Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Macro-transactions

Warning: this is a long post, and probably mostly of interest to people who are thinking about running for CSM7.  If that's you, or you're reading this in late 2011 or early 2012, welcome!  Everyone who wants to forget about the CSM6 election cycle now that it's over can come back in a couple of hours.  I have a few more thoughts on the "equal space is boring space" change that's going in next week.

Yesterday, I said I'd spend some time talking about how I felt the CSM6 campaign went in the general sense, and give my thoughts on the campaigns run by some of the other candidates.

It's a timely topic because ealier today, CCP Diagoras, who's been managing the election for CCP, released the full results of the CSM6 election.  As you can see, I came in 15th.  This is particularly relevant to me, given that there are nine full delegates, and five alternates.  ;-)

So, what can we learn from the CSM6 election?  First, The Mittani's strategy worked.  It worked, I'll bet, better than he hoped it would.  The 0.0 alliances were remarkably motivated, organized, and effective.  There were one or two wrinkles, which I'll talk about presently, but in the aggregate, the campaign by the large 0.0 blocs to take control of the CSM was completely successful.  And it was obvious that it was likely going to be successful from the first few days of voting.  CCP Diagoras was good enough to start a EVE Online thread with the numbers, and the numbers were shocking: more than 21,000 votes in the first 48 hours, more than triple the voters of last year in terms of both raw numbers and percentage of the EVE player base.

A number of people that I correspond with were excited by this.  If 40,000 people had voted last year, and this trend toward triple those numbers continued through the end of the voting, then that signaled two things: first, an amazingly higher awareness and interest from EVE Online players regarding the CSM in general; and second and more specifically, that the 0.0 bloc's efforts to control the CSM would fail.  After all, the 0.0 population in total represents only a small fraction of the EVE player base (more on that tomorrow).  If more than 100,000 people voted, that would mean that the Empire players were voting in force.  That seemed a very hopeful sign for more generalist and newbie-friendly candidates such as myself.

I, on the other hand, was much more cautious.  When I was sent these e-mails, I responded that it was just as likely to me that the initial 15,000 voters in the first 24 hours were, in my words, "4000 Goons, 4000 from Test, 3000 Drone Russians, and 4000 for everyone else.  Remember: the first voters are the most motivated voters.  Who is the most motivated this year?"  Reluctantly, my e-mail partners agreed that I had a point, and we settled in to watch the next 48 hours of voting.  And sure enough, the "voting velocity" slowed to a crawl.  By the 12th, four days into voting, the number of voters settled into a number 10,000 more than the number that had voted in that amount of time during the previous election, and that's exactly where the count stayed for the rest of the election.

This was excellent news for the large 0.0 bloc candiates who, for the most part, got proportionally about as many votes as their home alliances have members.  Only the distribution was a potential stumbling block, and cause a stumble it did, with the two Drone Russian candidates.  One got in, one was an alternate.  You can bet they'll work on coordinating their voting better next time.

Vile Rat and The Mittani were the obvious exceptions to these proportions, but the vote started with four Goon candidates, not two.  Helen Highwater had been an active member of CSM5 (though an alternate, not a full voting member).  Still, he had very good name recognition and garnered nearly 800 votes.  However, about a week into the voting, he mysteriously stopped campaigning and let his previously active Jita Park post languish.  I will let the conspiracy theorists among you wonder why.  ;-)  Kalrand, the fourth Goon candidate, picked up about 300 votes and then also dropped out, quite a bit more publicly.

The Mittani let slip in a Twitter post that he received 1700 Goon votes, and Vile Rat received 1600 Goon votes.  This strikes me as truthful.  Add up all four of these vote counts, and you have a proportionally good match for the number of Goons in EVE, too.

So, as I said, the 0.0 bloc turned out remarkably well, voted exactly as they were supposed to, and guaranteed their slate was elected with no problems.  I'll have more to say about The Mittani's run specifically tomorrow.  For now, let's turn our attention to other candidates.

I have very little to say about Meissa's run.  He's a quiet, effective campaigner... and much the same can be said about his performance on the CSM generally.  His vote count and percentage of the vote has tracked very consistently with the total number of voters the last several elections.  He's not flashy, but he gets the job done.  I for one would love to know how he does it.  ;-)  But I suspect a ton of his time is spent with individual Empire corps or alliances in batches of 20 or 40 or 60 people, one corp or alliance at a time, building on his base from the prior year.  If he keeps it up, there's no reason he can't be on the CSM for as long as he likes.  For the purposes of this election, though, he's an outlier.

Trebor came into the election the early favorite, and was a shoo-in to take one of the CSM6 seats.  He had great endorsements, solid name recognition, good accomplishments from CSM5 to brag on, and was really the only solid, experienced voice from CSM5 running for CSM6.  The only question would be: would he take Chair?  This question became particularly relevant after The Mittani also made it public that he would accept nothing less than the Chair for himself.  The war was on.

And in my view, in this contest, Trebor stumbled and The Mittani did not.

