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What Do You Do About Alts Taking More Than One in 'Limit One Per Person'?


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I don't care if somebody has alts -- that's their business. Sometimes they will tell me so I can add the other names to a teleporter or to security or so that I don't return prims. Sometimes they don't and eventually I figure it out or I don't -- it doesn't matter.

When I DO care is when I have a community that says "limit one per person/family/alts". Most people are decent and respect this limit on a cheap, subsidized rental, i.e. it is very small, and the rent you collect from it is not equal to the tier. It's just a loss leader, or a way to give people who have to stop a rental as they run out of money a cheaper option, then they may return.

Over the years I've cut in half the number of newbies/cheapies type of communities I have because of constant problems. The people in the cheapest seats almost make the most trouble. The most griefing. The most overprimming. The most harassment of other tenants and me. And so the desire to "help humanity" reduces over time, eventually to nil.

In some communities, I even changed to "limit 2 per person" as that is usually enough to get people to stop lying, to stop abusing a system like this, and to be content with what they have and not want to grab more. But not always.

Today I closed yet another one of these communities after a year of infestation of alt nests. There are the kind of people who, when you tell them it's limit one per person, no alts, and their obvious alt with the same birth date, groups, etc. whose prims are on the lot has to go, they don't argue, they say, oh, I didn't realize, they pick up their chips, and they leave. Sometimes both leave; sometimes one stays.

Then there's the kind of psychopath who can't bear to have an alt discovered, even though I'm going to forget its name in the next minute and don't care, because it's part of an elaborate game they play on SL. They love to trick people, check on faithless lovers, and suck down cheap rentals. If one is caught, they make another. They are like griefers, only in this vein.

So one nest broken up earlier this year had 3-4 of them, all look alike, and one of them even telling me an elaborate story of how she knows the other one in RL. Except when I find they are all the same and expel them, her story changes to how she knows this other person. It's not that her sister's cousin's friend was out walking her dog and they ran into each other and discovered they were both in SL; it's that her father's new girlfriend's daughter's school friend who is her friend found they had SL in common. You get the idea.

Those people never go willingly; it's not just they weep and gnash their teeth, they send more alts hoping to fool you. You catch them. They send more. Nothing stops them. They imagine they are getting more "clever," when it is merely you are more busy. You notice two who might be the same but you can't be sure -- you move on to the next thing.

Meanwhile, rules in the camp are constantly broken -- there are supposed to be cabins, people put out modern houses; you say no fences, they put fences; you say no photo-real hedges, they put those out although such "privacy hedges" don't give privacy.

Then somebody else takes the VIP group which allows 50 extra prims on holidays incorrectly as a license for extra prims forever, and brings in a friend also in this $50/70 prim rental telling them they can pay $150 once and also get 50 extra for life. Lather, rinse repeat. The effect of this sort of thing is actually to have only half the camp rented as the other people's builds or behaviour chases out existing or potential tenants. Sometimes areas like this work and people are decent and the honour system works -- I would say most of the time it does. But the cheaper the rental, the more the trouble and the more psychopathy -- and mind you not necessarily from a poor, third-world person with no income; they could be a programmer who earns 6 figures.

What happens within an hour of sending this notice?

Two people instantly refund within seconds of each other. So, yeah, those are the alts. It would be highly unlikely that two completely separate people, even if close friends, would rush to a rentals after a notice and click "refund" within seconds lol. 

Then soon one of these two obvious alts is writing an irate note that she is NOT an alt (they always do that). That she can't believe this is happening as she just put out her Christmas decorations (well, pick them up in the yellow box and put them elsewhere, not in my rentals). Why, I'm not even refunding or....(10 minutes later when she realizes she can refund herself)...why, I'm not even returning the 25L cancellation fee (tho it was stated this would be returned manually).

More nonsense, more idiocy, and finally a threat that she will be back, and I won't even know it.

In fact, if you are unsure who is an who isn't an alt in a place like this, close it, suggest people move to other campgrounds but rules will continue to be enforced, and you will see: the people simultaneously refunding and complaining are the alts; the people who over the course of the day get the message, move to another rental, and never even IM you, are likely not the alts.

There is a person who was in a set of 4 alts in another rental for months until they were finally all swept out when they slipped up who ranted and raged at me for 3 years now, regularly sending death threats and claims that they know my RL name and they will "get me". Someone who has a $50 rental, and was discovered with their hand in the cookie jar taking 3 more in a "limit one per customer" would normally simply slink away. They might say "oh, I didn't know". Or "sowwies". When someone keeps IMing you 3 years later, even if they were wrongfully called out as an alt, you know a) they are an alt b) they are a psychopath.

 

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In a different context, I've made life simpler by stipulating at the start that I can terminate an arrangement at any time for any or no reason - just enjoy the benefits while it lasts. Then I specify as few rules about the arrangement as possible, because every rule is a reminder to some folks of naughtiness that they'd not before considered but, having learned of it, becomes their obsession. I'd never specify "no alts" for example. Rather, when discovered, I'd just show them the door. Only if asked I'd say the reason is because I capriciously judged it time they graduated to independent living. 

That however won't communicate a desired theme (hovels only, no fences, etc), so I'm not sure it's much practical help.

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3 hours ago, Qie Niangao said:

In a different context, I've made life simpler by stipulating at the start that I can terminate an arrangement at any time for any or no reason - just enjoy the benefits while it lasts. Then I specify as few rules about the arrangement as possible, because every rule is a reminder to some folks of naughtiness that they'd not before considered but, having learned of it, becomes their obsession. I'd never specify "no alts" for example. Rather, when discovered, I'd just show them the door. Only if asked I'd say the reason is because I capriciously judged it time they graduated to independent living. 

