From #SL Griefing to Extortion

Monday Fiasco

The problem of copyboting with the added humiliation of extortion has been brewing discontent for months in the SL design & fashion community. Because of a UK web site providing copybot viewers (now closed down) and some specific individuals well known as copybot’ers that are moving into extortion things are boiling in the design community and rightfully so.

The griefer is staying in SL via alternates. The group I’ll label TID, for The Irate Designers, are looking for some way to handle the problem. That the problem avatar continues to be allowed to sell what the TID peeps consider stolen goods on the Market Place is not helping. Right now they seem to be concentrating on forcing the Lindens to do something, thinking there is something that can be done and that they have exhausted all other possibilities.

People with a problem often think only about how to solve the problem. The problem is they seldom think about the framework within which it has to be solved. Even less often do they think of, or even know about, the problems from the enforcement side. Nor do they bother to research history to see what solutions have been tried and how those did or didn’t work. Some solutions lead to even worse conditions. For instance governments love to solve problems by requiring citizens to give up privacy and freedom. Also, because of the way governments are creating nanny states, people tend to look for someone that can do it for them. Basically that devolves to who in the government (the Lab) do we put pressure on?

The TID peeps decided to start showing up at Linden lead user group meetings to pressure the Lindens. I doubt they understand how that works… or doesn’t. Their first try was the Content-Mesh user group Monday the 10th. They also made it to the Server Scripting meeting Tuesday the 11th.

Monday they were on about having a Lab employee they could liaison with to solve the problems creators/designers have. But, I haven’t seen any of these people at the Content & Mesh meetings, which is exactly what the group is about.

By Tuesday the group was claiming Nyx Linden promised them a meeting. Nyx agreed to pass their request for a meeting along. So, truth and accuracy is not a big priority among the TID peeps.

For regular attendees of the user group the annoyance is in how ignorant these new arrivals can be. One actually said, “The amount of people here tells you it’s legit…” Right. Anyone take debate in high school? Get clue.

Then there was their refusal to use the agenda by another. Nyx Linden is excellent at going through the agenda handling each issue in turn and keeping discussion on topic. Nyx also allows topics to be added as the meeting continues. It is easy to be heard. But now some of these people are running through SL claiming they were refused a voice and ignored.

Refusal to conform to a group’s meeting and discussion procedures is a trait we often see in griefers. Much of what we see coming from the TID peeps is very much abuse and disregard for other members of the group. That some members of the TID group is so new to user groups as to not know how they work and so uneducated as to how RL/SL groups conduct civil discourse; suggests we are dealing with children or child like ignorance. From Plurk comments made after MOnday’s meeting it was obvious some regular attendees thought TID’s were clueless jerks as bad as the griefers.

But again we need perspective. I know some of the people in the group of people that showed up. So I know there are some are rational people involved. Also they do have a legitimate highly frustrating problem. Frustrated people often behave stupidly.


Most of us do not have to deal with a griefer that stalks us… or stalks a community and attempts to extort it. But, griefers are doing those things in the design community. I doubt that many of us can understand the extent of griefing that is in Second Life without experiencing it. For instance the Gay Gor community has been dealing with a particularly sick griefer. See: Gay & Straight Gor Griefers.

Many of the tactics are duplicitous and oblique. For instance; a tactic is to copybot well known products, bring them into SL, use the near name of another well known designer or a target as the creator. This is all done to shift blame to another and create conflict among opponents/targets. The gullible fall for propaganda until they, hopefully, learn better. Until then they can be manipulated to provide cover for the griefer and create more conflict and likely feed a griefer’s sick ego.

Such tactics are often accompanied by a Facebook page, forum posts, blogs, and web information or sites propagating more disinformation. At a first look the uninformed have no way of knowing what is and isn’t legitimate. Even the informed have a hard time deciding. The high degree of coordination and social engineering sucks, but it is highly effective. Far too many people are clueless to the machinations of the devious. Skepticism and social perception seem to be lost skills.

The even griefers file false DMCA, abuse reports, and various complaints wherever they can against legitimate creators. Remember the Hush/Curio dispute with Gala Phoenix and the One Voice fund raiser, July-August 2012? This left the Lab with a filed DMCA complaint filed by an illegitimate source that for all practical purposes and appearances was legit. Until a RL court rules it is a false complaint and takes action the Lab is limited in what they can do. The griefer/abuser played the system very effectively. In the long run it will cost them and the courts will discover the truth. But, it will harm and cost the innocent in ways from which they likely will never recover. 

9 thoughts on “From #SL Griefing to Extortion

  1. I LOVED your article and read it completely. I would like you to suggest someday to write a bit more about protecting our works. For example, how to fill copyrights to register mesh and textures with a bit more of detail, how to write licenses to sell mesh in SL (some people ask for custom meshes in SL that they later want to sell in website like TurboSquid!) and others ways to protect us. Maybe saving images of our projects WIP on some image hosting like someone suggested to me some ago, etc…

    BTW I would like to know your most sincere opinion about this idea. Long time ago some friends and me were talking about copybot and this kind of problems and how easy is to use some simple debuggers. Then it comes to my mind the way that some online games have to protect the game code for being injected from others processes.

