Wednesday, July 7, 2010

for those you left behind and the ones who've gone before

This is the kind of thing that makes Jarl Otenth Paderborn tear out his hair:
We'd really like to hear from anybody who has had problems with the terrain of their build - shifting without human intervention.
We've had this happen 3 times at our homestead sim; the latest on Monday has effectively trashed the build.

This time we have heard from 2 other people who have had something similar happen to them.
I'd like to know how many more there might be.
Please ping Bavid Dailey if its happened to you ...
While I appreciate their trying to find out this information, there are several problems with this announcement:

1. Miss Lunata Lupino obviously can't read, or she would have registered the notice, sent earlier, that said the Victorian Shopkeepers Association group was for announcements of new products, or announcement of sales of Victorian-themed products, from owned businesses only, and not more than once per fortnight (every two weeks).

2. Mr. Bavid Dailey (I'm assuming it's Mr.; do correct me if I'm in error) isn't even a member of the Victorian Shopkeepers' group, so in effect, Miss Lupino is sending out a notice for the wrong reasons to benefit someone who's not even a member of the group.

Tch. I think we have one new name in the "rule breakers" category. It's so sad, too, because we were down to only one name on that list, Mr. Pierre Ceriano, and since his assignment to that role, he's been remarkably circumspect.

Another new Linden heard from, and thankfully, not a member of the alphabet school of Linden hires: Sea Linden posted on the Linden blog about the myriad problems in Search. Xie pointed out something specifically, how'ver, I thought worth addressing here:
We'll continue to test different and better ways of using picks information, but for now, starting with this upcoming release, picks are no longer included in Search relevancy. They will still be visible in resident profiles in the viewer, but they won't affect Search until we find a better way to use that information and add value to Search. We do appreciate the value of picks, but when we do include them again we want to be sure it adds to the relevancy rather than making it worse.
What does this mean? Well, for those of us who kept picks of businesses--whether due to them offering us gifts, actual Lindens, or shopping incentives, or just because we valued that business and wanted to support them--it means that that pick information will no longer be counted as part of what feeds into the search metrics.

In short, this means:
  • Paying people/offering incentives to people will no longer work to keep X amount of picks in place; as this information isn't recorded, it won't matter past the update whether a given business has one pick shown from a resident, or ten thousand; none of that information will be accessible by internal search engines.
  • Merchants may stop offering pick incentives; while I am far from noble in this regard, all of the businesses I keep around in my picks are there because I support the makers. Had I more picks, I'd toss in FallnAngel Designs, House of Ruin, Show Me on the Doll, Discord Designs, Blue Blood, Draconic Kiss, Schadenfreude, Silent Sparrow, Nomine, Dare Designs, Bare Rose, Curio Obscura, Wunderlich, Kouse's Sanctum, Evie's Closet, Shiny Things, Tacky Star, Graves, the Secret Shelf, Yellow Jester, Reasonable Desires, Home of Sanu, Lassitude & Ennui, the Painted Lilly, Painfully Divine, Paradisis, Wishbox, Distressed Textures, Haunted Saddlemead, Octoberville, Low Prim & Grim, UnZipped, Cave Rua, Tusk, Cherished, Grendel's, Cosy Shire, Magic of Oz, Turnip's Homes & Stuff...and that's just off the top of my head.
In the long term, the end results are far more terrifying:
  • Merchants, without the ability to link search results to picks, will, barring any incentives to keep their customers listing them, have to resort to advertising. This will make advertising clearly a money game, because the blog entry also intimated that they're looking at some way of enforcing keywords, or striking them altogether.
  • Merchants who lack the funds to upgrade their ads may well fold; and, whether they fold or not, this is another inevitable march down the path to banning user-generated content, because while offering incentives and/or actual Linden payments will likely still work in generating picks in profiles, those metrics will be stripped from search popularity, leaving only keywords (likely, soon to be enforced business-appropriate alone) and amount paid for ads.
Businesses are already suffering, have been for over a year now, since the switch to Google-based searching. It sounds like this is taking several more steps towards helping more businesses fail on SL. I guarantee you, we will see some store closures on this one.

Ciaran Laval muses on estate-wide bans of survey bots; whether or not it's true, it is intriguing to contemplate, because Virtual LittleThing is one of a scant handful of really good, well-intentioned, and--might I add--openly admitted--bots on the grid. To have her banned, when all she's doing is tracking grid stability and grid ownership--that seems remarkably like shooting oneself in the foot because one didn't approve of the footwear on the person across the room.

The BBC's now picked up the story of Blizzard's attack on internet security and privacy; what's more, there's a very lovely phrase quoted in that article from one of the site forum's community managers:
"Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven't been connected before," the post continued.
Just let that sink in for a moment, really understand what xie's trying to say:
  • Anonymity makes people mean.
  • Anonymity means no one backs their words and can make incendiary statements and foster destructive modes of behavior.
  • Anonymity is a barrier to intimacy and social interaction.
  • Anonymity means we can't have nice things.
I want to know who these people are who believe these things, really and truthfully believe these things. Because they're wrong and I want them fired. Seriously--they are dead wrong, and they shouldn't be working in net-based occupations anymore, because obviously, they are impaired in their ability to reason.

Want people to hurt you, really hurt you, get under your skin and work the knife in deep? They have to know you to do that. Unless you're ridiculously oversensitive and the thought of a puppy with a bandaged paw makes you weep openly on the subway, no one completely unknown to you will ever be able to hurt you emotionally--unless you allow them that access in the first place.

For the most part, any troll on the internet is just that--an attention-seeking drama muffin who has too much free time and a staggering lack of social awareness. Where trolls get personal is when they learn who you are and where you live, emotionally; then they can make their jabs and ripostes with a greater sense of accuracy; and sure, pair that with a genuine intent to harm, and I will grant you, that's a bad thing.

