Op/Ed: Should We All Spy On Each Other?

by Pixeleen Mistral on 10/07/07 at 8:09 am

Guilt by association creates a world of spies

by Jessica Holyoke

HeadReading the articles about the Woodbury situation and the actions and the reactions, makes me look around the real world and second life, sit back and ponder.

I do support the underdog, the person who doesn’t have the ability to fight back. In this community, it seems to be the members of the Woodbury University group. Someone asked me why I don’t support the government, or the Man, in this case. Beyond determining for myself who’s side I fight for, I wonder why the government, as in the Lindens, in this case needs my help. The Lindens have all the power.

And in this case, the members of Woodbury University can never be clear of the accusations made against them. If they don’t take part in the actual griefing, they are either part of the conspiracy and providing material support or they are alts, and their other identities are committing the griefing. If an innocent resident doesn’t leave the group, that resident is guilty of griefing. If an innocent resident doesn’t boot griefers, even if they don’t have that ability, then they are guilty of griefing.

At the same time, I look at certain facts. Anonamoose Letlow created a “Fire Prok” sign on June 30th, after the account was created June 23rd. With only two groups on their profile, the facts point to that being an alt of someone else. I can’t say that it was any one person in particular, but it does look like somebody’s alt. That can mean that an alt was created by someone for griefing or it could mean that a resident can’t create anything anymore without being accused of griefing and they need the anonymity in order to protest.

Then I look back at Tizzers Foxchase, someone accused of griefing, with one instance given that she crashed the SLB4 sim. But she’s still on the grid. She is still taking part in Second Life. I also look at Janelle Kyomoon, someone accused of griefing, not because she created scripts or objects, but she is supporting her own experience of Woodbury University.

How does a reasonable group go about policing their members?

Look at what is being asked of us, the other residents, in SL. Many feel that the Woodbury University group was infiltrated by griefers. Over 50% in a recent poll number on Second Thoughts reported that it was an educational group infiltrated by griefers. Somehow, we have come to the conclusion that it was the group member’s responsibility to police the group from griefing residents. The question becomes how. The main resource a normal resident of SL has of wrongful activity is the Police Blotter. The blotter does not report specific actions or the names of the avatars involved. So how does a reasonable group go about policing their members?

Then it could be said that it’s not the non-land groups that should be responsible, but the land groups that are responsible for policing their members. After all, they would have access to land, the land can be monitored and controlled, and you, as the group, must ensure that the land is not being used to harm others, either through the testing of scripts or the creation of harassing material. You can’t rely on the Police Blotter, because the names are not known. And you can’t rely on the victims to report it because they may feel that abuse reporting the incident to the Lindens is enough. You can’t rely on the word of the resident, because they could be lying or an alt. The only option left is to spy on the members of your own group, to make sure they are not using the land in a manner that would reflect badly on you.

Residents are being asked to spy on their friends and associates in order to make sure they are not breaking the law

And that is why this is problematic. If one views SL as a game, then a new rule for the game is that you must monitor all those around you, friends and associates, plus other group members you may not have ever met before, for griefing activity or else you will find yourself accused of griefing, banned from locations and eventually driven out of SL and forced to either leave or start fresh. If one views SL as another version of the RW, then residents are being asked to spy on their friends and associates in order to make sure they are not breaking the law. And if they are, you must break off all contact with them, either by you leaving or making them leave, or else you will be punished yourself for your friend’s actions.

At this point, the griefing conspiracy concept should be addressed again. If Janelle innocently joined the Woodbury group, and it was a griefer conspiracy, what should she have done? Everyone says she should have left the group. But based on what? Based on web sites she may not have read? Based on Police Blotters that don’t reveal names? If she innocently joined the group and didn’t observe what else was going on, how is she culpable?

What happens to the next group that the griefers infiltrate? Is everyone now supposed to be on guard against griefers, to the extent of sharing names and banning everyone they can? Should everyone take time out of what they are doing to patrol and police the grid?

Is banning someone based on association proper?

This points me back to the Lindens. I know why the Lindens are pushing the responsibility of the game onto the residents. I see that they are trying to limit their own liability for what residents are doing by saying that it’s the landowner’s responsibility. I also understand that as the grid grows, there just isn’t enough resources for a full patrol presence of the Lindens. But they are the ones with the most control and power in this situation, and they are trying to pass responsibility to people with less control. And if abuse reports go to the private estate owners, that doesn’t mean that the abuse report is shared across the grid. It means it goes to that particular estate owner based on location.

