Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Corporate Individual

I was reading Serpentine Logic's reddit response to my weekly summary where I discuss taxes. He says:
"Taxes is a philosophical/organisational issue as well as a logistical one. Corp taxes makes it easier to administer a corporation from the top down, since it's a bottom up wealth transfer."
I liked this response a lot. It made me go, "Ah. That's what is bothering me. What is a corporation in this game?"

When the original subject of corporate taxes was broached to me as a CSM member I had to hold back my knee jerk reaction. My knee jerk reaction was, "No! How dare you tax me! I'm free! Freeeeeeeee! I'll participate because I want to!" However, my rebellion is not always well thought and the topic of corporate taxes was much larger than my little burst of independence.

Also when discussing corporate taxes people go, "Ship Replacement". Now, as someone who has never had ship replace and does not desire ship replacement it is a reason that is hard for me to work through. It is very easy to say, "I don't care about ship replacement." I don't. However, other people seem to care. People say that ship replacement improves their game play and causes them to play where they might not.

It is, I believe, an obvious answer that greater flexibility is needed for corporation activities. But, before that we need to look at the fact that a corporation in Eve is no longer a simple social group for players to do activities cooperatively. Corporations in Eve have accounts, savings, corporation assets, ship replacement programs, rental agreements, bills, supplies, alliance taxes, paychecks. Corporations in Eve are no longer just a social group that works together. If anything they have mutated to a point where their individuality has to be addressed.

My original worry was for the new players that will wind up in the shark tanks of high sec corporations that will tax them to death for things that they will never fulfill. However, these corporations kill die from their own poor structure. Also, this already happens. I am reacting I believe to my own first corporation and not looking at the big picture.

The big picture is that Eve corporations are living, breathing entities and they need flexibility and they need income. In the beginning, Eve was a MMO. Players would play and fight and make money and the corporation taxes would absorb money. But, as Eve aged the players aged as well and they started to create their own game.

My own personal examples are my market, my boosters, and my exploration. These are my three main income streams and none of them are taxable by my corporation but the NPCs I kill in combat sites. I don't want to have any of these things taxed but I'm not sure if being able to tax them would be bad. After all, if I disagree with the tax I can leave my corporation. Although, that is easier said than done just because an option is not the one you want does not mean it is not an option.

We have corporate income and we have decided(?) that bottom up income is for the best. I think what I am looking for is accountability of the corporation to the members. I also feel that many people would say no to this. Yet, I wonder if we can introduce some type of reasonable fiance sheet that a corporation can produce. If the corporation gains more potential to support itself through its members should it also gain more accountability to its members to see what they are doing with the assets. If the answer is that members should trust their leadership then I would  ask why should we change corporation taxation when the leadership should just trust the members to pay their taxes as agreed.

I very much want to empower corporations. But, I want to empower the corporation and not just the handful of people who run them. My discomfort with increased revenues of taxes is not coming from thinking those things are bad but it is coming from leaving the members pouring those assets into the corporation.

We will have to figure out what we want from these more flexible, greater corporations. I do not think it should just be taking from the membership. Do we want a tool powerful enough for us to create a true paycheck system? Where PvP corporations can sell loot and such as the corporation and then a simple series of button presses will pay them out? Are corporations for the members or are members for the corporation?

How real do we want corporations to be?


  1. Ain’t the sandbox wonderful? A little sand, a few rules of interaction and BAM! institutions emerge.

    “Are corporations for the members or are members for the corporation?” Yes & Yes

    “How real do we want corporations to be?” All the way kiddo. Corporations, being the primary means of in game player organization, should remain a morally neutral mechanic; equally utilizable for tremendous charitable good and despicable self aggrandizing evil. Let the players decide which path to take.

    Special note – I believe is already possible for corps to hand out auditing privileges at will. Doesn’t every corp already do that? What shenanigans are they up to anyway?


    1. The way rolls are right now handing someone auditing privileges may also hand them wallet privileges and let them offline every POS. It is why corporate roles are broken and need to be clear and sensible.

    2. The more alternatives available for the corporation the better, personally I'd like to see a greater ability to pay dividends to shareholders.
      In answer to the original question members make the corporation and the corporation is answerable to the members, no one is forcing anyone to remain in or put up with a badly run or toxic entity.

