One of the cornerstone features of EVE Online’s gameplay is the ability for players to group up in the thousands to accomplish a common goal. However, humans being the flippant creatures they are, whenever you get a large group of people together conflicts have a tendency to arise at a rather alarming pace. Due to this, any corporation worth its salt enlists the help of that dreaded group, the Internal Affairs department. TMC recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with the members of the KarmaFleet IA department about topics such as what it takes to manage a large corporation, catching spies and dealing with cultural clashes.TMC: Alright, so I think we should start this off with each of you giving a brief introduction as to who you are and what you do within KarmaFleet.
Uncle Pilot: Hi, I’m Uncle Pilot. When KarmaFleet started I moved over from one of the other Goonswarm Federation member corps to help out. Over the past few months I have done everything from recruitment to defining corp policies and managing corp roles. As the corp grew we realised that we we need to get more granular roles after which we created 4 departments with a Director heading up each one.
I head up the Internal Affairs department and I have two officers helping me out with the day to day running of the department. Internal Affairs deals with any internal problems in the corp with regards to spies, awoxing and other member disputes. IA also runs the plex for pvp program (where we hand out PVP prizes every month) as well as the free skillbooks program (where we give new players 200 odd skillbooks and +3 implants to get them started).
Any major issues gets escalated to me, but mostly the day to day stuff gets handled by the IA officers.
Vanilla Mooses: Hi, I’m Vanilla Mooses, an officer of Internal Affairs for Karmafleet. My roles can be summed up as such:
- Doing all the stuff Uncle Pilot is too lazy to do.
- Delegating all of the stuff I am too lazy to do to Celeste Esuna.
In all seriousness, I deal with a large amount of the “day to day” issues with members that do not require sudden and violent action. I assist in producing metrics that we use to run contests and evaluate line members based from, as well as assist in our Free Skillbook program. When I am not busy with all of this, you can probably find me in high-sec up to no good, as a SIG leader of the Goonswarm’s “Ministry Of Love”.
Celeste Esuna: Hi, I’m Celeste Esuna. Originally I was a recruitment officer before moving into Internal Affairs. I work a supporting role in ensuring that things go smoothly between corp members and taking care of any problems of that kind; mainly in the EU timezone. I also staff a few of the corp programs we have running such as the skillbook program, and occasionally keep information and competition threads on the forum updated.
Uncle Pilot: As you know goonswarm has a very unique culture. We don’t typically kick people for not fitting in with the culture but there have been extreme cases where this was necessary. From a line member perspective spies do not cause that much of a problem. Right now we have quite a few members that joined karmafleet to spy on us , but they have since decided to turn and spy on their original corporations / alliances. Roles are very segregated within Goonswarm and spies can typically not do a lot of damage.
Vanilla mooses: Of course. Spies are really no big deal, as getting a generic line member “spy” into a a Goonswarm member corp is not really something that affects us in any way. We purge the ones who get caught, and sooner or later it always becomes obvious. We love our spies!
Thankfully, we have the entire Goonswarm Federation behind us and have inherited their knowledge of how to set things up to minimize any potential impact that any “spy” might have. Access to anything is very tightly controlled, including access to information about access. Generally, we find “spies” cute and adorable, and don’t really waste our time with them, as there is no information they can access that is not already pretty much a matter of public record. Plus, the longer they spend trying to not get discovered as a spy is the more they end up having to help us to avoid detection, so it ends up being a win-win for everyone involved.
Celeste Esuna: Most of the ‘problems’ we take care of on a day to day basis are usually a result of people adjusting to life in null, with our recruiting policy it’s pretty common to get members who have no previous experience out here and so have no idea about how to use intel channels, how to move around, or how to get along with other corp/alliance members in this context. For many it’s also their first time dealing with an alliance that has the level of IT infrastructure that we have, so making sure they use it properly is a common task.
TMC: Okay, so what would you say are some of the most important qualities for someone to have if they want to try and get into Internal Affairs?
Uncle Pilot: The main thing I look for in an IA officer is the ability to communicate properly. IA officers need to deal with hard facts and not random accusations. In all of the time since IA has been active we have kicked less than 20 people(Other departments have probably kicked a bit more for various other things). All of the people that were kicked caused some harm to other line members either through their words in chat or by shooting blues.
Vanilla mooses: A history of an “eye for detail” is key. Someone who communicates very well with others regardless of RL cultural differences, and who is able to clearly bring up a issue with someone else in a diplomatic and disarming way. We want people who are knowledgeable about all aspects of EVE as well, as issues between members may involve aspects of gameplay that pretty much encompass the whole of everything that a pilot can do in EVE.