I also look at the general point of SL. If SL is the new Web and the new way to communicate and share information, is banning someone based on association proper? Or even general banning proper? Because I can imagine a world wide web, where if I posted something harassing on one comment board, and then being blocked from viewing any other website on the web because of it. If that feels right to the majority of residents, then by all means, but banning a resident based on one action on one section over an entire grid, seems against the point of a new form of communication.

Finally, to the reporters who report griefing. With the independent reports, residents have a chance to comply with what is being asked of them. The reporting should not be discouraged, so long as the facts are in order and corroborated. Because the consequences of being wrong is tremendous and the accusation goes beyond just the resident themselves, but everyone else that resident knows .

63 Responses to “Op/Ed: Should We All Spy On Each Other?”

  1. Reality

    Jul 12th, 2007

    “it’s a safe bet that”

    You have no clue what you are talking about Dearie.

  2. Maklin Deckard

    Jul 12th, 2007

    “My main point, and I guess it could be my fault that it isn’t clear, is that I’m concerned about how the non-landowning resident will be treated in the future. This isn’t about Woodbury right now, even if it started the controversy.” – Jessica Holyoke

    $9.95 a month to be a landowner, even less if you rent and buy lindens. PLEASE do not give me that ‘some people cannot afford it’ line of BS that comes up here often. SL requires a fair to above average PC ($$$$) and an internet connection ($$$$). If a person chooses not to rent or own (staying in this artifically created by you landless class you choose to champion), that is their CHOICE….they are not poor, uneducated and downtrodden third worlders in need of a champion that you make them out to be. I’m fairly liberal politically, but you worldview is so far left of left even *I* lack tolerance for it.

    “You say that avatar radar will detect presense. That’s great if you are a landowner. You say prim litter will show you who has left objects behind. That’s great if you are landowner. You say the Lindens have all the records and logs. That’s great if you are a Linden. But these things are not shared with the residents at large who don’t pay tier.” – Jessica Holyoke

    Are you REALLY this clueless?

    * Avatar Radar? available as HUD’s, you don’t have to be a landowner to wear a hug.
    * Prim litter? right click prim, edit, first tab…see that creator? See the owner? You DON’T have to own land to see what jerkoff is littering it. This is week one newb building, not rocket science.
    * Linden logs? Just like the rest of the universe of private companies (your ISP, telco, cable, MMORPG companies) you are NOT getting this info, so this is a non-issue.

    You sound like one of those ‘crusading lawyers’ that invariably pick the worst possible cases and go all holy and indignant about them, blaming ‘society’ for cracking down on scum and scum enablers. Frankly, I’ve banned as many landowners as non from my land…it doesn’t matter to me if they are from your mythical upper tier landowner class or your equally mythical poor, ignorant and abused landless class….their actions, and the actions of who they associate with, are what matters. Quit trying to lawyer this into a class-based ‘rich vs poor’ and ‘landowner vs landless’ problem…its strictly ‘considerate players that leave others alone and want to receive the same courtesy vs griefing scum and their enablers from retard honeypot forums on the net’.

  3. Jessica Holyoke

    Jul 12th, 2007

    Actually the /b/ comment was poorly written.

    Except for your writings, I would not have known that /b/ existed, or that /b/ constituted a griefing problem. What you are writing is not common knowledge to everyone on the grid. And even if you write about it on the Herald, while I do love it here, that doesn’t make it common knowledge.

    And also, should the clueless dweeb be punished for the actions of others? How should they go about finding out about the other members…or I don’t know how….

  4. Jessica Holyoke

    Jul 12th, 2007

    to Maklin,

    I’m not excusing actions. I’m partially questioning if being in a SL group is the same thing as associating. And if you are in a large group and your actions are being judged by the actions of someone you’ve never even met, then how is that fair without more information being available?

    And you seem to be suffering from Prokitis a bit. How is having HUD avatar radar helping you to determine what people are doing when you are not around?

  5. Jessica Holyoke

    Jul 12th, 2007

    How about this?

    Does anyone *DISAGREE* with the notion that the Police blotter should list a resident’s name, known alts and what they did in order to get banned or booted?

  6. Prokofy Neva

    Jul 12th, 2007

    What Maklin said. It’s all about personal accountability, and accountability to something higher than one’s own whims, to the rule of law.

