Back from vacation and 60 people less

3 10 2006

So I am back from vacation which was a nice two weeks nearly without internet and Second Life. I was in sunny Andalusia which is soon to be a desert because all the water is used for golf courses and other meaningful things. But anyway, back now and trying to catch up.

And very annoying things have happened indeed while I was back, speaking of 60 people getting permabanned. Interestingly you don’t find that much information in blogs etc. but mostly on forums and by asking people. So what I could reconstruct by now was this:

– On Monday, Sep 18th there have been 3  grid attacks (which moved into each other) with self-replicating objects happened followed by Linden Lab action such as disabling of script grid-wide, disabling logins and so on. Things have been resolved later according to this post by Linden Lab.

– On Tuesday, Sep 19th a townhall meeting was taking place in which Philip Linden announced the permabanning of 60 people from Second Life because of their involvement of the attack on monday.

Now I investigated a bit more as also some people I’ve known have been among these 60 people from whom I wouldn’t think they started such an attack and besides it’s strange that it should have taken 60 people to do that.
I found some discussion about it in this thread on Second Citizen as well as in this thread on the Something Awful forums. It turns out that those 60 people have been members of the Voted 5 Group in Second Life, led by Verbena Pennyfeather, who owned the sim Satyr, probably a somewhat controversial sim. According to Verbena the actual attack has been done by only 1 guy in the realm of that group but not by that whole group.

It is no secret that members of that V5 group have not always been the “best” residents and might have lived on the edge of griefing (or in, depends on definition) and many of them have been reported before (and have been punished) but if Verbena is right and only 1 guy was doing these attacks then it’s quite hilarious to permaban the whole group. Additionally there is no further word about that from Linden Lab because this is their policy.
According to Robin Linden (as she told me once in a community roundtable when asking about Cristiano’s ban back then) it’s because it’s a privacy issue and they don’t talk about individual incidents. But it seems to be so private that not even those banned get to know why they actually banned, esp. when (as one guy stated) he wasn’t online for 2 months anyway.
According to Verbena it also was told him by Linden Lab that Something Awful is not welcome in Second Life.

Related to the banning system is the issue of privacy. Or missing privacy I should say. If we look at the real world you can see how in some states you will have less and less privacy e.g. by setting up more and more CCTV cameras (basically it’s restricting freedom in the name of freedom). But we are still far from completely monitoring people. And we will hopefully never see this. In Second Life though we have just that. Chat logs are stored for an unnamed time and it’s unclear who actually has access to these logs and under which circumstances. All this is done in order to get hold of the bad guys in the case of a report. Now this is only for investigating afterwards and never for preventing stuff (but this is like the cams. Bomb attacks happen nevertheless and those cameras just give people a false sense of security). And it can be gamed of course because you are free to use whatever external messaging application instead of the Second Life system. So the use of that is actually questionable. Just a monitoring (like also DRM on music and video btw) just mean “we don’t trust you” making you a potential griefer (or terrorist in the case of CCTV cams).

Even more questionable is the process of banning itself. When I see this latest incident and also the ban of Cristiano a while back then the whole system seems to be not very trustworthy and bans seem to be done on an arbitrary basis. This is not something which really creates much confidence for me in this platform. Maybe I am banned next just for being in some group?

You also need to see what a permaban means. If you created a business in SL or simply created lots of stuff then it’s all gone (although you “own” the content). This can have quite some impact depending on your involvement with SL. And building such a business of course needs some confidence in the platform and it’s policies and also on the execution of these policies.

I understand that with the amount of incidents it is not possible to do court like hearings in every case but I would very much suggest to do so in the case of permabans. Everybody should be able to stand a 3-day ban or something similar but a permaban is quite some punishment which should be used with great care IMHO. At least I now had some use for my votes which I never used yet and voted for proposal 2018. Not that I think that it will have any effect but to me it’s one of the most urgent matters here.

So after this my motivation is a bit damped to do that much in SL right now. It will probably get back to normal again but if this process is not changed to a transparent and fair one then I will still have to think about how much effort I put into this platform.

And it should also be in Linden Lab’s interest of course. How can they present themselves as a trust broker (which seems to be their plan) if you cannot trust Linden Lab itself?

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3 responses

11 10 2006
Attacks and reactions « Tao’s Thoughts on Second Life

[…] Opinions in some parts of the Second Life resident base suggests that only the opening-up of the registration process earlier this year when the requirement of a credit card was dropped led to this proliferation of attacks. Other rumors say that the banning of the 60 residents in mid september led to the issue as it was seen as affront against that group resulting in stronger trials of attacks. It is hard to say what is true and who is behind it without further evidence shown to us. And of course the latter fact is no excuse for such attacks. But they are happening and Linden Lab (and the Second Life residents in the end) have to deal with them. It should be clear though that the growing popularity (895,223 residents registered at the time of this writing) will also attract more potential attackers and griefers. […]

4 02 2007

What’s the point of those thumbnail previews that pop up when I accidentally roll my pointer over a link? They are highly annoying, don’t seem to serve any purpose, and are a waste of bandwidth.

13 02 2007

Sorry, that’s a WordPress feature which I cannot change (at least I didn’t find an option).

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