Greedy Goblin

Friday, February 15, 2013

Enabler burnout

After I wrote about people who are not enablers, let's talk about those who are. Enablers are people who are part of a team and their actions allow others to do the front line work. Tower managers, HQ-seeders, scouts, cyno operators and so on. They are usually the bottleneck of group operations as it's pretty easy to find people to "shoot stuff".

The main danger for them is "burnout". Somehow they lose their "spirit" and stop "having fun". This is as useless description as it can be. As a busy enabler myself, I can exactly tell what kills the "spirit" of enablers: lack of control and lack of rewards.

When I was in TEST, I was a pain in the ass for the enablers because I kept posting ideas how could things be done better. Why didn't I do it myself instead of giving "orders"? Because I was not allowed to. I had no access to anything, I had no rights to towers or such. Hell, when I figured out a completely business-based, tower-free system, how could simple line members earn lot of money by setting up a PI market, a director stepped in, took initiative and transformed it into a very complicated and bureaucratic system. I was upset despite I didn't lose anything, just my plans. Now imagine the frustration of those who worked hours on something and then overruled or simply kept in the dark: "go to X, do Y, don't ask questions".

Enablers need control over their actions. They must have a dedicated field where they operate at their own will. Like "this moon shall provide X units of materials a month, get it done as you can" instead of micro-managing him like some bot.

Secondly, I've yet to see a single communication between line members and enablers which is not whining, demanding or bitching. These "shoot stuff" people have no clue how hard it is to get the things done, so they come with the attitude "X isn't working FFS". I also got my share of "catalyst fittings are too expensive, sell us at Jita price as a bro would" in the New Order. I sent such guys to Hell. Of course to do it - again - you need control over your actions, to be sure that some director don't step in and say "hey, our bros need X, do better" or "don't tell our bros to go to hell when they have problems, try to help them instead".

However the ability to send bitching lolkids to Hell is necessary for ones well-being but insufficient. You also need rewards, and you surely won't get a "thank you" from those you enable. That leaves material rewards: enabling must be profitable. Enablers should be encouraged to take profit from their work, even by setting floor prices like: "you must ask for 200ISK/m3 if you jump freight their stuff from Jita" or "10% of the income of the moon you manage is yours". Obviously the best would be a free market system where the enablers are stepping in not because of altruism but profit. Moons could be auctioned, the winner pays X ISK/month for moon ownership and do whatever he wants with the moon.

Asking someone to work for free is exploiting. People sooner or later get enough of being exploited, especially in a video game. Even self-exploited "helpful guys" do. Enabler burnout is them getting enough of being exploited. Maybe stop exploiting them?


Chris K. said...

I think you're still stuck in a corp/alliance mentality, which is weird because you according to your other posts, being in a player corp is actually damaging.

If I'm seeding Syndicate with cheap ammo, I'm an enabler. Not for a small subset of the community, but for the entire area of Syndicate. Likewise, if I'm pumping out large amounts of minerals really cheap, I'm enabling every industrialist in the area.

You don't have to have a target a specific audience to become an enabler. The post office service is enabling everyone in your neighbourhood, you don't see them say "School teachers only please".

Some people are enabling more than others, one example being the poor bastard that has to refuel 50 POSes (for no fee), as opposed to you seeding the NO HQ (while making money). You still count as an enabler, even if your contribution is far less.

Anonymous said...

Corps need to run with a permitted level of grift. Give a general request and advise on an efficient method then let the enabler do it their way. Outsourcing is the way forward in online worlds. People play for a wide range of reasons. Doing boring stuff for no reward is not one of them.

Stabs said...

I don't think profit is enough - there needs to be recognition too.

When I was a null sec importer I got the bitter people saying sell to us at Jita and I led a campaign in my alliance to change our culture to one where importing was valued and appreciated.

It wasn't in the end successful and the market hub suffered (which is ironically great for me because when I left them I just jacked up all my prices and because they have few importers people buy).

But larger alliances like Goons have made a real virtue of importing, have turned vfk into the biggest nullsec hub and have people who chase their deployments with freighters to set up hubs supporting their strat ops.

Sure they make money but it helps a lot that they're admired not bitched at.

Camo said...

dobablo: "Doing boring stuff for no reward is not one of them."

That is when you tack a flashy achievement and some worthless points to it and watch the people flock to it like moths to a light.

Chris K.: "The post office service is enabling everyone in your neighbourhood, you don't see them say "School teachers only please"."

Neither do you see them shipping your stuff for free.

Anonymous said...

I was in BIG and experienced this problem. I did Null Sec Stocking Logistics and it was great fun, for a while.

With their policy of "You have no personal ISK or assets" the only thing I got out of laboring for days on end was the personal pride in helping out a corp that I liked, and growing its assets.

Eventually this was eventually not enough, because I wanted to achieve some personal gain and be able to point to it and say "I did this, and I got something material for it."

While I loved the corp, the things they did, their philosophy, and management, I just didn't feel like I got enough for all the work I was doing.

Johnicholas Hines said...

Ronald Coase was interested in "why are there firms?" - that is, why aren't we all individual contractors selling our services to each other?

His answer was that firms occur because of transaction costs. At sufficiently small scales, an organization (even a tyrranical organization where everyone obeys a tyrant-entrepreneur, or a tyrant-business-process-document) can sometimes be more efficient than a real-world market because the real-world market has unavoidable transaction costs. For example, the cost of applying for jobs, and the cost of sifting through job applicants, is pretty high in the real world - that's a transaction cost associated with purchasing / supplying labor. Searching and finding and coordinating are costly - in Eve, the amount of time you spend in front of a market menu looking for opportunities to buy or sell is a transaction cost.

This is real-world economics, of course - simply identifying the real-world "firm" with an in-game "corp" or "alliance" would be foolish. However, something like a real-world firm could still be built in-game; the members would probably be in NPC corps and they would coordinate using message boards or voip or whatever. They would probably do gigs together (raids, group mining, group missioning, maybe market pvp / cartel pricing) and get paid for their service to the firm, whether they're an enabler or a grunt who gets handed what they need.

Kristophr said...

That, and the dumbasses don't realize that if you sell Cats for jita prices, the opposing miners will just buy them and sell them in Jita to recoup losses.

Maxim Preobrazhenskiy said...

I tend to think of burnout as simply getting bored of doing the same thing over and over again.

Much like even a very good metallic gear in a mechanism wears down over time, people wear down doing the same things over and over.

A "thank you" can serve as a sort of social grease that reduces friction and makes a cog wear out slower. But no amount of lubrication can completely eliminate friction. It still wears out.

Profit motivation is better because it allows a person to use his usual activity to fuel something new. Suddenly he is no longer just a cog, because he can buy new things and build new things.

The real trick to managing burnout is to have him buying new things and doing new things not outside your own structure, but within it. That's where freedom and control come in.

Anonymous said...

TEST has utilises space communism. Excessive profiteering at the expense of alliance friends is frowned upon.