Anniversary CelebraFICation Leads to Coco’s Party Protest

by Alphaville Herald on 28/06/05 at 7:11 pm

Coco and friend protest FIC display at 2nd anniversary celebraFICation.

One would think that an anniversary party would be a time for everyone to come together, but this being Second Life, and our benefactors being the Linden’s, the SL Second Anniversary Party appeared to be in no small measure a celebration of the Feted Inner Core (FIC) – the group of elite players that allegedly have the ear of the Linden’s and by some accounts have the Lindens downright collared. At the least, it appeared decidedly unfriendly to Cocoanut Koala when she arrived at the party and found it dominated by a massive FIC sign.

According to Coco, when she saw the sign she became angry and staged a three hour sit-down protest with a friend of hers. When people came by and asked the nature of her protest, she told them it was over three issues:

1. The presence of that sign, which (in the aftermath of the banning), looked as if it were intended to be humiliating to the person who coined the term, or more gloating in victory, and was definitely intimidating to me, and possibly others. It didn’t make me feel welcome at what was supposed to be a Linden celebration for everyone.

2. The banning of Prokofy Neva from the forums.

3. The new rule stating that if you are banned from the forums, you are automatically banned from the game.

Reached for comment by the Herald, Coco told us that the protest was an empowering thing, because she “was able to repeat this message many times, to regular people, during the three hours or so [she] was there.” According to Coco “lot of people didn’t even realize the new rule had taken effect.”

Meanwhile, back on the Forums Ulrika Zugzwang, who had recently received an official warning on the forums, started a thread about how she thought the new forum rules were unfair, and also that the prohibition on naming names was unfair and counter to principles of free speech:

Because we are all citizens of a virtual world, we should have the right to express ourselves without the standard limitations of a traditional internet forum. To support true free expression within the forums, we need a formalized and consistent system for moderation. I propose that the Lindens officially accept Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Coco could agree in principle to that, but she took exception to Ulrike’s specific proposal which would allow naming names on the forums:

Ulrika: I would like LL recognize, that this is not just a game, it is a virtual world. I would like them to grant us true free expression in the forum, provided that that speech does not denigrate, defame, or break local laws. I want to be able to:
• name names
• bring up possible in-world misdeeds
• link to external sites
• post transcripts of discussions
• post and discuss warnings and infractions

Coco posted to basically support the first part, but took issue with the idea that people should be able to name names on the forums. According to Coco, a new player entered the thread, and, not knowing the history of any of recent events, Coco “filled her in on that” in the thread.

According to Coco “suddenly Ulrika called me a troll. Soon thereafter, [Ulrika] decided I should receive a warning for participating in the thread and for recapping the recent history that led to all this. Her theory is LL should dispense with the exact rules that lead to warnings, and instead institute something which takes in the “entire complex” or something (I forget the exact words), wherein a person could be ousted from the boards and the game for saying something that was not in keeping, with most people’s ideas, of what should be allowed to be said, though they break no rules. (You would have to read the thread to get more than my poor paraphrasing of her reasoning.)”

Coco also too umbrage when Ulrika typed out the following paragraph which she suggested everyone send in to the moderators:

Ulrika: “Coco is interjecting commentary into an otherwise productive thread, hijacking it to air grievances about perceived persecution and mistreatment. We feel a separate thread would be a better place for this discussion. While no single post violates the rules individually, could you look at them in context and issue an informal warning, if you feel it’s justified?”

Ulrika then cited the forum rules against trolling:

“Flaming, Spamming, Trolling – Flaming (posting a message that is intended to incite anger or directly attack a person or persons), Spamming (multiple posts of the same topic or discussion), and Trolling (a post with an intentionally contrary opinion written with the intent of inciting or getting argumentative opinions) are strongly discouraged. If you think your post might be over-reactive, or that it might fall into one of these definitions, please reconsider posting.”

The war was then on. Coco continued to participate until she had said everything she wanted to to people, then left them with a quote from the Wikipedia definition of troll: “Many times a person will post a sincere message that they are emotionally sensitive about and trolls know that the easiest way to upset them is to falsely claim that they are a troll.”

Coco claims she is disturbed by several aspects of the Second Life Board Culture: “The thing that bothers me is some of the regular posters invariably cast everything in personal terms, by claiming I would only say what I do because I am “borderline paranoid” or some such.”

“Another troubling thing – there are some posts in the Hot Line regarding players getting together to create petitions trying to get rid of other players. My friend in the picture thinks all this is indicative of their becoming emboldened after their victory over Prok. It’s all just ghastly.”

