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...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Signs and portents

A lot of people have been throwing a lot of veiled and not-so-veiled comments about me and whether I'm running for CSM7.  I wrote the following post on Failheap Challenge today that might give those writing these comments some things to think about.  Short version: that question is not as simple as you seem to think it is.

The context is my replying to a pair of posts from Bartholomeus Crane, who is one of Failheap's most notorious CSM-bashers.  In the midst of one such post dismissing CSM6 as nothing more than CCP cheerleaders, he wrote, among other things:
But so does CCP, who also read this forum (and Jester's blog. Apparently it is the most read blog at CCP at this moment. Well done Jester. Aren't you glad you didn't get into this CSM? You've got more of an influence outside it! And you can write whatever the hell you like as well!).
Here is my response to Barth, which I present without additional comment:
Those two thoughts have occurred to me, yes.

With re: your main points...  I read all of your posts from cover to cover Barth, but it's hard to actually agree with any of them.  You're far too hard on the CSM, I think.  I'll limit myself to one example, the big one, how close CSM6 has gotten to CCP.

Trebor and Mynxee might disagree with me here, but it's hard today to recall how many of CCP's development teams CSM5 managed to isolate themselves from and piss off.  The Incarna team wouldn't talk to them at all, and they weren't alone.  Every team in CCP could be measured based on how much or how little they were willing to interact with the CSM, some teams voting "not at all", some of them "somewhat", and only a very few were enthusiastic CSM supporters... and most of those teams were not what you would call high-impact within CCP (one was QA, for instance).

As many fireballs as I throw at CCP and the CSM in my blog sometimes, in my RL job, I'm a professional negotiator.  In that capacity, I can tell you that it's damned hard to influence someone who won't even talk to you or dismisses your importance before they even come in the door.  The Open Letter that CSM5 published right before they headed out the door did not help.  I ticked off a number of my CSM5 friends when I blogged that the Letter had done major damage to the CCP/CSM relationship and had actively made CSM6's job harder.

When I was running for CSM6 myself, one of my major platforms was using my professional experience to re-open some of those closed doors.  I said that if that's what it took, I'd buy many CCP devs and leads many many alcoholic beverages after hours to make that happen.  Now Mittens and I have a lot of differences, but even you cannot now deny that his version of the same thing has been wildly successful.  Hell, from your stand-point, it's apparently been too successful.  Fine, you have the right to complain about that.

But the simple truth is that CSM6 has been successful in opening a ton of doors.  A few of those doors are still closed, but not many.  As player advocates, the CSM has much more access today than they had a year or 18 months ago.  And no, I'm not one of those that gives the CSM credit for what the Summer of Rage and the associated player unsubs did to CCP.  But the CSM was in the right place, with the right personality, to take advantage of it when CCP started to open up.  CSM7's job will be easier because of it.

All in all, you seem to prefer a no-access CSM to what we've got today, and that's just silly.

35 comments:

  1. So if I understand correctly, you won't be running for CSM 7? Yay, more blogging!

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  2. The question may not be so simple, but the answer is. I'm afraid that your habit of not taking a firm position is going to leave you at a disadvantage come election time.

    I'd like to see your name on the ballot, as would several people who I've spoken with. But continued non-commital responses like this makes me wonder if I'm wasting my time discussing your candidacy with other folks who are asking the same question: Are you going to run for CSM7?

    (I can't figure out how to increase the size of the font and change the color to yellow)

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    1. Something that a lot of US politicians take heat for is being "wishy-washy" or "flip-flopping", which is jargon for the practise of changing your mind when it's been demonstrated to you that your position is wrong or at least not ideal. This is something I personally find to be an asset, and one of Jester's biggest strengths.

      That's a very different, however, from being reluctant to take a position when pressed for one. This is also something that Jester does, and I agree with Crash that it could hamper an election campaign, especially if that position is whether or not he's going to run. I can see the ad campaign now - "If Jester isn't willing to commit to whether he's going to even run, will he be willing to commit to *anything* in Reykjavik?"

      It's not very snappy, but you get the idea.

      Let me break it down for you, Jester. Either you ARE, or you ARE NOT considering running for CSM. If you're not, then you're not, and it's as clear cut as that. If you're anything else, then it's the first one. Which is it?

      Delete
  3. I read this whole post and I still don't see what's so difficult about a straight yes/no.

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  4. I think (and hope) that ultimately you will choose to run for CSM7. I've got the impression that it has been weighing on your mind probably as far back as last years CSM, in one nascent form or another.

