This is my LAST Second Life Post

mystery9

Linden Lab has done a lot of dumb things over the years, but their latest move is quite possibly the dumbest!  So dumb in fact, that I am basically calling it quits on Second Life.

Over the last few months, the “Terms Of Service Gestapo” has been banning a lot of long time players, with no explanation, the only reasons they give for the bans is to quote the TOS terms they apparently violated, with no evidence or incident examples for players to defend themselves.

For the average “freemium” player, a ban is nothing, just roll a new alt, but when it is a prominent business person who makes their living in Second Life merchandise, it becomes an attack on their livelihoods. That’s what happened to LisaWarmAnimations, a merchant that sells toys and animations in Second Life, as the person behind the business depends on the income to house and feed a family.

Some detective work on players part seems to indicate that she was swept up in a ban raid relating to “bestiality play”, where players have pretend sex with pretend animals. Apparently this is frowned upon in certain countries where Linden Lab wants to do business, so a bunch of merchants that sell that kind of stuff got the ban hammer with no warning or explanation.  LisaWarmAnimations was innocent in this sweep as she only rents to a vendor of this material, and has since been able to get her account and store back.

Personally, I have a problem with the whole thing. I have zero interest in virtual kink, but as long as it is kept in “Adult” regions, I don’t have a problem with it. People like to live out their fantasies virtually that they would never do for real. That is the whole point of “video games” in general: do stuff you would never do in real life. Better to do it virtually in a safe environment, than for real. And it does make a real difference.

So the whole idea of banning for this stuff screams “censorship”, so I am already hot over what seem to be random bannings over random crap people find offensive.

570492-6

Skills Hak and INSILICO

But, here is the incident that has me boiling over with hatred.  Another prominent Second Lifer Skills Hak got banned. The thing is, this SLer is the owner and creator of the best sim in Second Life: INSILICO, a dark cyberpunk urban world that is a sight to behold.

Or at least it was. It is now closed, possibly for good. Skills Hak got her ban overturned for a few days then reinstated apparently permanently, and no one can figure out why, including Skills herself.

Here is the official statement:

It has come to our attention that you have engaged in activities in violation of the Linden Lab Terms of Service (the “Terms”) and Second Life Community Standards, including but not limited to:

· Section 6.1 of the Terms, which states that “[y]ou will not post or transmit prohibited Content, including any Content that is illegal, harassing or violates any person’s rights”;

· Section 6.1(iv) of the Terms, which states that you agree you will not “[p]ost, display, or transmit Content (including any communication(s) with employees of Linden Lab) that is harmful, threatening or harassing, defamatory, libelous, false, inaccurate, misleading, or invades another person’s privacy”; and

· Section 4 (Disclosure) of the Community Standards, which states that “[r]esidents are entitled to a reasonable level of privacy with regard to their Second Life experience. Sharing personal information about your fellow Residents without their consent — including gender, religion, age, marital status, race, sexual preference, alternate account names, and real-world location beyond what is provided by them in their Resident profile — is not allowed. Remotely monitoring conversations in Second Life, posting conversation logs, or sharing conversation logs without the participants’ consent are all prohibited.”

Pursuant to Section 5.2 of the Terms, “Linden Lab may suspend or terminate your Account if you violate this Agreement, along with any or all other Accounts held by you or otherwise related to you. . . . Upon termination of your Accounts, this Agreement between us will be automatically terminated and you may not re-subscribe or return to the Service through other or future Accounts you or others may set up.”

Due to your severe and repeated violations of the Terms and Community Standards, Linden Lab has terminated your access to the Second Life virtual world. This termination applies to all Second Life accounts associated with you, including your primary, alternate, and household accounts. To reiterate, you may not return to Second Life on any account, new or existing.

Sincerely,
Linden Lab
source

No actual incidents were named, no due process is possible. All we have is a vague letter to parse that basically tells us nothing.

