Friday, September 13, 2013

CCP Forbids Pretending to Be Affiliated with a 'Group of Players'

For those who haven't been following EVE-O, the big story this week has been CCP's expansion of the rule against impersonation. The rule change provoked backlash in the form of a 70+ page threadnought. "Impersonating" another player, by creating a character with a similar name (such as Chrlbba, who impersonates Chribba) was already against the EULA. Yesterday, I provided a demonstration of how rampant this kind of impersonation is, and how little has been done to combat it.

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
following post:
"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.



  1. I see people in jita saying that they would make a riot just as the incarna one.

    But of course, I doubt it.

  2. Hey, it looks like there's another official feedback thread in the Jita Park forum section.

  3. "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."

    You missed an important thing here, James. Based on one of the GM's responses, it is against the rules for a character not in Goonswarm to pull the recruitment scam, even if their main actually is in Goonswarm.

    Can't find the original GM post, but here's further clarification:

  4. petitions all the way :)

    but yeah. ccp basically failed at that, also they suddenly changed the ToS on harassing rookies. they now extended that from only rookie systems to all of eve.
    so if a noob gets in an ibis and goes to 0sec where i kill him, i will be petitioned because he is younger than 30 days?....great...

    1. wait, what? when did it extend outside of rookie systems? Gonna need a source on that.

  5. Seems like a precursor, a seemingly innocent chess move that ends up costing someone a game several moves in the future. i thought we needed space lawyers to handle the issues in-game, looks like CCP went all out and got some real ones to muck up an intrinsic part of the game to be a case by case basis no-no.

    i dont like the concept, or the amorphous explanations of whats naughty and whats part of the game. CCP creating new problems without correcting old ones. at least theyre consistant.

  6. For a fact, CCP has a partial system for dealing with petitions. When I flew with some incursion communities, many of the carebears tell me they send petitions for little things like losing ships in missions and blaming it on lag (even though they were afk) and they would get refunds and replacement ships. Rookies are also more likely to get more overt assistance from GMs to play the game, like free stuff.

    The murky rules exist to protect the GMs partial treatment of players without accusations of unfairness.

  7. If this takes shape, it's the beginning of a win-win for CCP. What's the motive here? Money. Subscribers make money. CCP has some costly interests, not to mention it's maintenance of what CCP has right now and paying its employees. As far as I know Dust is doing well (I haven't heard anything bad about it), how lucrative Dust is, I don't know. But let's not forget about this new and exciting Valkyrie project.. which will cost money.

    Now, you might be wondering how I'm correlating simple ToS changes to CCP and money. At the end of the day CCP can still call Eve the "anything can happened".. well wait not really, let me try that again.. You can still play the Villain.. just not as much as you used to be able to. So as far as advertisement is concerned, this change is fine.

    Furthermore because of this change new players have a much less likely chance of being the victim of a "crime." Not because they themselves know the rules, or what's right vs. what's wrong, but because the older players, those who would play the villain and take the time to familiarize themselves with the rules, know what's right and what's wrong and will stop.. because they don't want to risk getting banned. This decreases the chance of rookie players quitting Eve. This ups subs.

    This is essentially just another small step to the watering down effect of Eve Online. I've never scammed before, I don't know how and I imaging I'd be pretty bad at it. This change doesn't directly effect me; but, it does indirectly effect me.. what's going to "change" next time?

    Anyway, I think it all comes down to money. Another nerf to things piratey, less new players quitting, more subs, more people, more micro transaction = more money.

    1. "As far as I know Dust is doing well (I haven't heard anything bad about it)"

      erm..have you read literally anything about Dust?

    2. No I don't play Dust, so if someone who know's more on that topic wants to chime in, go for it.

    3. I see it from the point of view that yes we pay for the privilege to play the seemingly best MMO out there and yes the money we spend lends us some measure or "voice" to say yea or nay to things. But that ultimately for the prolonged longevity and development of EVE (people, infrastructure and other sundries) they have to be able to have a regular influx of new players that come, learn the game, stay and pay.

      Having someone quitting because of certain older players "this-game-should-be-played-according-to-my-rules" (malicious/sociopathic/or other abnormal tendencies) mentality and subsequently ruining the new player experience is not exactly a good working business model.

