Monday, June 25, 2012

Fiddler's War

"I intend to demonstrate to this rabble the consequence of actually provoking us to true war.
You have three days to prepare. We – and ‘We’ means ‘Everyone’ – are going to Delve, and it will burn.  No mercy, no respite, no ‘freeports’, just brutal conquest – conquest which will not stop until this threat to our bloc is extinguished.  If that means that we must set all of Catch on fire to remind this ex-NC, ex-IT, ex-BoB excrement of their proper place in the universe, so be it."

- Mittens declares war against -A-, Raiden[DOT] and Nulli Secundus alliances

I write this floating in Goonswarm nullsec space; a song in my heart and a covert cyno generator glowing softly on my HUD.

Mittens' strategy for his war on empire space rests on the supposition that he will be free to call the tempo of the conflict.  His forces, he supposes, will launch attacks at the time and place of their choosing while his targets, the denizens highsec and lowsec alike, will be helpless to do anything but react to his attacks where and when they occur.  His own forces and resources based out of nullsec should be, by common Eve-O wisdom, secure from any credible threat from the direction of empire.

After all, the reasoning goes, highsec carebears haven't the will or the wherewithal to mount any sort of campaign against him.  And even if they did, and could make common cause with some of the small gang PvP elite who ply the lowsec roads to nullsec, the latter are too fractious and scornful of large fleet PvP operations to present a credible threat to Goonswarm's nullsec holdings. 

Thus Mittens feels himself free to turn his attention from empire in order to lead the Deklein coalition into a new nullsec war, this time in Delve/Querious/Fountain against the forces of Against All Authorities (-A-) and Raiden[dot] who deployed there over the weekend in support of Nulli Secunda.  The Delve scene has been slowly escalating for some time, driven primarily by the limited availability of meaningful sov war action elsewhere since the wheels fell off the Drone Russian coalition.

You'll recall that Red Alliance, driven from their drone space holdings, attempted to resettle in Delve and was battling with Nulli Secunda to that end.  For want of other mischief, Pandemic Legion pounced on Nulli and Red Alliance, playing the spoiler against both alliances, and were soon joined in the spoiler's role by Test Alliance Please Ignore.  Red Alliance shifted the bulk of their efforts to Querious while Nulli Secunda has carried on fighting in Delve.  Over time there's been a slow build up of Deklein forces joining the fray in Delve, and Nulli has been hard pressed. 

Now, with -A- and Raiden riding to Nulli's rescue, Mittens has announced publicly that Goonswarm will go "all in" on the conflict.  One might wonder why he would do so.  After all, the advantage in the conflict was arguably already with the Deklein/Pandemic forces even after the arrival of the -A- and Raiden reinforcements.  Adding fresh Goon forces to the fight needn't have been done in such a noisy fashion.  It seems that Mittens wishes to not merely win the fight for Delve, but win it in a manner as decisive as the Branch campaign earlier this Spring; to shatter the troublesome Raiden once and for all and land a crippling blow on -A- in the process.  Further, announcing a total war posture publicly allows Mittens to claim ownership of the conflict despite the fact that so many Deklein forces are already engaged.  Thus, though Mittens arrives late to the feast, the place of honor and the laurels for a Delve victory would go entirely to him. 


Regular readers of The Edge will recall that announcing an "all in" campaign is a door that swings both ways.  Having taken ownership of the Delve campaign, Mittens has staked his reputation on not only winning it, but winning it in a profoundly decisive manner.  Anything less will be a severe blow to Goonswarm morale.  Responding to Mittens' announcement, some wildly confident Goon posters in various forums are already declaring victory, though the all-in deployment has yet to occur.  A wise leader would recall what I've said elsewhere as to how much mass hubris has in nullsec.

War is, by its nature, uncertain.  Nullsec alliances, yet uncommitted, could get pulled into the Delve campaign on either side.  Secondary fronts may open in support of the anti-Goon forces.  Any number of nullsec entities, seeing Mittens fully committed in Delve, may take the opportunity to attack him elsewhere for a bit of payback or a few lulz, or a little bit of both.  War gives birth to the unpredictable, makes mock of the mighty and turns conventional wisdom on its head.

Which brings me to the subject of irony.

