Monday, March 14, 2011

it was a black winter night as she stumbled on, and with every step grew closer to the ground

"Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear plant meltdowns -- as if the people of Japan didn't have enough to cope with, a volcano began erupting Sunday."

Great. That's all Japan needs...

Flynn lives. Go to the website for more information.

Minecraft now has faeries. They're a neutral mob, and more to the point, they're a complete mod of the existing code, start to finish--but they are interesting in both the benefits and the danger of having them around. I'm halfway tempted...

Pursuant to the last entry, a couple people worth mentioning (Lady Diamanda Gustafson and Miss Samantha Poindexter) let me know that Desmond had put out a confirming RedZone entry to all Caledonians in notices. But, because it didn't come with a notecard attached, I missed it last week. This is the text of that notice:
1) I've been asked about devices like 'Red Zone' that 'out' alts ~ these are against covenant in Caledon. We have a right to anonymity here. If seen, such devices will be returned, per our Avatar Rights.

2) Land ~ the market seems to be doing better these days, please folks, I've had some *very* painful decisions to make lately ~ if you skip tier, you may well lose a parcel. I only wish I had 8000 USD a month to give away, but sadly there are direct, immediate consequences with regard to tier.

So, the Independent States of Caledon officially do not allow the use of RedZone or alt-detecting imitators, specifically because of the "Avatar Rights' provision of the covenant of Caledon. From the Steampunk Wiki, a brief explanation:
The Caledon Forums and Caledon Wiki are by virtue of flying its flag, a part of the community of the Independent State of Caledon, and as such are obligated to try to honor that community's covenant and its protection of "avatar" (individual) rights. One of the most important among the avatar rights, is the right to individual privacy. No character may be included here over the objection of the person playing that character, and reasonable effort will be made to remove references to a character if they request it. These sites are created to enhance the enjoyment of role play, not to restrict the ability of a character to change their role or withdraw from some aspect of play. Today's Victorian Wildcat might be tomorrow's Steampunk Cowboy and we will try to respect such change of heart even where it might seem trivial or silly to others."
Considering that the only thing that RedZone seems to do well, so far, is connect random similarly-IP'ed individuals under the "alts" heading of titular main accounts--who may or may not even have met, let alone be connected--of course this would be against Desmond's declaration of Avatar Rights.

So...who else will feel the need to declare one way or the other, on RedZone? It's garnered a lot of attention, nearly every speck of it bad.

Here's been my question, always: what's the big need to discover alt accounts in the first place? People have said that alts hide copyright infringers--which is certainly not all alts, nor are all infringers maintained alt accounts--some are throwaways, with obvious throwaway names.

So if that's not a good reason, what about griefing? People have said that if RedZone and other systems are banned, people will not be able to prevent griefers from entering their land. kind of silly, when I think about it, because all anyone has to do with a griefer is ban them from that parcel, and if that account really gets on your nerves, talk to the estate manager for your sim, or the sim owner, and sometimes, that name will be placed on the sim ban list. Done.

Okay, so if it's not about griefing or copyright infringement, what's left? To my mind, two things: stalking, and harassment. And I'm not even going to go out on that limb and say if you own a RedZone system, then you're the stalker. I just want to focus for a bit on the urge to protect ourselves, our virtual spaces, and our peace of mind.

Say you're someone who's been stalked. (And if you never have been, take my word for it--it's unnerving and upsetting. I've been stalked online, I've been stalked in person, and in any realm, it just makes your skin crawl. Never knowing when they're going to contact you--call you--show up on your doorstep--it shatters your confidence, it makes you fear the world. And when they start sending their friends to 'check up' on start fearing other people. Any other people.) You want that fearful wariness to ebb, but you also want to be protected, you want to feel safe again. How safe are we, after all, with no safe spaces?

So you hear of a product on the market that will protect your land from those you--and others--have deemed harmful. It's a hefty chunk of change, but what price peace of mind? You buy it. You install it. And then the trouble starts.

Protesters. Complaint notecards. The whole GreenZone issue. Then a mobile version of the HUD, resulting in people--maybe even people you know--offering their services as wandering alt "detectors", and always for a fee. Maybe that makes you nervous.

Then it gets pulled from the market. Then it gets pulled from in-world. Maybe that's when you get nervous.

Then it turns out zFire Xue has been hacking accounts of people who bought his system--people like you--and who knows how long that's been going on?

When does it cross the line between wanting to protect yourself, and going too far? When is it too much?

More from the Jira That Will Not Die:

Angelica Pickles: "But silly as we are, we trust LL, and we like to listen and dance. In any way, LL TOS has made it sure that L isn't to blame for victimised residents who just weren't nerd enough to know that your privates are exposed to anyone rich enough to buy a sim and put a IP scanner.The developer of redzone knew that, and for that reason he could sell lots of copies of his griefing tool to many sim and parcel owners. In the mean time, LL kept thinking it wasn't their issue, because it's something outside of SL. But no, the people affected are SL residents, and they leave SL by the dozen because of not feeling safe and protected. Time passes, and more IP scan tools are developed of course, and without restrictions, scriptors after the big money spend hours daily developing scripts on demand. Where that ends? nobody knows, but what I know is that residents are feeling very much unprotected, and although LL encourages the use of alts as enhancing ones SL experience, people start thinking that having an alt is a criminal offense."

That's pretty much where we are.

Then Darren Scorpio mentioned this: "I think we all missed this from the latest LL Blog:

'It's also important to note that we are going to remove the 'voting' feature in JIRA in one month. Today, we do not use voting to triage or to make product decisions and the last thing that we want to do is set false expectations. So, when you are interested in what action we will take on a particular JIRA, use the JIRA 'Watch' feature so that you will be immediately updated in email when there are new comments on that particular JIRA issue. We will continue to use the number of Watchers as an indication of the level of interest.'

