To be clear, I don't believe the CSM itself is broken. I don't think the CSM members past or present have done anything inappropriate with one notable exception. I don't think any of the current candidates are or will to anything "bad." There is no wrong doing on anyone's part and I still plan on voting. It is the concept of the CSM within Eve Online that is broken, not the CSM as a body.
That said, what is broken about this concept? To understand that, we need to understand what the CSM is as it stands today. We must work through the CSM as a reality rather than an abstraction. And, we need to understand that abstraction before we even begin to analyze the reality.
That is not circular logic. All three points of view I wrote about in my last post share a common ideal of what the CSM is. It is the abstraction of the CSM they all agree upon. In fact, the abstraction of the CSM is precisely what CCP says it is.
"The Council of Stellar Management (CSM) is a player-elected council to represent the views of the players to CCP."If you ask every employee of CCP, and every CSM candidate, and every person who votes for a CSM candidate, they will all tell you the same thing. The CSM is a player-elected council. As I said in part one, that is what they all agree on. That is also the abstraction everyone holds in their consciousness when discussing CSM related issues.
That is not what we have. What we have is much different than the democratic ideal of players sending representatives to CCP to have a voice in the governance of Eve Online. We don't even get close to that ideal. In order for the reality to match the abstraction, we would have to have a majority of players vote. That has never happened.
In the last election, the voter turnout was only 16.63%. It was the best voter turnout that a CSM election has ever seen. That is less than one in five players of Eve Online. It is nowhere near a majority of the electorate. If less than one in five players are voting, WE DO NOT HAVE A PLAYER-ELECTED COUNCIL.
And the first thing that popped into most of your minds was the word "alt." The voter turnout only seems so low because most players have at least one alt. It is probably more likely that most players have more than one alt. If most players have a main and two alts, then each voter is actually three and therefore we had over 49% participation in the election. That counts as a solid majority in most parliamentary governments in the world today.
That is also a big, fat, red herring. Alts, so long as they are on a separate account, get just as many votes as mains. If a person has five accounts, under the last election's rules, they got five votes. And I am certain that if a player votes with one account they are far more likely than not to vote with all accounts.
In fact, the alt argument works against the abstract concept of what the CSM is. If one player votes three times, and there were only 16.63% of eligible votes cast, then divide by three to get the number of players who really voted. That's less than 6% of all Eve Online players if you assume non-voters are new to the game and only have one account. I believe that is a safe assumption so I am going to use it. That also lines up nicely with voter turnout before CCP started allowing one vote per account rather than person.
So how can we say we have a player-elected council to represent what players want, when as few as one player in five at best, and one in 20 at worst, actually votes? We can't. What do the other four or 19 players want? Nobody knows. They didn't vote. The only thing we can be certain of is that they are NOT represented by the CSM.
So if in reality we don't have a player-elected council, what do we have? We have what every government has when people with insufficient public support seek greater influence on the laws that govern them. We have lobbyists.
But the CSM isn't employed by anyone you argue. Aren't they though? By U.S. tax laws at least, perks are considered compensation. And since when do all lobbyists work for money? Bono lobbies governments around the world to end hunger. Is he paid for that? No, he does it out of a sense of responsibility and compassion. He lobbies for those who can't afford to hire a lobbyist. But he is still a lobbyist. And isn't sending another to plead for what you hold most dear using a lobbyist in its purist form? If you say no, you should go talk to the NRA. The only question that really remains is for whom does the CSM lobby most: CCP or the players?
Now do you believe the CSM concept is broken? It isn't what anyone thinks it is. And though it does function well as a body of lobbyists, it can't truly be considered player-elected when it doesn't represent the vast majority of players. The question is, what's a game company like CCP to do about it? And more importantly to me, what's a player base to do about it? That's part three.