    3. Good thing I’ve never handed out auditing privileges. I might have been robbed blind!

      As greater granularity to corporation roles/taxes is introduced (which I’m all for) it leads me to ponder your finance sheet suggestion, “Yet, I wonder if we can introduce some type of reasonable fiance sheet that a corporation can produce.” Initially I thought it a wonderful idea as it would be terribly convenient but the more I ponder the more dubious I grow. Unlike handing out usable auditing privileges (which is CCP telling the players, “Here’s auditing options, you work it out”), some kind of game generated finance sheet, if guaranteed accurate, puts CCP in the position of doing auditing for the players and, if not guaranteed accurate, puts CCP in the position of creating a mechanic that (often?) lies to players.

      Do keep tossing ideas out Sugar. We’ll never know if an idea has legs until it’s actually on the floor trying to survive us malcontents hell bent on stomping it to death.


    4. handing someone auditing privileges may also hand them wallet privileges and let them offline every POS

      The Junior Accountant role is safe to hand out to everyone if you wish to be transparent. I do, so I do.

    5. Yes, but Jr accountant does not allow them to see the transaction log, they can Se the balance but are left to imagine how it was spent.

    6. and jr accountant can let them insure corporate ships...great way to awox an account balance

    7. I also feel like I've mostly seen answers from CEOs and people that run corps not people in them.

  2. Corporations should be able to hire players to perform professions. Such as mining, hauling, warfare, industrialist, explorer, salvager, etc. The incentive would be perks or bonuses that the corporation could provide the player in return for an income for both the player and a kickback to the corporation on said profession. For example ABC corporation hires miner and in return for maybe +x percent mining yield with required ore buyback at a corporation set price. When the miner transfers ore back to the corp the Corp can make profit. if the miner doesn't do the job, the Corp can cancel the perk, etc. I think giving corporation more abilities like this would make the game a much deeper and rewarding cooptive game


    1. If the corporation works that way who runs it? Do you see a defined line between management and employees happening? Are we corporation members or employees? Do we have part time jobs instead of corporation lifestyles?

  3. Have you ever read this: https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/The_Technocrat

    Volunteer organizations are tough to manage at the best of times. I think there needs to be more granularity with corporate security, but that also means more complexity too.

    I also think you could support corporations by levying a tax on the sales of other career materials. If the corp sets a 5% tax rate and I mine, they should get 5% of my mineral or ore sales, not just 5% of the missioners rewards. Same for exploration loot drops. Or maybe just tax all trade activities?

    1. The one thing you forget about is that unlike mission runners, market activities are already taxed, which means having a corp tax on market income means that those players will be paying corp tax + NPC tax whereas the mission runners only pay corp tax.

    2. How are they going to get 5% of your minerals? If you compressed or refined in a POS I could see the POS keeping a set percentage as tax for instance. But, outside of that?

  4. I think the question is from a administrative perspective what are some things that could be done to make running corporations easier and more pleasurable. I know a lot will have to do with logistics and wardeccing... but I think it's a serious problem. My last corp went dead due to an ill timed war-dec and now it's closed. Why put a lot if effort into running corps... if they end up not being with the time spent?

  5. Corps sit at an odd fork of the road. In some ways the intrude upon land that is closed to in incorporated groups and have powers that violate what many would consider to be private information. Yet they lack key abilities to prosper as their own entity. Ideally the full menu of options should be available to the organization and members should be able to see what options the organization selected. This would allow individual pilots to make individual decisions as to what freedoms they yield. Let the sand in the box blow with the wind and the organization's further differentiate themselves in what the ask and offer.

    Here are specific examples:
    Why can't a player own a pos or poco rather than have it granted to the corp upon anchoring?

    Why can a director see where and in what ship each pilot is in or logged?

    Why can a director see all kill mails associated with any member?

    Why are only some income sources taxable, there are organizations whose members activities are entirely untangle yet they still need money to operate?

    Why isn't there a corp role that allows the grantee to see all corp money transactions without having any spending authority (it seems like auditor would work this way yet it does not.)

    Why can't a corporation fire a pilot on the spot rather than having to wait until he docks or logs. I once had a corp thief make corp chat unusable, any real business would have been done with him on the spot.

    Why can't logi from one corp 8 an alliance rep a member of another corp of the same alliance without going suspect? This is a huge and not intuitive restriction on alliance fleets fighting war targets.

    Why ate there not personal ship storage at pos structures that work like personal storage. It seems funny that we protect our pilots ammo bit not their ships.

    Why can we remotely change the tax rates on a poco but not the ownership of the poco?

    New eden is a strange place.

    1. From doing history research corporations were meant to be more and suffered as many early mechanics did with being left a bit incomplete.

