Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cutting Up Cut Land

Some time ago, Jack Linden mentioned that the good ol' folks down at the Lab are considering doing something about land cutting.

I do not really feel up to looking up the entire post, which is worded in the usual Lab speak. There's going to be a more detailed and formal policy in February. I can't wait to see how they're going to carry it out. That's the great thing when Linden Lab decides to law down the law, waiting to see how good or how bad they implement these things. It's like Christmas all the time!

Jack did ask us, the residents, a set of questions to 'aid' them in the drafting of this law. Comments aren't showing up but I wouldn't post one anyway because they'd probably remove it. And they are herding everyone onto the forums which are also moderated. They have a nasty history of removing things they find slightly not quite to their liking. So I'm just going to sit here and answer them, out of the way of everyone, where Linden Lab can't touch me. Neener Neener!

  • Do you agree in principle that land cutting needs to be a violation?
Oh joy! Let's begin the sweeping generalizations! You either answer 'yes', in which case you draw flak from people who say they need those little 16 sqm parcels for reasons ranging from bot farms to SLEX box holders (I wonder how the Lindens, having eaten SLEX, will handle those boxes) to being able to reshape/trade land about with neighbors or zoning or rearranging rentals or something.

And if you answer 'no', you draw flak from those who are against ad farms. They will guilt you. They'll say, "16 sqm is the parcel of choice for ad farms and land extortion'. They will point out that there is no real use for such tiny parcels.

Perhaps we need some clarification of how Linden Lab would deal with this. Jack?

"The owning of cut land would not be a violation (unless you cut it in the first place), rather it is the act of cutting it that would be the violation."

Thanks for coming, Jack. So, cutting the land would be the problem. And here is where I think the question about land cutting lies with what you plan to do with the cut parts. I believe if you're cutting them up for a tasteful and reasonable purpose, then it should be your right. The problem lies in people who cut these things up and set them to sale for crazy prices (one was obviously set by someone being snarky: L$314,159,265 or thereabouts).

And those who cut them up to be annoying. Imagine buying a giant parcel, and discovering a tiny 16 sqm in the middle, the owner of it then erecting ugly towers in the middle of your lovely mini-mall or forest build or something lovely. Or erecting banlines on it, confusing your customers or visitors when they strike it.

I think that, with a few exceptions that will probably crop up, those are the two big offenses right there. That is what people typically complain about when they complain about land cutting. Land prices being set outrageously and ugliness being set upon them. That is the land cutting I disapprove and I think outside of that the little 16 sqm squares are fairly innocuous.
  • Are there any legitimate reasons for land cutting (excluding profit) that we should consider when setting policy?
As I said above, instead of thinking about the exceptions to a blanket ban on land cutting, they should define what it is they are going to ban. They should plan it well, because as we saw with ad farms, people will find loopholes about the law (with ad farms, the trick was not selling the ad farm land, thus evading the language which stated it was wrong in 'setting too high a price' or something like that). It would do them much good to draft a rough policy, run it through the residents and a bunch of people to see if loopholes can be found, plug them up, and then implement it.
  • With land that is already cut up, but still mostly owned by the resident that cut it, should we ask that the land be joined back together?
See above. The main issue is how they are using it. How they are USING it.

On one hand, answering his questions feels repetitious. But I suppose it is necessary because while I am single minded and feel fairly confident I could tell whether a 16 sqm is being abused or not, the general populace of Second Life is much more creative than me. I can easily imagine them reporting any kind of cutting of land, especially that of a rival or enemy. Jack is probably trying to angle and see how such a policy would be abused. Like the time I was reported for saying 'crap' in PG land. Me being cranky as I am, I then said, "Oh shit, I've been reported." and then dared them to report that. I mean, if I was having my neck placed under the ban hammer, might as well commit the offense I'm being strung for.

On the whole, I am sort of pleased by this. As Jack mentions, cutting up land is part of why the Mainland looks like a war zone in places. Nunchuck help us, though, if they rush in on this. As history shows, when they make up their minds, it takes a lot of energy to convince them they're wrong or need to change.

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