Residents of 400 Dreamland Sims vote to Ban PR and Marketing Flacks!!!!!

by Urizenus Sklar on 11/11/06 at 2:34 pm

Residents vote unrepentant flacks off of 400+ islands!

In one of the most significant developments in the history of virtual worlds and Massively Multiplayer Online Games, Residents of the Second Life gated community Dreamland have voted to ban unrepentant PR Flacks from their 400-500 Sim region. Conservative estimates suggest that Dreamland consititutes 10% of the land mass and 10% of the active resisidents in Second Life — each sim roughly equivalent to 65,000 meters of land. (Dreamland, of course was developed by SL resident Anshe Chung, who was recently featured on the cover of Business Week Magazine). Residents were apparently incensed by the recent spate of “false first” claims by PR Flacks, marketing mavens, and clueless corporations and by their arrogance and inability to admit error. The resolution:

[18:28] Second Life: Some PR agencies and RL companies have abused SL and made claims in RL media of being first to do things many SL residents have done long before them (“1st radio station in SL”, “1st fashion brand”, “1st tabloid”).

Group Dreamland Citizens Proposal PASSED!

Reached for comment by the Herald, Dreamland Developer Anshe Chung indicated that she had not yet determined how to enact the initiative, and plans a public statement in the near future. Clearly there is room for interpretation of the initiative. For example, it is unclear precisely how egregious an offense must be to warrant banning and equally unclear what would count as a suitably contrite apology. Presumably Ms. Chung could make these determinations by herself, or an in game court system like the Metaverse Superior Court could be called upon.

Of course these events raise profound philosophical questions…

One way to think of Dreamland is as a vast gated community with its own laws and own enforcement mechanisms (principally banning). What makes this recent development interesting is that the banning tool is not being used to protect in-world territory from griefers, but is now being deployed in an attempt to enforce social norms in an online world. In this case the norm is “don’t falsely take credit for the accomplishments of others.” Clearly the PR firms do not understand the importance of this norm and for this reason they have not apologized or properly retracted their statements, preferring instead to equivocate about what they meant by ‘first’, or calling their claims harmless business as usual, or in some cases telling Second Life residents they “need to learn” that this is how it is going to be. Clearly none of those responses were what residents wanted to hear.

The deep question now facing us is whether this tool might be abused (or perhaps is already being abused). There is a fine line between enforcing social norms and undermining free speech. What makes the border tricky is that one wants to leave room for legitimate debate about historical events, but clearly false claims are not merely academic arguments (like who invented the zipper), but cut to the issue of social capital in Second Life: reputation and social capital in Second Life is closely tied to our accomplishments in world. Thus, a false claim of first in Second Life is equivalent to theft in the real world.

The banning resolution, as passed, is widely interpreted as giving residents who make false claims the opportunity to retract their statements. Of course, they also remain free to stick to their guns and stay away from Dreamland and whatever regions of the game ban them next. For that matter, since they rarely set foot in the game anyway, they could continue making these claims even if the received a total ban from Second Life.

The sad thing is that it had to come to this. Apparently, however, that this is just the most recent in a string of episodes in which the PR industry has invaded a social space and deeply offended the residents, in some cases leading to the phenomenon of channel abandonment. Clearly they are not learning. I guess it comes to this: hubris dies hard. Maybe the residents of Dreamland can get their attention.

(And in case you are wondering. The Herald did not initiate or campaign for this initiative, and did not learn of it until voting was in progress.)

12 Responses to “Residents of 400 Dreamland Sims vote to Ban PR and Marketing Flacks!!!!!”

  1. bluesapphire

    Nov 11th, 2006


    VOTE? lol you mean the tenants have a role to play? They’re just tenants – lol

    Amazing, the biggest hype and PR maven is Anshe, she’s manipulated and used the various forums and web sites to make her – fact!. Do you honestly think Anshe will act on this? Isn’t this just a bullshit group function, it means nothing. The resident of her land are idiots, and a resolution like this is as scary as a ‘paper tiger’. So much hype, so much hysteria – crazy!