Coco is coming around the thesis that Prok has been advancing for some time now: “I am beginning to conclude that my input is really quite irrelevant, compared to older, “FIC” players, and that the group meetings which include everybody are really a smokescreen. … It’s hard enough to buck the very cohesive group of players who clearly lobby for their own continued success at the expensive of more inclusive things, as if their notions were written gospel – but to suspect that the Lindens will always go with what they say (and the evidence for that is climbing) is very disheartening.”

Could it be that the FIC has won their battle against Prok but might yet lose their war for their 3l337 if not exclusive access to the Lindens? What if the banning of Prok has spawned a new insurgency that may turn out to be a many headed hydra? All the Herald staff can say is “do not touch that mouse button!”

*pulling out lawn chair, cracking open a can of Meister Brau…*

15 Responses to “Anniversary CelebraFICation Leads to Coco’s Party Protest”

  1. Prokofy Neva

    Jun 28th, 2005

    Uri, I’m impressed that you ran this story, I figured you’d be bored with the Prok story by now. What’s interesting about Coco’s sit-in is that all the FIC regulars were istantly flushed out to come and comment — you wonder sometimes if they are all on a Yahoo buddy list like the SSG used to be — and they all started debating me. I was observing the protest, but only supplying candles and a “Free Tibet” tier donation jar because I try to avoid inworld activities now that might lead to the separation of me and my land in SL, i.e. banning from the game as well.

    In fact, I asked the Lindens if it was OK to stage sit-ins since I figure the fanboyz were busy AR’ing Coco and Shagz as they sat. After having to “check on this,” a Linden told me it was ok. Had to wonder why that patch of the sims wasn’t on autoreturn, where the others were. I think the FIC sign, placed by FlipperPA Peregrine, was meant as a joke — but it is disconcerting that the Lindens, two of whom remained on the scene for quite some time, didn’t return it from their anniversary celebration — but then they allowed the sit-in to progress too.

    Art. 19 is the gold standard in the world for freedom of expression, but Art. 29 of the same Universal Declaration of Human Rights has various “clawback” clauses of course: “(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.”

    This is wielded by states to make exceptions for defamation and libel, incitement of ethnic and other hatred, slander of the state and state officials, etc. As much as the Western states tried to put in language about freedom and just requirements and a democratic society, the Eastern states, dominated by the Soviet Union at the time when this declaration was being drafted, prevailed with their notions of “public order” which of course meant that a poet like Joseph Brodsky could be accused of ” parasitism” and “deliberately false fabrications that slander the Soviet state and society” — the kind of formulation, Uri, which LL and many other corporations reach for when they come up with these notions of “trolling” and “flaming” and which you even give a nod to with your exception for “denigration”.

    What is denigration? Does it denigrate Aimee Weber if I say her name reminds me of a prom queen? Of course not. She is a public figure, no loss of livlihood has occurred, and she isn’t even defamed — it’s my opinion her name *is* like a prom queen’s and that’s just my opinion that I’d like to hold “regardless of frontiers” even in cyberspace.

    I heartily support Uri’s idea that if LL seeks to make SL more than a game steeped in MMORPG culture, and wants to make it an actual virtual world and metaverse, they need to dispense with this Soviet-like activity and let it go, and let the forum be moderated by unbiased professionals unrelated to previous gamer networks, for starters.

    Ulrika is truly a piece of work. In the very thread where she properly advocated Article 19 values and standards, she was ready to dispense with them the minute Coco didn’t chime in with her chorus. The constant reach for collective rights and the conformity with the collective always amazes me in SL — it’s really the essence of the tekki-wiki culture, which prides itself on being brilliant mavericks…but…mavericks all together in a condescending and arrogant clique lol.

    Ulrika is supposed to be dissenting from the “status quo” but of course like many revolutionaries, she is actually powerfully conservative IMHO. She’s advocating for a protective status for the content-creation uber class (which includes herself in fact) and looking for any way to keep out the Proks and Cocos of the world who question this ruling class. Ulrika also puts out an astounding quote, now used in some people’s siggies, about how now that the Envious One (me) is gone, there’s no one reaching for the little red triangle anymore (the abuse-report button), and “we can do what we want”. Imagine, and it was she and her confreres reaching for the little red button all the time, not me or Coco — sadly, I came to that awareness of how the system worked too late. The sense of impunity, the gloating and victory-dancing in the forums now is palpable, and it makes it a shameful and loathsome place.

