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...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Expert opinion

So The Mittani has weighed in for the first time on the CSM8 election and to a lesser extent on CSM7 and the CSM in general, and his piece is a doozy.  Go give it a read.  It's worth your time.  I'll wait.

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).

30 comments:

  1. I wouldn't expect balanced. That doesn't seem to be what he's ever been about. Not that I think he wants to ruin EVE (as some others do); that would be destroying the very place where he seems to be most relevant.

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    1. Naw, he isn't about balance, esp. when drunk. Can't even stay on his feet, without a wall to lean on... lol.

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    2. @Anon2236 - Yeah, I remember seeing him sprawled on the floor during last Fanfest, after the infamous panel debacle. He had bumped into some people, fell down, and was having problems getting back up. Drunk as a skunk. Rather pathetic.

      Hard to take someone like this seriously. But, I guess that's why he spends his life in a game, where he can pretend to be important.

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    3. "I was there..."

      This guy is more than a bit eff'ed up. You could smell the alcohol on him, and he actually thought he *was* The Mittani, when I talked to him. I know some people who are seriously into the role-playing thing, costumes and all, but even they don't take it so far as to actually believe they are their game persona in RL.

      You gotta wonder what someone like this will do, if/when EVE Online is shutdown permanently.

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  2. The truth about the STV issue - in practice - might be somewhere in between you two.

    You assume that most voters will actually vote properly (the order they actually want to with a reasonably full ballot).

    If you read the comments to Mittens article, you'll find wormhole guys commenting like: "Would everyone voting for everyone [ref. to WH candidates] really make a difference? Maybe I'm just too thick to have gotten the new voting system, but if none of the W-Space candidates have enough votes to secure a spot based on their specific bloc, then shouldn't none of them win no matter how many votes in total are placed?"

    Basically, if most low-information voters only fill out a few slots (like 3 or 4 or so) and don't bother with the rest, while the really big corporations whip their members with specific ballot proposals (=filling out all spots), the results might be more like Mitten's imagination, than you think.

    I suspect STW will probably be enough for ω-space. But for the more scattered and unorganized Empire vote (+ NPC-null)? I suspect that you'll see a lot of wasted ballots, because the choices they make either don't make it at all ... or they'll have overvotes that don't get distributed down.

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    1. STV is broken without compulsary sufferage like it is done in Australia IMHO

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  3. One question. Currently taking a break from New Eden.

    I'd still like to vote, so when do I have to plex/reactivate my account to get a vote? (and maybe the 10th aniversary gift).

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    1. I believe in the past it's been 30 days before you vote, which means you would have had to do it a week or two ago. Though I'm not 100% sure on that point.

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    2. From the CSM-Whitepaper (http://community.eveonline.com/download/devblog/CSMSummary.pdf): "Any active EVE Online account that is at least a full thirty (30) days in age is eligible to vote."

      So, assuming you once paid your account(s) before they became inactive, you have the "30 days in age" part covered, and it should be okay to PLEX them just when the vote is due (no guarantees).

      For starting new accounts: Since no cut-off date is specified for the age requirement your guess is as good as mine (maybe it's checked the day you want to vote, or maybe the start of the primary election is the reference date). But considering the whole election ends March 17th, "30 days" earlier has already passed, so it doesn't matter either way.

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  4. Mittens wants to insure that his preferred people get elected to CSM (and you aren't one of them). This is merely the first of several pre-election articles he will be writing, which will eventually guide readers to vote against certain candidates, in favor of other candidates.

    Pure election propaganda. Facts don't matter. The game doesn't matter - only the politics of the metagame.

    This is exactly what Mittens excels at doing.

    So, don't get suckered in by election tricks and media baiting games, Jester. You don't need to waste words defending yourself and you don't need to counter-attack. Mittens is hoping that you'll be stupid enough to bite, and eventually sink yourself.

    Just keep to your usual blog topics and you'll ensure yourself a seat.

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  5. Hey Jester

    Please add some instructions (for us noobs) on how to actually vote......as the first 40 hits in Google don't actually tell you the most important thing - which is how to vote.
    Thanks in advance -
    Metalp1g

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  6. "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..."

    Or what happens?

    "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."

    Or what happens?

    "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."

    Or wh...oh, you actually came right out and obliquely implied it this time: or Jester will write on his blog that he doesn't think TMC is a balanced news site.

    Isn't that the status quo? Seems that way in my recollection.

    So basically, you're repeatedly saying that TMC is going to have do X, or the status quo will continue. I.e., translated into English, when you say TMC has to do X, what you really mean is "TMC does not have to do X, and unless they have a major shift in philosophy, probably won't do X."

    My response: That's confusing and deceptive, and your blog will HAVE TO stop using that kind of language. You must stop; you are required to stop; it is necessary for you to stop; you have to STOP!

    Or the martians will come and eat our brains. With tiny forks.

    Just kidding, the martians are vegetarians. I guess you'll keep doing whatever you want, eh? TMC probably will too. Chaos ensues, or resumes; and all because the martians are herbivores.

