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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What's in a Name?

CCP has a naming policy. It can be found here. Recently CCP made some changes to the policy which they outlined here. It was a short post so I'll quote it leaving out the preamble, etc.
"First, we changed the name of the policy from “EVE Online User and Character Name Policy” to “EVE Online Naming Policy” in order to better fit the actual purpose it serves. Then, we changed the heading of section 2. from “CHARACTER NAMES” to “IN-GAME NAMES” so that it is made clear that the policy covers much more than just the names of characters.  As further clarification of this, section 2. b. has been expanded to say:

“In-game names include, but are not limited to: Character names, corporation names, alliance names and any other player-nameable item or entity within the game world.” 
Also, we have added section 2.c. which states:

“c. No player may use the character name of another player to impersonate or falsely represent his or her identity.  Player created corporation and alliance names also fall under this policy, as does any other in-game entity named by players”
I have emboldened and underlined the change that really caught my attention. This is a far reaching change. Think of all the things you name within Eve Online. If you are like me, you name things practically  e v e r y  -  s i n g l e  -  d a y.  All of that activity now falls under the purview of this policy. What does that mean in practical terms? What can we use and not use?

To answer that question we need to look at all of section 2.b:
"b. In-game names may not:
  • Impersonate or parody any employee or representative of EVE Online, CCP, Customer Support personnel or volunteers.
  • Impersonate or parody an NPC type from the EVE game world (i.e. CONCORD or other official NPC corporation or organization members) for the purpose of misleading other players.
  • Reflect, glorify or emulate any real-world group or organization, terrorist society, criminal elements, discriminating organizations or their leaders and figureheads. This includes the use of names of real-world military, political or religious groups.
  • Be obscene, vulgar, sexually explicit, offensive, hurtful, harmful, promote drugs, profane, anti-gay, and ethnically, racially or sexually offensive or impart any real-world hostility toward a specific nationality, race or religion.
  • In-game names include, but are not limited to: Character names, corporation names, alliance names and any other player-nameable item or entity within the game world."
The last point is the new addition to this list. Above it are the specifics. It is standard business practice to ban all of the types of terminology identified. This list could have come straight out of my company's HR policy handbook. Indeed, I have written such paragraphs for the online usage policy of said handbook.

In a culturally progressive society this is what responsible people do. The additional language clarifying the policy includes ALL items players can name is a long overdue clarification. I especially applaud the banning of sexually explicit and offensive terms. I can only hope this extends to the word "rape" in all of it's current juvenile and blatantly offensive manifestations. Names like "rape cage" and "mega rapist," promulgations of which I have seen in game many times, make light of tragedies the authors of such names clearly have never undergone themselves or been exposed to through a loved one. These are not adjectives, they are affronts to all that is decent. I report such names to CCP at every opportunity. I only wish CCP did something about them. Perhaps they will now. Only time will tell.

But CCP has certainly left the option open. Further down they state:
"b. Blatantly offensive names created in direct violation of the EVE Online Terms Of Service and the User and Character Name Policy will not be eligible for name change approval under any circumstances. These characters and their assets will be immediately deleted upon discovery and disciplinary action may be taken against the player’s account."
This draconian response is also possible for a violation of the Terms of Service. I had to go there to find even more reasons a player could have their character and assets immediately deleted. You know, as I read down through the ToS again, as it'd been a long time (almost 5 years in fact) since I'd actually read it, I was surprised at how many things were listed I see violated on a weekly basis (and almost a daily basis while I lived in high-sec.) For example,
"9. You may not advertise, employ, market, or promote any form of solicitation – including pyramid schemes and chain letters – in the EVE Online game world or on the website."
When I go to Jita and someone there is spamming their new Eve Online oriented gambling site, does it not violate item number nine? What about the last clause of item number one?
"or implying favoritism by a CCP Employee."
How many times have I read something alluding CCP Soundwave promotes Goonswarm's agenda? Doesn't that fall under this provision too?

The answer to those questions, and others, is "maybe." The definitions are broad for a reason. It gives CCP the latitude to act on irresponsible and offensive behavior without having to react to every single incident of anything. It allows them to be selective.

But there is a danger there. The danger is they will be seen to show the favoritism they attempt to ban mention of by their policy. That is no way to run a business. We are CCP's customers. They are obligated to treat all of us equally regardless of who we are, etc., etc., etc. They came down hard on Alexander “The Mittani” Gianturco. But was that because they deliver "blind justice" which cares not for a person's status or station, or because it was a very public and embarrassing transgression? 

