Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dear Linden Lab, is this what you call ethics?

On May 14 2007, I was unwillingly thrust into a series of events that started off with a Linden Lab employee (Meta Linden) accusing me of having violated the Second Life TOS by posting private chat conversations on a 3rd party site.
Hello Honey W. We're receiving reports of you posting private conversations on your blog. I understand you may have good intentions but breaking the TOS isn't the way to handle this. -- Meta Linden.
I debated the validity of this accusation, having well known that posting this type of material outside Linden Lab resources was not a violation of the Second Life TOS. Ms. Meta Linden, then went back and asked her fellow Lindens if this was a violation, they replied in negative, which resulted in an apology by her.
Hi Honey I checked with more other Lindens (I am new btw) and discovered that while our TOS doesn't state that it only covers SL Servers, and the intention is to protect the privacy of all resident conversations, that we do not enforce outside of our servers, forums, and blogs, as a matter of policy. I was incorrect. I apologize. -- Meta Linden.
I accepted her apology at once, and posted the full apology here so that no one would confuse her intial TOS violation notice to me as a change in policy by Linden Lab. A normal story would end here, having had a happy ending. But this is not a normal story, nor has it been completely put to light.

To really tell this story, I have to go back a week earlier, when I wrote an article titled "The secret gathering of virtual dykes" -- a funny recollection of a mistaken invite to a private chat conference. Where I discovered that a large number of people were worried about how voice would change everything for them. I found this funny, and having had something similar happen to me twice the same week (first time it was by a bunch of my dorkish friends who invited me by mistake), I thought of blogging about it.

At this time I'd like to point out that I do not have any kind of malice towards people of the transgender community, in fact I do not even believe the conversations I overheard were of any person who was transgender. Would a transgender individual hide their real birth sexual identity within Second Life? I do not believe so. That's something totally different. And that was what those people in the conversation were doing, they were not transgender but rather posers. I've also got a very close friend of mine in SL/RL, who is transgender, at no time did she try to hide her birth sex and how she felt now. Sadly, the hormones that were given to her prior to her operation caused formation of breast cancer and thus she had to stop her change for now.

Thus, I'm very understanding of transgender individuals and I know the difference between those that I overheard and those that are transgender. Regardless, a comment was posted under that topic yesterday morning at 11:32 AM by a Cala Wired Faerie (Super Calamari within SL), that said the following:

I'm so glad you find it funny. It's ignorance and rudeness like yours that drives the transgender community to despair and depression and yes, to suicide. "Virtual Dykes", indeed. Try having a little empathy before you post ignorant drivel like this again.


And oh, by the way - despite the fact that you might have the greatest of intentions in pursuing CP in SL, you yourself are breaking the very TOS you whinge about in http://honeywendt.blogspot.com/2007/04/age-player-promises-to-stalk-me.html in your other posts - so be aware, you have been AR'ed.

And no, being a vigilante is no excuse. Continue and you are likely to be banned.

I saw this message much later in the day and I responded to her assuring to her that I was not writing at all about the transgender community. I did not at any time feel those posers were anything like my friend, it would be quite disturbing to suggest such. Ms. Cala went on to suggest that I was breaking the TOS, (she was mearly mistaken about posting of conversations on 3rd party sites / vs TOS breaking within SL). Since the start of this blog, I've been posting conversations lifted off Second Life, ( Ms. Meta Linden had already informed me last night that this was not a violation of the TOS). Ms. Cala went on to state that she has abuse reported me, (i do not understand the reason for this abuse report), in her fury she stated that I'd likely be banned. She sounded very angry, bitter and vengeful, I tried responding to her as calmly as I possibly could, since she had felt this was a topic close to her. Somehow I was too late.

Going back to yesterday's topic... a number of sites picked up my debate with Ms. Meta Linden, one of them was a story by Prokofy Neva titled "Linden cracks down on the third-party blog!", on the Second Life Herald, I was reading the conversations on that article when I came to one posted by Ms. Meta Linden, posted verbatim as follows:

One last comment I'll add here, given what's already happened. I, obviously, am Cala - very out transgender resident and roleplay sim owner (yay open source CCS, go Suzanna!). I am a human person with my own perspectives, as well as a responsible new employee of Linden Lab. I have some obvious reasons for strongly supporting personal privacy. Yes, I have been physically bashed multiple times for who I am- I don't raise this for pity, it's a valid reason for why I deserve privacy. I joined Linden Lab as an excited resident, thanks to Phillip's well-stated plea on the blog and in the townhalls, because I have a skillset that's been sorely needed, and because I'm excited to make the grid a better place- exactly the same fervor I've seen from all of you. This is why I and many of my peers follow all of your blogs, intently read your responses to our blog posts, and participate in the discussions. We really are listening, and trying our best to interactively discuss, and get the discussions to be better and more productive.

We are working hard to make the grid better. This is harder to do as the system gets more complex and as more attention falls apon us, and the system will have to change to accommodate. It is infinitely more complex because what we make is a New Life - and I sincerely believe it is a Better Life, and this makes everyone very passionate about the topic. I encourage other passionate residents to apply- we really need your help- no matter your personal background, as long as you can help work toward the *Greater* good.

