Saturday, March 3, 2018

CCP Breaks Silence on Its Notorious Rule Against Quoting GMs

One of the longest-running controversies involving CCP has been its policy of banning EVE players from quoting any messages they receive from CCP. Generally, those messages consist of GMs answering petitions or handing out warnings. The policy has been around for as long as I can remember, and I can remember a long way back. There are probably some precocious readers of MinerBumping who weren't born yet when I started playing EVE.

EVE players have always detested the rule. If you ask them why, they'll tell you that it gives off the impression that CCP is trying to hide something--trying to protect bad GMs from exposure of their misdeeds. Even more often, players complain that different GMs contradict each other, or that they enforce the rules inconsistently. According to the widespread sentiment among EVE players, CCP's policy against quoting GMs is designed to conceal the inconsistency with which the game's rules are applied.

I don't recall CCP ever making an effort to defend the notorious rule; it has simply loomed over CCP's relationship with the community like an ominous, silent (but always obnoxious) cloud.

That's why I found it remarkable that CCP's "Team Security" put forward a defense of the rule, jammed awkwardly into a recent Security Update Dev Blog. It contained some marvelous claims.

Afterward, a minor controversy developed on Reddit. Needless to say, not everyone agreed with CCP's characterization of the rule.

When CCP says one thing and EVE players say another thing, where are you supposed to go to find out what the truth is?


As you probably already know, I am EVE's greatest historian and truth-teller. But if you haven't been a MinerBumping reader from the beginning, you may not know that I'm uniquely qualified to write about this topic for another reason: I have some personal experience with it.

Before I talk about that, I'll quote from the Security Update Dev Blog where CCP made its public defense (not private, or else I couldn't quote it) of the infamous rule.
Clarification On Section 18 Of The Terms Of Service

“You may not publish private communications from CCP, their agents or representatives or EVE Online volunteers without authorization.”

Whenever this clause is brought up, it’s obvious it carries with it a couple of misconceptions that we probably haven’t worked hard to adjust. Some argue that we set this rule to hide what happens between us and players, which is not possible and is absolutely not our goal.
Right from the opening paragraph, I was intrigued. At long last, I had found a dev blog worth reading.
The actual reason the rule was originally set was to protect our staff from out of context posting and partial reposting intended to foster misinformation without us jumping in and clarifying. The thinking was (and to some degree still is) that this would put our staff in a position where unless they responded to every such post, it could be expected to represent proper context.
If Team Security is right about this "out of context" thing, then the rule shouldn't forbid people from quoting communications in full. At any rate, I don't buy the notion that GM responses are especially vulnerable to out-of-context quoting. What's going to happen? Is some player going to go around Reddit taking a quote like, "You are not permitted to make real-life death threats" and render it, "You are not permitted to make real-life"?
In that sense it was always meant to improve discussion, not censor it.
And people accuse The Mittani of being the Spin Master.
Another misconception is that we´ll ban people for posting ticket replies which is not accurate. Over 15 years we’ve very rarely banned players for violating this clause (single digit number) and it’s always been on the back of a stack of previous warnings or over a wilful attempt to falsify or misconstrue communication for nefarious purposes.
I feel like this is a good place to hit pause and inject some factual content.

Back in June 2013, as part of the Code's one-year anniversary celebration, I took the opportunity to quote some GM communications on this website. Why, you ask? As the most diehard Code fans can tell you, the idea of the Code first came to me as a result of some correspondence I had with the gentleman pictured below:

You see, on June 15, 2012, I received an official warning from GM Banana. Apparently some highsec miners took issue with the fact that I was bumping them for the crime of botting. They claimed not to be bots, but whatever. In response, I filed a petition (i.e., a support ticket) to request clarification on the rules about bumping. A few days later, GM Banana responded with a ticket reply (the kind of thing Team Security says you can't get banned for posting). In a detailed, thorough message, GM Banana made a valiant attempt to wade through the weeds of the bumping rules, which at the time were very obscure and fairly complex.

At first, GM Banana's message appeared to suggest, strongly, that I should never bump another miner again. Ah, what a different EVE we would have today, if I'd taken that path! Destiny was not to be denied, however. I carefully reread GM Banana's essay. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the idea of the Code came to me. I sent another message to GM Banana outlining my idea and asking if it was acceptable under the rules. GM Banana's answer was cautiously optimistic. And so it was that highsec, EVE, and the world were changed forever.

(Side note: GM Banana had become a GM less than a month before the famous incident. Fate, man. Frickin' fate!)

After the Code's first year, I thought MinerBumping readers would be interested to read the actual text of GM Banana's historic petition replies. So I posted them, in full, in The Secret Origins of the New Order. But within a couple weeks, I received an official warning from GM The Doctor. In addition to deleting my entire bio (because it contained a link to MinerBumping), GM The Doctor instructed me that I was guilty of violating the rule against posting communications from CCP. Furthermore, if I failed to comply with said rule, I could receive a permaban.