    People invited to the Woodbury group — INVITED TO the Woodbury group — aren’t being invited to SEXYCLUBSPLODERSCAMPCLUB which has 4,120 members and everybody’s a winner. This a group in which some of the avatars leading it are are all in blackface, essentially, that is, they are either sporting the 70s big Afro look as avatars or as pictures in their profile, even if they are white in RL. And while hey, it’s Second Life, this *particular* choice with the posters and “Pool’s out” signs in the backgrounds are *markers, signs, insignia* of the b/tards. In that sense, it’s like the Crips and the Bloods. If you had never heard of the b/tards, you’d still find it troubling and racist — it wouldn’t be your first choice of a group to join.

    Jaynelle may have been clueless about this — but I doubt it. If you are looking to learn how to make clothing in SL, there are a gadzillion other sims, events, classes, activities. You wouldn’t pick *this*. You’d only pick this if you gravitated to the culture of the b/tards and either had prior knowledge of them or thought they were “cool”.

    When you go to the sim and see the dumb hello kitty, Nazi, and wierd avatars and the constant shooting and particling you might say, “Hm, now this doesn’t see like the sewing circle I thought it was”.

    Yes, Jessica is trying to lawyer her way into making the unacceptable acceptable, not by rule of law by by ideological revolutionary zeal. And that’s why I find I strenuously object, because it’s indefensible.

    The record amply shows, from avatar radar, from just your own human eyeballs, from chatlogs — and obviously the Lindens have all this — how Tizzers over and over and over again joins the Ravenglass group; tries to rent; comes to the office; flies around on recon missions; annoys tenants. This isn’t innocent; she isn’t injured.

    You’d have to ask: but why join the tenants’ group of a columnist you hate on the Herald? Only to annoy. If you were expelled the first time, because you weren’t renting, and it was discovered what you were up to and which groups you were with, *and you joined again* — one time, two times, six times doing that — that’s abuse, that IS harassment. It doesn’t matter if the group is open; it’s open on principle for the convenience and freedom of legitimate tenants who are 99.9 percent of the tenants.

    If, after being expelled repeatedly, you keep renting, or have your little boyfriends or girlfriends rent, and then begin griefing escapades with fake cries for help to come remove griefers (that’s what Runny Panacek/Hazim Gazov did), then obviously the landlord documents it, he says, you know, this isn’t just people exercising their freedom to rent in an open rentals, it’s people coming to break the place and disturb everyone with particles, shooting, textures of Jellowned, etc.

    What Jessica refuses to acknowledge is that after *more than a year* of this behaviour *from these same people* — with week after week of them doing the same thing with a very, very, very standardize M.O. of harassment, hey, you can conclude: my God, this is deliberate! Hey, this isn’t an accident! wow, this is a conspiracy.

    Because normal griefers, so to speak — script kiddies who fly around and shoot and cage people — usually make an attack or two, then they stop — both they and their targets are bored, and they either find something better to do in SL or find new targets. They don’t repeat.

    THESE people have devised a standard menu of behaviour that they repeat over and over again like a mantra, deliberately, both to let you know that they *are* deliberate and a conspiracy and that they *are* going to keep lying about it, and getting off the hook.

    So when the latest alt KILLyou Yifu materializes and sends the latest JOIN ME IN BAKU last night, a frequent technique, that’s the signal that a) this is W-hat territory, and is connected to W-hat even though they will vigorously deny it up and down and say, but anybody could invade and send TPS and we don’t even like these people (a lie if you read their website) b) this is the latest Hazim or whatever alt who will harass by constantly sending “JOIN ME” invitations (Tizzers and Intlibber also stoop to this low level of petty harassment, repeatedly sending me JOIN invitations to fill up the screen, and hope that in the process of clicking on a lot of transactions, that I might click on their dumb forceport.

    If this happened to Jessica by a group she didn’t like, say, the Holy Roller Bible Society, where they constantly stalked her, sent her TPs to their strongholds, sent cards with propaganda, passed puppets of her to her inventory, rented on her rentals, joined her groups, flew around tracking her friends or tenants — she’d grasp that, OMG, this is planned harassment, designed to look like “nothing”.

    If you assiduously document this petty, recurring harassment, and the Lindens start to see an avatar who piles up dozens of these incidents or has multiple targets, that’s grounds for banning or even entire removal of the alt; it’s understood then that it’s an alt that has returned to continue griefing.

    So for Janelle to immediately join in on a templated, practiced, recurring, repetitive griefing M.O.s in between her um sewing classes is an obvious marker.

    What Jessica is denying is that markers like this are legitimate to monitor and take action on, and surely not “guilt by association”. Indeed, after an alt sends you JOIN ME IN BAKU, the Plastic Duck Edutainment object, shows up trying to rent or fly around the office, you’d have to be nuts not to ban him from all the usual haunts.

