looked instead at their views on other aspects of the game outside of their bailiwick, how much they knew/admitted they didnt know, do they care for the game as the average joe (me at the time) does etc. What I think I am saying is that I basically look for candidates who are like me as a person rather than me as an persona. People I feel have more than their own self interest at heart.

Xander: Fairly certain we all know the perfect CSM is tall, dark, handsome, Scottish and the number one CCP certified podcaster in Eve Online history.

Up for it Jeg?

Tags: csm, csm9, cz minutes

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.

  • Poetic Stanziel

    I could have used some additional Jeg rebuttal.

  • Poetic Stanziel

    The perfect CSM candidate is Mynnna. He has a strong knowledge of the game overall, through most spheres of play. And he has a good capacity to look at the game as a whole and not through the rose-coloured prisms of nullsec and sov.

    Xander is a good guy. He stands for some really strong **general** principles (risk for reward), but his knowledge of the game itself is really weak. You look at his Jita Park thread and he can’t answer hardly any of the questions thrown at him. He defers mostly to people he surrounds himself with that will “help him understand the finer points of the game.” Since he can’t defer to regular players (due to NDA), he’ll at least have some strong EVE minds on the council with him, such as Mynnna.

    When presented with new game mechanics, I fully expect Xander to completely lose his shit in excitement, much “this is awesome CCP!” commenting, and then eventually someone will pull him back down to earth, explain things to him, and he’ll then see questionable mechanics and roadmaps for what they are, and then politic appropriately.

    Xander will be especially terrible at the Summits, where there is no time to ruminate on what is being presented, where his penchant for kneejerk reactions will take hold. He’ll be pretty good the rest of the term when given time for thought and discussion with the people around him.

    Overall, Xander should be a hard-working and communicative representative. That should be his strength. Communication with the playerbase. So even if he’s not the most knowledgable EVE player heading into the CSM, he has other strengths to bring to the table. He’ll be CSM9’s Ripard Teg, without the d-baggery.

    • Foobles

      I disagree about Mynna being the perfect CSM.

      If, for example, you go back to the feedback forums when the players were giving their feedback about the exploration loot spew. The player response was largely negative. Concerns were raised, for example, not only about the RSI nature of loot spew but also the incongruity of having a solo activity (scanning and hacking) tack on a multi-player mini game that would require players to sit around watching someone do all the work then spend a handful of seconds clicking on cans as their ‘gameplay’. Mynna came into the thread and, essentially, represented CCP to the players and told us it was a fine mechanic. Loot spew is now going to be removed from the game.

      Go to the Nestor threadnought… The players were very concerned that the Nestor was unfocused and would not be a popular ship especially at the price that it was bound to sell for due to SOE LP. Mynna came into the thread to mock people who would call it OP, and to comment on how its low base speed prevented it from being OP with a MWD but it was still pretty good. Elsewhere Mynna commented about how low SOE lp was going to drop. End result… Nestor launch was not impressive and CCP has already announced changes to make it cheaper (Nestors will drop via drone region mechanic) and probable changes to the ship itself.

      I thought the purpose of the CSM was to represent the players to CCP not vice versa? If you can’t tell the difference between a good thing for the game and a bad thing because you’re caught up in CCP’s enthusiasm (or trolling I suppose) then do you really belong on the CSM? Doesn’t CCP itself benefit from a CSM that makes the right calls?

      I am not disputing that Mynna is a clever guy but I sincerely doubt that he spends much time doing can hacking or flying Nestors in the game… Now maybe internally Mynna fought the good fight and just publicly supported CCP out of politics. If so then it seems as though he lost the good fight.

  • Foobles

    As an aside Crossing Zebras has recently (last couple of days) started displaying white text on a white background for me. I can read it by copying and pasting into notepad so the article text is there.

    Recent posts are white text but become visible on mouse-over. Twitter is white text apart from the “x minutes ago” bit. The text under links (like Xander for CSM 9) shows up fine as do article links like “Re-deplyables”.

    At least once the text has became visible after a period of time but I can’t reproduce what made that happen.

    Windows 7 Home Premium/Google Chrome.

    • Foobles

      If it matters… Usually when I see white text on a white background the text is revealed if I highlight the page. Crossing Zebras white next remains invisible even when highlighted.

      • Foobles

        The text is now visible to me. So if you changed something then thanks! If not then damn the gremlins.

        • xanderphoena

          We haven’t changed anything. If you spot be issue again, please let me know and we’ll get on it.

  • Alphax45

    Jag would need to undock in order for the CSM to mean anything 🙂