Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Night of the Long Spoons

The first CSM5 summit was 3 days of intense effort, 8-10 hours a day of meetings, followed by discussions until late in the evening. As a noob, while I definitely had points I wanted to make, a key goal was to get some sense of the landscape in which I was operating. The returning CSMs all have developed relationships with people at CCP, whereas I was coming in more or less blind.

Several other CSMs have already posted accounts of the meeting that I broadly agree with, so rather than re-invent the wheel, I will point you to Ankhesentapemkah (Eva) and Mynxee (Carole)'s reports. When the official minutes come out, I'll make some specific comments, but for now, I'll indulge in some color commentary.

One of the more amusing developments that occurred after the summit was the hysterical overreaction by forum trolls about a trivial incident that occurred during one of the final sessions. How trivial? Well, I was sitting right next to one of the people involved and I barely noticed it at the time.

For me, the significance of this incident was that it was a classic example of what happens when partial information and preconceived notions collide on the Internet. Before the summit, I was bombarded with people telling me what to expect from my fellow CSMs, and I was very interested to see how these opinions reflected the ground-truth.

And the answer, of course, is not much. Which leads me to coin Woodhead's Second Law:

"The more controversial your forum personality, the less likely it is to reflect your real personality."

The fact is, when you're dealing face to face, you're not talking to Mynxee, you're talking to Carole. Similarly, Sokratesz is not Tim, Ankhesentapemkah is not Eva, Dierdra Vaal is not Valentijn, Korvin is not Andrey, TeaDaze is not Jason, Meissa Anunthiel is not Stephan, I am not Trebor, and Vuk Lau is not Vuk Lau.

Okay, Vuk Lau is Vuk Lau, but that's because he's from the Balkans and is the exception that proves the rule.

Forum trolls, of course, are the extreme example of this law -- if they acted in real life the way they do online, they'd be getting the crap kicked out of them on an hourly basis.

What I found on the ground in Iceland was that while I disagreed (sometimes strongly) with some of the opinions held by other CSMs, I had no problems whatsoever in working with them on matters of common interest, and they all behaved like reasonable people -- or at least, like reasonable Internet Spaceship Nerds. No doubt I annoyed them more than they annoyed me.

Just something to keep in mind when you read a forum post and go "WTF?! He's insane!" We are, after all, playing a roleplaying game.

PPS: Woodhead's First Law is "The further you are from your server, the more likely it is to crash."


  1. Nice post. Now beat CCP to remove learnings! :D

    You're turning to my favourite CSM member. GOGO!

  2. Well, given that you are my first commenter, I suppose I will have to go and do just that.