BMOrg’s latest post on ticketing does nothing to quell doubts about the motivations behind Ticket Hell. Taking us on an emotional roller coaster from hell, and generating and focusing a massive amount of psychic energy around a totem, are clearly uppermost in the minds of the rulers of Burning Man:
it takes time to process all those transactions. Maddening time. Anxiety-inducing time. Time people spent on an emotional rollercoaster from hell, as they waited helplessly to see whether or not the winds of fate would blow a golden ticket into their hands. And during this time, probably more intensive psychic energy was heaped onto one single thing than anything else in Burning Man’s 29-year history: The Little Green Man.
The Little Green Man (yes, we’re capitalizing it, shut up) was the little dude standing, strolling or running along the progress indicator bar, marking one’s advancement through the ticket queue. As ticket-seekers urged him on with a fervor worthy of a filly at the Derby, he ascended to the level of a little green mythical being of possibility that would make the average totem, rune, relic or fetish (wait for it…) green with envy.
So wait a minute – one of the world’s largest occult rituals, with a city of 70,000 people anchored around the symbol of The Man, sitting awestruck as the effigy burns – and even that doesn’t generate as much “intensive psychic energy heaped onto one single thing” as this ticketing process?
Most people wouldn’t consider the idea of making someone “green with envy” over a magical symbol like a totem, rune, or relic, as a thing to brag about. We are investing all our psychic energy into the alien-looking avatar of BMOrg’s creation, and being taken on an emotional roller coaster ride from Hell that puts us in a helpless position. This has been deliberately engineered, and now BMOrg are crowing about how well it all worked.
At one point there were Pac Man ghosts chasing the man:
The ghosts are yet another occult symbol. They emphasize the cycle of Death and Rebirth being celebrated in this annual sacrificial ritual.
[Update 2/23/14/ 11:53am] – Reader JV informs us that the Pac Man screenshot above was Photoshopped, and posted on Burning Man’s official web site in the discussion forums as a joke.
In another post de-briefing us on the situation, BMOrg said:
Did the servers crash?
No, they never did and the ticket buying process was never stopped — the queue was intentionally paused (briefly) to allow the servers to catch up to the demand — and nobody lost their place in line as a result.
This conflicts with reports from at least 5 different Burners who got a message that Ticketfly went down. Here’s a screenshot from one of them:
If Ticketfly had crashed, and the system had to be brought up again, that would have explained why some who were in the queue at 12:00:07 or less didn’t get tickets, while others who entered around 12:10:00 did. The queue was re-started on a new server, and all the people in the original queue were left hanging. If the system worked as planned, then how did people who logged in later skip the queue? Ticket season here is no small feature, if you ever needed to rack your brain about choosing server for small business, then you know how quickly things get complicated and risky if your traffic exceeds your expectations.
Whether the system crashed or not, it is becoming extremely clear that this did NOT operate on a FIFO (First In, First Out) basis. People who logged in at seconds past noon didn’t get tickets, while people who logged in 15 minutes or more after did.
Why did some Burners get offered a $20 donation to make, and some a $40? Something is obviously segmenting Burners into groups, before they get to buy. Is this segmentation based on Burner profiles? If not, then how do they decide who gets shown a $20 donation and who gets the $40? Random? Or once the tickets are sold, the donation cost rises?
It should be: every Burner is equal, first come-first serve, process the transactions simultaneously. This is a computer system, after all. It’s not like we are all actually standing in a line at a ticket booth, waiting for someone to type in our details and get back to us. I can see no technical reason why 21,500 transactions couldn’t be processed in less than 10 minutes.
What about the massive waste of time from when they sold the last ticket, to when they let Burners know there was no point waiting in the queue any more?
Why were people held in line for so long only to find out tickets had sold out?
The system lets people into the purchasing stage, and then people purchase their tickets. Until they’ve all successfully purchased their tickets, it’s not sold out. If for some reason somebody doesn’t complete their transaction (bad credit card, they bail out, etc.), then their spot is given to the next person in line. So we don’t remove people from the line until all the tickets have been successfully purchased, because technically you still have a chance to get one.
While this statement may be accurate on the face of it, it’s not the whole truth. If you are #50,000 in the line when the last ticket is sold, there is no chance for you to get a ticket, technically or otherwise. The statement does not adequately explain how
60,000 58,500 people were kept waiting in line for 15+ minutes after the last ticket had been sold. It takes no-one 15 minutes to complete the transaction with Ticketfly, not everyone.
