The Word I am Looking for is “Gerrymandering”

Gerrymandering may be used to achieve desired electoral results for a particular party, or may be used to help or hinder a particular demographic, such as a political, racial, linguistic, religious or class group.

-From Wikipedia

I live in California.  I know all about Gerrymandering.  We provide source material on the topic these days.

My State in Action

And apparently somebody is taking this idea from real world politics to try and “fix” the CSM election process.

Somehow I don’t think creating a convoluted election mechanism to punish players able to organize (in a game that rewards organization) is really addressing the issue when only ~15% of accounts even bother to vote for the Galactic Student Council. (~60K votes cast out of a population of ~400K accounts.)

One of my comments on the meeting minutes from the Spring summit of the CSM was that, based on their output, “the favored topic of CSM7 appears to be CSM7,” which certainly fits the student council model. (As opposed to the UN model, which would have been equally useful, but more entertaining to watch.)

My opinion on that remains unchanged.

But it does look like CCP is really the force driving this particular issue.  CCP seems to want a “better,” more broad based council and is frustrated by the fact that the groups successful in most political part of the game… null sec… are also successful in CCPs sandbox political game.  What a surprise!

That is the problem with creating democratic institutions.  It becomes hard to rig them to get the results you want without looking like you are rigging them merely to get the results you want.  But that isn’t going to stop CCP from trying I guess.

Maybe CCP should scrap the whole thing and go the SOE route.  Just create a “by invitation only” advisory group that they can whistle up and fly out at need for discussion and otherwise ignore.

What do you think?  Does the CSM have any value for the player base?

Addendum: CSM7 loses another supporter and Seleene is in there trying to quash criticism again by insisting that you can only know the real story if you talk to the CSM in person.  That worked out so well for Jester.

12 thoughts on “The Word I am Looking for is “Gerrymandering”

  1. Chris

    Certainly not the worst districting plan I’ve seen. The big chunk aound 580 between Pleasanton and Tracy consists of a lot of empty land (farms, ranches, open space, parks) and Livermore. The bite out of I-5 is Stockton, but other than that, it’s pretty deserted out there too.

    Now, MD-2, -3, -7, and -8…THOSE are some fun gerrymanders.

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  2. Vince

    I really don’t see why people are crying about having power blocks with such a large proportion of the vote. It’s obvious less than 25% of the total eve subscribers voted, those who actually did should be rewarded for it. If people can’t be arsed to spend 5 minutes voting for someone to represent them, then they don’t really deserve to be able to cry about the issue, do they?

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  3. dsj

    From the moment Mittens was elected the first time around CCP knew it was a problem and the summer of rage confirmed it for them. The most dangerous thing for a company is to have someone with a powerbase outside of the control of management able to bend the ear of the players and draw the attention of the media. Had the Mittani wanted in the fall of last year he could have sent CCP into a death spiral … instead he helped them stabilize the situation … to management though that just demonstrated their weakness and incompetence … it earned him no affection only animosity. Most entrenched power structures tend to bounce back from that sort of thing by “reforming” away the source of their irritation as soon as their immediate danger is past. All this CSM voting crap is driven by last year and the role the CSM played, especially Mittens.

    The most enjoyable time to be had in any upcoming CSM elections will be to watch CCP and the current CSM try to stack the deck, only to be outplayed in the meta game once again. If Mittens doesn’t run then Goons and company should organize a set of campaigns to just fuck with CCP and see how many seats they can win regardless of the rules.

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  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @dsj – Indeed, I was wondering what would happen if the CFC decided to really throw a wrench into things and support a set of really bad, non-CFC candidates, people who would be not just bad for the game, but complete liabilities to CCP as well.

    Not that the CFC would do such a thing. We actually like to play internet spaceships and would like to not fuck that up… but it amuses me to think of some of the people that could be shipped off to Iceland to be a weight around CCP’s neck.

    @Chris – District 11 doesn’t look that awkward, but it was part of the great bi-partisan “let’s just all keep our jobs and screw what the voters think” compromise that carved out a bunch of really safe districts. We’re not as practiced as some states out there in the art of this sort of thing, but our representatives make up for it by being arrogantly open about what they are doing.

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  5. spinks

    I suppose it depends whether you think a more ‘broad based’ council would be a good thing. In real life, there are good arguments for why it would be a good thing for disenfranchised groups to have better representation but in a game? Enh, the politics is just another toy for players.

    They know fine well that you don’t want to destroy the game. Although I’d be impressed if Goons et al had the balls to attempt it.

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  6. Aufero

    @Spinks – The problem is that in this case, the politics isn’t just a toy for players.