  6. I would like to see more granularity. And maybe give corporations the option to be more transparent when recruiting. Such as an option for you to see how many people in the corp have a certain role, ex. 96 of 100 members have that junior accountant or whatever that becomes. So when looking for a new corp a player could see how open or locked down a corp is. But only if the corp wants to share that info. Options, Options, Options.

    I would like better tools to make options more granular and then save popular settings.

    It would be good and useful for there to be in corp and out of corp investment mechanisms with easy to administer payout process. Maybe separate investment shares from voting shares?

    Options, Granularity, Saving Presets, Automation, Investment, Payouts, optional levels of Transparency, and better options in recruitment.

  7. Would a corp act differently if it were called a village and the CEO a mayor? What if it were a squadron and the boss were a commanding officer? Words are powerful and establish expectations on the nature of the relationship between the membership, staff and leadership. It would be nice to have some choices in how we label the organization. Caravan, village, syndicate, cartel, corporation, squadron, fleet, commune, collective, coop, navy, freeport, club, charity, school or armada.

    Am I a mayor, warlord, admiral, expedition leader, entertainer, tour guide, schoolmaster, warden or captain of industry?

    A rose by another name might not seem to smell the same.

    - Kynric

    1. Right now we are whatever we chose to be due to the lack of structure. Once we had it we may find some things harder to obtain. Or not.

    2. Yes, but wouldn't it be nice if the category were changed to "organizations" and the spit on the info panel which currently says things like "ceo" and "corporation" were changeable by either just a text input or a pull down of choices? It is a silly simple change but it communicates quite a lot. The words chosen set expectations: if we are a military company discipline is expected and individuals understand they have few rights, if it's a village it is expected that the organization provides a home but perhaps does not expect absolute obedience in fitting/fleet comp/member activities, if it is a business there are yet another set of expectations. The simple selection of two words carries a lot of baggage and communication as to what the organization is and what the membership should expect.

  8. We don't have very good accounting tools, especially not even payroll tools. Sure, people can do things out of game, but without efficient ingame tools, the number of players willing to spend copious amounts of time with balky, slow mechanics in order to play space-accountant will always be a very small one.

    We can't even use shares effectively, because mechanics for forced liquidation, splitting, and share classing are not particularly functional.

  9. You mention corporation accountability to members. This can be achieved right now by publishing a corp wallet API key to the members. Then anyone can inspect the corp transactions using http://ridetheclown.com/eveapi/audit.php or similar tools. If the members want transparency and accountability, they can agitate for this. But there is a greater risk of this information being leaked. (My alliance, by the way, does this--the alliance wallet is available for members to inspect.)

    Your personal income streams not being taxable is interesting. Corporations generally require API keys from members for audits, right? There's no reason a corp couldn't institute their own tax on these sorts of income, independent of any support from CCP. Set up a system that watches member wallets; once a week, or month, a corp finance person checks the tool and sends evemail to members with their tax bills. Members can pay, or not. If someone doesn't pay their taxes, the corp has to decide how to respond... kick them? Cease paying SRP? (Heck, the entire existing tax system could be tossed out the window, and make corporations deal with the whole thing themselves.) Transparency becomes a more interesting problem--how do members know that other members are paying taxes appropriately? It's easy if you're okay showing everyone's wallet to everyone else, but that seems unlikely.

    These out-of-game mechanisms are possible today, and create space for some interesting dynamics, don't you think?

    1. Aye, but will they make better or worse dynamics in the game?

      I've never been subject to a corporate audit. I don't know how I'd react to be honest.

    2. For me at least, it's not that the members demand to see the books, it is my desire to share them. I feel it is better to share the knowledge of how little we have and how it is spent than to deal with the imagination of how much we might have and how it could be wasted. Unlike some organizations in game, our money as a wormhole corp has to one way or another come from the members pocket. If more services are desired more must be taxed.

      It is perhaps worth asking why ccp gifts some organizations passive income that does not come from their membership while other organizations have no such opportunities. That is an out of character game design question and perhaps overly philosophical. That said I would be thrilled to fuel my towers and srp ships in a way that does not source the money from the members themselves.

      Also consider that some get to build very permanent structures for their membership such as outposts while others do not. Why exactly is it not possible to upgrade wormholes or build outposts? If an organization wanted to put the effort into low sec to upgrade it or provide different housing why is it similarly forbidden? One would presume the stacking of bricks to build a structure in one space would be much like it is in another. Whatever reason is suggested as to why it is bad on one hand should be taken into account and corrected for the other as it is likely equally bad.

