…Let No Man Put Asunder…

by Alphaville Herald on 03/02/06 at 8:39 pm

by Pat the Rat

Linden watchers inform Pat the Rat that naughty Kremlinden Lab has intervened to dissolve the partnership of Torley nee Torgeson Linden and Jady Lily. As of last report, they are no longer listed as partners, victims of what has become known as “reverse minister’s action” on the part of the Kremlindens. :-(

Torley went to work for LL last month, a passage that had some mixed commentary, with most people wishing her well and congratulating LL on taking a voluntary beloved mascot, but others (like the ever bilious and bellicose Prokofy Neva) claiming the Lindens were coopting her and blurring the distinction — already the subject of controversy — between Linden and resident.

Robin Linden announced the unilateral move in an email to Torley. The break-up had not been sought by the couple.

“I had nothing to do with Robin’s decision to dissolve our partnership,” Jade Lily told our sources.

The couple was famous throughout SL for their much-discussed SL girl-on-girl but RL guy-on-guy virtual relationship blogged by Hamlet Linden.

The resident known to have been formerly in the “partner” box on the profile of Jesse Linden was also removed, evidently the result of another reverse minister’s action.

Residents have wondered how the Lindens would address the issue of Torley’s well-known partnership, and whether that would impact on her objectivity in handling issues ranging from forums to inworld disputes.

While LL has moved to remove what they apparently think is a symbol of a possible conflict of interest in the well-publicized Torley-Jade partnership (where the couple is likely to remain), Pat can’t help but wonder: Do they really think this is addressing user concerns about Linden conflict of interest (not to mention all the juicy and I’m sure purely fabricated stories about those naughty Lindens caressing their querty keyboards with the more babelicious avis on the grid)? Well I had to ask, didn’t I?

14 Responses to “…Let No Man Put Asunder…”

  1. Matthias

    Feb 3rd, 2006

    I just looked at another Linden whose partner box was filled – Kona Linden. His is now empty, as well. My guess is that the Lindens pulled a complete removal of all partners from Linden partner boxes.

  2. Torley Linden

    Feb 4th, 2006

    Heya Pat! Thanx for writing this… it’s always surreal to see myself in something I read. Almost an Out-Of-Body Experience.

    Just wanted to add tho, that the order of things was different. I talked with Jadey about it before, but it might have been all eternity for one of us to decide WHO would dissolve the partnership. It’d be like “YOU dissolve it… no, YOU dissolve it!” So what’s the best way? I earlier asked Robin, who I look up to for answers to tough questions! And she helped. :)

    I am a forum frequenter but I don’t handle inworld disputes. So no, not making abuse judgments. I do more lateral schtuff that’d tend to get lost otherwise.

    And I should note that Kona lost his partner too! But Bub still gets to be with Pony! Awww… (Altho the mystery of what happened to his former partner, Echo Omega, remains unsolved.)

  3. Brace

    Feb 5th, 2006

    Cool Kona is up fer grabs (not that the partner thing stopped me from the occasional grope before)

    But I gotta go get ma swerve on byeeeee! ;) ~~

  4. Hiro Pendragon

    Feb 6th, 2006

    I can see how an across the board ban on Linden partners (unless obviously jesting, as in Bub’s case) might be needed … but seriously, is wiping Torley’s partner field going to make anyone who’s been in SL longer than a month any less aware of it? Further, I think it’s sort of silly to allow Lindens to share their real life identities and be banned from disclosing something as important as their partner.

    Let’s expand this line of thought, now. If partners aren’t allowed, does that mean a less important relationship also is not allowed to be declared? Like friendships? Does this, by letter of the rule, also ban Lindens from chatting with anyone in any public capacity? Of course, the idea is silly, but if something as significant as a partner isn’t allowed, then why not a friend, either?

    Is there a ban on Lindens wearing wedding rings?
    Is there a ban on Lindens wearing rainbows or other pro-gay attire?
    Is there a ban on Lindens wearing any sort of jewelry or clothing that might denote a social connection to one or a group of people?

    I honestly don’t think any company should be able to dictate what an employee expresses. In a workplace, a company may advise that speaking in detail about personal life may be inappropriate, but the simple expression of a person belonging to a personal relationship or a group of people is a basic right that I do not believe any company can dictate.

    I feel bad for Torley, especially, because Linden Lab specifically hired Torley knowing full well the public knowledge of Torley and the openness Torley has via his blog.

    I think this was a hasty call by Linden Lab bowing to pressure from the “bellacose” Prokofy Neva and others, who I believe should be viewed as enemies of personal expression.

