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How to Handle Someone Spamming Your Group.


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Today, I had an interesting conversation with someone, who had their group spammed by a renter of mine.  The person complained to me that I needed to control what this person spammed in his group. 

Let me make it very clear to all group owners out there.  IF you have a group and someone is spamming information YOU do not want in it.  Go directly to the person who is spamming you.  You own and control YOUR group! Landlords have no control over what another individual may or may not post in your group. 

When you are unsure of what course of action to take... Here are three helpful links for you to KNOW before you approach someone who has nothing to do with your situtation

Link number 1 - Linden Lab TOS - it's my advice to know this information, afterall YOU did agree to it when you clicked blindely through to log in.

Link Number 2 - Transactions and Disputes Between Residents - Note the last line "Please contact the Resident involved and resolve the issue with them."  This is between you and the resident that spammed you, not a third party so do not try and make it a problem for a third, fourth or 'insert number' person. 

Link Number 3 -  When to and How to file an Abuse Report - Again please take the time to read this information.  It can save your bacon, it has mine on more than one occasion.

For those of you who believe that the Lindens do nothing about the Abuse report, I'm sorry but you are Incorrect.  The Lindens Governance team will handle your Abuse report, they will not contact you to tell you how it's been resolved, at the most they will contact you if they have any further questions.  They take reports from residents seriously, regardless if your a paid or unpaid account.

Make sure when you have a beef with another resident you handle it correctly.  Know TOS inside and out, when to file an abuse report and when to work it out directly with the other Resident.

You might just be surprised at how quickly things will be resolved if you do so.

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I'd advise againt bothering the Lab with this except as a last resort. It's true that they do respond to Abuse Reports about spam, but it's really not fair to involve them until the group owner has taken all steps at their disposal -- which notably includes banning an account from the group. This isn't really a new feature anymore, but it wasn't possible for years and years so there are some group owners who still don't realize it exists. It certainly doesn't solve all problems (throwaway alts, for example), but it is often enough to address a problem.

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Qie Niangao wrote:

...

It certainly doesn't solve all problems (throwaway alts, for example), but it is
often
enough to address a problem.

I have to disagree with you there, Qie. That is rarely enough to address the problem. I can't remember many incidents of group chat spam posted by humans. It's nearly always done by bots. Banning them are rather pointless since they're going to leave right away anyway to make room for new groups to join and spam. Besides, not many groups have the resources to moderate chat 24/7.

It's all done by alts and bots. There's an alt renting the land from an unsuspecting landowner, there are a couple of alts who own the items for sale (more than one - you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket), there are bots filling up the place to make it look crowded and there are bots joining and leaving group after group.

Even if LL reacts to an abuse report, it's probably too late. These stores constantly move around, they pay the minimum rent and once it expires, they move on to a new location. By the time LL gets around to the case, they're already gone.

Unfortunately, the only identifiable persons in all this, and the only ones that can actually do something about it, are the poor landowners and it's inevitable they'll get a lot of trouble from it no matter how innocent they are.

If I was the landowner in a case like this - and yes, it can happen, I know that - I would evict the spammers immediately. It's not a moral or ethical decision, it's purely about business. Letting them stay would cost me money, simple as that. Yes, the do pay rent but they only pay it once and they ruin my reputation as a serious landowner and drive away more reliable potential tenants.

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I'm trying to understand this. If the group spammers are throwaway alts, unaffected by a group ban, why is it more effective for a landlord to go after them than it is for the group to simply ban them? Maybe it's to deter spamming of other, not yet violated groups by the throwaway accounts, and so the violated group owner feels they've gotten some retribution for the violation? Because it doesn't actually benefit the already spammed group as directly as would a straightforward group ban, right? Or am I missing something?

(I'm basing this on the notion that these throwaway alt accounts, if group-banned but not booted by their landlords, could continue to stay around spamming other groups with the same throwaway account. So, even though the accounts are readily replaced, maybe there's still some price to pay for swapping to a new alt because there's some fly-by-night business -- the reason for the spam in the first place -- that benefits by lasting a few hours in order for the spam to pay off, so if the landlord boots them right away it may inconvenience them by forcing that switch of alts sooner than they'd planned. But I don't know if that's the actual theory here.)

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Qie Niangao wrote:

I'm trying to understand this. If the group spammers are throwaway alts, unaffected by a group ban, why is it more effective for a landlord to go after them than it is for the group to simply ban them?

