Friday, January 1, 2010

A Treatise on E-Trust

I just read  Hallan Turrek's "A Merry Life and a Short One" blog posting called "Trust Me."

There have been myriad blogs and forum postings on the concept of "trust, honor and reputation" in EvE.  Let's add mine one to the list.

I have heard various descriptions of how much one should trust another pilot: Some only trust themselves.  Some only trust people they know IRL (or as eloquently put--people whose throat they can wrap their hands around.)  Others will allow pilots into their 'trust bubble' based on reputation and in-game interactions.  And some trust no one.

Regardless how much players trust one another, there IS trust in the game.  I would go so far as to say that the game would not function if everyone followed the Fox Mulder theory of "Trust No One."  Too many of the game mechanics require various levels of trust.
In a gang/fleet you trust the FC is competent enough to at least give you a chance at a win.  You trust that the scouts know what they're doing and that they're not traitors leading the fleet into a trap.  You trust your fleetmates know how to employ their ships/weapons to maximize success.
In order for a corporation to grow, the leadership authority and responsibility eventually has to be delegated to trusted individuals.  A single Chairman Mao cannot retain complete and sole control over corporation assets and organization once the corp reaches a certain size (25?)  This is where we start to see the potential for misplaced trust.  There are many tales of corporate theft and traitorism.  But that is the trade-off for the ability to have a large corp.  The dissemination of trust becomes a necessary skill for successful leadership.
Banking and other isk investments in EvE have seen their ups and downs.  The reason for a 'secondary market' is a separate issue (too much isk in-game, etc)  Players view the Market Discussion forums for investments and to seek financing for various projects.  Others go in with the intention of scamming one of those groups.  And some start out with good intentions, but either fail or fall victim to greed.  Regardless, the number of successful operations that are made possible through the investment of the more wealthy players in budding entrepreneurs helps sustain the economy and keep the game interesting for an entire faction of players. 
CCP grants unprecedented access to player data through the API servers give access to a  plethora of data that 3d party applications use to enhance a players experience.  The API is a read-only process that gives these apps access to player data so that it can be formatted and used by the players.  Many players are concerned with others having access to this data.  They wonder what else these applications may be doing with the pilot's info.  Interestingly, this causes a majority of those applications to be coded under Open Source licenses (for better or for worse.)  I have never heard of a 3d party application harvesting API data for nefarious use.  Ever.  Even those that request full API access.  Many players grant such access and trust that the application is performing only what it claims.  Certain high-level corp/alliance CEOs/Directors may have reason to be squeamish, but generally there are few bad things that can happen by granting access.  Conversely, the benefit to the player (and the community) is profound.  If players were unwilling to give up API data to evemon, EFT, EvEHQ, EVEcommander, EMMA, MEEP, eveMetrics and eve-central, those applications would have no reason to exist.  EvE without those applications would likely be a sparsely populated place indeed.
These two projects have a special place in the API trust realm.  Both of them have applications that allow the upload of market data (eve-central eve-metrics).  This data is then used by other applications to compute NAVs, determine profitable trade routes among many other purposes.  Without players trusting those applications with their APIs, this would not be possible and would by domino effect, bring down many other applications.
"Trust" is a necessary part of the game.  While a certain amount of paranoia is good for one's survival in-game: "Invite me to your fleet and I'll show you where there's a wormhole with much isk" or any non-contracted CNR sold in Jita.  Getting a little deep--Trust is similar to Love.  True Love requires a level of trust that, if betrayed can be devastating.  But if not betrayed can lead to the most fruitful and beneficial elements of life.

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