  5. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 6th, 2006

    Oh, stop it Hiro, that’s ridiculous. I didn’t call for Linden partnerships to be dissolved, and I oppose the unilateral dissolution by the “state” of the Torley-Jade and other partnerships. I questioned the blurring of distinctions between Linden (government employee) and resident (citizen). That’s a different, though related issue.

    There is far too much favouritism, insiderism, special understandings, IRC back channelling, regular contest winners, residents with special deals to display their goods in stores on Help Island, and dozens of indications of relationships that are absolutely unguided by any notion whatsoever of ethics or conflict of interest.

    It’s as if the Lindens and their resident friends, especially their resident-turned-Linden friends, in their revolutionary zeal and intoxication of a new technolgoy, believe they are creating some Brave New World where the old rules of conflict of interest need not apply because there’s just “the smartest and coolest people, that’s us, and we’re surrounded by idiots.”

    The codes that the Lindens put out in the Recruitment Center are wan and limp indeed. There is absolutey no mention of a sexual harassment code of conduct or any other real detailed code of conduct, which is standard procedure not only in companies, but in entities that essentially fulfill the role of government in relationship to civilians. These are all part and parcel of a democratic society under the rule of law, and to imply that I’m an “enemy of freedom of expression” because I call for a code of conduct is just misguided and pigheaded FIC-type literalist stubborness in defending the status quo and the powers that be. And it’s just plain wrong. In the face of numerous reports of actual violations of ethics as widely understood, rampant biased unenforcement or over enforcement of the TOS, especially on the forums, and allegations of perceived violations of ethics and the TOS, the Lindens have to take measures to establish what the rules of the road are. Even if you, with your smug insiders’ role, believe none of these reports and allegations amount to anything, you could still concede that institutions need basic guidelines for employees of this nature.

    Rather than establish a code of conduct on 1) sexual harassment and sexual misconduct and 2) rules for relationships with residents that would better define such issues as dating, friending, hosting events, advertising business, etc. the Lindens are taking this draconian and excessive measure of dissolving partnerships made under the law — as if that drastic action, and the sacrifices Torley — and Jade — are being asked to make for the Company — are going to be enough to propitiate critics like me. It’s insane. They are lurching around trying to find the right balance and the right ground to stand on, and making demonstrative but silly gestures.

    They need to start out with FIRST recognizing that there IS a difference between Lindens and residents and that there SHOULD be lines draw between these two statuses in SL. Indeed, there MUST be lines drawn for all kinds of reasons, both regarding the role of LL as a company, and the role of LL as a de facto government or steward of a virtual world.

    The fact that fanboyz like you want to heavily blur these distinctions, and also have a rapid, insiders’ conveyor belt from resident status to Linden status (a very efficient conveyor belt judging from the 1/3 employees who were once residents), lets me know that you don’t have even the basic understanding of how you could expect to run a system fairly, impartially, and without cronyism and favouritism.

    Given that huge number of employee-turned-residents, there simply have to be a host of guidelines in place, above all governing the access residents-turned-employees gain to private information of other residents, which we would want to ensure that they could never use to harm people and settle scores they acquired as residents. What measures do the Lindens have in place for protecting the privacy of residents from these other former residents? We know of none, nor do we understand what the procedures/protections are in place for accessing private information. Indeed, with this resmod debacle, we see that abuse-reports for a time were being made not anonymously.

    It’s no good for us merely to be told on an anecdotal basis, “Well, I don’t work in the office.” or “Well, I don’t work on abuse management, that’s not my job,” as Torley replied — without a wider understanding of the deep conflicts in the community are about and how they can spill out of some narrowly-construed “abuse management report”.

    Right now, the Lindens are eroding and blurring their old rules — the old rules that said once you become a Linden, you are not supposed to reveal your former resident name, or alt, and not use that old alt for prominent activity, specifically major business activity. Well, they are flaunting their erosion of this now, not only by making Torley a Linden, but openly declaring — and even celebrating — the fact that Zarf Vantongerloo, creator of Nota Bene, is now a Linden. We can expect more cases like this, and the cases of Lindens whose old resident alt identities are merely thinly disguised are numerous.

    I don’t think going to work for LL should be like working for the CIA, where your identity must be protected and your ties with your old life severed, to the point where you can’t even travel to certain countries, etc. That’s silly. In fact, these identities should be demonstrably known precisely so that the public can maintain a watch over the tendency of old residents to settle scores once they become Lindens, or to use their power to press for this or that special interest or agenda.

