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Sins of a Solar Spymaster #74: Stupid CSM Tricks

Posted Tue, Jan 31, 2012 by The Mittani

The Mittani talks about stupid tricks and shenanigans relating to the upcoming CSM election in this week’s Sins of a Solar Spymaster. The election cycle for the seventh Council of Stellar Management, EVE’s democratically-elected player advocacy group, is about to begin. A brief history of the CSM: CSMs 1-4 were essentially powerless, but laid the groundwork for CSM5 to have the power to act as a player advocacy group; CSM5 had power, but the only people who noticed and envied that power when the CSM6 election cycle began were the nullsec blocs - the common EVE player was not yet alert to the fact that the CSM was now more than a toothless PR stunt.

CSM Election Time

During the Incarna riots and the run-up to Crucible, it was the CSM who articulated the playerbase’s strangled cries for spaceship content into a call to action.CSM5 reacted to the aftermath of Tyrranis with an insistence that CCP fix the long-neglected areas of spaceship gameplay, channeling a ‘Summer of Rage’ and releasing an open letter criticizing CCP’s lack of planning and gameplay for Incarna.

CSM6 took office and, despite a radically different demographic makeup from the prior administration, continued CSM5’s battle for spaceships and against microtransactions through Monoclegate, the Jita Riots, and an unsuccessful attempt by CCP to sanitize the June Emergency Summit minutes. With the release of Hilmar’s apology blog and the Crucible expansion, the CSM and the playerbase have finally, after years of strife, returned CCP’s full focus to ‘Flying in Space’.

CSM6 proved the influence of the council to the playerbase at large, so the upcoming election for CSM7 should be a slugfest between the entities hoping to maintain their positions as well as newcomers seeking to get a seat at the table. The intense focus on the CSM during a year of crisis will increase turnout for the CSM7 election, and thus a higher number of votes will be required to win a position. Further adding to the selection pressure is CCP’s decision to cut the number of primary CSM members from nine to seven.

This election cycle, running between February and its denouement at Fanfest in March, will result in entertaining drama and fascinating political maneuvers. I am, of course, biased - I’m running for the Chairmanship again. But before the race begins, let’s analyze this year’s competition in detail.

*Structural Changes: CCP implemented three major structural changes to the CSM and the election process. First, the distinction between ‘alts’ (the lowest-scoring 5) and ‘mains’ (the top 9) was erased; the new CSM just has ‘members’, which is a fairly trivial distinction. The most significant change is the fact that only the top seven CSM members will go to Iceland for summits now, instead of the top nine. Additionally, there will be a nomination phase added to this election where candidates need to get a minimum of 100 of ‘likes’ on their candidacy threads to be added to the ballot.

EVE Election Coverage

What does all of this mean? In the era of the 24/7 Skype-wired CSM, the distinction between alts and mains is a relic, so its abandonment is merely recognition of the status quo. The new like-based nomination process will weed out many hopeless candidates, which is significant; past elections had a number of players throw their hats into the ring with no hope of actually getting elected, creating a long and cumbersome ballot. However, there is a substantial risk that an organized bloc will mass-vote weaker candidates past the 100-like-mark to clog the ballot; even a single well-organized corp could do this on a lark and nominate every hopeful. Future elections will almost certainly require a more strict nomination process to be effective.

The fact that only the top seven candidates will attend summits directly increases the power of the most organized player entities, namely the nullsec blocs and Eve University. Only these groups have the power to reliably get more than 2240 votes, the minimum needed to get the seventh slot in the CSM6 contest. A tidier ballot means less wasted votes, further raising the bar to reach the top seven, not to mention the greater expected overall turnout after the performance of CSM6. Grassroots candidates and niche constituencies (wormholers, faction warfare, roleplayers, etc) are likely to fill out the bottom seven slots, but the critical lobbying opportunities of visiting Reykjavik in the flesh will likely be held by the nullsec barons, something that Trebor Daehdoow of CSM6 noted in a recent blog.

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