Let's get back to the topic of the CSM7 election. Man, it's taking a long time to cover this topic. I make no apologies. It's been a busy couple of weeks. ;-)
Last time, I talked about the interview that Hilmar gave Eurogamer in which he stated that he's receiving feedback that the CSM is "too pre-occupied by a certain playstyle". In that post, I examined three key questions around that statement and concluded that Hilmar is over-reacting. But hey, he's a company CEO and he has that right. As I said, CEOs have a tendency to get what they want. Which brings me to the fourth question I specified in that post but did not answer: "Should something be done about it?"
The key issue surrounding this for the CSM7 election is organization. I've pointed out several times during and after the CSM6 election that sov-holding null-sec alliances have a big advantage when it comes to organization. They're by far the largest groups of players, and the easiest to mobilize. When it came to stacking the CSM, all they lacked -- until 2011 -- was the will. CCP Greyscale gave them the will. Mittens harnessed and directed it, and that was that. The election itself was mere formality to find out which two or three people would join the null-sec bloc as full delegates, and who the alternates would be.
"The first time is always the hardest," as the saying goes. The unanswered question is now that it's been shown that the null-sec alliances can control the CSM for as long as they care to, if the election mechanic remains unchanged, will they? I put this question to Mittens directly, and he was good enough to respond that the null-sec bloc collectively feels like they accomplished what they set out to accomplish in 2011, and other than a care-taker role to prevent "Nuke jump bridges!" in the future, will not try to control CSM7. Believe it if you like. Expect this question to be a topic at the CSM December Summit, too.
Still, in the meantime, it's fun to speculate. Will the CSM7 election mechanic change? If so, what might be some good ways to change it?
I think it probably should be changed. The biggest problem with the current mechanic is that it's not particularly friendly to specialized play-styles that should nevertheless be represented on the CSM. Wormhole residents should have a seat. Industry players should have a seat or two. Dedicated high-sec players should have a seat or two. Small-gang PvPers should have a seat. Mittens did a great job of harnessing the large null-sec voting bloc, but how do these smaller groups harness the people who play EVE this way?
Mittens favors a "minimum signatures" initiative sort of like California's Voter Proposition system: if you collect enough signatures, you get on the ballot. And that's certainly one approach. It definitely has the virtue of producing a smaller number of more serious candidates. However, what sort of players are going to have the easiest time getting those signatures? The ones in null-sec sov-holding blocs, of course. And the players that will have the hardest time are ones in smaller corps plying their more specialized trades.
"Let's bring in political parties!" a lot of people say instead, usually adding "and let's socialize their votes" while they're at it. The basic idea is pretty simple: you start a "Carebear" party for the CSM7 election. Anyone who promises to promote high-sec carebear concerns gets to join. All of these candidates run, and all of them get at least a few votes. When the votes are done being counted, if any of these candidates have enough votes to get a CSM seat, they get a seat. Any votes that they received that they didn't need ("over-votes") then go back to the party. The non-elected candidate with the most votes gets them, and perhaps those votes in addition to his own ensure that he gets a seat as well.
What if nobody in the Carebear party has enough votes by themselves to get a seat? This is likely, in fact, since carebears will have the most difficult time mobilizing votes for individual candidates. Their votes will be the most fractured, perhaps across two dozen or more candidates. In that case, you take the Carebear candidate with the most votes and you keep applying the logic in the above paragraph over and over. If need be, you give that candidate all of the other Carebear party votes. If all of the votes together are enough to get the top vote-getting Carebear a CSM seat, then he gets that seat.
It's a system that has an immediate and obvious problem: how do you tell when you've won? At the end of the election, a person has to sit in that CSM seat, not a party. If you've got 15 political parties with 65 people across them, all of them with varying numbers of votes, then it will be harder to pick out the top nine of them that get on the CSM. The most elegant solution that I've seen is: "You are guaranteed either a main seat or an alternate seat if you get 1/14th of the total votes." Then you choose your mains by who hits that threshold hardest or first. If 1/14th of the total vote is 7000 votes and you have 10,000, you're in (and your 3000 "over-votes" go back to your party). If the Carebear party has 2/14ths of the total vote (even if that 2/14ths is spread across 25 candidates), then when all is said and done, two Carebears will be on the CSM, probably as alternates. The only question is which two of the Carebears have the most votes and will get the seats.
I am not a mechanics expert and I'm sure that there are others that can work out the mechanics better than I can, but I think the overall system has a lot of merit. It has the potential to produce a varied and diverse CSM without requiring massive organized blocs of players behind you to get a seat. But it doesn't negate the power of organized blocs of players, either. Had this system been in use for the CSM6 election, and had the seven null-sec bloc candidates formed a single political party, along with their three allies, they would have secured six out of 14 seats. In the actual CSM6 election, they secured seven. However, the remaining eight seats would probably have been somewhat different.
The main disadvantage to this system that I can see is that it will greatly reduce the likelihood of individual popular personalities securing full CSM seats. Only after the parties have secured their seats would single individuals be considered. And these individuals would then almost certainly be alternates. If you go into such an election with no party (or more technically, a party of just yourself), then you're not going to get a full seat unless you get 1/14th of the total vote by yourself. Four people have done this: Seleene and Trebor in CSM6, and Ankh and Mynxee in CSM5 (and Mynxee did it pretty easily: she got 10% of the vote all by herself). But hey, maybe this is no bad thing. The CSM shouldn't be a popularity contest, right?
And perhaps there are other disadvantages or obvious exploits to this idea that I'm not seeing. Where are they? Discuss.