Marginally better that is. The spammers would have to find some new base for they business and that should slow them down a bit. But really, if you don't like group spammers, fight them with all legal means, band their bots from your groups, AR them and evict them from your land. It's a war ot attrition and not something that can be won by a single action.

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Spicy Braveheart wrote:

Today, I had an interesting conversation with someone, who had their group spammed by a renter of mine.  The person complained to me that I needed to control what this person spammed in his group. 

Let me make it very clear to all group owners out there.  IF you have a group and someone is spamming information YOU do not want in it.  Go directly to the person who is spamming you.  You own and control YOUR group! Landlords have no control over what another individual may or may not post in your group. 

 

i kinda disagree that you as a landlord can opt out altogether

you do obtain rental payments from the spammer. And given that landlording is intended as a for-profit activity then am not sure that a landlord in this position can just go: Is none of my business what my tenants do

a word to the tenant would be in order I think, and not so much a public disclaimer absolving yourself. You do profit in part off the monies they do earn this way

 

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wherorangi wrote:


Spicy Braveheart wrote:

Today, I had an interesting conversation with someone, who had their group spammed by a renter of mine.  The person complained to me that I needed to control what this person spammed in his group. 

Let me make it very clear to all group owners out there.  IF you have a group and someone is spamming information YOU do not want in it.  Go directly to the person who is spamming you.  You own and control YOUR group! Landlords have no control over what another individual may or may not post in your group. 

 

i kinda disagree that you as a landlord can opt out altogether

you do obtain rental payments from the spammer. And given that landlording is intended as a for-profit activity then am not sure that a landlord in this position can just go: Is none of my business what my tenants do

a word to the tenant would be in order I think, and not so much a public disclaimer absolving yourself. You do profit in part off the monies they do earn this way

 

But that's exactly what LL does. LL is the for-profit landlord of all who own land in SL, and they opt out from dealing with a great deal of user-to-user spam and such. See the thread about Tramps, for instance.

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when is brought to their attention, like a tenant makes a complaint then the landlord (LL in the case you referring to) will investigate it and take action when the complaint is justified

what OP is saying is that as a landlord then any complaints against their tenants (even when justified) is not their problem at all

 

 

 

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But LL doesn't deal with them many many times. Read the thread about TRAMPS. It's a very similar problem to this one but LL handles it the same way it handles a great many things - ignores it. LL is the for-profit landlord and yet they do exactly what you described.

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about the TRAMPS

a group I am always in is SLF&O. Anyone can join the group anytime. Is free to join and has over 20K members

it used to get more spammers, phishers and beggars than pretty much any other group

when LL provided the ability to group ban, the group owner and officers took it further. They went thru all 20K+ members and re-assigned every single person in the group to a new role with chat rights

then when the spammers etc, already members, kept on spamming the group then the officers group banhammered them

the group is still free to join and anyone can join, and can access all the offers and stuff in Notices

to get chat ability a new member must IM the owner or an officer and ask to be given a group chat role, which they do for pretty much everyone. If the officers suspect is a bot then they just go nah!. When the person is not a bot then they will engage in a chat dialogue with the officer, from which is pretty easy to tell if is a bot or not

problem solved

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wherorangi wrote:

when is brought to their attention, like a tenant makes a complaint then the landlord (LL in the case you referring to) will investigate it and take action when the complaint is justified

what OP is saying is that as a landlord then any complaints against their tenants (even when justified) is not their problem at all 

I think the OP is right about that, or at least mostly right.

First, though, I want to thank ChinRey for the explanation. I do see that a landlord could have some limited-term effect on a spammer's commercial viability.

Turning attention, however, to whether that landlord should be expected to do something: I don't think so. First, if we're talking about for-profit ventures, every rental in SL turns over the huge majority of rental income to Linden Lab. (In some cases, more than 100% of those rents get paid to LL!) So if we're following the money here, LL's responsibility dwarves the landlord's.

But that's not really the big problem. LL has the ability (if not the motivation) to fully investigate an allegation of spamming. In contrast, no landlord can possibly know whether some supposedly-aggrieved group owner has a valid complaint.

Would you choose to believe a complaining group owner, or a tenant who has been paying your rent? If I were making such a decision, that group owner would have a burden of proof they couldn't possibly satisfy.

