"Chribba? How many fleets has he got?"
With all the talk of the imminent invasion of Jita, death squads and a campaign of terror aimed at the innocent miners of New Eden, one could be excused for thinking that Eve Online is a dark, dangerous game full of sociopaths. But that image hides the many good people whose influence comes not at the point of an autocannon or blaster but through their good works and integrity. Perhaps the most famous example of the use of soft power in Eve is Chribba.
Chribba is the carebear's carebear, disdaining scamming and ganking for mining veldspar. Instead of feasting on tears, he provides services like Eve Files, Eve Off-line and Eve Agents to the player base. And his reputation for honesty has enabled him to run a 3rd-party service that facilitates major transactions like super-capital sales. This reputation has enabled Chribba to become fabulously wealthy and, for a time, a sov holder in New Eden's cutthroat world of null sec politics.
How did a carebear in a one-man alliance wind up owning space in null sec? When Ushra'Khan pulled out of Providence they didn't want to abandon Unity Station in 9UY4-H so they gave it to a neutral party: Chribba. He actually managed to run the place for over a year as the occasional challenger for control would be run off by Chribba's fans and well-wishers.
This past November, however, the story came to its inevitable conclusion. Test Alliance Please Ignore eventually decided that they wanted to remove Chribba from his station to avenge themselves against CCP for its banning of beloved pilot HurrDurrHurr. If the rationale doesn't make sense, don't worry, we're talking about TEST. Nothing they do has to make sense. However, with Chribba offering coffee and kladdkaka to those who would stop by during the fighting, TEST delayed their attack.
Judging by the facts of the campaign, TEST, consisting of thousands of players, was extremely weary of attacking a single player who refuses to fight other players in space. First, the attack was delayed until Chribba had flown off to the U.S. to visit Mintchip. Next, when the attack did go in, it was spearheaded by a Pandemic Legion super-cap fleet led by Shadoo. When a response fleet attempted to halt the attack, Pandemic Legion stopped them with ease.
Pandemic Legion against Chribba may seem a bit lopsided. After all, how many fleets does Chribba control? The problem for attackers is: they don't know. Chribba's military power is based on those who wish to come and help him. That works against smaller opponents, but when a major null sec power wanted his system they took it. Of course, Chribba had already signaled he wouldn't mind losing the system. He also had already stated he would not hold any attacks against alliances who wished to purchase super-capitals using his 3rd party service. So Chribba really didn't wield the full extent of his accumulated soft power. A smart move as now anyone thinking about moving against Chribba still has that worry about how many fleets he can summon.