Op-ED: Criminal Gangs Can’t Ask for No “Guilt by Association”

by prokofy on 10/07/07 at 2:09 pm


By Prokofy Neva/Op-Ed

In Second Life, you can make a group with only 27 cents and one other person. Don’t like the group you’re in, because it’s taken over by a tyrant or filling up with griefers you don’t want to be associated with? Make a new one — and the tools enable you to create either a dope-smokin’ hippie love commune where everybody is exactly equal and income is distributed or a Gorean slave camp where a master rules with an iron fist and confiscates the earnings. It’s your world, your imagination. You are never stuck with an affiliation; you can always recreate, renew, reform — by making a new group and leaving an old one.

In Second Life, groups are an important part of identity and reputation. The first thing people use to judge an unknown avatar is his groups. So people usually take care to have the groups on their profile reflect their real intentions. When they discover they are in a group that acquires a bad reputation, they press “leave”. When they persistently do *not* press leave and keep on affiliating with a group acquiring a reputation for griefing, it’s because the core of the group, the friendships they’ve made are more important to them than their reputation, or they don’t care about having a good reputation. But people judge nonetheless — and they must, in a lawless, oppressive world, ruled by ruthless executive power (the Lindens), little reliable information (everyone is anonymous to some degree) and concerted propaganda and disinformation campaigns by warring parties.


Guilt by association” may be an honourable liberal principle, the bedrock of “not guilty until proven innocent.” Yet it isn’t endless, and it can’t be used as a cover and a distraction from crime. In real life, gangs have all kinds of insignia and rituals — and they commit crimes, even murder. The police are right to watch thse groups as *groups*; if they didn’t, they couldn’t keep the public safe. When a Crip or Blood ties a certain bandana on their leg or head or makes a certain hand signal in a school, administrators and the police don’t think they’re doing a Home Ec sewing assignment or studying signing for the deaf. They realize that the attributes and membership features are what gives the group coherence and can abet crime; in some settings, such as a school, it is prohibited to wear the insignia of gangs precisely to prevent them from getting a toehold.

Principles, parents, the community weigh the problem of possibly wrongfully preventing an innocent kid from holding their pants up with an ordinary red scarf versus controlling the proliferation of gangs. Whether locally in schools, whether nationally in racist movements, whether internationally in extremist and terrorist movements, the non-state actor, and the non-state organization are the chief threats to the peace. This vexatious factor, the leading issue of our time, bedevils policy-makers and law-makers as they attempt to adjust to a new world accelerated by the Internet and social media that reduce the role of governments and older civil societies institutions like churches, trade unions, and volunteer clubs and in their place create amorphous, anonymous, unaccountable affiliations that can easily hide crime not only behind anonymity, but behind liberal assumptions about good will.

The self-making and self-franchising of malevolent non-state group or movement, whether racist extremists or terrorists — or in our own tiny snowglobe virtual analogy, griefers — pose an impossible challenge to civilization. Protecting values like freedom of assembly and the right not to be subject to “guilt by association” must be balanced against the need to protect all of society from crime and terrorism, and to prevent the malevolent and conspiratorial gang from exploiting liberal values even as they use them to cripple the liberal society and bend it to their own aims and power.


Thinking about the Woodbury University saga, we can only ask for more and more information to come to light to make a judgement, and to make reasonable assessments based on patterns already visible in Second Life. If you have a group of some 200 people, and some 30 or 40 of them (many of them alts who have been banned and come and gone) are repeatedly found to be guilty of griefing (and indisputably so), at which point do you “call” it and say that many of the alts, hangers-on, accidental tourists and Eddie Haskellers of the outfit can’t be expected to count on avoidance of “guilt by association”? Many more of them could be stepping forward to claim innocence besides one student, Janelle, who says she is a clothier but has no clothing in world and a track record of harassment, and one “Ubiquitous Librarian”. Woodbury’s RL leadership could be commenting. Yet there is silence.

One thing is sure: the Lindens cannot be allowed to be the final arbitrers on these matters forever. Regrettably for the future of the Metaverse, they *are* these final arbitrators now, because *they have all the server-side information* and they can also punish those who attempt to provide adversarial defense through the distribution *inworld* of chatlogs and notecards. They have all the information; yet they aren’t talking. Their failure to act on this or that case isn’t proof, however, that they’ve exonerated a figure like Tizzers Foxchase — they haven’t (and if it is true that she’s lost a RL job associated with this project, her own employers seem less liberal — or gullible — than the Lindens). Sometimes the Lindens deliberately don’t ban group leaders to see if they go on perpetuating a conspiracy, so as to be able to entrap those often really doing the dirty work. Sometimes they may have enough circumstantial evidence, but even they like to build the case better.