Putting the pieces together, it seems like what happened was the queue didn’t shut down because there was still soe inventory available. The inventory was the Donations, which were unlimited.
Were people given any advantage if they made a donation?
No, not at all. It was first-come, first-served for everybody.
Another statement that is clearly not true, according to hundreds of Burner reports online. Some people were logging in to buy multiple tickets for their friends, because they could get straight through while their friends were still waiting. If it was “first-come, first-served for everybody”, this would have been impossible.
we do actively weed out known resellers as part of the registration process (that’s one of the reasons we have you register for the sale).
An admission here that Burner profiles are screened, and “undesirables” on their list are “weeded out”. Do they ever receive a message, being told “your Burner profile has not been accepted because we know you’re a reseller”? Or are they just sitting there in the queue, waiting like everyone else, but with no chance to get through because their code won’t be accepted?
as long as people are willing to buy tickets at exorbitant prices (we wish they wouldn’t, but some apparently do), there will be a market for predatory resellers. It’s antithetical to our community’s ethos, but it’s also the reality of supply and demand (and technically legal).
“We wish they wouldn’t”…and yet they hiked the price of VIP tickets to $800 this year. I guess $800 is no longer considered “exorbitant”, so long as you give the money to BMOrg instead of a fellow Burner.
The lack of vehicle passes is looking to be a huge problem, they have leaped to $325 now on Stubhub. Some Burners are prepared to go to extreme lengths to get the little slip of paper:
Some Burners are reporting that Verizon customers got through much faster:
Verizon Customer Service: I was a Verizon Customer Service Representative for 9 years until I moved into management. Verizon has a camp at BM, but I can’t tell you the name. We’ve been working closely with BMorg to bring cell service and other benefits to the playa. I can’t tell you officially that Verizon customers get preferential treatment in the sale of BM tickets, but if I were you, I would change service providers next year to increase your chances.
There has been a great deal of discussion online about this ticket situation. Here are a few selected highlights from Voices of Burning Man:
IE How can there be a thousand scalped tickets? Do 100 people work for stub hub who have the back door secret? Who, besides the 1%, can afford to pay $1000 for a ticket, many many tickets? Something just seems out of line here. I feel your pain.
Hmmm, okay, I guess that was my surprise of the day. I wasn’t going to play the game this year, but decided ‘oh what the hell’. So at 12 minutes after, I got in thinking I had zero chance since I know everyone else starts within seconds after the hour. Guess what? Tickets baby!
We didn’t break any rules as the codes they used were from other friends and they purchased all of our tickets as they were getting through so quickly.
I was lucky (so much so that I had to check my confirmation email multiple times to make sure that it was actually real) enough to get ticket within minutes and was never put in the dreaded queue. At about 11:59 (2:59 my time) I clicked the link in the email and was told I was to early. I kept closing the page and re-clicking the link until the page changed. My memory gets little fuzzy here – to much adrenaline – but I don’t even remember seeing a green button. The page first said something about the site being down. So I refreshed. Then it said all tickets were already in carts! BUT HOW COULD THAT BE!?! Only a minute had gone by. I just kept refreshing the page until the ticket buying option came up – bingo, got one in about four minutes.
This is the same thing I did last year. Refreshing constantly. Didn’t get put in queue either. Got my ticket in two minutes.
Unfortunately out of our planned camp of six, only myself and my friend got tickets. The others will join the thousands of others in the hunt for one.
To all of those looking – best of luck and stay positive.
Also, all international tickets are sent out via post which is way better as there’s no need to spend hours queueing for Will Call!!
I’ve no idea why BMorg don’t implement a similar system, why keep trying to reinvent the wheel??
This further implies that the end of all the successful 21,500 sales probably occurred around 64.5 minutes after noon, i.e. the AVERAGE rate of processing of successful transactions was about 1,000 every three minutes, or FIVE PER SECOND.
This further implies that TRANSACTIONS WERE PROCESSED IN PARALLEL. i.e. there were MULTIPLE SERVERS (or AT LEAST multiple threads within a single server) processing the eventually successful transactions at any given time. We can estimate that the fastest an average individual could possibly complete the final purchase with confirmations of credit card, mailing address, etc would be 10 seconds, and a more likely upper average transaction time for an individual final purchase completion would be about 60 seconds. Since the eventual average processing rate was 5 purchases per second, this means that there must have been somewhere between 50 and 300 processes (threads within servers) handling eventually successful transactions ON AVERAGE throughout the sale.