In Skills words:

So basically LL seized my accounts, several of which are premium members that had inventory worth thousands of USD, the money in my account, my creations and my regions i paid 200k USD for in tier over the years. I tried to appeal the ban once but only got the usual “Thanks for your feedback. You’re still banned, asshole.” response. The whole appeal thing is a joke anyways, how am i supposed to appeal if i don’t even know the reason for my ban, they are not interested in my side of the story that could potentially clear up the situation.

I’ve always tried to make SL better for the people, be it through making the software better or by designing experiences the way SL should look and feel like, even on my alts i somehow always ended up being a sim owner, providing themed space to people and building communities.
source

She has more to say in this Tumblr post: http://skills.tumblr.com/post/141699124267/byeeee

Now it should be noted that Skills has not been an angel during her 8 year tenure in SL, There are some ugly moments in SL past in which she was an accomplice, and Skills has been banned before because of them.

That’s all ancient history though. Is Linden Lab petty enough to ban someone for events that happened years ago?  Considering the other people who also got recently banned, they might be.

Unlike the bans mentioned above, this has nothing to do with virtual sex or censorship, nor does it have anything to do with unpaid bills.  The mystery mixed with the prominence of this ban has a lot of players worried.

284760-7

INSILICO was a work of art, a showplace for Second Life that even appeared on the back of business cards of Linden Lab employees. It inspired the creation of large online communities and groups with thousands of members, and rent paying virtual apartment dwellers and shop keepers, now who have no place to call home.

My take on all this

This is quite possibly the dumbest thing I have ever heard LL do in my 13 years of following the Second Life community. It simply does not make sense on any level.

Why would any business ban one of its biggest customers with no explanation? Why would you shut down one of the most popular and prominent regions in the community, one that even has its own sub communities?

No business in their right mind would ban a customer who has made them hundreds of thousands of dollars and tons of free promotion without a very good reason and without explanation.

To treat someone as prominent as Skills like dog shit is the kind of incident that should be damning of the entire company.

And why this sudden interest in banning players? Are they trying to appease some big pocket VC who wants them to “clean up” Second Life before they invest more money? Are they being blocked from doing business in some countries (maybe China?) because of their reputation that they are trying to clean up?

The explanation for LL’s lack of candor is obvious: They don’t want a multi million dollar class action lawsuit.

But such draconian actions by LL NEED to have consequences. I want this to serve as an object lesson to ANYONE who is considering investing in Project Sansar or Second Life that Linden Lab cannot be trusted to play fair.

I really don’t give a damn if I only know one side of the story. I would love to hear the other side, the Linden Lab side. It is either a very good explanation that deserves to be heard, or it is a story of complete incompetence on their part that deserves to be heard even more.

Screw it, I’m done!

As an early premium adapter, I make enough L-bucks that I can have my tiny 512m land for free until Second Life finally closes its doors, so I won’t be giving that up, but I won’t be investing in it or blogging about it anymore. I’m removing the link from my home page.

The truth is I haven’t done much there since 2011 anyways, and recently got rid of most of my Second Life travelogues from this blog. One of them featured INSILICO, but like most of my favorite places, it’s gone now.

UPDATE October 2016:

Ownership of Insilico was moved to new owners to keep it going, but that plan failed to keep it up very long. It will disappear in November.

9 thoughts on “This is my LAST Second Life Post

  1. Arim C. March 26, 2016 / 12:17 pm

    This eerily sounds just like Youtube in late 2015.

    They had strikes left and right with no explanation given, and most of their own community of users had to be rallied by big name fair use video creators just to pressure a answer out of Youtube.

    They apologized and said they’d have actual people look at strikes to be sure it isn’t automated. But, their strike system is still very heavily abused. And, the best we can possibly get out of it is that they either have to turn to crowdfunding or just maybe Google can pull out Youtube from the gutter.

    I assume it’s for the same reasons: Money…or they’re very hesitant to admit they’re actually wrong in this no matter what the reason because of big money from big users that haven’t been banned.

    Or, there is no good explanation and they’re trying to have a dictatorship.

    Youtube may be many things. But, it doesn’t have a virtual community like Second Life does. You can practically live there, go to work, and socialize without leaving home.

