“There’s two level of paranoia: total and insufficient” (Dave Kern, IBM, at a conference in 2006)
As I have mentioned on this blog earlier, No Fixed Abode (NOFAD) is currently recruiting. For the first time we are running an open channel (No Fixed Channel) and it’s quite interesting to see who drops by! One of those who contacted us there has joined NOFAD a short while later; in the past weekend he has scored more kills than I usually do in a month (..or two). A good start! There were time zone issues with a few other potential members, one of which I knew from the blogs and tweetfleet, and another one was referred to an US TZ corp in our alliance.
An interesting thing happened last Friday, when our open channel’s member list suddenly listed a pilot with a negative standing. A guy from a hostile alliance, trying to join us..? We struck up a conversation, trying to get an idea of what was going on. He related his tale: he had been a mercenary or pirate for most of his Eve career, resulting in a current security standing of -8. His employment history was very, very long, although for the past year he’d mostly been in two corps, hopping from one to another and back again a few times, apparently for deployment reasons. His alliance does a lot of dirty jobs, deploying all over the cluster to execute contracts, harassing or griefing here and there. This often required redeploying on short notice, mandatory operations et cetera. He had also done his fair share of infiltration and spying, something he confessed forthright.
But after years of this, he grew tired of it; having a few young kids and a job is not really compatible with that kind of lifestyle. Time to settle down, find a group of like minded guys to talk football and rugby, have a bit of pvp every now and then with a bit of ratting on the side to generate the necessary ISK..
The story above came to light in bits and pieces, over the course of the evening. Frankly I didn’t know what to make of it, but he sounded honest all right. Were we being misled? Is he doing some intricate social engineering on us? We're a small corp in a sov holding alliance and we're recruiting, so we might be a target for infiltration. Our older GMT pilots liked the guy, probably because he was so similar to them (football, rugby, beer, wife, kids..). Googling his pilot name I couldn’t find much of interest: some innocuous posts on the forums and lots of killboard entries. He had been largely inactive for about a month or two prior to contacting us, which was uncommon for him (his killboard stats go back years without interruption) but in line with his story. Someone from alliance leadership informed us that the negative standing was caused by a few roams his alliance did through our sov, the previous year; nothing to worry about, really.
Yet, after much deliberation and discussion, his past turned out to be a showstopper. There were objections from alliance leadership and from within NOFAD itself, and in the end we had to decide not to admit him to NOFAD. A shame, really, as I think he would have fit us quite nicely given his age group, family situation and TZ. We informed him and he took it graciously, even though clearly disappointed.
So here we have a pilot with 70+ million skill points, a killboard efficiency of over 90% - and he can’t find a decent place to stay, as his corp history and security status deny him entrance to most normal (non mercenary or non piracy) alliances. I really feel sorry for him.
Which brings me to the 'lessons learned' part: carefully consider what you do with your main pilot, if you're attached to him or her (that happens, especially when that main is your first avatar of sorts).Whenever you decide to become a mercenary, a pirate, make sure you use a throwaway character for it. Or, be prepared to end up with a highly skilled, but virtually unusable character in a few years time.
Come to think of it, when Jenny Twotone first explained to me, back in 2008, that I shouldn't run too many missions against Caldari, I didn't really understand of believe her - until I had to repair the bad standing towards Caldari and Amarr..
In closing, let me say that in my opinion it speaks volumes about the depth of Eve Online, that we're discussing multi year plannings for your character development!