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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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Great expectations

To: The Mittani
From: Ripard Teg aka Jester
Subj: Open Letter re: your Chairmanship of CSM6

Dear Chairman,

First, congratulations on your election to CSM6!  As I've said already, you ran a masterful campaign.  You literally did nothing less than point at the stands to tell us where you were going to hit the home run, then proceeded to do so.  Well done!

First, let's take a look at where your votes came from.  You tweeted that according to GF exit polls, you received 1700 Goon votes.  This strikes me as truthful.  You received 5365 votes in total, so that leaves 3665 votes or so.  I believe you received between 2000 and 2500 additional votes from to a combination of two factors: name recognition from Empire-dwellers thanks to your widely-read Ten Ton Hammer column, and votes from a base of 0.0 residents that honestly believe you want to help them.  Those votes brought you up to about 3800 votes, neck-and-neck with Seleene.

What about the rest of your votes?  Ah.  Every CSM, there has been a :lolcsm: candidate.  This is the potential delegate who is voted in because a segment of the voters pick a candidate and say to themselves "I voted for [x] because FUCK CSM."  Last year, the :lolcsm: candidate was Mazzilliu, who won a CSM alternate seat because she was willing to suck on a banana on Youtube.  Mazzilliu got about 1200 votes last year.  Once she was on the CSM, she didn't disappoint.  Those 1200 votes, boosted by 25%, are 1500 votes this year.  Guess who got those votes?  That's right: you did.  They should have gone to T'Amber (aka Serious Internet Politician).  But they went to you, because the people that voted this way don't care about the CSM... rather the reverse, in fact.  They just want some cheap laughs and e-drama... and they figure you'll deliver.

Those votes put you over the top.  Those are your overvotes.  So that's your constituency.  But that's not who you represent.

Let's tell some truths here.  You are, without a doubt, the most famous person in New Eden.  If there are as many as 20,000 EVE players that don't know your name, I'd be surprised.  While you were holding court in the Large Scale Combat round-table in Iceland last week, someone asked who you were.  "The Mittani", they were told.  "Whoa..." was the response.  But you are also a highly polarizing figure... almost Palinesque.  You, more than anyone else, should be thankful that the CSM voting process does not have a "Vote against [x]" option, because if it did, you would have received just as many negative votes as positive ones, if not more.  Hell, had someone entered the CSM6 race with a character name of "Not The Mittani" and a platform of "Vote for me if you think CCP should kick The Mittani off the CSM!", such a person would have had a decent chance of being elected to CSM6.  ;-)

But now you represent us... all of us... both the people who voted for you, and the people who would have voted against you.  You represent all EVE Online players to CCP.  You are our CSM Chairman.

That's probably easy to forget.  After all, you ran on a pretty narrow platform.  Only about 11% of EVE players live in 0.0 space, and you made no bones about the fact that it was to support this population that you were running.  A few players that aren't part of this 11% were quick to point this out in Jita Park, and ask who on the CSM would be representing them.  Some of the other delegates have responded to those posts, but you have not.

And even within your own sphere, CCP has already shown a willingness to implement major change to 0.0 without even running it by the CSM, and CCP Greyscale has promised that more major change to 0.0 is on the way.  And CCP Greyscale is arguably the one person in CCP that launched your CSM run.

But you also need to remember that you represent ALL EVE Online players.  CCP has shown they are completely proficient at ignoring CSMs when they care to.  They've arguably ignored four out of the last five.  Ignoring five out of six will not be difficult for them... it is their default position, in fact.  And if you confine yourself to the 0.0 sphere, you will soon find yourself regarded by CCP as irrelevant as a sounding board for other spheres.  CCP put out a very guarded little devblog about the impact of the CSM on CCP.  Your predecessor as Chair, Mynxee, has done a lovely job of deconstructing that devblog.  She lists CCP Oveur's comments as truthful, and a close reading of them will be rewarded:
"I don't think any single external group has had such a strong influence on CCP, EVE and how we work as a company. And they are made stronger by your vote."
- CCP Oveur, Executive Producer
Influence is not necessarily help.  Strength is not necessarily valuable.  CCP has already shown how they feel about a strong CSM sometimes.  Rumor has it that some in CCP called some in CSM5 "terrorists" after the latter published their Open Letter Regarding Incarna.  I've already indicated that this is going to make your job harder, and that's the truth.  You've promised to be a "hardline player representative" that will "shield [us] from idiocy."  That's not going to be an easy promise to keep.

In less-guarded moments, EVE's Lead Game Designer has pigeon-holed all CSM delegates as "mavens", whose "opinion" they have to "interpret".  And you are a maven of mavens.  I'd be tempted to call you the first post-EVE meta-player.  Certainly, the bulk of your fame in EVE is not for actions taken in game...

Which brings us to some of the other disadvantages you're going to face during your term.  As I've already said, you are the most well-known resident of New Eden.  You have around you easily the most unified CSM in the history of that body.  Expectations of you are not going to be small... no, they definitely are not.  You pointed out yourself, correctly, that the expectations of previous CSMs could not have been lower.  Mynxee could have shown up in Iceland with just a pulse and guaranteed herself a spot as one of the top three CSM Chairs.  But she and the other members of CSM5 did far more than that... and with far fewer advantages than you have.

CSM5 took those very few advantages and found a way to get CCP to listen to them.  You have to not only not lose this advantage, you have to build on it.  That will be very, very difficult.  CCP has already made it clear that they'd like to go ahead and close the door that CSM5 wedged open.  There are teams within CCP that have made it a habit to ignore the CSM.  You might feel that your previous relationships with some of these people will give you leverage now that you are Chairman of CSM6.

But by accepting the post of Chairman of CSM6, you've voluntarily stepped into the pigeon-hole.  Initially, those elements of CCP aren't going to see you as The Mittani, the person they've seen at Fanfest after Fanfest.  No... now you are Chairman of CSM6, with a cloud of allies around you, getting ready to camp the gate in Iceland.

No... by comparison to you, CSM5 had it very easy.  You have a much more difficult job ahead of you.  Your 0.0 bloc controls CSM6.  You have a super-majority opinion.  You have promised that you can weld CSM6 into a unified voice, and EVE's players have given you every single thing you've asked for and that you said you needed to make that happen.

You are now where the rubber meets the road.  You cannot stand aside and comment from afar.  You're in the game now.  You have to lead, and you have to deliver.  Failure is not an option.

Because if you cannot deliver, you will have few or no excuses open to you.  After all, you are The Mittani.  We all know you.  And you represent all of us.  Arguably, we're all manipulative bastards.  We play EVE.  We're scammers and griefers and exploiters and market manipulators.  You represent us better, perhaps, than any other single EVE Online player could.  And we'll be watching to see how you do... ready to help... or ready to smack-talk.

Good luck in your term as Chairman of CSM6!


  1. Where is this posted? A link would be nice.

  2. Well said Ripard.

    @TheMittani I really hope your twitter response is just you playing the Goon and that you're actually paying attention. All eyes are on you now (just the way you like it I would assume) just waiting for you to stumble just once. Walk that wire with care.

  3. @Anon1509: Where is what posted?

  4. The open letter, assumed it was posted on the forums.

  5. I thought your campaign was impeccable. I heard you speak (actually that's what made me spread my vote). Although you didn't get in, a real surprise to me, I'm very glad I had the chance to listen and vote for you, if only more had, and I hope you'll run again.


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