    So, what if Second Life stopped being Open Source again, and those who want develop a viewer they can do it requesting a license? That license would be free and would have similar requirements than being in the Third Party Viewer directory. Each viewer will have an “identification” so others viewer aren’t able to log into the main grid, but into the beta one (this would allow access to everyone who want test or build their own features). Asides of that, SL would run with a third party software protection method. There are some out there used a lot by MMORPG like game guard for example. This kind of process doesn’t allow to debuggers to run within the main game an neither any kind of “hack” that try to inject code into the game.

    So with this we get 2 ways or protect SL:

    – For one side we get the viewer protection. Since each viewer uses a license, no one will be able to connect to the main grid unless it uses the original viewer license which would be quickly traduced in a filtration of the license making it easier to find the one responsible of it.

    – And for the other side, we get software protection making it unable to use any kind of hack to access internal viewer memory (or at least, it could be a way harder to do it). This kind of software runs in background and is often updated to be up to date with the most common ways of intrusions.

    I recognize that changing from being Open Source to this kind of license may be a big change and I am not so used to this kind of changes and what would implies for LL. But so far I think it adds great measures of protection for everyone that at least will make harder for [less knowledgeable] people to steal a simple texture.

    Thanks again for your article and hope to see soon some more info about protecting our works 😉


    • I have thought about writing more on protecting creative works. I may. I have two tutorials on other parts of building for SL in process now.

      Discontinuing Open Source viewers… I think that is a bad idea. It would have some advantages, but protecting digital Intellectual Property (IP) is not one of them. The entertainment industry has tried for decades to protect music and movies. Every idea they have come up with has been cracked. I think that route is a dead end always leading to failure. If a computer is used to protect it, and a computer has to remove protection to display it… then someone will figure out how it is done.

      • I know may not be perfect. But trust me, thirdparty software running on background as gameguard and such really works. Ive tested by myself, is impossible to use any kind of “hack” tool on them. They are very sensitive and even others harmless process may be conflictive. So everything that try to acess to the main game is always restricted and in consecuence the game doesnt connect to internet and doesnt work. The game may not be to stop being OpenSource, there are still ways to implement thos softwares. I really think we should get at least something similar to that, they are really effective, almost impossible to hack, and they are updated daily like antivirus does. I think that limits in a 2% the possiblities to hack things like textures and meshes.

        And thanks for your answer. Looking forward for those tips to protect our content 😉 ♥

  2. I really think there is only one good solution to the issue of griefing and that is to require accounts have unique payment information on file. Accounts with no payment information on file need to be restricted, and used as test accounts. If I were to setup those accounts I would make two changes 1) require that those accounts only log in with the default LL viewer, and 2) remove the ability for those accounts to hold any inventory. No freebies, nothing received from others, nothing. It is the ability to create sooooo many accounts, and make the truly anonymous that makes griefing so easy. Blocking an account is meaningless because the griefer will have a new account minutes later, and the griefer has an account already that he never griefs with that just holds all the tools he needs to grief. So its a simple invetory swap to be back up and running. What LL needs to be blocking is any account created with a specific payment method.

    In my opinion until the ability to create these accounts is gone, the griefers will never be.

    • The problem with imposing such restrictions is that you throw out other use cases in Second Life, such as educators, whom aren’t going to register all their students with payment info on file and nor should they need to.

      Then we have alts for testing purposes, although this could be somewhat mitigated if we had one account, multiple avatars, rather than one account per avatar.

      Let’s also not forget that a reason people engage with Second Life is because they can get started for free, if we take that away, we’ll lose a lot of interest at registration.

    • That would reduce SL population to at 20% my friend.

      The key of a solution is to everyone gets benefit from it harming the less possible the rest of users or even LL.

      There are also others problems with that. SL would be then restricted to some countries and ages. Not everyone can afford or even have the rights to get a credit card for the PIOF. So that idea is a bit extreme.

  3. Pingback: What's this about extortion? - Page 4 - SLUniverse Forums

  4. Oh, this is a real well thought article, thank You 🙂

    Maybe our view could be widen even more.
    griefing has for sure an increasing economical aspect, on which ppl with reason and desire love to talk.
    There are also other dimensions. Some could just seen as annoying, some as harassing.
    It’s indeed really ‘annoying’ to sail peaceful somewhere and get hit by a wave of griefing ghoul particles.
    But will giving up privacy stopping this?
    do not believe that.

    Trading privacy for the hope on less griefing will never the smart answer. Sorry but, as You Nalates said the problem is far more complex.

    central collected privacy information can not be handled so safe that i will start giving LL mine and i were ok with that the last 6 years on SL.

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