I have often pointed out that Goonswarm has a long strand of carebear in its DNA.  For many years a central tenet of Goondom has been that even the least pilot contributes to the greater victory; that in sufficient numbers, humble pilots flying humble ships can make life hell for even the best trained and best equipped enemy given determination, grit and a few good leaders. This is the idea that put the swarm in Goonswarm.  And amidst all that shiny technetium, and the supercaps and Tengu fleets it buys, it seems an idea Mittens has forgotten. 

Now, despite his own alliance's history and culture, Mittens turns his back on empire in order to strike at Delve.  Despite having raised a storm of ill-will there, he is confident that this rabble of carebears and pirates will not dare raise their hands against him while he's away.  And even if they did, what possible harm could those humble pilots flying their humble ships do the man who sits astride nullsec's Technetium throne?

Rise up you bears. Rise up.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Trip to Bountiful

Never let it be said that Mord Fiddle is not a helpful bear.

As many of you know already, Mittens has implemented a bounty system that pays enterprising Goons for podding persons on his enemies list.  For most Goons, the glory of podding one of the Beloved Leader's hated enemies would be reward enough.  However Mittens, being mindful that glory doesn't pay the bar bill or fit out that shiny new Tengu, is sweetening the reward for those minions who lay low his special enemies. 

Now, there are a lot of Goons who would love to join this parade of cash and glory.  Alas, the ratio of Goons to bounty targets means the competition for the honor of ganking one of them will be fairly fierce.  And, alas again, what with highsec being a slightly dangerous place for the undisguised Goon these days, the solo hunting and killing of an Enemy Of Mittens (EOM) can be problematic.  One is more likely to end up the poddee than the podder should one simply wander up from nullsec and start sniffing around Jade Constantine's neighborhood without some trusty Goon muscle at your back.

And at the end of the day, does an enterprising young Goon want to share the cash and glory from the kill with a bunch of trusty Goon muscle when he/she can keep all the cash and glory for him/her self?

No. Not so much.

On the other side of this fence we have the bounty targets.  While Mittens' setting a bounty on their collective heads could be construed as a negative, there is an upside to it as well:  Their deaths have been imbued with a non trivial cash value.  There are lowsec pirates who would sell their eye-patches and peg-legs in order to swagger about with an half-billion isk price on their heads.  Admittedly, the value can only be paid out to a Goon or to a member of one of their close highsec affiliates such as Goonwafie.  However the value is there if it can be extracted.

So, the Goons lining up to execute the bounty targets and claim Mittens' largess in cash and glory represent the demand side of a price equation.  And since the set of bounty targets control the supply side of the equation (I shall call it the Mittens Enemy Cartel) they can reap a financial windfall from their status as a member of Mittens' enemies list.  Thus, we have the foundation for a lucrative market that could benefit bounty hunter and bounty target alike. 

For a price, a bounty target can arrange to be "ambushed" and podded by an enterprising Goonswarm bounty hunter.  Now, this is a common practice among lowsec pirates and griefers, done using the in-game bounty system.  However with the Mittens' enemies list the financial rewards are much higher than the average Concord bounty;  and there are intangible rewards beyond cash for the Goon bounty hunter.  Thus the negotiated price for the opportunity to pod Jade Constantine (Jade being higher profile target within Goondom) should sell for more than the opportunity to off Mabrick (sorry Mab) even if the actual bounties offered for the two of them were the same.  Further, while Concord does not scrutinize poddings or the mail and convo logs of participants in poddings to prevent this sort of deal-making, Mittens surely will.  Thus, any consensual EOM poddings must look genuine. 

However, one essential element is required to make this a functional market:  Trust.

That's were I come in. I am willing to offer my services as an intermediary between bounty hunters and bounty targets seeking to arrange consensual EOM poddings.

If you are a Goon and have a target in mind, contact me via the Hyperspace Com Uplink listed at the top right of the page.  Provide me with your in-game name, the in-game name of your preferred victim, the in-game name of the toon that will execute the kill (if different from your own) and the price you are willing to pay for a consensual podding.

If you are a bounty target (or believe you are) looking to cash in on your new-found value to Goondom, contact me via the Hyperspace Com Uplink listed at the top right of the page.  Provide me with your in-game name and the minimum price you are willing to accept for a consensual podding.