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wherorangi wrote:


Spicy Braveheart wrote:

Today, I had an interesting conversation with someone, who had their group spammed by a renter of mine.  The person complained to me that I needed to control what this person spammed in his group. 

Let me make it very clear to all group owners out there.  IF you have a group and someone is spamming information YOU do not want in it.  Go directly to the person who is spamming you.  You own and control YOUR group! Landlords have no control over what another individual may or may not post in your group. 

 

i kinda disagree that you as a landlord can opt out altogether

you do obtain rental payments from the spammer. And given that landlording is intended as a for-profit activity then am not sure that a landlord in this position can just go: Is none of my business what my tenants do

a word to the tenant would be in order I think, and not so much a public disclaimer absolving yourself. You do profit in part off the monies they do earn this way

 

Where does it end?  If a landlord has a responsibility to take action against spammers, they have a responsibility to take action if I IM them and complain about another behavior of one of their tenants.  You can't say they have a responsibility in one instance but not another.  If so, who decides what is their responsibility?

The landlord has NO responsibility for the action of their tenants outside of the lease.

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just on the general discussion point

is more a human thing I think in general

suppose I am a landlord for example just say. I have a shopping mall. A tenant of mine is habitually spamming my other shop keepers' groups. They ask me to have a word to the tenant about it, they have attempted to do this themselves but nada. As their landlord I have two basic choices: 1) I can say is not my problem and tell them to call the cops. Or 2) I can have a chat to my tenant myself and see what they have to say about it

i will do 2) because is business

the question then is: What if my tenant is habitually spamming my potential tenants ? In terms of my own business growth interest (a landlord to the public) should I do 1) or 2) ?

i think that if the answer is conditional then the condition is: To what degree is my tenant's habitual behaviour harmful to others ? Like does the behaviour actually harm others, or is it just a case of the others' moral code being offended

harm meaning that the action is a ToS violation and is having a actual negative effect on the targets' own community-building efforts and/or business prospects. Or, it may (or subjectively may not) be a ToS violation which is not harmful to others, unless the others actively seek it out

in the latter case then my own answer would be: Call the cops. I am not the moral police. In the former then as the leader of my community then I would act as best I can to protect the reputation and prospects of the community I lead

as a decision in itself then is ok when community leaders of substance (like public landlords and public join group owners) choose not to act in helping to ameliorate the harmful behaviours of their own tenants and/or group members (communities within the larger community)

however there is a reputational public cost for the group and its leaders who choose not too. And if the community leader(s) is also running a for-profit enterprise (land, content, etc) then it can be expected that this non-participation could also adversely impact their business in the eyes of the public

as a community leader (public landlord or public group) we do have to weigh all this kinda stuff up, in terms of personal time and effort invested, and what value we might attribute to reputation, prospects, etc, and the public impact there may (or may not) be on this

 

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wherorangi wrote:

...

In the former then as the leader of my community then I would act as best I can to protect the reputation and prospects of the community I lead

That was the point of my first post - not sure if I managed to make that clear. Renting out land for spamming and griefing and other antisocial activities hurts your reputation as a landowner. You loose money on ti because it drives away other more reliable potential renters. The moral aspect is quite interesting and rather complex but it's not actually very relevant in this case: Just be selfish and get rid of them for you own sake!

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ChinRey wrote:

That was the point of my first post - not sure if I managed to make that clear. Renting out land for
spamming
and
griefing
and
other antisocial activities
hurts your reputation as a landowner.

To the best of my knowledge, that is not the reason anyone rents out land. Furthermore, as Amethyst pointed out, where does it end? Your sentence above implies far more than spamming a group.


ChinRey wrote:

You loose money on ti because it drives away other more reliable potential renters.

If one of your tenants is harassing another of your tenants, I can see taking action. It usually involves a little more than an accusation; and should originate from another of your tenants. The reliability of renters in SL is most likely irrelevant.


ChinRey wrote:

The moral aspect is quite interesting and rather complex but it's not actually very relevant in this case:

The moral aspect is very relevant. Is creating alts to spam a few groups the new way to close the land stores of your competitors? Is it even slightly moral for any resident to assume the role of finding this out?

Or we can go hunt for anyone renting to someone who got pissed and cursed our friend and unload on them if you prefer. I know who I would be muting.

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ChinRey wrote:


wherorangi wrote:

...

