A Transparent CSM

One of the interesting sidebars that has arisen from the drama of the CSM X elections (I never thought I’d use that phrase unironically, but here we are) has been the issue of greater transparency for the CSM. Sion Kumitomo (Chief of Staff, Goonswarm; Editor, TheMittani.com; CSM Member) wrote recently over at TMC about a litany of things regarding the CSM, but his passage regarding transparency is what really struck me.

Normally, in a democratic system, there are measures put in place to ensure that the public has access to the information that is required to understand the effectiveness of their chosen representatives. – Sion Kumitomo

We often forget, or choose to forget, that the CSM is not a legislative body. It does not make laws that CCP then executes, it merely functions as an advisory board. Due to the NDA, a thing whose nature no one who hasn’t signed it already knows anything about, the player base at large is in the dark about what the CSM even does. We have no idea about time invested, actions committed, things done. And that is very, very wrong. It is a flaw in the system so large so as to be unseen by most people. Thanks to Sion, that is changing somewhat.

However, there’s a saying about sausage – the more you like sausage, the less you should ever see of its manufacturing process. The same applies to the CSM, it would seem. Sion’s articles on TMC, remarks in his Cap Stable podcast, and other communications via social media have revealed part of the sausage making process – and predictably, people are not just apathetic, they are antagonistic. “They sound like 11 year old girls,” one ‘CSM analyst’ stated several times on a Cap Stable CSM Analysis show.

He’s not wrong, necessarily, in that statement, but this is what transparency is. You take the ugly with the useful. If anyone expects different behavior from as heterogeneous a group as the CSM is bound to be every year, I don’t know what to tell them other than maybe to check their expectations at the door. There is conflict and some of it is petty, but that’s human nature. “Transparency is good but this is bad,” is another sentiment I see cropping up that really serves to illustrate the point:

Few people want true transparency. Few want to know how the sausage is made. They just wanna fry it up and gobble it down when it is done cooking. That’s fine – just don’t pretend otherwise.

For what it is worth, I believe myself to be in the minority here that does want true transparency. Without accountability, there is no guarantee of results. How that can be achieved with a very, very restrictive NDA in place is a different mystery to solve – but the one thing that should never be a mystery is what the people elected to represent the players have been up to. I want to know what my vote is doing – good, bad, and ugly.