When a match between bounty hunter and target has been made and a price agreed upon, the hunter will transfer the payment to me by a means I will communicate.  The podding will then be scheduled and the details communicated to the hunter.
  • If the podding goes off as planned, the payment will be forwarded to the target. 
  • If the target backs out, fails to make the agreed upon appointment, or accidentally gets him/herself podded prior to the appointment by another bounty hunter, the payment will be returned to the hunter in full.  
  • If the target makes the agreed-upon appointment but is podded by someone other than the hunter, the payment will be forwarded to the target in full unless deception on the targets part (a friendly gank, for example) is evident.  In such cases the payment will be returned to the hunter.
  • If the hunter backs out, or fails to make the agreed-upon appointment, the payment will be forwarded to the target in full. 
  • If both parties fail to make the agreed-upon appointment I will retain the payment.  It is perilous to waste my time. 

What happens in the Consensual EOM Podding program stays in the Consensual EOM Podding program.

For obvious reasons, participants should not contact each other or representatives of the Consensual EOM Podding program in game.  All information regarding participants in the Consensual EOM Podding program will be kept in strict confidence.  In game identities will not be communicated to either party except in a manner that minimizes the chances of their being explicitly identified as participants in the Consensual EOM Podding program.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Visitor

In American crime novels of the "Noir" school there is often a scene in which the protagonist (never hero, Noir protagonists are often as touched by darkness as are their opposites) is confronted by the story's lead antagonist; a master criminal, crooked official or underworld boss.  Said antagonist may be, in his way, as likeable or darkly admirable as he is dangerous.  He is often portrayed as both genial and powerful, capable of dispensing favors as easily as he dispenses violence and mayhem.

At a high level, such scenes are formulaic:  The lead antagonist confronts the protagonist, often in an office setting.  The protagonist's actions against the lead antagonist's plans or organization to date are trivialized by the lead antagonist, who may dismiss them as 'amusing' or 'a mere inconvenience'.  The lead antagonist then attempts to convince the protagonist that continued resistance to the lead antagonist's plans or organization is unreasonable.  While simple, this little literary device has vast utility from a plot exposition standpoint and lends itself to endless variations on its basic theme.  Consequently,  it is deeply ingrained in popular film and literature.

Last week Mittens suddenly showed up on my virtual doorstep*.  And as we engaged in a brief back and forth, I couldn't help but smile as the old noir plot device came to mind. 
Mittens:  "You keep trying to provoke me. It's adorable. :D Unfortunately for you, I enjoyed your bacon post too much, back in the day."

Mord Fiddle: "Doh! Curse my l33t writing skills." 

Mittens:  "I mean, feel free to write more blog posts about me, they're off base about the purpose of miniluv, but they feed the ego!  Miniluv is primarily aimed at eve-o badposters, not bloggers, though some bloggers may get caught in the crossfire."

Mord Fiddle:  "Glad you're enjoying them. The purpose of Miniluv is no never mind to me. Just step back from the bloggers and we're all good."

Now,  New Eden is littered with the frozen corpses and broken fortunes of persons who have taken Mittens' words at face value.  Mittens' raison d'etre is misinformation and misdirection and it's wise to keep that knowledge in sharp focus whenever he's talking in your direction.  With that in mind, let's break this little chat down.

The fact that Mittens side-stepped a private convo and communicated this publicly via Twitter indicates that he is interested in sending a message not merely to Mord Fiddle, but to the larger audience watching Mittens' war on bloggers and to the bloggers themselves.  So this is a note meant to communicate at two levels.

When someone announces to all and sundry within earshot that something you've done to bother them hasn't bothered them, you can rest assured that you have, in fact, bothered them.  Thus, when Mittens goes out of his way to say in a public forum that my recent posts and chin pussy tweaks have not provoked or otherwise harmed him, the smart money is on the opposite.  Mind, I don't think he's suffering some dark night of self-doubt or putting down palace coups over anything I've written.  But the protest itself bespeaks a certain discomfort - as if his minions are beginning to suppress giggles whenever they look him in the, face.