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    1. ...or TMC becomes Fox News or MSNBC. I don't have to write a blog post saying that it's happened. People will have their own opinion of whether it's happened or not without any help from me, trust me. I know some already have that opinion because they've told me they have that opinion.

      Lots of people dismiss TMC outright as part of the Goon propaganda arm. There's a dude on the Montolio thread on reddit today who flat-out said the TMC response to it would be "HBC FAIL-CASCADES". I have to admit I laughed out loud when I read that.

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    2. "...or TMC becomes Fox News or MSNBC. "

      For TMC to become those, it would have to not have been incorporated as one from the beginning. As I already pointed out above, this is just another way of saying 'TMC has to do X, or the status quo, which was intentionally designed by the operators of TMC, will remain intact'. This is not a sensible phrase.

      Fox News and MSNBC aren't owned and operated by left or right wing parties (Not officially, although they might as well be), and yet they're still seen as propaganda arms. Why would you expect a 'news'-website that IS actually owned and operated by one of the sides in EVE-online not to be at least somewhat biased? If you replaced all the writers with angels from on high, maybe.

      The thing about dragging in the term propaganda is that it has some unsavory connotations at this point, and using it implies a pretty black-and-white view of things. There is a lot of gray area between unbiased and completely uncensored, and completely biased and completely censored. I don't believe you could point to any news organization, ever, which was completely at either end of the scale--it's a contradiction in terms in many levels. TMC publishing opposing viewpoints uncensored is a step above propaganda--but Fox News has liberals as guests regularly, some of whom absolutely destroy the conservative hosts through being witter. Some aren't, and don't.

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    3. For the record, Fox doesn't care one way or the other about politics or news. They are only concerned with viewer ratings, and being "anti-Obama" has pushed their ratings ridiculously high over the past 5 or so years. Morons like O'Reilly and Hannity were nobodies, before they were assigned to do bash-the-Dems shows. When they previously tried to do "balanced", "serious" and/or "real" news, they were both utter failures.

      Fox senior management considers these shows to be a blend of reality TV, radio talk shows, and pseudo-news, which has proved much more successful than traditional news programs, esp. since the rise of the Internet as the primary source for "real" news. Fox execs (correctly) believe that most people watch TV for entertainment value, and no longer for information.

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  7. Have you considered that Mittens does understand the STV system and merely wishes to disenfranchise non block voters?

    Even if they don't get their candidates in, anyone who votes will lessen the amount of transferable votes available for block candidates.

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  8. The failed lawyer is a cancer on the game. In fact, things like it are a cancer on real life as well.
    But it and you are both incorrect in one way. If its' vote was split last year as per the new gerrymandering set up, it would have garnered the first 3 of first 5 slots. Not the first 2 as you suggested, nor the 1st 4 as it suggested. The first 2 would be a lock, and the 4th slot would have been virtually assured as it would have picked up other votes from other sources. And if not the 4th slot. certainly the 5th.

    Bottom line, the HBC mole Michael Bolton has worked since he got hired by CCP to further tilt the CSM towards null sec. It is pretty obvious that null sec will gain 10-12 of the 14 seats.
    WH will certainly get at least one, low sec likely one, and high sec shut out.

    Why was this done? I among others have stated this before on your blog. Real life money. The null sec oligarchs are doing everything they can to divert more of the Eve economy through their fingers, so they can divert more to RMT.

    Consider one point. Look at the size of the CFC/HBC/russian power bloc, as a whole, compared to last year. Factor in all the alt accounts they control. It is a far larger percentage of the electorate than last year, although still a small small minority of all the players. But that is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is how large a chunk of the voting populace they will be, and it is certain that the null sec voting bloc + alts will dominate the entire vote.

    They will be given a list of 14 candidates to vote for, in specific sequence, and instructed to have every account controlled to vote. High sec will be as disjointed as always. I personally am voting for a max of 4, maybe 5 chars, since I can find no others that will stand up to the null sec juggernaut, if they made the CSM. Any other of the 9 slots on my card would be for null sec zealots, and have no wish to vote for someone intent on destroying the part of the sandbox I play in.

    We are going to be faced with a CSM8 utterly dominated by null sec, all intent of diverting more ISK into their hands of the few that control the null sec wallets.

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    1. It's hugely entertaining that you think Dolan is competent enough to act as a mole inside CCP.

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    2. Have to agree with mynnna on this one.

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  9. I still think James 315 may be Mittens ALT & Alex didn't run again due to CSM burnout which I would understand after he got thrown under the bus in many ways IMHO by the nedia & CCP

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  10. more evidence that the guy has passed his "use by date" and should move on to a new game.

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  11. There are daily newspapers with quickly written superficial stories, and there are the weeklies, hebdomadaires, where you get the deep analyses on a meta level. The latter I prefer. That's why I'm reading here. I'd rather have the news tomorrow, yet know profoundly what has happened.

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  12. One thing is certain this time around though, and I'm rather surprised that mittens didn't comment on it: many fewer people have openly declared their candidacy this year. The pre-election is supposed to narrow down the field to 28 - I'm not sure there are even 28 people running this year.