    When somebody like Tizzers joins a group to harass a dozen times; comes on land and is banned and keeps flying around trying to find a new parcel to land on from where she isn’t banned yet, she’s a griefer.

    Normal people who aren’t griefer, who are college administrators, trying ostensibly to keep griefers out, don’t arrive on your sim on a broomstick, and flit from one parcel to the next as you ban them from one after another. This is the typical behaviour pattern of a griefer; even Jessica would be forced to acknowledge it once the facts were laid out.

    I’m done trying to speak sense to Jessica, or to make indirect points over her head, to those who might find her arguments persuasive. Maklin has summed this up; she’s not in good faith. Lawyering is a weapon in fervent ideological hands here, furthering a sectarian agenda. Continuing to reply to her remarks only legitimizes that sectarian agenda.

  7. Prokofy Neva

    Jul 12th, 2007

    Absolutely. And the fact that Jessica, even with her leftoid ideology, hasn't through through the ramifications of publishing only the perps lets us know that she isn't consistent even with her own set of beliefs.

    And I'm surprised that Ms. Defender-of-the-Downtrodden would stoop to this awful Linden and FIC methodology of putting people in the stocks and humiliating them -- which is what happens in a situation where there is no appeal or recourse and when the process is so global and so untransparent.

    The only legitimate naming of names on the official Linden blotter would have to include not only the perpetrator, but the abuse reporter and the prosecuting Linden. If we see the same abuse reporter constantly nailing people and sending them to their doom, we can see a pattern and cry foul. The idea that you can't publicize the names of abuse reporters because you can't protect them from retaliation comes straight out of gangland and mafialand, and Prosecutor "Clean Hands" could tell you a thing or two about that mentality. If the Lindens can't protect the population who abuse reports from retaliation, they don't have a world, they are doing it all wrong. They don't have an effective way then to deal with alts. I don't get why I, when I want to make an alt for a literary idea or for an interesting group idea, when I see an intriguing last name, can't make an alt because it tells me the system has found I have too many accounts and they reserve the right to limit me (!) yet Borkn Partch/Cutten Paster/Hazim Gazov/Runny Panacek etc can change alts like a glove.

    It's because I give real ID info and a credit card and he doesn't. So if the Lindens can't protect the population sufficiently, I guess they'll have to end the anonymous free accounts, and require more identification and verification.

    That's the solution -- not making frequent ARs fanboyz who themselves abuse the system anonymous. If you are going to send someone to the ban list or permaban, then you shouldn't get to do that anonymously. Nor should Lindens making decisions be anonymous either, as they are biased and have their resident networks too. Only transparency and accountability of all those in the process can work.

    In my own police blotter, I'm forced to put only names, as tenants simply refuse to put their own names and don't feel either I or the Lindens can protect them from harassment. But I put the place accurately, not "Liasonland". And of course my name is on it, and I've personally come to look at the griefing cube etc. and am a witness. And because it's a local blotter, where neighbours know each other, it simply has more access and accountability. All justice is best when it is local, and not globalized into abstractions. The police blotter in a local newspaper usually has NO names, and only describes place, age, crime, police action; but everyone knows that it was the drycleaner who was mugged by the lady's no-good son -- a police blotter in a local community has a very, very different role than what the Lindens try to do with it for the millions.

    I put names because only naming and shaming works to stop particularly one egregious abuse -- trespassing and sexually harassing people. And if I have Tizzers flying around setting up griefing parties and raids, tenants need to know she is doing that and ban her if they wish or understand that she's a provocateur if she flies into their sim.

    I can make the decision not to publish names which I sometimes do when I can verify the tenants' claim of trespassing was correct,i.e. discover that the person they think is a "griefer" stalking them in their home is merely the previous tenant who still had the place set to home and merely happened to log on insider their house by default.

    I'd much rather have a system where all names are named. This is a half-way house. But the Lindens should NOT create such a half-way house because in the Lindens case, the abuse reporters and prosecutors are kept hidden, but the perpetrator's name gets huge publicity so that every sandbox shooter who looked at a Linden cross-eyed gets mega banned across the entire sim, unable to shop, rent, or move down the road in some areas. Jessica, crusader for the underdog, should be caring about that problem more.

    That she does not is one more proof of her bad faith and ill will on this topic, and it makes her an unacceptable interlocutor. I hope to have more public discussions on this in SL, but griefers aren't welcome -- nor is Jessica, who is not acting in good faith but merely trying to be obnoxious and provocative. If the editors of the Herald think you achieve balance on this issue by giving her a pulpit, they are dragging down the quality of the discourse.

