First, let's get the fun bit for me personally out of the way: I'm mentioned by name in this piece not once, not twice, but three times. Mittens allows as how I might get elected, which is nice. He also allows that I'm "fairly well-known", which is also nice. But in an amusing touch, he simultaneously says that the "core" of my votes will come from Rote Kapelle and that to win my votes will have to come from my readers. But he opens by specifying that my blog didn't carry me through the first time I ran, so why should it work this time? It's kind of hard to be this dismissive of a mere human without being a demi-god or a Fortune 500 CEO, but Mittens manages it. ;-) I guess we'll see how I do.
Second, we also finally know how he feels about CSM7's choice of Chair. Last April, when they made the choice, I said this about how Mittens might feel:
Mittens came right out and endorsed Two step as Chair in his various remarks. He basically was telling his constituents that "Two step as Chair is OK with me." The subconscious message that someone else would not be OK with him lingers. And Mittens, not in the least shy about giving his opinions, has made no attempt to endorse Seleene that I've seen.Well, Mittens has finally given his opinion. Here it is:
Whether or not you're a fan of CSM7, its members suffer a perception problem: they have been seen as do-nothings, with Seleene being afk for much of the year after seizing the Chairmanship from Two Step.Aheh. Ouch. ;-)
Now before I talk specifically about the rest of the piece, let's put it into context. TMC and Mittens asked their readers if they should even cover the CSM election and unsurprisingly the answer was "yes". The question itself was kind of amusing given that TMC is a gaming news site and the CSM election is unquestionably news. The major question would be who from TMC's staff of writers would cover it? Mittens is an obvious choice given that he's been twice elected to the CSM, of course: this is roughly analogous to having a former U.S. Senator be a news organization's Congressional correspondent. In short: it's a no-brainer if Mittens is willing and able to do it. He could skip the whole thing, of course, by simply saying "Got a whole alliance to run here, far too busy, sorry." It would have been very understandable.
But now that Mittens is writing the pieces, he's TMC's expert on the process. The pieces don't necessarily have to be in the site's News section (and indeed this one is not), but they do have to come off as two things: informed, and relatively unbiased toward what is good for EVE's players... or at least that subset of EVE's players that are TMC readers.
This is why it's so interesting how uninformed Mittens comes off on the CSM8 election's STV process. Mittens doesn't seem to have the first clue how the system works. In particular, he trots out the idea that his 10058 votes in the CSM7 election would have been good for four CSM7 seats, which is sorely mistaken. This idea has been brought up several times and proven false each time. Assuming they coordinate their votes perfectly, the null-sec blocs will take as many seats as their percentage of total votes. Given that Mittens's 10k votes were one-sixth of the total CSM7 vote, they would have given him two seats, not four.
Was this deliberate obfuscation? It's entirely possible. Trebor Deahdoow, in his own response to Mittens, seems to be leaning that way. I myself am not so sure. I'm not the only person Mittens entirely dismisses, for instance: he dismisses the WH vote in its entirety, which is crazy! Given that there are going to be several thousand WH votes and given that those voters are all but certain to vote four or five WH candidates as a bloc, it's also all but guaranteed that one of the five WH candidates is going to be on CSM8. The only thing left to decide is who. Organization becomes irrelevant; the WH bloc is going to have just as much or more power than they did when they gave Two step the second-place finish last year.
The article also mentions "alt slots" several times. As informed CSM-watchers are aware, for all practical purposes, there hasn't been any such thing as an alt slot for almost a year now. The new version of the white paper doesn't even mention the concept. You're either elected to the CSM or you're not, with the only differentiation being for the CSM's four officers all of whom may now be freely elected from any of the fourteen people elected to the CSM. Yet here's Mittens mentioning this or that CSM8 candidate as being likely to get one of these mythical alt slots.
In short, very ironically, Mittens has some homework to do before he can come off as an expert on this subject. Let's move on to bias.
...because there's a ton of it. Pride of place in the article is given to seven named and two unnamed "bloc candidates" and the written assumption is that all of them are going to be automatically elected without them having to do a thing. This is after Mittens writes that the most important thing to do is whipping of votes (which I agree with). mynnna in particular is (accurately) described as not having to do anything to get elected.
Of the remaining 30 or so candidates, only two are mentioned at all -- Trebor and myself -- and we're mentioned in tones that make it clear that there need to be a couple of seat-warmers so that the CFC and HBC CSM members don't have to sit next to each other in Reyk. ;-) Granted though, Mittens then says there will be follow-up articles about "who has a shot."
Something that I've danced around a bit on this site and when talking to Marc Scaurus is the tendency of TMC to speak to a specific audience of EVE players... a rather Goon-shaped specific audience. At these times, Marc is always very quick to say that anything I care to submit for publication will not only get a fair hearing, it will probably get published.(1) In short, TMC is limited by the writers and editors on staff and what they're writing. But the more their pieces are aimed at a specific subset of EVE player, the more that the writers and editors they attract are going to be members of that specific subset.
This is how catch-22s are born.
But if TMC is going to cover the CSM, sooner or later they're going to have to cover the CSM in a piece in the "News" section rather than the "Feature" section. This is going to require that the amount of bias toward the opinions of the writers -- no matter who those writers are -- is going to have to be damped down, at least somewhat. While it might be entertaining to run an EVE version of Fox News or MSNBC, is this what The Mittani wants? I get the impression the answer is "no".
So where does he strike a balance? For the purposes of his own opinion, during the election at least, he's likely going to be motivated to promote nine bloc candidates over two non-bloc candidates. But if he wants to run a balanced news site, sooner or later he's going to have to extoll the virtues of CSM candidates whom he thinks will actually be good for the game.
It will be interesting to see when or if that starts.
(1) I'll likely take him up on that sooner or later, assuming he retains his TMC position (more on that another time).