See my first post on this to get a good starting foundation. And you can see the threadnaught here.
Apparently unable to stop digging when deep in the hole, the GMs at CCP decided that it was time to bring in the backhoe. This time however, the CSM has thought this would be a great idea to help them as well. Pay attention because all the hard work that CSM5, CSM6, and CSM7 has done is slowly being piddled away.
As I mentioned yesterday, CCP decided that it was important to rewrite the “Terms of Service” for everyone to play the game. What got everyone riled up was this one little sentence that was added:
You may not impersonate or falsely present yourself to be a representative of another player, group of players, character or NPC entity.
Supposedly this was “always there” and hidden elsewhere in lawyer speak. However, the fact that EVE Online is FAMOUS for things like spy networks, major scams, and double-crosses, it seems rather odd that they decided it was important to ban these things. Particularly when CCP did the following videos:
The funny part is the actions glorified in Causality WOULD BE BANNED according to the new TOS (despite what the GMs say now).
An applicable Dust514/Incarna Video:
While not directly talking about spying.. it definitely tells you that you can do what you want, good or evil.
Now let’s look at all the glory CCP has bathed in because of the lack of moral limits:
You’d think that the massively bad response to the TOS would cause CCP to rethink its plan. Nope. Instead, it locked a couple threads. At least though they sent GM Karidor to calm the situation down, right? Um, right?
CCP Karidor responded this way:
A small warning and Disclaimer:
The post will be long (ca. 1.5 posts total), there won’t be a TL;DR. Don’t expect specific examples being addressed in all detail, this will not happen no matter how much you ask. I will address some things in a general manner, trying to get the general idea across on how such cases are viewed by us. The post will be as detailed as we’re willing to go with the matter of the ToS change, and as such it will be “the final word” on this change. The CSM did not have much time to review the final version itself, but discussion on the matter had been ongoing for a bit already (since before my post yesterday). And without further ado, here we go:
Let me first point a few other places where impersonation is mentioned within our policy, and which have not changed alongside this ToS change:
The Naming Policy has some rather obvious points in this regard:
2. IN-GAME NAMES
b. In-game names may not:
Impersonate or parody any employee or representative of EVE Online, CCP, Customer Support personnel or volunteers.
Impersonate or parody an NPC type from the EVE game world (i.e. CONCORD or other official NPC corporation or organization members) for the purpose of misleading other players.
In-game names include, but are not limited to: Character names, corporation names, alliance names and any other player-nameable item or entity within the game world.c. No player may use the character name of another player to falsely represent his or her identity. Player created corporation and alliance names also fall under this policy, as do names of any other in-game entities.
Granted, this particular version is also only 3 months old at this point, but you can find the exact changes made to the naming policy at the time, together with the reasoning, in the according announcement about this change
Next up, the EULA also has a bit that touches impersonation, and this has been in place for about 1.5 years in its current form, but earlier versions of the EULA contained similar phrases:
You will be assigned a login name and a character name during the registration and character creation process. You may not allow anyone to use your login name or character name to access the System or play EVE. No player may use the character name of another player to impersonate or falsely represent his or her identity. You may not obtain, attempt to obtain, use or attempt to use the login name or character name of anyone else.
You may recognize the highlighted part, it made it pretty much verbatim into the naming policy.
So, onwards to the ToS, which now contains the following after the change:
8. You may not impersonate or present yourself to be a representative of CCP or an EVE Online volunteer. You may not impersonate or falsely present yourself to be a representative of another player, group of players, character or NPC entity.
This was changed from: “You may not impersonate or present yourself to be a representative of CCP or an EVE Online volunteer.” only. The highlighted bit is, from what I understand, the only part that is worded slightly differently from the other two places, but in our interpretation also falls into “falsely represent his or her identity”, and always has.
So, from the perspective of Customer Support, nothing regarding the actual policy and its enforcement has changed at all, we merely updated the ToS to include the things that have been said in other documents carrying pretty much the same weight as the ToS.
So why were the changes made to the ToS (and earlier, the naming policy)? That one pretty much comes down to us receiving an increased number of cases about impersonation that showed us that the policy is not clear to players, both perpetrators and victims, mostly due to actually not being aware of their full extent. As such, the clarifications were made accordingly to better represent how Customer Support interprets those rules usually, which brings us to some of the questions that have been brought up:
How come that people got away with [insert Impersonation variant] in the past?
Simple. Often, they simply weren’t reported. This could have the reason of the impersonators not actually doing anything that would have bothered anyone, or a victim just not being aware of the full extents of their rights in this regard. We are also not actively hunting down impersonators, so if there is no report, there won’t be an action either.
Where does Customer Support draw the line for impersonation?
As much as we’d love to be able to draw a clear line, it is quite impossible. Impersonation can take various forms, and each with endless subtleties involved. While most cases luckily (for us GMs, that is) tend to be rather clear, being the most obvious form of impersonation by taking up a similar character name from another player for malicious purposes, more and more players are attempting much more subtle attempts.
What needs to be kept in mind regarding impersonations is that all characters involved are seen as their own, independent entity, which effectively means it’s quite possible that a situation may appear where a player impersonates his trustworthy main character using an alt character located on the same account. As there is no in-game way to verify whether or not certain characters are located on the same account (the API needs the key and external tools to be read properly, so that one doesn’t count here), this case would be handled the very same way as the impersonator character being owned by another player.
