Monday, April 27, 2009

your dreams are here to drown you

Grady Vuckovic again:

Just make a simple start, list the possible variations of being naked in public and which ones of them are considered adult. Then move onto sex and [violence], and the other issues. They don't need to listen to what we want if they don't want to, but they could let us suggest specific cases and let them answer them each. Because they will have to do so anyway when they bring in these changes, because they will need a specific list of what's adult and what's not in order to know who to kick out of mainland.

This is not the worst idea, here. If any of the Lindens do happen to read this? This is a good idea. This isn't your residents trying to lock you down to specifics, this is your residents trying to figure out where your starting points are.

Look, already, from everything I've read in the forums, on blogs and discussed in person, I think most of us already consider these things to be "Adult" in terms of public expression:

* beheading (possibly even within historical context, id est a guillotine display: that would be a Linden call)
* fully nude penetrative sex in public (between any combination of avatars--at that point, it doesn't matter if it's a child form, an adult form, a cluster of tentacles or a spotted monkey)
* explicit wounding (for example: being stabbed, where the animations would let one face show fear and pain, and the other's knife would spurt particle blood)
* explicit sexual descriptions in public (via text to start with, though I would love to have a ruling against vocal sexual descriptions in public, because damn, that gets annoying--and I'm talking typed-out text that should be in IMs, as well as fonts of green spam from Xcite toys and the like)
* vore (soft or hard, doesn't matter, I think it's "Adult" either way)
* gynophagia (Otenth, don't look that one up either--and I'd actually expand that to any graphic depiction of cannibalism, female victims or not)

It can be done--identify your worst offenders first--have that be your baseline for what is absolutely adult. Then work on the grey areas, but at least you'll be able to release something, even if you say you're going to revise it later.

If a club is going to have to move they need to know now, so they don't start building major extensions to their club and instead can start working at packing things up and taking copies of the buildings.

Exactly; and keep in mind, because not everyone reads the blog or the forums--sadly, tragically, even on the grid not everyone reads--there are still club owners who haven't heard about this issue. At all. Putting out bottom-line guidelines would at least get the word out there in the adult community, on what is most likely to be shipped off to Pervistan.

(By the way, Grady's got three simple polls up. They don't have a lot of votes yet, and like as not, the Lindens could care less about them, but it'd be nice to get a reasonable consensus.

Agnetha Vuckovic brings up another intriguing idea:


A simple idea. When a person joins SL, they are given a simple range of questions that obtain their acceptance level of mature and adult things. No need to make it complex. Based on the answers.....that resident is then given a one letter tag...which they can display or hide, up to them.

Now the [PURPOSE] of this tag [is] simple. It allows those running adult sims ( no need in this method to create a new adult flag for sims ) to automatically bar anyone whose tag effectively says 'I cannot cope with adult themes'. Such a person simply would not be able to enter such a site in the first place. There would be NO danger of anyone 'accidentally' entering such a site.

This all shifts the policing of things to individual responsibility......rather than Lindens and adult theme sites having to make complex ( and unwanted ) changes. Anyone not having the appropriate tag would have no excuse if they saw adult content in a site set up to exclude the 'sensitive'.

The big problem I see with this? Those two damning words, individual responsibility...because, everywhere else in the wider world, those words mean something, and apparently in America? It's the thing we seem not to want in any way, shape or form (except to complain when rights we voted away actually go away).

Barring that, though, this is brilliant. Put the onus on the user of the service. If X and Y bother you, then you are tagged one way; if X and Y don't bother you, but Z does, you're tagged one way; if you're pretty much fearful of the whole alphabet, you get a third tag.

Then a simple filter added to parcel owners' and estate owners' tool sets would trim off everyone with that certain tag--and I'd even go so far to say it doesn't ever need to be seen, it could even be coded in for that avatar in their UUID key.

The problem, how'ver, is--what if that avatar changes? What if, say, they come onto the grid being a sweet Christian housewife, and, over the course of her time on the grid, is now living in Gor as a Panther and a slaver? (Don't laugh, I'm talking about someone on my friendslist.) How do you then change that tag?

