Wednesday, May 14, 2014

CSM 9: Victory!

I promise not to bother you -- much -- with stupid politics.  But hey, stupid politics bothered me first.  He started it!  Sometimes I write about stuff that other EVE bloggers are writing about, because I read them and react.  And are they ever!  Here's a link-dump of stuff that I thought was good writing:

I. My Initial Take on the Election

I refer you to my CSM 9 voting recommendations article.  What were my goals with respect to this election?
I want to discourage you from voting.  ...  Voting when you know nothing should be seen as a shameful act, not praiseworthy.
Turnout was way down.  I like to think my discouragement helped.  Victory!

And what about for people who did vote?
What are my criteria for candidates?  Well, first of all I feel that all areas of the game should be represented on CSM.  Of them, I feel nullsec is overrepresented while lowsec and highsec are not enough.  Veterans are represented by the nature of the thing, and newbs hardly at all.  Beyond that, I care about whether the CSMs will work.  ... I don't really care as much what their specific "policy" opinions are...
Who got elected?  Most of my slate, in particular the people I selected as hard working, and those representing lowsec and newbs.  Victory!

Finally, what about the specific reason I voted?
Sugar Kyle - this candidate is the reason why I am bothering to vote.  It comes down to this: I like her.
Sugar finished third, surprising many commentators and pleasing most.  Victory!

II. Responses to Common Complaints

Most other people I read think that the CSM9 results were poor.  This is strange, because for the most part they also seem to think a lot of good people got elected.  (I.e. everyone lauds the election of Sugar; Sugar is not an acquired taste it seems.)  The handwringing is really about three things: that nullsec and in particular the Goons are over represented; that wormholes are under represented; and that turnout was low.

Why is turnout not a big deal?  Because the CSM is an advisory body, not a legislative body.  According to the modern political formula of "will of the people", a legislative body draws its power from the people; "Governments... deriv[e] their just powers from the consent of the governed".  Consent is manufactured in many ways, but ratified by votes.  If the people do not vote for it, the legitimacy of the legislature is questionable.  Therefore, it is certainly in the interests of politicians, and arguably in the interests of the larger society, to have as many people vote as possible.  Note the inherent contradiction here, between maximizing turnout and maximizing the quality of the legislative body.  It's easier to get lots of people to vote for you if you never say anything controversial.  It's also easier to get credulous idiots to vote for you than skeptical geniuses.

By contrast, an advisory body has no power of its own; its power (if it has any) lies in giving good advice to some powerful patron.  As such, it does not matter how many or how few people voted for any particular adviser.  What matters is only: is the advice helpful to the patron?

This is why I was serious when advising people who know nothing to not vote.  Your consent to CSM is neither needed nor helpful.  The only vote that matters to CCP is your subscription.  Whereas your ignorance might reduce the quality of the CSM, by electing a useless representative over a useful one.

Now, why is bloc voting not a big problem?  Again, because the CSM is an advisory body.  An advisory body exists to give advice (duh); to do that it needs a work ethic, and it needs smart people.  That is why I emphasized those things.  It also needs expertise in what it is advising about; this is the reason to want representation from various areas of the game.  Beyond that, though, all the candidates are quite familiar with many aspects of EVE.  So blocs are not a significant problem.  And while I don't feel that the representation level is perfect, it's quite good enough.

Consider what happens in a legislative body when a party is overrepresented.  It starts making rules to favor itself.  I.e. if CSM had legislative power, perhaps the Goons could lead the nullsec blog to vote in "nerf highsec into the ground".  And CCP would have to do it.  The key thing here is that votes in a legislative body are power.  If  51% vote for a policy, good or bad, it is enacted.  Therefore, the voter needs to worry about who has or might obtain that 51%.

By contrast, in an advisory body popularity does not automatically translate into power.  The nullsec representatives can push whatever they want.  But CCP can easily take their bias into account.  They know who the nullsec guys are.

What this really gets back to is that this is CCP's game, and CCP -- for all their weirdness -- are still a pretty good sovereign.  Hopefully, the CSM can improve CCP's governance, but they are not the government.

