Self-Policing and Public Relations

2022-05-19

Art by Major Sniper

At 12:15 ET on March 23, Fraternity undocked over 30 Titans and a number of smaller ships. They then locked on to two of those Titans, Fraternity’s own, and blasted them into space dust. That’s right: Fraternity pointed the gun at their own Avatar and Ragnarok, and pulled the trigger. EVE has showcased a great deal of odd behavior over the years. Still, AWOXing one’s own Titans has to be some of the strangest. And it’s something that I don’t think got enough attention, likely because its significance wasn’t recognized.

“Why?” I thought. This Titan AWOXing comes only eight months after WWBII, and fifteen after the dreadful (or glorious depending on which side you were on) massacre that happened at M-2, in which so many PAPI Titans bit the dust. After such a loss, Titans became that much more important as nullsec military resources. That which is already rare got even rarer. Common sense says if you lost Titans on that day, get moving on replacing them. If you didn’t lose many or any, get moving on building more and pressing your arms race advantage. In this context Fraternity decommission two of their own. So again, why?

Sending a Message

Frost Ees OP’ YouTube channel recounted the event. She reported that the reason for the AWOXing was that Fraternity had identified the Titan pilots as RMTers. This instigated a blunt instance of self policing: “We caught you RMTing, and so we’re blowing you up; we’re blowing up that which you value most. We don’t care that it is ‘one of ours.’” The two pilots were unaware of the rough justice that awaited them; they were baited out of their hangers with the rest of their fellow’s Titans, saw their standings dropped, and watched their bars turn red at their fellows’ hands.

I wonder how long it took for those two pilots to realize what was happening. I wonder how they felt as they watched the explosions on their monitors. And I wonder if they saw it in high definition. Maybe whatever they were told to get them to undock prompted them to turn on potato mode. Maybe they watched their Titans explode in the lowest quality possible.

Fraternity was sending a message, but the crux of this piece is to ask the question: “who was the message for?” It certainly was partially for other Fraternity members. Fraternity members at large were told: “we don’t support RMTing. If you are caught, we will blow up your Titan for the offense. Hell, we’ll even blow up two.”

This isn’t the first instance of self-policing in EVE Online. Goonswarm famously conducted “cultural revolutions”. These punished offensive behavior and language among the group. Leadership also culled members who would not comply with the new standards of behavior.

Self-Policing

Self-policing is an important aspect of the game. It keeps individuals accountable to the group, and to the playerbase at large. And it demonstrates leadership’s adherence to principles. It is a way of cultivating better communities, and reducing the worst elements of the internet among your ranks. It ultimately strengthens one’s community by making people safer; they worry a little less that they are going to be called that word, or that term. Finally, it also makes members of a self-policed community worry less that they are going to be embarrassed by someone.

The Cultural Revolutions

Goonswarm caught a lot of flak for some past behaviors. The cultural revolutions weren’t merely a message sent internally, as a warning to any Goon. They were also a message to outsiders: “We have heard your criticism of our behavior and our culture; you can no longer claim we sanction our worst elements. We are dealing with it.”

Self-policing is also a strong public relations message to outsiders who criticism groups for behavior that gets policed. Since the cultural revolutions, when people talked about memories of poor Goon behavior, other Goons would point to those cultural revolutions as marks of change. Before them, if you were a Goon who was embarrassed by some of your teammates’ behavior, that was that. But after the revolutions, you could feel proud that your group and leadership took self-policing steps. Bottom line: it not only made Goons a better organization, it released a great deal of public relations pressure Goons were under by outside criticism.

Parallels in FRT

Fraternity’s self-policing of RMT should be viewed similarly. It was a message to fellow Fraternity members that certain behavior isn’t going to be tolerated anymore. But it is also a message to outsiders.

Fraternity has been criticized for a while now for having an RMT problem. How much this criticism was an exaggeration or accurate doesn’t matter: FRT was becoming associated with RMT regardless. Fraternity’s AWOXing two Titans accomplishes more than just making other FRT members think twice before engaging in RMT. It also sends a message to outsiders about FRT and RMT: “We will blow up our own Titans if we catch our members doing that. We are handling it.”

Lessons to Learn

In conclusion, there are a few lessons to take away from this story.

First, people who would talk about Fraternity in relation to RMT from now on have to keep in mind how they blew up two of their own Titans when two members were caught. Not everyone who plays this game would be willing to do this. It demonstrates someone was willing to “pay the butcher’s bill” to lessen RMT. This may make people more hesitant to criticize FRT in the future on the basis of RMT, and I suggest this was one of the reasons for Fraternity’s actions.

Which brings me to my second point: internal policing is a great way to protect yourself from external flak. It allows your members and those considering joining your group some verbal ammunition when someone shouts: “Your group does RMT.” It allows those members to reply: “We are handling it. And here’s the battle report to prove it.”

Finally, self-policing also makes the game better. It makes everyone have a better experience. And it tilts the larger culture of the game away from elements that would drag player experiences down. In the end, this is more important than the first two takeaways.