Maybe, once a year, everyone gets to re-take the test, or be slotted into PG areas only. That should be incentive enough to keep people taking the quiz...

Darkmoon Choche makes some damned good points, but (as usual, trimmed for space) these were the highlights:

3) If you want to close the teen grid, please close it and be done with it. SL was [conceived] as a place for adults, not children. I for one resent the idea of having children forced onto the adult population of SL. It is not child safe, was never meant to be child safe, and given the current state of things likely can never be made child safe. There seems to be an ongoing effort in this country on the part of some folks to make the world safe for 5 year olds, I for one am sick of that trend.

Me too.

Lindal Kidd tries to reason with the Lindens:

You lost a fifth of your world just by taking away the popular OpenSpace sims and turning them into an overpriced, underperforming product. About 5,000 sims vanished from the grid.

This change affects another 4,000 or so sims...the entire mainland...directly. It ALSO affects some large but indeterminate number of private estates. We've heard from some island owners, worried about having to flag mixed content islands or change their builds, right here.

I think you still have no idea of the damage this is going to do to Second Life, and to your own bottom line. You really, really, should start doing some in-depth analysis here.

I don't think it'll work, and the point's been made before. But we'll see.

Jesu Forager links a talk by Barry Schwartz on the value of practical wisdom in a technological world. It's well worth watching as the debate continues.

A quote: "And what happens is that, as we turn increasingly to rules, rules and incentives may make things better in the short run, but they create a downward spiral that makes them worse in the long run. Moral skill is chipped away by an over-reliance on rules, that deprives us of the opportunity to improvise and learn from our improvisations. And moral will is undermined by an incessant appeal to incentives that destroy our desire to do the right thing. And, without intending it, by appealing to rules and incentives, we are engaging in a war on wisdom."

That's a really good thing to remember.

Mystique Chambers brings it around to simple business logic again:

Do keep in mind everyone. This move to Adult land, as much as I am against it, isn't about skins for sale. Merchandise for sale such as skins, beds with sex poses, BDSM furniture for sale..etc is not going to be classified as "Adult". Linden labs has already told us this didn't have to do with any of this.

Adult ..or the forcing to move to Adult land are clubs that offer sex for lindens. It's going to be public open sexual gratification. It's going to be bloody harsh body mutilations. The worst of violence.

Put in this light--and it's absolutely the potentiality I was thinking on in yesterday's post--Ursula? Will be nightmare-inducing. The shops will sell organ-removal kits and autopsy skins. Bodies will rot in the streets festooned with particle flies. Damage will be enabled everywhere. Half of the population, wounded and weeping (by choice) will cower in fear from the other half, aggressively pierced and heavily armed. There will be public executions and rape in the streets (again, all...consensual...which removes the point, I guess...)

Man, anyone who likes horror films will fit right in.

Seriously, now, if that is all the Lindens, realistically, are thinking of moving--well, good gods, that is about 5% of content!

But now we flip the coin. Because strangely, many of the heavy violent/sexual content places aren't what the easily offended think of when they think of violent or pornographic content. And if we're truly talking extreme, we aren't talking:

* strip clubs
* brothels that don't offer public sex
* skin stores
* latex stores
* sex bed retailers
* BDSM furniture stores--at least those with non-lethal equipment
* SL nude beaches
* lingerie stores
* animation shops
* Mystical Cookie's store, and every other store carrying another iteration of the Mystitool gadget
* aubreTEC's store, and every other store carrying weaponry that doesn't cause avatars to explode

just as a start. I'm positive there's more on that list that likely, then, won't move.

If that's accurate, if the Lindens are moving towards only the extreme end of the spectrum, only the content that even seasoned sexual athletes, even experienced survivors of war and horror games, would take a step back from...well, I mentioned the nightmare angle already, didn't I?

I can't believe it's taken until now for this to sink in--if Miss Chambers is right, and Blondin's been misleading us on precisely what they're going to cut, then--most of the grid? Has nothing to worry about, in terms of moving.

