Monday, September 17, 2012

The Bully Pulpit And CSM 7

On Saturday Ripard Teg's long-awaited appearance on a podcast finally occurred.  Declarations of War #33 is the podcast of the Noir. Mercenary Group, who's CEO, Alekseyev Karrde, sits on the current Council of Stellar Management.  In some ways I was disappointed that CSM chairman Seleene and CSM Vice-Secretary Hans Jagerblitzen also appeared on the podcast.  Not only did that set up a 3-on-1 against Ripard, but I wanted to see what the regular DoW crew would perform with such an interview.  Alek's podcast style reminds me a lot of former Massively Editor-In-Chief Michael Zenke in that on his own podcast he tries to stay professional put on others he lets it all hang out.  Zonk was a bit better at it than Alek, which is why I wanted to see what would happen.  As it was, fireworks happened.

DoW #33 is a 2 hour podcast and reviewing the whole thing would require several posts.  The podcast just contained too much information.  But the one segment that stuck in my head occurred early on (13:20 - 16:24) and concerned what Ripard called "the bully pulpit".  I'll let you read the transcript before continuing.

Ripard Teg - To my mind the CSM is not using all of the various communications avenues that are immediately open to them.  And then even outside of that I think CSM6 really pioneered the aspect of using the CSM as a bully pulpit to get gaming media involved, get the larger gaming websites involved in terms of seeing Eve.  There were many many more interviews with CSM members outside of the Eve community with CSM6 than there have been in CSM7.

Hans Jagerblitzen - Do you feel that is an important tactic to use the bully pulpit, I mean, do you think that is an appropriate response...

Ripard - Absolutely.  Absolutely.

Hans - Regardless of what is actually going on with CCP at the time?

Ripard - Absolutely.  The more things are going well with CCP the more the bully pulpit should be used.

Alekseyev Karrde - I would be curious as to what we should be using it on.

Seleene - Yeah.  What exactly are we supposed to be saying?

Ripard - Take your pick.

Seleene - Okay.  Tell me.

Ripard - Two Step is out there and is doing a terrific job singing to anybody who will listen about the POS restructure, getting various players involved and excited about what is going on with POSs.  I think that would be a terrific thing to take to the gaming websites and saying this is what we're looking at doing.  We're building player owned spacestations.  For the first time they are truly going to be player owned, they are going to be customizable at the player level.

Seleene - But you see there is a problem with that.  Which is we don't know 100% that that is exactly what is going to happen.

Ripard - Who cares?

Seleene - Oh.

Ripard - The idea of using this type of bully pulpit is to get people excited about the game.  You guys are our representatives out there.  You're supposed to be getting people excited about the game.

Seleene - I don't really feel like it is our position to start spreading a bunch of information that's not confirmed or even possibly true.

Ripard - Then stick with factual stuff. Stick with the ship rebalances that are coming out.  Stick with all the Inferno updates.  Stick with stuff that's out.

Alek - Here's the thing, though.  We are not CCP's marketing department.

Ripard - Are you sure?

Seleene - Yeah, pretty sure.

Alek - We're pretty sure.

Seleene - We're pretty damn sure. That's why I wish you had made it onto CSM6.

Ripard - Which part of CCP does CCP Xagen report to?

Seleene - He reports directly to John Lander, the senior producer.

Ripard - Yes, but what is his department?

Seleene - He's basically head philosopher.

Ripard - (laughs) Unless it's change the CSM starting with CSM6 has been part of Community Relations.

Seleene - Hey guys...

Alek - Which is not CCP Marketing.

Seleene - ...we're all part of Community Relations, did you all know that?

Alek - I would argue that if you want to talk functionally that's true.  But Community Relations is also not their marketing department.

At this point I don't know if this portion is a troll by Ripard.  I really don't.  But going on the assumption he was serious, let me just make a few points.

1.  I think that when referring to the term "bully pulpit" Ripard's definition is a bit different than what everyone else, including myself, thinks the term means.  In the original definition, the bully pulpit is available to someone because of the position or office the person holds.  The three CSM members, (and myself) thought of the definition of the term as it has morphed over the years, at least in the U.S.  Nowadays a president uses to bully pulpit to go over the heads of Congress to make a case to the public.

