Too little too late?

 

After the CSM7 election, CCP proudly proclaimed it the highest voter turnout yet. While this is technically true, the final figure was less than 17%. When you listen to Sgurd’s CSM8 interview, it is clear that it isn’t just that people choose not to vote – a significant proportion of the Eve Online don’t even know what the CSM is. Some of them don’t even know it exists.

No-one can deny that 17% is a poor turnout and CCP Dolan enough was gracious enough to concede this point when I interviewed him just before voting opened. He assured me that CCP had a lot up their sleeve this election on top of what they normally do to promote the election. A few days later, CCP Fozzie appeared on CZ22 and reiterated the fact that CCP would be going out of their way to promote this election in ways not seen before in an attempt to bolster voter turnout.

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Before we go any further, let’s have a look at day-by-day voter turnout for CSM7:

7th March, 16:00: 19,519

7th March, 22:00: 26,351

8th March, 13:00: 31,933

8th March, 21:00: 33,854

9th March, 15:30: 36,625

10th March, 17:50: 40,000

11th March, 13:45: 41,814

12th March, 15:00: 43,879

13th March, 15:00: 45,196

14th March, 14:00: 46,066

15th March, 13:00: 49,233

16th March, 16:00: 50,753

17th March, 21:30: 52,217

19th March, 11:00: 53,512

20th March, 13:00: 58,163

I am writing this post on 11th April. Voting opened early on the morning of 5th April. For those of you keeping count, we have had six full days of voting and we are currently on the 7th. By completion of the 6th day of voting in the CSM7 election, over three-quarters of people (75.4% to be exact) had already placed their ballot. Indeed, by the end of day one, over one third (33.6%) of those voting had already done so. From that point onwards we are on a long tail as voting dies away before an inevitable flurry on the final day.

The point being, most of the buzz is now over. The vast majority of people who are going to vote already have. The spamming in local, messages in #tweetfleet, podcasts and blog posts are all starting to die away now. And yet at this point, all we have officially from CCP is a splashscreen, some tweets, a message on Facebook and those aforementioned appearances on CZ. The CZ interviews don’t count because a) it was during those that Dolan and Fozzie confimed the good stuff was still to come and b) if you are listening to a CSM8 interview on Crossing Zebras, you aren’t the people CCP need to be promoting to. The same applies to #tweetfleet. I’d love to see the % of #tweetfleet who vote for CSM as opposed to the % of the general Eve populace. Facebook is all well and good but this isn’t anything new. The same applies to splashscreens.

Now, Dolan and Fozzie were both keen to point out that what they didn’t want to do was bombard players with CSM information too early before the main election opened. With such an apathetic playerbase, I totally understand this perspective. This is one situation where you don’t want to shoot your load too early. However, it seems farcical that CCP still haven’t shown us any new promotion for the CSM election when we are seven days into the process proper. Where are all these cool new promotional tools that we were promised?

CCP will argue that if they did it during the initial few days, it may have been caught amongst the buzz from other sources such as podcasts, twitter, blogs, news sites, etc. That argument holds no water. The kind of people CCP should be getting involved in the process aren’t the same players who listen to podcasts, read blogs and involve themselves in forums and social media just to discuss Eve. Whatever cool new stuff CCP have in their arsenal, we should have seen it long before now.

CCP are stating in public that they want voter turnout to increase as well as general CSM visibility. Yet here we are in yet another election period with them running out the same tired old stuff. The fact is that voter turnout >>> voting system. The closer you get to 100% voter turnout, the less relevant whatever voting system we have becomes. A lot of effort has been put into the new system but it has been rolled out too close to the actual election in lieu of hard plans to promote the CSM not only during the election but throughout the year too. A lot of people have put a lot of effort into promoting the CSM elections on behalf of CCP this year. It’s not unreasonable to expect that they do the same.

Fly safe,

Xander

Tags: csm, csm8, dolan, election, fozzie

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.


  • Reut Getz

    In the interest of fairness, I feel I should point out that as I was running around in hisec today, I saw CCP Dolan chatting in Local encouraging people to vote and explaining what the CSM is to us newbies. I’ve seen GMs and others chatting to people about the CSM before, too, so it may be that some of their efforts are not easily noticed.

    • xanderphoena

      If ‘spamming busy locals’ was the super-sekrit stuff Dolan and Fozzie wouldn’t refer to when I interviewed them both, I am exceptionally disappointed.

      They both said they would be trying new things this year. Speaking to players in local isn’t new. This has been attempted every year as far as I am aware.

    • Tetris

      Not to mention that a lot of veteran high sec players do the same.

