Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Gods Smile Upon the CSM

As I stepped out of the Nora Bar with CCP Dolan, having just said my farewells to my fellow CSMs and various CCP devs, we were treated to a spectacular display of the Northern Lights above Reykjavik. The word quickly spread and the bar emptied.

Truly a fitting end for the most satisfying CSM summit of my career -- and it explained the problems we were having with the teleconferencing equipment all during the summit, which was clicking like a geiger counter. Clearly someone at CCP had modified it to be a coronal mass ejection detector.

I won't spend a lot of time recapping summit sessions -- for that, Ripard Teg's series of blog posts. This is just a quick summary before I head off to the airport.

This summit was the smoothest one ever. The hard work of previous CSMs has resulted in a smooth working relationship between CSM and CCP, and CSM8 is reaping the rewards of that foundational work.

We got completely briefed on the plans for Winter and how they tie into the long-term vision for the game CCP Seagull presented at FanFest. We had productive meetings with all the feature teams working on the next expansion, and look forward to providing them with more feedback in the coming months.We also had a ton of meetings with teams working on projects like language support that were very interesting.

As soon as we get back to the US, we'll start work on the minutes. The plan this time is to stream them out in small chunks as individual sessions are completed, and I personally hope you'll see the first set of them in about 2 weeks.

I'll close this short note with some thank-yous:

  • To my fellow CSMs, both those in Iceland and those who Lync'd in (we usually had 10 CSMs in  the meetings). You done good.
  • To the CPM, several of whom joined us for most sessions as observers, and provided us with a lot of support and insight behind the scenes.
  • To CCP Dolan, who clearly did a ton of work preparing for the summit.
  • And to CCP, for being gracious and attentive hosts.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

CSM Update

I confess to being a bit remiss in writing this update, but in addition to being quite busy on CSM business, I spent two weeks after FanFest fighting a nasty case of the Viking Death Flu, followed by a secondary infection and a less-than-pleasant reaction to the antibiotics intended to treat that.

I had a wonderful time at FanFest, despite having to manfully endure numerous devs coming up to me and making cryptic comments intended to mislead me about the election results. I would like to particularly commend CCP Explorer for his highly refined sadism.

Regarding the elections, as you know I have long championed election reform, and I could not be more pleased with the results. The change to STV and the modification to the method of choosing Summit delegates had exactly the effect I was hoping for -- it attracted a bunch of well-qualified candidates, and elected a diverse and (so far) hard-working set of delegates. The uneven distribution of the workload in previous CSMs (with 5-7 people doing most of the work) has been a pet-peeve of mine, but I expect that the CSM8 crew will be able to contribute at least 50% more man-hours than CSM7.

I greatly enjoyed the politics of the election this year, and the change to STV meant that I could devote more of my electoral resources to helping other good candidates. My "Evil CSM Cabal of Evil" group had 11 candidates in it, of which 8 were elected -- more than I expected.

Getting elected Chairman was the icing on the cake. It is a great honor to be entrusted with the position by my colleagues, and I will do my best to be their "fleet booster" during the CSM8 term, using what I've learned over the past 3 CSMs to help them be more effective.

As to what CSM is up to right now, we're focusing on helping CCP process all the Odyssey feedback, handling the CSM7/CSM8 transition, and starting our planning for the first summit (expect some public threads about that as soon as we have a date). We're also continuing our biweekly Skype conferences as a team Stakeholder.

PS: To those who so vocally opposed my candidacy for CSM8, allow me to express my undying gratitude. I couldn't have done it without you!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Every Vote is sacred, Every Vote is Great...

There are Traders in the world, there are Miners.
There are Carebears and Pirates and then,
There are those that follow The Mittani, BUT
I've never been one of them.

Every Vote is Sacred,
Every Vote is Great!
If a Vote gets Wasted,
Seagull gets quite Irate!

Every Vote is Sacred,
Every Vote is Great!
If a Vote gets Wasted,
Soundwave gets quite Irate!

Let the bittervets waste theirs
By staying unsubscribed.
Fozzie will buff a ship for
Each Vote that's well applied!

Every Vote is Wanted,
Every Vote is Good,
Every Vote is Needed,
karkur says vote you should.