If you want to see the game improve culturally, but also to see less cheating, doing some self-policing isn’t a bad place to start. It doesn’t only benefit those in your own alliance, but everyone involved. There is also a history of it in the game for you to peruse, and take inspiration from.

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Comments

  • Rammel Kas

    The Cultural Revolutions you refer to were mainly focused on internal inter-player relations inside comms and fleet channels. Getting rid of a lot of the “isms” that were so common in the slang of earlier gaming culture. By contrast Goonswarm have ALWAYS airlocked people we caught using in-game automation or other such nonsense soon as we found the evidence. One of our founding tenets is to beat the pre-beta BOB guys through hard work and ingenuity. So it was never going to fit. Hence it’s not quite the same.

    But a welcome change if FRT have decided to clean up their stance a bit. There are untold hundreds of such everyday examples of odd behavior that people find roaming around the North. Granted a fair bit may be frustration at not catching the ratters or miners in space. But still wonder if Norhaus hasn’t taken on a Promethean task, and if it may be beyond his ken to break years of cultural acceptance of these bad practices. There is a point to be made that these were just more visible being in the titan fleet.

    May 19, 2022 at 8:27 AM
  • Garreth Vlox

    LOL. OMG look guys frat sacrificed a pair of titans to look like they care about botting…. isn’t the guy who is still running them someone who was banned for RMT previously? When they find a new alliance lead i’ll be convinced they care about bot driven RMT.

    May 19, 2022 at 9:50 PM
    • William Doe Garreth Vlox

      Exactly my line of thinking. The biggest RMT’er known in FRT is Noraus himself isn’t it?

      May 20, 2022 at 8:50 PM
      • Garreth Vlox William Doe

        not sure why you got downvoted because that’s true, and they did get neg walleted for it.

        May 21, 2022 at 4:53 AM
  • Ivan Kert

    Conclusion is 100% wrong. Do not try to apply western morality and behaviour patterns to community which is 70% consisted of actual chineese from actual China. There’s no way how u can put ursef at FRT members place or take their POV. Until western fools gonna be willing to buy ISK for real money FRT bot motherships will flurish. Two titans avox – meh, pathetic. Such a PR case can may be impress 1-2 year noobs. I might say if they sacrifice at least 18 titans non-less I’d buy that.

    May 20, 2022 at 8:56 AM
    • Seir Luciel Ivan Kert

      If you’re trolling it is in bad taste.

      Your fine to disagree with the article, but there in no such thing as “Western morality.” There is just morality. And anyone from anywhere can partake in it.

      Beyond this, the western ethical tradition is by no means a monolith. There’s Kantian ethics, utilitarianism, libertarianism, Aristotelian, Nietzsche basically claimed that morality was made up and constructed from one’s social positions. They are all western but differ wildly from one another.

      May 20, 2022 at 3:45 PM
      • Garreth Vlox Seir Luciel

        “You’re fine to disagree with the article, but there is no such thing as “Western morality.””

        This is an ad that was made in and ran in china and they saw no issue with it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Few8kJ0zfnY

        Call it whatever you want, but China views things very differently from the rest of the world. Yes this poster did a very shitty job of conveying this concept, but they aren’t wrong, China and by extension it’s capitve population view the world through a very different lens than the rest of the world.

        May 20, 2022 at 6:31 PM
        • Seir Luciel Garreth Vlox

          Other people’s racism doesn’t justify our own; it doesn’t really matter what kinds of ads get run in China. Moreover, just because the ad ran doesn’t mean there weren’t Chinese people who understood it was racist, just like people anywhere else.

          It’s true that there are cultural differences between people and nations. The problem is when people conclude from those differences “We just can’t reason with them; their thinking patters are just totally alien to ours. They have a totally different sense of morality from the West.”

          Those kinds of conclusions aren’t only racist, they are also wrong. Cultural differences don’t alter the fact that human beings, in the end, are not that different from one another. Ivan Kurt is wrong, and the idea that they “view ethics in general” differently is more exaggeration than fact. Most in the west aren’t taught and don’t read non-western ethics to make informed comparisons and contrasts anyway.

          Also, who’s “they?” Different Chinese individuals will view ethics differently from one another, just like they do where you live.

          May 20, 2022 at 7:57 PM
          • Ivan Kert Seir Luciel

            China is large in case of territory. China is insanely huge in case of demography. China is very diversified and includes different ethnoses but it is united. The thing is that its unity based on сommon history and solid base of common culture melted together from various folks from inside China and adjacent regions like Great Steppe, Siberia, adjacents of Fars region, Japan and some others. The main thing is that China and its people are self-sufficient so much that don’t need to spread their way of thiking abroad their society. That’s why unless u’re an orientalist or enthusiast of Eastern culture u will have very poor knowledge about this things.

            I do read a lot of Chinese and Japanese literature and other resources due to fact I am a kendoka, approved tea master and just an oriental enthusiast. Due to their self-sufficientness instead of taking whole Kantian ethics as solid concept chinese most likely would rip out all that fits chinese way of life and throw out the rest into a dumpster. It may sound wild but its rational. Why?

