The yearly CSM debate is underway again. Why does a person have to reveal their real-life identity to be on the CSM? Is this a requirement that is still necessary? Was it ever necessary?
CCP do not seem to want to budge on the issue. Not a single centimeter. (Which is less than an inch.)
CCP Xhagen, the dude who’s responsible for the CSM, trots out his two standard answers every year. The CCP justification why the real-life reveal is important.
What does that even mean? Accountability to whom? CCP? CCP already knows the real-life identities of every player, whether that information is made public or not. If a CSM does something bad, like reveal NDA info to the public, then CCP can shitcan them from the CSM and from the game. A public identity is not required. Accountable to the playerbase? If that’s the reason, it almost sounds like a veiled threat. With your real-life information at hand, the playerbase has the power to go after a CSM member who screws up. Keep the playerbase happy, you’ll have no problems with harassment and the like. That seems to be the argument Xhagen is making. And yet, how does one keep everybody happy? And why should accepting the threat of real-life reprisals from the playerbase be a CSM job requirement?
Someone should explain to me what Issler Dainze did wrong, on that day when a Goon followed her around New Eden spouting off personal details of her life. Where she lived. Her pet’s name. Is this the sort of accountability that CCP Xhagen was referring too?
Explain to me what Darius Johnson (pre-Sreegs) did wrong when somebody called up his place of business, trying to get him fired, all because he was a Goon, and apparently an internet spaceship bully. Is that the sort of accountability that Xhagen is after?
Explain to me what The Mittani did wrong (pre-Fanfest 2012) when Prencleeve Grothsmore released the address and phone number of The Mittani’s parents to the public. Is this the sort of accountability Xhagen is looking for?
Exactly what does Xhagen mean when he refers to accountability. He can’t be referring to player vigilantism, can he? Because that seems to be the only outcome to being out-of-game accountable to the playerbase. If a CSM sucks, not voting for them in a year seems like accountability enough, and I don’t need a CSM’s real name to not vote for them.
There’s the other argument, that if you’re an in-game thief or scammer, then having your real-life name attached to your in-game actions will force you to straighten up your act. Or he’s simply saying that CCP does not want thieves and scammers and corp thieves and gankers on the CSM. That hopefully the real-name requirement will discourage them from running.
Actually, the whole accountability argument is confusing, and I’m not really sure what point Xhagen is trying to make, because none of it makes much sense if given more than a cursory think-through.
Perhaps CCP employees should be accountable to the vagaries of the playerbase too. What? No? That would open them up to endless harassment? Then why put the CSM in that position?
Xhagen makes a fairly compelling argument here. That if CCP were to keep a CSM member’s name private, then they could be held legally responsible if that name were to be accidentally (or purposefully) released.
That makes a lot of sense, until you realize that CCP is already safeguarding the identities (not too mention credit card numbers) of every single EVE Online player. To simply continue to do what they’re already doing, doesn’t seem like much additional effort.
The CSM make a few arguments of their own, concerning the real-life reveal.
Trebor seems to argue that real-life identity makes one’s resumé verifiable. Which I suppose is true. Except, what resumé? How many CSM members used their real-life experience as part of their CSM campaign platforms? Can anybody tell me what Hans does as a living? Does his job qualify him to be a spaceship consultant? (Both are rhetorical questions, I don’t really want or need to know.) It’s a silly argument to be making, unless Trebor feels that programming Wizardry thirty-odd years ago qualifies him to consult to a 500 employee company. That real-life experience even makes a difference to Xhagen makes even less sense, since he has no control over who gets elected, so his opinion on somebody’s qualifications doesn’t really matter.
Alekseyev at least admits there is a problem, but also states that death threats are just part of the job description, and if you can’t handle a few threats and harassing comments, you shouldn’t run for the CSM. Obviously, the strongest case yet for the real-life requirement.
Seleene throws up his hands at the issue. CCP isn’t going to change their position. There’s no point talking about this. As defeatist as it is, this is the only position that has any rationale to it.
There are a number of people with impeccable in-game qualifications who would love to have an impact on EVE Online, to make their arguments face-to-face with the developers, who have a strong passion for this game and the community.
These people will never run. They understand the playerbase. They understand the effects of harassment. They won’t sacrifice their careers, their professional reputations, on a game. They won’t put their personal details out in front of a playerbase known for stepping across the line. A playerbase known for taking things too far.
You can read more of Poetic Stanziel’s opinions at his Poetic Discourse blog.