But given the EXTREME variations in expected wait times that I saw during my 57-minute wait to get to the final purchase page, IT CANNOT POSSIBLY BE TRUE that there was no variation in server resources (e.g. due to server or thread crashes/hangs) during the first hour of the sale process, EVEN WHEN YOU ACCOUNT FOR THE “PAUSE” of the line (unless you assume that the algorithm to calculate the remaining wait time was complete bullshit 🙂
Because IF the allocation of server resources had remained constant (apart from the pause), and the average time taken by an individual to buy ticket(s) when they got to the final page remained constant, AND the remaining wait time algorithm WASN’T complete BS, then we should have seen expected remaining times decreasing monotonically throughout each successful purchasor’s sale process.
Because IF the position in the queue was determined by the server arrival times of the clicks on each user’s green button (in my case at about two SECONDS past noon), then effectively every eventually successful person’s position in the queue was determined WITHIN THE FIRST FEW SECONDS AFTER NOON of the sale, since on the basis of my experience clicking two seconds after noon (I synced my computer’s clock with the nist.gov atomic clock and had a display of that running during my purchase) and being probably one of the last people to get a ticket, there must have been over 20,000 green button clicks received at the servers within the first few seconds….
The thing that gets me (and probably most other people) emotionally wound up, is when we see (as I did), for over half an hour, that each minute my expected wait time is going down by a minute (so we believe all is going along nicely and we just have to wait) and then suddenly it goes up (as it did in my case) from 9 minutes to OVER AN HOUR, when we are MORE THAN HALF AN HOUR into the wait process. Changes like that CANNOT POSSIBLY be due to changes in the AVERAGE time taken by an individual user behavior in completing their purchase once they are on the final page, which probability theory tells us is EXTREMELY unlikely to change by a factor of two over many thousands of presumably similar buyers. It MUST be due to changes in the allocation of resources on the sever side (e.g. crashes).
So if the sale had proceeded per the theoretical “stable” model, by 30 minutes into it there should have been approximately 10,000 eventually successful purchases left to process. But my remaining wait time after waiting more than 30 minutes was shown to be 9 minutes (which would imply an estimated average sale completion of more than 1,000 per minute i.e. three times the final “official” average). But then it went up to “over an hour”, a change by more than a factor of six, which cannot be reasonably accounted for by changes in average user purchase time behavior.
On a technical note, there is really no need for the process to be as incomprehensible as it currently is. Since there is a pre-reg, it is trivial to load-balance ahead of time. In principle, if we expect 80,000 attempts to purchase, we can pre-allocate users to 80 servers, each of which only needs to process 1,000 requests (or equivalent architectures with multiple threads per server). The ONLY technical challenge is in fairly synchronizing across server queues, but if the clocks of the servers are synchronized, and arrival times of each user “green button click” are noted at each server down to the millisecond, then there is NO REASON WHATSOEVER not to make it totally transparent to everyone within the first few minutes of the sale EXACTLY what position they are at in the queue, EXACTLY what the average purchase processing time has been so far, and to show a REALISTIC view of how likely it is for their purchase to be successful given the current average number of tickets sold per customer, plus a REALISTIC and relatively predictably changing estimate of how long it will take to either get to the purchase page or find out that they have not been successful….
I’m a “glass half full” kind of guy, so I celebrate the fact that I was able to buy one ticket, but I still do think it was weird that I wasn’t able to buy two, and I strongly believe that the whole process could be dramatically improved…
People- My comments have nothing to do radical inclusion. This ticket thing year after year has nothing to do with radical inclusion. This is business making business decisions which for the life of me I don’t agree with.
Chip- Please help the rest of the org understand this, to give back to the loyal customers just like you did so perfectly at JDV.
Disappointed? Yes. But more just tired of this ticket game year after year.
It is very sad to view the destruction of a community, the BMOrg might have constructed a ticketing systems purposed towards building community, in place of towards destroying community. It would be easy peasy to place 30,000 tickets within the directed sale, purposed towards rewarding numerous Burners for throwing the crowd sourced party for many years. Most mutant vehicle owners were not within the directed sale, the Soul Train was attempting to buy tickets within the regular sale. Within the directed sale, most volunteers for the regionals were not included, and prior artists, and prior long time volunteers, were not included within directed sales, and the BMOrg did not permit Gate or BRC Rangers to buy tickets for their partners, or for their mates, within the directed sale.
