A little over a year ago, while in the midst of my own campaign for CSM6, I wrote a little post that I called "Not a zero sum game". Once the election was over, I wrote a little Open Letter to The Mittani, congratulating him on his victory but pointing out a few truths as I saw them. In both posts, I made a couple of related points that are really coming to a head this week in this year's election:
- You can't vote against a CSM election candidate; even if,
- you vote for some other CSM candidate.
And a CSM election is also not a zero sum game.
Riverini and I talk from time to time and when he was thinking about running, he asked me what I thought. I told him two things, quite honestly:
- He had a ton of name recognition, and as long as he didn't make too many mistakes, that name recognition would probably get him elected; and,
- next to The Mittani, he was probably the most hated person in New Eden, he would be flamed incessantly if he ran, and he should be ready for that but not worry about it or respond to it.
I told him that since there's no way to vote against candidates in the CSM election, he shouldn't worry too much about the second point hurting his chances. If the CSM election model were changed such that you could spend your vote voting against a candidate, there's no way Mittens would be on the CSM today. People would come out of the woodwork to vote against him. But they can't do that. This isn't a situation where you vote for one U.S. Presidential candidate because you don't like the other one. Mittens, as a lawyer, understands this. The law is also not a zero sum game.
You can worry about losing votes in a CSM election because you say something that someone doesn't agree with, and causes them to switch their vote to someone else. That's valid. But you don't have to worry that people don't like you. Anyone who doesn't like you wouldn't have voted for you anyway, so you're not losing anything.
Therefore, there's no sense worrying about it.
This brings me to all of the recent hand-wringing going on about the various tactics that some CSM candidates are using to drum up votes. Susan Black over at @GamerChick42 wrote a long open letter to Trebor Daehdoow, asking him to stop using direct EVEmails. Others are bitching about Darius III again spamming Jita and scamming people for their votes there. Trebor himself agitates against Mittens calling EVE players pubbies and jokingly says that if he's elected chair, he'll sell the chairmanship to Mittens for one trillion ISK and then use that to reimburse everyone the Goons ganked in ice belts last year. Mittens calls his opponents all sorts of names and engages in ridiculous ad hominem attacks on some of them. And some people agitate about Mintrolio being in our out of character.
None of it matters. None of it! You can't vote against a CSM candidate. Anyone who cares about these negative attacks wouldn't have voted for the person under attack anyway. All publicity is therefore good publicity. The negative attacks just increase the overall drama and potentially, player interest in the election.
Not bored yet? OK, now I'm going to get really technical on you. I'd argue that a CSM election is actually an example of a Pareto efficiency game. Vilfredo Pareto, an economist, devised a system for measuring economic systems and income distributions. In short, this system described a way to measure whether changes to an economic system made people involved in it better off, or worse off. Any change to an economic system that made at least one person better off without making anyone else worse off was called a Pareto improvement.
Every person that bitches about Trebor's spam, or Mittens trolling, or Mintrolio being in our out of character, or Darius III's scamming, that impacts at least one person to vote in the CSM election who otherwise wouldn't have, is causing a Pareto improvement to the CSM election. No matter what you think, no individuals are made worse off when this happens. When you bitch that Trebor's spam makes you mad, and you therefore decide to vote for Hans Jagerblitzen, Trebor is not harmed in the slightest, and Hans's situation is bettered. At worst, the situation remains "Pareto optimal", or at best there is a Pareto improvement if you previously didn't intend to vote but Trebor made you mad enough to.
One more voter increases the power and influence of CSM7, no matter who is on it. Therefore, by bitching about the process, if you cause even one more person to vote who otherwise would not have, you cause a Pareto improvement and strengthen the process. Trebor knows this -- he's a game theorist himself -- which is why he's not overly concerned when people bitch at him for "spamming". You're not going to get Trebor to stop by doing this. Likewise, I don't think Mittens has ever heard of Vilfredo Pareto, but I suspect he understands and uses this theory instinctively regardless. If you vote for Trebor, wishing you could vote against Mittens because you despise him, you still add to Mittens's power and his mandate. The number of CSM voters increases, therefore the overall CSM's power increases because "more players care."
Only if these things cause you to sit out the election is the CSM's situation not improved.
Anyway, just a little Friday afternoon philosophy for you.