When griefing crosses the line

It’s a fact of life that griefing is part of the subculture of Second Life. It’s not necessarily an agreeable subculture or one we particularly want or need, but it is there all the same. I say this not to excuse what goes on, but to underline the fact that right or wrong, most of us in hearing about it tend to shrug our shoulders and then carry on with our lives.

There are times, however, when griefing – which is actually crossing the line each and every time it occurs – crosses a the line not only in terms of resigned acceptance, but also in terms of criminal behaviour.

The fashion world in SL has recently been subject to this latter situation. This saw an SL user  already complicit in copying skins and shapes, and whose profile boasted they had scant regard for the ToS together with outright threats against content creators, start to use griefing as an attempt to extort money from others. They did so by crashing large fashion events and then demanding payment in order to not crash future events.

extortion

Much of what happened in this matter appeared to go unreported outside of fashion circles – few blog (this one included) reported on the matter, despite the problems apparently occurring over a span of months. The Lab also appeared unwilling to engage in the matter, despite extortion being a criminal act. In the end, many of those affected by the situation saw no other choice than to themselves disrupt in-world user group meetings in order to try to voice their concerns and frustrations directly (if unfortunately inappropriately) to the few remaining Lab employees users can actually contact nowadays.

(I say “inappropriately” not as an admonishment here, but because those who were confronted by this extortionist were demanding direct action from those Lab personnel the least well equipped to provide meaningful feedback on matters.)

In the end, the approach did appear to work, inasmuch as the account of the individual concerned was banned from Second Life and all content relating to it (apparently ripped from other merchants) was removed from the Marketplace.

Of course, in an age and situation where alt accounts are freely available, the removal of a single account is no guarantee the individual responsible has actually been removed from SL – or more particularly that their modus operandi will not be repeated elsewhere by others.

Yordie Sands brings word that the latter appears to have happened, and the use of extortion has been taken up elsewhere. Writing yesterday, she details a situation where Junkyard Blues, a renowned SL blues club run by Kiff Clutterbuck and Dina Petty, has been recently subjected to repeated griefing attacks which comprised, in Kiff and Dina’s words, “Multiple griefers with blinding graphics card attacks and sim lag/crashes … In some instances the computers of many staff and patrons actually shut down or rebooted as a result of the attacks.”

Such was the frequency of the attacks that patrons began staying away from the venue. However this was not an “innocent” (if such a term can be used with any form of griefing) attack. Junkyard Blues were contacted and informed that if they handed over cash, the attacks would stop.

This is again extortion, plain and simple.

As a result of both the threats and the attacks, Junkyard Blues has been forced to resort to restricting access to their club to “members only”, which impacts both their business and their customers.

 

 

Junkyard Blues: victims of extortion attempts (image courtesy of Yordie Sands)

Since Yordie’s original post, there have been several blog reports on the matter, including one from Saffia Widdershins over at Prim Perfect, and a very incisive commentary on Second Life, griefing and the Lab from Honour McMillan. Both of these posts are so clear-cut on matters, they leave me with little more to say on the issue in many respects. However, I feel that comment is required, if only to raise another voice in the matter – particularly as I know that (and all ego aside when I say this) there are people at the Lab who routinely read this blog (Rod, I’m looking at you).

As Honour points out, the Lab has provisions in the ToS when it comes to matters of griefing. Namely, Section 8, which states among other things:

8.1 You agree to abide by certain rules of conduct, including the Community Standards and other rules prohibiting illegal and other practices that Linden Lab deems harmful.

And:

8.3 You agree that you will not post or transmit Content or code that may be harmful, impede other users’ functionality, invade other users’ privacy, or surreptitiously or negatively impact any system or network.

And:

8.3.iv: [You will not] Engage in malicious or disruptive conduct that impedes or interferes with other users’ normal use of the Service.

(All emphasis my own.)

Leaving aside, for the moment, the issue of extortion, all three of these points comprehensively cover both the situation being experienced by Junkyard Blues right now (which is also apparently being experienced by other venues and involving some of the same perpetrators, according to Kiff and Dina), and the situation experienced by members of the fashion community late in 2012.

While one might argue that when you provide an “open” system such as Second Life or OpenSim which promotes freedom of expression and creativity, there will inevitably be those who abuse that freedom, the fact is that this doesn’t absolve the Lab from being more proactive in managing their own platform in accordance with their own Terms of Service. While the Lab may well point to the Abuse Report system as evidence that they do take reports of anti-social behaviour seriously, the fact remains that the system remains ineffective, and the perception is that the ToS is little more than something the Lab can either apply or ignore entirely on a whim.