The theme camps of which we are aware, assisting greatly towards the throwing of the party, obtained solely near to 40 per cent of the tickets needed, in the main part from directed sales and numerous BMOrg volunteers, and solely a few tickets from the general sale. Several priorly big theme camps are not venturing to the playa. The awesome Burners throwing regional events, priorly leading art projects, and leading theme camps, of which we know, are pissed in regards of few people volunteering to assist in these endeavours, and are pissed in regards of the very deserved negativity towards the BMOrg, they are attempting to accomplish their endeavours in a most burnerly spirit, with little support. It is solely the few long time volunteers whom are volunteering. Few newbies, and few near newbies, are volunteering in this manner, of why should they volunteer? The BMOrg ticketing system does not reward prior volunteers, barely rewards present volunteers, and does not reward new volunteers within 2015, thus people do not desire to volunteer, they solely desire to spectate and party at an awesome festival, in the manner of most attendees. Solely construct a shade, and term it a theme camp, purposed towards obtaining tickets within 2016, we do not blame them, that is the system at present.
We do not know of art projects planned within 2015, which is not the usual, and the BMOrg is requesting volunteers for BRC Rangers and DPW, in due of BRC Rangers leaving, and in due of the BMOrg desiring to pay solely little cash, or pay, in the main part, zero dollars, towards DPW labourers. It would be easy peasy to purpose the ticketing system towards building community, in place of selling tickets towards spectators and bucket listers, but that is not of what the BMOrg desires.
Much obliged, burnersxxx, for providing one of the few places where burners might discuss, in a U.S. first amendment manner, upon what Larry was fond of stating is ‘our tasked government’ of our Black Rock City. The BORG has assimilated near to all Facebook groups, halting much discussion, the lass whom the BORG appointed to be the minister of the prior snark group, prior of her quitting, stated the BORG senior staff had a meeting a week prior of her becoming the minister, and of the group must not continue in this manner. A member of the BORG social media crew posted of the group must be closed in due of pornography, and, within the next days, much most horrible pornography was posted, purposed towards forcing Facebook to appoint the BORG desired ministers of the group, of which, they were successful. Few people are of the realization of that they have been assimilated, and of that open discussion upon the government of our city, in a U.S. first amendment manner, is futile.
in addendum, not upon topic of ticketing, but, of much importance, the Burning Man Project, and the BRC LLC subsidiary corporation, completed an outside audit upon their 2013 and 2014 finances, within this February, of which, it is now signed by the auditors, and by the Burning Man Project. Thusly, any member of the Burning Man Project Board of Directors might request a vote upon publishing the 2014 income statement and balance sheet, purposed towards ceasing to hide information from donors of art, labour, cash, and stock. All regionals are required to publish financial statements after the statements are signed, in addendum to much more information,why does the BMOrg continue to desire to hide this information from 2015 donors?
There is no rationale of the BMOrg purposefully hiding the detailed 2014 income statement and the detailed 2014 balance sheet, of the 501(c)3 Burning Man Project, and of the BRC LLC subsidiary corporation, from donors. The Project board is of the ability to vote to publish these statements, in despite of the wishes of Larry and Marian.
Information is power, and they see any information they can withhold is power denied to those that are not under their control.
Much obliged for your comments, Nomad. Information is power, but what is the rationale of Larry and Marian, by intention, hiding the profits of the BRC LLC at present? I understand of their desire to hide the numerous millions they took towards their pockets prior of the donation of the BRC LLC to the Project, but what is their rationale of hiding this information at present?
There are many good people on the Project board whom desire to act in an ethical and responsible manner, and treat the Burner community in a fair manner, purposed towards the good of the event, and purposed towards the good of the Project. Voting to release the audited and signed 2014 income statement, and the audited and signed 2014 balance sheet, provides information to the artists to utilize to request of all their costs be paid, in place of solely near to one third of their costs, for solely a small number of artists. It permits the DPW labourers to request all be paid in a fair manner, in place of ‘might you not desire to labour without pay, we have 50 volunteers ready to take your place, say goodbye to all of your mates.’ It permits the BMOrg to gift vehicle passes to mutant vehicles and to camp trucks. Might there be sufficient profits, it permits the BMOrg to gift several thousand free tickets to the mutant vehicle owners, sound camps, and other camps providing entertainment towards the ticket buyers, purposed for assisting them towards paying for the costs of their gifts, that is solely fair. Releasing this information permits donors to make informed decisions upon whether they might desire to make their donations, in place of hiding this information from donors prior of January 2016, as is the rubbish plan, at present.
