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...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Context matters

Adama: "Context matters."
Tigh: "Context?  That woman shot an officer right in front of the crew."
Adama: "We shot down an entire civilian transport, with over a thousand people on board.  Says so right there."
Tigh: "That was completely different.  And we don't know there were people on that ship."
Adama: "Which is why I hope the Admiral reads the complete log... and understands the context."
-- Battlestar Galactica, "Pegasus"
I can't believe I haven't quoted BSG yet.  Sooooo much quotable dialogue.  Still, that's all right.  Means I can start with a doozy.

A little over two weeks ago, after I came back from my holiday break, I wrote a little fluff piece I called "Didn't want that space anyway".  If you don't remember it, I don't blame you.  I didn't consider it a particularly important piece at the time... just something to get me back into the groove.  But go over and read it.  I'll wait.

The point to the piece was that we hadn't had a really good alliance versus alliance slug-fest in 2011... all of the space that was lost in 2011 was more attributable to the loser than the victor.  I pointed out that I wouldn't be using the word "stagnant" to describe EVE's sov politics any more, lamented the fact that there were no hungry new names on the map in 2011, and hoped that there would be a major war with two relatively equal sides in 2012, and that was that.  But at a couple of points in the post, I used the word "rot" to describe the major reason why campaigns were lost in 2011.  I wrote a post whose point wasn't about why sov space alliances failed, and used the short-hand word "rot" to bemoan the fact that there hasn't been a really good war between equals in New Eden in some time.

As of today, I've written 544 posts on this blog.  Know how many of them involve deep analysis on why 0.0 sov space alliances failed?  Zero.  Know why that is?  Because writing deep analysis on why 0.0 sov space alliances fail isn't my deal.  There are other people who are far better at it than I am, notably The Mittani and Mord Fiddle.

Well, for some reason last night, Mord decided to use me as an example of a blogger that was somehow failing for not doing that.  First, he quoted two lines from my blog post above without even the courtesy of linking to the post that contained them, then he said this:
"Rot" has become a convenient shorthand used when we wish to forgo deeper analysis, or lack the inputs or insight needed to do deeper analysis. It has become a one-size-fits-all diagnosis that is, more often than not, ignorance or indolence masquerading as insight. Next time someone tries to palm it off as obvious unvarnished truth, politely ask them to define their terms and defend their argument.
Now don't get me wrong.  If I had a dime for every time someone called me ignorant, I'd have many many dimes.(1)  I don't get angry about it, and I don't take offense.  Still, this time strikes me as a special case.  If I use a word like "rot", it's because it's convenient short-hand pointing to a context that most of us understand.  Mord equates using this word to the condescending term "vapours", which Victorian men used to describe women who weren't felling well for reasons they didn't much care about.

Context matters.  And taking my post out of context in this way is just silly.

In my post, I bemoaned the fact that there were no "Great Wars" in 2011.  In his post, Mord seems to try to make the case that the loss of space by IT Alliance and by Against All Authorities last year qualifies.  Now that -- to my mind -- is ridiculous.  Again, you're not going to see any deep analysis from me on why 0.0 sov space alliances failed.  But in my opinion, neither of those were Great Wars with grand strategies driving the actions of IT and -A-.  Great Skedaddles, perhaps.

Is that ignorance?  Judge for yourself.  That's why context matters.

(1) Given my output, I can only assume that he wasn't calling me indolent.  ;-)


  1. Don't worry about it, Jester.

    Most of the null sec folks who post in blogs & forums are overly sensitive about any criticism of null sec, and often blow any comment out of context and out of proportion. They are simply too invested emotionally and tend to forget that this is just a game.

    Many of them really could use a RL timeout.

  2. Frankly, it's annoying that neither of you are bothering to read the other's post in context.

  3. So, take that as saying you don't know much about 0.0 politics. Except that you wrote a blog post about it, then were called out on it.

    Maybe you should stick with FOTW posts?

  4. "Now that -- to my mind -- is ridiculous." I see what you did there. You imply Mord is ridiculous to consider those two instances were great wars. I cannot find in that blog any inference that Mord considered those instances of loss of space as "Great Wars." I do see where he referenced these losses of SOV as examples of bloggers using the term "rot" to describe the reason for the loss when there were more complex forces at work. I do see where he referenced you as one of those bloggers and specifically referenced one of your posts where you used the word "rot." I do see you acknowledge your indifferent use of the word "rot." I would agree you should be mad that he infered you were tossing around so many words like cheap confetti without thought or basis.

    Now you are even. Both of you get back to talking about something interesting.

    1. Unless I'm completely misinterpreting his post, he listed them as apparent examples of grand campaigns where strategy dictated action instead of circumstance.

    2. As someone who covered the -A- invasion and its aftermath closely, it certainly falls into the category of a grand campaign. Like any grand campaign, it was episodic and had a large cast of characters. And let's face it - the grand finale was a barn-burner.

  5. War is costly, slug-fests are especially costly. If as an agressor you are attacking someone who is equal to your strength, you are doing it wrong. Is it an issue of rot or opportunism? I remind you of Pandemic Legions Washingtonesque Christmas attacks. Rot could simply mean that you showed a moment of weakness that was then expertly exploited. Isn't this why spies and metagaming are so important? Huge wars would be a indicative of a fundamental failing of leadership and their intelligence networks, would it not?

  6. It's convenient to write off something you posted as a "little fluff piece" when it comes under criticism. Don't get me wrong Jester, I love your blog and I think your contributions to the EVE community are valuable, but I don't think Mord was taking you out of context. Was he picking on a weak post out of many strong posts on this Blog? Absolutely.

