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Policing in SL?


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Hey folks! I'm an anthropology student researching the ways in which "policing" works in SecondLife, both formal and informal.  

Are moderators and/or land owners considered "police" as far as enforcing their own rules? How have people experiences issues like harassment, spamming, scaming, etc? When you run into issues (harassment, people breaking the ToS, etc) do people generally report it to the landowners or to LL?

As for RL police: do they have a significant role in the game? I found some sporadic articles about police from particular countries dealing with issues like pornography and illegal trades being conducted online, but is that common?

Please note that should you reply to this thread, your responses will be used in my research. You may however, choose to opt out of a later date. No user(name)s will be named in the paper (will be listed as "Player 1, Player 2", etc), and my paper will not be published or viewed by an audience wider than my Ethnography class. Feel free to ask any other questions you may have regarding my research.

If you're interested in being interviewed privately regarding your experiences (so they're not preserved on a public forum like this one and your answers are kept confidential), let me know! I would love to hear from you.  

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How about disclosing your name, university, name of faculty that oversees your research etc and other information the way you are supposed to do BEFORE you ask one thing?

Only a very small number of all SL residents ever come to this forum and an even smaller number answer.  ANY results you get here are statistically invalid.

How about actually logging into SL and doing your own research rather than relying on people in the forum to do your homework?

We are not Guinea pigs or people willing to do your work for you. Many of us hold even advance degrees and know how you are supposed to research your papers.

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I'm sure your teacher and fellow students will find it entertaining if you show them pictures of your avatar and pictures of you interviewing people in SL. I would try to interview some griefers too for an opposing viewpoint. They have rather interesting avatars.

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Amethyst Jetaime wrote:

How about disclosing your name, university, name of faculty that oversees your research etc and other information the way you are supposed to do BEFORE you ask one thing?

Only a very small number of all SL residents ever come to this forum and an even smaller number answer.  ANY results you get here are statistically invalid.

How about actually
logging into SL
and doing your own research rather than relying on people in the forum to do your homework?

We are not Guinea pigs or people willing to do your work for you. Many of us hold even advance degrees and know how you are supposed to research your papers.

Since the paper is not going to be published and simply for a 101 class on ethograpic methods, I am not required to disclose personal details regarding my identity on a public forum where I can be tracked down and further harassed later. Like others, if you are not interested in being part of the research, you are free to not respond.

If anyone is interested in more personal details regarding the research before choosing to engage, I would happily respond to messages privately. 

I have been in doing in-game research, and logged on here just to expand my reach. But thank you for the suggestion.

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Bree Giffen wrote:

I'm sure your teacher and fellow students will find it entertaining if you show them pictures of your avatar and pictures of you interviewing people in SL. I would try to interview some griefers too for an opposing viewpoint. They have rather interesting avatars.

Amusingly enough, I actually am supposed to show my class exactly that as part of the presentation. I'm not sure why you think it will be entertaining, but if it is so I'm sure it will help take off the edge from finals. 

I appreciate your suggestion about interviewing griefiers-- assuming I can get them to talk to me seriously. 

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You're hitting a common problem in anthropology. Outsiders come into a community with only a vague idea on what goes down based on other outside descriptions of that community. They create a series of questions based on those outside descriptions, and approach asking the way their textbook told them to rather than tailoring it to the community. Often people avoid them. The ones that don't will provide nonsense answers (sometimes because they've had enough of being asked odd questions, sometimes because the questions aren't really the right questions so they don't know how to answer). The anthropologist writes up the barrel of nonsense, which will then be used by the next anthropologist to frame their questions and approach. And so the cycle continues.

This is why communities which are frequently targeted by anthropologists tend to have a really dim view of anthropologists. That would be a great thing for you to discuss in your class. More anthropologists should put themselves under the lens, and consider their own culture of anthropology.

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Let me give you a serious answer since I am at work now instead of at home where time is precious :lol:

In a nut shell: no.

 

The virtual world of Second Life is anarchy and despotism.  There are the Linden Lab Terms of Service and their Community Standards which you should be familiar with.  The TOS is more than a bunch of waivers and disclaimers that you usually see.  That sort of stuff is in the related links at the bottom if you care to read them but you really should read the TOS and Standards pages.  They won't take 10 minutes, tops.

And that is it for any form of policing.  Otherwise we police ourselves.  The primary tool for this is ignore.  Once your block an avatar you can not see them, hear them (voice) or see their texts even in group chats.  Mute and move on as it is called or derender and ignore.

On owned land, whoever owns the land can (and often do) ban any one for any reason at all.  There are other, softer tools that will just eject avatars for different reasons such as being too new or just in the wrong place.

Moving up the ladder, while it is possible to file an Abuse Report for just about anything, the only things that matter are verifiable and provable incidents that are against the TOS.  Linden Lab will not get involved in resident to resident disputes.

 

>> Are moderators and/or land owners considered "police" as far as enforcing their own rules?
There are no moderators; there are no police.

>> How have people experiences issues like harassment, spamming, scaming, etc? 
I am not sure what you are asking but it seems like you are asking for advice on how to be a griefer.

>> When you run into issues (harassment, people breaking the ToS, etc) do people generally report it to the landowners or to LL?
I cannot speak for everyone but typically I deal with them on my own.

>> As for RL police: do they have a significant role in the game?
/facepalm
Umm, no. By the way, which game are you referring to?  There are many many games in Second Life but SL itself is just an engine.