The Grid is made up of people, and so is Linden Lab. Make no mistake, no matter how many servers we add, it is the needs of our people that need to be met, and there is no such thing as consensus at this scale, particularly with an international audience. Even the Lindens are made up of People, humans who are also passionate about the grid and have ideas on how best to meet that need. We do best when we *participate* in these discussions and honestly listen, and learn, and change. I learned a lot today. I look forward to learning more tomorrow... and much further on. No matter how hard the criticism comes.

Even if my outing results in more SL grief (sim-crashes, thanks, I've already had plenty, and today will just exacerbate things via attacks from the PNs) or even more physical attacks to me from people who will link my RL identity with Cala- the fact that it only took an hour to get Cala linked to my Linden av only illustrates my point on how easy it is to get outed- it is still worth it to be out and direct and honest and communicate directly.

-Meta / Cala.

Posted by: Meta Linden

I was shocked just by reading the first line of Ms. Meta Linden's post. Her claim that she's "Cala", aka Super Calamari, made whole of yesterday sound totally different. I went back and re-read multiple times the whole conversation Ms. Meta Linden had with me, and then went and read the vengeful note by Cala. I could not believe these two people were the same person.

Obviously, I started seeing this whole series of events in a different light, considering I got :
... so be aware, you have been AR'ed. And no, being a vigilante is no excuse. Continue and you are likely to be banned. -- Cala @ 11 am
followed right after by:
"Hello Honey W. We're receiving reports of you posting private conversations on your blog. I understand you may have good intentions but breaking the TOS isn't the way to handle this." -- Meta Linden @ 1:49 PM
It seems very likely that Ms. Cala, after having been obviously agitated by an article of mine, and after threatening to have me banned, have logged backed into her Linden Lab account and issued me the above warning. It seems that she has abused her power as a Linden to get back at me for things I wrote in the article "The secret gathering of virtual dykes". This makes me real sad.

The warning too was designed to scare me, and so induce a total deletion of my blog. But this did not happen, as I knew very well my right to post whatever I liked on my own personal blog, I debated this matter and was unwilling to give up. It's now likely that she did not want the article on age-play removed, but rather this other article on a secret gathering of virtual dykes.

But why did she go so far? Why did she misuse her authority? Why did she lie about having received abuse reports about an article I posted 1 day earlier (having full known the LL abuse system is not that fast).

I feel completely lost at this point, and completely betrayed by a person who has powers that she can abuse whenever she feels like doing it. How many others have been put in the position I had been put, and mistreated? This is completely unfair and totally destroys any credibility I had in Linden Lab.

Dear Ms. Cala/Meta Linden,

I would like you to explain to my why you did this, I do not seek an apology, I only wish to know why you'd abuse these powers. You had only to msg me as Cala and tell me how frustrated/annoyed you were at my post regarding virtual dykes, I would have spoken to you greatly of it and eased any misunderstanding you had. I am very sorry my article hurt your feelings, but at the same time I'm not very happy at how childishly you responded to this and how you had mistreated me. Please write to me in game, I'd like to speak to you.

Dear Linden Lab,

Is this ethical? I would like to know why a Linden Lab employee was allowed to put a resident in this kind of position. I do not want anything to happen to Ms. Cala's position within your corporation, but I'd like an assurance from you that things of this nature would not happen in the future. We invest in your company by living in the world you created for us, treat us with respect and we'd treat you back with respect. Please put guidelines and safeguards in place so that a similar event would never occur. Please create an internal review board similar to the board that CCP has created for EVE-Online to combat misconduct. Your company is growing so fast that such a board is necessary.

I would also like to see a more transparent link between Lindens and their in-game non-Linden accounts. Further cutting back on abuse.

Thank you.


The said...

ZOMG that's some crazy linden! i hope she's doing ok though she sounds depressed etc and a bit crazy ha!

honey your article is very cool and i agree with you LL needs an internal review board, the one in eve-online has been cool so far, they've even let developers into resident corporations too cause of how well it's monitored now. back in eve what happend was one of the developers got some blueprints to his corp members (made it out of thin air -- similar to making Linden dollars out of thin air), and gave that corp a huge advantage. ofcourse this lead to a complete melt down and when the whole thing came to light the company suffered real bad thus the review board.

also your right about lindens being transparent, i'd like to see this, apart from say torley the others who became lindens never really put on their old accounts that they are lindens. this can lead to some weird abuse as you mentioned. not to say the least the amount of drama wtfbbq in sl.

so plz bring internal review board and linden to non-linden av connection (put in your profile.. my non-linden account is so and so and vs versa). AND VIDEO!! ftw

Cocoanut Koala said...

The real life media needs to catch on to the fact that LL employees have secret alts.

They need to expose the fact that LL employees are not required to divulge their alts, and are allowed to profit under secret alts from businesses of their own on the platform they run, in addition to using their alts to threaten and harass other residents in SL.

This corrupt system needs full exposure in the media.

LL can protect itself by publishing the names of all their employees' alts, and requiring any employee who refuses to publish an alt's name to terminate that alt.


Mikayla said...

Is Linden Lab really so desperate that they are willing to hire anybody without checking out what they are doing BEFORE they are hired.

I find this to be a total abuse of power, and with this person JUST beginning LL, I'd like to think that this is just an isolated incident, but who knows how far this goes. Does a reassurance from LL really do anything?

I am looking forward to where this leads.

fFord Brearly said...

you go girl....you know I am 100% behind you

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