Scammers, Gankers, Botters,
Cast theirs just anywhere.
But Punkturis loves those who treat their
Ballots with more care.

Every Vote is Sacred,
Every Vote is Great!
If a Vote gets Wasted,
Masterplan gets quite Irate!

Every Vote is Wanted,
Every Vote is Good,
Every Vote is Needed,
Dolan says vote you should.

Every Vote is Useful!
Every Vote is Fine!
Veritas counts everybody's...
Mine... and mine... and mine!

Let the Spam Alts spill theirs,
O'er Jita, Curse, and Domain,
Stillman shall strike them down for
Each Vote that's cast in vain.

Every Vote is Wanted,
Every Vote is Good,
Every Vote is Needed,
Explorer says vote you should.

Every Vote is Sacred,
Every Vote is Great!
If a Vote gets Wasted,
Unifex gets quite Irate!

Remember folks, No Votes Nerf Boats... so vote in the CSM elections!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Voting is a Drag(fest), man...

The polls are open in New Eden, and I hope you'll click this link and vote for me!

When you do, you'll see something a bit unexpected -- a little voting assistant script I have written. It helps address a big problem with the ballot.

It's a drag.

Or more precisely, it's up to 14 drags. In order to vote a complete 14-candidate ballot (which you should be doing), you have to locate each candidate from a list of 30-odd, and then drag them into your ballot.

This is made worse by the fact that it's hard to find your candidates in the list; I have problems finding my own name! At least I don't have 10 accounts...

Update 2: CCP has added the ability to double-click candidates instead of dragging them, and if you have multiple accounts, after you've voted once your ballot will be stored in a cookie. However, the Bookmarklet trick no longer works, so parts of this post are no longer relevant and have been crossed out.

Some months back, I got interested in the physical process of casting ballots, and did some human-factors experiments, even going so far as to create a ballot UI mockup to test various options. I became convinced that a quick ballot entry system was absolutely essential, even something as simple as a text field you could use to enter a candidate list.

Unfortunately, it appears that CCP doesn't agree. While I can understand that they may not want people to blindly vote slates, I had no doubt that there are some experienced web-programmers out there who will have no problems putting together something that will add this functionality. And guess what...

I have checked with CCP Dolan and for now, using a Javascript Bookmarklet to fill in your ballot is allowed. They may however do something to stop it working in the future.

Which brings us back to my voting link. What I've done is whack together a simple script that makes it easier for you to vote:

If you're just voting one account, it may be simpler to enter your ballot by hand. In this case, the script displays the CCP voting page in a frame, with a checklist of candidates to vote for, and a resizable thumbnail image that shows what the ballot will look like when it is completely filled out.

But it also has a link to a page that will automatically create a Javascript Bookmarklet, and has instructions on how to use it. I would like to publicly thank those great benefactors of New Eden, the Goons, and in particular the estimable Jumanji (who should drink for free at FanFest), for their kind permission to use their code as a template.

This script can be used by anyone who wants to distribute a recommended ballot list or create a Bookmarklet. All you have to do is generate a URL in the following format:

http:///{list of candidates, separated by commas}&u={optional url of your completed ballot image, without the http:// part}

If you just want to create a Bookmarklet, you can access that part of the tool via this URL:

http:///{list of candidates, separated by commas}

These URLs are very long, of course, so I suggest using a service like to whack them down to size.

Update: I tweaked the tool so you can also just paste your picks into a text field and generate the bookmarklet a framed ballot assistant page. Just load the ballot tool page without a list, as follows:


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Politics of POSsibility

Many pixels have died in vain in recent weeks as various pundits have pronounced with great positivity that CSM7 was pathetically pointless.

But now that CCP Fozzie's devblog about the Improvements to POSes in Odyssey has been released, I'm able to provide a little insight on how it came about, and how CSM was able to work on the community's behalf.

Our tale begins well before the Winter Summit. CSM definitely had POSes on our agenda for what would become the Odyssey expansion, but we weren't overly optimistic. CSM was supposed to be a stakeholder on one of the development teams in the fall, but due to some misunderstandings at CCP, this experiment was not a success. We were seriously considering "going to the matresses" and expressing our concerns publicly, but after much debate, we decided to hold off and see what CCP had to say at the summit.

