Sunday, June 20, 2010

Uninvited Guests

There's no official name for them.  They're the class of SecondLife users who have been expelled so many times, they now have to use special ban jumping software or procedures just to get on SecondLife.

I call them "uninvited guests", and they've been around since long before the advent of SecondLife.

While anyone may become victim to an unwarranted banning and lose individual accounts, it takes a special effort for Linden Labs to take active measures to prevent a user from accessing SecondLife.

Generally, uninvited guests fall into two categories: those with mental or emotional problems so great they simply can't help themselves like Nero or Ratcloner, and those who really could act better, but choose not to like Oggen or Push Button.

Some of them, like Ratcloner, use different technologies like sim-crashers and copybotters to actually interfere with the normal functions of the grid, while others, like Nero or Push Button are simply so unpleasant, nobody wants to be around them.

Ironically, uninvited guests can be some of the most devoted users of SecondLife, making ten or twelve new accounts a day, just to stay on the grid. 

Besides making new accounts, some of them go to the trouble of uploading their copybotted .xml files with each new account (often a stolen version of one of Rachel Breaker's designs) so they can at least maintain the same avatar form, if not the same account, from day to day.

Academics have struggled to come up with some sort of psychological, sociological, economic or anthropological explanation to this phenomenon since the first days of social interaction using computers, without any consensus, but one thing is clear, these people have a real desire to do this and will continue to do this, to somehow be here, often every day, no matter what the cost.

The tangible costs, it should be noted, are functionally very low.  Although some of what they do is technically illegal, it's very rarely enforced, and they know this, so it has little impact.  The intangible costs are anybody's guess.  The constant rejection might damage their ego, but they're drawn to their own destruction like a moth to a flame, or the thrill of "getting away with it" might build up their ego making the behavior actually beneficial--at least to them.

There are three classes of uninvited guests, based on their preferred area in SecondLife.  There's the welcome area troll: these are the most sociable of the uninvited guests, although you couldn't tell it by the way they act.  They choose areas with active conversations and then seek out a target to shock or upset.

The second class are sandbox griefers.  They prefer areas that allow building and scripting and use those tools to try and ruin somebody's day, or crash the whole area and piss off everybody.

The third class is the mafia or clan goon who earned their uninvited guest status in attempts to impress or gain rank among their peers.   

All of these have their real world counterparts, who are just as annoying, but the rest of us have centuries of experience in how to disable or discourage them that doesn't work on the internet.

I always smile when I hear people say "I wish Linden Labs would DO SOMETHING about these people!"  Linden Labs is "doing something" about these people, but it's just not that simple. 

They could, if they chose, make it so uninvited guests can't get on the grid, but it would also make it more difficult and less convenient for the rest of us to get on as well, and whenever they come up with something that does prove an obstacle for these people, there are immediately legions of snerts working on ways around it.

Any ability the lindens give us to contribute to SecondLife, can be used against us as well. 

There's some disagreement over whether it's worth it or not to file an abuse report on uninvited guests, since they always come back.  I say it is.  It may seem pointless to take the trash out twice a week since you'll just make more to take its place, but if you don't take it out, it soon builds up and takes over the place.

Uninvited guests are sort of the same.  If you didn't regularly remove them from the grid, even though they'll just come back, other people might get the idea they should act that way too, and pretty soon the garbage takes over the place and nobody wants to be here.

1 comment:

  1. Well said Boyd. I regularly attend a discussion group thats a griefer target... we AR, they return...we AR, they return. It's an evil we deal with.


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