There is no rationale of responsible Project board members not voting for publishing the audited and signed 2014 income statement, and the audited and signed 2014 balance sheet, of the Project, and of the BRC LLC subsidiary corporation, doing business as Burning Man.
They do not want that information to empower those groups that make the event happen. They want them to instead pay homage to the BOrg and rely on the caprice of the BoD to dispense their largess. Or, they just want to keep more money. Possibly both.
But really, it all comes down to jealousy. They know that those groups you mentioned make the event an international destination, not the BOrg.
Great comment, well said.
One of the first things that happened after the BMOrg/FB intervention you’re talking about on the Burning Man FB group was to censor Burners.Me – of course. Luckily there was enough objection from the community, including support from some of the admins, that I was able to post a link to a story there recently which stayed up. We’re monitoring the situation…another FB group where Burners.Me stories are actively censored is “Burning Man Sucks” (!)
BMOrg further censor the population by their contractual restrictions against speaking on the Internet that they place on staff and regional contacts.
Despite their many (seemingly sincere) statements over the years, they do not seem to be moving in the direction of further transparency. Why can’t this festival of freedom be a shining beacon of openness?
What do Burning Man and the burners have to do with the BOrg? Seriously. And why should one reflect the other?
Verizon is necessary for me to be on the internet, but they have nothing to do with my traffic, unless things are not going right. Sure, they charge me, but they only provide the framework – and not a particularly good one at that. Over time rates go up and bandwidth goes down. The ony restoring force is competition, and that is the only way to get a burn that is open. I suppose I am lucky: if they were like the BOrg, they would claim resale rights to everything I do on the net.
Much obliged, burnersxxx. Your post in regards of the manner of How to Spot an Online Troll was most informative. Of the Informant Troll, requiring of all to sign in to the demonstration, or, in this manner, requiring of all to utilize their real names, in contrary of the founding principles of Burning Man, of the utilization of playa names in a Temporary Autonomous Zone manner. In addendum to the trollish manner of a government, or of a corporation, desiring to prevent free speech, first desires to close any online site of which they do not approve. Might they not be of the ability to close the site, the next step is to control the speech upon the site, utilizing their people to administer the site, deleting any people of which they might desire, and placing rules and moderation upon the speech that might be discussed upon the site, for the benefit of the government, or, in this manner, for the benefit of the people in control of the corporation.
The BORG has placed their desired administers on the sites of all regional groups, and has sent their online rules to the Regional Contacts email lists, and to the theme camps email lists, purposed towards halting speech of which they do not desire upon those sites. Top down control of a bottoms up created event, and community, is not the proper manner of government.
Had not realized their efforts to control social media were so consistent and insidious. It would be one thing if were on a single issue, like ticketing, but doing it unilaterally to squelch any discontent with a private corporation who has not enfranchised the people that make what they sell? This is very bad news. It means that only entirely independent operations, like Figment, can enjoy the full burner creativity.
This is very bad for their “movement,” and is in violation of the “Inclusion” clause in Article 1 of their charter bylaws. I hope someone is keeping track for that class-action lawsuit. 😉
Pingback: Burning Man Hacked! | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man
That Pac Man screen shot was a doctored image meant as a joke on Eplaya.
Thanks I’ve added that to the story
OK…OK…OK. I got a great idea: It is a new video game, “Burn Tickets!” You compete with the other players to see how many tickets you can get. It will test your skills, all the way from HTML, to learning when “don’t” means “the only sure way.” I wonder if Decommodification LLC has claimed copyright or patent protection for the ticketing gauntlet they have created.
No, sorry, I have not been paying attention to my own comments. IP protection would of course have to be proprietary, or trade secret.
Can’t wait to see what they will have in Burn Tickets 5.0. It’s only a year away! 🙂
There is an interesting reddit on a flaw in the BMOrg/Ticketfly system that allowed scalpers to get ahead of the line for BM tickets.
That’s not fair! You looked behind the curtain. Larry said there were no secrets there. You have to TRUST the Larry LLC.
