Friday, January 20, 2012

The Cold Equations of the CSM Election

The announcement in the Winter Summit Minutes of changes to the structure of the CSM and the election process presents some interesting dilemmas for candidates who do not have the backing of Nullsec power-blocs.

For the upcoming CSM7 elections, the changes are:

* No differentiation between "main" and "alternate" CSMs.

* There are still 14 CSM delegates, but only the top 7 available CSMs go to Iceland for summits (down from 9 currently).

* In order to get on the ballot, a candidate must get a nomination thread "liked" some number of times (as yet undetermined). CCP hopes this will reduce the number of candidates.

In terms of having a say in Iceland, these changes are a huge buff to the Nullsec powers-that-be, since they can easily obtain the necessary number of votes to get into the top 7 without any active campaigning. I would not be surprised if 5 or even 6 of the top 7 slots in CSM7 go to power-bloc anointed candidates.

The key to their strategy will be to exploit their ability to focus votes on their preferred candidates, while at the same time doing everything possible to diffuse the voting power of non-bloc voters and try to get them to waste votes on candidates that have no reasonable chance of a top 7 finish.

Before we go any further, let's address CCP's attempt to reduce the number of candidates. IMHO, it's pointless, because it is trivial to game. No evil conspiracy required, people will do it for the LOLs.

With that out of the way, let's look at the numbers.

In the last election, getting the #7 spot required 2240 votes, and getting on the CSM itself required 921.

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a 20% jump in voting in the CSM7 elections; that boosts those numbers to (roundly) 2700 and 1100 respectively.

Quite frankly, I think the threshold for getting into the top 7 is going to be higher, perhaps 2900 or even 3000. This is because the nullsec power blocs will focus their voting in order to try and guarantee they get at least 5 out of the 7 slots.

Whether they can do that (or better), or whether non-bloc candidates can manage to grab 3 of the top 7, depends entirely on how successful they are in splitting (or suppressing) the non-bloc vote.

To give you some numbers, in the last election, 33635 votes were cast for successful candidates, and 14528 were cast for candidates that did not get elected -- that's 30%. The vast majority of those wasted votes went to independent, non-bloc candidates.

This is a cruel waste of voting power, but it highlights the fundamental dilemma that potential non-bloc CSM7 candidates must face.

It is simply this: unless you can honestly say that you have 1000 votes locked up and in the bag, running for CSM just increases the voting power of the organized blocs. You need to have a constituency behind you already.

If you don't have those votes in the bag, then your best bet is to find a candidate with similar views who has a better shot at being elected to the 14, and do everything in your power to get out the vote.

The days of being an "issue" candidate (as I was during the CSM5 election) are over -- except perhaps during the nomination phase.

It's a cold equation, to be sure. But it's very cold in space.


  1. Figuring out how to limit the amount of "just for lols" entries is tricky business but probably needed.

    The real issue is in the fact that the majority of players, who actually _isn't_ in any power block either spread their votes all over the place or just ignore to even vote.

    (But complain loudly when "the wrong people" gets elected.)

    Any idea of reserving seats for different styles of play is fundamentally flawed since there's no promise that the elected person would stay in style, nor any repurcussions if she or he doesn't.

    The only way I can see is the same as you point out. Candidates that accept that they aren't going to win, recomend and give support to someone they think can.

    Possibly with some kind of list system.

    But getting a fait voting system is tricky stuff even outside of EvE's cold reality ;)

  2. Here's an idea for a voting system that is effectively impossible in real life, but might work in an electronic world.

    A constantly updating vote count, with votes that are changeable until the closing time.

    Eg. I vote as soon as voting opens, for misc candidate who's got no chance, then look at the current voting stats an hour later, he's got 20 votes. Either I work out by myself that I need to switch to a more electable candidate, or the candidate announces that they are ceding their position, and gives their support to a more popular candidate that has a similar agenda.

    Yes, it will allow power blocs to guarantee their candidates and perhaps even minimise wasted votes, however, it will also allow the unorganised capsuleers the opportunity to vote as if they were organised.

    Also, CCP needs to do something to limit/destroy the ability of players to make extra accounts for voting purposes. Perhaps a 3 month minimum account age? Maybe even longer?

    1. My personal opinion is that a voting system where candidates publicly specify which other candidate(s) get their votes if they fail to get elected might be worth considering. It would retain the simplicity of voting for one person, while reducing the number of wasted votes.

      As for converting PLEX into votes, I would like to see the stats from previous elections about how many votes came from characters who were (re)activated, voted, and then went inactive. If it was significant, I'd consider supporting requiring 2 months of activation instead of 1, so at least it was a bit more expensive.

    2. There were goons openly gloating about getting 18 free votes with 6 accounts. That was when there was a 3 account limit on buddy accounts, it's now 10 accounts.
      Plus, there are 2 month trials now, so you can be a 3 month old character, in theory, and still be (effectively) free.

      PS: The votes I speak of are votes made using buddy accounts, with the free month going to an existing account, so rather than it costing money, it is simply paying in advance for future gametime.

  3. Hmmm. CSM appears to be rapidly becoming part of the nullsec metagame.

    1. CSM has always been part of the EVE metagame.

    2. ...and it wasn't rapid either. Took them a few turns to realize the potential IMO.

    3. Lacking a change in vote mechanics for CSM7, the non-block candidates may need to organize using tools available and will.

  4. Well if I was going to have an active account come voting time, I'd toss a vote toward ya, but unlike last year I won't be activating any accounts just for CSM voting purposes. Best of luck if you decide to run. It's going to be tough going for the non block candidates...I wonder how many will give up before they even begin and how much the block vote candidate are going to encourage that.

    I used to think that if someone could rally the high sec players, they might have a real good chance of coming into a top spot out of left field. But then I stop to consider how many of those "high sec players" are unrevealed alts of null sec folks and it doesn't seem so possible or likely at all.

  5. In many ways, any election system without some kind of reserved seats for representatives of non-sov playstyles is going to inherently favour representatives of sovholding groups because their playstyle effectively *requires* large-scale organization, while others either have no particular force to spur the formation of such organizations, or actively discourage the formation of large unified blocs.

    For example, FW has more players than any nullsec alliance (and possibly any bloc/coalition), but they're scattered across four different factions and innumerable small corps within those factions. Consequently, anyone wanting to tap into those votes is going to have to work much harder than someone who is standing as the official candidate of their alliance/bloc and can thus tap into existing leadership structures and messaging systems etc.

    A solution might be to allow candidates to trade their votes after the closing of the polls. Suppose that once player voting was done, all candidates were given a list of the current vote totals and allowed a brief window in which they could transfer all their votes to a more popular candidate of their choosing. That way, if FW guy A got 1800 votes and guy B got 1000, B would be able to give his votes to A and thereby ensure that FW would at least get a seat at the table. All the various minor highsec candidates would similarly have the opportunity to unite behind someone and get at least some representation for their views, etc...

  6. Calling the CSM part of the "0.0 metagame" is quite a stretch. Check out the Kugu CSM minutes thread; there is no great love for the CSM and their policies.

    1. I didn't -- Mord did. I view it as part of the EVE metagame.

      So there is no confusion, everyone on the CSM wants to see the game improved and enhanced, and there is much agreement about general areas of improvement -- everyone wants more UI improvements, and a POS rewrite, for example.

      And we all agree that nullsec has issues, as does FW, Industry, lowsec, etc. But we disagree on priorities from time to time.