    I refuse to accept any argumentation that says, “Oh, Lindens are people, too, and they want to play in the world, too.” Well, sure. But off-duty cops and off-duty firemen are people, too, and when they do stuff like play with 14-year-old girls in Internet chat rooms, the public — and the law –begins to care about the distinction between their official roles and their private personal lives.

    I don’t see that the Lindens have really established any guidelines, let alone any doctrine, that really governs this blatant vulnerability for corruption in their ranks. They run a world. The world has lots and lots of people in it, who aren’t their personal friends. They have simply got to get their act together and create the normal, standard procedures you have for governing relationships between those in power and those subject to that power, who can be all too easily victimized without redress — especially in a system with only scant press freedom and no independent judiciary.

    Making a personal attack on me, Hiro, as if this is “just my problem” only reveals you to be narrow-minded and unaware of the larger issues — and most of all, smug in your own relationship to this authority and its powers.

  6. Avah (Fallen Hasp)

    Feb 6th, 2006

    holy crap thats the longest post Ive ever seen Prok write. Ya know I didnt even read it. I took one look at how long the damn post was and said to myself “O screw that, I havent got the time” Personally I do not believe GMs in any game should play alongside paying users. Creates an obvious conflict of interest. If Lindens were not allowed to interact with the player base other than professionally then we might have more respect for them and take their jobs seriously. As things stand the entire situation is an incestous joke. One of many monumental flaws that insures Second Life to fail miserably.

  7. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 6th, 2006

    Oh, geez, Avah, I’ve written posts 100 times longer than that, you should see my blog. I think it’s a good essay for someone who might some day either fix up this game, or make a better one *shrugs*. Take it or leave it.

    Avah, the whole point about SL is that they aren’t supposed to be a game. The gods are supposed to enter the world. The Grand Masters (if that’s what GM stands for, and I’m not steeped in MMORPG culture like many are) do indeed not only come into the game, they raid the game for ideas, future staff, hard labour from volunteers, etc. People often wonder how they got the pyramids built. It was like this.

    At first I really believe the Lindens were these kind of “gardeners” very much at a distance. I got that impression from my first encounter with a Linden “in the wild,” Ben Linden, building some kind of game in Waterhead. It was freaky seeing the game makers inside the game, because in TSO, they didn’t come in much at all, they had a few “liaisons” like Tigger but they weren’t people you really contacted. And when he didn’t answer my greeting in IM I figured Lindens were untouchable, and just busy in build mode a lot of the time. I figured they quietly ran the place behind the scenes.

    Imagine, I spent months and months without ever calling, seeing, or interacting with a Linden. Why would you want to? They should just go away and make the game work, no? Silly me! Then I started to try to get them to solve the problem I see people still trying to solve, which is that some script kiddy gets to lag the sim with their few toys, a kid on a 1024 with giant bombs or submarines can drag down the rest of the people on the sim of some 65,000 m2.

    Yeah, I guess you’re right, it is kind of a running joke, the incestuous thing. I’m thinking of Chinatown. “He’s my Linden. [Slap.] No, he’s my resident. [Slap]. No, he’s my Linden AND my resident.” lol.

    I guess I continue to have faith in the Lindens’ ability to correct even this fatal flaw.

  8. Avah

    Feb 7th, 2006

    Yeah I agree with you Prok about it. I dunno, I respect anyone who wants to stay and try to make SL a better place for everyone. Its the noble thing to do. But, you cant really get anything out of it except a migraine and more opposition than you could ever rise against. From my perspective, I weighed the pros and cons of staying and working within that system and found for myself that it was so fundamentally corrupt that there was no possible way for me to justify spending any further amount of energy trying to create any type of positive change within SL. I was that disgusted by what I experienced. Linden Labs power lies in the idea that its irreplacable and therefore untouchable. Infact, Second Life is replacable and its only a matter of time. The question becomes whether any virtual world can govern itself well enough to prevent disasters like this from happening time and again. Its my opinion that if a functional model for government ever occured anywhere it would be accidental. You think you cant win the game unless youre willing to play. I think you cant win the game. Why play?

  9. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 7th, 2006

    Maybe you’ve been in the game longer than me, and I may reach the same conclusion. I realize the opposition only grows by the day. And the demographics of both Lindens and influential residents aren’t in the favour of someone like me (even with the majority of players being 32 and female, it is still run by tekkie 20-something snarks, “the Lordfly demographic”.) Since many of the Lindens fit the profile of a similar demographic, it’s just not going to be a comfortable place. I realize that. You can fashion your own nook in it regardless and hope that either the world will pass you by or you won’t suffer too much damage.