But from a cultural and sociological standpoint...I think we'll then have far darker things to worry about. Because it will be like taking a gleaming, fresh, beautiful new land, and populating it with scorpions, puff adders and sharks. And they'll be closer to each other. They won't get better, they'll get worse...and more inventive...and more angry...

The businesses that won't just fail? That manage to pull through? They'll evolve...

Miss Chambers goes on:

My concern is if I am forced to leave will my clothing store be forced to go as well?

And that's another whole can of maggots we'd be opening--because some businesses? They aren't all one thing or the other. And she's genuinely wondering what she's to do now--does she pack up her furniture store, her clothing store, her tattoo parlor, and her brothel/nightclub and move everything to Pornotopia? Or would she just have to move the brothel? Or would she have to move at all?

In the meantime, she says:

I've already placed all my spending on hold. I've even considered canceling all advertisement because I worry it's all coming to an end and I might as well start saving every linden I can make..

And that is happening all over the grid now; people who have heard are scared, and they've stopped spending anything, or, at the other end of the spectrum, they've already cancelled their accounts and are selling off their parcels. And getting out of SL entirely.

Sindy Tsure drags us back to the contested shores of SL5B, briefly:

My neighbor (who founded this area before I even joined SL) has a giant golden statue, maybe 50m tall, of a naked female. She added.. er.. extra bits.. to it to fit the theme. Realistic? No - it's about 5 prims of extra bits. Obvious anyway? Yep. This statue has been there since about June 2006, when the region got added to the mainland.

She's talking about a transgendered support area, that also has a nightclub, and some places to have sex. Transgendered people in SL tend to do one of two things, depending on their comfort levels: either appear as their chosen gender, start to finish, or appear as who they actually are, in the world beyond. So if one were a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual, for instance, in the second case one would appear with breasts, and a penis, which then might or might not disappear once surgery outside SL were complete.

About 6 months ago, we got a visit from the gteam which resulted in official warnings and the extra bits being returned. The ginormous statue of a nekkid woman was fine but somebody apparently didn't like the extra bits. My neighbor put up some megaprim walls around this area so the neighbors couldn't see us as easily and put the bits back on. End of story (I guess.. the gteam isn't exactly open about this stuff - maybe we're still getting AR'ed every day.. who knows?)

And this is what kills me about people. Gigantic nude statue of a female: fine, unless one is at SL5B. Gigantic statue of a female at SL5B: bad, had to be taken down, nipples erased, covered up.

Apparently, giant statue of a female with a prim penis? Can't be seen, good gods, people are fainting in the street. Tch.

So.. Mature or adult:
- Giant nekkid woman?
- Giant nekkid man?
- Giant nekkid woman with extra bits?
- Giant 1000-prim copy of Michelangelo's David, done by Starax?

Yes, gigantic statue of a man, just fine. Gigantic display of a drawing of a naked man, just fine. A one-prim curved display of a similar painting, this one of a half-nude female, beyond the pale. Weirdly, it's the reverse of real life (US real life), where any and all female nudity is accepted, more or less (you know, unless it's a black nipple, or someone who dares to breastfeed in public), but the entire country freaks out if it's full frontal male nudity.

Ciaran Laval responds to Mystique Chambers:

There has been no consistency from the Lindens on the above issues. Some have suggested such stores will be considered adult, others have said they won't.

And Sindy Tsure responded to Ciaran with this:

And Jack, who owns the gteam and the mainland, apparently said that they're only talking about stuff like dismemberment, which is too extreme even for me..

Some rough guidelines would be really good here, LL. I'm also compelled to again ask for more details on how you got the 2-4% number without knowing if it includes places like skin stores or just snuff places..

Yeah. It'd be good to have a little consistency, wouldn't it?

Lindal Kidd noted a reply from another thread before posting:

But SL is a world of the mind and the emotions. As a result, I think repression, intolerance, and narrow mindedness are much greater evils here. And that is exactly the direction LL wants to take us.

A predictable Second Life is not just "not as much fun". It's the death of everything SL really means. LL is killing the dream that was SL and stuffing the corpse into a shiny coffin. It'll look good on display, but it won't be alive.