Whether or not the Lab applies or ignores its own ToS, it really has no choice in matters relating to the rule of law. Indeed, when it comes to illegal activities on the grid, the Lab would probably vigorously argue that it works hard to eliminate them from SL whenever and howsoever they occur.

Yet such reassurances are liable to be met with a cynical response, not only because of the aforementioned experience of those in the SL fashion industry who faced blatant attempts at extortion, but also because the Lab itself appears complicit in enabling such acts in the first place.

As Yordie reports, scripted devices capable of crashing a region are available via the Marketplace from L$50 upwards, as are a range of tools specifically aimed at direct attacks on other avatars, all in violation of the various parts of Section 8 of the ToS mentioned above. However, while they very well might violate the ToS, actually flagging / reporting them as doing so is next to impossible, simply because the Marketplace system does not provide users with any option for doing so.

No provision for denoting goods sold through the Marketplace are in posible violation of the ToS

No provision for denoting goods sold through the Marketplace are in possible violation of the ToS

While it might be argued that it is not possible to police any and all products appearing on the Marketplace, the fact that there is no way to flag these items as being in violation of the ToS tends undermines people’s faith in the Lab as a responsible and trustworthy service provider – and this is not good for the platform.

Second Life is already struggling under an inordinately heavy load – revenue is declining (with admittedly no easy fix), the economy has long been stagnant, new user sign-ups are failing to convert to retained users, and the press continue to perceive the platform about as failed as the proverbial Dodo is dead.

To be sure, removing weapons of mass disruption from the Marketplace is not going to eliminate all the malicious ills within Second Life, but when it comes to the intent to disrupt events and regions, be it for “the lolz” or more importantly to try to prevent criminal abuse of the platform, it would make a remarkably good start.

This is not an issue the Lab can afford to duck. They need to meet the challenge head-on and be seen to take appropriate action. If they fail to do so, then as Honour McMillan states in her closing remarks on the subject:

One of these days sim owners (and anybody who lost money or wound up with damaged equipment) are going to take legal action of their own. Not against the individual criminals causing and/or threatening financial and technical harm, but against the company that doesn’t enforce it’s own Terms of Service or attempt to impede behaviour which blatantly violates the laws of the physical world. The fact that they also enable this destructive activity will be the icing on the cake as far as a judgement is concerned.

Update 4th January, 2013: As per her comment below, Innula Zenovka passes on the following Linden-derived advice for dealing with SL Marketplace items which violate the ToS:

  • If possible to go to the in-world shop that sells the items and submit the AR from there (AR the vending machine) for Harassment > Soliciting others to violate ToS, mentioning the MP advert in the body of the report
  • If there is not an inworld shop, then give the Marketplace URL as the “Location of Abuse”.

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58 thoughts on “When griefing crosses the line

    1. Rennie Renfort

      Goes to show that you didn’t read the article, or the ones leading up to it. If someone griefs a venue I am in in such a way that it will shut down my computer, how is that something that shouldn’t bother me?

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    2. Yordie

      Junkyard Blues is a group of twelve sims and the monthly tiers are in the range of $2,000 a month. The tier is covered in large part by residents and store owners, so if they are denied access to their land this can result in people leaving. If people leave, sims close and those who love the blues and the bluesy community lose. This isn’t a silly matter.

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      1. Albert Elson

        Just saying, if I do not like a video game, I log off and play another one. I am not going to get upset and have a hissy fit if I am playing Call Of Duty and another player shoots me.
        I would like to be a fly on the wall when someone calls the police to complain about some other game player getting the upper hand on them while playing a video game.

        Every one knows that there are other game players in this game who like to greif. That is all part of the silly game. No one is forcing anyone to continue playing any video game, wether it is Second Life or any other video game that players interact with each other. If one of the video game players is feeling threatened by another video game player, log off from the video game and the threat is gone.

        If people playing Second Life are not happy with how the game is played or the video game creator’s customer support department, go find another game to play that is more to your liking.

        Suing a video game, thank you I appreciate the laugh of the day.

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        1. Anarya Vhargon

          Ok Albert, give me your definition of a game. My definition of a game is .. You download a game, the game has a beginning, a real story/plot line, levels and an end. Does Second Life have those thing? NO! Second Life is a community with real life people, people whom can get hurt, whom lose money when grievers fuck the place up, whom have feelings and real emotions. People make real friends [online and sometimes they cross over too rl] .. real people not just some computer puppets. PLUS what those grievers do is blackmail … “pay for protection”… things gangs and the mafia do in rl with rl stores. So… this is a criminal intent and has to stop!