The Mittani made a very smart choice, endorsing people he supported: he picked two other candidates that he liked, he endorsed them strongly, and he backed them all the way.  He did this even going so far as to spend six billion ISK on an EVE News 24 ad called "Three Wise Men" that was the top banner ad on that site throughout the election.  I don't think the ad worked exactly as intended -- more on this in a moment -- but it was a masterful move.  I wondered initially if Mittens would over-reach by trying to support too many candidates.  He did not.  He trusted the other candidates that he supported to handle their own campaigns, chose what were arguably his two weakest potential allies, and supported them totally.  And as a result, all three got in.

I said in my first initial impulse post after the election results were announced that I felt Trebor should have picked his allies and stuck with them.  And I hold to that.  Trebor spent a lot of time and energy -- to greater or lesser degrees -- promoting five candidates, among them Meissa, Seleene, and myself.  It was the "greater or lesser degrees" that was important.  In short, Trebor over-reached.  He had the coat-tails to support two, not five.  He supported some candidates early in the election, others late in the election.  By the last few days, he presented the appearance as someone who was sort of flailing a bit.  Some mass EVE-mailings he sent, and those that he helped others send, probably hurt his credibility somewhat.  They were certainly reacted to negatively by some that received them.

The Mittani made another smart move in casting Trebor as the "anti-Goon" candidate.  I've written on this before, as well as on Trebor's responseThe Mittani bragged that this aspect of the campaign was successful, claiming that Trebor drained 1500 votes from other candidates that could have gotten into CSM6.  I'm not so sure, and I'm going to call this one a draw.  It was a smart move, but I think Trebor did a good job of deflecting and dissipating this attack.  In the end, a lot of people voted for Trebor not because they wanted to see him on the CSM (though of course, they did) but because they wanted to see him as the Chair.  Trebor didn't receive 1500 votes he didn't need.  He fell short of 2000 votes that he needed.

Before I talk about Seleene, I want to talk about the impact of ISK on the race.  This might be a bit controversial, but I think this year, the impact of ISK on the race was minimal or non-existant.  I didn't spend a single ISK on my own race, and yet I still managed to get 300 more votes than T'Amber, who spent an estimated (conservatively) 16 billion ISK on his race, assuming he goes through with his PLEX drawings in a couple of days.  Trebor, The Mittani, Seleene, and other candidates all spent sizeable sums on their respective races as well.  While there might have been a measurable impact of all this spending on Seleene's race, for everyone else who dumped fortunes of EVE gold into the race, I don't think you got very much for it.

Of course, in an election NOT dominated by 0.0 power blocs, who can say what impact that ISK would have had.  This will be the second factor to watch for in the CSM7 election, after the question of whether the 0.0 blocs will try for control again.

No, I don't think ISK had much of an impact this year.  What did unquestionably have an impact this year were endorsements.  Endorsements were everything this year.  They increased exposure, credibility, and vote counts for everyone who had one.  Of the losing candidates, there's no question at all that I benefited the most from this.  Mynxee's endorsement, as well as those from aideronrobotics, Keith Neilson, and EVE Tribune definitely helped with my campaigning.  Other candidates that received significant endorsements such as Prometheus Exenthal and Roc Wieler, also had excellent runs.

But endorsements helped Seleene most of all.  Seleene would have had a good run simply from name recognition, as the former CCP Abathur.  However, the early endorsement from Mynxee put him on the map in a big, big way.  Seleene had a real shot at taking the Chair right out from under The Mittani.  Had he made a stronger showing earlier in the election, it might well have gone down that way.  Early in the race, it wasn't clear if Seleene was going to break out of the pack or not.  By the end of the race, his name was on everyone's lips as a front-runner, and you couldn't mention the favorites without mentioning his name.  The huge amount of hard work he did campaigning was of course the major factor, but the early endorsements were the force multiplier on that hard work.

Of course, there were other candidates that got what some people felt were unfair endorsements.  To me, there's no such thing.  People can't vote against you; only for you.  If you're reading this in late 2011 or early 2012, and you're thinking about running for CSM7, and can get someone influential to support that run, go for it!  Similarly, I'm not going to talk about the "hours for PLEX" thing, either.  It might have been a factor in the race; it might not have.  There's no way to measure, so I'm not going to try.

Let's talk about a couple of other losing candidates, then I'll shut up.  ;-)

First, Elise and Prometheus.  This was a terrible missed opportunity.  Pandemic Legion really should have a voice in this CSM.  They're a major factor in 0.0 politics, the meta game, and mercenary work.  They deserved a seat.  The fact that they don't have one is very unfortunate, and this is coming from someone who has his reasons not to be a fan of them.  ;-)  I'm quite sure that there's going to be some fall-out from this; it's probably no coincidence at all that Genos Occidere is out of PL and back into Hydra Reloaded as of a few days ago.