In summary, with the exception of the most obvious Character impersonations, each impersonation report will usually have to be decided on a case by case basis, taking all things and contexts that we can reliably verify into account. Standings between entities are usually not taken into consideration, as those are being used in wildly differentiating contexts. Generally speaking, if you’re claiming to act on behalf of a player run in-game entity, you should be a member of said entity. Acting with a character on behalf of another entity (NPC or player run) that the character is not a member of can, and will, be interpreted as impersonation within our policies in cases of conflict, even if the player eventually has a member alt. Again, this comes down to the fact that there are no in game possibilities of verification.
But think of the Roleplayers!?
Impersonating NPC entities not being permitted has always been part of the impersonation policies. However, it is entirely possible to declare support for NPC entities without the need of claiming that you act “on their behalf or order”. It should be noted that outside of events, NPC entities will not usually acknowledge the support of any player run entities.
So, will I be banned now?
Impersonation violations very rarely result in a ban if there have not been any previous warnings. Bans regarding impersonation so far usually have been the result of repeat offense or very extreme cases. A name change is a standard part of the procedure, as is a warning, the removal (and return) of assets gained through the violation can happen as well, depending on the nature of the case.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope this rather lengthy post clears up some of the confusion that this ToS change brought about.
TL;DR version: Clearer, but that only makes it worse. Essentially the rules now make it completely arbitrary on the part of the GM what is a ban-able and what isn’t. In addition, things like Spying, Scamming, even saying that your alt is an alt of your own main can now potentially be considered a ban-able offense.
Yeah, you heard correctly. Now remember that is on page 12 and this is the last conversation that we get directly from any CCP representative. It is 43 pages long as of 9pm PST, full of VERY upset players who are now fully convinced that CCP has gone all weird again and has completely forgotten what made Eve Online special and unique.
Never fear, the CSM comes to the rescue on behalf of CCP, to calm the players about what has happened. Ali Aras posts the following:
On the contrary, the new explanation (the one by GM Karidor) lays out the reasoning behind the TOS change and quotes the other policy that the TOS is being brought into line with. It’s pretty clear to me now what CCP’s views on impersonation are; while the specifics of any particular scheme are a bit fuzzy, I’m content with knowing that as long as I’m not doing something blatantly out there, I won’t get instabant.
The clarification by GM Karidor sums up quite well everything the CSM has heard in internal conversations. Given the clarification, it’s now clear that the TOS change is consistent with previous policy, and confusion about that stems from people’s (mis)understanding of previous enforcement. After all, it’s easy to go from “recruitment scamming for GSF as a Goon is okay” to “recruitment scamming for GSF as a TEST pilot is okay” without feeling like you’ve made a leap of logic. This is the stated reason behind the update– players were confused.
With all that said, this thread has made clear that there remains some unhappiness with the policy as written and intended by CCP. This unhappiness has been noted by the CSM, and we can and will follow up on the policy itself. However, that process is a longer one that will take place internally; rioting in this thread is unlikely to be effective. Given the way the CSM process has worked so far and the success we’ve had in other conversations, I look forward to future productive discussions with CCP, and hope to be able to share results of those in the future.
The problem isn’t that what CCP is say isn’t clear anymore. The problem is that now that we know what CCP is doing, we are viciously and rightly upset that CCP is now banning an critical aspect of gameplay. This would be akin to them saying, “You know what? Eve Online will now be an online card game.”
However, what scares me most is this statement: “The clarification by GM Karidor sums up quite well everything the CSM has heard in internal conversations. Given the clarification, it’s now clear that the TOS change is consistent with previous policy, and confusion about that stems from people’s (mis)understanding of previous enforcement.”
All those members of the CSM who let this pass.. clearly do not “get” Eve Online. I’d almost think they are playing a different game entirely. Previous policy? There is no way that what they wrote was ever “previous policy” based on how they actually regulated the game. And the funny thing is, if it was “previous policy” it was a genius stroke to ignore it. Because if it had been followed, Eve Online would have never gardnered the attention it does now. Ali’s response was placed on the 25th page of this thread.
Sadly, none of the CSM members are responding to tweets or to any other threads, which is making the playerbase even more frustrated and angry, with appropriate fingerpointing beginning to take place. Even Ripard Teg has said nothing in regards to this, perhaps to show a “united front” against.. against who? Why, against the players, of course.
To the CSM8: If the statement that GM Karidor made on the threads was similar to what you were told in internal conversations, then you better have some answers. I can’t believe that all of you would be so blind to see how detrimental, how clueless, and how game and culture breaking this change is. You have literally “rubber-stamped” removing the most crucial aspect of game play in Eve Online that there is: The choice to be a real bad guy.
To both CCP and to the CSM: You’re losing this battle fast. And all for one. silly. sentence. A sentence that had been ignored anyways for YEARS. Don’t lose the playerbase’s goodwill over something this trivial. Just go back to the old TOS and rethink the fact that you are about to destroy your own game at a level that rivals what caused the Burn Jita event. That thread has now passed 44 pages in the time it took to write this blog. And all of the responses are angry.
Get it together.