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        2. Hal Jordan

          If a griefer is attacking a sim full of residents, the proper response is not for the sim full of residents to all log off so they won’t feel threatened. The proper response is for the officers of the group who owns the sim to grab the griefer by the scruff of the neck, eject him from the sim, ban him so he can’t come back, and return all of his griefer objects to him.

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        3. Albert Elson

          “Ok Albert, give me your definition of a game. My definition of a game is .. You download a game, the game has a beginning, a real story/plot line, levels and an end.”
          Never played to many multi-player games that have an end. Funny to call the police in real life because another player stole all your golden coins. I would love to be in that squad room listening to the cops laughing that one up.
          One builder who I helped sponsor by providing free store space told me that she was trying to earn the most money to win with her creations. I would suppose”win” meant to make the most gold coins or linden dollars or what ever they are called in the game you are playing at the time.
          I can understand the competition that all of you builders are going through to win in the game.
          Since the game of Second Life is what you make out of it. Some can be neurotic and make Second Life replace their real lives and get overly involved in the game. Maybe to the the point that a trained psychiatric professional is needed to create rl/sl boundaries so that people like this can tell the difference between the two.
          In any case if a game come to the point that a person feels threatened and feels it is necessary to call the police about another person taking their golden coins or what ever the money is called, then these people need to stop playing these games and go outside and take a walk in real life.
          “officer…sniff..sniff. these people cheated and stole my golden coins… can you help me win?” sniffing again “they cheated and used a hack…no fair…sniff..sniff”

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    3. Prokofy Neva (@Prokofy)

      Oh, nonsense. If it is such a “silly little game,” why do you griefers — and griefer enablers and justifiers — need to disrupt other people who don’t think it is? What sort of totalitarian cult do you belong to that you have to impose your notion of how it “should” be on other people by harassing them online? Why is that okay? Why do YOU let other people’s decision to take SL seriously and use it for commerce or any damn thing they want without YOUR permission so able to bother YOU?! THAT is the question that needs to be asked.

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      1. Albert Elson

        Yes Second Life is just a game, and pretty much all multiplayer games have a “community” of players who interact with each other. Reading posts on the various blogs, I find it is a “community” of timid people who just love drama.
        People who take things to seriously in a video game and try to replace a video game with their real lives should look into counseling for a possible video game addiction.

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        1. innula

          @Albert. You miss the point. Chess is a game, obviously. If someone threatened to disrupt the activities of a chess club unless he was paid to go away, I think the appropriate course of action would be to call the police rather than try to tell people they were taking their chess too seriously.

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  1. SlingTrebuchet

    Brain dump:

    How to motivate LL to follow the money if a merchant pays the extortionist?
    If they won’t do it voluntarily, what form of ‘letter from a lawyer’ would?

    What if the trail crosses state lines?
    What if the trail crosses international boundaries?
    Can someone estimate the amount of US$ involved both as damages and payment demanded? There are levels of US$ that are necessary to trigger Federal action.

    Can the payment processors be obliged to take action against the party(s) behind the accounts using their services for extortion?

    It sounds from your description that LL will only respond to RL legal moves.
    So merchants should maybe come together to fund that.
    Tell LL that it’s going to happen.
    Two avenues in tandem. Bad publicity and legal action.

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  2. SlingTrebuchet

    Albert
    People are taking a silly little game and getting far to serious about it.”
    I think that silly US$ might be in question here.

    Greifers have have been part of Second Life and can only bother you if you allow them to.”
    Perhaps you could attend the next endangered event and save the day?
    You could, y’know, do stuff

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    1. slutrix

      This Albert Elson guy is (on purpose) “forgetting” the fact that in Second Life we have people who use their creative talents to either complement their income or even have their SL shop as their sole source of income.

      Also, his claim that it’s “a game” is wrong – games have a certain goal, some sort of scenario; SL is an alternative reality, a virtual world in which people create, socialize, relax, have fun and even – yes – work.

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  3. Pingback: When griefing crosses the line | Second LIfe Good Stuff | Scoop.it

  4. slutrix

    Excellent post here, and Honour herself wrote an extremely insightful post, too. Indeed, Second Life is failing. It is failing, because the Lab seems to be acting more like a bunch of the clichéd high school potheads we so often see in mass-produced American high school comedies than a business.

    From what i’ve gathered from our discussions, SL is far closer to being an ISP that rents server space than anything else one can think of. ISPs – at least the serious ones and not the ones blacklisted in spam watchdog Spamhaus’ ROKSO – have a specific set of Terms of Service and they enforce them, in order to achieve the following results:

    1. Avoid trouble with the Law;
    2. Protect their own customers from abusive customers.

    This is where the Lab has failed miserably ever since it embarked on the project named Second Life: it does not see its userbase as a client base, a customer base. Therefore, there is no such thing as customer care or customer protection.

