Sunday, September 28, 2014

Punishing Bad Behavior out of Game

James 315 has an interesting article up on The Mittani. It's about the history of bannings in Eve Online. The upshot of the article is that player bad behavior has started on out-of-game voice comms, and CCP has started handing out bans for such behavior. However, unlike inside the regular game, CCP has no real power to truly determine what happens on out-of-game channels. James 315's argument is:
CCP's decision to police a realm where they have no ability to monitor, log, or control was a mistake. GM decisions for EVE-related matters already grapple with inconsistency and confusion. CCP's preference for secret, undefined rules, coupled with an apparently growing reliance on permabans instead of lesser punishments, can only lead to bad outcomes for everyone.
There is a lot of sense in this argument.

Personally, I find this aspect of the Eve community confounding. To me, voice comms are something to be used with allies and teammates. I would never jump on an enemy's voice server. I don't see any case where that ends well.

Part of the issue here is that there is a concept in Eve called "birthday ransoms". A pirate offers to let a victim go if they go onto the voice server and sing Happy Birthday or another song. These ransoms are generally regarded as innocuous and a "fun" part of the game.

James 315's general argument about the arbitrariness of banning based on out-of-game behavior is sound. However, there's no denying that a lot of negative behavior has migrated to those out-of-game channels. I think CCP is wise to attempt to put a stop to it.

I would suggest a different approach, though. The point of making recordings of voice comms, and publishing them is humiliation. It might be small humiliations, such as the birthday ransoms. Or it could be larger ones, as when a spy publishes voice comms of an enemy alliance.

I think Eve would be better off with a blanket ban on such recordings. Something like: publishing recordings of voice comms, where post-recording permission has not been obtained from all parties, is a bannable offense. This eliminates all such recordings, and makes it much easier for CCP. Instead of having to determine whether a recording is true harassment or is "fun" doesn't matter. All that matters is permission, and that is easier to determine.


  1. I'd be fine with that, but I doubt CCP would ever go that far.

  2. I don't understand your rule.

    "Something like: publishing recordings of voice comms, where post-recording permission has not been obtained from all parties, is a bannable offense."

    So, for example, if I play EVE, and I'm a federal agent for the US government, and a recording I make of a criminal, about a conversation that has nothing to do with EVE but does have something to do with a crime, is used in court, without his permission (but with a warrant), then I'm banned from EVE?

    Clearly that's not what you mean; but how do you define "recordings pertaining to EVE", as an example of a clarification to be added to that rule, in a simple and clear way? The difficulty there is similar to the difficulty that argues against CCP making rules about non-EVE things in the first place, you moved the difficulty slightly with your new formulation of the rule but not enough.

  3. Banning recording is impossible, since you can't link the publisher to the EVE account.

    On the other hand CCP can police by out-of-game voice comms: by planting an agent into the group who listen to that. Probably this happened here too: a CCP GM joined the "bonus room", found harassing material and banned the whole gang. They were banned for "participating in harassing group" as it was impossible to determine who was talking and who was laughing.

  4. I very much enjoy the attempted Rules Lawyering by avowed sociopaths. "It's bad for everyone!" Oh? Have there been any actually innocent players banned in this fashion? Does the common player legitimately have need to worry?

    An easier rule would be to ban the request to join out-of-game voice chat for ransom purposes, based off self-reporting. That way, CCP could see the chat log request from the perps and verify the player was surrounded by hostiles, without the need of a public tape. They might be able to talk in code to get around it, but it's a start.

    Because let's be serious here: these sort of players are a net negative to the game.

  5. While I agree that there's some ambiguity in leveraging these bans on players, I disagree that much of anything James315 says makes sense, particularly this.

    First, the 'Bonus Room' bannings were out of game actions that had immense consequences in-game. Read Jester's Trek for what I feel was a solid, well written series on the matter.

    Second, banning publishing of voice comms isn't going to have a good outcome. Spies and espionage are a key part of what makes Eve Eve; punishing that makes the game less than it is. Also, it creates a slippery slope; if you can be banned for sharing intelligence(voice comms) as a spy, can you also be banned for corporation theft? How about providing faulty information that leads to corporate/alliance losses? Not something to deal with. The other aspect here is with the negative side that should be punished. I don't agree that 'happy birthday' for ransom is horrible, so long as it's not a scam or extortion.

    And that's the key I think in all of this; CCP is seeking to punish negative actions that have in-game impacts. People who use power to scam, humiliate, extort or blackmail players in real life is what they're trying to squash here. Since these contacts are being initiated online, CCP could be considered liable in the event that the outcome is highly negative. Not likely, but the possibility exits. However, by taking a proactive stance and attempting to curb that behavior or punish it, they can limit their liability.