Wednesday, June 18, 2008

once that wheel is in motion, don't you lose what you have found (part II)

At this point, reading through the comments, I thought I had most of the major concepts down--the Lindens are scrambling to escape the deluge of bad press, the residents are complaining because of Linden-traditional vague policy waffling, and the casual users and readers are wishing everyone a happy birthday and fun celebration.

Then came comment #83 from Everett Linden:

everettlinden Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 9:13 AM

@44 Shoshana–as I commented on your blog, I think the Fringe Festival is a fantastic idea! It will highlight the range of creativity and expression on SL, and I’m sure you will have no lack of supporters of land, art, and exhibits.

Thanks again for all your continued work on this year’s Art Exhibition.

Now, about my invite….? ;-)

Wau. I mean, wau. Talk about chutzpah. Or maybe even, outright ballsy arrogance. One almost has to stand back and be vaguely impressed.


Solomon Devoix responds again in comment #86:

Solomon Devoix Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 9:49 AM

everettlinden Says:

"I think the Fringe Festival is a fantastic idea! It will highlight the range of creativity and expression on SL, and I'm sure you will have no lack of supporters of land, art, and exhibits."

everett, given what you tried to keep out of this year’s celebration, I am firmly of the opinion that you have no business expecting to visit anything that would violate your precious "PG-that-is-cleaner-than-G" definition of a celebration. As in, "you made your bed, now lie in it."

everettlinden Says:
"Now, about my invite….?"

I tell you what. I'll personally create a celebration for you, in exchange for your dropping your revisionist bull, quoting your exclusionary post where you said exhibits from child avatars would be declined ("full stop", to borrow a Katt-ism) and just say why.

Oh.. and just for your information…

"Any non-straight answer will be respectfully declined."

Comment #95 from Ciaran Laval I also found succinct and to the point:

Ciaran Laval Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 11:12 AM

How on earth can PG only be as inclusive as possible? The mind boggles.

The fringe idea is a great idea, it’s a shame Linden Lab couldn’t be as forward thinking.

There are issues here whereby you’re undermining your own product by distancing yourself from certain innocent situations and you yourselves are taking the same, ludicrous attitude regarding kid av’s that leads to kid av’s being the victims of verbal abuse.

You should have shown some spine.

You also should have had a more adult area, adult doesn’t have to mean porn.


Still reading along, I had a moment of brain stun at comments #102 and #103, to wit:

Ceera Murakami Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 11:30 AM

To reiterate a point, G-rated pictures depicting avatars and their SL “Children” ARE being allowed now. I have two approved pics of that type in my exhibit. They did reverse that earlier “Policy”, even though they now deny that there ever realy was such a policy.

I would like to know if a pic of a child, properly dressed or in non-sexy PJ’s (like a wrist to ankle set of striped long-johns), and in what is clearly their own bedroom, would be allowed, if there was nothing at all sexually suggestive about the pic? For example, a little girl playing with toys in her own room? Or a Tiny anthro furry standing in her crib?

Or how about a mother tucking her daughter into bed for the night? Fully clothed parent, nothing suggestive or sexy. The sort of pic that could have appeared on any 50’s magazine cover, and no one would have batted an eye.

Are such images allowed, or is the ruling still “No images of a kid and a bed of any sort are allowed”? The revised wiki site that Meghan referred to doesn’t say.


Meghan Dench Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 11:37 AM

@ Ceera.

Images of Child Avs have been approved, lone images. Each pictures is reviewed first, I am not too sure about the mother tucking her child into bed, it would need to be reviewed. Images have been accepted though.

It doesn’t say on the wiki as each image is reviewed before it’s approved.

And whoa. Just goddamn whoa--"I am not too sure about the mother tucking her child into bed"?? What in the HELL...

Okay, seriously. Really. Run away from all the mania for a moment and think about this. Think about what she's really saying here. Break it down.

'I'm not sure a photograph, even non-sexualized in any way, of an adult woman putting to bed a young child, would be appropriate as there could be interpreted sexual content in such an image.'

THAT is what she's saying. Now, WHY IN THE HELL is she saying that?!?

In other words--no, sorry, can't show something like that, people might get the 'wrong idea'. So all parenting images are out, then? Every single one? Because certain people apparently can't see any adult/child interactions without having their brains flood with sexual imagery?

Guys. Really. It's called therapy, look into it. It might help.

And from there it just got worse.

Katt Linden complains about being called names; Deanna Wilson reinforces and clarifies; Solomon Devoix comments further on exactly what Katt Linden means when she says "ban"; Dusan Writer further reinforces that it's not "name-calling" when it's true.

Dusan Writer further stated in comment #121:

dusanwriter Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 12:59 PM

@ Meghan - I’m responding to Kat’s claim that and I quote:

“I realize that a number of confused rumors have gone around, but there is not and never was any “ban” on any group. It’s an exciting rumor, but it’s simply not true.”