      Sure, EVE is and should be harsh but the learning curve of EVE is very steep compared to other MMOs so it remains to be seen where this change to the TOS will take us. And if you still don't like it then you can go unsub and maybe go outside and look at the sky for once. ;)

    4. You know what ruins a new player experience? The impression that the game is a boring grinder where you have to do missions and/or mining first to get ISK. The great majority of people I know who quit after the trial did it because they thought the game was boring, unpersonal and grindy. I blame the carebears and their bad advices. People come to EVE because they want to experience the dangerous world they read about in gaming news, but they find a safe highsec where they warp back and forth thinking they HAVE to pve to grind ISK and then they quit out of boredom.

      I think that is the main problem of the new player experience. When you lose a ship as new player, you lose a very, very smal amount of ISK. It's the best time to get used to the fact that losing a ship in EVE is not wrong or terrible. Hell, even the tutorial destroys your ship once!

    5. I agree with Anon 7:39. In fact I've known people IRL who have quit eve because of the belief that you must grind for you ISK; whether that be Mining, Missioning, or running Courier contracts (I would throw Trading in, but I don't think very many brand-new players are very aware of the complex Economy of Eve).

      Brand new players should be out exploring at the very least... because they have so little to lose. Oh not that 1m/isk T1 Rifter... And odds are if you die in a fire in Lowsec, you'll get a convo. Furthermore, that convo could lead to other avenues of the game, meet other people, or just maybe employment. It happens. In fact one of the most prominent people in my Corp was originally ganked by people in said Corp... lead to a convo... and eventually lead to his application. He's been in the Corp ever since and has become a valued member.

      @Anon 9:11 - Your points are flawed, but I respect your opinion. Why do you assume if a new-player is scammed, or ganked that it's a bad thing? It's a learning experience and if they quit, they weren't going to stay around for very long anyway. So, in all actuality, scamming and ganking alike help filter out those who can't handle Eve -and never could vs. those who can and will stay.

      Thanks for the tip btw. Not planning on unsubbing just because CCP is trying to patch stupid, again. And I go outside everyday, but thank you!

      Sorry for the late response I just got back into the country.. vacations visiting several countries, you know how it is! ;)

  8. "No animal shall sleep in a bed [with sheets]"

  9. The New Order is not a group of players - if it was it would be a corporation or alliance, if it was it could be wardeced, but it is not because they are cowards as well as being self-indulgent children.

    1. If this is true: "The New Order is not a group of players", then your usage of "they" lacks an antecedent. Apparently you weren't even able to convince yourself of the truth of your arguments.

  10. Well excuse you for bringing a semantic argument to a substantive debate. Always happy to concede form to win on substance. Even when I could counter argue and win on both.....

    You see I have powerful friends/alts in hi-sec....or was that nullsec... and I also work for CCCP - what's that that? Oh one to many C's .... well never mind then.

    1. How'd you escape?

    2. By choosing to seek to run those who would seek to run the asylum....

      When the psychology of the majority is a perversion; the rational and virtuous must appear insane in the eyes of those who would seek to render judgement....

      I mean seriously, you are either too fking bot-aspirant to see I am taking the piss at everyone here including myself; or you managed to work it out. In which case: Well done Genius! - that took considerably more training than it does to max out bumping skills on a stabber.

      Your comment is pure comedy gold for you are taking the piss at me taking the piss at eve, no, myself and you.

      Surely there has to be a violation of Thermodynamics 101 in there somewhere.

    3. Plenty of crazy people make jokes. They're still crazy.

    4. I assure you that I am in sane as you.

    5. "I assure you that I am in sane as you."

      Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

  11. you are ignorant. stop trying to claim that ccp is putting a dent in your breadwinning slick tactics. thats the part you dont like. not being able to run your chat bots in jita or wherever to screw people over. u want to be the villian? grow a set of balls and use your ships and mind to do it.. killing people in high sec might screw your standings, but its still not going to get you banned. that's being a true villian.. derp..

  12. You know, I have a few short thoughts. A lot of people say that we had them sing and read educational speeches (a time-honored tradition in Eve) so that we could publicly humiliate them. That is not true! Much of the time, I turned my volume down during this awful period.