    I think beyond Article 19, we need Equal Avatar Rights and Opportunities. This type of EARO movement with a motto like “We listen..we wish to be heard” could be started inside and outside of SL. I think a rights-based approach has a lot of merit. Something like “Towards a New Civility” and TACT is ok as a civic movement but I think it is all too easy to be tripped up by the forums “gotcha” game and then discredit the cause.

    “We own the forums,” a Linden thundered to me once. OK, but I’m helping to pay your salary with my considerable tier payments and subscription fees. Doesn’t that count? Aren’t I like a shareholder? Aren’t any of us?

  2. Urizenus

    Jun 29th, 2005

    oops, I accidently deleted some posts while clearing out spam from the moderation cue. sorry folks. just repost and I’ll be more careful this time. or try.

  3. marilyn murphy

    Jun 29th, 2005

    (gasp) prok, i am not your enemy. i’m not ur friend. i read forums and am largely just a reader. goodness i see these monstrous huge posts of yours and my eyes glaze over.

    is it possible for you to summarize your thoughts into a two-paragraph bottom line type posting? just for those of us with raisin like brains who might wish to understand what you are saying.


  4. montserrat

    Jun 29th, 2005

    hep me i am dum

    i do NOT get why people are surprised that
    corporations act like corporations ie in their
    own interests, disrespectful of the humanity
    of individuals, rapaciously and whimsically.

    i do not get why people are surprised when
    a corporation acts like how a corporation is.

    surely you do NOT believe all the sweetie face
    marketeering? surely you know that lindens
    are microsoft in a furry suit?

  5. Mr. F

    Jun 29th, 2005

    Thank you montserrat, you said this perfectly.

    1. Lindens dont care about you

    2. Lindens bend the rules to help their FIC friends

    3. If you dont like it see 1 and 2

    I really do believe some players in SL have the lindens ear. These are the folks that are preceived to add somthing to the game in turn making monies for the lindens. The lindens let these folks get away with shit like gloating about Prok’s banning even though thats worse that what he did to begin with. I’ve seen many insults hurled by members of the FIC in the forums and Prok was the only one banned that I know of. I think this is a case of Lindens flexing their muscles to so it looks like they take a hard stance but picking on Prok to avoid FIC backlash. Very cowardly imho.

  6. Afraidto Bebanned

    Jun 29th, 2005

    It’s all about creating an enriching experience. Removing any downward pressure on land prices, LL auctions of smaller parcels of land in this case, will enrich a handful of players tremendously. The reality is that life isn’t fair. LL is doing what it can to mirror reality.

    It’s good that people are just discussing this and not doing things like putting content on land throughout Second Life land that causes so much lag that new and existing member transactions decline for a while. That would be like a boycott. That wouldn’t be fair.

    Part of this message may have been sarcasm. Sorry.

  7. Kalnae Surface

    Jun 29th, 2005

    wow Uri l am watching your commentry on the entire Prok, banning and FIC uprise with open mouthed awe. I have me checking the herald everyday for news. I don’t play the game yet, l am getting ready too. But l have been watching these articles for a while and Prok makes more sense than those that spite him, and since his banning it seems perfectly clear to me that such a FIC in one form or another really does exist. It’s like Prok was murdered at the hands of the FIC, they thinking him out of the picture, step out of the shadows only now to their horror Prok is turning into a martyer. Yea Gods! Okay so that was over-simplified but that is how the situation is looking. Everyone is human and even in avatar form we deserve rights. These issues are important to argue over now so that as VR advances rights are set in place for us all in the future of VR.

    Glued to the Screen


  8. Curtis

    Jun 29th, 2005

    I invite anyone to #secondlife on IRC and join the conversations there. Prokofy claims it is a FIC only hang out. Truth is, it is a public channel and we love when different people drop in.

    Prokofy ignores this though, and tries making up lies to make it seem like others are not welcomed. Come and join us and you will see what bullshit Prokofy spews from his mouth.

  9. montserrat

    Jun 30th, 2005

    curtis surely you understand that we know you are
    *supposed* to say that?

  10. Prokofy Neva

    Jun 30th, 2005

    Curtis, duh, I know it’s an open public chat. That’s not at issue. I can go in there any time, as ProkofyNe or as JoeBlow, although when I go in there, I always use my SL handle because life is just too short to spend lurking in places like that. But it is *used* as a back room or back channel. As I’ve posted elsewhere here, it is an informal chat room in real time where Lindens sort of let down their hair a little and players get access to them. It’s mainly the tekkie types that go in there and talk shop about game programming. It’s a place where people have a comfort level, a shared language, a feeling of group bonding. Anybody can see that. Nobody has “lied” that it is somehow “secret” — I challenge you to come up with any such specious claim — it’s not that. As I’ve noted, it is how it is USED — a feeling that it is outside the game, over the country line, away from the TOS, where anything goes, where you can get away with more and speak more freely, both because you don’t have game distractions and the limitations of SL IMs and because you don’t have Jeska looking over your shoulder.