In the former then as the leader of my community then I would act as best I can to protect the reputation and prospects of the community I lead

That was the point of my first post - not sure if I managed to make that clear. Renting out land for spamming and griefing and other antisocial activities hurts your reputation as a landowner. You loose money on ti because it drives away other more reliable potential renters. The moral aspect is quite interesting and rather complex but it's not actually very relevant in this case: Just be selfish and get rid of them for you own sake!

yes. I agree with your main point. I was just expanding on the complexity part. Some more on this

with young people then is often presented to them as role modelling. To older people then noblesse oblige. That as a person of substance much is expected of us by those who we lead, and by those who might follow us

is an ideal this. As leaders (if this is to what we aspire) we cant always live up to this ideal. We are not perfect beings. All we can do is try as best we can. When we do this then others notice our efforts and are attracted to us. They join our communities (rentals, groups, products/services, etc)

i think a important part of this is consistency and even-handedness. Like as a group leader we have a set of standards (how ever we might define these for ourself and group/community) which we apply to all consistently. We make no exceptions for habitual transgressors, even when we may often practice tolerance, understanding and forgiveness for the non-habitual transgressors in our group/community

as a practical remedy in the group spamming case then a way to avoid the he-saids she-saids, is to have one of our group/business alts join the public group of the person making the complaint for a period of time. In the day to day management of their business and without being overly nosey, landlords ordinarily know a whole lot about their tenants. Which accounts/avatars come and go on the parcels, who is in what business and so on

it doesn't all fall on the landlords and/or group leaders of course. The complainant(s) bears the major responsibility to manage their own affairs, and can ameliorate much of the damage to themselves just by learning from other leaders of substance, how to manage in practical terms public group joins in ways that can foster and grow their community

noblesse oblige works both ways

not only is much expected of us by others, much is also expected of us by ourselves. And when we practice this then we find that not only does our group/community prosper and grow, but also other leaders of substance are attracted to us both in business and socially, as we are to them. Reputationally and/or in person. We become in their eyes, as in the eyes of the community we lead, a person of substance in our own right

 

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I totally disagree with every aspect of this post.

I've never known LL to deal with spammers in groups, there are too many of them. 

I find it a HIGHLY EFFECTIVE way to deal with problematic spammers with some history on them (i.e. not a day-old account) to go to the owners of other groups and tell them that their member is misbehaving. Funny how spammers don't go into certain groups where they can't or don't want to (like a rentals group) but invade open merchants' groups. 

Unless other merchants feel the hot breath of pressure on this -- they make money from people who harm others' business and chase away their customers -- little progress will be made.

There are several merchants' groups I have stayed in because either I paid for them or I value their messages that are constantly invaded by people selling cheap mesh heads and sales or other items like skins that even seem to be scams, and often the owner of the group simply isn't online to expel them.

Yes, the group tools enable you to expel and ban people like that, but they can make alts or move on to another one of the jillion groups in SL. 

So sometimes the ONLY way to address this is with naming and shaming and community pressure. If the abuse system worked better and there were real sanctions for this, it might be different but the reality is, in an open group where you have turned on chat, saying that someone's chat is then objectionable falls into the grey area for LL as to "resident-to-resident disputes". Don't like chat and spam in your group? Turn it off.

And moderate it. Some of the best merchant groups are those that have 24/7 moderators who don't just eject spammers efficiently, they provide news and answer questions. Even the poorest merchant can find a friend to help run their group in this way, or a long-time trusted customer.

It's not "a problem of a third party". It's a problem of merchants *too negligent and indifferent to manage their groups*. It's especially outrageous when *we have paid for your group* to allow that to happen. Take responsibility for running your business which involves deterring and removing spammers not shifting the burden to Linden Lab or issuing punitive pronouncements against those of us who have a VERY effective method to get rid of them: making other group owners OWN them.

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In a world where you can cut and paste chat from a group that clearly shows a spammer, it's hardly some "he said she said" vague accusation.

And the landlord is sometimes renting land *that is used for the yardsale or store doing the spamming*. So they definitely need to GET THE MESSAGE that their profit-making for themselves selfishly, at the expense of the rest of us who are in groups or run groups, is *just not on*.

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There's an alt renting the land from an unsuspecting landowner, there are a couple of alts who own the items for sale (more than one - you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket), there are bots filling up the place to make it look crowded and there are bots joining and leaving group after group.

It doesn't matter. They can be tracked down.

