Saturday, May 23, 2009

only your eyes for a dime

The latest tempest in the teapot of SL is all about bots, camping, and traffic generation. I've tossed my hat into the comment ring, so have a lot of others, and while it's not quite so divisive as the adult content comment threads, there are surprising small peaks of viciousness now and again.

There seem to be emerging two basic fortifying positions:

1. Camping should be banned. All bots, all campers, they need to grow up and just buy Lindens like adults and get over it, start contributing to their society, goddamn it. The practice of an eternal number of alts parked in plank skyboxen above land parcels solely to generate artificial traffic numbers to boost that particular business' traffic rating--well, that's just wrong any way you look at it, and campers are leeches anyway, so just get rid of all of it. Dump it all and we'll only be left with the good people, the people who pay their own way, the upstanding adults.

2. Camping can be a valid way to earn Lindens when the people behind the screen cannot always afford to 'just buy Lindens'; it gives them that ability to earn their own funds, which they then (usually) use to give back to the community (by buying clothing, furnishings, homes or tipping other people) or back to the Lindens directly (in terms of premium account conversion, land tier and upload fees for photographs or textures). Why, camping is positively philanthropic; people need campers, and they need to be able to have campers, because without that, no newcomer can ever afford to start out in world and become a contributing member of SL society!

Now, philanthropy versus outright theft, that's damningly broad, and I will state formally that, while elegantly presented, Miss Ordinal Malaprop's treatise on the same subject I disagree with. For the record, the main points she got wrong were:

Ms Tateru Nino says "The most common camping rates I'm seeing at the moment are L$1/80 minutes" which conforms to the results of my amateur investigations; perhaps one might buy two frocks per month of non-stop camping with that.


And quite apart from the rewards, paying people to perform an unethical activity does not make that activity any more ethical.

For the first one: there are still places that pay L$1/5 minutes, or one Linden per time of specific activity (though I do grant you, these places are few and far between). For the second, if one is paying two hundred bots scattered across five sims, and those bots then funnel the money back into one's own coffers, thus removing any sort of gain for individuals: yes, then, that is broadly unethical.

Why, however, all the vitriol pointed towards real people who camp?

I admit, as a former camper (usually on the dance pads in Amsterdam, oh these many years ago), I don't understand the level of sheer unrelenting hatred pointed at those who camp. I did move on and move up from camping; I did go out onto the grid and find myself a job to make Lindens; I did begin renting, and thus the long process of basic job=complex job/simple parcel=several parcels--none of which would have happened had I not wanted what the grid offered and saw camping as the only way to achieve it.

But here's the rub, and it's a major, major factor: I never left my av unattended for long periods. I never logged in and went to bed. I never logged in and went to work. If I was on a dance pad, I was on a dance pad. End of story.

This? Is not the usual definition of camping. For most people, I might even go so far as to say nearly all avatars, this is exactly what they do: get up; log in; find a camp pad; go on with their lives.

And this is why camping opportunities diminished so drastically over the past two years. This is why those who make camping equipment have gotten so inventive with the restrictions: timed camping pads, activity camping pads (chat to gain Lindens, touch a box to gain Lindens, do not leave the area to gain Lindens, must be group only to gain Lindens).

But this is also why camping 'bots' are such a scourge--because by and large, people who set up massive numbers of bots aren't doing it to benefit anyone or anything beyond their own traffic ratings. So, okay, the Lindens say, this is a terrible practice, we want to stop it--fine, kill all bots. And let's kill camping while we're at it.

But then the comments started coming in. On what camping actually is. If item camping differs from money camping. If Lucky chairs and Mobvends count as gaming the system for traffic. If "traffic", itself, as a status and popularity measure for businesses, should be tossed aside as well.

Contrary to what the Lindens and others may believe, it isn't a simple issue. But it's being treated as one, and people are acting incredulous when others challenge their views.

Bots are always bad? What about store models? Paying people to model is always camping? What about people who work in world, are they also camping? Tip jars are camping. Oh, screw you all, that's how I make rent!

It's not a simple issue. And it's dropped into the midst of pre-existing adult content controversy. Change is necessary, change is vital...but too much change all at once? Hurts. Sometimes hurts a lot. And more than sometimes drives people away.

That's fine, we didn't need them anyway. Really? And how much of your economy goes away, Lindens, if every single person now camping--in good ways or bad--stops logging in and goes somewhere else to play? Wouldn't be World of Warcraft, because after all, they're a pay-to-play game, they've always been...but there's a lot of other games out there, now. More than when SL started.

I like this suggestion; unfort, that pretty much guarantees it won't be implemented. And is it just me, or does the avatar depicted in this press release Professor Oolon Sputnik?

Or a very close cousin...

Some more pics from Runes of Magic.


(At times, we are sent out to kill monsters. Often, they do not have descriptive names that seem to accurately apply. This one did.)


(The Forsaken Abbey is very very cool. It also has moments that are very Tim Burton. The railing as the stone bridge arches up towards Ghoul Central? Is one of them.)