    Be that as it may, I accept there is a case to be made in which you may already exert more influence on CCP as an outsider than via the CSM. I also understand that this is a vastly complex decision that has to take into account more factors than people often recognise - including what impact it will have both in and out of the game.

    Harsh as it may sound, I think you've gone as far as you can with the blog and the CSM is the next logical step. Obviously it wont be the end of the blog (at least so I hope) but you'd have access to another platform to share your views. Ultimately this blog was always meant to be a means-to-an-end. It seems a bit odd to get bogged down in the means rather than seeing this through to its logical conclusion. Infact, I think the reason Mittani even posted here the other day was because the thought of you running for CSM7 has ruffled his feathers a bit. Dismissive as his comments may have been, the bottom line is the self declared god of new eden seems to think it is necessary to take time out of his day to read what you have to say.

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  5. I posted a reply in the CSM Minutes thread on FHC that in part addresses your implication about the Open Letter and CSM5's communication issues with CCP for those who want to read it.

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  6. The issue is that he lost last year. He doesn't want to lose again. He's using these non-committal posts to gauge his chances of winning this year.

    No disrespect here at all. It's natural to not want to go through the hassle, pain, embarrassment and disappointment of losing again.

    That's my take on his reticence.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. He took last year's loss very hard and kicked off his critical posts of CSM6 before they even had their first meeting. I suspect the lack of overwhelming agreement to his negative posts about CSM6 has left him doubtful of his chance to push one of them out of a slot. Mudslinging politics...tear down his opponent instead of raising himself up. But, I have said it is hard to raise himself up when he doesn't stand for anything.

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  7. Anyone noticed a CSM trend to pointing out that it is infact informal/personal/unofficial relationships that are actually their mechanism of choice. Personally I doubt this; it seems more like a stratergy where they run for re-election on the basis that they have spent a whole year building up those relationships and we are only just seeing the fruits of those labours (crucible). Therefore we should all merily vote for them again so they can continue to better the game...

    But on some level I can't help but feel CCP is a company which makes games and the CSM is a group of players of one of those games. Although there is some mutual cross over, for one group this is a job and the other a hobbby. It was for that reason I was a little put out to read Mynxee's comments about Torfi in particular (suggesting he should have been one of the 20% who got made redundant). At the end of the day that is a human being with a family to feed and this is JUST his job. To wish that on someone over your internet-spaceship hobby is, in my opinion, sickening. How many of us have ever made a bad choice at work? We can't all be perfect 100% of the time.

    The CSM are quick to take credit for CCPs hard work yet seem unaccountable when it comes to their failures. Deep down I remain convinced the CSM is really little more than a hyped-up sample audience in CCPs eyes, with the added bonus of adding some validity to their choices. Crucible was, I suspect, concieved and implemented entirely within CCP with little or no influence from the CSM. They saw what was happening in game and with subscriptions, and they backtracked. Fair play to CCP for reacting to a poor buisness decision.

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    1. You'd be wrong, m8. If you've read any of my blog posts or followed my forum threads, you'd know that I'm not the type of person to waste his time on a dog and pony show. It's amazing to see how many people want to just dismiss the CSM and they've really never even bothered to find out who is on it (beyond Mittens) nor did they vote. Feel free to bring any concerns or questions you have to my forum thread tho: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=59580

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  8. Can we vote for your blog to be CSM? Are written and non human entities allowed to run? It would be easy to send it to iceland for important meetings.

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  9. Jester, I don't think you should run for the CSM. It would restrict what you would be able to write about because of NDA. You are better as an outsider looking in. Keep it that way.

    Though, if you do run, you will get my vote.

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    1. This.
      We may not always agree, Jester, in fact the disagreements are more common than the agreements by a large margin...and I still say that you show a remarkable lack of understanding of "meta" psychosocial factors and how they play into in-game behaviors... but better someone who's ignorant of them than one who's all too knowledgeable and uses them to his own machinations (Tucker Max aka Mittens ;-) ).

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  10. You have to be one of the only bloggers I respect. You have tdf's full support if you run for CSM and an motd change to boot.

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  11. I would prefer you not to run. I know you would try mightly to use your blog as a communication tool, but i believe it would be tempered. If you ran for the council you would have my votes. To put it succinctly, shit or get off the pot.

    Lenny

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    1. I'm not sure if this is what this poster meant, but actually, a very good reason not to run is this blog: If your hands were tied by NDA, you might not be as able to be analytical and insightful for fear of saying something that was true and also covered by NDA. It might be the case that you'd have to pick between :CSM: and :blog:, in which case I would say blog if only because nobody's breathing down your neck about what you can and can't say.

