On Transparency

Of late, a few things have been said about me and my tenure on CSM9, most notably by Sion Kumitomo from Goonswarm. My intention was to address said points on my upcoming Cap Stable interview, but my work has conspired to shift that right in the calendar until the 16th or 17th at the earliest and I’d like to give my own position before then. Sion has said some very inflammatory and subjective things about me and I am going to try and avoid doing the same in response. While they are clearly limited, I think it’s best to try and stick to the facts rather than be drawn into the pettiness of ‘he said / she said’. His arguments focused on three key points:
  • I am constantly breaching NDA
  • I have done nothing on CSM9 / been a lazy CSM member
  • I am only on CSM as an ego trip
In going through these one by one, I think we can get a little closer to the transparency Sion claims he is alluding to.

NDA Breaches

Before I try and defend myself on this point, there seems to be a lot of confusion about what an NDA breach actually is, so I am going to explain in layman’s terms how it works. When we are elected to CSM, we are forced to sign an NDA issued by CCP. This NDA allows us to speak to CCP about information they do not yet want made public. For an NDA breach to happen, a number of criteria have to be fulfilled.
  • Someone under NDA must share information the company wishes kept secret with someone not under NDA
  • Said company has not yet informed anyone not under NDA about said information – i.e. it’s not been made public knowledge via social media or a dev blog or suchlike
So in a situation for example, where I am speaking in a room, either physically or online, with a number of developers and an NDAed subject comes up, the NDA is clearly not broken. If said conversation was a podcast record and not being streamed live, as long as there are no non-NDAed personnel also in said room, no NDA is broken. At that point, there are two options – cut said conversation from the final edit before being made public or ask permission to leave said conversation in the final edit, effectively being allowed to turn said information from NDAed to non-NDAed. Sion continually claims I have broken NDA and has yet to state a single example. No one will find any because they don’t exist. I’m very pleased to state here for the record that I have not broken NDA at any point during my term. In the interests of transparency, I think it’s fair to state that there have been two occasions where I have sailed close to the wind to the point where CCP has spoken with me about it. Obviously, the difference between getting very close to the line and stepping over it is monumental – one is legal, the other, not so much. I don’t deny it is something I have struggled with this term however. Sion also chooses to completely ignore the fact that I am, you know, still actively on the CSM. CCP have historically removed individuals from the CSM for NDA breaches – Ankhesentapemkah and Darius III to name but two. I am under no illusion that if I actually broke NDA, I would receive the same treatment – CCP Leeloo has made this fact crystal clear to me and other CSM members internally and two have been removed from office this term already.

Inactive CSM

It has been claimed that I have done next to nothing as a CSM member. This is one of those awkward points that is very difficult for Sion to prove or me to disprove with tangible evidence. There are however some things we can definitively state as fact. CCP Leeloo made it clear to all of CSM9 at the start of our term that no-one would be going to any Summits simply as a result of being on CSM. The only way someone would be selected is if they had proven to be an active and contributing member of the Council. I was not selected for the Summer Summit. The selection process for the Summer Summit was conducted not long after our term had begun so I’d like to think it is reasonable to presume that with the focus of that Summit being topics such as wormholes and industry, the relevant Council members were selected – Mynnna, Steve Ronuken and Corbexx for example*. The Winter Summit attendees were decided by CCP Leeloo in late November / early December. In making her decision, she asked for feedback from both CSM9 members (we weren’t allowed to put ourselves forward before you ask) and from other developers. I was one of the five selected from a pool of twelve over and above the two permanent seats. By this point, CCP Leeloo, CSM9 and other developers had over six months to evaluate whether I was someone positively contributing to the process, or if I was not only doing nothing but actively harming the process with NDA breaches. We now know that both Matias and Major JSilva were forced to resign their seats, one for complete inactivity and the other after an investigation into account sharing. It could be that CCP were not only willing to tolerate inactivity and NDA breaches from me but despite those indiscretions actively opted take me to the Winter Summit – I cannot speak for CCP nor would I try to – but it seems unlikely given recent and past history. Perhaps Sion knows something CCP does not.