In real life, if a figure like a “blind mullah” was incapable of actually performing any criminal acts, but was found to constantly sustaining, supporting, ideologically indoctrinating, recruiting, even directing subtly any terrorist act, they might find themselves indicted. Their lawyers might work hard to show them to be merely pious religious leaders whose views, even if extreme, aren’t grounds for prosecution. The Lindens — and all of us — find ourselves in a roughly analagous situation to the problem of terrorism and the “war on terrorism”: at what point do invasive procedures like wiretapping and racial profiling, gross violations of rights, defeat the purpose of the war on terrorism, and become like terrorism itself?

In Second Life, the Lindens wiretap with abandon and “racially” profile with aggressive zeal because they can — and because they have the information all on their side, on the servers. We can’t tell them not to wiretap; we all agreed they can monitor us at any time when we signed the TOS. We can’t tell them not to “racially profile,” i.e. identify by group affiliation — they have no checks and balances or rule of law to answer to, they are an unchecked executive power that protects its own grid first and foremost.


Newer residents like Jessica Holyoke weren’t here in October 2005 when the Lindens made an unprecedented mass banning. They banned at least 25 people we could all identify as later missing; they said in fact the list contained 60 people. Philip announced it at a townhall. The bannings were all of W-hat and spinoffs in Voter-5/Voted-5 that had occupied the aptly-named sim “Satyr”. The bannings didn’t come in haste; they followed months and months — a year in some cases — of constant gridcrashing where all of Second Life itself was ground to a halt (this used to be routine, until the Lindens figured out a “fire lane” system that contained self-replicating objects). Some of the people banned loudly proclaimed they were suffering from “guilt by association,” but as their griefing, from petty to serious but serial and systematic, was amply documented and proved with server-side data, the Lindens didn’t blink. They sent a very clear message, more clear than their claim to have opened up an FBI case: keep forming groups for the malicious purpose of crashing sims and bothering other residents, and you will be banned, and if all you do is come on griefing posses and LULZ it up and provide textures, you’ll be banned too.

Since then, the people banned were sobered, and some began to turn to more positive pursuits (like Isometric/Decomposing Monstre and machinima) or seek rehabilitation (Plastic Duck) yet never free of rightful suspicions from the taint of their past crimes. Others continued to come back on alts belligerently, and kept being banned. They rang all the memes and chimes of the first groups or used those who were very much part of the culture and membership of griefing groups but had escaped the ban hammer like Anonamoose Letlow to reconstitute new groups and actions. Always, their cry was, “We’re reforming,” “We’re not like those few bad eggs,” “We’re going to be engaged in creative stuff now, honest” — even as they proceeded to go out *and do the exact same thing as they did on Satyr on Woodbury, right down to the letter. Woodbury got one round of warnings; seeing as it was much the same people doing the same thing as Satyr, the Lindens didn’t go below the bar set by their previous action: they confiscated the sim, continued to make bannings, and hoped that this would serve as enough of a deterrent.


Now comes the question of how we must obtain justice, in an unjust world, where the deck is stacked against us.

The first issue to realize is that people can — and do, and will — ban on the basis of group affiliation, and absolutely nothing can stop them. When Ban-Link or its clone are GOM’d into the client and become a fact of Second Life, at one flip of the switch, huge, long lists can be added, even things like “all 200 members of Woodbury” and possible, under agitation from Angel Fluffy and other security-state advocates, lsl functions that can ban by group membership as well. We will see entire groups banned by affiliation, and there will be absolutely nothing anyone can do about it, and crying “no guilt by association” to the hardened and wizened club and rentals security goons will be pointless, as they weren’t born yesterday and know how to make snap judgements by instinct simply to protect their venue and their property values and their business. This isn’t a very pleasant world, but it’s not one anyone will be able to stop, as Angel Fluffy with his capture roleplay; Cindy Claveau with her frequently-griefed club; Travis Lambert with this newbie-helping operation at the Shelter; Intlibber Brautigun with his real-estate empire and other members of the group Pro-active Security all have ample motivation to ban on the basis of any marker they can muster, so as to protect their own interests — which the Lindens see aligned with their own interests.


The Lindens promise more aggregate information to come on the police blotter, to end the idiotic, memory-less rounds of Linden v. sandbox-shooter that serves as the blotter now — but that’s not going to contain names of residents. And that’s why I think communities have to make their own local police blotters, and keep them as local — and as tethered to a process of fact-gathering and correction as possible. Until the Lindens are prepared to emulate real life and publish all the elements of the case — the abuse report, the alleged perpetrator, the prosecuting Linden, the facts of the case and an adversarial defense — this is about as good as it will get.