For those not up to speed on their Goon-speak, the "Miniluv" he refers to is the Ministry of Love; both Mitten's enemies list and the ongoing harassment of those whose names are writ thereupon.  It is ground zero in Mitten's war on his critics in the Eve Online media.  In our little exchange, Mittens tells me that I've got him all wrong and that Miniluv isn't aimed at Eve bloggers.  Miniluv, he says, only targets "badposters" in the Eve Online Forums.  Eve bloggers on Mittens' enemies list?  Regrettable but unavoidable collateral damage according to Mittens.

At first blush this appears to be Mittens doing a walk-back from the original statements of intent, which do not discriminate between media outlets or types.  However, at the end of the day it has the tang of sophistry.  Most members of the Eve blogosphere and podcast net also post in the Eve Online forums at one time or another.  In fact, statistically speaking, bloggers and podcasters are probably more likely to post in the Eve forums than their non blogger/podcaster counterparts.  If "forum crossfire" is intended as verbal cover for the continued intimidation of bloggers the full force of my righteous anger shall continue to fall upon him, his chin pussy, and his unfortunate followers.

If, on the other hand, Mittens ceases his intimidation of bloggers (I note, for example, the Goons have not renewed their war on Mabrick's tiny highsec corporation) through overt or covert means, he will have met the first of my terms for his surrender.

In that case, peace with honor in our time may be within reach.

* Fiddler's Note: The exchange occurred on Twitter, but I dislike describing non-avian communications using words 'tweet' and 'twitter'.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Presumption of Safety Reconsidered

The Goon war against highsec in general and Mittens-hostile bloggers in particular has not been going well for the Goons.  Jade Constantine over at the Star Fraction alliance has turned things on their ear by making the war declared by 9,000 member Goonswarm alliance against his 100 person highsec alliance a mutual war, which prevents Goonswarm from withdrawing from the war at their discretion, and them inviting all comers to ally themselves against the aggressors.

Many corporations and alliances joined the war on Star Fraction alliance's side.  Suddenly the worm has turned.  Despite significantly outnumbering Star Fraction and company, the Goons find themselves aggressively hunted whenever they leave nullsec.  Their losses, particularly near highsec market hubs, have begun to pile up as both carebears and pirates from high and lowsec combine to extract tears from a powerful nullsec alliance whose leader presently sits astride nullsec's Technetium throne.

For a moment it appeared as if the door of emergent game-play swung both ways. However, CCP could not allow this embarrassment of Goonswarm to stand.

CCP is moving quickly to restore the balance of power and make sure massive nullsec alliances are at no risk of peril of in highsec should they wardec a tiny carebear corporation.  Because apparently that's just wrong.   Jester does a nice summery of the wardec nerf and I won't repeat it here.  However, as CCP leaps to Goonswarm's defense against the patchwork of high and lowsec entities allied against it, a few points do bear calling out.

The Goonwar against Jade Constantine was intended by the Goons as a forever war - the same sort of forever war the Goons object to being locked into against Jade's allies.  The goal was to either drive him from Eve Online altogether or to shut him up through in-game griefing and intimidation.  First they would wear down and destroy his highsec alliance through constant harassment.  Subsequently they planned to isolate him in game by maintaining the Goon wardec on him and any Eve player corporation or alliance that would have him.

This is not game-play.  This is harassment.

The same sort of harassment was applied to White Rose Conventicle who has since left game and shut down her blog.  She was targeted for speaking out against The Mittani on her blog during the CSM election and the Alliance Panel debacle.   Mabrick of Mabricks Mumblings and his four person corporation is likewise under a Goon wardec for having the temerity to give his opinions about The Mittani in an out-of-game blog.

Again, the goal in all these cases is not to acquire isk or territory, good fights or any other usual in-game reward, but to leverage Goonswarm's large membership and vast wealth to harass and bully targeted individuals.

As of this writing, the Jade's allies 'dogpiling' Goonswarm do not come close to matching Goonswarm's numbers. In fact, most of them have no presence in nullsec and are not a territorial threat to Goonswarm.  What they have done is remove the presumption of safety from highsec for Goonswarm.

Given The Mittani's recent Ten Ton Hammer screed on that very subject, it is ironic that Jade Constantine is forcing the Goons to live out the Mittani's highsec vision; but from the point of view of the hunted rather than the hunter.  Seems the Goons war on highsec assumed they'd be able to leverage the very presumption of safety Mitten's so recently decried.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Victory Conditions

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

A few of you have emailed me to point out that I have not named the conditions under which I would accept Mittens' surrender.  Point well taken.  While Mittens initiated his war on the Eve blogosphere, a person of good conscience would not deny him a means to step back from hostilities and make amends with the blogging/podcasting community.

