Thursday, January 3, 2013

Don't Petition Blues

So why do new players quit Eve Online?  Jump into low sec and lose a ship to a gate camp?  Mining is SO boring?  CCP Sreegs takes all their money and leaves red numbers in their wallets?  Okay, me thinking about players receiving a punishment for buying illicit ISK isn't a big surprise.  So what took me down the rabbit hole this time?

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.

Thank you.
(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!

*** This was a broadcast from the_mittani to all-all, replies are not monitored ***
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?

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.


  1. The same rule exists in TEST and when CCP Sreegs came out with the "Blow up botting POS" idea, I made a forum topic about it. They gave the same explanation "we can't catch you reporting blues but we want no drama" so it's probably not just for the outside world. I've never seen OPEN support of botting while in TEST which of course doesn't prove that there aren't bots.

    By the way, have you heard of the New Order of Highsec ( It's a player-made initiative to gank ice mining bots. I've joined, it's fun and it's also effective. Ice belts with 100+ silent "miners" go empty after a day or two patrolling.

    1. Gevlon doing something because it's fun? Where's the margin in it, Gev? Next you'll be rolling an alt named Arthasdklol :smug:

  2. It's probably worth pointing out that there's been a policy against petitioning other goons for almost forever. It's not new, nor is it botting related. Originally it will have been in place to stop more 'sensitive' goons petitioning casual racism, or WW2 jokes or porn or anything else objectionable which goes on in game chat channels, which occasionally happened (the petitioning, not the casual racism or porn, that happens always)

    There is a distinctly negative attitude towards anyone doing RMT or botting inside gf itself. Anyone doing so would likely be labelled stupid and abused mercilessly. Money shouldn't be a problem for anyone inside gs - nullsec can make you money easily, hubs etc. Our reimbursement program means that PVP is essentially free, and if you fly support ships, profitable.

    Also it's worth noting that RMT drama has had a serious negative impact on the alliance previously, notably with the crap that resulted in the schism with certain factions of the russians, which also caused the decline of RA. There is a low tolerance for that shit at a high level.

    As a personal aside, i've never seen anyone selling or offering isk for $ in any gs channel, in many many years i've been in the alliance.

  3. Until very recently I was in the HBC where we recently had a drama over petitioning blues. Some person(s) were petitioned for linking porn in Local which prompted Beffah to write an official thread entitled Be Excellent to One Another. She stated that as a community we shouldn't pick on each other and that dodgy links in Local are a time-honored Eve tradition and that if you don't want to see porn you shouldn't click links.

    I think the policies of null sec alliances are determined by their context. It's very hard to keep a big alliance or coalition together, it's always within a hair of serious fracture. Therefore the expedient approach is to be very laissez faire and ask for tolerance. Let people do what they like and call out people who restrict freedoms.

    That simply arises from the difficulty of keeping 25000 people blue to each other without too much friction. The alternative approach, a list of unacceptable behaviour backed up by punishments would be hell to administer not least because players would game it. (Eg troll someone into insulting you then report them to alliance or CCP authorities).

    From there we have to conclude that coalition and alliance leaders are the worst people from whom to seek moral direction as the needs of the job prevent them from practicing ideals. The Mittani attempted it with his Cultural Revolution but people ignored him and he gave up rather than mass kick people.

    But yeah I don't think the Dont Report Blues rule is there to protect botters and RMTers - that's just a side effect of a policy necessary to keep thousands of cats herded.

  4. What about the RMT ad I saw on The Mittani, well after April last year.

    1. It would have to be well after April since didn't begin until August :)

      The fact that didn't have their act together to block those types of ads doesn't surprise me. I don't know exactly how Google Ads works but the site operator has to do something special to keep undesirable ads off their site. I put it down to The Mittani and gang not knowing all of the pitfalls of running a site rather than to any malicious intent.

      As far as I know the gold selling ads stopped appearing on in August no more than two weeks after launch. And as often as I visit shady sites doing research, if they didn't have the blocking in place I would definitely see the gold selling ads.