(Legends have long told of The Box under the bridge. Residents have no idea what mysteries it contains, or why it is there. Nothing in the tales told, generation to generation, have prepared us for the odd primary-colored enigma it represents.

Seriously, we don't know what it does. There are a couple of them scattered across Taborea. We already know there's at least one demonic gateway open to the My Little Pony universe; maybe soon we'll be attacked by squat feral Italian plumbers who want our gold coins.)


(Sometimes, spells go awry. The barrier was supposed to stay down until my partner in crime got out from behind the ice wall. Oops.

(At least the ancient ice wolf is already dead...)


(We finally achieved high enough character levels to enter the Revivers' Corridor. We now understand why people hate it so. But good gods, it is pretty. The flame pattern on the horns? MOVES.)


(And an action shot. Talk about the right moment to snap the photograph--this one still makes me giggle.)

In the end, ultimately, what the Lindens want to happen will happen; we're only along for the ride. And the broad disconnect between the way Lindens think in bulk and how their residents react is deep, wide, and nigh impassible. Still and all, all we can do--pro or con--is keep raising our voices, trying desperately to be heard.

It's who we are. If we don't speak our hearts, we die. it better to speak, knowing no one's listening, or speak, thinking it will change their actions? No one can answer that one...

And I'll leave you with an old entry I just found on Beanie Canning's blog, that I think was trying to translate the Japanese-only instructions for a kimono texturing kit?

I would point your attention to paragraph two in the "Manual":

2, Tailoring
The product attached to the land, please edit the sandbox.
Heterosexual’s clothes to be created, the size difference between men and women wear the collar, and significantly shifted position. The position remains as to edit your opponent’s when I got to wear a regulation is good to us, I think. Shapes and skins of the opposite sex is used, the work might go smoothly.
Also, by Yukata kimono or “flip-flops Japanese socks clogs decorative collar collar” and thus please.
Here, each about how to.

Oooookay, then. Good to...know?


Anonymous said...

I challenge Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to spend the obscene reserves held by their 'Jolie-Pitt' Foundation on legitimate efficient 'humanitarian' work or turn the funds over to others who will. To date, they have taken in $22,000,000 on the sale of baby photos alone, another 6 or 7 figures from other sources, and spent or granted only a fraction of that on 'humanitarian' work or 'good will' of any kind. The rest so far, has been spent on PR campaigns, plane rides, and super-high end accomodations for Brad and Angie in exotic locations around the world. I challenge them to operate with a reasonable overhead, open their books to prove it, get over themselves, and get their 'foundation' worthy of a decent rating by an independent watchdog like Otherwise, to stop selling baby photos for their own 'charity' and stop seeking publicity for donations made in their own name to their own foundation/travel/PR firm within a week of their latest film or DVD release. I challenge Brad Pitt to do the same with his 'Make it right' Foundation. Which to date, has not been given a decent rating by ANY independent charity watchdog. Otherwise, to stop competing with 'Habitat for Humanity' for PR, credit, and funding. Who by the way have been building homes for the less fortunate in every major city including New Orleans for decades. 'Habitat for Humanity' has been 'Top Rated' for years by and others. They operate with a low overhead, volunteer workforce, and donated materials. No similar effort can match their progress hour for hour or dollar for dollar. Unlike 'Make it right', the homes built by 'Habitat' don't sit vacant. They don't exclude by cost, lower income families. They are allocated and built specifically for the less fortunate who take part in the building process and move in immediately upon completion. 'Habitat' works in every major city including New Orleans. It puts 'Make it right' to shame. In fact, hundreds of legitimate charities have been given good-excellent ratings by and other independent watchdog groups. By contrast, the vast, overwhelming majority of celebrity 'foundations' have been rated poorly, fair, or not rated at all. They are inefficient, corrupt, focus heavily on PR, and operate with shady, self-serving, misleading accounting practices. Still, they have the nerve to self-audit, self-praise, mislead the donor/fan base, seek funding from a number of sources including ordinary people, compete with legitimate charities, and cash in on maximum PR for their inefficient 'humanitarian' efforts. Its not right.

Emilly Orr said...

...okay, thanks for sharing.

You know, I can't honestly peg this as spam...I mean, it has nothing to do with the camping issue in SL, nor anything concerning virtual worlds or their application to real life.

...but it's not exactly "buy my product" or "omg subscribe to my blog ur so cool".

...seriously, is this spam? And why the hell did you pick my blog to pontificate in, Mm. Anonymous??

Beanie Canning said...

Hi there. Regarding the translation of the Japanese notecard on my blog, it was done with Google Translate. I don't know of any translation tool that can do much of a better job. If you do, please send a link my way.


Beanie Loves Japan!

Emilly Orr said...

No, unfortunately, there aren't many really good Japanese-to-English translators out there.

Google Translate and Babelfish give roughly equivalent oddity; there's also Babylon (but that works best with short phrases or individual words), Star Translation, and the new up-and-comer, Denshi Jisho.

Will any of them work better than Google Translate? No clue. Japanese is far from easy to translate into any other language, let along the cobble that is English.