Well, I am nothing if not just and merciful. 

Therefore, I present you the terms and conditions Mittens must fulfill in order to assuage my righteous anger, put aside our current enmity, and end my ruthless attacks upon the abominable mound of facial hair clinging to the end of his chin:
  • Mittens will end all wars and hostile actions (both overt and covert)  being conducted against Eve bloggers and podcasters
  • Mittens will pay a generous reparation to those bloggers and podcasters against whom he and his alliance have conducted wars and hostile actions (both overt and covert)
  • A generous reparation payment to Mord Fiddle is not required (but it couldn't hurt)  
  • Mittens will issue a public apology to the Eve blogosphere for his attempted intimidation of that body
  • Mittens will shave off his chin pussy
  • Proof of chin pussy removal will be provided by sending Mord Fiddle a picture of Mittens' shaved visage alongside the dated front page of a major newspaper (or the Milwaukee Journal if no major newspaper is reasonably available)
In the event Mittens sees fit to accept these terms, which are both fair and merciful, I shall stand down and put the matter behind us.

Until then, follow your spirit, and upon this charge cry 'God for bloggers, New Eden and Saint Mord!'

Exeunt. Alarum, and chambers go off 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking, 'What's gotten into Mord?  Why is a guy who normally takes a thoughtful, arms-length approach to Eve Online suddenly getting in Mitten's face?  Why is Mord baiting Mittens, teasing Mittens, tugging at Mitten's chin pussy and all but double-dog-daring him and his 9,000 Goons to come get some?'

And I can't blame you.  After all, there's not much in this blog's DNA that would lead a reader believe the author given to picking any sort of a fight, let alone one so obviously out of his weight class.  Normally, I prefer to go my way.  I observe.  I think.  I write.  I chronicle the times.  Jita burns, yet I am well.  Hulkageddon rages, yet I am well.  Wars abound, yet I am well.  On most days, the accompanying sound and fury are no never mind to me except insofar as they are leading indicators of events yet unseen; vibrations in the Eve zeitgeist that tell a larger tale.

So why am I suddenly afflicting my intelligent, insightful readership with a steady diet of Mittens-related slapstick and hijinks?  Well, therein hangs a tale.

Pull up a chair.

From an emotional standpoint, Mittens does not appear to be dealing well with the loss of his seat on the CSM.  And I get that. It was brutal.  It was humiliating.  There he was, hero of the Incarna wars, bane of the Drone Russians and newly elected Council of Stellar Management 7 chairperson.  The gaming media loved him, a much humbled CCP was in all manner deferential, and even his in-game enemies were giving him props and high-fives.  He was riding a high.  He was holding the brass ring.  He was living the dream.

And...he booted it.

The details surrounding Mitten's removal from the CSM are well documented elsewhere.  Most of you will know the words to that song by heart, so I won't bother you with an encore.  Personally, I'm neither here nor there on the events themselves or how they were handled by the involved parties at the time.  Looking back at the coverage of the matter in the gaming media, the blogosphere and the podcast channels, commentary on the subject ran the entire spectrum of opinion; from condemnation of Mittens as a calculating cyberbully to outrage over the the unjust persecution of Mittens the internet hero.  Many opinions were opined.  Thus was Mittens welcomed into the harsh reality of internet celebrity.

Celebrity, particularly internet celebrity, is like a sociopathic girlfriend.  When things are going well they're astonishingly, breathtakingly, wall-bangingly amazing.  When they're not going well and she's setting fire to your bedroom or nailing family pets to your front door....  Well, less so.  Confronted with the bunny-boiler manifestation of internet fame, there's not much to do but put your feet up, crack open a Raging Bitch (a very aggressive IPA by Flying Dog which I heartily recommend when the winds of celebrity blow ill), find your happy place and plan for a better day.  Unfortunately for CCP, Mitten's happy place seems to have a zip code somewhere between retribution and vengeance.

