I realize a post on the CSM9 elections is a little late, but I do feel that the message needs to be put out there.
I'm just going to admit it: I didn't vote in the CSM9 elections. As it turns out, I'm not the only one in that boat. There were 31,294 votes cast during these elections as opposed to 49,702 votes cast last year, a decrease of 37%.
"[T]he number of votes cast this year is significantly lower than for CSM 8. We feel that this is due to a lack of awareness about the CSM’s form and function within the community..." - CCP Leeloo
I can't begin to explain why there was such a drastic decline in votes this year, but at the very least I can explain why I chose not to vote.
I started playing EVE at the very end of January this year. After only months of playing, CSM elections were upon us and people were out in force, campaigning for votes - at least, that's what I understand now. As a new EVE player, I felt removed from the CSM in general. Not only did I not know that CSM existed when I first started playing, but I also didn't know what the CSM did for me as a new player.
In my opinion, voting in CSM elections seems to be very divisive. There is a lot of encouragement for people to vote for "your playstyle". If you live in sov-null, you need to vote for a null representative. If you live in a wormhole, you need to vote for a wormhole representative.
However, what about the new players who maybe haven't decided what their play style is yet? How can I vote for a play style if I haven't settled down in a play style myself? I gave consideration to voting for the wormhole candidates, since I had been spending a lot of time living in w-space. But in the end, I just felt that I didn't know enough to cast an informed vote.
It seems to me that knowledge of the CSM comes with time spent playing the game and also time spent engaging with the community. If you frequent blogs or the EVE forums, you start to hear more about the CSM and what they do. For new players who don't realize that all of this goes on outside of the game, there should be more focus on finding ways to reach out to them.
Ali Aras ran for CSM8 under a generalist, new player friendly platform and was elected. She was elected a second time in CSM9, mostly because of her track record of being an incredibly hard worker and participant in CSM8 (from what I understand). It's nice that candidates like this exist, but I'll remind everyone that as a new player who joined in January, I didn't know that she existed and I also didn't know that she was representing my interests.
Perhaps the solution is that this information should be made available right at the very start of the game. If new players received an automatic mail letting them know about the purpose of CSM, who their representative was and what they are doing to improve your gaming experience, they might be more engaged come election time.
The average account age of those who voted this year was 3.6 years, and that was an increase over the previous year. A true test of whether CCP and CSM will succeed in reaching a broader audience (including new players) is if the average account age of those who voted declines next year. Time will tell if they have been successful or not.
Getting involved in the world of blogging about EVE Online has given me a lot more information about who the CSM representatives are and what they do for me. Next year I plan on being able to cast an informed vote, and I am looking forward to doing so.