As it happened, the summit was a great success, and CCP made some unprecedented promises about CSM input in the planning of future expansions, starting with the next one in early January.

Fast forward a few weeks until the start of the planning process, which I've described in a previous post. In their possible features presentation, one of the teams stated that they wanted to work on improvements to the current POS system.

Our initial feedback to CCP was an executive summary rating that various feature ideas, which I've talked about in a recent post. POSes were one of the 4 "big" items we gave a perfect 10.0 score to (3 of the 4 are in Odyssey). We also created a "POS Wish List" report as a guide to what features would be well received by the community; this ended up being used as one of the starting points for the design.

Next, in mid-January, the Winter Summit minutes were released, and lots of people were concerned because there wasn't substantial discussion about POSes. This presented us with a dilemma. Hopefully CCP would be delivering on POSes in Odyssey, but what if things messed up again? We knew that if we started a POS discussion thread on the forums it would get a lot of attention, and while it would be useful to be able to point to as evidence that POSes were deserving of high priority, it might also get out of hand and backfire.

This was a particular concern because during this time, most of us were putting together our own themed expansion packages, just as the CCP teams were doing (you will not be surprised to learn that POSes were key elements in our themes...). So lighting a fire in the forums at exactly the time when CCP might already be doing exactly what we wanted them to be doing could be counterproductive.

This question was the only one in our entire term that CSM7 could not reach consensus about. Finally, Two step broke the deadlock by posting the POS thread on his own initiative, an act that upset several of his colleagues, notably Seleene.

When we learned what was in the final package, we were very happy that POS fixes were a major component. And to add icing to the cake, CSM was assigned to act as a Stakeholder for the team doing the work, so we'll continue to monitor the situation and do our best to help make sure that as much of the plan gets done as POSsible.

So to the Nattering Nabobs of Negativity, I say, Nuts!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fourteen in a Bed

In compiling these recommendations, I am not giving any weight to how the candidates play EVE, how much they agree or disagree with me, and whether or not they are also supporting me. My major criteria is "do I think this person will do a good job if they are elected?" I expect that all of these candidates will be hard-working team players who will strongly but fairly advocate for the entire community.

None of my recommendations are bloc candidates. This is not because there aren't excellent bloc candidates this year, it's simply that their blocs will ensure they get elected, and supporting them isn't tactically wise under STV. I want a diverse CSM that represents all areas of the game.

My recommended ballot for CSM8 (Version 1.0)

1. Trebor Daehdoow. My polling indicates that 35% of my voters are voting for me because I'm experienced, 31% because I work hard and get results, 18% because they are old and/or bald like me, and 16% because they want to annoy Poetic Stanziel.

2. Tie: Ripard Teg is knowledgeable, hard-working, and a great writer, while Malcanis is probably the all-time champion goodposter on EVE-O -- he's been around forever and nobody has a bad word to say about him.

4. corebloodbrothers impressed me when he ran for the first time last year, but the voting system conspired against him. With any luck, the change to STV will mean the second time will be the charm.

5. Tie: Nathan Jameson and James Arget would be great voices for Wormhole residents. If the stars align, both of them will be.

7. I have served on CSM with both the major Russian candidates, and I like both of them personally, which makes choosing between them painful. However, I think Korvin is the better choice given the challenges and opportunities that CSM 8 will face.

8. Ali Aras is a rare bird, the experienced newbie. I want CCP to put more resources into making EVE more newbie-friendly, and her voice will help convince them to do that.

9. Mangala Solaris brings yet another important perspective to the table, and is well-respected in his community.

10. Given how much crap I've taken from his supporters, you may be surprised to learn that Psychotic Monk is going to be on my ballot. I disagree with some of his positions, but he argues them fairly -- and anything we do agree on is likely to be correct. I am hoping he will be CSM 8's Alekseyev Karrde.

11. Unforgiven Storm is a good industrialist candidate who has the bad luck to be a Goon who is running as an independent. That means he probably won't get much love from bloc voters, and a lot of other people won't vote for him because he's a Goon. If he doesn't make it, I hope he does well enough to try again next year. If so, he could be the corebloodbrothers of CSM 9.