      • Jeg_Elsker

        That is the thing, we on this podcast (Xander mostly) along with others in the blogging, podcasting and social media communities around the game, have probably done more promoting of the CSM than CCP have, or at least in a far more obvious manner.. In any case, the results are not in yet so I guess until we see them its all tinfoil-hattery anyway. It is entirely possible that engaging players in local chat is exactly the right approach, it just ‘feels’ a little underwhelming on the back of the conversations we have had with CCP.

        • CarlGustav

          I must agree on this CCP have done very litte on the Election.

          they have also been very quiet on WHY its important. and HOW it c ould affect the game.

          after all the election rules should have been up several month in advance (was not), Some kind of reward for posting there votes should also be given.. Why isn’t the voting done ingame? and why isn’t the politic agendas of the ones running. Shown on every billboard in the game for a month. (that can’t be hard asking them for a slogan / candidate).

          I know im hard on them but the low % is not a mark of democracy. and the low % only will only encourage more rigging of the election.

  • snstlr

    What would you have done to further promote CSM8?

    • Jeg_Elsker

      Tough question, but then I am not a paid marketer for CCP. The login banner is too easily ignored and missed, and its a fine line between informing the playerbase, and annoying them into submission.

      My suggestion would be to put in some incentive to vote, perhaps giving some sort of character customisation, a pin badge or similar, as reward for voting? the idea of incentivising the vote in this way works for me on a couple of levels…

      First off, it gives the impression that players are getting a reward, it may actually be worthless to the game mechanics, but it gives the right feeling anyway. Additionally, when people see other characters with this badge it adds curiosity to the process.

      The idea of planking a logo onto a homepage really doesn’t do anything to engage a player, it comes across as a bit of roleplaying and actually downplays the CSM role in my opinion.

      The social media aspect is also irrelevant, the people who pay attention to that stuff more often than not are not your target audience. They already know what CSM is, and if they give a damn.

      CCP needs something to engage the audience enough to learn a little about what the CSM actually is.

      • Snow Axe

        Incentives are good for one thing and one thing only: getting more votes. I’m not convinced CCP wants more votes just for the sake of votes – they want people to participate in the system, not just vote once a year and ignore it until it all comes around again. This is not a problem that can simply be “bought” away.

        • xanderphoena

          I agree. I don’t think giving stuff away to encourage people to vote is the way ahead. But CCP need to be doing SOMETHING. Especially when they said they would.

          • Snow Axe

            They certainly SHOULD be doing something, though I don’t so much agree with NEED, especially at this stage in the game. Right now it’s way too late to put any effort in, so they might as well save their time. What little they’ve done has been absolutely dire though – a dumb video and a touch of local spamming (seriously, Psychobitch’s “vote for me” spambot in Jita has probably raised more awareness by now) but not even a single attempt to explain the STV system to the wide swaths of people who may never have been exposed to it at all is just pathetic and lazy.

            Really, anything they would have done should have been done before the candidacy period even started, because groups that most likely aren’t voting probably don’t have any representatives right now either, so any amount of promotion CCP uses on these groups of people will be lost as soon as they realize they have no candidate to vote for.

          • xanderphoena

            It’s a tough one. I understand what you are saying about candidates. On the other hand, I agree with Dolan and Fozzie that with such an apathetic voterbase, it’s probably not wise to start banging the CSM8 drum too early. At the absolute latest, we needed a big push from CCP in the first 2-3 days the polls were open. Anything now is far too late. And that video from yesterday was a joke to be frank.

          • Snow Axe

            What “big push” though? What would it consist of? And how do you convince groups of people with no candidates representing them to not only vote, but to keep voting in the future?

            This whole “quick burst” nonsense is good for one thing and one thing only – a temporary spike in voters. If you actually want to engage people to participate in the system, it’s going to be a year long process that has to play from different angles. CCP has to demonstrate that the CSM is useful, the CSM has to demonstrate that they can and will actually represent players (instead of just themselves, a la CSM 7), and potential voters need to be convinced why they should even bother with this. Until that’s done, quick bursts of promotion and whatnot will accomplish jack shit.

          • xanderphoena

            Oh absolutely – I cover that in the blog above. CCP need to be actively promoting the CSM all year round. Telling players how they are making Eve Online better, how they can be communicated, all that good stuff. As I stated in the original post, I’m not after one ‘quick burst’. But shit needs to start somewhere and this election would have been a great place to begin from CCP’s perspective. Especially when they have promised to do so.

        • SnStlr

          Voting is the first step towards active participation, isn’t it?

          • Snow Axe

            Not if you’re only voting for material rewards. If you could find a way to tie the material rewards into participation then maybe it works, but good luck trying to measure something as nebulous as that.

          • xanderphoena

            Snow Axe beat me to it. If all they are doing is ‘push butan, receive gift’, they aren’t actively participating in anything.