    Also double WOW – its amazing. Imagine being a client of Anshe’s China Content operation! I hear she’s been developing a whole division to compete against the developer community. This now just plays into their hands, island culture and island prices are justified now. This means to have a ‘space’ you have to use your own island.

  2. Urizenus

    Nov 11th, 2006

    What makes you so sure Anshe doesn’t support the resolution?

  3. Nobody Fugazi

    Nov 11th, 2006

    All I can do is laugh.

  4. Ordinal Malaprop

    Nov 11th, 2006

    What is the history of the rulers of Ansheland responding to this sort of vote, anyway? (Quite apart from considerations of how much this actually is a grassroots decision and so on.)

  5. Strumpette

    Nov 11th, 2006

    NEWS FLASH: PR Flacks Banned in Second Life

    This just in… what is being billed as one of the most significant developments in the history of virtual worlds, residents of the Second Life gated community Dreamland have voted to ban PR practitioners from their region. By conservative estimates

  6. Artemis Fate

    Nov 11th, 2006

    It should be noted that the “A Gallery of Virtual ‘Firsts’ from Second Life” article has been corrected to a more accurate “A Gallery of Marketing and PR in Second Life”.

  7. Lewis Nerd

    Nov 11th, 2006

    It’s not often I agree with Anshe, but I do wonder how effective it would be if a majority of SL players joined the proposal?


  8. Master Quatro

    Nov 12th, 2006

    I’m always amazed at the ignorance that some people so wantonly display for all of us to see. I have worked with Anshe Chung for 15 months and have found her to be the most generous and one of the most caring individual on-line. She is a bright and driven entrepreneur. She is bold and has taken some strong positions. That’s typical of visionary entrepreneurs. To call 900 residents of Dreamland “idiots” just shows your ignorance and immaturity. Business week are idiots for featuring her on the front cover of the most widely read business weekly in the world? The NY Times? Los Angeles Times? Wall Sreet Journal? Dutch, German, French Television? No these are respected and well read publications and news media. This young woman has revolutionized the metaverse with her own unique business model and is responsible for more revenue flowing to Linden Labs then any business on SL. Money has never been an issue in my 15 months working with her. She gives away many sims to be used by the community – Central Park – Mature Sandbox – Yard Sale – Plush City – Dreamland Hub ….. and more. I have run 3 companies before leaving the business world to devote my rl to helping the homeless in a large US city. On SL I admire Anshe’s commitment to her staff her clients and the community. These are qualities that should be emulated in RL organizations. Unfortunately there are those whose envy and lack of self worth leads them to idly flame and attack anyone who has been successful here. Anshe is a visionary an activist for community building and a true icon of this Second Life if not the entire metaverse. It’s time her detractors get a second life.

  9. Urizenus

    Nov 12th, 2006


  10. Artemis Fate

    Nov 12th, 2006

    I, personally, am always surprised by the ignorance of Anshe’s employees who seem to think that the way Anshe treats them must be the same as the way Anshe treats her competitors and people she wants land from. Of course she wants to be nice to the employees and her land renters, so they can go out like you did and give her good PR. Obviously if she treats both the aforementioned like shit they’ll go out and say it and she’ll lose business. What I find most ironic there is that you people are praising her for this behavior, yet condemning the real life corporations for doing the same thing but on a larger scale. Anshe donates a sim to her community, a real life corporation donates money to a charity. Both are for positive PR more than basic human kindness.

    Anshe is the same as the corporations, except smaller. She’s even got a real life company: Anshe Chung Studios. Business is not about being nice, it’s about squeezing as much profit as you can out of something, because of anti-trust laws and the benefits of good PR, this widely entails with being nice by happenstance. But NEVER mistake that for human kindness, it’s simply the most prudent action to get the most profit. But when it’s NOT the most prudent action, when it comes down to actual business, you see from both Anshe and real life corporations, the value of lying, stealing, blackmailing, and anything it takes, unethical or not, to get what you want. The end goal no matter what is money and getting the most you possibly can, ethics and kindness have absolutely zero to do with besides a means to an end.

    So praise her as a saint and condemn the other corporations for doing the same thing as her but on a wider scale? That’s true ignorance.

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    Feb 23rd, 2007

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