Jack Linden posted on the fate of the Mainland, a topic that is near and dear to the hearts of many who value Second Life history. The Mainland was there long before Islands, and for a time was the center of SL culture (and some would argue still is, although with the rapid expansion and lowered cost of islands I believe that mantle has been passed as more avatars stick to their private islands).
Many, many analyzers of Linden posts have picked his entry apart far better than I ever could (or would have the time for). One paragraph struck me in particular and I felt deserved special attention:
"It has always been a diverse and exciting place to have your inworld home, but in recent times it has also become a challenging and frustrating one. We have long had a policy of noninterference, instead applying the Terms of Service and Community Standards via abuse reporting. This made sense during the pioneer period of early adopters and rapid growth, but to echo Mitch Kapor’s recent speech at the Second Life birthday event, as our audience widens we have to take a more active part in guiding their experience. Unfortunately with the wonderful freedoms and creativity the Mainland offers have also come substantial problems that are unique to this area of the grid and so the time for change is now."
Let's pick that one apart a little.
"It has always been a diverse and exciting place to have your inworld home, but in recent times it has also become a challenging and frustrating one."
In recent times it's become challenging and frustrating? Let's try since February 2007, when ad farms began to attract public notice. If you consider that date, it's been a year and a half of frustration, out of SL's five years of existence (5 years and two months). 28.8% of SL's existence, life on the mainland has been a pain in the posterior. It would be as if Arizona lamented when it had joined the United States, or England the Magna Carta.
Taking into account the massive perceived time dilation in SL, it's been a long time. Where is this 'recent' coming from? Take note, also, that my example applies only to the earliest event I can recall. Ad farms probably began long before 2007, and there were probably even more challenges present before then.
In summary, claiming Mainland woes are 'recent' (whatever that means, Jack does not specify) is at best ignorance of history and at worst a poor attempt at whitewashing the past. While any company does not want their worst foot forward, I can't imagine that any company would attempt to spread such propaganda in the face of common sense. It would ruin public perception ('hey, they think we're idiots'). It might sway some into believing it, but on the whole I like to believe people are intelligent enough to cut through the crap.
"We have long had a policy of noninterference, instead applying the Terms of Service and Community Standards via abuse reporting."
This sentence caught my eye. What does this sentence mean? That from 2003 to 2008, the Terms of Service didn't apply to the Mainland? That I could have harassed and orbited fellow avatars with impunity? That abuse reporting is essentially worthless?
Upon first read it shouts to me that for a long time Linden Lab didn't give two shits about Mainland, and is now calling that dark history of neglect "noninterference". On the second inspection, one can see the subtle bullshit being served to you, that Linden Lab did not 'interfere' with the Mainland or SL and did not police the world even when receiving abuse reports.
If he had merely said they had a policy of noninterference, I would have agreed since they did not usually interfere UNLESS there was an abuse report and even then it had to be a Terms of Service violation (arguments between residents were usually ignored). But to claim that they have not applied the Terms of Service, let alone the Community Standards, is absurd. What was the police blotter? What were all those crimes being reported, made up figures created by Torley in a sour mood?
If he had merely said they had an inconsistent policy of interference, I would have agreed. But he does not state that. He directly states they had (and enforced, he says in subtle undertones) a policy to not interfere, and that they did not apply the Terms of Service to the Mainland. That is a load of bull that no one should believe in. Griefers can attest that the ToS was indeed applied on multiple occasions, and that known griefer alts are banned under 'harassment' among other infractions.
Finally, his wording is strange, too. "...instead applying the Terms of Service and Community Standards via abuse reporting."? Does that mean that a Linden had to file an abuse report in order for it to be noticed, and that they never exercised this power, and that the abuse report option for residents was similar to the blinking lights they show lab animals who think they're achieving something when in reality not doing anything at all? I am sure he meant abuse reports filed by residents, but his wording is poor. The devil is into details and you can't state something, because you know residents will take your words later as straight policy or history.
I think what he really wanted to say, and this is speculation on my part, that residents were left to settle their disputes between themselves by themselves, and the direction the residents took in forming the atmosphere of the sims was left alone. Why couldn't he just say that? It makes more sense and is much less of a gaffe than his original statement. I guess common sense still isn't enforced.
"This made sense during the pioneer period of early adopters and rapid growth, but to echo Mitch Kapor’s recent speech at the Second Life birthday event, as our audience widens we have to take a more active part in guiding their experience."
You would think that rapid expansion would lead to less active interference. With rapid expansion, the grid should reach some kind of critical point where the residents diversify enough to create and maintain their own experiences.
I read into this a faint paranoia that the grid isn't proceeding according to their own sensibilities. His reference to Mitch Kapor's speech lends some validity to this. To summarize, Ol' Mitch gave the older SL residents the back-handed slap, at once calling them outcasts and saying they should be, more or less, abandoned in favor of attracting a new audience. Jack agrees. Linden Lab wants to make Second Life what they think it should be, essentially destroying in the process their creed "Your World, Your Imagination". "Our World, and You'll Take It and Like It".
This is good policy if they are tackling such banes of society such as griefers or ad farms, or fixing some of those infohubs and orientation islands. Considering their tone, though, it seems as if they have their sights on those who focus on base attitudes such as sex, sex, and sex. No surprise there, it's made then a laughing stock in the general media (The Daily Show being the most memorable, go Youtube it).
If that is their aim, then give up now. No amount of pressure is going to remove cybering from SL. Google's Lively has sex rooms and cybering despite Google's active enforcement of banning such actions. The Second Life Herald found it and reported it, and probably just Googling "Lively Sex Rooms" will bring up bunches.
Or they could be referring to zoning sims, which is all the rage these days. I have no idea why, because I doubt it would help much, and enforcing it would be a pain. Picture LL's enforcement of PG/M/Adult ratings on sims now, and now expand it to include a multitude of ratings. Will it work? My guts tell me no. In all likelihood, loopholes will be found and exploited. Until LL shows it can follow an actual policy (such as actually enforcing their ad farm ban, and plug some of the holes in that piece of work), lay off of zoning. Otherwise, we'll get a half baked concept worse than what we have now.
"Unfortunately with the wonderful freedoms and creativity the Mainland offers have also come substantial problems that are unique to this area of the grid and so the time for change is now."
Golly gee whiz, haven't we heard this tune for the past three years now? The time for change was years ago, not now. I applaud them for trying to change, but if their track record has proven anything, it's that the change will be misdirected (ad farms), slow in coming (banks), or forgotten (age playing ban, casinos).
Words are cheap.