There's a lot of debate about krabbing and escalations on the EVE-O forums, with some amazingly retarded ideas being thrown about to fix the problem. Like, making Sleepless Guardians invulnerable for 30 minutes to lock escalating caps onto grid. Because what EVE really needs right now is making you play the game for 30 fucking minutes for no reward whatsoever, as an entirely artificial punishment for you engaging in PVE.
The real problem with the krabbing problem is whether it is a problem at all.
As i have mentioned recently, I built a Phoenix, and I have been paying it off by slaughtering Sleepers in the C4. I've spent big on a strategic asset, and I'm paying it off and de-risking the whole effort and I might even make a billion or two profit over the course of the life cycle of this Phoenix. It's not going anywhere, it's not breaking anyone else's game, and it's not affecting anyone else's economy. But I sue as fuck won't be ratting with open statics until the corporation gets a bit bigger again, because although it's in a kind of fucked insane spot in the Black Hole, it's not a solo killdozer.
The difference is, of course, I can't chain the same site for days at a time. If i could, I'd have paid the thing off twice already, since i've realistically done 15 sites. I could have done the equivalent of 45 if I could run them all 3 times before they de-spawn. That's payoff, even at 100M a site. Which takes as little as 5 minutes, which is kind of neat/broken.
This isn't just a humble brag; this illustrates krabbing in it's entirety and illustrates the apparent problem. The krab rolls himself in, bunkers down with his alts, and turns as many sites over in as short a period of time as possible. The ISk/hr on offer is pretty sweet, even accounting for rolling and salvaging. But it's still risky - if the wrong hole rolls in to me at the wrong time, poof, dead phoenix no arguments. It might be the case I can take down the odd T3 as I fall (due to hilarity of BH Phoenixing) but the chances of blapping enough to survive is remote. At least this side of having other measures in place.
So, the real debate going on with krabbing is that apparently not enough people roll in to krabs. Full stop. That's the problem. I'll demonstrate why all the other arguments are invalid.
Krabs make too much money
Defining the problem as 'krabs make too much money' as Two Step did, is missing the whole point about why people play EVE and why people PVE. EVE is not a zero-sum game. Unlike the real world money is not limited. When Noobman brags he makes 75-125 billion a month, does it take money out of my pocket? Does it affect my game? No. mostly because i don't want own purple DCU's for my Revenant and am not competing with him to buy them. But even if I were, so what? Noobman can krab his umpteen alts all he wants and it isn't going to prevent me from accessing content or in-game resources. If he doesn't have enough ISK already (last week, 80B liquid) then it's no skin of my nose if he keeps krabbing to afford his second Revenant or fifth Aeon or whatever.
Krabs force the price of PLEX up.
Most krabs are probably alts on accounts paid for with PLEX, paid for with krabbing. The krabbing toon might be training up using Multi Character Training Certificates. Big fucking whoop. It's 1 to 2 billion a month of ISK going to someone with less time to play the game who wants to buy 50 Cyclones and blow them up, or something. So, to say you restrict krabbing income is to basically say you are against people doing that. Be as that may, there's other ways of supporting krab farms, or affording PLEX; and if you want to have a Krab toon on your account, you can invest some PLEX and ISk into MCT's and get the alt to the level needed to do the job and then not MCT/PLEX anymore. Again, harming no one.
Krabbing is too easy
Possibly the most valid, this is equivalent to saying that ratting carriers in nullsec do Sanctums or Hordes too easily. Yeah, so what? The most valid argument against krabbing is the one which states that Escalations should be a group activity not soloable in a single dread. Fair call, but at the end of the day, I solo in a dread and if I'm solo and HK-LZHX-EXIT-whoever rolls in to me I'm fucked. Some slovenly bunch of noobs rolls in, and drop inappropriate things on me that I can apply my damage to, they die horribly. Like, really horribly (think Lords Servant solo phoenix style). Even if you make it a group activity, there are people who'll killdozer you and there's people who'll welp into your escalation quad / solo dread, whatever.