The fact that Ripard was referring the CSM6 and The Mittani's going to the mainstream gaming media did not help clarify matters.  Outside of his Ten Ton Hammer column, when The Mittani went to the MGM it was to go over the heads of CCP to put popular pressure on senior management.  Mittens was not going around pimping new features for Eve, at least that I can recall.

2.  Ripard's cavalier attitude towards accuracy is a bit disturbing.  As an institution the CSM gained some credibility with its performance during Monoclegate last year.  The CSM handing out bad information would lead to a loss of effectiveness and even potentially harm the game.  For example, what if the CSM started handing out inaccurate information that the developers had told its members was not guaranteed to make it into a patch or expansion.  Wouldn't that hurt the working relationship between the CSM and CCP?  And then if the feature did not appear, wouldn't players then rage against CCP (and the CSM) for not getting a promised feature?  And if the MGM gets enough bad information, wouldn't the sites stop listening to the CSM?  Providing accurate information is even more important for the CSM than for bloggers.

3.  One of the most popular ways to diminish the CSM is to call it an arm of the CCP Marketing Department.  The fact that such a prominent member of the Eve blogosphere as Ripard Teg is making such a statement is not going to help fight that perception.  But if Ripard wanted to get under people's skins, I think he succeeded.

4.   Ripard stated, "You're supposed to be getting people excited about the game."  I totally reject that view.  The CSM's job is to help make sure that CCP doesn't screw up the game like almost happened last year.  That is why formalizing the stakeholder status is so important and why CSM7 is making that such a high priority.  Ideally the CSM and CCP will work together and we will see very little drama in the future.  With the player input coming from the CSM, the content should excite players, not any cheerleading from the CSM.  Let CCP Pokethulhu earn his salary.

The above came out of a three minute segment of a 129 minute podcast.  I'd encourage people to go check out Declarations of War #33.  And don't forget the popcorn.


  1. Nice write up. It sums up one of the MANY segments where, as you say, we often wondered if we were being trolled or not. I think that's not Ripard's honest intent, but his near continual avoidance of podcasts or live interviews of any kind makes it hard to tell. I'm hopeful that I will have another opportunity to engage him before he hides back behind the wall of words on his blog again.

    1. I don't think that words are necessarily a wall that is hidden behind. Not everyone is going to be into live interviews or podcasts. I know I'm not.

      I was disappointed when I learned, through this blog, that most of the CSM communication was available in a format that I avoid like the plague.

      I've become quite interested in some of the CSM communications but the media outlet of choice has made the acquisition of information hard.

    2. Some don't, Sugar. Jester does. But your point is well taken and something I am actively working on fixing. It's a combination of CCP allowing us to talk about certain things and CSM getting that information out in as many ways as possible.

    3. I understand. I'm not one to defend Jester but I am one that loves words.

      I'm glad that there are more formats for people but it seems to have swayed more towards one direction. In an attempt to be fair and peek beyond my little I want bubble, I suspect that the availability of video and audio formats has opened up things for a lot of people.

      I just fear its closed several doors behind it.

    4. There are CSM bloggers as well, I'm just not one of them. Not my "thing," so i do podcasts and Twitter instead.

  2. Interesting look at that exchange.

    As far as the 3-1, it was ORIGIONALLY going to be me, Turtle, Ripard and Hans (who knows a lot about Ripard's writing and the Jesters Trek community, and has talked with them through the blog comments). Seleene was a last minute idea, but I checked with Ripard ahead of time to make sure if it would be OK with him. He said it was so we went.

    DoW can get heated sometimes but it's definitely not supposed to be an ambush. Even if I bring on guests I know are going to provide strong contrasting views, I want them to be comfortable to do so. If Jester had told me no or that he thought the situation would be too unfair, I'd have slammed the door on Seleene (sorry Mark ;p).

  3. Someone needs to create more transcripts for those of us who avoid podcasts or live interviews. :P