On Walking Back

 

So Ripard is ‘walking back‘ from his original position on this Somer Blink situation. First thing to say to this is a brave and entirely commendable move. It takes a strong person to put their hands up, admit they got something wrong and state a reasoned and calm new position.

CCP Guard has also put forward a company position on this current scenario. I urge you to go and read it. The key quote for me is this one:

‘So, are you totally happy with this whole thing?

No we’re not. While we want to keep rewarding and encouraging projects that add value and are popular with our community, we absolutely agree that it has to happen in a way that the community is on board with, whether that means we have to make big changes or small tweaks.

‘We recognize that gifting rare in-game items of potential ISK value proactively to select third-parties, whether as prizes for them to hand out or as a personal thank-you, can have implications no matter how well-meaning you are.’

Basically, CCP admits it did not handle the situation as it should have – a statement I entirely agree with.

Unfortunately, it appears that the various arguments I had Ripard in the super sekrit Skype channel us community types share with CSM8 weren’t enough to sway him away from his position (I know, right?!). Instead, he quotes an Eve mail he received from a concerned player as well as an OpEd piece on EN24 from DNSBlack (again, go read) in being rather more successful. Many of the points DNSBlack makes are very similar (albeit, a little more elegant) than many I have made over the past few days in said Skype channel. One point I hadn’t considered – here’s a specific quote from the piece:

‘These out of game sites are effectively receiving multiple tens of billions worth of CCP generated assets. We now have to compete in the market, on contract, or in space, with those who have an unfair in game advantage which has not been created through the mechanics of the game.

The giving of unique assets in game for out of game actions breaks the fourth wall in the sandbox and destroys the very premise of the sandbox.’

Ripard makes a similar point:

‘…it was wrong for CCP to provide an in-game advantage to one player organization over another player organization, regardless of why they did.’

I’m not sure I agree with these points – I believe some organisations do deserve these awards, in game or otherwise. It is interesting however that they both infer that any entity that has received in-game advantage for out of game activities – BIG Lotto, SCL(1), whoever – effectively ruin the sandbox that is Eve for the exact reasons DNSBlack states in the quote above. And still Ripard maintains that I am ‘silly’ for suggesting that his current/past associations with SCL don’t constitute a conflict of interest.(2) It’s interesting that he agrees with DNSBlack on this but disagrees with me when I effectively make the exact same point.

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On a completely different note, while I do think it was brave and commendable that Ripard did a ‘walking back’, there is a second issue here. When CCP did not communicate with CSM6 over the mess that ended up being Incarna, what followed was a CSM-led Summer of Rage. Halfway through CSM7’s term, we had a public apology from CCP Unifex (the Executive Producer of Eve Online at the time) over a lack of communication and working relationship between the two bodies. CSM8 were not involved in the original decisions to award these iScorps to any of the bodies that received them. The result being a large group of very unhappy players and Guard’s admission that CCP had got it wrong today.

Every time we are told a brand new era of CCP/CSM relations is incoming, some new PR mishap occurs suggesting CCP aren’t utilising the fourteen elected players as they could. Should CCP be running every little thing through the CSM first? Of course not. I don’t expect a great many things to go through the CSM – budgets and staff changes to name but a couple. But deciding who in the community deserves awarding and what they should get? I would have expected the first thing Navigator, Pokethulu or whichever other devs were involved would have done when considering who gets what is to contact the CSM to obtain their thoughts.(3)

But they didn’t. And as we can see above this is a continual issue which seems to come up every CSM. For some reason, CCP keeps making PR gaffes with the playerbase which might have been resolved had they contacted the player elected organisation they themselves put in place to avoid these situations occurring. I find myself asking why.

Maybe there is still a corporate lack of knowledge in what the CSM can offer CCP. Perhaps the delineation of what exactly the CSM can or cannot do for CCP is misunderstood. Perhaps certain individuals within the corporate structure have had bad experiences with the CSM previously. Maybe there are time restraints which makes running an issue by the CSM impractical.