In the police-informants’ state that the Lindens’ perfected and have now templated and readied for open-sourcing to the grid, the informant’s report — not even confession! — is the crown of evidence, as Vyshinsky used to say. No adversarial defense is really possible without a Law of Discovery — which involves confronting Lindens to turn over what evidence they have server-side — and there they’ll cry “confidentiality” of their subscribers and refuse cooperation. So as in RL police states, the population will have to count on the big security agencies, the police versus the intelligence, the presidential bodygards versus the corporation bodyguards of oligarchs — to leak kompromat, or compromising material on one another, to set up journalists with false or even selectively true information; to otherwise manipulate the system of information and law-enforcement to their ends.

In this horrible climate, only an independent press, able to keep covering the news without fear or favour, is absolutely vital and only to be expanded, not discouraged.

65 Responses to “Op-ED: Criminal Gangs Can’t Ask for No “Guilt by Association””

  1. Prokofy Neva

    Jul 12th, 2007

    BTW, Jessica and others would do well simply to go back to the Lindens’ straightforward, no-nonsense statement:

    Tizzers Foxchase: (Saved Sun Jul 1 12:19:36 2007) Linden Lab has continued to find inappropriate uses of the Second Life region “Woodbury University” under your control. On the 16th of April, you were informed of problems with the activities taking place in the region. Many members of the Woodbury University group (which controls the region) have been detected before and after that date causing severe problems in Second Life, in violation of the terms of service. These problems include incidents of grid attacks, racism and intolerance, persistent harassment of other residents, and crashing the Woodbury University region itself while testing their abusive scripts. Due to the ongoing problems, Linden Lab has no option but to immediately close the Woodbury University region. If you believe that this notice has been sent in error, or that the details of this incident have not been adequately examined, please address your concerns in an e-mail to abuse-manager@lindenlab.com Sincerely yours, Customer Support Linden Lab 945 Battery Street San Francisco, CA

    “Many members of the Woodbury University group (which controls the region) have been detected before and after that date causing severe problems in Second Life, in violation of the terms of service. These problems include incidents of grid attacks, racism and intolerance, persistent harassment of other residents, and crashing the Woodbury University region itself while testing their abusive scripts.”

    Look at the operative section in particular:

    o This region is under Tizzers’ control
    o It is the Woodbury group’s sim; the Woodbury University group CONTROLS THE REGION
    o *Many members* have been caught violating the TOS

    What, do we doubt what the *Lindens* have written here? MANY MEMBERS HAVE BEEN CAUGHT. Not 2, not 10.

    Now, the group has 200 people in it. But many are alts or no-shows or tourists. Each time griefers from PN/v-5 spawn, they spawn into this group.

    Here’s one now, IMing me repeatedly with annoying statements like “The Leninists are coming to get you!” His name is Grinn Mannonen, harassing me with repeated, obnoxious IMs. Profile: day-old alt, member of Woodbury University.

    Oops, there’s another one harassing me with annoying IMs, KILLyou Yifu, TP-ing me to Baku over and over, an anti-furry name if there ever was once, no groups yet, but watch this space…oops he’s gone now from the people list. Did he manage to get into the Woodbury or Prokofy Fan groups? They usually do.

    How many does it take like this before you can safely say, hey, this is a griefing group. Dozens? 50? 100?

    If there are 40 percent honest and non-clueless people keep in mind that:

    o they were invited into this group; they received and accepted an invitation
    o there are 205 people in this group; are we to believe there are really 200 “Media, Culture, and Design students of Woodbury University in Burbank, California.” And that with names like Grinn, they send out harassment IMs that say “The Leninists are coming to get you”? yuk yuk

    The Lindens in fact exactly follow Jessica’s revolutionary expediency method, literalizing no guilt by association in their grief-kiddy friends’ favour, by taking away the sim, not the Woodbury group, and by banning dozens of them found guilty. They’ve let some of them parade around; they spaw alts or grief and get banned.

    Does that mean this is a good group and will re-constitute and make a nice university and learn digital arts? Of course not. Because it’s a deliberately disruptive group that lies about its intentions and will do this again and again.

  2. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Jul 12th, 2007

    O the O the O the O the O the O the O the O the O the O the O the O the. Bawwwwww.

    Prok, I will speak to Grinn Mannonen about his behaviour when I get the chance, but in all honesty, what do you expect from people when you’re making slanderous comments about them? That they’ll be all happy and nice?

    Just mute him. I’m not going to ban him from the group for mocking your stupidity.