III. What CSM9 Needs, The Big Picture

There's one more thing to say with regard to null representation and wspace underrepresentation in CSM9.  And that is that wspace is not broken in any truly deep and/or complicated ways, whereas nullsec is.  In nullsec, as I wrote at Jester's:
The problem is the blue donut, which is an inevitable result of capitals trumping everything else and easy force (i.e. capital) projection.
(Yeah, that's three different problems in a single sentence.)  To which I might add one more huge problem: blobbing and time dilation.  Nullsec is, or should be, the end-metagame of EVE for the biggest groups.  The wars out there should be a source of wonder, and inspiration; every player should want to get out there and fight -- at least a little bit.  Currently, I don't.

There's a lot one can say about null's malaise, and indeed I have ideas on how CCP might address it, some published, some not.  But whatever the solution(s) might be, it is a huge problem.  And CCP is going to be working on it soon, if Jester is to be believed.  (See here; key diagram below.)

The problem here is large in terms of in its scope, in terms of what changes would be needed to fix it, and in terms of getting nullseccers to accept those changes.  It is large in terms of EVE's and thus CCP's profitability.  For all of these reasons, I think it is good that CSM9 has a lot of nullies involved.  You or I can have all the good ideas in the world, and CCP will probably never know about them.  But rest assured that if mynnna has a way to fix null, he will be heard.  Even though his name is annoying.

By contrast, there are no fundamental problems with wspace as it is.  POSes and corp roles are deeply annoying, but they do not threaten to remove the reason for PVP in wspace.  Similarly, the horrible z-arrow probe movement is a blight on the user interface of EVE, but its existence does not make wspace hunting unfun.

I think overrepresented null may be just what we need for this particular CSM.  Victory! -- arguably.

IV. My Recommendations to CCP

As if they need them or listen to me!  Hah.  But here they are:

The system is working.  We have a perfectly adequate CSM, and perhaps even an excellent one.  So huzzah for us all!  You don't really need to change anything.

But you can do better still.  As I commented at Stabbed Up, contrary to the conventional idea that CCP needs to "get out the vote", you really should be working to suppress the vote, in the interests of weeding out dilettantes and greedy bloc voters, and thereby getting a superior advisory body.  You should institute a steep voting tax. I would say a PLEX is too much, but perhaps 200m ISK. This would cut the voting numbers down to perhaps a tenth as many, with much higher quality.


  1. Von Keigai, your idea to suppress the vote is heresy and I will be grabbing burning torches and pitch forks.

    Your only redeeming statement is We have a perfectly adequate CSM, and perhaps even an excellent one.

    That plus I would be one of those to pay the 200M ISK.

    I prefer the idea of burning torches.

  2. I think he knows it is heresy, however that doesn't make it untrue.

  3. With a voting tax, neither Sugar nor Mike might have been elected. And you have not proven that an increase in voting numbers would lead to a worse CSM line up.

    1. Ah, the "you have not proven" game. You right: there is no proof in human affairs. This is not mathematics.

      That said, I have given you my reasoning for why increased voting numbers would lead to a worse CSM: because other things equal, to increase those numbers means dipping further and further into the pool of ignorant voters. Therefore increasing the number of voters dilutes their average quality. Is there any proof that more motivated voters voted? No. It is logical; it is almost tautological. But I cannot prove it.

      Nor can you prove your first assertion. That one contradicts my intuition, at least for Sugar. But perhaps you could explain your reasoning. Do you believe that Sugar's voters were disproportionately unmotivated?

    2. You are equating "didn't vote" with "ignorant" with "dilettantes". Both are unwarranted assumptions. I agree that people who don't care about the CSM shouldn't vote (not even the recommended bloc ticket), but increasing the vote by making people care about the CSM would increase the legitimation of the CSM. A poll tax would do the opposite - it would exclude people who do or otherwise would care.

      Sugar for example was not on the recommended bloc tickets, yet she got many votes - most presumably from lo-sec people. One neat aspect of lo-sec is that you don't have to be space-rich in order to play there - ie. for them 200M would be a lot of ISK. She would have lost votes, maybe a significant number of votes, for what is allegedly a valid playstyle. Such a poll tax would be a sign that CCP only cares about the space-rich bitter vets.