But to assume that anyone who wants privacy on the internet is obviously just out to disrupt, deface, irritate and harm? Oh, bite me. That's so far beyond wrong the Hubble telescope couldn't see it with the really good lenses.
"I can't even begin to fathom why you would do this", posted one user, while another wrote that it seems "like someone who likes Facebook came up with it, while being blissfully unaware that an awful lot of people deliberately avoid Facebook".
That user I would agree with. There seems an inordinate amount of desire to be the next Facebook, when what owners of online games and forums should do is consider anything Facebook adopts to be a death knell for their site. Facebook has done the anti-privacy bit--and from the second they announced that change, they started losing those taunted millions of users.

People on the net don't want any random strolling psychotic to have access to their home address, their childrens' names, their place of work, their hobbies--and adopting real names only as a policy? Virtually ensures that there will be bad acts as a direct result of this policy implementation.

With no sense of hyperbole whatsoever, I tell you this: this time next year, there is going to be at least one assault (if not full successful murder); at least one home invasion; and at least one, if not dozens, of rapes--all of which will be tracked down to information discovered from RealID implementation. Watch and see.

I'll leave you with one last snip from the article:
"[...] one Blizzard employee posted his real name on the forums, saying that there was no risk to users, and the experiment went drastically wrong.

"'Within five minutes, users had got hold of his telephone number, home address, photographs of him and a ton of other information,' said Mr Brand.

"The post and topic has since been removed from the Blizzard forum."

It doesn't matter if it has 'since been removed'. What matters is the ease with which the information was discovered--and posted in the first place. All from a real name.

You don't believe me, stroll over to the Encyclopedia Dramatic entry for Prokofy Neva. Like Neva or loathe her, there's no reason anyone deserves to have their RL info linked in a permanent place on the net. (The only codicil I have to that is I'm not absolutely sure it's her real name and home address, but even the threat is a tangible one for me. I've had enough problems with people I know threatening harm to me and mine; let alone folks on the internet with nothing better to do of a day than wreak mischief.) And the entire RealID verification system? Will not help assuage any of these fears.

Let alone the harm it's doing to the transgendered community--there are a great many transfolk who play World of Warcraft. Some of them were not in transition when they started playing, and now are. A friend of mine is in this situation, and is mortified that now his 'real' name--which Blizzard refuses to change to his current, and legally granted name--reflects a female gender, when he--and his now all-male characters--manifestly do not.

Lastly, Interplay is encouraging folks to sign up for the Fallout Online newsletter on their site; this is not so much an invitation to be spammed with developer news, as much as it will be creating a beta list of folks interested in the first look at Fallout Online, aka "Wasteland mutants for EVERYONE!" If you're interested, go sign up; you just might get an invite to the beta.

Next up: the round of purchases made recently for Operation Squeegee. First in line: Obsidian Desires' "Spoolz" set.

[Late insert: I found another World of Warcraft player with insight on the RealID mess. She references the Counterstrike incident (look there for the link) which is pretty much what I think RealID is going to cause, in spades.

[Lest you think But Em, that's just one isolated incident, how about this one on for size? Friend of mine is a WoW addict, and is in a very large guild. She had a fellow meet her on the forums, flatter her eyes, flirt with her long enough to get her to give him her real name and home address. He came out for a visit.

[To become a part of her RL life? Maybe. To see how good she was in bed? Who knows? But the one thing she does know is he slipped a sedative in her drink when she was about to go on a big raid. Sleepy, and feeling ill (she reacts badly to some medications), she told him to go ahead and take her spot, and curled up on the couch behind him...where she subsequently passed out.

[Not much happened from there, though when she discovered the drugging, she got a restraining order. But what if he'd been interested in worse things? And all this happened two years before the RealID system came online.

[How much worse is it going to get from here?]

(Tip o' the nib to Mr. Lalo Telling and Miss Felicia Day, for finding that link.)


Rhianon Jameson said...

Your observation about the transgendered WoW player raises a good point. What's a "real" name and identity? Authors use pseudonyms all the time for a variety of reasons: to separate personal and professional personas, to write in different genres, or, as Gail Carriger once said, because she doesn't like her given name. (She also said she doesn't want her high-school students to know she writes books with lots of nookie in them, but let's face it, high school kids are quite inventive when they feel like it, and her real name is in the copyright notice, so how long is that going to stay a secret?) People change their names all the time - they get married, divorced, they don't like their given names, they're in the Witness Protection Program, they had a whim...the list goes on. Identity is fluid. People compartmentalize. Blizzard (and Facebook) need to understand that, as well as the safety issues, or they'll become irrelevant.

The business about drugging the girl reinforces my misanthropic view of humanity. One occasionally yearns for the days when we lived in villages, and a guy who did that would have crap beaten out of him by an angry group of brothers and friends.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for feeling my pain, Em!

There are so many things that interfere with having a simple group with simple rules: people who are not fluent in English; people who don't pay attention; people who are gaming the system; assholes; the clueless.

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Jameson,

Somehow this one fell by the wayside. But I do agree--while, thankfully, at this point, Blizzard has withdrawn the enforcement of RealID on the forums, still, the entire thing is worrisome.

My case in point--I'm Emilly Orr on the grid. I have a Gmail account with that name. I have a Twitter account with that name. I have a series of webpages (woefully needing to be revamped) with that name.

Is that my real name? No...but if I want people to be able to get in touch with me quickly, that's the contact points I give them. I stand behind that as my chosen avatar, at present.

And the least they could do is update the real name on file. What if someone gets married? What if someone legally changes their name? It's not all about gender!

Emilly Orr said...


All too true. I do notice she's not on the probation list; one incident shouldn't put anyone there, but if she makes a habit of it...