Do we really need the hassle of Online Spaceship Politicians?

Blog Banter 34: The Rise of the Spaceship Politicians

The polls have just opened closed for the election of candidates to occupy the 14 seats on the 7th Council of Stellar Management. To kick-start a topical CSM-themed banter, CCP Xhagen – fierce champion of freedom of speech and in his words, “the guy that gets yelled at when the CSM dudes do booboos” – has offered this question:

“How would you like to see the CSM grow, both in terms of player interaction and CCP interaction?”

I did not vote for this year’s CSM. I tried. I tried to read the statements of each candidate. I tried to follow the various interviews that were given. I tried the candidate comparison tool. In the end it just took too much time and effort.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea, and I think in certain ways the CSM has been useful. It is worth having, even if I don’t think it has anywhere near the power it thinks it does.

Why was it such a big job to just understand what each candidate stood for? I wanted a concise summary from each of them – but instead I more often found a few inane comments or propaganda images that said nothing, or promises that they could never deliver. If there was a detailed message, it was often spread across 100 blog and forum posts, scattered to all corners of the Internet. It seriously takes much less effort to research and understand the candidates I can vote for in my local Council, State or Federal elections.

So to start with – I would like the CSM to grow by having it easier for players to identify a candidate that they are happy to give their vote to:

. Candidates had to get a certain number of likes before they were included on the ballot paper. I am not sure if it is possible, but it would be nice if people were not able to give their “like” vote to more than one candidate. Maybe that will cut down on some of the numbers.  Otherwise increase the number of likes people need to generate.

. Ask candidates to label themselves against one or two areas of primary interest – such as Empire, Carebear, Null Sec, Faction Warfare, Pirate, Null Sec, Low Sec, Wormhole, Manufacturing, Trade – whatever. Have this on their Campaign thread title, so that voters can save some time by just focusing on the subset covering the areas most important to them.

. Provide a template for use in the first post of each Candidate’s forum campaign thread which prompts a certain number of standard questions, to help in comparing them

. Provide a standard search link for each candidate that lists all their forum posts

. I know this may seem silly, but for each account which votes put them into a raffle. The prize doesn’t have to be big – a PLEX, or a set of the freely given away ships, or something else which helps encourage people to vote.

The second reason I did not vote was because I couldn’t shake the malaise that the process was mostly pointless. Too many of the seats on the council would be controlled by power blocks whose members did not need to read up on all their options, they instead could just mindlessly vote for whoever their Alliance told them too.

There is a quote I’ve always appreciated – based I assume on a better known comment attributed to Thomas Jefferson.

“A democracy is where 51% of people live, and 49% die.”

I hope CCP understand the current mechanism isn’t perfect, and that the CSM does not actually represent the “average” player. For example the CSM 6 chair was combative, derogatory towards CCP and most other players, and literally endorsed behaviour aimed at harming the game experience of as many people as he could.

I hope also however that CCP understand that they have not shown over the years that they fully understand what the average player wants to get out of EVE.

The CSM should be looked at as a somewhat unique opportunity for the developers and a subset of enthusiastic players to get together, bounce ideas and get feedback. It is worthwhile, but not the be all and end all. Over the last year I felt that it was in fact some of the threadnaughts on the forums, discussing new ideas – such as the one on the Player Owned Custom Officers, which provided the CCP developers with a clearer picture of where the general player base was coming from.

So in summary – make it easier to find someone to vote for, understand its limits, and keep the developers posting in the forums.

A list of participants (that will be updated by the owner as time permits) can be found here:

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