Friday, March 16, 2018

The CSM 13 Election Season Begins Monday

What I deem the EVE silly season, known to players who know about the event as the Council of Stellar Management elections, officially kicks off this year on Monday, 19 March. Once again, I plan to cover the event both here on The Nosy Gamer as well as on my election campaign coverage site CSM Wire. But before getting into my planned coverage, I probably need to cover what the heck a CSM is first.

The Council of Stellar Management is a body of 10 players chosen by the EVE player base to “represent” the players to the game’s developers. I used scare quotes because CSM members do not have the same type of power as a legislative body in a Western-style democracy. Think Beijing, not Westminster.

In other words, the CSM does not get to dictate the developmental roadmap of EVE Online. In some respects, the CSM acts as a player focus group, with the development staff bouncing ideas off the members. The most visible sign to the player base are the two summits between CCP and the CSM held every year in Reykjavik, Iceland. The CSM and CCP also hold weekly meetings where they also discuss issues, with the meetings recorded for later viewing by those unable to attend due to real life concerns such as work.

Unlike a normal focus group, the CSM maintains in contact with the developers year-round (or at least when the office isn’t vacant due to the staff going on holiday). In addition to text chat, the CSM has access to the developers’ Confluence, CCP’s internal wiki.

Where the term representative comes closer to the ideal of a representative body is when the CSM interacts with the players. The members of the CSM often act as a communications conduit between CCP and the players, explaining actions in ways that CCP’s messaging sometimes sugarcoats. Members also reach out to the player base looking for feedback on certain areas that CCP may explore in the future.

The members of the CSM are elected to a one-year term in an election based on a modified Wright single transferable vote system. Players with a subscribed account (aka Omega accounts) may vote for up to 10 candidates, with an algorithm determining the winners. Players can cast as many votes as they have subscribed accounts. Theoretically, a player running a 100 account skill point farm could vote 100 times.

This year, CCP changed the timeline of the election. Instead of holding the election in February or March and announcing the results at Fanfest, the official kick-off of the campaign begins at Fanfest with the announcement of the candidates. The application period only runs for five days, from 19-23 March. Firm dates for the election itself are not available, but the announced time frame is sometime in late April or May. Afterwards, the CSM will onboard during the traditionally quiet summer season when the CCP staff are off on holiday.

My planned coverage on the blog is to try to explain some of the details around the election. For example, the single transferable vote is pretty complex and a turnoff to a lot of people. As for CSM Wire, I will only include those candidates who post in the campaign thread on the official forums until the official candidate list is announced at Fanfest. Since the instructions to candidates suggests making a post, I hope candidates start posting as soon as they apply and don't wait until the Fanfest announcement. I currently don't plan on updating the site while I am in Reykjavik with new candidate pages. Deleting a page is easy. Creating pages takes some time, and I'd rather spend that time running around Iceland and talking to people I only get to see once a year.

Currently, 7 candidates have posted campaign threads, with several current CSM members yet to publicly declare. I expect to see a lot more people running this year, as many candidates are working behind the scenes trying to gather support. To everyone running, good luck!

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