When I discovered what had happened, I removed the screenshots of the historic GM Banana messages (while leaving the rest of the MinerBumping post intact) and filed a petition for clarification. I also informed the public of the incident in Dude, Where's Your Bio?, which included just enough information to avoid a panic.

After Senior GM Pyro responded to my petition, I gave a fuller explanation of events in Bio Shock: CCP Responds to the Controversy. GM Pyro confirmed that my screenshots of GM Banana's messages were the reason for the warning. Importantly, he told me that players were absolutely free to paraphrase a GM's reply to a petition, but we must not directly quote or screenshot them.

Since the rule says you're not allowed to quote GMs without permission, I decided to request permission. I mean, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better time to grant it. As I argued to GM Pyro, the communications presented GM Banana and CCP in a positive light. After all, GM Banana went to great lengths to help, and the situation ended happily. And the communications were quoted in full, so there was nothing out of context or nefarious about it.

According to GM Pyro, he consulted other Senior GMs, but they collectively decided to reject my request. The screenshots of GM Banana's writings would become a priceless artifact of EVE history, available only to those who had managed to save a copy prior to their removal.

The final sentence from Team Security's post on this, and we'll wrap things up here:
For now, the best way is to ask whether you can share the communication if you feel you need to and be fair about how you treat one-on-one communication.
Needless to say, don't count on getting permission.

So how does Team Security's dev blog stack up against reality? Not terribly well, I'm afraid. We know that Team Security was wrong about the rule not forbidding people from posting ticket replies--unless the threat to permaban me for doing precisely that was intended to be empty. It's not as though GM The Doctor had gone rogue, either: GM Spyro, who was a Senior GM, reviewed and approved his subordinate's action, and GM Spyro looped in more than one other Senior GM on the matter.

Consider, too, the lengths to which they were willing to go in order to enforce the rule. The GMs leveraged their ability to take action against a player in EVE so that they could censor a post on his third-party website. That doesn't quite fit with the lenient attitude portrayed in the dev blog.
"...and it’s always been on the back of a stack of previous warnings or over a wilful attempt to falsify or misconstrue communication for nefarious purposes."
I'm sorry, Team Security, you know I love you--nobody supports you as much as I do, nobody--but this is pure fantasy.

Even in the most benign possible context, even when the communications were quoted accurately and in full, they weren't allowed to be posted. Incredibly, the policy is that players are supposed to paraphrase GM communications instead. That's supposed to be a safeguard against people making things up or taking them out of context?

In light of the foregoing, I must decline to offer Team Security a Supreme Protector's Gold Star™ today. CCP, you can do better. If you need help with something--advice, a sympathetic ear, whatever--my Agents are standing by.


  1. Another great article from the saviour. \o/

    Btw thomas the cringe master trying to rep freighters in jita by himself hahaha antiganking failing hard

    1. Your Hitler is still crying about rules. You guys really are snowflakes.

  2. "They claimed not to be bots, but whatever." XD

  3. A true legal scholar. The rules are simply whatever ccp says they are at the time. The Eula and tos are lies in document form designed to convince you otherwise.

  4. Slickrock Wildlight > still not sure why you'd risk isk and standings to defend clueless freighter pilots that don't check systems first

    Thomas en Chasteaux > I know, why do firefighters and cops even bother with protecting clueless people.

    [21:43:18] Thomas en Chasteaux > BIP Perimeter gate in Jita
    [21:47:43] Thomas en Chasteaux > Felsia Tsero is our Rep Target
    Thomas en Chasteaux > should be locked
    Thomas en Chasteaux > orbit within your Rep optimals - freighter died


    1. Thomas, WE are the cops. XD

    2. That must be the most frustrating type of game play. Spending all weekend chasing gankfleets and failing to save idiots while having freighters dunked on your face all day.

      That is a special kind of spacetard.

    3. * laughed at 'spacetard'.

    4. I was one bumping Sol Erdan. ag brought everything out. I saw Thomas in a Basilisk, some smartbomb cruisers, burst jamming frigates, and a bunch of random hangers-on. One even aggressed me and brought me down to 95% shield. There must have been 2 dozen ships keeping range on that Charon. Meanwhile the BJ FCs just kept finding and killing better targets elsewhere. I must have bumped that guy for 30 or 40 minutes until I finally yelled out "Can I let this damn bulkheaded Charon go?" Then they decided to come over and put it out of its misery.

      I guess Thomas never did find anyone to fly those dozen Basilisks ag had been gifted.

    5. Correction: bumping Felsia Tsero

  5. James still bitching about rules.

    Get over it baby.

    1. I'm not a big fan on getting over policies that without no doubt make eve-online a worse game than it could be. Neither should you.

    2. Don't like the rules don't play.

  6. Here's a nice paraphrase of the GM's: Permits used to be free. But that meant bumping folks 'excessively' was...gasp...HARASSMENT. Even if they were AFK/botting.