      Agreeing with sentiment about shit and pots though.

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  12. Don't run. I don't want my favorite blogger to be muzzled.

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  13. "The Incarna team wouldn't talk to them at all, and they weren't alone."
    Now judge each of the teams that restricted their contact with CSM by their performance. CSM is for feedback, so if you don't accept feedback that disagrees with your own viewpoint, then you are asking for trouble.

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  14. Wow, amazing to see how many people get work up about you and CSM7. Based on your posts it's pretty apparent what's gonna happen.

    So people, please, stop bugging Jester. This drooling fanboy act is highlighting what's the problem with CSM election in the first place.

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  15. Before you even consider running for CSM7, you should contemplate how reliable appeasement and affirmation of messaging really is when trying to get on board a cool kids club. I know, bit of a trick question kind of statement that.

    For a professional negotiator, it worries me that you a) confuse the different perspectives you should be alternating, b) do not prioritise these different perspectives nor c) match these to past and present information without falling prey to a subtle case of history is written by the victor (who then makes the same fundamental mistakes and gets socially engineered in the reverse).

    Consider for a moment that you are essentially internalising CSM6 methods which in its term have removed any prospect of structural insight and accountability in every way and form, under the guise of personal communications. A phenomenon which at CCP is something - as they do not distinguish between private, personal and corporate (where each lack effective processes or buffers of any type "because we're awesome") has caused and worsened every drama over the years (preventable in each and every case but never prevented because everything was routed over the personal interaction angle).

    If you want to have impact, stay on the outside. CSM since number 6 is a cool kids club, much the same as the old private test corps on various historic test servers. Yeah, that ended well .... You cannot change CCP's ways, not without resorting to methods CSM5 displayed. Particularly visible in that infamous letter. If you still do not understand why that letter had impact, and caused only damage through individual CCP staff actions prior and during, you should try living in Iceland for a few years. No, there is also no fundamental changing of the CSM concept or processes. It is an experiment, and that is as it serves best, in the eye of those who really decide (and who will never interact in any meaningful way with any form of players).

    Last but not least, neither CSM nor CCP needs a professional negotiator. They have one of the international best on call, and they deliberately avoid using the guy, even though he actually is an Icelander. Both CSM and CCP need something entirely different, and it is not the same as what John & Jane Doe Player need. Not negotiators, not stakeholders, just advocates.

    Don't run for CSM7. Get back out of the trench of your subjects to regain some perspectives, and be the analytical thorn poking in. There is tangible impact potential.

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    1. Virt, why is it you insist on posting here anonymously? Do you really think anyone else writes like this? ;-)

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    2. At least we know he's still alive...and paying attention, even if only a little. :)

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    3. It's not ~mad~ enough to be Barth. Gotta be Virt. :)

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  16. I wish I had the patience to write a proper reply to a lot of what is on FHC but I can TLDR it all real easy: "Hey, Barth is wrong."

    I hope you run, m8.

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    1. You're an odd one. Just to be clear: you hope I run even if it almost certainly means that I will take votes away from you, and vice versa?

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    2. Hey, I'm naive like that I guess. v0v But I agree with the comments that say your blog would suffer greatly and that's not really something I'd like to see. CHOICES! :)

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  17. IMHO, the biggest benefit for having Jester on CSM 7 would be;

    1) Frequency of communication with community (although this could come back to bite him).

    2) His writing skills make reading pleasant (as opposed to CSM minutes which made my eyes bleed).

    Cons COULD (<----!!!!) be;

    Tendency to vacillate. :P

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    1. Number 1 could turn out to actually ruin this blog, since he would be legally bound to not talk about the things he currently talks about. Since he has an odd way of suggesting changes which come to fruition, I say stay out of CM7. You're doing better work as a vigilante.

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  18. To put it simply:
    Run and loose --> return to blogging having lost nothing but some time. Nobody thought any less of you for what happened with CSM6 so why would they with CSM7 and if nothing else it will pull a few more people onto the blog where you already have a lot of influence.

    Run and win --> happy days, gain an extra platform to preach from and get more direct access to CCP. You can still blog - there may be occasions when you have to change slightly what it is your blogging about but I can't imagine the majority of what you talk about falling under an NDA - bearing in mind the purpose of the NDA isn't to prevent slander but rather to stop you releasing privy information about the games future.