    From CCP’s point of view, there’s an excellent reason for the CSM – to get players involved in the decision making process about new content, so as many people as possible will continue to subscribe and recommend the game to their friends. Having only a single interest bloc of players (and an insular, clannish and often unfriendly bloc at that) involved in the CSM is therefore sub-optimal for CCP.

    The catch-22 is that any attempt to bias the process in favor of useful results tends to break the illusion of democracy that maintains the interest of the few players who actually vote.

    (As an aside, my favorite example of gerrymandering was the old 46th congressional district south of Los Angeles. Like a couple of other coastal California districts with interest groups carved out of unrelated areas, it was only contiguous at low tide.)

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  7. dsj

    @Aufero — My argument would be that “bias the process in favor of USEFUL results” is not entirely as subjective as some people think it is.

    The CSM was created by CCP in the wake of a scandal involving developers playing favorites amongst the 0.0 population. It can be argued that the role that the CSM and Mittens played last year was EXACTLY what CCP created the CSM for — namely, to provide a clear outlet where in the event of a real mistake on CCP’s part the players could be counted on to give CCP direction on fixing things.

    Immediately after creating the CSM the management decided to basically put them on a shelf and ignor them (or try to turn them into a marketing tool). CSM 5 did everything possible to warn CCP away from the INCARNA debacle, CCP ignored them, CSM 6 arguably saved the game after it blew up. CSM 7 is going back onto a shelf (and its seems willing so).

    The CSM wasn’t created primarily as a player development council — it was created as a means of involving players in correcting mistakes in order to keep them in the game and preventing mistakes and issues in the first place. Having “a diversity of opinion” is CCP’s way of saying that they don’t want the most motivated players in the game influencing their decisions.

    Null sec players for better or worse influence the game the most: 1000 man fleets, sov warfare, along with all the associated game play that ties to it drives everyone of the development decisions for ships/modules/ you name it. You don’t have to re-balance Drakes/Hurricanes – heavy missiles etc… unless you are talking about the fleet level. I’m sure high sec mission runners wonder why any of it happens. It’s only in null sec that the designs get pushed to their limits.

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  8. HarbingerZero

    In a game where 400k accounts actually belong to perhaps only 200k players, doesn’t that mean that each player has access to as many votes as they are willing to “purchase” with active accounts? If so, the idea of gerrymandering is just another layer of icing on a very warped version of democracy cake.

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  9. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @HZ – But multiple accounts was at least a known issue from the start and is something not exclusive to null sec players. You can find lots of care bear ice miners out there running multi-account operations. CCP chose to ignore that aspect of things, calling for one account, one vote, and has, to my knowledge, never brought that up as an issue.

    And in the end, it doesn’t matter if CCP gets an anti-bloc fellow traveler like Trebor to be their willing patsy on the subject when the institution of the CSM is so well regarded that they can only get 15% of the accounts to even bother voting. The posturing to get votes to result in a way that CCP approves is as embarrassing to watch as it is irrelevant.

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  10. Dersen Lowery

    It’s impossible to look at what the CSM is doing, or should be doing, without looking at what CCP is doing.

    CCP devs are now posting their plans to Features & Ideas, and changing or discarding ideas based on forum feedback. If you can find the first such thread–an ill-fated attempt to rebalance tanking rigs–the forum denizens spend the first few pages confused about the whole thing. It takes them a while, and a few dev clarifications, before they realize that no, it’s not in the wrong forum, and no, it’s not already finished and ready to ship. This level of direct engagement is completely unprecedented.

    I would say not so much that CCP has put CSM7 back into a box as that it has taken the advice of CSMs 4, 5 and 6 to heart and engaged the players much more directly. That leaves CSM as an early sounding board, an advisory panel for NDA material that CCP can’t yet post to F&I, and a general brainstorming panel of experts. CSM7 doesn’t have to be the only communication channel between CCP and the players.

    As for the first part of the minutes, it’s true that you can make any number of jokes about a committee discussing the role of the commitee, but that’s an important discussion to have. If CSM get a stakeholder role, they get to work more closely with CCP, and they get to see projects much closer to conception than implementation (though they also get to see implementation). With CCP moving to agile development and frequent releases, this has the potential to be quite valuable.

    Besides, the first meeting of any newly elected committee is almost always concerned with roles and procedures specific to that committee. If you’re really lucky, you get it all done so that the second meeting is about what you were convened for in the first place.

    Before everything blew up, CSM6 could be seen as excessively cozy, too. If it’s possible under those circumstances, it’s almost inevitable when times are good and CCP is on point.

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