What about the less than congratulatory responses about the announcement of CCP Mint Chip? If you don't think there are inappropriate things being said about that you need to go read reddit, since the official forum post about it had to be removed.  And looking at that short reddit search result, it's evident to me perhaps CCP can, when motivated, enforce their policies - even outside Eve Online. But again, did they only do it because it was publicly embarrassing or because it was the right thing to do?

Make no mistake, I am thrilled the CCP and reddit admins acted so quickly in regards to this. What was being done, and is still being done, in regards to CCP Mint Chip is inexcusable and in my home state illegal as well. And I believe CCP's response to last year's affront by Mr. Gianturco was also appropriate. But what I am not thrilled about is this does not happen every time, regardless of visibility. 

The world is full of enough hate to fuel the fires of war until our sun novas or we wipe ourselves out. I play Eve Online to escape that hate if only for a short time. But when people drag their hate, or just there inconsiderate and thoughtless bigotries, into the game it makes me want to leave. CCP has to realize this. Otherwise, why would they have recently revised their policy on naming? It only remains to see if they will act on it. Here is my unsolicited advice CCP. Go for it. Start changing names and delivering temporary bans on first time offenders. Let your customers know they can PvP all they want, so long as it is in a ship and nothing other than "good fight" and other such pleasantries are said in local. Take a stand against offensively insensitive terms like "rape cage" and you will make a name for yourself, and it will be a good one. It will be a name of which you can be proud. A name I will be proud to support.

Fly Careful


24 comments:

  1. It all comes down how much YOU would give up for these ideals. I mean if your alliance would insist on using the term "rape cage" and call reds "nigger faggots", would you quit them if they'd refuse to stop it?

    I wrote about the theoretical "Anti Filthspeak League" http://greedygoblin.blogspot.hu/2013/06/pixel-war-on-sexism-racism-and-other.html which does note exist because it's just easier to turn a blind eye.

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    1. You hit a nail on the head there. But it is not so simple. Yes, I hear things like this on my alliance channel. No, I do not personally approve. And yes, I've considered leaving because of it though I have never before voiced this concern. But I wrote the post so now I have to tow the line. Here's the problem, it isn't just about me. If it were, I'd have been gone already. But it is also about my corporation and its needs. To them I have made my preferences known and they have apologized and adjusted their behavior, at least in my virtual presence. And because of that, I owe them more than the finger and "see you later" because a few members in my alliance say things I don't like (a definite minority.) Also, I have heard alliance leadership come down on people for abusive language. But the "rape" term is my own personal windmill. My sister was molested as a child and I have very close frieds who have been raped as adult women. It is not an adjective, it is an assault on the very core of a person's being. It is an attempt to kill their soul whether the perpetrator knows that or not. But the usage of that word as an adjective has not been categorized as sexually offensive by legal authorities or CCP - yet. I have no legal legs to stand on when I make an issue of it in comms. Only a fool starts a battle he cannot win. It only insures he'll never have a chance to fight the battle when he can win it. I can't win the adjective battle today. I'll bide my time until I can.

      Delete
  2. Their policy goes way to far in my opinion and that is from a guy who has been known to sometimes get excited and type "fing" and "frack" in corporate chat. I guess free speech is too much for the sandbox. On the other hand thanks for bringing this to my attention. I'll be petitioning at least one post-gank miner a day. I get called everything but "white" on a daily basis. Now along with laughing at the tears, maybe I can work on permabans for them too.

    Gevlon's suggestion is much better. Let the players fight it.

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    1. You need to read item #1 in the ToS:

      "You may not abuse, harass or threaten another player or authorized representative of CCP, including customer service personnel and volunteers. This includes, but is not limited to: petitioning with false information in an attempt to gain from it or have someone else suffer from it; sending excessive e-mails, EVE-mails or petitions; obstructing CCP Employees from doing their jobs; refusal to follow the instructions of a CCP Employee; or implying favoritism by a CCP Employee."

      It will be you who gets the ban for excessive petitions. And Gevlon's suggestion of letting the players fight it is like saying two sides in a legal dispute should duel to decide who is right. That won't ever work, might does not make right.

      Delete
    2. No country in the world does include insults under the protection of free speech

      Delete
    3. He is not supplying false information, therefore he will not be banned.

      Delete
    4. I fail to see how petitioning clear violations of the TOS is bannable. No false information is needed. By the TOS hisec bears routinely engage in hate speech. By your suggestion I'll be helping clean up Eve for decent people.

      A far better option is to educate the players on how to block offensive players in local. I myself have a corpmate on permanent mute in TS because I find almost everything he says to be offensive. If he were ever to FC a fleet I'd skip the fleet.

      I understand a company needing to do what is legally required so they can stay in business. Their policy goes way beyond that.