That however won't communicate a desired theme (hovels only, no fences, etc), so I'm not sure it's much practical help.

I don't think you can run a rentals system with that kind of arbitrary and authoritarian behaviour, Qie. That is, it may be exactly what you had to do in that context you invoked -- and it is, btw, the culture of geeks known as "the Benign Dictator" (not so benign if you ask me).

I think you need not code as law but organic law as law -- and morality. This is very old-fashioned but I think there should be more of it in the world.

Casper's system which simply boots people (I'm told it does that) or which forces a back payment on you when you put in a payment (unlike my open source rental scripts) are the harsh measures evolved to deal with people constantly trying to break rules.

Another gadget is the IP tracker, for which someone was banned (who later went to RL jail for other offenses, remember?) Sometimes people discuss the concept of the IP tracker as "legal as long as you don't disclose it, but only use it to ban alts who come back to torment you".

Except, I'm not certain that it is legal, nor ethical to track people's IP addresses. I also wonder how you will be able to sift through all that data to find matches, and then prove the matches were two alts breaking your rule, or one person on one lot who just naturally brought an alt around etc. They track 96 meters usually and not more or less. I suppose if you put the tracker on two parcels of two suspected alts, and then read the logs later to see if they matched, that could work, but that's tedious. The problem is not that "IPs are dynamic". Because actually they aren't. They are often quite stable or come from one list on Verizon or whatever with similar numbers.

In any event, my understand LL banned these gadgets. And I think there are far easier ways to find alts, but there is no need to detail them here and help people devise new ways to go undetected. What I do want to stress is that this is a sickness, when people purse alt protection to the point where they keep making new ones to harass you or give you death threats years later.

 

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Several topics there. 

  1. I surely agree that a rental-for-profit business couldn't get away with the "capricious dictator" approach I was promoting, but I was reading the situation as more "nominal fee housing" with token rents. I gather now that the real situation is somewhere between "for profit" and "nominal fee."
  2. It happens that when I got out of grad school, I spent a few months writing mainframe programs for a state unemployment insurance agency. Long before Big Tech was a religion, we found ourselves in the weird situation of lobbying the state legislature to constrain themselves to laws that code could reasonably support, given the limitations of computing in those early days. I'm definitely not promoting that -- we all thought it was weird even at the time -- just noting that it was the first time I heard the phrase "code as law." (If anything I'm probably even more skeptical than you are about the current relationship between law and algorithms, particularly the machine learning algorithms Facebook uses to maximize engagement. Zuckerberg can't possibly explain the decisions because they're the product of a vast network of statistically induced weights, utterly opaque to everyone. Cathy O'Neil's Weapons of Math Destruction on steroids of deniability.)
  3. IP tracking isn't a very effective way of discovering alts, but it's very good at creating a whole lot of drama. That said, it should be pretty reliable as you say on most US ISPs' family-consumer networks, at least for modest intervals of weeks or months, assuming nobody is actively trying to defeat it. The Lab has access to more persistent and precise techniques for banning alts, some of which are known and some presumably secret, none available to SL users (AFAIK). But yeah, it's hard to hide alts from SL veterans sensitive to the "exhaust data" of non-technical clues they constantly emit. Back specific to IP tracking, though: it's not so easy to uncover alts by associating IP addresses with specific avatars, now that by default parcel media is disabled in most viewers. There are other ways, but parcel media (specifically PARCEL_MEDIA_COMMAND_AGENT) would be the method of choice were it still widely enabled; it's just so much simpler than the alternatives.
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  • 2 weeks later...

It seems to me the alts rule is maybe generating more trouble than it is worth? you might be detecting alts correctly or detecting people that live in the same house... either way the ambiguity gives people an opportunity to argue a point and cause problems. Maybe it is better to focus on what is more easily enforceable like people going over their prim allowance or putting up structures out of keeping with the context. 

Ps. I sent an alt around to look at some of your rentals because I am struggling to sleep. You have some spectacular locations in your inventory of places.

Edited by Aethelwine
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11 hours ago, Aethelwine said:

It seems to me the alts rule is maybe generating more trouble than it is worth? you might be detecting alts correctly or detecting people that live in the same house... either way the ambiguity gives people an opportunity to argue a point and cause problems. Maybe it is better to focus on what is more easily enforceable like people going over their prim allowance or putting up structures out of keeping with the context. 

Ps. I sent an alt around to look at some of your rentals because I am struggling to sleep. You have some spectacular locations in your inventory of places.

Thank you, it's nice of you to say that.

The problem with allowing alts, which I used to do ages ago, is that a nest of them will invade a place, say, a rooming house with 10 rooms for $50, or a hotel with 15 x $50 rooms, or a campsite with 25 x $40 lots -- and take up all of them. Every single one. So you essentially don't have a camp for people from the general public as intended, where people can come and have a small pied-a-terre on the Mainland, or if they are too broke for a big rental, have a little landing spot to change clothes and hang out and chat. 

But worse, what happens is that you have then one person paying all the tier for that community. And when they decide to leave, they clean out the entire place. And suddenly you are left holding the tier bag for that big camping area that was supposedly to be covered at least partially by dozens of people. This happens sometimes with medium size lots in the mid-range price, too, but generally those are easier to rent out again right away that an entire sim or half sim with small lots.

 

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