    1. That's the thing, though. He didn't criticize the post. He criticized something that wasn't there.

  7. My own point is that 'rot' as a common source of fault or fail in Eve is a flawed premise, but one that is accepted as a given among many Eve bloggers. In his post, Mr Teg steps into that hole and I use the post as an example.

    As Mr Teg himself describes the primary point of 'Didn't Want That Space Anyway':

    "The point to that post was that it'd be nice to read about a fight between alliances that didn't end because one side collapsed from within before the fight even started."

    Mr Teg's central point is that territory is not actively won by the winner's strength so much as lost by the loser's collapse due to internal rot.

    This is demonstrably not true.

    I've provided cases that disprove the premise that all alliances lose space because the loser has collapsed from within before the first battle is fought. Without that logical lynchpin, the structure of his central premise falls apart.

    So, while he wasn't explicitly analyzing why alliances fail, that question was essential to his larger point. In this wise his post was based on the flawed premise I refuted in my post.

    As to whether indolence or ignorance was involved, I'll only say that if Mr Teg had put as much energy into writing the post as he is putting into defending it now, we wouldn't be having this discussion. ;)

  8. So... Does this mean you're going top write some analyses about why alliances fail to hold their space/hold themselves together?

    I think everyone would appreciate that more than you and Mord having an Eve-intellectual slapfight.

    1. It's a nerd-fight. No slapping or hair pulling allowed.

  9. Rotten!

    In lack of context, I wanted to leave a projective signifier instead of an obvious troll.

  10. Be prepared for a long post.

    In my time in the early days of EVE, 2003 - 2006 alliances did fight wars, maybe not as grand as they are today but they did with a much greater sense of honor and commitment then seen today. (I might error on the side of Nostalga, so correct me) but the reasons of collapse, haven't changed much now then back then.

    On subject of the rot of an alliance, it is a subject title given to failcascades in alliances. It's easy to use and it's an excuse. However, given that Jester is not concentrated in null security warfare, I believe that he has the right to skip it.

    But I digress, the main reasons that I have seen alliances fail is not to always to internal rot, though from what I can see these days alliances are much more prone to complacency, ego, and bureaucracy which tends to limit the performance of the alliance when it is defending from an attack.

    But accurately, the size of the alliance matters in the terms of whether it is lean or fat is important factor in trying to see if alliance failcascades. A lean alliance is more likely to stay on an even foot in a fight while a fat alliance that might be bumbling along trying to be rambo only to shot in the face.

    In addition, not everyone can fight a sustained war effort, alarm clock ops, tower defense/offense, battles of gates, long hours of boredom gets old fairly quickly and so when the numbers start falling the defenders quickly loose the advantage and fall apart.

    But the most obvious failing that really comes to mind is that of morale. Now, to log in and help out in a defensive situation is really important. But if your members don't log in or play all the time in lowsec or highsec, then they are contributing to the defense. Given this is a game after all, null security space however empty, is game about numbers. One less person can mean the difference between entire battles, victory or defeat. And not having enough people to defend your space, is defeat in it's finest. So as the defeats line up, your numbers decrease, your leadership stops coming, the entire organization falls apart and then finally failcascade. In the end, it's about Morale.

  11. I am posting to say that I care enough to say that I don't care.

    This seems to be me like EVE blogosphere e-drama.

    Although, yeah, Jester's observation was somewhat flippant but that is appropriate in the context of his writing.

    I don't know this other dude, maybe I'll read his blog sometime if his writing is good enough. I don't see why he should be complaining.

    Jester's view is simple and resonates with the perspectives of most other eve players. Obviously if you have more knowledge on the topic and inspect it more closely different comments can be made. There is nothing really to get antsy about.

    Although I suppose that is hypocritical of me given the fact that I was motivated to post. Or maybe I am just attracted to drama. :D

  12. Interestingly enough lord muttons of goonswarm said it best at some point.

    Winning a war between alliances is all about kicking the opponent in the morale. Every other metric pales in comparison (almost negligible other than how it affects morale). So when an alliance falls I suppose it is easy to say that it was due to "rot".

    I think what Jester is aiming at is this, there are few protracted conflicts where one side or the other doesn't bow out after one or two set backs. Then again that's nullsec (nullsac) which has it's own kind of rot. :P

  13. Gentleman.

    Me not being one for political dances I will keep this short :)

    I feel like I'm in the house of commons listening to left and right wings.... Lets say gentlemanly argument, but we all know what that is code for.

    I haven't been involved in a large alliance war since the NC fell, and tbh, I have no wish to be involved in another with the current state of play.

    Personally I have my doubts about any great war can be fought currently. Any super power wants the space of a lesser alliance and it is gone regardless if the alliance has the internal integrity to fight back or not, clash of wills aside, moral in a game will only get you so far before being blapped by titans nightly becomes "un-fun", in a war that will be as much about attrition as decisiveness.

    When two super powers stand off, it is likely to come down to two things. 1) who has the most super capitals, and 2) who can employ Pandemic Legion on their side, due to number of additional super's available from them.

    Basically, there are a number of alliances so insanely rich, and there is so much real life capital tied up in the game, because of that, no war will be fought just for the laughs, wars are serious..... If you want a laugh, you go out on a roam, an eve war is too close to reality, fought dirty, brutally and decisively with overwhelming force and asset committal. It's hard to have a great war if the proponents on both side want it done as swiftly and with as little loss as possible!


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