SOE: Anyone mind if we shoot that other guy over there who isn't you?

When EQ2 went free to play, certain gameplay-effecting items were removed from the old EQ2X cash shop.  The promise was that these would only be returned after considering the desires of the community through in-game polling, and SOE further promised to disclose the results publicly.

The poll has finally arrived, and features questions on how players feel about self-res items and cash store potions.  Each item is broken out into two questions - if the player is okay if the items can only be used solo and if the player is okay if the item can also be used in raids. 

Most reasonable people can probably agree that these items are less problematic if you keep them out of content that is actually balanced to be challenging - where their use would feel more mandatory.  However, setting up the poll in this way is designed to get a specific result - i.e. substantially higher acceptance of the items as long as they're kept out of groups, where a straight up "are you in favor of this item" would have drawn more "no" answers due to the group concern. 

More to the point, this poll gives everyone an equal voice on a topic that has dramatically unequal consequences.  In this particular case, there are probably substantial numbers of non-raiders who can agree that having these items is problematic.  However, imagine for a minute that the results do go in the other direction.  Imagine that about 10% of the playerbase raids and that 90.01% of the votes in the poll are for allowing the use of the items in raids as well.  Would anyone outside SOE's marketing department be comfortable using those results to claim overwhelming popular support for the potions? 

At the end of the day, the deck remains stacked against SOE because this is a non-random poll sample - players who want a specific result have an incentive to sign on to vote (and get their friends to do the same).  SOE also claims that this is a "poll" and not a "vote".  Even so, presenting data that lumps in the opinions of players who are not affected by the decision with those who are is misleading, and a tactic that only makes sense if the marketing goal is to obtain a more favorable result.