Note 'We will continue to use the number of Watchers as an indication of the level of interest.'

So if you have voted make sure you are still watching this Jira, also let everyone whom may have voted and is NOT watching to watch it, because apparently LL only cares about the number of watchers not voters."

And that was about when the bottom dropped out of my email account. Because I'm currently watching five or six issues, including the Jira That Will Not Die. This means, on average, I get between ten and thirty emails related to JIRA issues a day, and it's insane. I do not want this kind of hit to my email account; it makes it ridiculously difficult to track tenant issues, for one, and to weed through for blog replies, for two.

So--replace a system which lowered comments, and retained customer interest, but which the brass stopped caring about, for a system that will infuriate anyone trying to play by the rules, which will contribute to people spouting off on the JIRA--because why the hell shouldn't they? They're already getting every goddamned thing emailed to their accounts--and only lead to people becoming disenchanted with the whole damned thing and giving up on it as any kind of useful system to get issues--genuine issues, technical issues--taken care of, because--and is everyone with me? The Lindens do not care.

Except maybe for Soft. And possibly Yoz.

And the annoying thing? Largely, the Lindens have contributed to this bad reputation. Why are we here? Because there are no other forms of contact but the JIRA and abuse reports. How long are we going to maintain getting every single comment mailed to us on issues we care about? Not as long as the Lindens think.

And maybe that's their point.

Val Bellflower:
I hate content theft and copybots as well, but I do not see how IP tracking, exposing a person's legitimate alts and compromising the privacy and security of private individuals solves the issue.
I don't either.

Rosemarie Hathaway:
Sites like Red Zone, and all this profit off of one thing

Annamaria Button:
RedZone is ILLEGAL according to European protection data laws and regulations. No personal data may be collected in Europe without a prior privacy notice and especially without consent from data subject. I know laws and regulations may be different in the United States. But Linden Lab, being to keen to amend its regulations whenever it is discovered any of them breaks U.S. laws, having many European customers should also be keen on respecting OUR laws, and avoid to expose us to illegal activities.
International residents should know better by now, that's not how the US works. We don't respect other laws, we whine until you respect ours!

(But I'm not bitter.)

Serjourn Daxter:
Yes, please, please, please listen to Annamaria: She says what has been said over and over again on this Jira: REDZONE IS ILLEGAL.It not only gathers data without consent, it also [correlates], processes and [punishes] individuals based on these data. It does not matter if Linden Labs is a US company: When the data gathered is entered in Europe and concerning EU Citizens, EU law applies!

It does not matter that LL can gather the same data, because in signing up for Secondlife, you gave CONSENT to LL to do that. The same consent is not a blanket consent that also covers RedZone. RedZone must get the same CONSENT from EACH USER. Furthermore the consent must be given "before the data gathering, informed and [voluntary]".
But Daxter has a point, too--one which was proved earlier in Germany, when Germany threatened extreme sanctions against Linden Labs directly for actions of users in Second Life. EU rules do apply for EU citizens, which the Labs would be foolish to ignore. In fact, I'm surprised I haven't heard of court actions already having been filed against xFire and the Labs for the actions of RedZone.

Stacy Braveheart:
I think [RedZone] is a good thing... too many liars in sl now as it is using people for their own agenda.
And wau, did Stacy pick the wrong last name...THIS, right here, right HERE, is why RedZone has made so many sales. Because as far as alt detection goes, it's all based on fear, insecurity and jealousy. And it's completely, irrefutably, STUPID.

Seriously: you're dating someone in SL. Maybe he or she is your partner. Maybe you share land together, a business, a life...a Second Life. Past SL and the life you built there, and barring the choices you both make to be partners in real life:

* What business is it of yours where they live, unless they choose to tell you?
* Or how old they are?
* Or what gender they are, if you've never spoken with them?
* Or who else they're seeing, if they're being respectful and discreet?
* How is it you being threatened if they have a wife, a husband, a daughter, a son, apart from the time you spend together on the grid?

I'm not saying anyone should withhold all questions. I know I've asked some questions of people with whom I've been involved that have been very daunting for them. And I may be wrong in this, but I like to think that I have never made it a condition of continuing to date someone that they answer me. And if they tell me a thing, and I have made the decision to trust them, I have never removed that trust by disbelieving what they say.

Maybe it's just me, because I admit, I'm polyamorous on the grid and off. I make no bones about the fact that I have a wife, and a girlfriend, offline. I make no apologies for the fact that I have loves online. While those I love may not know details, they do know.

There is no room for fear if there is honesty, even if it's honesty only in generalities. Jealousy thrives in an atmosphere of fear, so there is no jealousy. And insecurity? Hey, that comes and goes, but that's just worry, and it can be pared down. Everything is possible for the lovers who choose communication over controversy, friendship over fear, and understanding over alt identification.

Only the fearful and the jealous don't understand that.


Fogwoman Gray said...

Miss Emilly,
At risk of being horrifically pedantic, what you posted is the Steampunk Wiki (owned by Excalibur Steamlander) policy statement regarding avatars represented in the Wiki itself. While the Covenant of Caledon is referenced, the covenant is more specific regarding avatar rights in Caledon.
It does reflect the spirit of the covenant certainly, which is a very well thought out document and worth a read :)

Emilly Orr said...

Lady Fogwoman,

You have a point, I do not deny this. But I was in a place where I could not easily get into world.

This can be fixed, however...