During a quick break in the action I had the ill sense to check my phone for a moment, and found several pings across multiple mediums regarding a ban wave. At first it looked like CCP had got around to banning the various agents involved with the Bonus Room incident a few months ago. Obviously, I didn't have time to look into much at that moment, so I shot off some quick messages to James315 and others promising further review upon my return, then I went back to playing with my kids.
Definitely more fun than Eve.
Upon my return home, the kids barely made it in the door before passing out on the floor Sims style. With OP success on that front, I managed to get them in their beds, kissed the wife goodbye, and then retired to the dungeon where the Eve happens. Here's what I've got so far:
Firstly, the CSM is not part of the GM team and are not consulted on bans. People are banned every day, it's not our business, nor part of our function to second guess any specific ban. There has been one recent instance of a GM allegedly referring someone to go talk to the CSM when they were unable to make a reimbursement for a bug that happened, but aside from that, we really don't have much to do with these guys.
After pouring through communications from over a dozen people, reading accounts of people claiming to be involved on various sites, and checking a couple of blogs, I've managed to piece together what seems to be a reasonable approximation of what went down yesterday.
- A number of people were banned for what appears to be RL harassment. Actual numbers are not known and are unlikely to be released.
- Some of those banned were involved in Erotica 1's bonus room.
- Some of those banned had nothing to do with Erotica 1's bonus room, and had never been heard of by known participants within that subset of the community.
- Some of those involved neck deep in Erotica 1's bonus room were not banned.
Hello everyone,Before I go any further here, I need to make one thing very plain. I'm looking on the claims of innocence/ignorance of the people hit in this ban wave as dubious at best. A statement such as "I'm not sure what I did wrong" can easily be translated to mean "I've probably done 5 or 6 things that would fall under this in the last 6 months, and I'm not sure which one this is for." Each and every one of these people has done something at this point to get banned, though the manner in which they were caught may be in question. That CCP will not give any examples in this case of what constitutes bannable harassment behavior is also unfortunate, however.
We would like to remind the EVE community of our stance regarding the usage of EVE Online and assets, characters and items from within the game environment as leverage for the purpose of real life harassment.
As outlined in our previous announcement, this type of behavior lies in clear breach of our End User License Agreement, and as such we have a zero tolerance approach when dealing with these cases.
Our stance regarding this type of behavior has not changed since the last announcement, and any individuals who are found to be engaging in such behavior will be met with disciplinary action against their game accounts in accordance with our Terms of Service.
- F (source)
A reply from CCP Falcon came in response to requests for a clear line to be drawn:
It isn't our job to dictate to people how to maintain a base standard of human decency toward one another, and we're not going to do so.In this response, CCP and I are going to be in stark disagreement. When I look up harassment in the Oxford dictionary I get "Aggressive pressure or intimidation". Dictionary.com gives me a bit more to work with on this: "the act or an instance of harassing, or disturbing, pestering, or troubling repeatedly; persecution:" Following the link for "harassing"then brings us to the definition of harass, which is:
The bottom line is that it's down to members of the community to know where the line crosses from common decency to harassment. We will not draw a line in the sand so that people can skirt on the edge of it and bend the rules as much as possible.
This isn't a debate about what constitutes "harassment". If you're not familiar with the word, find the definition in a dictionary and that will satisfy your question.
What we will do, is continue to use best judgement on a case by case basis to ensure that real life harassment is kept out of the game, and ensure that those who choose to involve themselves in such activities are no longer permitted to be part of our community.
Cut and dried, that's all we have to say on the matter.
- to disturb persistently; torment, as with troubles or cares; bother continually; pester; persecute.
- to trouble by repeated attacks, incursions, etc., as in war or hostilities; harry; raid.
If every instance of dictionary defined harassment that happened in Eve were to be petitioned, the GMs would likely have time for nothing else. Since we can all reasonably agree that the dictionary is not what defines EULA/TOS breaking harassment in Eve, a more informed definition from CCP is needed to clear up confusion in a game that advertises for potential new players to "Be the Villain," and where scamming/deception are not only common place, but encouraged. To save a couple thousand words, allow me to use my wicked paint skills to illustrate the issue as I see it in simple terms:
Here is a simplistic illustration of the status quo as it seems to hold right now. We have a few very clear examples of unacceptable behavior that one can reasonably assume will result in a lengthy vacation from Eve. We have a line that shant be crossed, but the placement of it is somewhat in debate, and it tends to make a move to the left from time to time, meaning that something that may not be enforced today, could be enforced if it happens next week, or next month, or next year. Something one GM may let slide could be met with a very harsh response by another member of the staff.
The annals of Eve history are littered with cases where one member of the GM staff has not seen a problem where another might. I won't bore you with a comprehensive list, but I can give at least one example of a debate going on right now where CCP seems to be a bit inconsistent on what is/is not considered to be an exploit in the game (you get banned for those too BTW).