It may be that there is a fear that asking a CSM member their opinion might be pointless given that they may flip-flop depending on what the mood in the playerbase is like. If Ripard’s position was swayed by arguments read by other players he is absolutely right to tell us so. The problem is, Ripard is the Vice Chairman of CSM8 and arguably it’s most public figure. He is no longer ‘just’ a blogger. I’m sure CCP keep an even closer eye on his blog now that they did previously purely because of his the position he is in.(4) Ripard wrote what I believe is an extremely inflammatory and aggressive piece suggesting those nay-saying what CCP had done as ‘trying to generate a scandal out of this’ then changed his position based on an Eve mail and a blog post. A blogger can do that. Hell, a CSM Vice Chairman can (and should) do that if his mind has been swayed. But a CSM Vice Chairman would probably  be better served keeping his opinion to himself until he is 100% satisfied that he has ingested all the various opinions and thoughts that are out there before making a public statement of his own. While many in the community would typically like a quick response from CCP/CSM when these issues arise (none more so than I by the way), surely waiting and thinking through the issue before attacking the community for making a mountain out of a molehill then reversing that position at a later date seems the stronger call?

Before you all shout ‘strawman’, I am not accusing Ripard of being responsible for bad CSM/CCP communications over the past few years.(5) However, CCP has went out of its way over the past few years to avoid interacting with the CSM often with disastrous consequences. Let’s not give them another excuse, however small or relatively insignificant, to continue doing the same. It’s in all our best interests.

Fly safe,

Xander

1. Again, just to be 100% crystal clear, I fully believe SCL deserved the iScorps they were awarded.

2. Four of the six members of SCL staff awarded iScorps are in the same corporation as Ripard.

3. Perhaps you disagree on this – if so, please let me know why in the comments below. I fully accept there may be some angle I haven’t considered here.

4. And quite rightly too by the way – Jester’s Trek has been getting better and better over the past year in my opinion, current Somer thing aside.

5. That would be silly!

Tags: csm, csm8, ripard teg, 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.

  • Cova

    I think CSM members blogging their opinion is probably a good thing. It opens a dialog with the wider player base, and then a well reasoned response from a player can apparently change minds. Whatever else is right or wrong in this situation, in this one way, this is a communicative CSM, working as intended, right? Maybe this is the tone you want a Vice Chairman to set.

    • xanderphoena

      I certainly don’t want to dissuade CSM members from blogging or communicating with the community. I just want them to think through what they are saying before they commit thoughts to pixels. Ensure they have covered all the angles and thought everything through. This is especially true when the original position is so incendiary.

      • Cova

        Well, you aren’t wrong, that’s the ideal goal, but CSM members are just people. They’ll never think things through so well they cover all the angles all the time – not compared to the collective ability of the EVE community at large. I think Jester does a pretty good job at thinking things through most of the time. And this time around, when maybe he didn’t do that, he “walked back”. I agree with your point about the post in question being a little incendiary, but most of the best bloggers/podcasters/politicians can be a little incendiary from time to time 😉

        Love the podcast/blog btw. Listener since episode 1.

        • xanderphoena

          ‘I agree with your point about the post in question being a little incendiary, but most of the best bloggers/podcasters/politicians can be a little incendiary from time to time ;)’

          Absolutely. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing – indeed, in a lot of cases it can be good – I think the CSM Vice Chairman has a responsibility to be on point before he gets stuck in. Much more so than when he was ‘just’ a blogger or someone like me who podcasts. But sure, people make mistakes. They need called on it when they do though 😉

          Thanks for the nice comments on the site by the way 🙂

  • GrouchyOldGamer

    What is brave and noble about running away from a position that is drawing heat? Jester thinks very carefully about what he writes, he always leaves himself an out. When he wrote that initial post he meant it, now he’s looking like the only CSM who defended CCP here he’s trying to weasel his way out.

    Classic politics – it’s why I really have little time for the CSM. It’s West Wing online. I’d scrap it personally.

    • Troy Wexler

      If you refuse to change your opinion based on new evidence or new ideas, it doesn’t mean you are brave; it means you are a moron.

      • GrouchyOldGamer

        There is a scale of admission when you’re wrong. It starts as ‘I’m wrong’ and moves along to ‘I’m wrong, but, not for the reasons you said but for some other convoluted reason you didn’t mention’. I believe the admission you were mistaken becomes more disingenuous the further to the right of the scale you go.

        I like Jester, I’d probably vote for him again – it’s a little sad to me seeing him playing word games.