    3. "Whatever reason is suggested as to why it is bad on one hand should be taken into account and corrected for the other as it is likely equally bad."

      Reason: Variety is good to have.
      Correction: None is required.

    4. Would you use "variety" to justify "separate but equal." I think most would agree separate but equal is rarely equal. So why is it good game design to give one class of player/corporation options that you do not give another?

      Things that are physically different are fine. If the hole is to small to pass the boat that is understood. But to allow some to improve their homes while having no method for others to do so is bad. Why is it acceptable to make one type of corp so much more vulnerable to thievery than another? Why does a stack all work in a station quickly but it is a lag inducing issue at a pos? The fact that so few use the pos interface has much to do with its terriblevstate. Why not correct this by just putting destructible outposts with a reasonable reinforce mechanic as an option for wormholes. Add a few guns on the outside to prevent docking games and the experience would not be that much different from a pos yet would have numerous quality of life improvements. A corp project to build one would not be terrible either.

  10. The only problem I see with taxation is that only ratters pay the tax. A miner can pay his tax on the base of trust. That works well in a corporation where the players work together.
    But the trader has a hard job. If he does a good job in selling and buying stuff all the time it is hard to tell how much profit is made. Adding to the market taxes a small corporate tax of 0.1 to 0.5% would allow a corp to tax the activity of trading and also have a measurement about the activity of your trading dudes.

    As a corp CEO I don't see taxes as the evil part stealing the money of its members but as a tool to check activity. If someone is less active there might be a problem and I can talk to him whats wrong.

    And while at taxation, a corporation LP account would be great to reward a high sec corp with faction stuff.

  11. Wow! This quick tread of comments is overwhelmingly chock full of amazing stuff. Taxes, payrolls, transparency (in both directions, members eyeballing management, management eyeballing members), share options, labeling ('CEO' vs 'Warlord') . . .

    I'm starting to think CCP should approach Corporation Management as a style of game play in its own right rather than mostly as a vehicle to enable something else.

    So, for example, right now auditing options are purely a matter of management ticking a role to either enable the option or not while for the player in question no in game skills are required to utilize the option. This leads to at least two things . . . 1) Corporation Management in and of itself is a rather emaciated career path to follow (only seven skills total in the skill tree by my count) and 2) makes managing corporations an overwhelming 'all's available at once' type of game play - there's very little progression.

    Though I'm hesitant to see CCP spam more skills into the game it might make sense here to add more corporation management skills such that the skills in question open up more and more corporation management options and granularity. This, hopefully, would turn corporation management into an in game career path (which there seems to be great interest in - see numerous details above) and to slow the rate at which newbs can get themselves into terrible trouble by being handed a powerfully dangerous set of tools en masse from the get go. (If opening up an option requires training time players are more likely to take a good hardnosed look at what they’re getting into.)

    Everything’s done but the work,

  12. To me, taxes allow corporations to track individual actions. If more things were taxed that means more internal transparency.

    RL corporations are loathe to release statistics, but surely they have the ability to track their own data...unlike eve corporations. lol

    I keep my tax % to 1

    1. Okay, so what is the corporation and what is the player here?

      Are we handing ourselves over to be controlled, followed, and monitored by video game jobs? What are we being transparent about? Honestly, why am I beholden to my corporation to know every activity that I do so that they can tax it as they see fit?

    2. Exactly, so why does the CEO have the ability to see where you are as well as all killmails associated with you? It's fine to have these as options but it would be better for the corp and/or members to be able to opt out of this level of monitoring.

    3. i want to know who's active and who's a freaking AFK waste of space alt spy.
      i want to know why that corp member is making a dickmove because he's got nothing better to do, or if he's getting distracted alot in a mission/trading/etc.

      video game "job"? I dunno how 1% tax to keep tabs on large amounts of people is going to be seen as "controlling, following, monitoring"? How the hell has that amount of time to spent keeping tabs on things CCP hasn't even coded yet and hasn't bothered in over 10 years??

      If anyone wanted to be 'opted' out of killmails i'd be instantly suspicious of their rabid need for 'privacy' and anonymity in a game that is currently a haven for alt griefing.

