My journey started by going to a very gloomly place, the official Eve Online forums. Due to the recent botting exposé published on Eve News 24 I was reading the threads (mostly locked) about the article when I ran into a thread in which Goonswarm Federation's Andski was posting some interesting arguments.
2012.12.31 06:43 - "basically every botting thread involves some worthless hiseccers bringing up our 'do not petition other Goon' rule as if it's specifically meant to protect botters and as if we somehow know when somebody is filing those petitions
"since the same people who bring them up tend to be from failed alliances, one-man tax-dodging corps and NPC alts it's obvious that they don't understand why successful alliances have 'don't ask, don't tell' policies towards filing petitions against blues"
2012.12.31 09:29 - "We have no way of knowing who reports who. Investigating such things is impossible and our policy of 'don't report blues' is essentially unenforceable unless the person reporting our members and allies is openly bragging about it. People who brag about that just create unnecessary drama, which we don't really care for. Do you get it now?"
Now Andski isn't just some Goon forum warrior. He is a director and in charge of the group that mentors new players. After reading the thread I understand why quashing drama is a desirable goal, but do new Goons think botting is acceptable? Do they think that they are free to bot because no one will report them? Andski argued that the rule is not specifically meant to protect botters but if that is the effect of the rule, then who cares what the original intent was? I think he served his alliance poorly with the quality of his argument, especially since he is the one who brought up GSF policy in a thread about TEST's policy on botting. He definitely made an unforced error.
I could stop here and have a nice anti-bot post about how null sec alliances turn a blind eye to botting in their space. However, the truth is more complex. I remembered a leak on Kugutsumen back in April about a change in GSF policy that I liked:
(5:12:26 PM) Solo Drakban:
I come to announce a change in GSF policy. Effective immediately any discussion in jabber or on the forums that encourages players to violate the EVE Online EULA or TOS is forbidden. For clarity, some of the things this would include are:
- Real Money Trading (RMT) which includes any real currently for ISK transaction as well as the buying and selling of characters or in-game assets for real currency.
- Botting, macros and other systems that automate repetitive tasks within EVE that have not been explicitly permitted by CCP.
Things that are NOT included in this are:
- In-game scamming, theft, and blowing people up.
- The buying and selling of PLEX, GTCs and Accounts for ISK so long as they are done within CCP's guidelines.
- The use of any application or tool that has been sanctioned by CCP or relies on sanctioned methods of data retrieval (EVEMon, GTS, etc)
These lists are obviously not exhaustive. Violations may result in anything ranging from the revocation of your posting abilities to your removal and banning from the GSF.
(5:34:54 PM) directorbot: Gentlegoons, the reason for our new no-elusifs rule is that we cannot afford to have our caps and supercaps seduced by the ~siren song~ of EVE GOLD and have that impact the defense of the realm in a time of war now that CCP appears to actually be enforcing anti-rmt/botting for the first time in, uh, almost forever. I would like to direct you towards the clean, safe, and nonconsensual realm of scamming as an alternative to EVE GOLD - botting/rmt doesn't make anyone cry, and you can make much more isk with a good scamming haul, and show off some chatlogs for your trouble. It's legal, it's easy, it makes you rich, and it makes pubbies cry!
So: scam everything, and carry on. If you're new to scamming, check out the Letters of Marque subforum! https://goonfleet.com/index.php?/for...-and-reprisal/So what's the truth? Is Goonswarm changing its culture to be more anti-bot/anti-RMT or are members just supposed to turn a blind eye to bad activities, although if a member betrays his brothers to CCP nothing will happen as long as the Judas remains silent about his treason?
*** This was a broadcast from the_mittani to all-all, replies are not monitored ***
To find out I started asking around looking for someone from Goonswarm to answer some questions. At first I just wanted confirmation that the policy I found on Kugutsumen was true. Not only was the story true but I found out the background of why the policy change took effect.
Remember the scenario I referenced at the beginning of this post of the new player having CCP Sreegs take away all his money and leaving him with a negative balance? That actually happened. The person who told me the story didn't know if the newbie purchased ISK himself, received illicit ISK as a loan or received the ISK as a gift. From the stories I've heard about Goons they tend to shower their new players with ISK if they do something praiseworthy or even funny. But in March CCP Sreegs began his first big anti-RMT sweep of the year and this new player suffered the consequences.
Here is the story I was told:
"This came about pre-Fanfest 2012, during March, when one of our newbees got hit with a negative wallet. You see, there was one individual [according to posts on Kugu this was Elusif] who would go around when admins weren't paying attention, advertising isk for sale in squad channels on Jabber. He was usually immediately kicked from whatever squad channel he did it in, by an admin or squad leader. Squad leaders and Mentors complained to directors about it, but since our Jabber server (openfire) doesn't log PM's, they didn't have any hard proof that he was actually selling anything. The newbee getting nailed with the negative wallet was the straw that broke the camels back. Up until that point, we had common sense policies that basically outlined that you didn't do anything to get yourself or any of your fellow goons banned. Selling isk or characters for real life money was one of those understood things, that you don't do, but the aforementioned individual limped along somehow. He served as a broker between the Chinese botters spread out across Eve and the end customer. That policy announcement finally put the final nails in his coffin, and he's now out of business completely."I've given Andski a hard time so far for his posting, but I should point out that he is in charge of the mentors and was probably among those fighting to end the sale of RMT'd ISK in the Jabber channels. Given that history I can see how the whole "Goons are a bunch of botters/RMTers" would get on his nerves.
Do I think the Goons are a bunch of choir boys when it comes to botting? I don't think any major null sec alliance can credibly make that claim, which is one of the reasons I live in low sec. But I highly doubt that GSF leadership is involved in any major botting operations. With all the money available from moon goo and PI taxes I'm not even sure how necessary the rank and file feel the need to bot. I don't know how the hive distributes funds, but Rifters are pretty cheap.
Do I think they are serious about ending, or at least severely hampering, illicit RMT operations within the alliance? I think a faction exists in GSF that opposes the practice. How much influence they have I don't know. I think the top leadership was heavily encouraged to make the new policy due to the effectiveness of Team Security's efforts, but they apparently are moving in the right direction. Who wants to serve as an example when CCP Sreegs comes out with his next dev blog? I'm pretty sure The Mittani wants to avoid that honor.
Perhaps the most important point of all: what about the new members? I think if rules are in place that tell them that botting and illicit RMT are bad that at this point in Eve's history that's a victory. The truth is that no matter what Team Security does, botting and illicit RMT sales will continue until the culture among Eve players is that players are ashamed to admit to breaking the EULA. The old bittervets used to the old ways are probably a lost cause but if new players are instilled with the right attitudes we can see a better world with a lot fewer bots. The fact that one of Eve's largest alliances has put rules like this in place is a hopeful sign.