    Whatever the reason is though, the leadership in Second Life must be put to question if people want to preserve Second Life.

    Hell, every kind of boneheaded censoring decision like this should not go unquestioned or ignored.

    If we want to preserve Second Life and other key systems in the internet for our future enjoyment, we can’t just call it quits: We need to stand up to them and get answers.

    I mean, yes. If you’ve had enough, then that’s fine. You don’t have to keep being a member of Second Life. You don’t have to keep being a member to fight about it.

    But, we should fight for it if we want to keep it.

    • Rickey Moore March 26, 2016 / 4:37 pm

      “But, we should fight for it if we want to keep it.”

      Why? Just locate an OpenSim server with plenty of bandwidth and tell LL to screw off. Hopefully LisaWarmAnimations kept a backup of her files. HiFi is looking good as well and has advantages over SL. Seriously, LL isn’t the only game in town. Scruum.

      I quit SL as soon as they allowed children (under 18) on the adult grid.

      • Arim C. March 26, 2016 / 6:47 pm

        I mostly mean for people who want to still go: Not everyone.

        Of course not everyone is going to like Second Life. Of course not everyone is going to like the same thing. That’s just ludicrous.

        They just seem to be the big game in town for virtual communities. And, so is Youtube in their department.

        For better and for worse, that means the most people are still going to it: Unless most people say screw it and leave.

        Youtube nearly had that happen. Second Life faces that possibility.

        In both cases of royally screwed up censoring madness… It’s not the site or community itself that’s the problem: It’s the people running it, and their rules or lackthereof at play.

        Lastly…

        I admittedly don’t know much about the standards in Second Life’s adult grid. But, you’re entitled to your opinion.

  2. Novus March 26, 2016 / 11:24 pm

    Eh, the bestiality bans are actually reasonable. Poorly executed from the sound of it, but reasonable. Most people don’t realize it, but bestiality is illegal (Not just “frowned upon”) in the vast majority of the U.S., and there are occasional major crackdowns on sites providing said content. It’s probable that LL was quietly served a cease and desist order during one of these crackdowns and is complying.

    As for the second ban issue, of this “Skills” player. On the surface, it is unreasonable. However, keep in mind that LL cannot, legally, reveal private information regarding the individual. You’re really only seeing “Skills” side of the story. The fact that the player “has not been an angel” in the past makes it fairly probable that they DID do something legitimately ban worthy, but LL cannot legally state to the public what that is. It happens from time to time in a LOT of online games/communities. A well-known player is banned, they publish only a fraction of the communication as to why and lie about it being all provided information. Done, of course, with a mind for their fanbase to put pressure on the company to unban them. It generally doesn’t work. In point of fact, generally publicly posting the communication of their interaction with the company is ALSO a violation of the ToS, so it actually makes it worse, not better. Section 6.1 of the ToS snippet you quoted is actually an example of just that.

    • arianeb March 27, 2016 / 9:59 am

      Yes, real bestiality is illegal and rightly so.

      However, this is VIRTUAL, and virtual sex, irregardless if the type of sex it portrays is protected free speech, so says the Supreme Court in a case a few years ago.

      It’s highly unlikely they got a cease and desist from anyone in the US, but laws do vary in other countries.

      Even if they did, why didn’t they just announce it and warn players ahead of time that they need the stuff removed from the game. That’s what they did in the past.

      Here is the real awful punchline: Second Life is in steep decline. We all know it, and we all have seen it.

      So this sudden urge to perma-ban makes even less sense. They are banning regular players which is in short supply these days, and each ban affects all the friends of the person being banned making them less likely to continue to play and invest.

      In the case of Skills, there are hundreds affected by her ban, mostly in the RP community who are the biggest users of the platform right now. RPers talk to other RPers and it causes a chain reaction so even the ones not affected by the bans are talking of moving on.

      This could very well be the case of a new overzealous employee seeing a long rap sheet of previous violations and banning for issues that were resolved years ago.