In this sense, CCP can't tell us where the line is, because in reality, CCP doesn't seem know exactly where it is themselves.
CCP Falcon also has a point in that a super firm line cannot be drawn, otherwise (this is Eve afterall) people will absolutely step right up to that line and poke it and prod it and see how close they can come to it without crossing it. CCP Falcon is absolutely right, this would be a very bad idea.
As an example, this wave of bannings has once again brought up the question of certain aspects of the bonus room that have been a part of Eve for years. The age old tradition of pointing someone's pod and inviting them onto your voice comms to sing for the chance of not getting podded is something that has repeatedly come up. The operators of the bonus room had people sing as part of their scheme to get their stuff back, and the bonus room is not ok. Are we also saying that a practice with some similarities, though largely viewed by the community as ok, is to the right or left of the green line?
Certain corporations can have very odd, and sometimes uncomfortable conversations with potential new recruits on outside voice comms. This may also include singing, or otherwise (mostly benign) hazing. Green?
Someone told me a story once of how they wanted to join a prominent null sec alliance, and in order to be allowed in this person was required to meet with a representative while at fanfest. Part of the process included this person being asked to eat the testicles of some locally domesticated animal (apparently considered a delicacy in Iceland). Depending on one's views of sheep, this might be viewed even as sexual harassment in certain cultures. No actual assets were on the line here, but is this considered to be somewhere in the green zone? Furthermore, how the hell could CCP even verify it took place???
CCP and the META
That brings me to the next point of contention here. It is entirely unclear how far into the meta CCP is willing to dive to collect and accept evidence of out of game harassment. Without the specific incidents in question, none of us will have any idea what the answer to this question is. CCP is not likely to tell us anything, so the only people who can reasonably provide specifics are the ones who were banned, and they all seem to be feigning complete ignorance. I predict we'll be getting no help on this from either party.
In the past, CCP has generally stayed out of the meta. In the case of Erotica 1, he posted links to his handiwork on the official Eve Forums. There was an actual CCP log showing his involvement in the matter, penned by his own hand so to speak. With that in mind, we can also assume that any form of communication within Eve is also part of CCP's logs. Eve-Mails and chat channels in game for example, regardless of how private you think they are, I guarantee can be read and monitored by CCP if they have a mind to. If these people shared links to their work in game, or talked about it in game with their fellows in this manner, it is possible CCP never had to go digging in the meta, and were just handed evidence of ill behavior by the people involved themselves.
At this time, CCP has been extremely silent on methods used, and exact ways and means of how these people were caught would be an unreasonable request to make. However, I think what people want to be sure of here is that actual CCP generated logs were used to determine guilt or innocence, and yes, someone saying in game or on official forums "Hey guys look what I did! *link*" absolutely counts. CCP does not need to disclose how people were caught, merely that the logs showed something.
An Inconsistent Conclusion
In short, the issue I'm having at the present time has little to do with bad people who did bad things getting banned from a game. It is doubtful that the contributions these people made to the community that drew CCP's attentions to them will be missed by the vast majority of the players, especially where RL harassment is concerned. What I do have an issue with is a very ambiguous line in the sand that seems to continually move based on who happens to be on shift at the time something goes down, or who in the community is pissed enough to start a threadnaught over it.
Either intentionally bumping a titan that is inside a POS shield out of a POS shield is an exploit, or it's not. The methods of doing it shouldn't matter, and lines of communication should be in place to ensure a consistent message on this back to the community rather than enforcement be at the whims of whatever GM happens to get their hands on it.
The same can be said for harassment. Either something is harassment, or it's not, or it COULD be if taken out of hand. We have (sort of) some clear examples of things that are not ok to do. We do not have clear examples of things that are generally considered ok to do, and this leaves huge question marks in the air. Are singing ransoms ok? We know they used to be, but going forward we don't know. If I invite someone in game to join me on team speak and they come back later and say I harassed them, how far is CCP willing to go to get to the bottom of it if in game logs show nothing but my link to the voice comms server? We don't know.
What we don't have is a reasonably clear definition of what actually constitutes harassment in terms of Eve. Things that are entirely unacceptable in a game like World of Warcraft for example, happen inside Eve with impunity, and are an accepted part of the norm. There is nothing "decent" about a bad guy, and if being a bad guy is to be an acceptable profession within Eve, rules and boundaries need to be made clear to give people a gauge on what is acceptable, and what is clearly over the line. These lines are important not only for those people living the life of a villain, but also for those tasked with enforcing the rule of law, such as it exists within our game.
While CCP Falcon is right to not want to draw that fine line in the sand for people to dance around, when something is determined to be over that line, consistency in enforcement and clarity of communication is equally important.