Friday, January 30, 2009

Another Reason People Leave SL

Last night, I wrap up a trivia game when a new-to-SL friend pings me, says hi, and asks if I can maybe help fix his avatar—he'd been messing with settings and the results were not good! So I teleport him to my sky platform, which I usually roll out over a "sandbox"—a public area where anyone can build things and write scripts—and we chat while he goes through boxes of items he picked up somewhere and works on setting up his avatar.

I bring my sky platform down lower than usual so my friend can fly—without help, avatars can only fly up a few hundred meters—and immediately a stranger is on my platform. She leaves right away, but a few minutes later someone else appears in the sandbox…and launches an attack against me and my friend.

What's an attack in Second Life? In this case, it's a flood of cubes and particles streamed up towards us from the ground. The particles are merely annoying and slow down your Second Life client; however, the cubes are physical and follow an avatar. If you have nowhere to run, the cubes dogpile on top of you, effectively pinning you to a spot. And, of course, the cubes and the particles are festooned with a well-known obscene image that's been an Internet meme for several years. So it's about the last thing you want filling your screen.

Tens of thousands of people are logged into SL at any given moment—often over 70,000 on the weekends—but only a small portion are "griefers" who do things like this. They use throwaway accounts—easy, since Second Life accounts are free—load them up with attack scripts and tools from their primary accounts, and set out to wreak as much havoc as possible. To them it's just funny. They don't care if the account gets deleted because they'll just make another and have another go. Griefers do it for the "lulz"—a term evolved from LOL ("laugh out loud") used in instant messaging and online communications. They love to rile people up, disrupt what they're doing, shock folks…and then laugh about it. A handful of griefers have what it takes to take down a sim or seriously disrupt Second Life, and SL has at least one major group of organized griefers. They even made the news in 2007 by attacking the virtual site of one-time U.S. presidential candidate John Edwards—a prank that no doubt produced "epic lulz" they found very fulfilling. But these folks aren't confined to SL—they also roam bulletin boards, Web sites, and online games. And for the most part they're just juvenile and annoying.

Since griefers only get their lulz if you get riled up about them, in Second Life the best thing to do is sit down (that way objects can't push you), file an abuse report, and just leave. Don't engage them in conversation or try to retaliate, because that's just more lulz.

So, I filed an abuse report on the avatar that launched the attack (I'll name him here—Umgah Chrome—the account has since been deleted) and got my friend to a safer spot elsewhere in SL. But I know if I'd seen that kind of thing in my first days of Second Life, I'd never have come back. The rude boys are bad enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. You can use some HTML tags, such as <b>, <i>, <a>. If you'd like to contact me privately, use a blog comment and say you don't want it published.