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 ServiceRight from the opening paragraph, I was intrigued. At long last, I had found a dev blog worth reading.
“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.
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.