    I’ve never heard of “KILLyou Yifu”.

    “Each time griefers from PN/v-5 spawn, they spawn into this group.”

    Most idiotic quote ever.

    PN’s don’t join any groups. They sign up, log in, crash 20 sims, get banned. Simple as that.

    V5, on the other hand, doesn’t even exist and is just a fake group set up by Hazim so that he can laugh at you as you rant on and on about the actions of a group which isn’t there.

  3. Jessica Holyoke

    Jul 12th, 2007

    But again, “many” not “all”, that means “some” are innocent. And you are holding the “some” just as accountable as the “many” even if the “some” themselves aren’t banned.

  4. Prokofy Neva

    Jul 12th, 2007

    One can’t believe Stoklitsky’s remarks; it’s just the latest set of lies he’s publishing. Of course, truths sometimes gleam among the rubble; just the other night, he IM’d me and told me had some dirt on Angel Fluffy, and wasn’t it awful, what undue influence Angle Fluffy has over the Lindens.

    I ignored him and didn’t seek to hear out his rant — to do so legitimizes him in ways no one should. I’m the first to warn of the dangers of Angel Fluffy, and the first to comment on his undue influence over the Lindens, but I hardly think a grieftard is a source on any dirt on this person, who probably just banned Stoklitsky like any other common PNer — and good riddance. But sadly, the Angel Fluffies of the world with their keen intelligence operations and methodical banning mechanisms are the flip side (cut from the same cloth?) as the griefers. Both are extremists, even nihilists in that they do not believe in the social contract alone to sustain society, but believe weapons, force, and now “tools” must be used in excessive amounts to maintain the peace.

    It doesn’t matter if Hazim made up a fake group to taunt me; it’s an actual group that griefs and has members, for a time even Intblubber. It conspires and commits overt acts. So much for the concept of the fake group; it’s irrelevant — it’s a marker, and a recruiting tool. Whether PN/voteD or voteR 5 of any w-hat offshot is related or hates each other or not, as I often comment, by analogy with Gogol and Russian literature, they all come out from the same overcoat

    The idea that “some” are innocent begins to get more and more threadbare, as the group piles up more and more and more criminals who are banned. And the group’s *principles* were the officers directly controlling the Woodbury sim, so there’s no guilt by association there, regarding their handling of the sim. It’s funny that we’re not seeing droves of innocent Woodbury girls and boys come forward and tell us what a fun educational time they have and isn’t it awful about those griefers.

    Those two that did show up were both suspect; Ubiquitous Librarian completely whitewashed the group and made it seem like educational sims elsewhere impose architectural oppression and old-building syndrome and only Woodbury was cool and had no buildings or blown-up buildings or student-made um…edifices. The other was Janelle, knee-deep in griefing posses and M.O.s Curious there’s no one else; if out of a group of 200, 50 are griefers, and let’s say 100 are totally innocent, they seem MIA.

    Ultimately, landowners judge by a combination of factors. Since it would be tedious to type in 205 names and use up valuable space in the 300-limit parcel ban on the mainland and islands, well, most people like me or the Ban-link members would eyeball somebody who seemed to be causing trouble, perhaps only in petty ways, and if they spotted the additional marker “Woodbury” they’d ban them. Certainly anybody who showed up in the sim of Ravenglass to rent with Woodbury would get an automatic boot; the chances of a real genuine student who accidentally wound up on Ravenglass alone among 8300 open sims are…unlikely.

    This is like racial profiling on airplanes. The liberal value is not to discriminate against Muslims, people with dark skin, people with foreign accents, people with names that sound Arabic. The conservative value is not to risk hijacking and being blownup. After enough hijackings by Arabs, people begin to think, ok, I’m all for liberal values, but certain people have to be pulled out of line. So then the airport manager has to figure out a policy. Pull out only 20-something males with no families and no visible permanent address? Not pull out a veiled woman with children in tow? Etc. These are ugly decisions, and someone will always be hurt, no matter how you slice it.

    In SL, you have both more markers and less. You have groups with reputations, you also have the ability to track people with avatar radar that you wouldn’t in RL, you have chatlogs. I have enough information to make an informed, and non-discriminatory judgement: nobody with Woodbury in their groups will be renting from me.

  5. Prokofy Neva

    Jul 12th, 2007

    Prok, I will speak to Grinn Mannonen about his behaviour when I get the chance, but in all honesty, what do you expect from people when you’re making slanderous comments about them? That they’ll be all happy and nice?