Ego Trips

I would actually say this argument holds some water but I’d also like to extrapolate a little. I once stated on CZ that no one becomes a podcaster without having a bit of an ego. I think the same can be said for anyone choosing to stand for CSM. Most candidates would say they want to be elected to CSM to improve the game for some portion of the community. While that is certainly true in my case, it underlies a subtler truth. When you put your name down as a candidate for CSM, you are stating that you do not believe the game is perfect and you have the capacity to bring some form of solution – either directly or via other players in the community – to CCP. You are also stating that you can do a better job than the previous CSM from your particular part of the community or the other person or persons also standing from said part. There is undoubtedly a degree of ego involved – you have to feel you are the right person for the job. I would go one step further and say that having a degree of ego as a CSM is a positive attribute. If I got to the end of my tenure on CSM9 and didn’t feel like I had contributed positively to the process, where is the ego trip for me? If I am here simply to massage my ego, that’s going to be pretty hard to achieve without being a functional, active member of the Council.

Being Transparent

So if I am calling Sion out as telling a number of ‘untruths’ about me, one question remains – what could possibly be his motivation? It fascinates me that he has actively chosen to ignore this whenever he has mentioned me recently. Sion and I got to know one another during the time the two alliances – Gentleman’s Agreement and Li3 Federation – were being amalgamated to form The Bastion. Around this time, I had also announced my candidacy for CSM9 and had reached out to him about working together with ballots and suchlike. We got on very well actually. We spoke about the election, the meta, politics, and I would go so far as to say we formed a friendship of sorts. He was the person who recommended I was made head diplomat of The Bastion and he was also the person who put me #4 on the CFC ballot for the CSM9 election, ultimately locking in my seat. Sion had nothing to do with me leaving Zebra Corp and eventually the CFC before joining PL, but he has told me since that he took it as a complete and utter form of betrayal. In terms of our time on CSM, it was like a switch had been flipped. He almost immediately became openly hostile towards me at any and every opportunity. He is in a very fortunate position of being a lock for CSMX due to being high on the CFC ballot for the upcoming election. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he has decided to use his position and time to enact a vendetta on me. You may suggest I am simply being paranoid. Let me provide another example. In CZ52 I mentioned that someone from the CFC had actively went out of his way to stop anyone from the bloc being involved in any way with Crossing Zebras. That person was Sion. I went and spoke to him directly about this at the time and he advised that Crossing Zebras was considered a ‘hostile org’ to the CFC. That’s the same Crossing Zebras founded by two dudes from the CFC, with two out of three podcast hosts from the CFC, with staff from almost every area of the game – Goons, CFC, Eve Uni, RvB, lowsec, wormholes, Pandemic Legion and PIZZA to name but a few. He also stated he would be more inclined to assist me in the matter had I not actively ‘betrayed’ him. Less than 24 hours later, I spoke with The Mittani who had just got back from his Christmas holidays and he immediately ensured me any such internal CFC ruling had been revoked and he would see me for a pint at Fanfest. Several other CFC members I have spoke to confirmed they found the original ruling entirely horrifying given that it actively had the potential to hurt a community website. The problem here isn’t that I am a ‘bad’ CSM member or constantly breaching NDA or anything of the sort. The issue is that Sion feels personally betrayed by how I left the CFC. He wants revenge and he doesn’t care how he goes about it whether it be attacking this very website or my CSMX candidacy. He is utterly incapable of drawing a line between the in-game meta and work done for the community outside of the game such as the CSM. It’s an incredibly worrying attribute for a CSM to have – someone who is willing to actively lie to avenge a perceived in-game slight. And so the next time Sion preaches from the pulpit about me and/or transparency think about what I have written here. Consider the actual facts as they are available. Consider that not only am I still on CSM9, I was picked by CCP to attend the Winter Summit. Consider that Sion feels betrayed over my leaving the CFC. Consider what it means to be a rational person capable of separating what happens in New Eden and what happens in real life. Consider what is best for Eve Online.     (*Thanks to Corbexx for correctly pointing out to me that there was no WH session at the Summer Summit. My memory was playing tricks with me. I don’t think this detracts from the point I am trying to make regarding the Winter Summit.)
Tags: csm9, transparency

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.