    This is becoming even more alarming when one considers the fact that the virtual “currency” (which is basically tokens, like the chips in a casino) can be bought with, and exchanged for, real currency. This means, of course, that many people use SL as a base for their professional activities and expect to at least be able to make ends meet based on their sales in SL.

    When LL chooses to ignore the problem of disruptive activities, when LL chooses to ignore even criminal acts such as extortion, it loses the confidence of its customers.

    A dissatisfied customer will leave. And s/he will never come back. And s/he will prevent ten others from preferring the professional in question. Let us remember the Curio v. Hush debacle, in which LL took at face value a civil complaint (which is nothing more than a statement; it is not an injunction or a court ruling) filed by Hush, who, based on the evidence i’ve seen, copied skins from Curio (and perhaps from League, as well). What did LL do? They kicked Curio off! They punished the victim of content theft and copyright infringement. Being the lazy-backside primates they are, they didn’t bother to investigate whether the claims in the civil complaint held any water; in fact, all the statements spewed by Hush and her alts and sockpuppets contained a bucketload of falsehoods; the creation dates of the skins and avatars in question should have been more than enough for LL to tell Hush to STFU or be permabanned for abusing the abuse report system and attempting to game the system.

    Did they do that? As we all know, they did not.

    People say (and i’ve often said it myself) that LL needs to engage itself in governance, i.e. in actually enforcing the rules and protecting the users under the auspices of the ToS and the applicable legislation (including privacy legislation, and i’m going to get to that soon). Since LL is actually an ISP, this is admin work and abuse handling work. It often involves detective work, it involves forensic work, but it’s actually perfectly feasible, because most of the data needed is only a few database queries away.

    It has something called the ToS. Yeah, right. It seems they care more about whether our profiles, display names and usernames conform to their guideline that practically says these entries that describe us should be suitable for toddlers – instead of actually caring about the real issues.

    And what are the real issues?

    1. Prevention and suppression of disruptive activities (griefing, copyright infringement etc).
    2. Protection of users’ privacy.

    Yet, what did they do?

    Let’s tackle #1.

    They don’t do anything to stop griefing. Instead, they have left this job to a gang of griefers called the “Justice League Unlimited” – and, if the Alphaville Herald’s claims are true, at least one (former) Linden was cooperating with these vigilantes; much in the same way that Greek police is in open collusion and collaboration with the violent neo-nazi para-state gang “Golden Dawn”.

    When griefing involves extortion, what do they do? Nothing. Nada. Nichts. Niente. Rien. Zilch.

    In fact, as has been pointed out by You and others, one can easily purchase – both inworld and on the marketplace – griefing tools; systems that are designed to enable anyone to engage in the disruptive activities banned by the ToS.

    Now, for #2…

    Among the tools for vigilantism, griefing, extortion and cyberbullying are spyware systems like the infamous RedZone of convicted fraudster zFire Xue, and, of course, the Gemini CDS Ban Relay, developed by Skills Hak, a person actively involved in the Emerald Viewer scandal and alleged copybotter, if JC Hill’s claims are true. These systems pose as “copyright protection systems” (although it’s relatively easy for someone to circumvent them), when in fact they serve only one purpose: gathering data and processing them for dubious purposes (can Mrs. Skills Hak show us her privacy policy? Will the users of her system – for instance, Claire Messenger and Nuria Augapfel of N-Core – adhere to the diktats of privacy laws, such as the EU privacy laws, show us what data they gather and how they use it?) without users’ (or, i should say, victims’) consent.

    Of course, resorting to the use of such spyware systems is a sign of paranoia, which may in a significant part have been caused by LL’s inactivity when it comes to protecting its customer base.

    But these systems are in clear violation of the ToS. Both the sim crasher systems and the spyware systems violate the ToS.

    LL doesn’t ban these systems and the scumbags that sell them. In fact, as was already pointed out, it doesn’t even provide a way for someone to report them as being in violation of the ToS. This means that LL does NOT take its own ToS seriously.

    i fully agree with Honour – soon, LL will be on the business end of numerous lawsuits, and this will kill it. Rod Humble should quit faffing about with also-ran apps like the much-ballyhooed “Creatorverse” (i still fail to see what it does that is original) and embark on a campaign to regain customer confidence in SL.

