But the new addition to the EULA bans a very different kind of "impersonation". Article 8 has been updated as follows:
"You may not impersonate or falsely present yourself to be a representative of another player, group of players, character or NPC entity."As you might expect, this new provision raised more than a few sets of eyebrows. What does it mean to "falsely present yourself" as a member of a "group of players"? Comor Dunathis reported his efforts to get clarification from ISD members in the Help chat. It wasn't even clear what a "group of players" was; the CFC might be officially considered a group of players (despite not being an in-game entity), but maybe the New Order of Highsec wasn't.
With confusion spreading, GM Grimmi jumped in with the
"Impersonation has been prohibited for a long time.... The TOS update is therefore nothing new, merely a clarification of what has been policy for ages. Recruitment scams using your own corp/alliance are fine, claiming to be working on behalf of players/groups of players you're not affiliated with is considered impersonation and a violation of our policies."EVE players were caught by surprise. First, it was now considered illegal to "claim to work on behalf of" other groups of players, such as engaging in recruitment scams for corps/alliances/"groups" that you're not a member of. Second, Grimmi was saying that it had been this way "for ages". Drama ensued.
Since it was now illegal to falsely claim to be a member of NPC entities, some questioned whether EVE was now the first RPG in which role-playing was prohibited. Under the new rule, you aren't allowed to flasely claim that you work for the Sanshas, for example. Grimmi clarified further:
"As cases are investigated GMs look at the information that is available, one of the important considerations being the intent behind a player’s actions. Benevolent roleplaying of NPC entities may not be considered to warrant action in regards to impersonation while malicious activity employing such trickery will not be tolerated."It's interesting to note the gaming philosophy reflected in Grimmi's remark. "Benevolent roleplaying" is good, but "malicious activity" and "trickery" are not to be tolerated. EVE, with its "Be the Villain" advertising slogan, is a game that made a name for itself with stories of corp heists, scams, double-dealing, and the like. Grimmi's outlook seems to be a bit out-of-step with the spirit of EVE--but very much in accord with the "carebare theme park" crew.
Still, some were concerned that their activities might be illegal, and asked for more substantive examples of what is and is not allowed. Grimmi refused to answer:
"We cannot go into specifics as each report is different and this will just end up leading into a circular argument of "ifs" and "buts". We will say that impersonation cases are handled on a case by case basis by experienced GMs and there is no change in how such cases will be handled from now from how they were handled a year ago."The idea that things haven't changed was CCP's basic response to the controversy. As Grimmi wrote in the post that sparked the threadnought:
"For all practical purposes there has been no change in how impersonation issues will be handled compared to the last few years. The TOS update reflects the way reported cases of impersonation have been handled by Customer Support for a long time."Grimmi concluded,
"One concern is that we have pretty much banned all scams in EVE. Clearly, this is not the case."It's true, they have not banned all scams in EVE. They did ban a bunch of scamming, though, and it's not entirely clear why. What's the point in saying it's okay for Goons to do recruitment scams related to Goonswarm, but it's illegal for someone in an NPC corp to do a Goonswarm recruitment scam? Or why make it illegal to pretend to have authority in a coalition that you're not a part of? Ironically, the precious newbies that we all need to protect are in a better position to guard themselves from such scams. At least if a scammer is in an NPC corp, you can see that they're not a member of the group that they claim to speak for.
Furthermore, who's to say whether or not you're a member of a "group of players"? As I mentioned, the CFC is not an in-game entity. Coalitions do not have any in-game support of any kind; they're run entirely out-of-game. Frequently, coalitions don't even have an official website or complete list of members that the average person can easily refer to. (By contrast, the New Order has its own website. Are we more legit than the nullsec coalitions?) So how does CCP distinguish between legal scams and unauthorized scams? They would need to do an audit, and see if the person really does have an alt in the CFC or the "group of players" involved.
The issue of auditing has always been a murky area. In official EVE "Community Spotlights", posted by CCP Eterne, CCP has praised the BIG Lottery (EVE's longest-running lottery) and Sindel Pellion's Angel Project, which purports to be a charity. If you actually read these articles, you can see that whoever wrote them goes out of his way to discourage skepticism, and to dismiss fears that the BIG Lottery and Angel Project are scams.
The problem is, they're both scams. Maybe. In its early days, BIG Lottery was frequently criticized because its biggest jackpots were won by newly-registered members of NPC corps, presumably alts of the people who ran the lottery. BIG Lottery is a real lottery if they don't cheat, and it's a scam if they do. As for the Angel Project, it's a charity if Sindel gives all the money away, and it's a scam if she keeps some or all of it. Who knows if these are scams or legitimate businesses? Only CCP can say for certain, because only they have the resources to conduct a full audit. And since CCP posted glowing articles about these enterprises, an EVE player might assume CCP did audit them.
Those of you who have been around the block know that it's extremely likely CCP never conducted any such audits. Nor would they want to. But if scamming is illegal depending on whether a character or its alts are genuinely "affiliated" with a group of players--even a "group" like the CFC that organizes itself entirely out-of-game--then CCP would need to audit the scammers in response to petitions. Good idea? I don't think so.
To give you some idea of just how widespread the opposition is to CCP's new anti-(some)scamming rule is, consider this: Even Ripard Teg is against it. Yes, the same Ripard Teg who has been routinely criticized by me and many others for being too pro-carebear. Ripard is on the CSM, and reported that after criticizing the rule, well, read it for yourself:
"Every time I write a blog post like [the one I wrote about the TOS], I get a CCP dev (or two, or five) tsk'ing at me or downright asking me what the hell I'm doing. I write [the posts] anyway."As a side note, people often question whether CCP views the CSM as a body that can give them helpful criticism, or whether it's just a tool for good publicity. Ripard's latest post is food for thought on that point.
To wrap things up, I'd like to offer one final thought. GM Grimmi repeatedly put forward the argument that the new rule doesn't matter, because everything is going to be the same. GMs will make the same kinds of decisions as in the past, etc. Should this be comforting? Before you answer, ask yourself this: What kinds of decisions have the GMs made in the past? What are the precedents that they're following? It's hard to know, because CCP goes out of its way to make sure you can't see how the GMs have ruled in the past. Remember, it's against the rules to quote GM communications. Not just on EVE-O, but anywhere--even the website you're currently reading.
A couple months ago, CCP deleted my in-game bio and threatened me with a permaban if I didn't remove screencaps of year-old petition responses that I'd gotten about whether it's legal to bump miners. The petition responses contained nothing that would embarrass CCP; quite the opposite, since they were very thorough and professional. But CCP doesn't want people to be able to know what GMs have said or how they've ruled in the past. They'll even leverage their ability to permaban EVE players to prevent other EVE players from seeing GMs quoted on third-party websites.
Yet GM Grimmi thinks we should all take comfort in the idea that GMs today will answer petitions on scamming the same way they've answered them in the past. You're just not allowed to see what GMs have said in the past.