      It is also curious that whenever a poll tax is suggested, the limit is always put such that the suggester would still be eligible. It's always only the other people who must be barred from voting "for the greater good".

    3. Yes I believe that non voters were much more ignorant about EVE than voters. This is because knowledge about EVE correlates with knowledge about the CCP election. Seems warranted to me. Again, it is not quite tautological but quite close.

      You seem to think that people can be made to care about something they don't care about. Well, I don't. You can perhaps motivate them on the margin, but very few can be made to care who don't. By contrast, we both agree that people who care marginally can be deterred. That's the whole point of the voting tax. It excludes voters who value 200m ISK above voting for Sugar. (Well, that and it's also an ISK-sink. Whip Inflation Now.)

      There is no doubt that Sugar would have lost votes had there been a poll tax. Every candidate would have lost votes. What's important is the proportion of votes lost. Would Sugar have disproportionately lost votes? You seem to think so; that her demographic is space-poor lowseccers. I think that Sugar got strong support from almost everyone I read, which is a good sampling of space-rich people in all areas of the game. So I don't think she would have failed to be elected.

      I also think that a poll tax would have cut down disproportionately on bloc voting. As it is, the bloc voter can heed The Mittani's call to screw the vote at almost no cost to himself. ("Even if you don't care about the CSM, vote the way we tell you to, simply because it'll make a gaggle of shitlords who hate us very, very angry should we succeed.") Many Goons are willing to take a minute or so to screw the vote. How many Goons would be willing to rat for four hours for that privilege?

      As for disenfranchising people for the greater good, actually I have proposed that for myself. I am sure you are correct in general. It is quite unclear to me, however, how I might possibly prove to you that I propound the idea of a poll tax based on what is good for the game as versus my selfish hunger for power. If you have any suggestion on that score, I am all ears.

  4. Have you been drinking the Gevlonade? Confirmation bias, inflated ego and lack of proof is all I get from this. A 200m tax would just be subsidised by the alliance if they thought it was worth it.

    1. If you wish to criticize my arguments, by all means, lay it out. Point to where I am wrong. Where I am biased and how it leads me astray. Point to my inflated ego (should not be hard). Point to lack of proof, although please do see my comment to Ms. Monakh, above.

      As for whether some alliance -- I presume you mean CFC, a coalition, not alliance -- would find paying out 200m per character to vote would be worth it, I do not know. I tend to think not. However, it is not particularly material. Either it is a problem (from CCP's POV) for parties to subsidize voting taxes, or it is not. If it is not, there's nothing to see here. If it is, CCP should simply forbid doing so. A ban on the practice should be quite enforceable. It would be really, really hard for an entity to secretly subsidize cheating when the conspiracy must be kept secret by thousands of conspirators.

  5. I like the arguments you lay out. I do, however, disagree with the idea of a voting tax. That would favour the rich over the poor, and I have no doubt that voting blocs would not only pay for their members to vote with the whip, but if they also funded it there would be greater pressure to toe the line.

    1. Of course it would favor the rich over the poor, in the sense of some of the rich would pay it and vote whereas a poor person with the same feelings about the election would not. That's the idea. Of course, it is debatable whether paying $5 to exercise a tiny amount of power over an election of spaceship politicians is money well spent. But leaving that aside, the point is not whether "rich" or "poor" benefit, or any other subset of subscribers, but whether it benefits us all, collectively. That's the only reason to do it.

      I disagree with the idea that blocs would benefit disproportionately. I feel that their voters are some of the less-motivated ones who vote because their space-bros do, or because they want to help The Mittani screw pubbies. Such voters can be deterred. As for blocs paying for votes, as I said above, I think that if it is seen as a problem (the whole thing is highly hypothetical anyway inasmuch as CCP are true believers in mass democracy, but I guess that it would be), CCP should simply forbid any entity (corp/alliance/etc.) from reimbursing votes.