    I find myself increasingly wanting to hide from all the Linden social engineering — not to get my sound fixed so I wouldn’t have to hear Linden Radio in the Infohubs, for example. I find myself selling land if asked to sell it, and not buying more. I don’t wish to join the crazed, headlong rush to constant insane expansion — following the model of the Linden Lords and Masters — which substitutes volume for quality. I see this is a natural progression of most thinking people, even if they are thinking people I don’t agree with — they are very enthusiastic and involved, put in tons of time, talent, and treasure, then burn out, sometimes in a huge flash across the sky, like Ulrika. There are many bitter souls still hanging around the forums and even logging in now and then, they can’t live with it, they can’t live without it.

    It’s sad to think that Second Life will have changed your First Life utterly…yet never really created that Second Life you sought in the process.

    I realize there’s a heavy dose of Bolshevism in Kremlinenlabs. They are under revolutionary notions of themselves and of justice — that anything goes, that they are allowed everything just because they’re revolutionaries. Well, that can’t last, even if they massacre millions on the way to the realization that it can’t work.

    For me, a cardinal shift occurred when I began to see — actually quite recently — that Uri’s use of Kremlindenlab, which I used to think was really over the top, was actually pretty accurate most days.

  10. Cocoanut

    Feb 7th, 2006

    “…you cant really get anything out of it except a migraine and more opposition than you could ever rise against. From my perspective, I weighed the pros and cons of staying and working within that system and found for myself that it was so fundamentally corrupt that there was no possible way for me to justify spending any further amount of energy trying to create any type of positive change within SL.”

    I don’t know you Avah, but your words resonate with me. What I absolutely can’t figure out is WHY there is that huge opposition that no one can ever rise against.

    Take the forums, for instance. Why are so many of the vocal regulars so afraid, that they have to run off someone even with mild, middle-of-the-road views? And keep ON running people off, one after another?

    Yet certain residents are positively vociferous about it, with the Lindens’ blessing AND backing. It’s obvious this is something those residents, apparently heavily psychologically invested in SL, think about way too much. I’ll be reading along some thread that has nothing to do with anything I’ve ever said, and yet there is some bitter commentary in there regarding something I said about something else in a whole other thread. It’s amazing how many threads I am in that I was never even in.

    My whole experience in the forums is like I wandered into a 7-11 and made the suggestion that they carry Hostess Cupcakes, whereupon eleven other patrons immediately came after me with baseball bats, while the clerk behind the counter looked away and pretended not to see it. I mean, it just doesn’t make sense! Like, they actually want people to keep COMING to this 7-11?

    That’s why it’s best to pay little attention to it. For me, I have my own game I play which has very little to do with all that. I make stuff and sell it, and I enjoy it. The social issues – there it’s often like dealing with a society that is somehow stuck in the Dark Ages, and doesn’t realize it. Or realizes it, but really, really wants to keep it that way.

    Best to try not to pay too much attention to it. For whatever reasons, it can never improve and it will never improve. Just enjoy your own thing. Soon enough, another, similar game will come along, where common sense will be more common.


  11. Avah

    Feb 8th, 2006

    The reason why is very simple. Its the same reason corruption occurs in real life governments. Because the population base is subdued and numb to the reality of the world they exist in. Second Life offers individuals their dreams. As long as their illusions are not broken or disturbed they are contented to endless sleep among opium poppies. They turn a blind eye to the injustices against other players. Its selfish and a form of evil. Thats the price they pay for participating. And, its not until they are rudely awakened that they begin to realize the truth in our warnings. And, by that point, its too late. Because the very thing thats awakened them has stolen their dreams. Also, eh people arent very clever. Its the bright ones who peek behind the curtain only to discover that the great wizard Linden Labs is infact a greedy, self-serving, hypocritical, tyranical, incestous mob of yes men who kiss Phil’s ass and have no intention of ever revealing the truth to their king. Theyd have too much to lose. And, he might discover how fucking useless they really are. But Phil isnt blameless either. I dont respect that man. In my opinion he is a slave to his own excesses and completely irresponsible. Sitting up high on his tower spouting philosophical rhetoric without the first clue about what takes place in the world hes created. Ah thank god its only a game.

  12. Flux Woyseck

    Feb 16th, 2006

    Prokofy, I have sat and read your numerous “essays” time and time again, while I feel some of your input is valued. What I read today, here, from you, I believe is extreme, unwarranted and majorly disrespectful.