12. Roc Wieler will either be a decent CSM, or he'll be able to role-play a decent CSM. Either works for me.

13. Mike Azariah wants to represent the casual player, and has shown he can work hard on community-related projects.

14. To Be Determined. I am really undecided about who to put in my final slot, and I want to sleep on it. Think you know who it should be? If so, post in my EVE-O thread and tell me why. Or perhaps another candidate will make me an offer I can't refuse.

After all, as we all know, politics makes strange bedfellows.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lack of Quantity has a Quality all its own

Oh frabjous day, Mittens has launched another salvo in his attempt to depress non-bloc turnout in the CSM election (aka the "War Against Turnout").

This time he's taking the fact that there are only 35 candidates and trying to spin it into an alleged crisis of confidence in the community. Go read it and play "count the logical fallacy".

The most important one is, of course: Quantity does not imply Quality. A much more reasonable explanation for the reduced number of candidates is simply this: CSM7 and CCP have made it abundantly clear that CSM is :srsbsns: that requires a significant time investment, and the rules of the CSM and the election system were updated to encourage serious candidates to run.

If you look at the 35 candidates running for CSM this year, there are significantly more high-quality candidates than in any previous CSM election. Ask yourself, why did guys like Malcanis and Ripard Teg run this year and not last year?

Better yet, go ask them in their campaign threads. Then pop by my thread and give me a bump, and check out the threads of other serious first-time candidates like Nathan Jameson, James Arget, Mangala Solaris, Psychotic Monk, and corebloodbrothers, just to name a few non-bloc guys who are likely to get  on my recommended ballot (more on that soon).

PS: I confidently predict that every serious CSM candidate will pass the threshold within the first couple of days.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2013: A CSM Odyssey

CCP has just teased the contents of the next expansion, Odyssey, so finally CSM members can start discussing some of the details -- but only some of them, since we can't discuss details that have not already been made public due to the NDA.

So this first post on Odyssey will focus on how much of the CSM's agenda got reflected in the final result. If you've read my previous posts (here and here) on CSM's involvement in the release planning process, you already know that CSM got an unprecedented opportunity to provide input to the process.

A quick recap: First, all of the various teams at CCP made presentations about things they could contribute to the expansion. Then the teams (and CSM) took all these ingredients and developed recipes for themed expansions. The final theme was a synthesis of the best ideas, tempered by the realities of the development process.

After these presentations, CSM ranked the various ingredients based on how important we thought they were, and how much bang-for-the-buck we thought they provided.

Of the 5 items we ranked 10/10, 3 are addressed in Odyssey. Of the 12 items we ranked 9.0-9.9, at least 6 made it. Of the 8 items we ranked 8.0-8.9, 4 made it. Of the 4 items we ranked 7.0-7.9, 2 made it.

We also labeled 17 features as "big ticket" items. At least 9 of them are in Odyssey.

Finally, we identified 6 "core crucial" elements that most of the recipes incorporated. 4 of them made it into Odyssey in some form.

Odyssey is significantly more aggressive than the last couple of expansions, which IMHO is the right direction. The task of the CSM over the next few months, as a stakeholder for a team working on some of the headline features, is to do everything we can to make the expansion as successful as possible, because I want CCP to take even larger bites from the apple in the future.

PS: CSM Pre-Elections have started. You can endorse me here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Table Pounding: An Early Analysis

The Mittani published an interesting article today, entitled "THE CSM8 ELECTION: AN EARLY ANALYSIS".

It's a wonderful example of Mittens trying to shape the narrative, and he deploys a variety of rhetorical tactics in support of this goal. So I thought it would be enlightening to deconstruct it a bit, and show it for it probably is: the first salvo in a campaign to depress non-bloc turnout.

Mittens begins with some "realtalk". As anyone who knows him well will tell you, this is code for "propaganda". For example, he implies that because I'm the only incumbent running for re-election (which is not quite correct; I am the only incumbent who has declared that they are running), CSM7 has been a failure, and the CSM/CCP relationship has deteriorated.