      Delete
    5. This is a huge tangent, but here, read this: http://community.eveonline.com/support/policies/eve-banning-policy/. What you state you will now do has been tried before. Good luck with it. There will be no further comments approved about it on this post. It's off topic. Thanks.

      Delete
    6. No one needs to worry about truly incidental violations; CCP isn't going to be banning for accidentaluse of the word "fuck," or for momentary hot-headedness. The policy change should be a big clue that what they'll do is to start issuing more warnings.

      Children who can't HTFU or who otherwise forget that EVE is a game that every player wants to enjoy can be retrained by sensible and sensitive moderation. The policy only warns us, really, that we aren't going to get unlimited second chances.

      The free-speech red herring does not impress me, either.

      Delete
    7. Devs silencing them won't make them think. They will simply conclude that the evil devs stood on the side of the "nigger faggots". If players themselves defeat them, it force them to think, after all being defeated by "fags", "cunts" and "niggers" is the worst shame that can happen to a sexist/racist bigot.

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  3. And I will stand beside you, today and on that day.

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  4. The problem that is generated by regulating speech is that the regulation itself can very easily be abused and the parties being censored have no recourse since the action being taken (deletion) is irrevocable. Further, the policy of CCP to view any disclosure of their communications with a customer as a TOS violation is itself a draconian attempt by a multinational corporation to silence any dissent against their policies or the un-professional behavior of their employees.

    In a larger world context you have a substantial ignorant, abusive, and sometimes harmful population engaged in speech that a majority finds offensive but being offended is a small price to pay for having to empower someone that may or may not have your interests in mind when deciding who to censor.

    It is easy enough to say that you want to establish a baseline of language behavior you want to enforce (such as removing the word rape from the names seen in-game) that is largely viewed with favor by almost everyone. The problem is that in the policy you have outlined above CCP may want to eliminate the "rape" category of speech for the obvious PR reasons but it's also clear that the the other points being addressed are exceedingly vague because like all large organizations they like to have the legal backup to do whatever they like whenever they want to.

    As and example, this sounds reasonable - you cannot "Impersonate any employee or representative of EVE Online, CCP, Customer Support personnel or volunteers."

    This to me does not sound reasonable -- you cannot "Parody any employee or representative of EVE Online, CCP, Customer Support personnel or volunteers."

    See what breaking apart point #1 does. Do you feel you ought to deleted and banned because you made fun of a CCP employee. Impersonate - yes, Parody ?

    And on points #3 and #4 --- Reflect, glorify or emulate any real-world group or organization, terrorist society, criminal elements, discriminating organizations or their leaders and figureheads. This includes the use of names of real-world military, political or religious groups.

    and

    Be obscene, vulgar, sexually explicit, offensive, hurtful, harmful, promote drugs, profane, anti-gay, and ethnically, racially or sexually offensive or impart any real-world hostility toward a specific nationality, race or religion.

    What about the violations of CCP in creating a game universe that is based in part on racial violence, slavery, religious extremism, and terrorist acts and reprisals. CCP has in this policy a proposal to ban and delete every player engaging in role play within their own crafted narrative.

    All of this brings me back to beginning. Successfully dealing with these issues requires a commitment to open communications and transparency in dealing with censorship situations and issues which CCP with it draconian rules against disclosure is not capable of.

    It is possible to craft a policy which has reasonable guidelines to be enforced in-game and in forum communications, but this policy strikes me as a lawyer covering CCP's ass rather than something that is actually usable as a guiding document for players.

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    1. Relax...this policy isn't a constitution for a country, or a manifesto, or a policy for a news organization or a law. It doesn't have to strive to be all things or balanced or totally fair. It doesn't have to worry about such grand things as suppression of free speech or the "voice of the people." It's a broad warning that some things are not acceptable. Like a "no horseplay" sign at a swimming pool, it may not be enforced for all the little infractions, but gives CCP a sign to point to when they do have to eject someone for throwing little kids into the deep end. There is no debate needed or appeals courts and preservation of evidence required. It's a policy in a game that says CCP reserves the right to admonish or kick you out for doing things within their game that they find unacceptable for WHATEVER reason they find it unacceptable. The whole thing is not even required except as a customer service courtesy.

      Delete
  5. Piffle. Our freedom to utter wee-wee jokes is alive and well outside of the game and official forums. If your nefarious "multinational" steps on our right to say "your geh" only in the channels they own, what of it?

    You aren't V, and CCP isn't England.

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    1. As long as CCP wants to have paying customers, the'll HAVE to listen to their demands. Easy as that.

