(Editor's Note: Alliance updates are aimed at an internal audience, read at your own discretion, etc.)
When I decided to take a break from TEST leadership for a couple of weeks, I jokingly picked a Dune gimmick. I figured if I came back to things, it would offer up some hilarious options, and if I decided to stay out of leadership for good then it would be forgotten and I would be able to run off to wherever all on my lonesome.
Lo and behold, I never got my break. I spent the first several days of said vacation dealing with people being upset and confused about just who Ingen was, what montolio (http://i.imgur.com/2RK3D.jpg)'s plans were, and laughing at the fact that people were seriously upset about what some guy in Raiden. posted in coalition discussion. I managed to get away for a couple more days and then was brought into a poorly planned moon auction where several corp CEO's felt slighted. A few hamfistings of the keyboard and a fit of anger later, I returned full time to being the guy who followed montolio around and picked up the pieces or filled in the blanks. Fast forward a week and montolio tells me he's done with TEST because of the horrible drama surrounding Raiden/Thorn sov.
In what still feels like a blur of madness, I have somehow returned from my desert and ended up as the actual CEO of TEST. I am never picking my own posting gimmick again.
The Great Purge and the Diaspora
Test is massive. We have 12,947 12,496 members at the time of this posting, and Dreddit itself weighs in larger than the third largest alliance in the game. Much of this is, for lack of a better term, fat. While large numbers have meant that we as an alliance are capable of throwing huge numbers around in multiple timezones and have a larger skill pool to pull from, it comes at a cost.
We started 2012 with around 4000 members. At the time we had just finished smashing ourselves into the wall of blap titans and tengus that was Raiden and were in the process of shooting Russian sov in Geminate. We were losing fleets daily, throwing around our fledgling capital fleets, and having a grand time. Throughout the year we picked up a large number of corps, tripling our size. There are many reasons for why we picked up a massive load of members and corps, why we doubled in size between June and December, but what really matters is that many of these corps joined without meeting our standards of cultural integration, meeting our regular activity needs, and without putting forth the effort to integrate.
Boodabooda and Slug Hard have already begun cleaning up Dreddit, cutting down inactives and accounts with expired or missing api's. We will soon begin looking at TEST corps and trying to figure out where we can make some changes. There will be more details posted in leadership channels about the kind of criteria we are looking at, as well as some further news information for the general membership of TEST to check out.
TEST has changed a lot over the past year. We tried new things, left a big coalition so that we could build a bigger one, and lost track of what TEST is. We purged and blued everything South of Fountain. We then prepared for a war against an enemy similar in size who declared they wouldn't commit supers/titans to unreinforced nodes and who hold similar amounts of space. We stood at the edge of a war that promised to be fun for all of about three weeks or at least until the first major station system either way was lost. We had to sit back and ask ourselves what would be fun for TEST. A war against another massive sov holding alliance, especially one that's primary tactic is no fun allowed, would not be fun for TEST. We didn't have the fresh leadership, the funds, or the backing of most of our own coalition. So we backed down.
Many people became upset. Many became confused. In the time since this we have seen many people hang their TEST hats up on the wall and move on with their lives. I myself was almost one of them. The reasons are many; everything from "I'm sick of this," to "Eve isn't fun anymore." The simple fact is that TEST lost a lot of what it was. We diluted our culture during a rapid expansion and we failed at integrating our coalition members into an existing culture. We failed to craft a narrative and to make people feel included into a grand story. Our forums became a cesspit, our alliance began to eat itself apart at all levels, and then finally our coalition burnt out our leader. We're going to be making changes, working to get TEST back on its feet, and finding out what happened to our balls. If we can't manage this, then we'll ride this alliance into the ground and shit on as much as we can.
Moving forward into a fairly brave and boring new world
The immediate plan for TEST's future is fairly simple. Externally, we are going to continue scale back our sov holdings to exclusivly Delve and Fountain. TEST sov in regions such as Catch and Querious will gradually be transferred over to the people who actually live in those regions. This will reduce some strain on our wallet and allow us to stop having to jump shit out to the ass end of some region like Esoteria to fuel jumpbridges or pos that no one uses.
Internally, there will be leadership changes and shakeups. Montolio and I were both in agreement that TEST and the HBC both grew at a tremendous rate, and we as leadership failed to adapt our alliance's internal structure. Our alliance went from running a 4000 member alliance with a singular region and our biggest threat being people like Staff0 or Rolemancer dropping sbu's and then not reinforcing the ihub, to being 13k members with sov in six regions, assets in 13, and doing nothing more to change our leadership other than adding a "subdirector" title to some people's names.
We will of course be dropping in size, but we will also be pushing for a more defined and visible alliance leadership. Gone will be the days where we sit there and try to figure out why someone who has been afk for six months is suddenly making widespread alliance decisions. Ingen and myself will be forming a group of people that I am calling "The Bob's" to sit down with people and figure out exactly how we can trim up our leadership bloat. Our alliance mascot isn't Middle Management Dino without a reason.
Our long term goals are still in a state of flux but are all summarized by the simple concept of making TEST fun again. The first part of this was pulling TEST out of the muck of leading the HBC head on. Sort Dragon has some great ideas and wants to give the HBC the time that it needs, and TEST leadership needs to focus on TEST. We will be looking at everything as an option. Yes, everything. TEST is an alliance with special snowflake needs and we need to make sure that we get back to what TEST is about, not what people tell us we are about. We don't exist for the money, we don't exist for holding massive tracts of sov. We've done the Space British Empire thing, we had fun for a while, but now we've hit the wall and shit is flying everywhere. Its time to get back to basics, and its time to find what we in TEST are about again, even if that means giving the good boys of nullsec the middle finger so that, heaven forbid, we might have fun in a video game.