Celeste Esuna: Being methodical and having an analytical approach goes a long way. Being able to piece together what has happened in a situation from the evidence you have, and assessing plausibility or probability of whatever conclusion you come to from that evidence. Being able to spot problems or potential problems as they happen and getting a handle on them, knowing the relevant places to watch where problems are most likely to occur.TMC: What is the biggest problem that arises when you have an organization the size of KarmaFleet to look after?
Uncle Pilot: Mostly just to keep on top of everything that is happening. Karmafleet was incredibly lucky because from the onset, we joined one of the most organised alliances in all of eve. Goonswarm has been a great help in assisting us with organising our members from both an IT and content perspective.
Advice I can offer other corporations starting out is to have every single detail planned out before pressing the first accept button. Karmafleet has exceeded all of our expectations and we have had incredible growth over the past few months. We are now the 7th largest corp in Eve and we still continue to grow by hundreds of members every month. Honestly , even up to now allot of the stuff we figure out as we go and as issues arise.
Vanilla mooses: Not allowing people to “fall between the cracks.” In a group of this size, it’s easy to start working on a issue with a specific member and then totally forget about it as other issues that are more pressing at the time come up. Thankfully, we avoid most of the problems this would present by keeping very detailed notes that all of IA can view, allowing any of us to simply pick up a issue where one of us may have left off. A good database structure and very standardized ways of dealing with issues is a must for any group of this size.
Celeste Esuna: Communicating relevant information and making sure that everyone sees and understands it. We have good tools in place for getting any information out there, be it jabber pings or forum posts. With a corporation as large as ours, not everyone is equally as attentive or keyed into what goes on around them, so part of our job is spotting those that don’t seem to be in the loop and making sure they get into the loop – with our steady stream of new members this is always an ongoing process.
TMC: Now, this is the big question that everyone wants to know the answer to, If I were a spy, what would be the best way for me to go about my business without drawing the wrath of Internal Affairs?
Uncle Pilot: Be subtle about it, don’t ask in alliance channel why we are moving 20 titans to fountain (Yes we had a guy that did that and found out later he had a main in Black Legion) Be an active member in the corp and participate in fleets.
Ironically this is also all we want from our line members. To play eve and have fun.
Vanilla Mooses: Don’t be “too helpful”, don’t start asking for loans, access to sensitive information, or any roles of any kind. Most of our obvious spies make the mistake of thinking they have won the battle simply by getting a pilot into the corp, and simply sit inactive without ever taking part in anything, and are quickly purged.
Celeste Esuna: In terms of getting into a corporation or alliance, don’t try too hard. So when asked questions, don’t go into copious detail or give convoluted explanations, stick to the often given and often true stories, and try to keep your background details as clean as possible within reason, your corp history should be innocuous. For good measure throw in some newbie skills or do the tutorials/opportunities, a keen eye can catch a newbie from an experienced player out by looking at their skill training.
TMC: What process do you go through if it becomes clear that someone is going to be a problem for you, be it that they don’t fit in culturally or just have a very “special snowflakey” mentality?
Uncle Pilot: We always try and open a line of communication to the member in question. Get all of the facts together from all parties involved and then have a discussion within the IA/leadership team on the best way forward. We on purpose don’t have policies in place for most eventualities and deal with issues on a case by case basis.
Vanilla mooses: We employ a pretty gentle and “even-handed” approach. We refer them to various services and mentor programs that can help them learn how to fit in, and we will take them aside for one on one conversations. We never publically name and shame, and we do our best to help the special snowflakes. However, some snowflakes are so unique and special that even after multiple attempts to help them, we simply will give them a fair amount of time to evacuate their goods from our space before removing them.
Celeste Esuna: It depends on the exact nature of how they are incompatible. If it’s a case of an attitude problem, we’ll work with them and offer advice in ways for them to improve, and the way we deal with them from thereon will largely depend upon how they react to this advice. We keep a close eye on potential or previous problem cases, so we can usually tell if someone will become more trouble than they’re worth. It’s the same way with people who don’t culturally fit in, although these kinds tend to be a bit quieter than the special snowflakes and so a lot of the time we spot them by their lack of activity in corp social activities or alliance fleets, forums etc. There’s many ways to approach these cases, but being heavy handed rarely leads to good results.TMC: So I’m pretty sure a lot of us spend way more time than we really should playing EVE, but how much time would you say you devote per week to your position?
Uncle Pilot: It varies quite a lot depending on what’s going on but i’d say at least 20 hours a week. Not much of that time is spent in game though and I do find that my time for actually playing eve is a lot less. Mostly this time is spent making forum posts and discussing issues with IA and the rest of the director team.
Vanilla mooses: I spend an average of about 15 hours a week managing my position, and I really enjoy it. I’ll say “no comment” on how many hours I spend doing other things.