Neither are true: the real reason the active members of CSM7 aren't running again is that their personal and professional circumstances make it impossible for them to put in the hours that they know CSM8 will demand. One consequence of CSM7's hugely successful push to get earlier and more detailed access to CCP's planning and production processes is that being an active member of CSM8 will require 10-20 hours a week of work, plus burning 2 weeks of vacation time (ie: all of it, if you're an American) to attend summits. Heck, I'm semi-retired and I thought hard about it.

The argument that things are "toxic" (either internally or between CSM and CCP) is highly amusing. CSM7 has significantly more influence with CCP than any previous CSM, and when CCP announces what's going to be in the Summer expansion at PAX East, I think people are going to be pretty happy with what we managed to do -- and the "lame ducks" of CSM7 will keep on working as a CCP stakeholder (working directly with one of the development teams) until the day they leave office.

Props to CCP Dolan for doing a huge amount of organizational work to ensure that all of this activity is smoothly coordinated, by the way.

Mittens next turns to the issue of the Single Transferrable Vote. He first claims it is a huge win for nullsec blocs, and that he would have been able to dictate 4 CSM slots if it had been used in the previous election. He is mistaken: under STV, his vote total (assuming perfect ballot coordination) would have enabled him to elect two candidates and heavily influence a third. He got about 20% of the vote, and would have gotten about 20% of the seats.

What he fails to mention is this: under the old system, only highly organized blocs could coordinate well enough to efficiently split their votes and optimize their voting, but under STV, everyone automatically has that ability, simply by voting for the candidates of their choice. And he also fails to mention that the CFC had the infrastructure to do this during the CSM7 elections, but chose not to do so.

His point that nullsec voters will vote long ballots, and non-bloc voters will vote short ones is based on a big assumption, but for the purposes of argument, let us assume he is correct. Under the old system, the non-bloc voters could only vote for one candidate. Under the new system, each additional candidate they vote for increases the chance their vote will help elect someone. Last year, about 25% of the ballots were cast for candidates that did not get elected. This year, the number of wasted ballots will be significantly less.

Next, Mittens argues that the forums and other messaging don't matter. While he has a point that get-out-the-vote efforts are a big factor in winning elections, for independent candidates who don't have the luxury of an organized bloc voting for them, forums, Twitter, blogs, and podcasts are a key part in both defining your candidacy and getting other people to help you get out the vote.

Furthermore, he failed to recognize a very important difference this time around: under STV, independent candidates are no longer forced to compete for votes. Instead, they can cooperate to increase turnout and recommend each other to their supporters, secure in the knowledge that if they don't get elected, the votes they generate will help elect someone likely to share their views.

As for The Mittani's analysis of the candidates, he is of course entitled to his own opinion. However, I was surprised that he seems to think that there are still "Alt" slots in the CSM, especially since we more or less ignored that distinction in CSM6, completely ignored it in CSM7, and it was written out of the White Paper for CSM8. Under STV, you either get a seat or you don't; the successful candidates don't have a meaningful ranking.

So what was the point of The Mittani's analysis? Well, LOLs for one thing; he has a wicked sense of humor that I personally find most entertaining. But I suspect that a major reason for posting it was to try and induce some apathy in the non-bloc population and reduce their turnout -- because he did get one thing right: representation on the CSM depends on how much of the vote you and your friends get, and depressing the non-bloc turnout might result in an extra seat for his friends.

As a lawyer, Mittens is surely aware of the old trial lawyer's adage: "If the facts are against you, pound on the law. If the law is against you, pound on the facts. If both the facts and the law are against you, pound on the table."

Expect more table pounding in the days and weeks to come... and then ignore the "realtalk" and get out there and vote for the candidates you think are the best.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Election Evolution

CCP has just announced big changes to the way the CSM elections work. The CSM elections will now use the Single Transferrable Vote system, and EVE players will be able to vote for more than one candidate. If their preferred candidate can't get elected or doesn't need all of their voting power, all or part of it will transfer to other candidates on their ballot.

In the last CSM election, almost 25% of the votes went to candidates who didn't get elected. This time around, that percentage will be much lower. If you vote in the election, and vote for more than one candidate, you can be pretty sure your vote will help elect someone you like -- and you can vote for up to 14 candidates.