            To describe my POV I’d like to draw a parallel with nature and give u an exmple from biology. There are a lot of well known symbiotic organisms that include mushroom and some other organism like lichen which is a union between mushroom and bacteria. There are parasitic mushrooms like cordyceps that are narrowly specialised on attacking only ants or butterfly cocoons. What mushrooms has to do with humans? Sometimes u may eat a mushroom and become well-fed or dizzy or die or some other random option but nowhere in nature u may see a symbiosis between mushroom and human and all the interactions occur randomly. This happens because mushrooms doesn’t have us in their paraigm of the world. They exist for 2 million years on this planet. Humans without looking at all that cool funny stuff we have now exist for 100 thousand years tops of the tops (most likely for 50 thousand). It doesn’t sound long enough in comparison to build common buisness with. As u may understand in this expample chinese are mushrooms.

            May 27, 2022 at 1:24 AM
      • Ivan Kert Seir Luciel

        Sad I have to retype this but anyways back to topic…

        I have to reject to continue this conversation due to two possible reasons:
        1) u’re just not educated enough to get the message beyond statement which is fair and simplified to the terms which are pretty common to inhabitants of the cruel and cold galaxy of New Eden. Another thing that may approve this option is that while talking about cultural and philosophical conceptions u menioned non of Eastern authors or philosophy traditions. I’m not saying it’s racist it is just shows narrow view. Since ur info says that ure student – u have still a lot to learn. Rhetoric is not so effective without facts.
        2) u’re just hypocritical corrupted victimblamer

        May 27, 2022 at 12:00 AM
    • Menaiya Ivan Kert

      It starts somewhere. Either way your comments are in very poor taste.

      May 20, 2022 at 4:36 PM
    • Guilford Australis Ivan Kert

      Let me summarize, and please feel free to clarify if I’m reading your semi-words and half-formed thoughts incorrectly.

      (1). You seem to believe that RMT is acceptable for Chinese players because they’re different and don’t have to follow the rules.

      (2). You also claim that Chinese botting will “flurish” (sic) until “western fools” buy ISK (by which I assume you mean PLEX, since actually buying ISK on RMT websites violates the EULA and will earn you a well-deserved permanent ban) for real money. First, there is no relationship between those two things. Second, that statement is incredibly ironic since it is the Chinese players doing botting and RMT who are unwilling to pay for PLEX.

      May 20, 2022 at 6:14 PM
      • Garreth Vlox Guilford Australis

        “(1). You seem to believe that RMT is acceptable for Chinese players because they’re different and don’t see buying isk as cheating.”

        FTFY, this is established fact both in and out of eve, in general buying an advantage in gaming, is viewed as not only accepted but EXPECTED by many Chinese players.

        ” (by which I assume you mean PLEX, since actually buying ISK on RMT websites violates the EULA and will earn you a well-deserved permanent ban)”

        Why would you assume that after FRAT got neg walleted for RMT?

        May 20, 2022 at 6:33 PM
        • Guilford Australis Garreth Vlox

          Well, I’ll respect your opinion. But I believe my first point is correct as a summary of the (very poorly argued) original comment that I responded to.

          I also believe my second point is correct, objectively, based on the language of CCP’s EULA – Section 6-B.

          May 20, 2022 at 7:42 PM
      • Ivan Kert Guilford Australis

        (1) I know that RMT is acceptable for Chinese players til it’s profitable. In the situation when one have to choose between following the rules but having no profit (or just very small ISK flow) and breaking the rules to get inormous ISK flow I’d say significant part of Chinese guys would choose to spread the risk and setup diversified pack of botting caps.

        How it happens:
        For instance they set one in FRT + renters (North) other in Imperium or Panfam (South or East) for maximum safety crabbing under fully active umbrella for each ally (coalition) TZ in case of emergency. Plus setting some neutral 0.0 NPC space lvl 4 mission running if both umbrellas are not so active or down.

        (2) I mean exactly what I say. I am talking about actual black market of ISK and in-game items. When it comes to purchasing multiple super caps for whatever reason either to do even more botting or get ur small lowsec group to new level of strategy by putting some supercaps on field to achieve recpect and tactical benefits I might assure you that a lot pilots would take the risk of possible ban and choose the easy and cheaper way (I don’t support this choice myself – contrariwise after ~15 years I’ve spent in EVE i had become a hardcore roleplayer).

        May 27, 2022 at 8:56 AM
  • kwnyupstate .

    If CCP doesn’t give us something worthwhile for our money what’s wrong with doing RMT and finding someone who does based on market prices?
    The main argument against RMT is because the game company is the one who deserves the money and clearly CCP doesn’t.
    I’d love to hear a clear concise argument against RMT based on this observation.

    May 21, 2022 at 12:22 AM
  • Alex Zetsu

    One problem with internal policing is that CCP has much more data than an alliance can get through it the API, so you could have false positives. Although given the past three years, if one of their CEOs thinks a titian pilot would be involved in RMT, I’ll believe it. Or to put it in fancy math terms, my Bayesian prior of a pilot doing it given they are part of Fraternity is sufficiently high that it doesn’t take much more evidence in favor of them being guilty of RMT for my posterior belief to become above 50%

    July 20, 2022 at 8:50 PM
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