Celeste Esuna: Fifteen hours sounds about accurate, we often compare notes so there’s a lot of the time we’re working together on whatever it is, but there’s always things that can pop up at any time.TMC: How sure do you have to be that someone is a spy (or potentially harmful to the organization) before you pull the trigger and kick them?
Uncle Pilot: 99.999%, we don’t take the decision to kick people lightly and as previously stated we have kicked less than 20 people since karmafleet started. In a corp of 1800 people that is an insignificant number.
Vanilla mooses: As Uncle pilot stated, we need to be very sure. We don’t work based on rumor or anyone’s opinion. No one has ever had the trigger pulled on them for “probably” being a spy, that just means we need to dig deeper and establish very clear evidence. Of course, exceptions are made for those who are just so hyper suspicious that it’s safer to just not risk it, but those are very rare.
Celeste Esuna: We don’t like to burn someone if they are innocent, so the idea of probable danger while on paper sounds good isn’t so good when you consider the players behind the spreadsheet, and how you’d feel if someone booted you without solid grounds, to this end we collect copious details and bring a full investigation before committing to any course of action.
TMC: Alright, I think we’ll finish on a lighter note, without compromising opsec and all that other space wizardry, can you think of any interesting stories that you’d like to share from your time working in Internal Affairs?
Uncle Pilot: In the early days of KarmaFleet we literally had 50-100 applications a day, but only 3 people that could press the accept button. Eventually we just started hitting accept as quick as our mouse buttons would allow.
Somehow through all of this we recruited a well know player who is also a big goonswarm hater (not Gevlon the other one). There is still a great debate in the Director channel on who actually pressed his accept button but that is neither here nor there. A few minutes later we had five alliance diplomats messaging us asking us what we are doing. The guy was kicked soon after and still holds the achievement of being in KarmaFleet for the shortest period of time.
Vanilla mooses: During the early days of the group, we had a certain member who I will refer to as “K.” K was a very unique and special snowflake. No matter how many times you would link him well written guides that clearly explained how to accomplish the goals he had in EVE, he would invariably read about ten percent of the guide, and then adapt his own personal strategy to the task at hand, resulting in hilarious failures that simply left most people scratching their heads. To further complicate his issues, K was very hostile when others would point out what he was doing as wrong, and offer suggestions that would help him not repeat the same mistakes. His anger at anyone pointing out his mistakes grew more and more intense over time, and a really bad habit of some of the worst “smack talk” to hostiles who would come into the system and kill him started to emerge. It became a bit of a running joke at the time for us to to “demand respect” of each other in chat, as K proclaimed to be some military vet of some sort, and would not allow anyone to criticise anything he did. He would go on at length about how he was to be “respected”, and “demanded respect”, much to the amusement of everyone who happened to be online at the time.
After a couple weeks of trying to help him fit in, it became very obvious that K was just unable to listen to anyone, and the decision to remove him was made. He was given a week to evac his stuff and clear out. However, his anger over being removed made him decide that posting a full chat log between our CEO and members of the Internal Affairs team to the official EVE forums would be a good idea. Of course, after this happened, K was insta kicked from The Imperium and became red. Rather than fire sale his stuff, or take a risk trying to get it out of the area, he decided to simply quit the game as “no one respected him.” Before quitting for good, however, he contracted everything he owned to me (as well as sending me all of his ISK) and said that he wanted me to have it, as I was “The one “good” Goon who respected him”. Of course, all of his stuff and cash made a nice donation to the prize pool we use to provide shiny things to our members who go above and beyond to make the group better.
Celeste Esuna: As some may know, GSF has quite a few rules about what members can and can’t do in the interests of maintaining the happy space utopia that is Deklein. One of these is market manipulation and marking up prices on goods that have already been imported in, we like to call this ‘Goonfucking’. We get a lot of people who do this totally by accident and learn the score after being taken aside and explained to, since it’s so common in highsec, some new members are bound to do it. Sometimes they don’t respond too well. One such guy, who we’ll call “X,” decided that the best way to pursue his rational self interest in free market capitalism was to buy a bunch of items from the main trade hub and relist them at other stations for huge markups, and then when confronted in a friendly evemail by a director, to respond with a litany of shittalking and daring threats the likes of which is usually only seen in low budget youtube hip hop videos or South London’s Grime scene. Naturally this went down like a fart in a spacesuit and the guy was kicked shortly after. Of course, before he was kicked it turned out he had a bling fit carrier stuck in the station, no cyno alts, and some un-named goon made a boatload of ISK purchasing all of his stuff via firesale.
TMC would like to thank all of the members of the KarmaFleet internal affairs team for their time, those interested in learning more about KarmaFleet can be directed towards the KF_public channel ingame.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Worldshatter.