  8. Kryss Wanweird

    Jul 12th, 2007

    “Does anyone *DISAGREE* with the notion that the Police blotter should list a resident’s name, known alts and what they did in order to get banned or booted?”

    I bet Linden Labs would strongly disagree. Remember, this is about business between residents and LL. Even if a resident is temporarily banned or gets a warning from LL, it is still a customer. So, we are left again with the boring question: would giving more information on the police blotter about the incident (name, etc) aggregate value to the business?

    I’d say, not at all. First, because you don’t expose your customer to any situation where he could feel embarrassed, humiliated or furious. It would also exponentially increase the whining. And finally, landowners could simply ban every avatar that showed up in the police blotter.

    But I noticed you didn’t include groups in the information you consider should appear in the PB. Is there a specific reason or just a lapse of memory?

  9. Kryss Wanweird

    Jul 12th, 2007

    “Does anyone *DISAGREE* with the notion that the Police blotter should list a resident’s name, known alts and what they did in order to get banned or booted?”

    I bet Linden Labs would strongly disagree. Remember, this is about business between residents and LL. Even if a resident is temporarily banned or gets a warning from LL, it is still a customer. So, we are left again with the boring question: would giving more information on the police blotter about the incident (name, etc) aggregate value to the business?

    I’d say, not at all. First, because you don’t expose your customer to any situation where he could feel embarrassed, humiliated or furious. It would also exponentially increase the whining. And finally, landowners could simply ban every avatar that showed up in the police blotter.

    But I noticed you didn’t include groups in the information you consider should appear in the PB. Is there a specific reason or just a lapse of memory?

  10. Jessica Holyoke

    Jul 12th, 2007

    To Kryss,

    Its not a lapse of memory as to not putting the groups on the police blotter. Most importantly, because I’m arguing against guilt by association. But realistically, if you a resident has a duty to make sure that they are not in a group with a griefer, than at least you can search your own groups for a name.

    I’m not keen on posting the name of the griefer and their alts. But let’s look at Tizzer’s again. Accused of crashing the SL4B sim, she stated that she was banned at the time. Other commenters stated that it was her alt that crashed the SL4B sim. With the suggestion I made, that “you’re guilty Tizzers, even if it wasn’t Tizzers that did it, but I know it was you” accusation wouldn’t fly.

    And I’m not sure what I exactly did to Prok to make me unwelcome at any further discussion in SL, but maybe he just can’t handle someone that can stand up to him with the slightest bit of maturity. Of course, I would take his accusations more seriously if he honestly answered the question I have been asking this entire time, how can a non-landowning resident know if they are in a group associated with griefing if they are not witnessing the actual griefing? He mentions that if they are on the land and the images are bothersome that’s their clue. But that doesn’t help a resident if griefers are on other people’s land doing the griefing.

    Prok, perhaps you should be aware that you have been lowering the discourse here long before this topic came up.

  11. Jessica Holyoke

    Jul 12th, 2007

    Whoa there Prok, you’re calling me stupid with “making points over my head?” Wow, you sure showed me.

    But again, if you have all this “proof” why didn’t you lay it out in the first place? I’m not against “proof” you just rarely use it. Everyone is supposed to just follow your word because you say it. You just don’t like me because I don’t take your argument shifting, word throwing, lack of proof bullshit. I ask for proof, not your belief.

  12. Reality

    Jul 12th, 2007

    “But I noticed you didn’t include groups in the information you consider should appear in the PB. Is there a specific reason or just a lapse of memory?”

    I’ll answer that one:

    Based simply on what I have observed and heard about second hand, there are plenty of people in Second Life that would take this information and begin banning entire groups if even a single person from said group or groups was found to have been banned – no matter the reason.

    Such information has too great a potential to be abused.

  13. Kryss Wanweird

    Jul 13th, 2007

    Hey Jessica,

    I guess all that is needed now is action, allow me a suggestion.

    Maybe you are already familiar with JIRA. If not, please care to take a look at http://jira.secondlife.com

    From JIRA, you can input a request for a new “feature” in the Project Second Life Website managed by Rob Linden. You will need to describe the problem in an objective way, and solution (include name, known alts, extendend description of incident to the police blotter records).

    Users can vote on the relevance of issues, and the most voted are usually resolved first.

    The site is well documented with faq and wiki, but iI’ll be glad to help if you need any.

    By formally entering your request on JIRA, you can be sure to get feedback from LL.

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