      Currently WE are their customers and some of us do not want to feel insecure about the EULA.
      In accordance with the EULA nearly everyone who posted about "Socksfour" may be banned. As may everyone who petitioned such posts.

      Clear rules are great - but the EULA hardly is clear.

      Delete
    2. Clear rules simply invite rules-lawyering. Context is all, so I am content with CCP's carrying a double-aught license...at lease right up to the point where I think I see abuse.

      The EULA is never going to be clear on any subject.

      Delete
  6. Look,its a really awful thing that happened to your sister and those you know. But the fact is people aren't making personal attacks on you by naming their spaceship the rape bus. Is it immature? Yes. Should they get banned? No.

    You and every other easily offended person need to realize that. My sister has down syndrome, and my mother gets seriously offended when someone says "retarded" within a ten mile radius. But the fact is people don't say it to make fun or be malicious. Its simply a word and while words can hurt, they can't if they're not directed at, or meant for you.

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    1. No one is going to be banned for using the rape adjective because it has not been deemed sexually offensive in terms of the policy. However, it offends me and I am not easily offended. What you don't understand, that I have seen first hand, is how the causal use of that word HURTS those who have had to endure the torture of rape. Those who use it casually have no idea the depths of pain the plumb when they throw out that word. It offends me because it is an inhumane word to use casually. It's worse than drowning puppies IMO because people do it to other people. But those who've never had to deal with rape lack the experience and the empathy to see the affect the rape adjective has on those who've been there for real. It's not that I am easily offended. It's that I don't like people who drown puppies, or think the rape adjective is okay to use. It isn't, and I'll be happy to continue to explain that to them. BTW, I also get offended when people call other people retarded. The mentally disadvantaged don't need to be compared with such low lifes.

      Delete
  7. CCP wants the ability to respond to abuse. The players are afraid CCP will abuse this.

    I have an apocalypse called 'Anorexic Aneurism'. Since I came up with the name I have been thinking about a better one because I feel this is a borderline case.
    Do you feel this name falls on the wrong side of the naming convention?
    I don't think CCP would undertake any action towards my ship name (unless a petition is filed by someone who feels the name is offensive).

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    1. Anorexia is a terrible affliction. However, it is a medical term and it is descriptive of the ailment. If I say you look anorexic you know exactly what I mean. As an adjective it conveys a particular vision. That's what metaphor is all about. What does the rape adjective convey? What is it in a metaphorical sense? That is what I object to. Your ship name 'Anorexic Aneurism' is fine. I see it as quite creative actually.

      Delete
  8. Mabrick,

    Most of your post are well thought out and technically excellant reads, but here with an opinion post I am very disappointed. Here again is yet another example of a person who "pays" thereby request permission to exist with in the virtual world that is EVE. You never want the rest of EVE to tell you how to play or exist within EVE but now you are trying to impose your will upon the masses. I greatly dislike some of the names AND characters that I unfortantely encounter within EVE but I understand it and I deal with it on my own or I dont log in. What I dont do nor do I want anyone else within EVE doing is telling any player how to play the game or how they are allowed to live within EVE. There are 'G' rated games that are available for play anytime I or you decide that EVE has too many adjectives in its vocabulary. Remember you pay to exist here and are allowed to change that if you chose.

    Sly

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    1. Sly, I could no more impose my will on anyone than you can. And I did point out the rape adjective is my own personal windmill. That's a Don Quixote reference BTW - tilting at windmills and all that - you know... Anyway, I'm sorry you're disappointed but them's the breaks. Not everyone can or will see it my way. That doesn't bother me.

      Delete
  9. Sly said it better than I could have. I greatly enjoy 95% of your blogs, but this one is way off. There are plenty of ways to block, ignore, or otherwise seperate yourself from people, places, voice comms, or names you don't like. The block button is there for a reason. you are free to trade, PvE/PvP, or do whatever in any area of space if you don't like something someone is doing. If all else fails, go to a wormhole and only associate with people on your "approved" list.
    Censoring speech is no different than stripping rights from a person. Freedom of speech comes from being a human, it is not granted by a government.

    EVE is a cold, dark, hostile place, and if someone wants to name their ship "I was raped" that's their choice. I personally find it repulsive, but it does not have any lasting effects on me, nor does it affect my gameplay. If it did, I would seek counseling, as I clearly have unresolved issues.

    Make no mistake, this war on speech by being politically correct does far more harm than good. We used to have free speech, and society would naturally build up a thick hide to deal with it. By not discussing it and indeed even hiding it, people do not evolve that thick hide, and it makes them weaker.

    Green Giant

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Be civil, be responsible and most of all be kind. I will not tolerate poor form. There will be no James Hooks here. We are all better than that.