    And of the people who are running, it seems that most of them are "0.0", then 4-5-6 "w-space", then a couple of "lo-sec" and how many "hi-sec"? Is there more than 1 candidate who bases out of hi-sec?

    Regardless of the specifics of who gets in and who doesn't, CSM8 will be a null-heavy CSM. Personally I'm fine with that, because null urgently NEEDS fixing after several years of empire-focused expansions, but it irritates me that we're going to have to endure another year of whining about the CSM being "biased" against hi-sec.

    - Malcanis

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    1. Those same people whining about it being "biased" against hi-sec can't be bothered with making any effort towards organizing to try to change that, so fuck 'em. That's pretty explicitly CCP's opinion too, if a post I saw during the older voting discussions is any indication.

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    2. That's possibly the opinion of former players like Soundwave but it doesn't make any business sense. I like Minesweeper and have played it for years. Am I hardcore, vocal, part of the community? Not at all and never will be. Never even looked at a Minesweeper forum and would laugh at the idea of going to a Minesweeper convention.

      If the business wants customers who aren't hardcore it can't all be about the titans and sov. I realise goons get a different perspective as you immediately induct your newbees to nullsec but for the most part casual, unsocial and new players are in high sec and if they start to take an interest in Eve's community perceive the political situation as being stacked against them.

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  13. "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."

    Amusingly, I had submitted this story:
    http://themittani.com/features/csm-pre-election-unaffiliated-wormhole-votes

    ...about 12 hours before you posted this in response to Mittens' statement that "the w-space vote is likely to be fractured and thus irrelevant in the grand scheme of things."

    When I agreed to freelance for TMC, part of the agreement was that I could advocate whatever I wanted - this was the first test of that, and it went through untouched. So ... I'd say that you can safely assume that if you wrote a piece it would be published, unmolested.

    Of course, this might be a one-time incident, but so far the Goon Overlords of TMC aren't censoring - or guiding - my opinion as a writer.

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  14. So, in general, I don't comment here very often, though obviously I read regularly. I've let other posts go by the wayside where I could have weighed in, because of one reason or another. I'll just leave this here now, though, because I found a 15 minute gap in my work schedule:

    As has been discussed before between Ripard and I, anything labelled 'Feature' on the site may contain bias and/or propaganda. Sometimes, in the case of the more outlandish opinions of our contributors, we do make sure to put a special disclaimer at the top of an article emphasizing this fact. However, more often than not, we expect our readers to be smart enough to figure it out, and for the most part this has worked out. I'd like to get better label options for our articles, but this involves working backend code magic and other things are higher on the priority list (and yes, right now a more responsive design overhaul to better accommodate mobile viewers is at the very top of the list).

    Second, in reply to Rhavas's statement, I wanted to clarify something: Rhavas sought assurances that his articles would be free to talk about whatever, for his own piece of mind. This is not something that we are remotely concerned with. You can write a Goon bashing article, a litany of complaints against high sec gankers/Miniluv, etc etc - we really don't care.

    As a corollary to this, I will take a moment to address Reddit's concerns that the site is solely a Goon propaganda machine by pointing out that of three editors, only one is a Goon (Ryan Vincent/Anticheese, and he's relatively new at that). I am technically unaffiliated at this point, and Barrien is a long standing member of Test. When people react to negative posts about their organization with accusations of bias, even when their own members were the ones that wrote the pieces in question, I can't help but laugh at the terrible short-sightedness of humans. See also: Targie McRed, targeted and nearly driven out of Test for writing an article without editorial shenanigans, aside from yelling in Jabber for someone to write an article.

    Finally, it should come as no surprise that Mittens pushes the effectiveness of bloc votes versus unaffiliated candidates, as in all of his experience this is largely true. Until the CSM8 election can prove otherwise, this is likely to remain true. And no, as we saw with Rhavas' piece, Mittens will not be our sole CSM correspondent. I will likely be penning a piece in the next week on the subject, as I'm sure will others. And when there is actual news to report, every reader should expect there to be a minimum of bias (sorry but every writer everywhere is biased and sometimes this does bleed through - human nature, etc). While some may see the name at the top of the page and think TMC is strictly a goon site, the fact remains that the staff is comprised, at all levels, of players from various parts of New Eden, and that the only things holding back a wider variety of viewpoints from being published is output and quality from that staff (and submissions, of course).

    I'm still just waiting to see that Ripard Teg submission come down the pipe!

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  15. Looks like the preelection process has been delayed until Soon™ don't worry I'm sure that won't hurt the casualt candidates getting some weekend votes.

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  16. The fall of Mittani is a great shame. When I started playing he was the Jester of Eve, a constant stream of interesting and informative articles on Ten Ton Hammer. Now he's so surrounded by sycophants he's lost perspective and become boring unless you're a fan of his persona and/or Goons.

    Sadly almost everyone who writes on his site sounds like him, just more cool aid for the Cool Throne. James315 isn't The Mittani on an alt. He's just one of a generation of Goons who try to be just like him in every way.

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