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  19. @Anonymous (2:25 am): The problem Jester would face with blogging as a CSM member is that if his analysis of any particular thing gets too close to some NDA'd truth, it could be hard to convince CCP that it was independently arrived at and not informed (in however small measure) by what he knows from CSM channels. Everyone who blogs and serves on the CSM faces this issue, but given his highly analytical nature Jester would probably affected by it to an even greater degree.

    @Jester: I think you should run. It would be very interesting to see how things went if you got a seat on a CSM7 that also had a Mittens on it. I would also be very interested in your take on the whole situation as seen from the other side.

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  20. TL;DR

    Jester has not announced that he is running for CSM7
    People are ignorant; Claim that Jester vacillates.

    From where I stand and what I've read (I am a Jester's Trek Blog Bittervet. Having been here since week one.) Jester has always defined his position well and if it has changed, Jester has explained exactly what caused his position to change. Sounds like my kind of representative.

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  21. part 1:

    The calculation for running for the CSM or not is actually quite simple. I've been asked to run by several people at several times. I thought about it for a while and decided against it. Partially that was for personal reasons at the time. But more importantly, and what swung me to a definite NO is that I didn't want to be encapsulated in a relationship with CCP where they would be able to determine, effectively, what I could say about something or not.

    And that is in effect what the NDA does. In previous CSMs, up till the later stages of CSM5, the NDA was applied very lightly and very specifically by CCP. Now its blanket use, either as an excuse for CSM6 (as I suspect is the case quite often), or actually actively applied by CCP, as in the case of the Incarna discussion with CSM5, is prohibitive. It has certainly hampered the CSM (most notably CSM5) from doing what it was asked to do: call bullshit on CCP where they saw it. It basically killed off the CSM experiment. I know you deplore the letter, but in addition to other things, that was the only push-back CSM5 had left at the time.

    Now, I have nothing against an NDA as such. I understand why CCP wanted to have it initially, and in that context the reason for it being there was justified. But since then it has become a means for CCP to suppress opinions or facts that are inconvenient to them. That they'd rather not have spoken out loud. For me, that's not acceptable.

    An example, your blogs about the subscription numbers of EVE. I may disagree with some of the things you took away from that later on, but you would not have been allowed to write those blogs in the way you did if you had been in the CSM at the time, and thus under the NDA. Including the things I disagree with. How is that a good thing? For you or EVE or even CCP?

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  22. Part 2:

    Returning to the calculation to be made: If you decide to run and win: you run the realistic risk of being effectively muzzled. If you don't decide to run you can say what you want and effectively have tangible and more direct influence. To me that sounds like a pretty easy calculation to be made. I certainly was to me.

    Mind you, I'm writing this even though on some issues I fundamentally disagree with what you blog about (other stances I have less problems with).

    But that's besides the point. The point is that we don't have to agree on everything, but that I'd still much prefer to have a open, even vigorous discussion about it without there being the threat of the NDA banhammer hanging over it.

    As I see it, that was still possible with member of the CSM right up to halfway through CSM5. Then, certain discussions were declared off limits (Incarna). Now, it seems there's practically no discussion with the CSM (not just for these reasons no doubt). And I think that's a bad thing for CCP, as well as bad thing for EVE.

    If the CSM isn't allowed to do its job. If they can't (or won't) represent the players. If they can't (or won't) provide or ask for feedback. Then what's the point in having them? And likewise: what's the point in wanting to join them?

    This is how I see it: The CSM experiment is dead. It was neutered effectively by CCP and others with CSM6, not least by the NDA. It isn't official yet because CCP doesn't want to take the PR hit and no doubt some are still trying to make something of it work. But beyond gaining e-peen or wanting to join a cool kids club, I fail to see what the attraction for a player is to join it now. Maybe that'll change, but I doubt it. Certainly if everyone just keeps going along with it as it is.

    For the rest I fully agree with what Virt wrote anonymously. I don't think you're much of a negotiation prodigy, as you don't seem to display enough of an ability to look at things from different perspectives. That could still change though. In particular I think you misjudged impact of 'the letter', not least because of the former. But more importantly, neither CCP nor the CSM need a negotiator, and haven't in a long time if ever. My advice would be to stay well clear of encapsulation within a CSM, try to look at things from more than one perspective, and then drop the vacillation and take a firm position. Just think: no more need to be a politician about things!

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    Replies
    1. Barth, when you have to split up a comment into two parts, that's a clue that it's time to stop posting. Even for you, that's way too much text.

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  23. I used to be one of your biggest supporters for running for CSM7, but now I think your blog is way too important to be laid by the wayside to join a council whose time I think has come (we need a secure, hard to troll way of directly polling the players, IMO).

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