    I think most people arriving there might be kind of intimidating seeing Lindens and FIC talking intense game shop and in-group type of stuff. If they can catch on to the lingo and teh tekkie wiki bullshit stuff, they can chime in and be kewl too. But if they aren’t on that wavelength, they won’t.

    Honestly, half the time the trouble with the FIC is that they take things very, very literally and see things in a very narrow construction.

    All you have to know about this is that it is not the kind of speech that either Pathfinder or these players would have engaged in, on the forums themselves. They wouldn’t dare. It would be seen as unprofessional, as Lindens, and would be seen as AR’able by Lindens as to players. So that tells you all you need to know. In a more informal atmosphere, they behaved differently .That’s why I called the post that lasted 2 seconds on the forums HOW THEY DO IT.

  11. Chip Midnight

    Jun 30th, 2005

    Life it too short to spend lurking in IRC but apparently not too short to spend all your time playing the “poor victimized me” routine endlessly.
    You should write a book on how to have a persecution complex and then be such a complete dickhead to everyone that it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. If you repeat poorly reasoned paranoid conspiracy theory so much that a PARODY of it becomes a cultural meme, what does that tell you? Oh well, back to your pity party.

  12. Prokofy Neva

    Jul 1st, 2005

    Geez, Chip, has it really been so suffocating over on Jeska’s forums these days that you have to come all the way over here just to call me a “dickhead” lol? Why the hell do I bother you so much? You are such a churlish huffy burgher, Chip, you always amaze me how you protect the Motherland and the Flag every time I open my mouth. Could you get over yourself? I don’t at all feel victimized. I feel I’m campaigning and making my points known. I’ve had to take some real heat and some vicious attacks, and it does get pretty unpleasant especially inside the game when people do prim attacks and officer recalls and all that assassine shit but honestly, I hold my ground. What is it that I challenge about you and your little magic circle that you have to come over here like this and be so indignant and outraged all the time?

    Once again, you’ve amply illustrated the premise I’ve been making about the forums: I said you were smug burghers protecting the status quo of the content kingdom. You’ve called me a dickhead. Yet I’m the Banned One and the Shunned One and you are sitting pretty on the forums. What is wrong with this picture?

  13. FlipperPA

    Jul 6th, 2005

    Next time, I’ll be sure to post an billboard instead of an FIC one.

    No complaints about Anshe’s advertisements there though? Wow. And I thought it was supposed to be representative of the past two years of SL.


  14. wannabe literate

    Jul 6th, 2005

    I’ve been trying to catch up on the Prok banning as it seems ‘all the talk’ recently, and knowing how popular thought works, to see if I could determine how this effects the general flow and direction of things in SL…

    I’m astounded this person was banned, really. At issue isn’t whether I agree with Prok’s opinions, but simply making a matryr of anyone gives them more power. If the Lindens’ intention was to diffuse the controversy, you’d think they’d have taken a page from history rather than pop pyschology, one being an unbiased record of cause and effect, and the latter being largely unproven theory based on opinion.

    History also teaches us the point and laugh method of dealing with those we disagree with. In other words the greater your outrage at WORDS, the greater and louder and more frequent your reactions, the more credence you give to the person you disagree with, and the more power. If no one had thought enough of Prok’s posts to bother responding in the first place, we’d all be saying “Prok who?”

    If Prok annoys you, continues to annoy you, you’ve only yourself to blame.

    That having been said, I want to thank those of you who continue to pick at the thorn in your side. Had it not been for you actively assisting in making this minor irritation an unavoidably noticable gaping ‘wound’, I’d have never noticed Prok’s existence, and would never have poked around to see this person’s posts. I really have to admire anyone who can so effectively strike nerves in people and make others feel threatened on some level sufficiently to bother reacting to WORDS…

    Kudos, Prok. Keep it up. FORCE them to think.

    Oh, and limit your posts… not. Not all of us have the attention spans of mayflies and were not raised on a steady diet of the intellectually insubstantive 30-second news byte.

  15. Urizenus

    Jul 10th, 2005

    almost a month late, here is a link to a vide that Bebop Vox made at the party.

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