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.
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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Who what when where (how) why

Little bit of Sunday geek philosophy for you.

One of the most basic tenets of journalism used to be that you don't write a story without the "five Ws": who, what, when, where, and most importantly, why.  Who did it?  What did they do?  When did they do it?  Where?  How did it happen?  Why did it happen?

That last question speaks to motivation and is often the toughest question to answer, and usually takes the longest.  As a result, modern news organizations have gotten into the habit of going to press with as many of the questions answered as they can.  These days, Woodward and Bernstein are afraid of losing their access, and CNN doesn't want to lose the "breaking story" to MSNBC or Fox News, so journalists "go to press" as soon as they can string some kind of coherent narrative together.  This particularly applies to things like terrorist attacks.  When something awful like this happens, you will know where, when, and to whom it happened, but only usually will you know what happened, often you won't know how, and almost never during those initial few hours will you know why.  Those things come a lot later.  But in today's 24-hour news cycle, the five Ws have diminished in importance in the view of many journalists.

The slow degrade of respect the public has for the profession can probably be traced in part to this process.  There's just no time to get the full story if you want eyeballs in front of screens.  You go with what you have.

Sometimes the choices are even harder.  Sometimes you find out why a terrorist attack happens, and it's from the terrorist himself.  Do you go to press with that information?  Do you turn your entire media empire into a mouthpiece for the thoughts of someone motivated by hatred or revenge, even for a moment?  It's a tough call.  Journalism schools debate it.

It comes down to motivation: if someone has good information that answers a "W" but also clearly has an axe to grind, how much play do you give them?  Not all such motivations are negative, of course.  I'm sure we've all heard or read stories about someone committing a crime, only to have a family member come forward to defend that person or try to provide explanations, or information.  Or a government official comes forward and tries to bring clarity.  But often, the motivation is highly negative... revenge or contempt being quite high on the list.  Again, how much play do you give that?  It's another thing journalism schools debate.

Now suppose a journalist screws up.  Is that in itself a story?  If so, who covers it?  The journalist's employer?  Another media outlet?  How do you cover it?  There's a great scene in Tomorrow Never Dies with one cable outlet gloating at the misfortunes of another.  You don't want to do that!  But if a journalist leaves one media outlet and joins another, for cause... and wants to talk about his or her former employers.  Do you cover that?  I mean, it's news, right?

Yeah, let's tie this stuff to EVE Online.

For those not keeping track, there's a little slap-fight going down this weekend between EVE News 24 and themittani.com.  The genesis of the slap-fight was this article published on EN24, on May 13 (remember that date).  Make no mistake: the article itself is kind of a mess.  But it includes Jabber logs that seem to show CFC members -- including CSM8 member mynnna -- gained access to data on the EVE Online Chaos test server data on changes that were upcoming in Odyssey before those changes were announced.  Further, the logs included indicate that the CFC used that information for massive financial gain, buying materials like isotopes that Odyssey is going to make more rare.

Assuming the logs are legitimate, "what" and "where" is covered, and "who" is somewhat covered.  The files are dated in the three days before Fanfest -- before mynnna was even on the CSM -- so "when" is somewhat covered.  "How" and "why"?  Well, the source of the data is a muddled mess.  And the motivation for the original article goes back to Cerebral Wolf, who rather famously got himself blapped from Goonswarm for apparently trying to influence DUST 514's CPM through intimidation and blackmail.  Whoops!  And now he was providing Jabber logs about CFC activities related to EVE's Chaos server and Odyssey.  Oh dear Heaven... that source doesn't have credibility problems at all, does it?  It certainly raises a question about motivation.

