Breaching the Peace in Second Life

by tom on December 9, 2006

I’m not sure why something I saw related to Second Life provoked me to write the first post on this blog in more than 8 months but this post on the Official Linden Blog regarding abuse management did.

According to my notes, Linden Lab received a grand total of 43 Abuse Reports during my first week of work in 2003. Jumping forward to the end of 2006, the number is closer to 2,000 per day.

It made me think a little about what this would mean in terms of RL
(real life)… I suppose it would indicate that a private security firm
providing the whole justice system (police + justice) would be at the very least too expensive.  Though there post on the subject got a lot more interesting as the writer articulated the proposed solution ….it continued…..

The main thrust of this project is to move our process away from the
current one report/one resolution model and towards a system that with
will quickly and accurately identity and manage those individuals and
behavior that make Second Life feel unwelcoming or unsafe. The revised
system will focus also on moving problems towards more useful paths for
resolution – specifically by enabling and encouraging the development
of inter-Resident mediation and dispute resolution options for those
issues Linden Lab isn’t equipped to resolve. A further emphasis will be
placed on self-resolution — by improivng existing tools like mute and
parcel-based access restrictions.

Now this seems problematic when seen in RL terms. Is the solution really restricting freedom of speech by muting? Why can’t they delegate some of the authority to volunteers who act as sheriffs or judges?  I find this all fairly thought provoking I’ve always thought of SL being a place that aims to be a utopia where residents have valuable facilities beyond those in RL (e.g. teleporting!) but when you think in terms of their articulated approach to security you start wondering if it isn’t ultimately going to be a sort of dystopia.

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