    Because the multiple-dip worldwide recession is NOT the real issue that has made SL economy so stagnant – it’s the fact that LL has never acted in a professional manner regarding how it treats its customers. And yes, i am a customer: i pay tier, i buy L$, which means i give money, REAL MONEY, to LL, in order to purchase a SERVICE from them.

    As for the ease with which one can create an army of alts, this should stop. NOW. One user (identified by email account, credit card number and perhaps ID, driver’s licence or passport number) should be entitled to one avatar and one alt. Does the user want a second alt? $20 and it’s theirs. A third one? $30. A fourth one? $50 – and it stops there. This would easily stop most of the snotty, pimply-faced rat bastards with the Cheetos dust-encrusted fingers and penises in their tracks.

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    1. Hal Jordan

      “They don’t do anything to stop griefing. Instead, they have left this job to a gang of griefers called the “Justice League Unlimited”…”

      Here are a few points in response to your post. First, the history of Linden Lab’s griefer response is nowhere near what you posted. LL had a talented and effective group of employees called the Governance and Response Team (the GTeam) that did a good job of responding to and ending griefer attacks. LL laid off these great employees and replaced them with untrained contractors who had to get the residents in the field to show them where the griefer objects were located. Now the contractors are all gone and there is no LL response at all to Abuse Reports filed during griefer attacks. Second, Linden Lab did not turn over griefer response duties to the Justice League Unlimited. JLU’s involvement with griefer attacks was and is the same as any resident on the grid – they file Abuse Reports. And third, the Alphaville Herald is not an impartial source of news. If you believe everything they say, then you will continue to post inaccurate and erroneous opinions like you did here, and your credibility will continue to decline.

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      1. slutrix

        First of all, what I see here is someone who infringes on the copyright of a company that publishes “superhero” comics.

        Second, who exactly and when granted YOU the power and the authority to substitute Linden Lab’s abuse handling team?

        Whether you like it or not, you are nothing but a bunch of rogues, bullies like that Greek gang named “Golden Dawn” and your team has a well-documented history of harassing and stalking others.

        Let’s face it: it’s not a situation where you are the “good guys” and the Patriotic Nigras are the “bad guys”. You’re both detrimental to everyone’s experience and use of SL and I don’t want your team or any other rogue team of wannabe cops anywhere near me every bit as much as I don’t want snotty brats who think griefing is fun near me.

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      2. slutrix

        And something else:

        If and when I face a griefer, I’m going to file and abuse report and I’ll take appropriate action within my customer-provider relationship with Linden Lab, who are the only people with legitimate authority to handle such incidents.

        You see, I pay RL money for L$ transactions to Linden Lab, not the JLU.

        I use Second Life, which is a service created, maintained, run, developed and provided by Linden Lab. Last time I checked, the servers, developers etc are all Linden Lab – not JLU.

        And as far as I know, you are not Linden Lab employees, you are not a team of people contracted and authorized by Linden Lab and I fail to see why I should trust you to act in lieu of Linden Lab.

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  5. innula

    As to griefing items being sold in the Marketplace, the advice I’ve been given by a Linden who knows about such matters is — if possible — to go to the in-world shop that sells the items and submit the AR from there (AR the vending machine) for Harassment > Soliciting others to violate ToS, mentioning the MP advert in the body of the report.

    If there’s not an inworld shop, then give the Marketplace URL as the “Location of Abuse”

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    1. Inara Pey Post author

      Thanks for that info, Innula – I’ll add it as an update to the main piece for those who don’t always read comments.

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    2. slutrix

      That’s only a stopgap measure, really, and it’s like going from London to Birmingham via Stockholm. They MUST provide an immediate, direct way of reporting such items.

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    3. Adam Greenthumb

      Oh good greif, do not get the Lindens on a delete campaign again.
      Every time in the past (regardless of how good their intentions are) when the Lindens delete objects, the Lindens end up breaking other objects and end up doing their customers more harm than good.

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      1. Inara Pey Post author

        Adam / Albert

        If you’re going to post comments from multiple accounts, it’s probably best that you change your IP address between comments. Otherwise, it’s a bit of a giveaway.

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      2. innula

        Really? What objects do you say were unintentionally broken when, for example, LL went round removing Red Zone and similar devices?

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        1. Albert Elson

          Lets see about a year or more ago a Linden deleted a popular mega prim that was not only used to greif, but was also used in many builds.
          People logged in to find parts of their sims missing. The same thing happened even earlier with another popular texture that left people’s homes textured with I.P. replacements after there was some question of who had the rights to use this texture.

          Then we all remember Stroker’s bed drama over a bed that someone got a hold of with a full perm script inside somehow . The Lindens disabled Strokers scripts in the questionable beds that this person was selling using Stroker’s scripts. In doing this, Linden Labs disabled the legitimate beds that other had bought from Stroker himself.