  3. Rickey Moore March 27, 2016 / 7:19 pm

    “However, this is VIRTUAL, and virtual sex, irregardless if the type of sex it portrays is protected free speech, so says the Supreme Court in a case a few years ago. ”
    Not so if you have a 14 year old actor playing 18+ and an adult gets caught, virtual or not. With the old separated adult/kiddy worlds you had some sort of excuse that someone underaged lied in order to sign up in the adult world. But, you get slapped with the jewelry (handcuffs and waist-chains) any way. SL then became a dangerous place to play when they closed the kiddy-land area. Too dangerous for me.

  4. Royce Boa April 7, 2016 / 12:04 am

    Sad to hear. I used to spend a great deal of time in SL. I ran a very successful martial arts group that used the fantastic Combat Evolutions HUDs. I kind of partnered up with the creator of these HUDs and he invited my group onto his fantastic Bladerunner themed sim called, Devils Moon. I had so much fun back then. I eventually left due to drama and never looked back.

    I knew one of the original creators of Insilico as well. He was an early member of my group, and became legendary for how incredible he was at destroying all the other fighters in combat. I can’t even remember his name now. So many years ago. Insilico was an incredible creation though. A masterpiece.

    I actually first heard about SL from this very website! Way back in 2006. You were my TP spot for the first several months as I learned how to navigate that wonderful, crazy world. Many fond memories are associated with SL for me. I miss it, but the decision to leave for good was a necessary one. I made quite a bit of money in there, and left with it. Sometimes I wish an improved version of SL would emerge that I could venture into and rediscover all over again.

    Keep us all posted if such a place ever pops up!

    With gratitude,

    Royce

  5. Caleb Levi October 19, 2016 / 12:24 am

    Unfortunately, I have noticed this disturbing trend as well. I have been a part of the SecondLife kids community for ten years and have had a dance club there for the full ten years, which has grown into a region and dance club. Aspen Nights, on the Region Aspen. I have seen an extreme amount of the SL Kids community being banned, lots of my friends are gone, lots of the Regions are disappearing with them. I was wondering if it was an attack on just the SL Kids community, but I guess this answers my question. I have an extreme amount of real money tied up in this as well, as you might expect from having a business for this amount of time.

    These actions can not all be justified. You can’t have the level of banning that I am seeing, especially coupled with seeing this post and knowing that it isn’t just confined to the SL Kids community. They are putting out nonsense reasoning for the bannings that are being perfectly vague and a whole lot of talk without saying anything.

    They are shooting themselves in the foot, and for what?? I wish I knew. I can say that with the amount of time and amount of money that these people are just being “robbed” of, a class action lawsuit needs to be formed. In fact, the situation nearly demands it.

    Their ivory tower has grown way too tall and they are stepping way across the line. If they had any real investigations into all of these bannings they could certainly provide a much better explanation and show evidence of their investigation and show their findings. As it is, they are providing nothing but a huge BS smoke screen and hoping that if they say enough double speak with long winded words that tell you absolutely nothing, then people will be thrown off enough to not know what to do about it. The truth being, there isn’t anything you can do about it through regular appeals, when they don’t give a crap what you think or have to say and aren’t going to listen to you no matter what you do say. The only one thing you can do is begin a legal proceeding forcing the issue and if that happened to be a class action suit… all the better.

    Now is the perfect time for such a suit because there are a extremely large amount of numbers that they are creating that have perfect grounds to do just that.

    Besides the region that I have with my club, I have various land scattered around the grid that I have in a land group. I would buy and sell land to make a few extra dollars. I am currently pricing all of that to sell quickly so I can close that stuff out. I am going to begin cashing out everything I can cash out and drop my premium account tier levels accordingly. The goal right now is to get it so I can wrap this dog and pony show up and get the hell out.

    Thanks for posting your article, at least I know it’s not just the community that I am in.. it seems to be a grid wide showing of mass stupidity.

