The following Eveotorial was first published in September 2011. I thought it was worth re-posting given recent events that make it sound rather prophetic in hindsight. Enjoy.
TL;DR: The CSM is actually bad for Eve, or haven't you noticed?
Imagine a private school somewhere that doesn't have a Student Council. This school has some issues that are extremely concerning to students and the administration has heard about Student Councils at other private schools, and they decide it is high-time their school had one.
Everyone thinks this is a good idea.
The students are excited. The administration is pleased, they look like modern thinkers and the students are excited. This decision quickly becomes generally accepted as good for everyone.
And granted, at first, it is. The students manage to "get things done" mostly because there are things that need done, obvious things. The Cafeteria needs to adopt a more healthy menu, the leaking faucets in the boys gym needs fixed, the band needs new uniforms, the list isn't long, but the student council is getting these things fixed. The administration continues to be happy about the whole thing.
Time marches on however and eventually the student council falls into the same traps as student councils everywhere always do. The obvious issues are resolved. Students come and go, replaced by new students for whom the Student Council is just another chance to have something to do, to shine a bit brighter, look good on a college application, or practice for eventual political careers.
Now what? Now the council is reduced to reality. The reality being that no matter how much they want something, the administration is locked into rules and regulations that they cannot change. An extra five minutes for lunch? Sorry kids, that sounds good, but lunch time is dictated by State law - nothing we can do. And so it goes.
Our esteemed Council of Stellar Management is our Student Council. Except the analogy, in the case of our CSM, can't continue beyond the confines of the school. So we must leave the analogy, it has served its purpose, and move into the reality of our own burden - the CSM.
Think back a moment. Think back over this past Summer and to Summer past, to the conflicts that have defined Eve of late. Notice any trends? Where did the trouble start? Who brought it to your attention? Who fanned the flames? Who "fixed" the issues?
Remember, real world is different than Eve world. But you can clearly see the trend over time. The obvious issues resolved, the gulf between "what can" and "what should" and "what will" grows ever larger. Left with no recourse, the organism that is the CSM, is left with little other choices but the obvious ones. Feed the machine.
"Oh my god, did you hear what CCP has planned!?" "If I don't get my way, I'm going to the school newspaper, and, and they'll print my story!!" "Seriously, if they don't start serving Vegan I'm staying home in protest!! I swear!" "I stole THIS from the Principal's office guys, can you see what he says!?!" "Let's get the students together out front and shoot the statue of the founder!!!" "It'll be sooo cool."
Sound familiar? CCP is a business. Like the school they have their own direction, decided by management, that generally speaking is the course they are on. The CSM, while everyone agrees was a good idea at the time, has largely settled the obvious issues. They have become part of the establishment. CCP can't change in any significant ways, the CSM can't effectively be the instrument of change, and now nothing is really left. Except conflict.
And so conflict springs forth. Some based on actual, real issues. And some manufactured to serve other purposes. The core reasons don't actually matter in this case, because the results are the same. The player base becomes aware of issues that cannot be resolved in any significant way. Both CCP and the CSM are aware of that, but the issues are brought forth anyway. The player base becomes frustrated, why are these issues not being resolved?! By the time the smoke clears and we all realize they weren't issues at all really - or they have been resolved - the damage has already been done.
Now multiply that by a factor as yet undetermined. One has to wonder, wouldn't everyone be better served - in the long run - if we didn't even know about those issues? Or, at the very least, we were left to decide on our own which issues we care about?
Out here in the real world I find the mere concept of ignorance as bliss abhorrent, but within the confines of Eve? I can remember when we didn't have a CSM and no one was shooting statues in Jita. No one was leaking documents, rage quit storms, anger, dwindling subscriptions, mockery in the press?? Unheard of. (Ok, not 100% true, but certainly the recent issues have illustrated a factor involved that only continues to grow)
This isn't a individual complaint. Those that serve or have served on the CSM to varying degrees have done so honorably. This is merely an institutional complaint. The institution of the CSM will continue to harm EVE. It is only natural. It must turn on itself. It must attack the institution that created it, it must feed. It will destroy. (It's not like the CSM has a wife, or kids, or a hobby it can occupy itself with until needed.) In fact, the MORE CONFLICT THERE IS THE MORE WE ALL NEED THE CSM. Sorry about the caps. Without issues we don't need the CSM, the CSM becomes the student council. Power and prestige are illusionary. The only way we need the CSM is if CONFLICT CONTINUES.
Can anything be done? Not really, we're kind of stuck with it. CCP can't dissolve the CSM because that would just look really, really stupid. The CSM can't stop, especially under current leadership, and issues will continue to be brought to our attention. Issues that aren't really issues after all. And that, even if they were real issues, could be resolved in the good old fashioned manner.
Most gamers don't have a clue what the game company behind the game they are playing is doing, what their plans are, how they are dealing with player satisfaction, etc. Besides a general sense of what they read in a magazine, or see in an ad, they don't have a clue. If you ask them, they'll even look at you kind of funny. Most of the people I know that play Eve are also like that, the real players, the ones that don't read blogs, or forums, or follow the CSM. The players. Generally ignorant of all this drama. They look at me funny too.
Information is good. Cross-pollination of ideas is good. Communicating with your subscriber base is good. If it is all good, why is it so bad? Because one side can't change (much) and the other side can't be seen to do nothing. Those two forces cannot co-exist forever.
The conflict between can't change and can't go away will only continue. We haven't seen the last of it and sadly, we haven't seen the worst of it. The only hope we have is the incoming Freshmen class. Maybe they'll bring some new ideas, some new energy to the table.
Or maybe all they'll care about is school spirit and cheerleaders.