There were no confused rumors. There were statements by staff members of Lindens and rejections of applications because of avatar types. I understand they were allowed later, but to make claim that there were a bunch of whispered rumors is false.

The community didn’t make this up, the Lindens did, and I pointed this out because I felt it was off-loading accountability for mismanagement to some sort of vague blogosphere rather than properly taking responsibility for their actions and missteps - something that I think is important in both managing a company and a community.

Daniel Regenbogen's comment (at position #133) is particularly telling:

danielregenbogen Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 2:02 PM

Katt, you are not saying the truth. You say there never was a ban - there WAS. Only after massive protests from all parts of the community, in forums and blogs, that ban was lifted. Kid avatars were BANNED from displaying their part of SL culture (in an event that was calling all cultures). There were NO questions asked about how their contribution would look like. There was not a single application turned down. It was a general rejection. “Nothing that displays the life of kid avatars in SL. Full Stop.” I’m quoting Robin Linden in her response to my mail to M Linden:


M Linden passed your concerns on to me about child avatars being excluded from the upcoming Birthday celebrations.

I want to be clear that child avatars are welcome to attend the celebrations, and we look forward to seeing you there. We believe a community sponsorship, however, is not in the best interest of the event or of Linden Lab, so we have to respectfully decline your participation at that level.

Best regards,

You know, Katt, what you are doing here, twisting words, is just another PR desaster. You insult the intelligence of your paying customers when you say that a general rejection is NO ban. This, in my eyes, is worse than the now revoked ban. That ban was simply a wrong decision while trying to do the right thing, to protect SL, and the pressure from the community (and as far as I know also from some inside the Lab) showed the decision makers that it was a wrong decision. What you are doing here is simply a shame.

Kids5B - Celebrating 5 years of Kid Avatars in Second Life

And Everett Linden chimes in just one comment down from Daniel's:

everettlinden Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 2:13 PM

@115 and @122 and others:
I am so glad to have a chance to answer this directly about my quote on Massively.

“Child avatars are welcome at the celebration. However, we do respectfully decline the submissions we received to create exhibits for the event.”

I explicitly welcomed child avatars. Therefore, it can’t be a ban.

We respectfully decline the submissions, not the submittors. Content and people are distinct.

No other groups are named, so connecting Goreans, Furries or any other groups to this statement is misplaced.

That said, I think I can see the problem. “…we received to create exhibits….” could imply the creators are included when we declined content. Not my intent. I’ve read that statement 20 times and didn’t see how that could be interpreted differently until today. Always learning.

So, if that’s the source of the confusion, let me amplify my two posts and Katt’s statements.

No ban = no ban. PG content. Everyone welcome. Enjoy.

Deanna Wilson takes issue with the picky semantics on the Linden side (which, frankly, she should); Daniel does not accept Everett's late recomplication of things; Solomon gets dizzy from the spin doctoring.

And so do I.

It's called personal responsibility, people. Have some. Admit you screwed up, move on. Don't try to throw more complications in the way, hoping we'll get distracted while you reinforce it never happened.

This is not now and never was about word choices; it was about actions. And all the tapdancing that Katt and Everett Linden are doing now to make it seem like it's all about the words is convincing none of us.

There may never have been a direct ban on child avatars. But there were content restrictions, to the point where it made things very difficult for child avatars to submit content appropriate under such restrictive (and recent to this year's builds) rules. And the same goes for other builds and other groups.

Regardless of what the Labs say about it.

Myself, I'm more looking forward to the fringe festival, and the SL kids' party. I may even decide to show up as a child, for that trip through...

In the end, Dusan Writer sums the whole thing up in a very succinct fashion, himself. Disheartening as hell, but there it is.

We'll see how much fallout there is from this--in terms of loss of faith and loss of trust--over the course of the next year. And me, I'm now very interested in seeing how the Labs will manage to cock up next year's celebration...


Rhianon Jameson said...

"And whoa. Just goddamn whoa--"I am not too sure about the mother tucking her child into bed"?? What in the HELL..."

Just think, Miss Orr - you and I always thought those Norman Rockwell paintings in the Saturday Evening Post were depicting innocent family life. I guess we now know better. :)

Emilly Orr said...

I think that's the thing that's just so stunning and infuriating about this--do these people even see the potential damage they're doing?

Yes, I realize, it is not the 'real world'. I realize that image matters more than the reality of the situation. I realize images have been misinterpreted in the past. I realize they're trying to avoid bad press.

But how does it foster any sort of good press to hide away an entire population? They're essentially wanting the grid at large to treat child avatars as if they exist in limbo--nameless, featureless, parentless--because to have parents would mean some might see those same children and adults in a sexualized light--and that? That is offensive to me, that type of thinking.