    • bluntpencil

      1.Made the vote page simpler, I get the randomizing of the candidates but what was wrong with a check box?

      2. Offered a voting lottery, if you voted you got entered into a lottery for prizes.

      3. This is the big one – talk about the CSM more than twice a year.

  • bluntpencil

    This is the fundamental problem with the CSM, CCP don’t publically acknowledge its value and do next to nothing to promote it.

    Given player participation in the process is so appalling CCP really need to consider if the CSM is worth the effort. If your figures are correct less than a fifth activity participate in the process and the rest either don’t know or don’t care enough to vote. In that case CCP has to be asked the question what benefit is the CSM to CCP?

    I know some will point to the Incarna debacle as an example where the CSM were the tip of the lance of player sentiment. However; in reality the CSM simply used the media coverage of the players rioting and dropping accounts to trumpet the player base not lead it. The Mittani then masterfully leveraged the gaming media to embarrass CCP, whether their actions without the public shaming would have been different is debatable but I believe that the Mittani’s media campaign would have been just as effective if he’d not been in the CSM.

    I’m still at a lost what benefit CCP derive from a process they only publically invest in twice a year? I find myself there because CCP expends particularly zero effort between the CSM elections and their week in Iceland communicating to the player base what the CSM is and how it contributes to the development of our game. It’s frankly mind boggling that a company that is so superb at player communications does such an awful job communicating about the very mechanism they created to get concise player feedback into the game development cycle. The videos they produce are entertaining and informative, the dev blog are well written and educational and the interaction between the developers and the players in the forums is maybe the best you’ll find in any game.

    So why, oh why, oh why is the CSM communications so shite? Why aren’t CCP working with the CSM continually throughout the year they are in office to demonstrate their value to the game? Why aren’t the minutes produced by CCP, and authorised by the CSM? They’d be a damn sight quicker to the player base. Why don’t CCP produce videos at the end of the Iceland summit, moreover why don’t they do any work to round up the old CSM at the end of its term which would actually create some buzz around the election process? You can’t even find a mention of the CSM on the front page of the eve online webpage – and they wonder why so few even know it exists.

    They do fuck all and worst still they heap all the effort of CSM communications on the unpaid volunteers in the CSM. People forget the CSM is a lot of work, you only have to see the number of CSMs that go AFK once the work starts or listen to CSMs on podcasts to understand it’s the same amount of effort as a second unpaid job.

    I love the idea of the CSM and have immense respect for the people who choose to give up their free time and even paid holiday leave to work to improve the game I love. This level of player input into the game development cycle is a rarity in the gaming industry and should be something praised.

    However; CCP really need to invest in the process, remove some of the overhead on the CSM members and make presenting the CSM work to us, the players, a central theme in their communications strategy.

    In short CCPneed to shit or get off the pot.

    • xanderphoena

      I pretty much agree with everything here. So much so, I’m going to RT this.

    • Bagehi

      Big successes for CSM are CCP failures. Think it through. When CCP and CSM agree, CSM isn’t doing a whole lot. When they disagree, it is because CSM believes CCP is doing something players would not like. It wouldn’t be in CCP’s interest to advertise “remember how we didn’t move level 4 missions to low sec, remove jump bridges from the game, and cap systems to 1000 people? That was the CSM!” because it makes CCP look bad.

      It is a catch-22. Things that make CSM look good are mostly things that make CCP look bad. The few times when CCP comes to CSM with two awesome ideas and says “which one should we do?” makes CSM look good for the people who agree and bad to the people who disagree. Moreover, if CCP is still going to release the thing CSM didn’t pick, it would/should still be under NDA lock-down.

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  • Gallego

    I’m not sure what much else CCP could have done without really going overboard. The video was poorly made and would have been better just not being created, but I’d say the same with many of the suggested efforts commented on here.

    I don’t think it in good taste to associate a raffle with voting. And while the interface did make it cumbersome to cast many ballots, it was updated and did it really deter someone that wanted to vote?

    Just getting a vote cast is not a win, an uninformed vote is better not being cast. The key to voter participation is to get people involved in being informed. Maybe they could have made spot lights on the candidates earlier in the election process, but are we yet again using channels that the potential voter is “trained to ignore” and is CCP putting themselves in a position where they’re invalidating the efforts of candidates that spent time to campaign vs those who didn’t?

    I’m not sure I buy the line that CCP hasn’t done enough to show the importance of the CSM. They’ve made reference to their participation in design direction in dev blogs, and that’s really where it should end. To have them go further and say that design decision x was made because CSM did Y would be a very slippery slope into eroding CCP’s ultimate responsibility for everything in the game.

    Getting out the vote drives targeting at uninformed voters at best just serves to randomize the results and at worst (just vote this way) is tantamount to ballot stuffing.

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