This article got way longer than I intended. Even after I went back and did a trim pass to reduce the size. But, I did not want to write another piece on griefing that didn’t place a new perspective on the subject. Griefing is advancing and getting more sophisticated and dangerous. I’ve pointed out those dangers and possible defenses. Also, anti-griefers are starting to become self-righteous griefers abusing others in the name of fighting griefers. It is a mess.
In RL we see the same mess with Pro-Life and Pro-Choice people. The idiots on one side kill doctors that perform abortions. The idiots on the other side try to force people with religious objections to pay for abortions. Both are insane and display disregard for their ‘stated’ principals. Getting the rational people on both sides to work it out is the only solution.
In recent months griefing has progressed to include extortion. Extortion is a RL crime. Griefing in Second Life™, particularly in the SL fashion industry, has been a part of the drama of SL. Griefing via extortion is probably only a new-to-some-of-us thing. The old song the Lab does nothing continues and is lame now as it always has been.
The basic griefing is copyboting and region crashing and general anti-social behavior. The Associated SL Press published an article in September titled: Protecting Your Event Against Griefers. Event managers have been and are complaining they are being extorted. Pay up or be crashed.
Griefers have to be in the region with you to do much of anything other than spamming. So, for now the basic advice is to have access to events be invitation only. The region an event is to have access closed to a white list. If you are not on the ‘access’ list, you cannot get in. That effectively stops the griefers… or so it is said. Griefers can still spam people from outside a region, but muting stops individual spamming.
If you think that closed event thing is a poor solution to the problem, I agree with you. Doing invitation only events removes the spontaneity and I suspect reduces attendance by a huge factor. Controlling access is also usually very labor intense, which means added cost.
While I think it is less than an ideal solution it is effective. I think limiting access to those with payment information on file is easier. I’m not sure how much more effective it is or isn’t. I think it would be pretty effective… and way less labor intense.
Top menu: World-> Region/Estate-> Estate (tab).
A problem new to me is extorting event managers with pay-me-or-I-will-crash-your-region. Rumor is BOSL was threatened with crashes if they did not pay L$65,000 (US$250±). BOSL went to work to find out how to stop the griefer and effectively has by controlling access.
What to do?
Paying a griefer or acknowledging them is just feeding the animals. It encourages them and assures their return.
Stopping griefing is a frustrating task. The basic process is to Abuse Report the griefer. But, since the Lab will not comment on Abuse Report actions, one does not get feedback. Also, griefers seem to keep coming back. With free accounts that is possible. Without knowing what is happening it tends to be frustrating. One likes to see some action or reaction from one’s efforts.
With extortion the Lab is caught in a he said she said. While I might file a claim of extortion with the Lab, what real evidence to do I have? A chat log? A recording of a voice conversation? An email? Those can all be faked easily. If you can file a ‘real’ complaint what is to stop a griefer from filing a ‘false’ complaint?
So, the Lab has to start investigating and sorting through millions of chat logs to find the truth. Some Lindens have said if they did not waste so much time countering griefers they could do so much more to improve Second Life. I believe that is true.
In RL extortion is illegal. It is a local crime. The activist designers ranting at user group meetings think the FBI is going handle in-game extortion. But, in an international ‘game’ how does one get local law enforcement interested in prosecuting an international case against someone in a country other than their own that can only be identified as an avatar in a computer game? Why try to prosecute someone extorting US$250 that it will cost thousands just to find when RL homes are broken into, organized gangs are dealing drugs to school children, and rapist and molesters or loose in the communities? Get real, put some perspective on things.
The FBI won’t even look at computer crimes that result in less than about US$250,000 damages. There are more computer crimes over that amount than they can get to now. (Reference: 2011 Computer Crime Report – PDF) How much less likely is it your local, understaffed, and busy local law enforcement will be concerned about $250? Especially when you consider it will likely cost the community hundreds of thousands of dollars to prosecute a possible international case? It just does not make economic sense.
We are seeing more and more micro financial transactions think Linden and other game dollars. The problem is the world has yet to figure out how to police them. If someone can steal a penny (US$0.01) from 100,000 people in SL that is $1,000 and 100,000 annoyed people spread across the world. But, if you were one of those people would you want to spend even $10 to get your penny back?
Law enforcement in RL just does not work well in the realm of micro transactions. Very simply law enforcement doesn’t have the knowledge, time, or money and no one wants to pay for micro transaction law enforcement. Yet, we all – I think all, want something to be done. Letting it continue doesn’t seem workable or just.