Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cutting Back on the Ban Hammer

I really don't envy the Linden Governance Team.  Everyone wants them to take real trouble makers off the grid at lightning speed, but on all other issues we want them to have the judement of Solomon.  (The real Solomon, not the guy from Ireland).

In the real world we invest vast fortunes trying to figure out who's guilty and who's innocent and what we should do about it, and I'd be surprised if they were accurate as much as ninety-per-cent of the time.

Of course, the issues in the real world are far more complex and have far greater consequences than the stuff that happens in SecondLife, and the Lindens have the benefit of stuff like event logs that their real world counterparts don't.  But, still I don't envy them the task of trying to figure out what to do with all us nutcases in world.

I would suggest though, that it's a mistake to rely on the account ban as much as they do to settle issues.

Justified or not, whenever they disable the account of a regular user it has a ripple effect in the communities they are part of.  Other users start to worry "could this happen to me?  What becomes of my stuff?" and their faith in the stability of our little virtual world falters.

In a virtual world without a physical counterpart, that feeling of security is both especially important and difficult to create and maintain.

There are other ways to manage things in world while keeping the account ban as a method of last resort.

For instance: if a person is guilty of trolling, you could disconnect them from the voice channel, either temporarily or permanently.   That renders them both unable to troll and punishes them for their activity in the past.

Likewise, if a person is guilty of object littering or copybotting, then they could take away their ability to rez objects.  There's no sense in copybotting an item if you can't re-upload it and rez it in world.

All of these things are server-side so there's no way an offender could get around them.  It might be a bit of a pain to program the option into the server software, but the pay out could be huge.

The pay-out is two fold.  First, you create a more stable social climate in world because people aren't dissapearing from the grid.   If, by chance, a person is wrongly accused or judged, (as I have seen several times) then they can remain in world while they try to get the situation worked out.

The other issue is that once a person gets banned, then they become much harder to keep tabs on and if they decide to get some sort of hacked viewer to get back on, then their behavior is going to be much worse when they return.  Parcel or estate bans too are only effective if the banned person isn't creating a new account every day just to get back on the grid.

If a person uses alts to misbehave, then it won't be that difficult to use the technology Linden labs has now to track down and ban all of a person's alts, to make sure all their alts stay on the grid but with the same limitations.  If one account loses its rezzing privileges, then all of the alts should too.

There will still be cases where the ban is appropriate.  Things like fraud or harassment could remain bannable offenses, and people who insist on causing trouble even after losing their privileges could ultimately be banned as well.

Users will be much happier and feel more secure if the Lindens employ these less destructive, but still effective methods to maintain order on the grid.

2 comments:

  1. Those are all well thought out and rational solutions. *giggle* And I'm sure they would work too. *snicker* They actually make sense. *choke* And I'm sure LL will eventually employ them. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

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  2. Sure seems easy doesn't it? And I'm serious... those suggestions would seem to add the stability that we do need

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