Interstellar Petri Dish

Let’s talk about culture. Specifically, corp and alliance culture, and the difference between a toxic environment and simple, harmless trolling and hazing.

The Good and the Ugly

Pandemic Legion is a rough alliance to be a part of. In 99% of cases, in order to get into PL (without a boosh vouch) you have to do one of two things: Spend a year or two in SniggWaffe and prove your usefulness or willingness to learn, or submit a publicly viewable application to one of the corporations in the alliance. Both methods will subject you to what many outsiders consider “vicious and demeaning treatment.” Let’s take a look at this recent application to Habitual Euthanasia. The applicant answers the application questions to the best of his or her ability, and the community weighs in. Except that in PL, “weighing in” moonlights as “be a harsh prick and see what happens.” If the applicant takes it well, that is bonus points in their favour at getting into the corp they have applied to join. If, however, the opposite happens, like in the application above, the mob smells blood in the water and goes in for the kill. The thought process behind this is pretty simple: “Why should we care about what this random applicant takes from this experience when it’s pretty clear they’re not going to become a part of our community?” From the outside looking in, groups such as ours seem downright unfriendly and hostile, but we want it that way. It weeds out not only the weak, but people simply too different from us to effectively fit in. SniggWaffe has evolved into something more than just a training or feeding corp; Waffles are their own entity first, and a means to graduate into Sniggerdly (or potentially other corporations within PL) second. Potential applicants to PL are oftentimes told to put time into Waffles not only to prove they know how to play Eve, but to acclimate to our culture – a task so significant it warrants extended stays of a year or longer in some cases. If you manage to last long enough in SniggWaffe (which is basically a year long experience of the application process) or manage to impress people with your application thread, you’ll find one of the most close-knit communities in Eve, and I daresay in all of gaming.
Why is this necessary? Why does a community of people insist on having abrasive and rough interactions with each other and with outsiders? Such a question is heavily loaded, since it involves analyzing the entire community and digging into each person’s brain to find out why they act the way they do, but I think I have a few simplified answers. Firstly, by putting up with the shit we put you through, it shows you want to put the effort into actually being a member of our group; PL isn’t a place for lazy babies who can’t think for themselves and want to just cruise along being a part of The Best. Secondly, by purposefully getting most of the heinous shit out of the way early, it reinforces the bond between bros. It’s a way of identifying with your peers, almost like a nerd version of war veterans and their blood bonds. There are a bare handful of people in PL I genuinely dislike, and I think all of them were “booshed” into the alliance – that is to say, they weren’t subjected to the public scrutiny of application threads or the slow cook of Waffles. If you fit in with Pandemic Legion and SniggWaffe, you’re able to communicate with the others in the alliance without holding back, without sugarcoating shit you’re going to say because you might hurt their feelings, and without worrying about people holding long-lasting grudges because they don’t like what they hear; that is incredibly significant.

The Just Plain Bad

I’d like to preface the following with a disclaimer of sorts: these are my thoughts based on my experiences with TEST almost two years ago, a veritable lifetime in Eve. It’s entirely possible that things have changed since then – organizations tend to change in such lengths of time – but unfortunately I can only write about what I personally saw and went through. On the other side of the floor are the “toxic” communities. I was a member of TEST what seems like an eternity ago, and I’ve forcefully forgotten many of the details of what it was like because it was that awful. Now, I’m no master of buzzwords. I genuinely don’t really know the meaning of the word “toxic” when it comes to communities. In fact, my first exposure to the term was when I heard about Riot Games banning people in League of Legends for being too toxic or something. But being a member of TEST nearly two years ago gave me a forced introduction to the term, when it seemed to be gaining popularity as a catch-all phrase to describe things the speaker didn’t like or agree with.
Ironically, in TEST, the toxic elements of the community weren’t the ones that said “mean” things. The problem cases were the people who insisted and demanded that everything be sugarcoated, and resorted to passive-aggressiveness in place of being out in the open with their grievances. Anyone with real life conflict management experience knows that skirting around issues doesn’t help resolve them, it just lets them fester and get worse. Lise Kiel, my corpmate and fellow TEST veteran, puts it best: “What’s toxic for an organization is apathy, irresponsibility. These sugarcoaters are toxic because that’s what they are; apathetic and irresponsible. They want to be this way because it takes effort to manage conflict, it takes effort to deal with hearing shit that you don’t agree with. These people don’t want effort and they don’t want stress, they only want to deal with shit they have easy answers to. That kind of low effort tendency is the bane of success. This would explain why the TEST that got rid of the “toxic” elements [referring to Zulu Squad – where most of the real-talkers and driving forces for improvement resided – splitting from TEST in 2013] withered away in Fountain; because nobody who had the spine to make the effort to take the pain was left.  Very special thanks to Lise Kiel and Oh Takashawa for their help in formulating my thoughts on a difficult subject  
Tags: community, dirk, pandemic legion, TEST Alliance Please Ignore, waffles

About the author

Dirk Action

As a member of Sniggerdly corporation in Pandemic Legion, Dirk enjoys a fine view from atop the highest peak in Eve. When he isn't collecting free money from numerous personal R64 moons, he enjoys Paradox titles, droney noisy music, anime, fighting games and shitposting. Lots of shitposting.