Now let's be clear here: I don't have a dog in this fight, and anyone who thinks I do is wrong.  EN24 has agreements in place with six or eight bloggers, of which I am one.  From time to time, EN24 syndicates our stuff Huffington Post-style, and we get ISK for it.  I don't write for EN24, I don't do news for EN24, and I don't have access to any EN24 systems.  That's about the extent of my involvement here.  But I've talked with EN24 editor riverini on any number of occasions.  And his long-held bias against anything CFC is probably one of the worst-kept secrets in New Eden.  And here was Cerebral Wolf feeding it.

So riverini -- probably eagerly -- asked Incindir Mauser to look through the Jabber logs, see if there was anything interesting in them.  And apparently there was.  And Mauser wrote up most of that disjointed little article about it.  And then at that point, the story splits.  Remember the old saying about how there's three sides to every story?  This is where the slap-fight starts.  What actually happened?  Here's Mauser's version.  Here's riverini's version.

Yep, two whole featured news stories about who did what to whose EVE news website or news articles.  And the funny and sad thing is that this whole story is built on questionable motivations.  And the ironic thing is that everything that happened came down to a lack of communication.

Mauser says that riverini fished his article out of the trash.  How did it get into the trash?  As far as I can tell, Mauser used his access to the EN24 tools to publish the article, on May 11, on EVE News 24!  But then, because of cold feet or second thoughts or just a mis-click, then he deleted the article, then he apparently decided to talk to the Goons to validate the Jabber logs.  We have pretty good evidence of this because someone commented on the piece before Mauser could delete it.  It's still causing a glitch, right now, in the EN24 comments system: trying to read comments via the sidebar on the May 13 piece are getting redirected to the published, then deleted May 11 piece, where they obviously don't exist.

Mauser did the correct thing, and went back to Goons to get the Jabber logs validated.  Only first, he published his article.  Then he deleted his article.  Then he didn't send an e-mail to riverini saying "Hey riv, I've deleted the Chaos test server article because I want to fact-check some things.  I'll get back to you Monday."  But Mauser doesn't mention any of this in his slap-fight article because that clouds his motivations... the all-important why question.  If Mauser isn't the victim, that makes his "riverini wanted to promulgate his twisted, weird, little agenda" story a little bit... unwieldy.

riverini logs into EN24 whenever it is he does.  The comment on the non-existent May 11 piece is causing glitches in the comment sidebar.  He traces the comment to Mauser's deleted article, un-deletes it, edits it, republishes it.  Why?  riverini's motivations are also cloudy.  Maybe he thought Mauser made a mistake with a publishing system he was unfamiliar with.  Or maybe riverini just couldn't let a good article sliming the Goons go.  He says flat-out he wanted it published on Monday, a high traffic day... again, motivation.  Here's what riverini also didn't do: he didn't send an e-mail to Mauser saying "Hey Mauser, your deleted article is causing problems.  Did you mean to delete it?  What's going on?"  riverini has added an addendum to his piece making that clear.

So the motivations of all three people involved here are cloudy to say the least.  The lack of communications is manifest.  It isn't the first time that EN24 has jumped into the fray supporting someone with questionable motives.  And TMC has also jumped into the slap-fight with both feet, hiring Mauser to be a staff writer despite his first piece being full of anti-EN24 venom.  It'll be interesting to see what Mauser produces for TMC.

In the meantime, all of the spilled ink has clouded the issue of the Jabber logs themselves.  Remember them?  They're legitimate.  Neither side has disputed that.

Only they mean nothing.  It's the sort of thing that EVE players at all levels have done for years to gain advantage in-game.  From time to time, you've read stuff from me right here pointing to scrapes off the Chaos server.  You'll be reading another here before too long about capital rigs.  In the original piece, riverini points out quite correctly that for years, CCP has taken a necessarily blind eye to this sort of thing because they honestly have no other choice.  Even if mynnna did benefit from this, certainly he isn't going to be in a position to benefit from this sort of data for a while.  Not with CCP watching his every transaction like a hawk now that he's on CSM8.  ;-)

So the whole thing is a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing, IMO.  But interesting from a philosophical point of view, don't you think?  Discuss.