Not vital; not thriving; not evolving, changing, growing into something bigger, better, Just...frozen. In stasis. Dead. Unchanging. Diminishing day by day.

This is not the SL that so many of us signed onto and supported. Will it be an SL we can live with? Many of us still aren't sure, and it's that vague unease that's making us not want to spend in world, not want to carry premium accounts, not keep our parcels and our sims...which, in a small or large way, does impact Linden Labs' bottom line.

Lindal Kidd on page 217:

We've asked for a wider discussion. The fact is, very few people read these forums. We've asked LL to put this on the login screen. A vote, a survey, or even just a link to this discussion. Nothing.

Which is very interesting on its own--do the Lindens not want this to be public? Is it all just lip service so they can point to the (closed) threads later and say, "Hey, we tried to engage in dialogue, we gave you the opportunity"?

Mayhap they are that self-serving, but it's depressing in the extreme to think so.

Lillani Lowell:

If all adult content is to be packed into one common area, it means that as an adult provider, you are more likely to be seen by the people actually looking for adult content-- instead of having to advertise and spread yourself all over the grid, you only need to focus your efforts in one area, where you know your entire target audience will be.

[ ... ] Not only does it quarantine your target market, it also forces my competition to be verified adult content creators...... it will make it far more difficult for the million John Doe Alt Accounts to establish adult businesses ripping other people's products.

She's not wrong. (And if I'm remembering correctly, she also owns Mistress Knows Best.)

Matthew Dowd responds:

There is nothing in the proposal which limits adult land to only commercial activities - or says that you can't own adult land for non-adult purposes. Given we have already seen different Lindens with different views on what is adult (the very vague definition in the now withdrawn FAQ which seemed to cover all mature activities, Blondin's "overtly" sexual or violent in places intended for public use, and the latest "extreme" mature content), and we all know examples of one Linden saying something if fine, only for another Linden to uphold an AR against the same, there is the very real risk that people will buy locations on the adult content for private homes etc. just to be on the safe side.

He's not wrong, either; there's a very real chance that Pervistan will allow residential use, as well as commercial. Unless the whole continent is zoned commercial-only, I don't see a way to prevent it.

Around this time, Britain's Extreme Pornography law cropped up in conversation. Ciaran Laval answered the question of possible links between the Labs and the new law thusly:

Well we already have obscenity laws and that law is with regard to personal possession, if I walk into a parcel and someone presents before me an extreme image, I'm not guilty under that law as I had no way of avoiding it, if I pick it up, save to my inventory, save it to my PC, then i'm guilty.

That's not entirely true--the law, as I understand it, relates only to real life pictures. But the conversation moved on to the Berkman Internet Safety Technical Task Force:

The scope of the ISTTF’s inquiry is to consider those technologies that industry and end users can utilize to keep children safe on the Internet, with the bulk of the Task Force's attention concentrated on issues concerning contact: preventing harmful contact with adults, preventing harmful contact with other minors (including cyber bullying and sexual predation), and identity theft. As time allows, we will also address two content areas: preventing access to inappropriate content and preventing illegal content (such as child pornography). The solutions to be considered will include a broad range of technology tools and services. The Task Force recognizes also the importance of other solutions -– such as social norms, law, policy, and market factors –- and will situate technology-based solutions within the context of these other types of solutions.

So yet again, we're on another "must protect the children" kick. And this just in to pair with that. Ciaran Laval's blog post today goes more in-depth on the issue.

So I pulled up my profile, ducking briefly in world. I found, even now, in my very nearly domesticated profile (as I'm not escorting, nor even dancing in any venue at present), there were five words that would have negated people finding me using out-of-world search.

They are corrected now, but this is frightening. How many people are suddenly going to stop showing up at all? And will they get around to blocking in-world search for profiles with these terms, as well? Once client 1.23 goes much of what we do in world is going to change?

And Ciaran is right, just like the last time, when ageplay and Loli went on the censored list--all of those words became banned for discussion without the Labs ever letting us know. Irritating? Yes. Unnerving? Yes also.

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