  13. Ignoring JFK's famous quote as an object lesson, what exactly can a corporation do for you? It can get you ganked for free (fratricide; safari; awoxer) and wardecced for pennies (LOL. 50m isk a week? TROLOLOL)...beyond the vague promise of a veteran passing on knowledge to recruits, i've never seen the advantage in belonging to a corporation beyond person friendship and a statement of loyalty with a side of roleplay.

    Seriously though, i can't see any disadvantage for my character(s) playing as NPC corporate members. Hell, there's probably more potential for high sec profit in being in an NPC corp - avoiding fratricide & wardecs.

    ahhhhhhhhh...that's the thing, Kyle: If we increase the amount of things taxed it would promote the NPC campers to move away from their abodes into less taxed player corps.

    course, then we'd get more characters with unsavoury employment history of quit/join/quit/join and a vastly increased amount of prey on which the griefers feed upon.


    1. I realize some corps provide little, but others by necessity provide quite a lot. My own organization, which lives in a wormhole provides a POS to gather at, another as public housing for newer members, pocos, teamspeak, an out of game forum, the mapping software upon which adds so much to our experience, some supplies which the community needs, provides for the community defense, and access to the bookmarks which aid greatly in traversing our surroundings. Those items are not free for the corp to obtain and are quite valuable as well as necessary for our way of life. While our income sources are limited. We can tax PI and ratting, however some member, perhaps even a majority, do not participate in either of those activities. Gassing and sleepers are not easily taxed. My point is that with the current infrastructure some activities are more easily monetized than others. Yes there are workarounds and out of game methods and just plain holding out the can. But if the goal is to facilitate providing content there are likely better ways. Something as simple as a monthly dues bill that functions for the individual in much the same way as a monthly alliance bill. Or perhaps a monthly split of among flagged members not unlike divedends however subtely different in that past months awards do not affect current months splits. Divelidends as they are are too permanent for dividing the organizations profits. Time spent managing money is time not spent generating content.

    2. A few posts back Sugar commented off hand that POCO’s were misnamed as they’re really Corporation Owned Customs Offices (COCOs). The more accurate renaming, in addition to being filled with chocolaty goodness, points at a way to think of Corporations as institutions in their own right completely disconnected from the individual members in the corporation. (Players don’t own customs offices, rather corporations that happen to be run by players own customs offices.)

      It might make sense for CCP to start considering corporations as entities in their own right rather than merely as vehicles for players to band together. Part of the difficulty we face now is that, unlike individual players who can choose particular careers and subsequent skill paths, corporations are one size fits all entities. Accordingly, non-combat corporations still enable in corp remote repair (and thus also awoxing) even though the particular corporation never plans to use remote repair.

      If corporations, like individual players, were allowed to begin minimally and then specialize/diversify from there a lot of the tucked away mine fields might prove much easier to navigate. (See Kynric above for some interesting thoughts on how corporations could specialize.)

      If it was made much clearer that there are many things only player corporations can do or, equally important, only player corporations can do better it would make manifest exactly what a corporation can do for you. Picking an example out of the air, currently the Accounting skill lowers transaction taxes. What if membership in a specialized merchant corporation multiplied that affect? Since the corporation is handing you a benefit it seems reasonable it should be able to charge you for it (tax). Ideally, there’ll be a sweet spot that benefits both the corp and the individual player where the individual player is still paying lower total transaction taxes while the corporation still gets a cut. As everybody is now being handed a reward there also needs to be introduction of risk. Currently the risk can be nigh overwhelming for such small benefit (awoxing, wardeccing, etc . . .) but if the risk was better tailored to the specific benefit (?inter corp trade disputes?) corporation membership would look a lot more appealing.

      This is an absolutely massive re-thinking of how Eve corporations work but, nonetheless, fun to speculate about.


  14. I would approach the problem from an entirely pragmatic point of view: what do people currently try to do in corporations, and how do we make that suck less?

    Two examples:

    When we were in high sec, we held regular mining ops. The ore from the op was divided equally among the attendees. The goal was to get newbies some ISK and some camaraderie, without being limited to the capabilities of their mining frigate (this was before the Venture). That was handled by the same very small group of veterans, who had the requisite spreadsheets and the Hulks and the freighters, and who had done it all for years.

    Then we moved into a wormhole, and did more or less the same thing with site running ops.

    Would you consider it worthwhile to make that sort of thing easier? How? If a corp wants to pay out based on what's put in (easier with mining than with WH anom running), should that be an option? I know there are corps that go about ops that way.

    tl;dr: collect a whole bunch of use cases, add a list of what people would really like to do except for the rassin' frassin' corp interface, and go from there.