I've had enough. And I know I'm far from being the only one. What am I talking about here today?
Griefing, Griefers and Linden Lab's No-Policy on Stopping Them
I'd been back on the grid at the tail end of my first 6 months when we the Help Education Quorum group met with Ebbe and assorted Lindens for the second time. During this recorded meeting (CLICK HERE FOR RECORDING LINK) I asked about getting more support for the endless battle against griefers and griefing.
The answer I got was to submit an Abuse Report (AR) on each incident. I then asked in all seriousness if we could have the number of ARs it takes to get an action done on a griefer. Because at that point I had not only had already been doing ARs in my months-long return interim, but had YEARS of doing so under my belt. And seen little to no changes in the level(s) of assualts. Wait, let me not tell a lie. The level and scope had actually INCREASED as the years went by.
I was told there was no exact number, but that the "way to go on this" was to submit those reports. So we continued to do so, and I got the word out to my staffers at the NCI that they should do that. Now mind you, things had gotten so bad that we had implemented our own security system years ago, as land controls for griefing were vastly insufficient. So now staffers had to do double duty - enter their eject/ban into our system and then when done, fill out an AR on griefer(s) in question.
Here's what I gathered from Ebbe's response to my questions:
Linden Lab is reluctant to ixnay someone from the Grid because
1. If they do an IP ban or anything along those lines, they might end up banning someone else who shares that IP addy or computer or Second Life account or whatever.
2. It would be so horrendously terribly and oh so gosh darn AWFUL if that should happen that LL won't even consider trying anything along those lines. Or anything at all, really.
3. It's just so HARD to actually even start to think about dealing with the griefer situation. Boohoo us.
Let me tell you what this says to me. This response tells me that Linden Lab values people who harass, grief, disrupt, intimidate, break TOS etc. the exact same as those residents, paying customers, visitors, new folks, content creators etc who do NOT engage in those things.
It let's me know loud and clear that they view us all the same way because we're not even worth the effort of trying out ways to put and end to or even put a severe dent into the shenanigans of those grief.
I don't know about you, but I feel pretty horrible right now thinking about that.
Let me flesh out their worst case scenarion and show to you how so not terrifying that imagined scenario actually is:
Say LL perma-bans JoeBlowGriefer from the Grid. He can no longer log into Second Life on his main account or any of this by now hundreds of alts. Let's also say that JoeBlowGriefer happens to share an IP address/computer or whatever with a law abiding resident of Second Life - let's call her JaneDoeAvatar - who gets swept up in this ban, and she finds out the next time she goes to log into SL that she suddenly cannot.
She contacts Linden Lab and is told about her IP addy ban and whatsnot and she comes to the realization that her roommate (or live-in boyfriend, or teenaged son or WHOever it is) is responsible for her getting locked out of Second Life. What happens next is what Ebbe is so scared of possibly maybe happening. (I guess, dunno)
a) JaneDoeAvatar can choose to go ballistic and sue Linden Lab and take them to court or commit and act of terrorism on Linden Lab HQ in San Francisco or---what? Am I sounding crazy? I think I am. I dunno WHAT in the heck LL thinks someone can do that is so goddam horrific that they won't even try to stop griefing.
b) JaneDoeAvatar is embarassed but thankful that she now knows what her teenaged son has been doing all this time and takes matters into her own hands and JoeBlowGriefer is gone for good from Second Life, and her IP ban and all that gets sorted out and she can continue her SLife as usual.
c) JoeBlowGriefer is upset by this sudden turn of events and exercises some totally awesome hacker skillz and gets around whatever bans SL has in place and starts up his griefing activities anew. This to me is like maybe less than 1% of SL griefers because really - if I had mad awesome hacking skillz and abilities I wouldn't waste them on some virtural world platform that nobody has ever heard of. And if I did, once stymied like that, I'd prolly take myself elsewhere to easier pickings.
See here is what I know about people, and the types of people who would spend their time griefing in Second Life. They tend to go for the easy target like all predator types. Second Life is wide open. it's not hard at all to run around disrupting people's SLives and wreaking havoc in SL. It's so easy to just make alt after alt after alt and continue targeting people and places. When one alt gets banned from the land or region you just log into or create another and keep it stepping.
Nothing happens when people submit ARs on you. I mean Second Life is a griefer's paradise. It really is. When you are treated the exact same way as law abiding residents. When you never ever incur any significant loss or punishment when you grief. And in fact it might become actually LUCRATIVE for you when copybotting is still rampant with no punishment, scamming and thievery brings you nothing but profit. Why wouldn't you grief around all day every day in Second Life?