>> I found some sporadic articles about police from particular countries dealing with issues like pornography and illegal trades being conducted online, but is that common? [citation required]
Not that I am aware of.  Be aware that Second Life is both vast and sparsely populated.  I could say that everyone I have ever talked to all agree Some_Random_Hypothesis is the norm and the sample size would still be too small to give it any credence.  That said, there are no First Life working police here unless they have been drawn here.  As an analogy, are there police in your email?  

 

I don't know what you are looking for but if you are looking for an absence, you've found it.

 

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Polenth-- You're right about the way methods and research is framed, esp considering that my questions are based on (largely academic) preliminary research and acadeic definitions of things like "policing", which obviously if I continue writing about I will have to restructure my entire argument/questions around and discuss flaws in older literature and flaws in it. Unfortunately nothing I write could make a difference as far as whatever literature is out there about this topic because it's not going to be published, and that's assuming I can actually accomplish writing something that does't participate in that cycle even a little bit. 

Rhonda-- okay, so there are no/minimal "institutional" structured forms of policing as they are generally understood. But people still "deal with" issues in some form. Regarding the question with griefers, I was wondering how people deal with griefers bugging them. If individually and you just block them, does that stop things like when they use intrusive scripts, or do those have to be handled in some other way?

I appreciate both of y'all calling out how I framed this and for having taken the time to answer btw.

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The moderators on the forums are not considered "the police," they are considered the corporate moderators that any of these services have.

While Linden Lab has a Governance Team or G-team that is supposed to deal with "griefing" or harassment or violation of the rules, it is very uneven from the users' perspective. They are there to handle the major challenges but the day-to-day problems have to be handled by customers themselves using the available tools.

I think most people who spend any significant time inworld turn to their landlord or community organizer or venue host first and foremost, not Linden Lab. So if they are at a concert and a griefer starts particle blasting, they ask the owner of that sim or the host of the concert to handle it. Or if they are in rentals such as in my case right this minute as we deal with a griefing situation in Sutherland (come inworld and see), they ask me to try to ban and block and return obscene content that bothers people and interferes with their enjoyment of SL.

The problem is that I can only police my own land, not Linden water or Linden land, which is a commons, much less other people's land -- and that's as it should be. The difficulty comes in with people not only on different time zones, but never logging in. In real life, real neighbours are on the same time zone and if a vandal comes they can band together in real time. On SL, they can't because they are all spread out in time zones even if proximate inworld plus they may never log on. The "no-shows" without autoreturn on their land are the biggest problem of the Mainland.

So then we have to file abuse reports to the Lab and they may or may not respond, depending on how busy they are, how many tickets they have, how serious it is, etc. Eventually they will likely address something like giant grief objects throughout a set of sims when they get multiple reports.

For some years, the Lab had a Police Blotter which was a great thing. You could follow it in real time, and even subscribe to its feed. It let you know where the more "crime-ridden" areas were so you could stay away from them, i.e. certain sandboxes. But the Lindens ended up taking this away, I guess because it seemed like a negative review of their product. They do not want to be in the Governance business really, they want land owners to control their own sims. By and large this is what happens, but due to exploits in the software it's not always perfect. The worse problem is on the Mainland which is geographically contiguous and a combination of owners so it's uneven.

There are groups that role-play police but most people who are actually in the rentals or venue management businesses have no use for these people. They are wannabees more interested in strutting around shooting off guns and playing cops and robbers which only attracts more violence. These types because especially pernicious when they themselves turn into the griefers and extortionists, even seeking a protection racket and payments. Fortunately, the Lab deals with this kind of entity fairly swiftly after abuse reports.

But there are some RP types that have long runs doing this "vigilantism" that in some cases can be as bad as the griefers because they keep files that violate privacy or use spy equipment or get into firefights in which civilians are caught in the cross fire.

The real life police have little to do with SL these days. For a time when SL was very visible and growing rapidly, before they had put into place a lot of the more sophisticated procedures and rules they have now, there were real-life police in Germany that probed, say, child pornography. But that had more to do with the fact that they already had some offenders in their sights, and then on top of that saw them use SL, and then came into SL. 

The FBI have been in SL as far as I know like other agencies such as the Army and Navy but as a presence experimenting with the software or running a PR campaign or a training simulation, not to police the world which they have no relationship to or in fact jurisdiction over immediately, as first it is a private company's venue, like a circus, and they run the circus for the people who pay the tickets. The cops are only called if it really reaches the point of a huge brawl.

But that's hard to do because of the checks on the system. For example, if you had fascists and extreme rightists attacking Jews, you could ban them from the sim. Or by the same token, if you had prejudice against Muslims you could ban them and eject those people causing trouble. Ultimately they could be banned from the service all together as in any social media or world.

 

I do have to say that I think you need to do more homework and Google around and see what is already written on the subject of griefing, police, and vigilantes in Second Life. Study the history of "Woodbury University" for example.

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MalkaEShan wrote:

 

I have been in doing in-game research,

There's your first problem... SL isn't a game. Why do all of these college nitwits keep thinking SL is some MMorpg? They then say they have been "in the game" and still think its a game. Just because it is a computer program that has other users you can interact with doesn't make it a game. Is FaceBook a game? Myspace, tumblr, twitter? Enough with the game comments.

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