If the landlord is really "unsuspecting" (and I doubt that), then...they need to hear from you and get a strong message that you don't like their paying tenant -- or a bot related to that tenant -- spamming groups.

When I first joined some merchant groups (I didn't use to join them) and I saw some of these "sales," I didn't realize at first they didn't come from the group owner/merchant. I followed them to their location and saw they were tacky yard sales. Yes, the spammer was unrelated to the owner of the objects, I quickly noticed that when I saw something not set for sale I wanted to buy, and IM'd the spammer, who kept angrily telling me to kiss off because they'd already moved on to their next victims and forgotten their last yard sale where other accounts owned the objects. Then I figured out the scam. And that's why it's more than fine to pressure landlords to stop renting to people who do this. You should not make your business at the expense of others in SL "just because you can." Peer pressure is the only recourse.

Maybe the Lindens can make a technical solution to this problem which is their wont, and have an option to deny scripted agents membership in your group. How you'll then have the inviter-bot itself in the group will be a problem.

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I suppose you can try reading my post again. It doesn't say what you think it does.


Prokofy Neva wrote:

In a world where you can cut and paste chat from a group that clearly shows a spammer, it's hardly some "he said she said" vague accusation.

I never insinuated that complaints of spam were disingenuous.

Nor was there a 'he said she said' reference to spammers. Look at what I bolded in the quote, (especially the last word bolded), which was added as a landlord's responsibility to police. There's a clue, both for that analogy and the fallacy of expecting user, landlords or whoever, to police venues of other users.

Let me spell something out a little more clear:

Group spam is not always originated by those promoting the store. It is sometimes done by those who wish to make that store look bad, which is the effect it has on an overwhelming majority of those witnessing it regardless. It rarely causes someone to visit, and almost never gives them anything but a bad reputation.


Prokofy Neva wrote:

In a world where you can cut and paste chat

Nothing is proven from this; it is easily faked to anyone but LL, who are capable of seeing the actual records as they were entered in the chat. You know this very well, but I will spare you the embarrassment of a source.

It is also against ToS to cut and paste this chat to another user inworld without the chatter's consent. Landlords are welcome to handle their own business relationships, but they step outside of their own ToS-granted jurisdiction at their own peril.

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I really can't let this part slide either.


Prokofy Neva wrote:

that their profit-making for themselves selfishly, at the expense of the rest of us who are in groups or run groups, is *just not on*.

Users reading group chat have no expense whatsoever going to a landowner. None.

And very few landlords in SL are making a profit. Even you, when often renting close to L$1 per prim, (IF you had 100% occupancy for a month - we all know that doesn't happen), would need to own an entire mainland continent before profit might be a rational word to use.

You have authority to eject a renter for any or no reason. Perhaps you should include a disclaimer beforehand to your customers that if anyone claims their store brand was mentioned in a group, they will be evicted.

Seems the description of a reputable landlord is getting quite hazy.

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Um, it's not a violation of the TOS to *cut and paste chat from a group spammer into an Abuse Report*. Hello!

I didn't say it was originating with a merchant's store. Most of the time it's avatars or their bots (bots are run by avatars, you know, they don't appear like the weather) invading popular merchant groups and then spamming their cheap yard sale.

The landlord *of that rented space* where the yard sale is should be told that their customer is making money for themselves and others by spamming groups and ruining the businesses of others.

That's all there is to it.

Piety about the TOS or the propensity of pasted items to be suspect are entirely beside the point in -- may I say it once more -- a world where anyone in a group that sees the same thing -- multiple people! -- can a) paste chat to an abuse report, as far as it goes b) paste chat to a landlord. Public chat spam put in a group can HARDLY be the grounds for a TOS violation when related to a landlord for action. This is sophistry.

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If you don't have as the rules of your rental some language barring "traffic enhancements" like spamming objects, shouting objects etc and also don't have a rule against group spamming, you are not much of a landlord to start with and not considerate of all your customers.

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Prokofy Neva wrote:

 

Piety about the TOS or the propensity of pasted items to be suspect are entirely beside the point in -- may I say it once more -- a world where anyone in a group that sees the same thing -- multiple people! -- can a) paste chat to an abuse report, as far as it goes
b) paste chat to a landlord
. Public chat spam put in a group can HARDLY be the grounds for a TOS violation when related to a landlord for action. This is sophistry.

Point a is correct.

Point b is not. Nothing may come of it likely, but it is still against ToS.

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