You know what makes me tired? I mean really, really, EXHAUSTED? I'm tired of getting called a nigger every time I turn around. I'm tired of seeing giant penises shoved into my face left and right. I'm tired of logging in to help Newbies and getting the NCI campus targeted and LOD bombed and scripted-prim spammed. I'm tired of seeing Newbies targeted and griefed and left scared, upset and confused on what just happened. I'm tired of being harassed. I'm upset that my staffer's build just got copybotted. I'm tired of putting up the (basically false) front of saying that we provide a safe environment for Newbies to learn and get help. I'm tired of the spamming hate speech - misongynistic, anti-semitic, homophobic, racist - you name it being hurled at me and those who visit NCI Campuses and attend classes and events there.
I'm tired of the Nazi avatars. I'm tired of the Ku Klux Klan avatars. I'm tired of the picaninny and racist stereotyped avatars. I'm tired of the wobbling giant hairy testicle avatars. There is an endless parade of these targeted at myself and those residents and Newbies who visit the NCI. Tired of the hate speech. I'm tired of trying to contribute to SL society and have events disrupted, and classes griefed, and NCI volunteer staff and visitors being subject to all sorts of awfulness week after week after week. I'm tired tired tired of being tired. When will it end?
Why do you value these people the same? Why do they get to rampage their way around Second Life with impunity? What are you so scared of?
What you should be terrified of is the damage these people are doing to your bottom line. Instead you are frozen in place because of some mythical scenario that might could maybe happen if you start to crack down. if you did even the most basic of actions, you'd cut down griefing by 50% easy. DO SOMETHING.
Before I go I want to comment on something that happened in that last meeting we had with you Ebbe. You were told by one of the people who has done nothing but be awesome in Second Life that she and her Help/Edu org had been targeted and griefed by this one indivudual for OVER SIX YEARS.
I was appalled by hearing that, but not that surprised having had similar experiences with the NCI.
What I would have done, if was me in your shoes, was tell that person to get with you after the meeting. That you were going to get the name of that griefer and perma-ban them from the grid for once and for all. Seeing that the bulk of their career griefing that space was not done on your watch - it would be the LEAST you could do. But I'm guessing from your response that you did none of those things, and that griefer is still at large and will be left to harass and grief for yet another 6-year span.
That's why I asked how may reports does it take. Because I'll sit down and fill out that number on the list of people that I call Repeat Offenders. Those griefers who take advantage of your open-door policy that welcome-mats griefers and rule breakers and punishes No One. Over and over and over.
Because upon hearing about a six-year barrage of targeted harassment I would have stopped in my tracks, and taken steps to DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM instead of making horribly thin (and cowardly IMO) excuses on why you simply cannot; why it's SO HARD; why your hands are tied etc blah blah blah.
Who's running this joint anyways? YOU or the griefers? Right now I'm gonna say it's THEM, because you refuse to do Thing One and lift not a finger to put an end to this madness.
Ebbe, you sound like a good guy. I've only met you a couple of times. I've only "met" you avatar to avatar, voice to voice. But I've read your interviews, listened to your speeches, communicated with some of your staff. I get the feeling that you actually do care, and want to do right by Second Life and it's residents.
Dealing with the griefer situation in SL would be a great place to start. I would love not to keep getting reports on new users coming to my staff in tears because they'd been targeted racially or sexually harassed. I'd love to be able to say with full honesty that places like the NCI do actually provide a safe learning environment. I'd love to feel like I'm respected and not lumped in with and treated the exact same way as griefers. I'd love to have a week go by - that's 7 days btw - without having a griefing incident. I'd love to see the avatars on my repeat offender list never show up in Second Life ever again.
Ban Them From Second Life. Permanently.
Let the chips fall where they may and use your PR personnel or hire some to deal with the very very very few innocent people that might get swept up in your crack downs. Thinking, reasonable people will understand. The fallout will be minimal, and can be handled quite easily with a little forethought and contingency planning. Don't act like it can't be done, because all of us have used similar applications and services that DO crack down on griefers, rule breakers and disrupters. Why is Second Life so different? Why not do what every other self-respecting money-making company does to secure their bottom line? DO SOMETHING.
Why do I keep mentioning your bottom line? Because I know for a fact that people like these are responsible for you losing money. A LOT of it. Every new person they drive from Second Life is a loss for you. Every time a content creator, paying customer throws their hands up and exits from Second Life due to unbridled copybotting and harassment - you lose big time. Every time a help/edu org shuts it's doors for good due to lack of support on this issue, the loss for Linden Lab is exponential.
And let's be real here: If you want SL to grow and the brand to become more popular and mainstream you are going to have to deal with this problem. Working on SL 2.0? Do you have anything in place to avoid ending up like how things are right now in Original SL? You cannot move forward profit-wise in either version of SL if you don't figure out how to deal with this issue.
Cow girl up! Get your ish together, come up with a plan and implement it. DO SOMETHING.
Thanks for listening,
-Brace Coral, Founder, NCI/New Citizens Inc, long-time law abiding resident.
PS sorry for typos and whatnot - for some reason there's no spellcheck up in here :\