    Did I miss anything? I didn't think so.

    1. Your post reminds me of the Goon posts in the EVE-O forums when something is written that reveals them in a bad light instead of scattering like cockroaches they spam the topic until ISD closes it down. Like with the original article comments in the EveO forums which iciter mouse wrote in EveN24.

    2. Except I'm quite clearly not a goon :) I'm just not impressed by it, nor shocked. Its EVE. Did you expect somehow for anyone to not try to take advantage of it? Would you seriously say you yourself would not have done what they did had you been calling the shots? I wouldn't have done it differently, either.

  2. There is no profit in games of peace. There is no story without a protagonist and I'm only this smug because I've managed to distance myself from EVERYBODY.
    Intelligence, counter intelligence and paranoia are only valuable to people who keep secrets. Of them I ask one rhetorical question; Where's the fun in that?
    Is CCP to blame for creating more conflict in an already troubled world? Do they feel guilty by association? Or do they sit silent while taking the fools money with the other hand? There are no winners and no-one died but our tea-cups rattle with the disquiet of egos jostling for supremacy.

  3. Dinsdale PirannhaMay 20, 2013 at 7:50 AM

    So goons used meta-gaming and data that falls in a "grey area" for profit. I personally consider this data not a grey area, but a huge transgression, and would have perma-banned all who profited. But that is me. I am supposedly insane, as the null sec propagandists like to post.

    You have also re-iterated that CCP turned a blind eye to this particular issue because in reality, they have no other choice. That indicates to me that they have limited ways to track the trading patterns and money movements spread over numerous accounts.

    You answered me before, and also indicate in your post, that the lead goon trader will have all his transactions watched like a hawk going forward. Great. Wonderful. So he can't use inside information to fatten his personal wallets.

    Now how does CCP stop all his trading buddies who have access to trillions of capital to use that inside information.

    Let's run a little scenario. mynnna, malcanis, soundwave, greyscale, and others, get their demands to wipe out T2 manufacturing in high sec agreed to, say for the December iteration. Say this happens in August. Mynnna then gets on a Skype conversation (zero paper trail) with the others in the goon cabal, and tells them this. The other members then immediately start buying, (using multiple non-goon affiliated accounts scattered over multiple IP addresses) T2 items that are used by everyone. Stuff like T2 DC's, EANM's, Nanofibres, etc. They also tell the goon industrialists to use non-goon affiliated accounts to start cranking up production in these items, but hold the stockpiles. The T2 mfg nerf is publicly announced in November. Prices shoot through the ceiling. Massive amounts of ISK flow into the hands of those holding stockpiles. And mynnna's accounts don't move a hair.

    Tell me how CCP combats this. Tell me how the goons would never ever do this, because there is no track record of them of exploiting every bit of information they can.

    Frankly, I expect this practice has gone on for years. And in reality, the goons don't even need anyone on the CSM to do this, given all their members and allies within CCP.

    So as you said before, CCP just turns a blind eye to it, since there is nothing they can do about it anyway. Someone inside CCP picks up a phone to a friend in goons, or some dev who is partying in Vegas with the goons drunkenly leaks something, or someone on the CSM does what I already described. There is zero chance of CCP catching all, or even ANY, of these leaks, if the people who can gain from the information are smart, and quiet, about it.

    Bottom line, if you use 12 dollars/ billion as the RMT buying benchmark, the Eve economy is worth 7.8 million dollars (650 tilllion * 12 dollars/ billion.) Every trillion has a street value of 12,000 dollars. So the ability to funnel trillions of ISK through the hands of a very small group make this type of insider trading activity quite worthwhile.

    1. Dinsdale Priannha,

      If I follow the logic of your reply correctly CCP has no choice but to 1) shutdown the entire CSM and 2) prevent all CCP employee/eve player interactions for fear that crafty EvE players will use information gleaned to their advantage. The cure seems worse than the disease to me.

