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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.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Absurdist theater

It's been at least a week since I made fun of the CSM7 election 100 "likes" petition mechanic, so let's revisit it, shall we?

Last year, for the CSM6 election, there were 57 official candidates.  In the December Summit minutes, we were told that the reasoning behind the petition mechanic was...
...to reduce the number of candidates to a more manageable level, down from 70 to perhaps 30-40 (although CCP doesn’t have strong preference towards a particular number). The number of candidates can (and does) have an influence on voters, being presented with a huge list of candidates is intimidating and having to form an informed opinion about 70 candidates is daunting to say the least.
"The CSM", among other things, responded to this strategy when they...
...also expressed concerns about using forum likes to poll support, since this could of course be gamed to flood the ballot with candidates with no real support.
But CSM members right up to Mittens himself said... well, let's just use Mittens's own words for this one as our example, shall we?
The new like-based nomination process will weed out many hopeless candidates, which is significant; past elections had a number of players throw their hats into the ring with no hope of actually getting elected, creating a long and cumbersome ballot. However, there is a substantial risk that an organized bloc will mass-vote weaker candidates past the 100-like-mark to clog the ballot; even a single well-organized corp could do this on a lark and nominate every hopeful. Future elections will almost certainly require a more strict nomination process to be effective.
I can only assume that Mittens wrote this in sarcastic jest.  While I'm occasionally accused of being smug about trumpeting my correct predictions, I'm not going to be smug about this one.  Anyone with two brain cells to rub together could see how this one was going to play out.  Of course people were going to come out of the woodwork to "like" candidates they had no intention of voting for.

As of today, we're still two weeks from the final approved list of candidates coming out, and there are already -- by my very conservative count -- 47 candidates with the requisite 100 "likes".  The Mittani (the official Goon candidate) and Dovinian (apparently the official TEST candidate) lead the pack with 1200+ and 625+ likes, respectively.  But as of right now, Mintrolio -- who let's be clear here, has zero chance of getting one of the top seven seats -- has 200 likes, which very nearly as many as Trebor Daehdoow has!

Once the results are out, it will be quite entertaining to see how many candidates fail to get as many votes as they received likes.  This process really is absurd, and for more than one reason.

Absurdism is a school of thought that says that attempting to find concrete meaning in life is futile because the amount of information available in most situations makes certainty about anything impossible.  Absurdist theater relies on this philosophy for humorous effect.  The most famous and well-known work of absurdist theater is The Marriage of Figaro, but let's go with one that most of you have probably seen: The "Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down" episode of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica.

In this episode, Dr. Baltar has what he believes to be a working Cylon detector, and is instructed to begin testing key members of the fleet.  Who will be tested first is the major plot point, and the episode is filled with accusations and counter-accusations of things that it's impossible to know for sure used for very comic effect.  The ultimate pay-off takes place in Baltar's lab with three loud arguments about who might or might not be a Cylon, working comically and chaotically at cross purposes happening at once while Baltar -- in the middle of it, but uninvolved -- tries to work.  Frustrated, he finally screams "THAT!  IS A NUCLEAR WARHEAD!" at the collective group, pointing to the only item in the room whose identity is certain.  ;-)  It's a scene that's always good for a lot of laughs.

In similar fashion, expect the next phase of the CSM7 election to be nothing short of this kind of absurdist theater, with the candidates looking to define and redefine the other candidates, and debating their qualities at cross purposes.  Mittens has already gotten this phase started by openly making fun of some of the other candidates...  This will continue and expand in what will almost certainly be an extremely competitive race, particularly at the lower end.

Should be fun to watch, and quite humorous.  ;-)


  1. On center stage in Jita Park: Cirque de Bouffons Vaisseau Spatial.

  2. "I can only assume that Mittens wrote this in sarcastic jest."

    Not necessarily. As a mental exercise, imagine if every nullsec leadership gave the following order to their members:
    "Don't not give 'likes' to anyone but our own candidate."

    You know what would change? Nothing. You just need 100 players, not even part of one organized group, wishing to derail the process for whatever reason.

    That's 0,0005% of the Eve players (considering 400k accounts, 2 accounts per player on the average).

    Even if it was Mittens idea to put a nomination process in place, it was not his idea to use 'likes'. I think he meant something more serious.

  3. Everyone on the CSM agreed that the "like" process was pointless. I argued that if CCP wanted to do something like this, they should at the very least count +1 posts, and only count the first +1 given per account.

    I even offered to modify the software I wrote to manage the Prioritization Crowdsourcing so that it would provide them with a nicely formatted list of *character-based* +1s that they could then filter by account (to prevent multiple nominations using alts, something that can't be detected externally but which CCP can do). This offer was declined.

    1. A good improvement, but I'd go a step further and say that people who nominate a candidate should have their vote automatically cast on them, supposing the candidate is approved.

  4. Nitpicky thing, but I wouldn't consider the Marriage of Figaro to be absurdist theatre, which is 20th Century development. Waiting for Godot would be a better example. But this process will indeed be absurd.

  5. "I can only assume that Mittens wrote this in sarcastic jest. While I'm occasionally accused of being smug about trumpeting my correct predictions, I'm not going to be smug about this one."
    LOL. Okay. I've poked you twice this week. I'll shut up now. Despite my comments, I keep reading...

  6. ....and in the midst of all this politicking, "super srs bidness", and meta-gaming...that's all it is--gaming.
    I think there's a number of people in this community who've lost that sense of perspective.

  7. Re: number of votes vs. likes. You really only need 33 dedicated people to want to nominate you to pass the 100 like limit. Pointless...

  8. You know, it may be easier to make a two-pass election.

    The first election goes without a nomination process.

    For the second election you could go with one of two methods:
    - keep all candidates above a previously defined number of votes.
    - keep a certain amount of the top candidates (since there are 14 seats, it could be something between 28 to 42).


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