  6. Nathan Adored October 21, 2016 / 6:00 am

    One of the serious flaws in the way LL has been handling things like banning people for alleged TOS violations is that you have to go through their arbitration system to dispute it, and you only have ONE chance to appeal it, and you don’t really even get any detail about what you supposedly did that was in violation. And it is apparent that too often the arbiter just rubber-stamps it, and there’s no further appeal possible.

    It also bothers me that there isn’t even a possibility of learning the details of the alleged violation, such as when it happened or what the nature and details of it was, or a means of facing the accuser, perhaps with anonymity protection in place for the accuser that could then be lifted if it turns out there was something fishy about it. And yet you lose ALL your alts over it, not just the one the thought-police violation happened with.

    Earlier this year there was a large group of users suddenly banned out of the blue,where the claimed reason for it was sexual ageplay… the problem was, at least several of these were people who for many years had gone *out* *of* *their* *way* to avoid ageplay activities of any kind, and hadn’t done any recently either, But they still got banned for it anyway. At least one of these appealed the ruling, and the supposed arbiter almost *immediately* declared it a clear case of ageplay and closed out the appeal, basically just rubber-stamped it without discussion, and without any further chance of appeal.

    Another person I was talking with recently lost his account over something where it wasn’t even clear what part of the TOS he’d supposedly violated. Part of the vague and confusing messages he was getting seemed to imply it might have been ageplay, but at the same time, a lot of the replies on his appeal seemed to be coming from the *fraud* department of LL… and, he explained to me, they were telling him the violation had happened on an *alt* of his. The trouble is, he didn’t HAVE an alt!

    The other thing that bothers me is that this whole thing is purely thought-police stuff. Basically they’re telling whole classes of people that they’re not allowed to THINK certain things or PLAYACT certain ways. Or ELSE. And if it becomes apparent they ARE possibly thinking or doing those things… suddenly they get ripped away from their close friends, their virtual home and community, all their unique creations, and all this stuff they spent real money on (it may be *virtual* objects, but they still paid genuine, real world money for it) sometimes accumulated into thousands of real world dollars worth, and in some cases lose a decent income from selling virtual furniture pieces or vehicles and the like that they put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into crafting… simply because someone on the other side of the planet from them thinks their fantasy life is grade-A blasphemy, or something.

    And then, you can’t get any meaningful appeal to it, and can’t actually take it to a court of law to force real details out of it and force some accountability into it… because increasingly often the courts don’t bother *letting* you sue if the company has an arbitration clause in place. My gut feeling was that somewhere along the line, the law makers would start to noticing things were going too far, getting out of hand, or whatever, and start changing the laws. Or that a large enough number of people would complain to their congresscritters that they were being shafted by one or the other large company using their arbitration clause to shaft them, and so the lawmakers would start changing the law from their end to reign this stuff in.

    Since there seemed to have been a sudden spike in these bannings, a couple of weeks ago I decided to go do an online search to see if anything had changed in that direction, or if maybe some high powered lawyer group had sued and won against one of these companies that had been banging a whole class of abused customers over the head with their arbitration clause… and I found this:

    http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-wells-arbitration-20160926-snap-story.html

    http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2016/09/22/427206.htm

    http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2016/05/05/407612.htm

    Apparently Wells Fargo, the bank, had been using their arbitration clause as a get-out-of-legal-consequences a bit TOO often and a bit TOO heavily, to the point that people were actually, actively getting ripped off, and several lawmakers and legal experts are starting to cry fowl, and it sounds like they DO intend to change the law concerning arbitration clauses, and disallow them from blocking class action lawsuits via these clauses.

    What we need to do is make sure these lawmakers understand that its not just customers of banking institutions and of credit card companies that need to have the right to class action lawsuits expressly protected, it must also apply to ANY agency where you’re paying real world money into it (say, by converting it into in-world currency and retaining it there) and have the ability to cash it back out again later (converting those in-world currencies back into real world ones) and indeed ones that store your *objects* *of* *value* for you (including virtual ones that you buy and sell). In other words, this must also apply to virtual world companies like Linden Labs. There MUST be a high amount of accountability for them to their paying customers. Or ELSE.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s