Apparently, Resident reaction to Linden Lab™’s ham-fisted banning of the SL Kids from the Second Life® Fifth Birthday Celebration (previously, previously) had at least some positive effect: LL apparently called off the dogs, allowed the Kids to submit applications again, and expanded the celebration to two weeks (from the previous one week). For a time, all seemed to be well on the Grid (well, aside from the various technical glitches…but, at this point, SL without technical glitches is like ExxonMobil without a corporate acquisition policy).
Unfortunately, LL hasn’t finished butting into what was supposedly a Resident-run celebration. Jacek Antonelli reports that Trinity Coulter, who had taken over as primary organizer of SL5B from SignpostMarv Martin after the latter resigned in protest over LL’s initial meddlings, has been forced out of that position by Dusty Linden. Several other organizers are out as well, according to both Jacek and Shoshana Epsilon. Meanwhile, Dusty is also vetting all the images for the art exhibition, rejecting any that have a “child” avatar in the same frame with either an “adult” avatar, or with a bed of any sort. Never mind that absolutely nothing sexual may be going on in the pictures, or that all avatars therein may be dressed in outfits that wouldn’t so much as raise an eyebrow in church.
I’m willing to assume that Dusty is not the originator of these decisions, and is just passing on policy as dictated from a higher level. Ditto with people like Everett. So the question becomes: Who’s calling the shots on this policy, and why? Linden Lab’s own policy (“The Tao of Linden“) states:
There are many ways to emphasize responsibility, accountability, communication and trust. We believe that the one key principle that best supports all of these values is transparency. As much as possible, tell everyone what you are doing, all the time. This transparency makes us responsible to our peers, makes us accountable to our own statements, and replaces the need for management with individual responsibility. Over time, it creates and reinforces trust. Be willing to share ideas before you feel they are ‘baked’. Report on your own progress frequently and to everyone.
Yet LL can be notoriously UN-transparent about a great many things when it suits them. We have had these policies dictated to us, in a manner which has never happened before in the history of Second Life Birthday Celebrations. Yet, in terms of rationale for these policies, we have heard precisely bupkis.
Last time, I challenged M Linden, new CEO of LL, to come out and give us a statement as to the policies being laid down for this celebration. So, have we heard anything?
(sound of crickets chirping)
Look, M, Philip, all the rest of you Lindens, we’re all adults here, even those of us in avatars that look like children; your own age-verification systems encourage that. We know about that fundy bluenose shitbag Mark Kirk (Stupid Party-Peoples’ Republic of Illinois) and his moralizing crusade, and we also know he doesn’t really give a shit about child avatars in Second Life, because all politicians really care about is getting elected, then getting RE-elected. We know about Sky News and their little “gotcha!” exposes, and we know why they do it: because it translates into viewers, which translates into ratings, which translates into money. Is it these kind of dipshits that have you so scared, you feel the need to impose new, draconian restrictions on content at what’s supposed to be a celebration “by the Residents, for the Residents”? If so, why not simply TELL US? Sure, it would piss off a lot of people, but at least you’d be being honest with the people that, ultimately, are responsible for paying for your world…and, at least, we’d know WHO to hate.
With two weeks to go before SL5B starts, the whole affair looks to be coming apart at the seams. At this point, I’m glad I didn’t try to involve myself with this fiasco, and I predict the whole thing will turn into a shambles and a public-relations disaster for Linden Lab. The irony is, by making such a fuss over child avatars this time around, LL is playing right into the hands of the Mark Kirks, the Sky News people, and others who automatically equate any “child” avatar with kiddie porn, and start saying, “Icky! Icky! BAN! BAN!” Nice way to invoke the Law of Unintended Consequences, LL.
Meanwhile, I sit over on Lexxotica and continue to wonder…how soon before LL works their way down to me?
UPDATE: Prokofy Neva continues to take the Lindens’ side…a stance which I find somewhat puzzling, as he himself has been the recipient of arbitrary Linden Lab shaftings in the past. But this isn’t mere schadenfreude on his part.
UPDATE: Vint Falken has reopened her JIRA issue dealing with this, “MISC-1231: Missing Cultures and Communities from SL5B.” Go vote for it if you haven’t already.