      "One shouldn't break the EULA/NDA as it's not worth the risk" has a dark, sinister very Eve flip side. "If it is worth the risk, one may well choose to break the EULA/NDA."

      I understand the desire to say that in game shenanigans are part of Eve but out of game shenanigans shouldn't be. Eve, glorious Eve, however lacks clear ingame/outgame distinctions. You may believe the CSM should be an entirely out of game entity. I'm inclined to see it as a manifestation of the Intersteller Politics play style.

      Yup. It's damn difficult to compete with the big entities and all their sneaky metagame skills and extensive contact network and carefully placed spy eyes and despicably efficient large scale organizational abilities and . . .


    2. I think the major issue is that this boils down to insider trading. Plain and simple.

      In any real world scenario, or any other game that this occurred in, anyone found to be involved would be arrested or banned, respectively.

      What people get pissed about is that there seems to be no enforcement of these rules, and people seem to be able to do, pretty much, whatever the hell they want, with no fear of ever being punished for doing something they know is wrong.

      It saddens me a bit (although not that much), that a game with such great scope and flexibility is cursed by that very thing... It makes me wonder about the relationship between developers and players; and if perhaps the line is being blurred. In many ways it's like having a direct feed to god, where you can ask a question about anything in the universe, and (if god happens to be a buddy of yours who works for CCP) you'll get your answer.

      I don't care much about this, I play casually, but it is indeed an interesting bit of meta gaming geek philosophy to ponder about.

  4. Stuff like that makes me (and I suspect others not eyeball-deep in the Great Game (TM)) feel a bit like reacting in the vein of Mercutio: "a plague a' both your houses!" Or less literally, "could the lot of you beeping beepitybeepers gather up your grievances and take a long walk off a short pier? We're trying to fight a war here and we can't hear ourselves think over the racket."

  5. First off I too think the content: 'CHAOS SERVER WAS HACKED AND GOONS MISUSED IT while true & is a EULA voilation' is a bit of a storm in a teacup. While true its a EULA violation two things: CCP doesnt enforce EULA violating cache scrapings ( nor reverse code reads ) at least until they do which they threaten but realize is almost unenforcable. Another thing it appears that Myrnna wasn't the one that hacked it but later got access to the poisoned fruit second party-wise ( interesting thing Darius III also claimed his DEV firing info was second hand knowledge before discussed on Skype but CCP is still investigateing that while Darius III has been banned for how many months now? )

    But at this point I doubt CCP has much to worry about, in the EveO foreums any mention of this article gets blotted out by off topic Goon posts until ISD closes the thread. And 2 CCP claimed ex post facto the article the Choas server scrape is public knowledge, which gave my a hearty laugh after I rolled my eyes

  6. Perhaps the real question we should be asking here is why CPP needs to run their dev server in such a way that allows non-internal folks to get the Chaos client? Hell, at it's most basic level, just IP restrict the updater download target for chaos to your own internal subnet. When you say "CCP has taken a necessarily blind eye to this sort of thing because they honestly have no other choice" is there something I am missing that makes it so they have no other choice?

    Maybe the CSM vice chair can ask them this very question. ;)

  7. If I were running internal affairs I'd want some fake (but plausible) chaos server configs to go up just to keep everyone honest.

    Or poor.

  8. "Even if mynnna did benefit from this, certainly he isn't going to be in a position to benefit from this sort of data for a while. Not with CCP watching his every transaction like a hawk now that he's on CSM8."

    I don't think mynnna looks particularly worried. CCP doesn't have the manpower, or brainpower, to watch every transaction in which mynnna and the other Goon ISK-making braintrust members are involved. Hell, they even warned CCP about the FW exploit, before it went live, and CCP didn't bother to even take a look.

    Besides, mynnna et al all know the EULA better than CCP - they know how to stay safely in the grey areas and still make massive amounts of profit.


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