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          1. innula

            I didn’t ask you for examples of LL breaking stuff. I asked you to justify what seemed to me, and still seems, an extravagant and erroneous claim you have made.

            You said, as a general rule, “Every time in the past (regardless of how good their intentions are) when the Lindens delete objects, the Lindens end up breaking other objects and end up doing their customers more harm than good.”

            You didn’t say “sometimes.” You didn’t say “More often than not.” You said, “Every time,” so I provided a counter-example of when, as I recall, LL removed some stuff that was causing many people a lot of nuisance and they didn’t in the process break stuff, as I recall. Do you say they shouldn’t have removed Red Zone?

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        2. Albert Elson

          You asked for examples and I gave them. As for red zone, I never said any thing about red zone. I was able to defeat that spyware without anyone’s help. So red zone was never an issue for me (unless I wanted to make it an issue).
          The combat sims crash on their own without anyone’s help, so I consider poor game performance as a normal part of Second Life. I would be a basket case if I stressed over lag or crashing sims when ever l decide to play Second Life.
          The moment that I have to become serious while playing a game or stress over how another person is playing Second Life( or any other game), then it is time to stop playing that game and find something else to do.

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          1. Inara Pey Post author

            Your original assertion was, however, “every time”. The reality is that while there were a couple of incidents last year, in the vast majority of cases, LL handle the removal of items from the Marketplace and in-world without issue or hiccups. Ergo, Innula is correct in questioning your statement as it was erroneous and misleading.

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  6. Ricco Saenz

    I’d like to comment on 2 points:

    1. OK, it’s possible to report an item you see on Marketplace for violationg the ToS – it requires that you log in SL, though, with your SL viewer. It still makes the process harder than it should be. I mean, if you saw the item on Marketplace, you should be able to report it from the Marketplace pae immediatelly. Not to mention that, if you go to the in-world store, you may end up being tracked by tools that detect your presence.

    2. I understand that it’s a bit harder to fight griefing when you can have as many free accounts as you want, but… one should be careful when stating things like: “in an age and situation where alt accounts are freely available, the removal of a single account is no guarantee the individual responsible has actually been removed from SL – or more particularly that their modus operandi will not be repeated elsewhere by others.” I mean, yes, this situation requires that the Lab go further. But I’ve already seen somewhere people saying that free accounts, themselves, are the problem. I’d say to those who state so: be careful what you wish for. Here, for instance, it is said that “Junkyard Blues has been forced to resort to restricting access to their club to “members only”, which impacts both their business and their customers” – in other words, less people will go there, less people will be inclined to buy from stores there, etc. If you restrict access in SL to premium accounts only, I’d say most likely the same thing will happen, now to the whole grid. I, myself, am not premium, and I prefer to be non-premium. Still, I pay rent, buy L$ regularly, buy stuff in world and on Marketplace, etc. And I know many in the same situation. So, whatever the solution is, it has to be done without banning free accounts.

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    1. Inara Pey Post author

      The means to report SLM items via the viewer’s Abuse Report window has been highlighted, but thanks. It would still be easier to flag items directly from the Marketplace pages.

      I fully agree that issues such as this should not be used as a hammer against free accounts – and my observation is not in any way intedned to be taken as such.

      The vast majority of free account users do so fully legitimately (I actually have two accounts: my preimium, and a free account – my Crash Test Alt). I’ve argued myself quite persistently in the past – contribute as much, if not more, to the SL aconomy than premium / paid accounts, and as such should not in any way be banned.

      Neverthless, my point in passing the comment on the ease with which accounts can be made is valid; better checks and balances are required to ensure those who are banned from SL remain banned, rather than having the freedom to return. Admittedly, in the era of dynamic IP addresses and people owning multiple computers, this is a tad easier said than done, and I fully appreciate that.

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      1. Ricco Saenz

        On the other hand, on the abuse report issue, trying to be positive, at least there is a way to do it. And on the free accounts, just to make it clear: I understad what you mean, my comment was mainly motivated by an observation I read elsewhere, that seemed to imply that the problem was the mere existence of free accounts. I also recognize it’s difficult to solve the issue and that having free accounts makes it even more difficult. But I’d say that, unfortunately, this is how it is, difficult. Maybe persistent action (banning griefers persistently) can help, maybe providing special “security” for sims that become target of frequent attacks, maybe developing some tools to identify ongoing attacks and stop them… On limiting alts per main account… hum, is that effective? I mean, if I’m a griefer and I want to disrupt stuff, I may create different main accounts, with different IPs, one would not even know they are connected to the same person in the atomic world. Not sure this is effective.