    “I refuse to accept any argumentation that says, “Oh, Lindens are people, too, and they want to play in the world, too.” Well, sure. But off-duty cops and off-duty firemen are people, too, and when they do stuff like play with 14-year-old girls in Internet chat rooms, the public — and the law –begins to care about the distinction between their official roles and their private personal lives. ”

    How dare you even think to compare the love between 2 people, regardless of linden/resident status, to that of an off-duty fireman or cop whom play with 14 yr old girls??? That is gross, perverse and entirely irrelevant to the case at hand.

    I firmly believe believe that you owe a lot of people a sincere apology for even implying such a gross comparison, and in the future you should take more time to consider your comparisons rather than focusing on “writing essays” to show off your intellect, that obvious lacks common sense.

  13. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 16th, 2006

    Flux, you’re not getting the point. Nobody has compared “the love between two adults” with “the love between an adult and a 14 year old” or made any invalid comparison between actual inworld liaisons, such as that of Torley and Jade, and compared it to some tawdry RL case. To claim that is silly and ignorant.

    The point is, when people are in uniform, they are expected to abide by a set of standards, and many companies have policies about sexual harassment and even about dating on the job, or dating those in the office. At the very least, state law addresses sexual harassment in the workplace, and there are many court decisions ruling on this and quite a body of law established on it.

    But the Lindens don’t appear to have any sexual harassment policy whatsoever. It’s fine, evidently, for any Linden to use his considerable position of power and influence which comes with the job to come on to a resident, and even meet them outside of the game. There doesn’t seem to be any guidelines about this situation. That is the kind of environment in which sexual harassment or even just love affairs that go very badly where people misuse their powers in revenge can take place. Would you want LL to become vulnerable to such an awful situation? I wouldn’t.

    Society expects a fireman, when on duty, not to be in chat rooms fooling around with girls. This is a famous case in NYC, perhaps you didn’t understand the reference. The point is about cases that involve people while on duty, and what their role is expected to do in the public eye even while off duty.

    I don’t owe a soul any apology whatsoever. You need to understand analogies and analysis better, that’s all, instead of understanding something in a simplistic and naive fashion and looking for an excuse to wax indignant just because you don’t like what I write in general.

    Lindens on duty flirt with residents. And it goes beyond that, as we all know. There is absolutely no regulation of this situation. It’s not a good thing for this company, or for this world, to have those in a position of power and authority be able to act as they please, like noblesse oblige. Indeed, it would be a very good idea for the Lindens to have a policy that in fact Lindens can’t date, or have sexual talk with, i.e. cyber, with residents while on the job. It just seems like common sense.

    In fact, you could have a debate on whether such behaviour would be appropriate on an alt, even. This could be debated either way. But it doesn’t seem appropriate for Lindens to have sex with the customers. It wouldn’t be appropriate in a RL company situation; why is it appropriate here? I don’t get it. What’s different about it?

    “The public — and the law –begins to care about the distinction between their official roles and their private personal lives. ”

    That’s what I said. The point isn’t about 14-year-olds (look how careful they were to make sure there wasn’t anything funny that would happen on the teen grid). It’s about classic situations where sexual harassment or predatory behaviour occurs. Geez, that ought to be clear to any reader.

    Once again, I’m not opposing the liaision between Torley and Jade. This position has been falsely attributed to me on the forums — it’s silly. They developed this relationship before Torley became a Linden and made a partnership. The community understands the nature of this partnership. Most people wouldn’t construe it as a situation at all where Jade would enjoy any kind of impunity. If the Lindens chose to take a stand on conflicts of interest and appearances of impropriety, they chose absolutely the wrong case.

    For Robin to intervene and end this relationship doesn’t at all solve the problem of Linden Lab’s absence of a sexual harassment policy. It doesn’t get rid of the problem of especially these Linden males hitting on female residents all the time — and actually, Linden females hitting on males too — and sometimes making people uncomfortable, to say the very least about this subject.

    The issue is about people in power, and people in positions of responsibility, and how they behave. It’s not about “the love between two people” which is a dodge from the real issue, meant to whip up emotions.

    This sort of issue is discussed all the time, when it comes to professors and students. The situation is very, very similar. It’s not considered appropriate for a professor to date his students, and many colleges would have a policy about this. Why is SL different?

    Your hysterical demands for “apologies” indicate that you’re probably incapable of understanding these issues.

  14. Marsellus Wallace

    Feb 17th, 2006

    I kinda have to agree with Prok on this one. (odd I know prok lol) However, I will state it is sometimes hard to read emotion in text. What some may take as flirting may actually just be a friendly person being friendly.

    Marsellus Wallace
    Boss, The Sim Mafia

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