    Wow, I’m going to depend on an asshole griefer to do the disciplining of other asshole griefers? That’s rich. And that’s another one of the big lies about the w-hat/PNs. This idea that they can be controlled, or that there are “good cops” who are controlling the “bad cops” gone astray. Utter bullshit. Since I don’t know this brand-new resident Grinn Mannonen, and never had the slightest dealings with this ah…newbie…then for him to be repeatedly IMing me with taunting remarks lets me know that he’s been a) recruited b) incited c) indoctrined d) given blessing to grief. People only acquire hatred (assuming he’s a genuine newbie, which of course he isn’t) when they are told to hate and for the sake of esprit de corps, they must join in the ritualistic hatreds. It’s how they gain their sense of identity, via the group.

    That’s why people cling to groups so hard, it gives them their sense of identity.

  6. DaveOner

    Jul 12th, 2007

    You guys should just duke it out at the SL Boxing Ring as reported a while back on SLH. At least that would be more entertaining to the rest of us!

  7. Csven Concord

    Jul 12th, 2007

    “room full of homosexual harry potter pornography in Prokofy Neva’s business tower” – K-FR


    “Big difference between a tenant having Harry Potter parody gay porn” – Prokofy Neva


    Wait a second. I remember hearing something about the Harry Potter actor performing nude in some play so when I read the first quote, I figured it was referring to images of that actor from the play (which I’m guessing was not a Harry Potter parody).

    But Prok called the images “parody”, meaning it *wasn’t* the real Harry Potter actor in the images.

    I’m confused. Did K-FR see the real actor from the play or images from some XXX Harry Potter parody?

    Did K-FR see real Harry and Prokofy see parody Harry? Possible. Or did Prokofy correct K-FR and properly call the images “parody”? And if that’s the case, how did *she* know if she wasn’t spying on them herself?

  8. Prokofy Neva

    Jul 13th, 2007

    Second Citizen began a huge rumpus some months ago, spying on Ravenglass tower, organized griefing posses on it (that’s when Lecktor Hannibal was able to come and rez giant flexiprimmed cocks and other obscene objects everywhere, an attack for which he faced absolutely no warning or discipline).

    They spied on a customer who had porn on his walls, which they spotted because if you happen to lag and the world doesn’t rez that quickly, sometimes when you land on a sim you see a person has pictures. They camera zoomed in to check it out. I later came to the tenant’s apartment to see what all the fuss was about.

    The pictures were obvious parodies themselves. They were adult bodies with large, cartoon-like, pasted-on heads of the Harry Potter actor and other actors — very obviously *collages*. They were NOT nude photos of the RL actor whatsoever; they were clearly parodies. I didn’t see any reason whatsoever to return what appeared to be gay parody porn. As it happened, the tenant moved not long after that to his own land. If the SC posse abuse reported this guy, it surely didn’t stick. There was nothing actionable about his content.

  9. Anonymous

    Jul 13th, 2007

    w-hat just stays inside scenic baku and voice chats and works on the flavor of the month build but thanks for the accusations anyway

  10. K-FR

    Jul 13th, 2007

    “I’m confused. Did K-FR see the real actor from the play or images from some XXX Harry Potter parody?”

    It was a photoshop featuring Harry Potter sexually penetrating Draco Malfoy. This may or may not happen in Deathly Hallows, but for the time being, it was just pornography.

    That it happened “in private” is special pleading. If it is part of your group, then that just means that Ravenglass rentals engages in shitty, Harry Potter gay pornography in private, and the group “Ravenglass Rentals” should be known as a distributor of Harry Potter pornography — all the things in that room were for sale, after all.

    “In Private” or “In Public” is a false qualification for the premise that “What one person does in a group reflects on everyone in the group.”

  11. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Jul 13th, 2007

    нас не догонят, Прокофы

  12. Kerian

    Jul 18th, 2007

    Hey I got name dropped. Neat

  13. bryan campen

    Jul 18th, 2007

    dude you are dressed as bulgakov

  14. dick burns

    Jul 21st, 2007

    KIllyou Yifu is an open account that PN uses to train newcomers. all of the 736 members of PN have the password and theres no telling who is using that account at any given time. there are at least 40-50 open accounts like this one and the griefer known as “prokofysucksballs” is keeping busy creating new accounts like these.

    as of yet i cannot confirm whether prokofy actually sucks balls or not… more to come.

  15. Katerina Qinan

    Jul 21st, 2007

    All this talk of protecting a virtual reputation is hilarious. Worrying about one’s reputation is Pride, pure and simple. Bad enough that people destroy their lives and relationships in RL trying to uphold something that doesn’t exist, now there’s this ridiculous, puffed up, narcissistic article about how to protect it in the virtual world.

    Next we’ll hear about how to protect one’s virtual dignity.

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