This is also an argument to say "I am jealous you have figured out how to do something i cannot, so we must remove it". OK, but why? ISK supply is an invalid argument, economic harm is invalid, so apparently is doing something efficiently. I don't see the logic.
Do escalations needs to change?
Argubly, yes. The total ISK, the difficulty, the chaining of anomalies, all of this could be changed in some fashion or another to alter the dynamic of krabbing to make it less lucrative or less a solo activity, and it may only serve to drive economic activity to other sectors - like Incursions, which are like krabbing for the totally risk-averse. I mean, any discussion of krabbing has to consider whre this ISK generating activity will be displaced to, and whether that activity is even more 'unbalanced' than krabbing. Yes, escalations themselves could change. But how?
The Carmen Sandiago
As I laid out on the EVE-O forums, I'd propose the 'Carmen Sandiago' model. When you escalate a site in a C5-C6, your capital spawns the escalation wave. You then complete the anomaly, and it respawns as a second-stage escalation anomaly. You can then run that, and the third and the fourth and finally the sig is depleted. So you get the same ISK, but it's done with and de-spawned within 72 hours. This would see active krab holes readily depleted, and the Krab would then have to look to his static for content and ISK, or wait for sites to spawn in home. But if you let sites spawn in home, you risk having them poached. This could potentially create competitive tension, which is essentially lacking in C5-C6 space but is a feature of low-class space.
Rebalance of rats
Escalations are essentially fatal for subcaps, which means subcap fleets don't attempt to go in with dreads and carriers in meaningful ways to complete escalations. It's more efficient to use a Zephyr or cloaky scout to set a warp-in close to the spawn point of the escalation rats and drop several dreads to clean them up quickly, than it is to bother deploying subcaps. This is why you see the whole krabbing thing evolving; people have realised that subcaps are extraneous, don't add anything and just make life a hassle and (assuming 1 toon per ship) cause a split in ISK which is disproportionate and difficult to balance for ISK-at-risk.
Thus, the claim krabbing should be a group activity is defeated by the rats, which are too powerful for subcaps to survive unassisted, and too weak and easily gamed, and too efficiently dispatched with by solo dreads. Therefore, the rats could be rebuilt to reinvigorate the genre without affecting escalatability, ISK on offer.
I'm not in favour of randomised spawning. The Citadel cruise Phoenix is the ultimate rememdy for that with 250km missile range and wrong levels of application. If you're on grid, you're at threat. Random or long spawns will just see dread toons retrain to Phoenix and blap away efficiently.
I think that to rebase escalation rats, the Sleepless Guardians should be more a threat to the capitals than subcaps. It is time, arguably, for capital rats. Yeah, I fucking went there.
They should be a threat only to slow-moving, high-sig subcaps, and should tank 2000-3000 DPS (ie, short of W-R's, invulnerable to small gangs of gank dessies), and be vulnerable or best cleared off using Dreads. They should do about 2,000-4,000 DPS to Dreads, which will severely threaten them in large numbers, requiring careful escalation scheduling. They should have infinipoint, to prevent Zoidberging off with stabs, but to allow metas built around supporting BS with MJD's to break off. They should have neuts, maybe even ECM bursts or AEO damage upon death.
They should be impressive, dangerous foes you have to carefully approach, and have to strategically deal with. It should be a real struggle to multibox several capitals against them - not impossible, just difficult and challenging for peak-nerds and people who enjoy multiboxing.
If this was the future of Escalations, then it would be a moot point whether you close your hole or come up with a strategy to protect yourself. I mean, you can have open holes, and cloaked rockspider caps waiting to dogpile back through to collapse the connection the instant anyone finds your statics. No fucking about with statics or spawn rates or spawn mechanisms as proposed by various fuckheads on the forums, is going to change krabbing without being instantly gamed away. No. Krabbing must stay - the future is to accept its presence, but provide exciting gameplay skewed towards driving activity in the static versus weekly hour-long grind fests.