    It was literally torture listening to it live. (at least home listeners later could fast forward, so please no calls for war crimes)

    Instead, we had side chats discussing what else we could ask for in assets and researching the api for clues to help us with this. You think I had escrow agents there to provide social proof or to laugh at the clients? While those may be positive side effects, the truth is it is very helpful having people available to carry on conversation and handle the mundane tasks of accepting and valuing contracts while I look around for clues to what more we could acquire.

    Using Sohkar as an example since he seems so popular, that bonus round did not go nearly as well as it could have, and I don't mean more rage. You think we enjoyed listening to him scream and bang on his desk? Ok, well that was a bit funny. But no, it was very disappointing that we were unable to get his corp assets or his friends' assets, as we were sometimes able to do.

    The ideal bonus round goes like this:

    1. Get all isk.
    2. Get all assets.
    3. Get all clothing.
    4. Get as much LP transferred to assets as reasonably possible today.
    5. Don't forget to have all market orders and pre-existing contracts cancelled.
    6. Don't forget to eject from ship- yes we need that too.
    7. Destroy at least 1 set of implants including Golden Pod if he has one- very important for our implant collection (increase rarity.)
    8. Destroy all PI.
    9. Cancel and unplug all research or manufacturing jobs, hand over stuff.
    10. Get all gambling or store credit balances- somer (lol) iwantisk, evebet, evebazaar etc.
    11. Check for assets in space- fetch ones of value, if a J code, get all wormhole stuff.
    12. If corp has pos, we need the pos and the contents if possible.
    13. If client has roles, we need to do corp audit, which ends up being all corp assets, acquire corp, etc.
    14. Be sure client goes through all his friends and asks for loans. If he doesn't have friends or runs out quickly, also beg in Jita for more isk to hand over. If possible, have a friend come in and add to pot with his assets.
    15. Oh, thanks for account 1, I see you have 3 more accounts.... full faith.... (rinse and repeat)
    16. Scribble down all intel that may be useful later. Upcoming corp ops, pos pw's, etc. (please note that I am extremely sensitive to RL info saved in evemails. If seen, have client delete api and replace with a new one, with some lame excuse as to why.)
    17. Save api to bookmarks. A percentage never deleted it. :o)

    There may be more (and we're always asking ourselves what we forgot), but as you can see it is an exhaustive process going through every last iota of value that can be extracted from a single client. I can't very well carry on a conversation, accept contracts and do all this research work myself (all at the same time, plus my frequent breaks where agents carried on chat for me), so I needed others to help and the client to focus on things while research was conducted.

    1. continued...

      But still, outside of the grandstanding by Ripard and other whiteknights and sheep, I see no problem whatsoever taking every last thing of value without firing a shot, having them read educational materials, and having them engage in positive social interactions such as singing. And if they made it through the friendly gauntlet (really a test of will), then they'd be paid, assuming they were Code compliant.

      Many went on to become escrow agents themselves. Many said "good fight." A super tiny minority got all hulk mad. Most said it was the most fun they've ever had or at least "well played" or "best executed complicated scam ever" etc. We treated clients with respect and most treated us with the same.

      So, you know what? I don't give a damn what Ripard or CCP or anyone else thinks. There wasn't any real-life harassment whatsoever. They are wrong. Sadly, many know it but won't admit it, or they are just Ripard's sheep.

      Like DJ mentioned, outside of the "scam" itself, I have incredibly high ethical standards. Friends could count on me for anything. Once I needed a loan and I sent a friend all my isk at the time, 20b isk. He sent me back double. I repaid the 20b loan within like an hour. I always gave stuff to friends and random noobs. I hate saying no to friends even if it hurts. There are hundreds of players I could ask for a few started plex from as a gift or a loan right now if I made a new account and they'd do it no questions asked. Outside of active scams, everyone who knew me knew that I could be absolutely trusted 100%.

      The only players that should be banned are the CCP employees that have been conned by white knights and others with agendas. You know that when ISD has to snip a personal attack by CCP Falcon in his own thread that someone needs to step away from the keyboard.

      My stomach churned a few months ago when I saw and heard comments from Ali Aras where she literally based her decisions/feelings on my ban on "facts" that never happened- but were just often repeated so the masses thought they happened.

      CCP was the same. And it's sad and pathetic.


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