August 20, 2014

Updated: Echos inside Glass Houses: SOMERBlink and The Mittani Dot Com

I've found The Mittani's new open columns interesting (Traffic Control, Mitten's Mailbox).  The personality certainly shines through as well as the incisive mind and wit.  It's very appropriate to me that in the "Unknown Virgins" column he uses the Rumsfeld quote - it is a good quote and a good insight of Rumsfeld, even if you don't like him as a person.  It seems that Mittani shares a lot of characteristics with the administration that Rumsfeld embodies.  The first characteristic is that Rumsfeld was a very sharp political actor who is fully aware of just smart he is. The other prominent characteristic of that administration was something Mittani also appears to be promoting in his recent articles: groupthink.  Let's start with that one before we get into the recent drama with SOMER.

To exaggerate a bit, if you haven't lived your whole life in nullsec under the current sov mechanics then you aren't qualified to make suggestions on radically transforming that system.  Outside opinions need not apply.  The goal that many seem to agree with is to have more small-group action that has consequences, but if you're from the leading Eve area where small groups successfully have consequences (faction war) then you'll be sneered out of the conversation on TMC.  I can't say I've heard any great new ideas out of the nullsec echo chamber that has resulted - just a lot of whining about how CCP is ignoring null and nobody understands them.  That said, I find it genuinely interesting to hear about the details and the massive investment of time and effort (and neglect of RL) is needed to be a leader in a major sov war.  I can see why they feel that nobody but themselves can understand that.  It fits into another major theme of Eve where elitism is formed around pain - if we had to have all this pain then we must be better than you and you can only understand this game if you have our pain - therefore all new players should admire our dedication and respect out pain.  Perhaps they are so scarred by the experience that now they really can't see any way out of the mess.  On the positive side, I get the impression that the CSM and CCP in generation aren't limiting themselves in terms of ideas and input.

You can see this harder-than-thou attitude blending over to the discussions on the whole SOMER blink thing as well.  I think these big EVE media sites need to be careful where they tread here.  For instance, this section of the EULA has been quoted pretty prominently:

Section "Your Account"
Subsection "A. Establishing a New Account"
Paragraph 4:
"Accounts may not be used for business purposes. Access to the System and playing EVE is intended for your personal entertainment, enjoyment and recreation, and not for corporate, business, commercial or income-seeking activities. Business entities and anyone who is acting for or on behalf of a business or for business purposes may not establish an Account, access the System or play EVE. Accessing the System or using the Game for commercial, business or income-seeking purposes is strictly prohibited."

Hmm, is The Mittani Dot Com a business?  It pays out its writers in ISK, but it surely sounds like Mittani himself is making a living off of the website which means RL dollars.  Which has content paid for in ISK.  From some Eve Account. That's not allowed to be used for business purposes. Ooops.  Nice glass house you have there, Mittani, be a shame if something happened to it.

So now that we've determined that TMC violates the EULA (and does that make the Mittani an RMTer?), should we look on to the other sites like Crossing Zebras and Eve24?  The logical reply here is that these are fan sites.  They need RL money to pay their server bills, which probably run a pretty good shot given the traffic they get.  They can't afford to pay their writers in RL money and pay for the sites, so they do it in ISK, saving those writers from having to buy PLEX.  Ah, oops, there's that cross-over again between RL and in-game assets.

So is the problem one of scale?  SOMER was too successful and thus they get shut down.  Was it the tie to the commercial PLEX-sales through Markee Dragon?  There's a good quote here in the TMC article "SOMER Blink: The Myth of a Monolithic CCP":
"This acknowledgement that the bottom line is a reality is something that we as players have to keep in the back of our minds as we form our responses, lest we end up in a land of fantasy where servers are powered by goodwill alone and developers are paid in hugs." 
That same thing applies to fan sites too.

Now perhaps SOMER deserves to get burned for some of the past sins and the shady dealing that seems to be going on, but this issue isn't done.  There still aren't coherent rules that make this a stable place for TMC, Eve-Bet, or any number of other Eve fan sites.  It's not going to be easy to put together those rules either, but I wish CCP (and the CSM) the best of luck.

Edit: There sounds like there is an exception for the bit I discuss below.  In Somer's Come and Gone over on Crossing Zebras, there is mention that CCP has authorized the payment of ISK for services in some cases:
"The one exception to that rule, repeated by Falcon a few days ago, is that you’re allowed to trade ISK for services if they are related to EVE Online. So you’re allowed to trade ISK for things like artwork, killboard hosting, and various other projects. Sites such as TMDC, EN24, and CZ are allowed to pay their EVE writers in ISK in exchange for written EVE content. This process has been vetted and approved by CCP; and there are rules to what it does and does not cover."
This doesn't cover the "Business Account" question, but it does help cover some of the player media sites (though I'd guess Eve-Bet wouldn't count).

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