I have been in low-end wormholes since they came out in Apocrypha. I have seen the ups and downs of this segment of w-space, and watched third-hand the growth of the "big end of town" and the "pro" alliances and power blocs and seen their eliteness and, indeed, their elitism grow.
Today's w-space, as anyone who gets on to the EVE-O forum can discover, is dominated by a handful of corporations and alliance who are the undisputed tier one wormhole powers.The majority of these powers farm ISK in high-end w-space and get ridiculously rich via quad-cap escalating C5's, and seek out PVP with one another in what is known as a "Friendly Aggression Pact" or FAP, grown out of GF's on the Failheap Challenge community, and which is by default the inculcated culture of w-space. Or at least how they would like to see it. I'll call it the Unknown Code.
The way the Unknown Code goes, there are a few Commandments.
Thou Shalt Not Farm. You are making enough ISK to afford the shinies to risk in PVP and you should therefore not be risk-averse farmers of wormhole sites who POS up and don't bring the good fights. No one is against everyone getting space-rich, but as the -AAA- "control the C5/C3s constellation" push-back shows, wormholers don't like people presuming they can 'own' a system and extract rents.
Thou Shalt Fight. People may spawn into you and come poking for fights; the more you POS up and log off, the more you blueball your enemies, the more ikely it is that someone will force a fight on you, usually by sieging your POS.
Thou Shalt Not Blue. Given the power creep in high-end WH's where there are more caps per system than anywhere else in EVE (I shit you not) it is increasingly getting to the point where to force a fight, you need allies. But if everyone is an ally, you cannot fight. Hence the FAP; blue today, red tomorrow. See this thread for more infos on how Wormhole Coalitions are held by the community.
Thou Shalt Not (Really) Siege Out. This is less a hard rule than the others, but generally people seem to want to avoid crippling the other denizens of w-space with evictions, which can result in people ending back in k-space bankrupt, which results in people giving up w-space. Oddly, since you need a siege to start a serious fight, this is kinda a bit wishy-washy.
Today, someone's forum alt complained about the predominance of massive T3 gangs roaming w-space looking to roflstomp a couple of site-running drakes into the ground. This of course, comes into the whole power creep issue going on in wormhole space. Whereas when Zebracakes first went off 45 guys in fleet was unheard of before, now you top 250 a side engagements.
It used to be that you could roll around with 2-4 guys anywhere, finding people in sites, having a bit of a gank here, a fight there, baiting people out and occasionally bagging a Tengu or a shiny Noctis full of loot. You would then have an Operation; find some target to candify, reinforce the POS for a weekend's camping and toast your marshmallows over the flames of their selfdestructing ships. This is getting harder all the time.
Firstly, this is because everyone has a batphone, and as the wormhole community has matured (hah), the relationships have become more entrenched and spiderlike. Of the top tier organisations, there are but a handful we haven't tangled with or worked with in the past.
Secondly, and oddly, it seems that the Powers are still, somehow, interested in being wormhole mercs, after the Narwhals model. This of course ends up with ridiculous, sky-high and extortionate bills being foisted off on people to protect their POSs and farms, justified because the Powers are going to bring 40+ fleets of tech 3's, to shoot at some dudes. They want their risk covered, so nowadays contracts regularly top 10B ISK. It is getting fairly disproportionate and stupid, as Joes Bazooka rightly points out. It is also odd, because for elitist and elite PVPers, it is fairly tawdry to outnumber your foes 5:1 or more, and if you are worried about Siegeing Out as a Bad Thing, scalping multibillions of ISK is ridiculous. Fuck, they should pay BUGRY for generating the fucking content and events that keep them occupied.
Of course, this blobbing and power-creep drives further rounds of consolidation and convergence; it drives wormhle space into being like nullsec with shinier ships, no local, and a longer build-up than joining a roam on a friday night. The majority of the people joining the Powers these days are fame-seekers who get their jollies by joining the big boys to get in on the big, exciting fights...and while some of them certainly are...it now results in two things.
Firstly, the minimum buy-in for low-end w-space is rapidly approaching T3's for everyone, up from Drake minimum. Even BUGRY is having trouble avoiding this conclusion, and it isn't sitting comfortably with me, because it is going to chop out at least half the membership from even being able to think about participating, and certainly stops them from trying their own hand at PVP diving wormholes. More widely, it will soon flow on to detering anyone from flying anything else, and this will impact on noobs entering w-space.
Secondly, the minimum activity level and dedication required for even low-end w-space is swiftly rising. You can't any longer avoid having 6+ guys in fleet including Falcon alt, maybe a T3 booster alt. This means that, because everyone expects a minimum half dozen T3's to emerge from the shadows, no one in their right mind is going to come out of POS to fight unless they can guarantee their have batphone coverage or some advantage.
This then flows down into needing to force the issue with POS sieges and POCO trolling (a conclusion I came to a while ago, actually). Sadly, as the wormhole coalition thread shows, the way the Powers are going these days, the responses to this swiftly become disproportionate.
Don't get me wrong, the Unknown Code beats nullsec faggoty politics hands-down, as there's no mass embezzlement (except by Phil Exon on Temnava...a ransom they don't advertise in their pub channel), no stupid NAPs, no monopolisation of resources like tech moons. But there is unreasoning elitism and unreasonable expectations and less good fights - just bigger ganks.
My advice, if anyone's listening? Proportionality. If you enjoy PVP, as you all profess to doing, then take a leaf from BUGRY's playbook, and be proportionate. Roll RR AF gangs on lone Drakes; its still effectively a gank, but its a gank which takes effort. Troll POSs, get fights, then leave the residents alone with their smoking stront bays. Stop being mercs - you are the CFC or AAA of w-space - concentrate on the good fights, and leave the exploitative merc work to a new generation of risk-averse blobbers.