Monday, August 20, 2012

Massive Ego Finally Coalesces into Website

While I was on vacation a new news site was launched as a direct competitor to The Mittani Dot Com. Despite my little dig about the name of the site in the title of this post, apparently it was not The Mittani's (the Spaceship Politician) idea:
First off, the name. Nobody who knows much about Eve Online thinks that The Mittani himself is a shy or retiring individual who has to be coaxed into offering his opinion, nor one who is reluctant to step out of the shadows. As such, I imagine that there is a natural presumption that the site name was his decision, and that it is an example of the industrial-scale hubris that led to Goonswarm’s capital system being renamed “Mittaningrad”. In fact, I chose the name despite his concerns. Mittani himself wanted the site to be called something very worthy and descriptive like “Internet Spaceship News” or the like: dull enough that I genuinely can’t remember.
“The Mittani” has become a brand: one of the most recognisable and googled phrases or labels in Eve, it simply has recognition value that we would have struggled to create with anything else. I wanted us to profit from the better part of a decade of work and history that many new websites would give their right arm to possess. Although I admit that the would-be customers of, say, a travel site start-up might be a bit confused by the name. And the consequences of seeking to piggyback on that history for a sensitivity-training and human resources dotcom would be downright disastrous.
I remember reading, several years ago now, one of our enemies sagely informing his alliance that there was no “The Mittani”: that it was a shadowy group who used the fictional character of “The Mittani” as a nom de plume through which to speak to Goons and Eve. I think that we have all seen that gelled hair often enough now to know that he was wrong at the time, but in the end he wasn’t that far off
Also in that "About" post is this nice little paragraph about balance:
There are other news sites for Eve, too, but the level of quality tends to be awful. With a few exceptions, articles tend to be scrawled in a patois only vaguely related to any written language known to man, while desperation for content means that badly-disguised sock-puppet pieces explaining the links between Test Alliance and the Knights Templar appear with alarming regularity. Syndicated blogs tend to be of mixed quality at best, and bias is not just tolerated but celebrated.
I am all for the digs about other news sites and I agree that syndicating blogs can be a mixed bag as the writers of blog posts work for themselves and allow the syndication feed to use their content as filler as they see fit. Full disclosure: I am syndicated at Eve News 24 and I have no idea what posts Riverini or Bagehi will select from my feed. (UPDATE: bagehi is no longer an editor at EN24, but he was responsible in the past for syndicated article selection.) But the implication that TheMittaniDotCom's staff writers will be wonderfully all perfect writers and free from bias seems far fetched.

Take for example this post by writer Andski titled "The Off-Grid Boosting Argument". In it he explains the basic mechanics of off grid boosting and states that the "ability of a ship to give such powerful bonuses without being at risk is controversial" and then goes into his reasons why he thinks the mechanics should not be changed. This post is fine as it is but its obvious the author is a null sec pilot with little insight into low sec and/or small gang mechanics, as this line demonstrates:
For smaller engagements, the boosting ships would simply be on grid at a “safe” distance, keeping an eye out for probes and staying aligned - effectively preserving the status quo, even if a few poorly-flown T3s are blown up once in a blue moon.
Anyone who has been in smaller engagements would know that combat in low sec is a very fluid thing that flows from grid to grid as pilots warp to gates, jump through gates, fight in complexes, etc. A lot of choke points to grab and kill or drive off a boosting ship. And even if  boosting Tech IIIs only get killed "once in a blue moon" during combat that is far better than the current state of 'never'. But I'm not here to debate the author on this topic right now; what I want to point out is that this is a excellent jumping off point for the editors of the site to get another writer to compose a counter-point article to argue why off grid boosting should be changed. Otherwise they are just as biased and "mixed quality" as they rail against.

Finally, I've heard it stated that TheMittaniDotCom has 20 or more staff writers. During my time on the Eve Tribune it became obvious that writers have a quiver of article ideas that they are chomping at the bit to write. Some have a few, some have more, but either way once that quiver is empty the enthusiasm for writing articles week after week drops and the attrition rate of writers that stop writer is horrendously high. For the Tribune, a recruitment drive that brought in 5 new writers would see four of them done after 4 weeks. And the fifth writer that sticks for longer eventually gets taken out by boredom, real life, or quitting Eve.

This is one reason why Eve News 24 went with blog syndication. Since blog writers are typically writing for fun and have a common thread and purpose to keep writing, burnout rates are lower. Plus you can pick and choose which posts to pick up from a large pool instead of having a small pool that puts more pressure on staff writers. The trade off is the biases and quality control as stated earlier.

All in all, I'm happy to see another news site and I truly wish TheMittaniDotCom well on its venture. I also hope this shakes up Eve News 24 to improve and try to broaden its content and perhaps need fewer of Ripard Teg's posts as content. (Yes, I am jealous, why do you ask?)


  1. Bagehi is a staff writer for Hope that helps.

  2. @Powers. Not sure what your point is. If you're holding up the fact that an editor for EN24 is a writer on as an example that the latter is fair and balanced, I think you miss the point of my post.

  3. Powers is a forum/blog warrior (aka sock puppet - ironic, ain't it?) for Mittens inc. His raison d'etre is to surf the forums and blogosphere in order to discover and dispute any content related to Mittens or Goonswarm that lacks the "correct" brand Mittani spin.

    Power's purpose is not to understand the point of your post. He's merely here to make sure anything you write that might be perceived by your readers as critical of Mittens inc. is quickly, if only nominally, rebutted.

  4. Thanks for the added publicity! We've been delighted with the reception the new site has received, especially with the members of alliances hostile to Goons, who have been surprised by the attempts to remain broadly neutral, and who have in many cases had article published.

    Powers was simply correcting a factual error in your piece, in which you seem to believe that Bagehi remains at en24 (he has moved to and is a welcome addition to the team). You'll note that he didn't "rebut" anything from your piece that was critical of Mittens.

    I'd say that you were perhaps a little unfair to miss out the paragraph in my intro where I discuss the difficulties of remaining impartial and the effects of editorial ownership upon any journal, but perhaps you didn't spot that bit?

  5. @Avizandum: Ah, I understand what Powers was trying to do, thanks for the clarification. I'll update the post.

    As for the difficulties eliminating bias, perhaps it was unfair of me to not mention your acknowledgement of the problem, but that does not invalidate my criticism that you dismiss broadly syndicated blogs and then host articles that are essentially biased blog posts by another name.

  6. I don't know why riverini selects the blog posts of mine he does, either. And I know it's riverini and not Bagehi that chose from my blog. It's certainly not my intent to be anything over an occasional bit of content on EN24, but I have little to no control over what percentage that turns out to be.

  7. I think bias is not only unavoidable, it's acceptable. Providing the article is clearly stated as either an opinion piece or a straight-up news report, its down to the reader to take what we wants from it. It's inevitable the is going to have content that is sympathetic to the null-sec or Goonswarm perspective and at least the choice of website title doesn't shy away from that.

    I agree that provides an interesting counterpoint to EN24 coverage and as their coverage overlaps, it will be interesting as a reader to be able to compare and contrast the perspectives.

    Providing it's all written in a decent standard of English, I'm happy to be a regular reader of both.

    And I too would like to see EN24 rely less heavily on the lazy practice of "syndicating" blogs, unless they're going to accept that they can no longer provide the content to operate as a legitimate news site and go the whole hog into being a blogpost recycling site.