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.


  1. "It is inevitably a very loud trainwreck, and that's before you put on a wizard hat, down six jagerbombs in an hour, and make suicide jokes while on live television. Not that I'd know anything about that."

    No really?

  2. I found it interesting how he basically said the best thing to do is have a bloc, then he went on to poo-poo the forums, the blogs, twitter and interviews for any candidate... without making any suggestion for how non-bloc candidates should be campaigning (other than getting a bloc, I guess). Not exactly subtle, that.

    Then again, all his experience comes from running as a bloc candidate with his votes literally handed to him on a platter so I'm not sure why anyone would expect him to be an authority on vote-generating techniques other than "Lead Goonswarm".

    1. The Mittani's criticism of blogs, forums, ... is based on the very low number of people you reach with these methods (and I agree with him on this point - word of mouth effects are not nearly strong enough that the few hundred readers/listeners some interview might get would be enough to get you elected).

      The solution for an independent candidate is to go in-game - send out mass evemails, get people to spam tradehubs, ... *anything* you do in-game will get you more bang for the buck than some thoughtful blog post you spent a few hours to craft.

      Darius III is the best example for how (in-game) eyeballs trump (laboriously crafted) content one could wish for.

  3. Personally it reads like simple GSF propaganda; the underlining message in the whole thing is:

    "Don't waste your vote for Riptard or Trebour because you're up against the bloc and you will lose"

    He spends the entire article trying to explain that "the little guy is too small to compete" mentioning things like Riptards previously failed CSM attempt (even though this was BEFORE he became an active blogger) and the votes of smaller alliances will be simply crushed under the weight of the blocs.

    Personally I think this is a real test of the STV system to see if people like you and Riptard can make it in dispite the obvious attempt at fixing for the bloc candidates.