        Again, sorry, I know this post is not against free accounts, it’s just that I’ve already read people elsewhere complaining about free accounts, and it worries me.

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        1. slutrix

          The rhetoric against free accounts in general has been around since 2006. Some people felt that only paying members were guaranteed to act responsibly, an opinion to which i do not subscribe. i agree with you that this issue demands and dictates persistent action – eternal vigilance – on behalf of LL.

          And perhaps LL should make an example of certain extortionists and griefers, by publishing their RL info and not only aiding their victims in suing them, but also suing them themselves under the provisions of anti-cybercrime legislation. They have the right to do so, you know.

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    2. slutrix

      The article’s point was not against free accounts; it was about how easy it is to engage in abusive and disruptive activities when you can easily make as many free alts as you want.

      Let’s say this is my main account. And, just because i want to cause mayhem, i go and create four more alts (the maximum i can make for free). i also go and make a few more main accounts and attach four more alts per main account; thus, without any cost, i have amassed a platoon of alt accounts. i equip each of my alts with a griefing tool and start launching them to disrupt others.

      People report my alts for abuse. They get (perhaps) banned. No problem; i still have my main accounts – i can, if i’m smart enough, delete the griefing alts before they are investigated after a possible AR. And i start over.

      This has got to stop.

      Yes, each person must be able to join for free, in order to make SL’s appeal wider. But each main account must be allowed to have only one free alt. Any more than that should cost money for their creation, so that their owners will be discouraged from using them for griefing (when throwaway accounts start costing real money, people will use their main ones for everything). Also, once someone has made an alt, even if s/he deletes it, this alt should still count against the remaining number of allowed free alts.

      For instance, if i have my main account and make two alts, under the current “five avatars per ‘household'” regime, i’ll have two remaining “slots” for free alts. Deleting an alt should NOT free up a slot.

      So, free accounts? Yes, by all means. But restrict them to two free accounts per “household” (i.e. per RL owner): one main, one alt. Anything more… Get your credit or debit card out and PAY.

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  7. Prokofy Neva (@Prokofy)

    Re: “disrupt in-world user group meetings in order to try to voice their concerns and frustrations directly (if unfortunately inappropriately)”

    Oh, come now. All these people did was speak a few sentences in a meeting. There was no “disruption” whatsoever. And they were right to try to get these technical Lindens who work on the server to realize that their very jobs depend on there even being a Second Life, and if the disruption of *their customers’* SL gets to bad, they’re going to have to hear a few off-topic phrases about this. Honestly, you would have thought these innocents crashed a sim for the way you describe it! And indeed those Lindens are equipped to help and in fact their conveyance of this “disruption” cured the problem INSTANTLY, and the griefer was banned within 24 hours after that. That is what it takes. A few geeks didn’t get to have their precious Lindens’ full attention for 2 seconds, big deal.

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    1. Inara Pey Post author

      Sadly, Prok, there was disruption, however unintentional.

      At the Monday meeting you did not attend, the region suffered major issues of lag and a crash which appeared largely down to some of those trying to make their concerns legitimately heard themselves being very heavily scripted. The same issues occurred after the meeting had been relocated to a more capable region, although admittedly with far less an impact overall.

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  8. simonzinjanthropus

    As someone who deals with SL griefers as a matter of course almost daily, I have to say that they are becoming more organized and deliberate – not to mention more malicious – of late. Rather than just the odd attention-seeker, we seem to get a lot of co-ordinated ‘flash mob’ attacks and orchestrated troublemaking. This takes the form of three or more people coming to a sim and engaging in an elaborate RP (in the form of an argument in local), while an accomplice unloads griefing tools elsewhere n the sim, while the guides are occupied with the ‘argument’.

    It’s planned and deliberate, and not just a matter of the odd, random person who wants to annoy or antagonize others. Griefing may have been a part of SL since its beginning, but it is becoming more and more of a problem due to the ‘organized crime’ factor which seems to be a part of recent griefer ‘culture’.

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    1. Richardina Petty

      Simon–You have exactly described the issue. This is not the random Mario Bros script or the placement of huge prims on the dance floor. It is far more organized and sinister.

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  9. slutrix

    Every bit as bad as the developers of griefer and spyware systems for use inworld are the drama queens who think it’s their right to violate SL’s terms when it comes to disclosure just because they had an argument with someone. In fact, such persons attract griefers to SL with their attitude.