No more excuses like "The guy I like can't get elected". Now he, or someone else you like, has a much better chance. So go and make your voice heard - and encourage others to do the same.

Oh, and if you've thought about running for CSM but decided not to because "I can't get enough votes" or "I might just siphon off votes and cost another guy like me a seat", now you have to think about it again.

And finally, if your excuse was "No way I can get into the top seven and get to go to a summit", that's been fixed too. If you get on the CSM and work hard, you will be on a plane to Iceland at some point during your term.

It's going to be fun watching how all of this unfolds. I hope you'll take the time to get involved... as an informed voter... and maybe, as a candidate.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Once more unto the breach, dear pods, once more!

After much consideration, I've decided to run for CSM8. You can read more about my platform on my campaign page and EVE-O forum thread.

I expect the CSM8 election campaign to the most intense yet -- should be a lot of fun, for certain values of fun.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

They have a cunning plan!

On Thursday, CSM was briefed on the results of CCP's planning process.

The plan is significantly more ambitious than what we've seen in the last few expansions. While I can't go into any specific details, I think it's fair to say that the new planning process has worked well, and that CSM input was taken into account.

CSM will of course be pushing for CCP to produce some significant devblogs sooner rather than later, and CCP will be making a major announcement at PAX East (March 22-24). Stay tuned!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Variations on a Theme

Just a quick update on how CSM's involvement in CCP's planning process is proceeding.

On Friday, January 18th, we sent our sample themes to CCP Seagull. In return, on January 23rd, CSM got a package of the themes created by CCP teams, performed a quick analysis of them, and sent her our recommendations.

While I can't go into any specifics, I found the CCP themes to be very interesting reading, and they gave me more insight into how people at CCP are addressing the new planning system.

Today, Monday the 28th, we had a followup meeting with CCP Seagull.  She gave us a broad overview of the overall theme that had been decided upon, which the CSM members present strongly endorsed. Over the next week, CCP will be determining what set of features best fits the theme and is practical given time and resource constraints.

CSM will receive a package of materials on Friday related to CCP's initial prioritization decisions and will provide our trademark :48hour: turnaround on them.

Based on what has happened so far, I am cautiously optimistic that the new planning process is going to do a good job of ensuring that CCP does a better job of delivering an expansion with good "bang-for-buck" when it comes to pleasing the community.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Begun, The Planning Wars Have...

CCP has now begun their planning process for the May expansion, and true to the promises made at the Summit by CCP Unifex, CCP Seagull and CCP Ripley, CSM has been given unprecedented access; for the first time, we are being consulted before any significant decisions have been made.

Because of the NDA nature of a lot of what is being discussed, this post will be short on specific details, but I do want to give the community an update on what's happened so far.

Last week, all the major feature teams at CCP made presentations about what features they could potentially work on for release in May; these ranged from big ideas to little things, and from things they'd just like to do to things they'd already done substantial work on. Some were standalone items, while others were dependent on other items (often items from other teams).

Then all the feature teams were given a task -- come up with a "theme" that combines features from all the teams into a package that forms a coherent expansion.

On Wednesday, about the time the Minutes were published, CSM received copies of all the presentations as well as a video recording.

This morning, we had a Skype conference with CCP Seagull. We presented our evaluation of the feature proposals, and received more information on how the planning process was to proceed.

We received a further task: to create our own themes, in order to help CCP Seagull understand what kind of themes the Community might like. While we obviously don't have the same information as CCP teams do (such as the complexity of some of the features and their interactions), she feels that this will be useful in helping evaluate CCP's theme proposals. We will be delivering these themes on Monday, 1/21.

Once all the themes are received, CSM will be provided with copies of all of them. By the end of the week, CCP Seagull will have created a shortlist of candidate themes, and CSM will be told which they are. We currently are scheduled to discuss the shortlist with her on Monday, 1/28.

CCP certainly seems to be executing on their promise to iterate on "CSM as a Stakeholder"... :)

Addendum: I've been asked to give my personal opinion about all of this. While it is early days yet, I am very pleased with the level of access CSM is getting, and all the meetings have been very productive. I look forward to seeing how things evolve, and I feel comfortable in saying that I and other people on CSM are looking forward to putting a lot of effort into trying to help make this new planning process work.