    Can't have that.

    But if you CHARGE them for a permit...and they refuse to pay...that's ok. Then bumping/ganking them is OK. Because then its about ISK. No different than in low or null and having to pay a transit fee to avoid snu snu from whoever says its their space.

    So remember, kiddies, next time you cry about having to pay 10 million ISK (or more, for the rude scum..) for a permit....CCP is the reason there is a fee at all.

    1. If you say so snowflake.

      All your saying is: "Wa Wa Wa, I don't like the rules of the game."

      Grow up child.

    2. Actually no Anom, it is true....if you do not make a so called griefin action(as labelled in other games) about making ISK, controlling territory, controlling resources, or a slice of the can be hit in a negative manner by CCP for 'griefing' play. So to avoid being a griefer, you have to have a legal in game reason to grief.

    3. I must say that mining permits are the most heartwarming and magnificent of all the numerous gifts that James 315 and The New Order bestowed upon Highsec.

      I know that the concept was born out of necessity. But regardless, a permit is a marvelous distillate of -all- the just and benevolent ideals and aspects of The Code. It's price. It's form. It's presentation. It's wonderful effect on the miner's mind and on Highsec. I say it's as elegant and flawless as The Code itself!

      Everyone must buy a mining permit! Everyone must sell a mining permit! Or as much as they can! Pure love and joy for everyone involved!

    4. That's right, Anonydead 4:07. Its because I say so. *cuts the fool's throat and watches the blood pour out*
      You don't know Apaches' very well, do you? Go read up on us, scum, and become afraid.

  7. Clearly explained and argued, James; another blinder.

    But O, which rapidly-failing would-be MMO giant is it that's afraid to place the dainty toe of corporate confidence into the icy waters of public scrutiny?

    The same.

    As an aside; I think I would read James' stuff whatever the subject. James - let me know if you decide to tackle Sources of Medieval Monastic Architecture; I've drawn a blank at the library...

  8. Sol Erdan lost a freighter. Then he bought a "blue pass" from some guy in Jita Local. Sol Erdan lost a second freighter. Then he found The Code.

    Lawrence Lawton > Send me 10m ISk for your mining permit.
    Lawrence Lawton > Yes, All Freighters Need Mining Permits
    Sol Erdan > lol that'll be the day...
    Lawrence Lawton > You paid 500m for a junk pass.
    Lawrence Lawton > And you saw for yourself that antiganking is useless.
    Sol Erdan > had enough of you extorsionist - lol i did - that was a once only and never again - next time I'll bring support - didn't know this event was on lol
    Lawrence Lawton >
    Lawrence Lawton > We've been around for >5 years. Don't trust the imitators. We're the only permit that'll teach you how to not get ganked.
    Lawrence Lawton > 10m ISK for a year.
    Lawrence Lawton > "...if there was a 99.9% chance that the permit wouldn't prevent the gank, it still would have made sense to get the permit."
    Sol Erdan > lol i see
    Sol Erdan > well i don't even mine - was just passing through moving my now obliterated stuff to a new location - lost two freighters today facepalm
    Lawrence Lawton > Yes, All Freighters Need Mining Permits
    Lawrence Lawton > It covers all activities in New Order space.
    Sol Erdan > but that's just another form of extorsion isn't it?
    Lawrence Lawton > Nope. We claim this space. You don't even have a right to be here without a permit.
    Lawrence Lawton > Plus our rates are more than reasonable.
    Sol Erdan > 10 mill ain't nothing but does that stop others from ganking me./
    Lawrence Lawton > That's where The Code comes in.
    Lawrence Lawton > When you follow The Code you're not dependent on the goodwill of your would-be killer.
    Lawrence Lawton > You are empowered to make smart decisions that prevent you from ever getting ganked. Just 9m more.
    Lawrence Lawton > You'll get a permit to place in your biography so everyone will know you know what's what.
    Sol Erdan > was that omnly 1 mill i sent?
    Lawrence Lawton > c
    Lawrence Lawton > When you buy a New Order permit you're also directly supporting the forces of good in New Eden. Congratulations!
    Sol Erdan > ok so how would anyone know i got a permit
    Lawrence Lawton > Your permit has been sent. Copy it to your bio. Instructions are provided.

    Sol bought a permit.

  9. Thank you Professor Lawton for supplying such an excellent read between two minerbumping entries. It quenches the thirst for reading about proper miner-management and facilitating compliance.

    It's always a pleasure to read more. Always.

  10. Holy shit lol agshitters are still having freighters dunked right on their facees like pivot whores in bukake scenes.

    Burn Jita only makes antigankers look even more disorganized and toxic.

    Hey, what do you know, those renters from nc showed up and ag still can't stop the fun! I didn't think nc was so desperate for kills that they would risk having ag failure (a very aggressive and virulent form of failure) rub off on them, but then again, they were probably already infected. Savages! The lot of 'em!

    Y'all ag muddafukkas need Jamesus 315!



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