Also the Minister of Propaganda said the system is not rigged to favor Virgins. Because of course no-one writes a line of code without clearing it through the Propaganda authorities first.
He said VIRGINS!!! Stop twisting his words. It was the scalpers that exploited this HTML hole – of course they wold have to know about this ahead of time, be really good with code and expect this sort of hole, or have a functional time machine. …Was “Scalper hacker” one of the choices in the census?
What?! Connect the ticketing-required profiles with those who got tickets? How would that even be possible? That is pure heresy! Everyone knows that space time would fold in on itself if that is done. What are you trying to do? Destroy the known universe?!
Those user profiles are only for correlation with FB profiles and selling, in aggregate, to the NSA. No individual information is sold – it is all sold.
I received the same error message that the Ticketfly site went down. It happened right after I selected tickets. I waited a minute or two concerned that if I refreshed I might get kicked out of line or lose my connection. Eventually I hit refresh and the shipping options became available and I was able to complete my purchase. The same exact thing happened to a friend of mine. I took a screenshot of the error message. It looks different than the one you shared but the language is the same.
This happened to me. I got through to the page where it said ticket fly was down and it also said my code was invalid!! I freaked out as I clicked the link directly from the confirmation e-mail I got after creating and registering my burner profile. I too did not want to hit refresh in case it kicked me out of the line. Eventually I decided to hit the ‘Log into Ticket Fly’ button to the top left of the screen, It worked, I signed in and got the options to buy tickets and vehicle pass. Nerve racking stuff!
Unfortunately we are a party of 10 in two RV’s and only two of us got tickets (so 4 total) and we all signed at the same time, bang after 12:00 using http://www.timeanddate.com/
Edgar Blazona: “You have nothing for us loyal customers.”
As I have pointed out before, they should give all the veterans a shot t ticket sales before the general public. They have our email addresses. Just give them tiered opportunities based on the number of years they have bought tickets. This would lessen the burden on the general sales, and certainly the veteran angst. Are they really worried about veterans abusing the privilege and scalping tickets? Better them that those that have gamed the system to populate SubHub so quickly.
No, Edgar, if the BOrg wanted to, they could reward their “loyal customers.” But that would require the admission that they deserve a reward, something the NPD BOrg cannot do.
They could combine this idea with the ID ticket concept, and make the veteran tickets be ID-required. Of course these should be lower-priced compared to open (unlocked) tickets. But keep in mind the latter are required so that the BOrg can still play their ticket games; after all we cannot rob them of the next several months of narcissistic supplies from all the ticket attention. “Hello little girl. Would you like a ticket to Burning Man?”
Coachella sold out in under 40 minutes and the Comic Con event sold out 130,000 tickets in under an hour. this year, yet no where do you find people claiming conspiracies or being emotionally abused by the process.
Only with the veteran burners do I see posts complaining about their inability to get a ticket for themselves ( or their campmates ), which really expressing their sense of entitlement that they deserve it more over others (insert reason here). Ironically, the newbiws don’t see to be as concerned; perhaps because they are used to events selling out.
So tell me, when did the prinicple of radical self reliance become a form of I need to get mine?
The Tin Principles are a relatively new invention. Something Larry dreamed up in 2004 on a night of too much acid and teenage prostitutes. No one is under any obligation to follow them. What does the principle of Immediacy even mean? Snort the mound of coke off her nipple before it blows away? I really don’t think that’s something to live your life by. There’s always more coke.
Nonetheless, the Principles are in Article 1 of the BMP bylaws. By first approximation, it is against their charter to ignore them.
Did you have to create a Profile and say how many times you’d been before, to pre-register to buy tickets to those events?
Some people like to be abused. I don’t know how BMorg managed to populate the playa with so many of them. It’s like some kind of magic trick where the magician turns and elephant into a mouse. Regardless of how they did it, you have to give them credit for pulling it off. They’re pretty smart folks. Evil as sin, but smart.
“the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing you he doesn’t exist” …who are the magicians, and who are the puppets?
Definitely the creators of Burning Man deserve a lot of credit for a lot of things.
The BOrg behavior is pretty much explained here: http://samvak.tripod.com/narcissismculturesociety.html
What is more interesting is the point you make about how the event was able to draw so many lemmings seeking the narcissistic abuse. Certainly their ticketing process is explicitly selecting the loyal followers, but can that explain so many who cannot see behind the curtain? Well… not “cannot” but do not want to see behind the curtain?