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  10. Silenced

    1) I understand that LL does not want to go down any slippery slopes, such as investigating the legitimacy of, say, every DMCA claim. That is a far cry, however, from taking their current “impartial” stance between creators and obvious, blatant thieves, esp when we are talking about major established businesses put at risk (such as Curio) — and that did not used to be the case. Thief accounts used to be deleted; now, apparently, LL does not bother. I have pretty much stopped bothering to file DMCAs. What is the point in having content taken down when the thieves have copies tucked safely away from prying eyes in inventory?

    If LL cannot afford to have people on staff to deal with griefing and blatant, egregious content theft, then collect fees from those who are asking for relief and hire some people. My bet is that many merchants would be more than happy to pay for some protection — we are operating in the damned Wild West and need some law enforcement.

    2) Extortion is criminal activity and needs to be reported to the police (or FBI), esp considering LL’s “impartiality”.

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    1. Inara Pey Post author

      Yup

      I just wanted to keep things within the context of the Junkyeard issue. However, thanks for the link :).

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  11. hotmen

    Creator problem solved ? nothing… only 1 avatar ban he ramonzita other alt ? nothing now live name missfedorava she shop open marketplace more.. defamation, harassment, and other crimes continue

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  12. Wolf Baginski

    According to the same TOS, L$ are not money. (Section 5.1) There’s some convoluted legal language about a “Linden Dollar License” which defines buying and selling in terms of that License.

    I don’t know how that interacts with legal definitions of “extortion”. It needs somebody who knows the law to figure out. I’d suppose that the precise status of the L$ matters. In Britain it would, I think, be covered by the Theft Act if the L$ was not money.

    Secondly, I had an interesting exchange with Linden Labs when I reported a region apparently down. It involved somebody who commented on the ticket under the name “Boris Linden”, saying it should have been an abuse report (the apparent cause was a griefer attack).

    My response was: “On past experience, not just of reports by myself, I am unconvinced that any abuse reports are investigated.” (I hereby give myself an unlimited license to quote my own copyrighted material, valid in all jurisdictions subject to the Berne Copyright Convention.)

    This provoked a reply, urging me to make an abuse report, and saying I would be “pleasantly surprised”. This was several hours after the incident, and I had made an abuse report at the time anyway. I politely reminded the person–he didn’t identify himself this time–that according to the TOS, the results of Abuse Reports were kept secret from the reporter, and added that I had already made an abuse report and received the auto-response.

    I didn’t say that the Linden didn’t know what he was talking about, but I suppose he might have inferred it.

    I remain unconvinced that abuse reports are investigated, and I have no idea whether or not mine are even considered complete enough to investigate.

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    1. SlingTrebuchet

      L$ is not a hard currency. True.
      If L$ obtained by deception/fraud are converted into US$, then those US$ were obtained by deception/fraud.

      Whatever about the internal SL situation, I believe that the L$->US$ stage is where a possibilty of Federal action becomes possible – depending on the amount involved. The amount should logically be cumulative, and not a per-transaction view.
      That should apply to the proceeds of content-ripping as well as to extortion.

      I am not a lawyer. So I can waffle.

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    2. Hal Jordan

      This evening I wrote about a serial griefer who has been plaguing the Linden sandboxes. He has three current alts and at least seventeen banned alts. So LL is investigating Abuse Reports in some way. I believe that once the number of ARs on a resident reaches a threshold, LL investigates and possibly takes action. But in my experience there is no real-time investigation or action taken on Abuse Reports. The only Linden who ever shows up in the LL sandboxes these days is TimeLimit Linden. He takes exactly 5 hours to respond, and coincidentally his response coincides with the sim’s autoreturn time. So I think your “pleasant surprise” after the Abuse Report was the standard response promising an investigation and hoping that you encounter no more problems in Second Life. I hope you acted surprised when the email arrived. :)

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  13. Gwyneth Llewelyn

    I think that the point that the likes of @Albert are missing is that this is about extorsion and not “merely” about griefing.

    It’s completely irrelevant if people are taking “SL too seriously” or not. Extortionists are taking extorsion seriously, no matter what others feel about SL. This is the whole point.

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    1. simonzinjanthropus

      Yes, good point Gwyneth – it’s the criminal aspect that concerns me also. An attempt to extort money is criminal in anyone’s language, and there are laws against it in most cultures/nations. SL is, I have found (in the last one hundred and something days I have been there), a culture. There are sub-cultures within it, but SL as a whole is a culture. Nobody likes the griefers, and their motives remain obscure – but the extortionists are criminals, pure and simple.

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  14. Pingback: Prim Perfect Jigsaw: Beauty … and the beastliness of griefing « Prim Perfect

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