It appears Mitten's Alliance Panel faux-pas during this years FanFest put CCP in a bit of a PR bind.  This occurred as they prepare for the release of Dust 514 and, it is understood, court partnership with a larger media concern.  After all, selling games is about selling fun.  There's not going be a lot of investor interest or growth potential in Eve Online if it becomes perceived as a game that's only fun to players prone to acts of mental cruelty.  Internet spaceship MMPORPGs is already a niche market.  Sequestering your product to a niche market within a niche market is not a good business plan.  Thus, when announcing Mitten's subsequent removal from the CSM, CCP Navigator wrote:
“Internet spaceships are often called 'serious business', but increasingly they actually are serious business.  It is moments like this that remind us that there are people beyond the characters we encounter and everyone in the EVE universe should always treat other players with a base human level of respect and decency—whether enemies or not."
CCP's call for a 'base human level of respect and decency' in the midst of an important business transformation provided an obvious angle of attack for someone with an ax to grind, access to vast in game wealth and an army of 9,000 self-proclaimed griefers at their beck and call. 

Burn Jita, funding lavish bounties on highsec miners, the systematic in-game harassment of writers and bloggers critical of Mittens, all have the tang of an in-your-face rejection of CCP's call for a bit more maturity in the Eve community.  And Mitten's rather frothing-at-the-mouth polemic against New Eden's PVE player community on Ten Ton Hammer, published just as the CSM7 summit began without him, reads as a declaration of war against any attempts by CCP to keep Eve online enjoyable for players not of a predatory mind-set. 

Now,  I normally find Mittens a wily and nuanced thinker (Either of these is unusual in an alliance leader.  Both at once is a rare gift.), but his current acting out is a bit...unrestrained.  He's obviously hurt and angry.  And anyone who's parented a hurt and angry teenager knows how quickly they can go all Kim Jong il on you.  Of course Mittens is no teenager.  However he does have an army of followers, fan-boys and sycophants constantly force-feeding his self-esteem and waxing endlessly on about how horribly, horribly wronged Mittens has been; which subs in very nicely for the underdeveloped superego that comes standard in most teenagers.

So, this is how it looks from here:  Mittens is hurt.  Mittens seeks relevance.  Mittens is lashing out.  Mittens needs a big hug and some honest comfort and consolation (It's OK Pooh-bear) but he'll settle for pay-back from his perceived enemies.  Cue images of Godzilla curb-stomping Tokyo.

Happily, this is a self-correcting problem in the long run.  Hubris has a surprising amount of mass in nullsec.  Take on too much and it drags those on the top down the bottom.  It makes rational people do irrational things.  This is unlikely to end well for Mittens if he continues his present trajectory.  And it is very likely that Goonswarm will get caught in the downdraft when he falls from grace.

Of course, if all that's true, why involve myself?  Why involve you, dear reader?  Why not simply stand aside and quietly watch the play unfold?

Alas, I am burdened with principles.

As I mentioned above, Mittens is leveraging Goonswarm to silence voices whose opinions he doesn't like.   Having received negative coverage by some members of the Eve blogosphere during the CSM elections and after his Alliance Panel performance, he announced his intent to punish those bloggers by harassing them and any organizations with whom they are affiliated in game.  A number of posts and chatter in Twitter indicate that this is not simply a one-off suicide gank or a week or two of wardec, but rather a relentless campaign to isolate the offending blogger and either pressure them out of Eve altogether or make them knuckle under.  The obvious goal of this exercise is two-fold.  1) To silence voices in the blogosphere unfriendly to Mittens and 2) to intimidate the remainder of the blogosphere such that they will think twice before offending Mittens and risking the same treatment.
The quickest way to get me to speak out on a matter is to try to muscle me into keeping silent.  Regardless of whether I agree or disagree with the writings of the bloggers currently targeted by Goonswarm, I stand four-square against any attempt to silence those bloggers by coercion.  Yes, Eve is a just a game.  And yes, the writers and broadcasters who populate the Eve blogosphere and podcastnet are hobbyists, writing and speaking about a game.  And, yes once more; even within that limited context, Fiddler's Edge is a little blog with limited influence.  My small voice and my little one-man corporation will not flatten any tides set in motion by Mittens.  So again, why not stand aside?

Because words, logoi in the larger sense, matter.  Even here, in the universe of internet spaceships, they matter.