In my estimate, there were 1500 :lolcsm: votes to be had this year.  They should have gone to T'Amber (aka Serious Internet Politician).  They were his for the taking, and would have put him over the top.  But for reasons that I'll talk about tomorrow, I think those votes went to The Mittani instead.  I think the 500 or so people that did vote for T'Amber voted for him as a serious candidate, which is amusing in its irony.  I'll be watching to see if he gives away all those PLEXes in a couple of days, but I'd bet he will.  I do find it very ironic that the candidate most opposed to micro-transactions essentially tried to buy a CSM seat, though.  Kettle?  Pot's on the phone and he'd like a word with you.

Did Roc Wieler deserve a seat on CSM6?  In a normal year, he might have gotten one.  Certainly, he thinks he deserved one.  ;-)  Personally, I think he hurt himself with several mis-steps in his Jita Park post.  He had one extremely solid area of expertise -- third-party development.  He tried to jump from that to saying he had expertise in areas of the game where he didn't have any, and I think that came back to bite him in the ass.  When I didn't know something about a topic (piracy, for instance), I said so and deferred to other players with more expertise.  Roc took a different tack.  It clearly cost him.  Would he have gotten a full seat despite that, this year?  In my opinion, no.  In a more normal year, though?  He probably would have squeaked in, yes.  It'll be interesting to see if he runs next year.

Two Step did a great job of harnessing the wormhole vote, that voice deserved an alternate seat, and it got one.  Alternates have access to help discuss issues on the internal CSM/CCP forums, and hopefully Two Step will use this to his advantage this year.  There weren't enough wormhole votes to put him in a full delegate seat, so it's not at all surprising that he didn't get one.  And finally, the less said about Darius III, the better.  It annoys me quite a bit that the only person standing between me and an alternate seat is a guy that got a solid core of his votes by scamming people for those votes in Jita.  I'm not a big fan of the meta-game on my best day, but to be beaten by it in this contest is aggravating.  He's certainly not apologizing for the tactic, and even I have to admit that it's a valid tactic in EVE Online.  That said, he's not going to be a factor in either CSM6 or any future election, so I'm content.

Whew!  Long post.  Tomorrow, I'll wrap up this series with an open letter to Comrade Chairman.

7 comments:

  1. Ugh, missed it by one slot? That's bullshit.

    I wonder, though -- do you think you have enough friends in the CSM to provide some influence anyway?

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  2. I'll provide a counter to a couple of your points (based on nothing more than my personal experience).

    Firstly, endorsements had no impact on me at all. You got my vote, and you got it not because Mynxee endorsed you, but because you started blogging about your CSM run, and made insightful, well written posts that showed we largely share a similar vision for EVE.

    I add every new EVE blog I find to my feed reader, and yours just got hoovered up in that process. But you then went on to stand out from the bulk of them.

    Secondly, I'll counter that Two Step did a great job. Obviously he got on as an alternate, but he didn't get my vote purely because I'd never heard of him until after I'd already cast my vote. If he'd done something similar to you in your campaign, there is no doubt I'd have voted for him, purely because his interest in Wormholes matches my main love of the game at the moment, in spite of the fact you're probably a better overall match

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  3. Thought you ran an excellent campaign, but truth be told, many of the other candidates had a substantial head start on you as a result of greater name recognition. I had no idea (not that that means much) of who you were or what your ideas were until i poked around on the vote matching site.

    Considering that, I think its actually impressive how many votes you got, and a real testament to the campaign you ran. If you continue to blog and stay vocal, and if CSM6 doesn't bring about the end of days, I'd say your odds for next year would be pretty good.

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  4. I would have voted for you based on your ideas, but there was too much focus on "Vote for me because I'm not them [Goons and power blocs]" instead of sticking with your own message. It was a shame that you and others lent so much energy to Mittani and Co. by constantly talking about them. Maybe next time don't worry so much about what they are up to and concentrate on yourself and your message.

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  5. I'm thoroughly enjoying this 'series' of yours, but I would like you to explain a bit as to why you feel like I 'started slow'. If anything, the fact that I was half-AFK on a family trip the final week of the campaign had me worried that I might have problems. Hence, I tried to front-load as much support as I could. What do you think I should have done differently? Why do you believe I could have started stronger?

    I hope you keep blogging at this rate. Really enjoyable stuff.

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  6. @blazer1000: there are a couple of CSM6 delegates that follow this blog, yes. ;-)

    @Bel Amar: Thanks for your comment! I tell people from time to time that when I started playing EVE, I immediately wished I'd started playing it earlier. The same is proving true for blogging.

    @mode_x/@Anon1845: The more I think about it, the more I think I'll run again next year. I mentioned it to my wife last night, and she surprised me by immediately saying "go for it!"

    @mordis mydaddy: Interesting perspective! I did mention The Mittani's anti-Trebor campaign because I thought it was an important aspect of the CSM campaign in general to cover. But I didn't look at it from the perspective of directly publicizing his run.

    @Seleene: It's funny you say that, because to my mind, you didn't get on a roll until the last week in February, and your best week of campaigning was the first week in March. Hell, you didn't start your Jita Park post until Feburary 22. Mine had been up for almost two weeks by that time (though granted, I was the first one to post there).

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