After my assiduous abuse reports and appeals for over a year now, the Lindens have finally taken action against a group of people who have been stalking and harassing me -- the so-called "Woodbury University."
Land bought in Furness next door to me in Ravenglass for the sole purpose of harassing me and my tenants has been confiscated by LL, in a move which some might find as suspect and controversial, but others might see as part of a growing willingness by Linden Lab to leave their hippie anarcho-capitalist technolibertarian days, and become a more established business determined to make a grid viable for civil society online.
For more than a year now (more like 2, if you start observing the harassment to which Hazim Gazov's earliest alts subjected to me), each time the Woodbury group harassed and stalks me, often on fresh alts, I have to spend days -- weeks -- trying to abuse report each little infraction, trying to get them to see the patterns. When I saw that Tizzers Foxchase was finally permabanned for harassing numerous people and groups, not only me and my tenants, I realized the Lindens may be finally getting over their hippie reluctance to enforce their own TOS in some consistent and systematic matter. They certainly have enough incident reports over a year showing that Woodbury is not a university, not involved in education, not doing any legitimate research, but only designed as a gigantic grief spoof to torment others and keep everyone tied up in thumb-sucking knots presumably about the rights of researchers, but they have been very, very slow to move -- until now.
For once, they've responded within 24 hours, and responded very decisively in a way which is sure to raise controversy for the Woodbury fellow-travlers, and possibly others not sufficiently briefed on the pattern of harassment and prevarication of these people, but which I hope will help create a more free space for real education and real creativity in Second Life, not the faux "learning" of griefers.
The actions the Lindens took -- and failed to take for a very long time -- illustrate the difficulties in trying to build a civil society online, where your greatest enemy often isn't the state, but non-state actors who constantly make anonymous alts to cause harm, who constantly lie about what they are doing and distract everyone with trumped-up debates about their rights and liberties, and who usually end up being able to get off with only a 3-day ban, or elimination of that day's alt.
If you are asking about the rights to free inquiry and speech and education in Second Life, and imagine that they are violated if a stalker and harasser has his account closed and land seized, you haven't educated yourself about the real activities and real intentions of this group, and you are letting yourself being stampeded into a typical technolibertarian kneejerk reaction to violate in fact even your own beliefs. Because if a community of people is not free to pursue their business, non-profit work, and education in Second Life because some visible critics and visible land owners like me are constantly stalked and harassed and intimidated, then how can you talk about rights?
These issues are worth bothering with, and worth studying, because they constitute very visible, accelerated, and interesting prototypes and simulations of the problems as they play out in real life with crime, criminal conspiracies in extremist groups, and terrorists. That's why I bother. People who have trouble reasoning by analogy or contemplating similes, and are bound by literalist thinking and linear reasoning need read no further.
Yes, the Lindens finally deal with *a group* -- although the Lindens didn't act upon it in the way that I think they should have, by closing the group, but they did take action against the leader, MC Fizgig, who was sole owner of his property, without any group as such, other than Woodbury University which I believe wasn't used to hold this land.
I knew that when I gave an interview to Julian Dibbell for Wired in which I exposed the evil logic of both griefers and of Wired for finding them interesting and useful, I'd likely face a huge, fresh whallop of griefing. For a day after the article appeared, my two Ravenglass sims crashed about 6 times, as did some of their neighbours. Some of my tenants saw the culprits, the usual 1-day-old alt. Obviously, none of us, and even the Lindens, can tie alts to certain activities, but after a time, they slip up, or the Lindens gather enough information.
When I logged in to SL nearly 2 days ago and saw that the land next to me in Ravenglass was purchased, I checked the owner, and my heart sunk: it was MC Fizgig, the professor of Woodbury, who is some kind of extremist ideologically as you can see from this interview, apparently an actual teacher of digital arts and communications at this rather strange university (even by California standards).
I had tangled with him before, when I first wrote an article about the Woodbury griefing and their fake comments to me, then asked him for comments. He refused to give an interview to me when I asked some pointed questions about Woodbury last year, when I began researching the constant complaints coming about this fake "research" island that in fact was a headquarters for conspiratorial, organized griefing. Why? Because he believed in muzzling the press -- that no one could report on griefing until they "got the griefers' side of the story". He then gave the maudlin and misleading interview to the provocateur Pixeleen, saying that he had "minority students" and couldn't be guilty of racism, but on his own profile, you can see the trademark 1970s Afro-wearing black avatar that has been used on the "Pool's Closed" meme around Habbo Hotel for years now. Why would he put a picture like that parading around in an avatar like that unless he was -- as we used to say in the 1960s -- "part of the problem, and not part of the solution"?!
I exposed the phony alibis of this group and their "teacher", and also began assiduously documenting what they actually did, not their fake protests of being "students", and also abuse reported them constantly as they continued to harass me and my tenants -- prim litter, IMs, repeated TPs, notecard pushing of taunting items like Prokofy puppets, payments to my rentals when they are banned, joining of my open group, flying around and intimiating people, tampering with prims like the voting booths on my mall, putting out giant boxes with my picture on it from RL and various grief slogans, and of course crashing the sims, which they sometimes boldly did on their mains, and sometimes on their alts.
By reporting on this, and occasionally writing about it, I was subjected occasionally to more griefing, but that's fine, I don't follow the school of thought that says you must be driven into silence and muzzled because you are victimized by a griefer, and the only way to prevent new attacks is to maintain a mafia-like omerte, or silence about crimes, thereby in fact implicating yourself in the perpetuation of what they do.
MC Fizgig, if he was sincere about starting a new "campus" for his "university" -- which of course he isn't -- wouldn't have to go to an established sim with commercial rentals along a Linden roadside near the very high-trafficked newbie welcome islands and buy land that costs $16 or $18/meter. (For some other commentary on the antics of Fizgig, read here.)
This roadside parcel in Furness, which is part of a cluster of 4 mainland sims mostly owned by me, near Ravenglass, isn't cheap, isn't quiet, and is an odd size for anybody on a budget -- normally when people pay the $25 a month for a 4096 m2, they find a parcel of that size, not one odd-shaped and odd-sized for less than that, at 3328, but not as low as 2048 m2, so that they pay tier for land they can't even use.
People serious about setting up a real scholarly enterprise would go to a new sim, spend half the money, get a 4096 m2, and find a quieter place, maybe even in PG, with far less lag and traffic.
But he's not sincere, he's merely a ringleader of a group trying to stalk and harass me. For months and months -- and then again in this latest incident -- here's how it would work, over and over again, ever since my early report on their fake edu-sim in the Herald in April 2007:
Trebesan Klary, Tizzers Foxchase, Windowlic Klaar, and others in the Prokofy Fan Club, an organized griefing posse, would arrive on the Ravenglass area sims, either near my office in Alston, on the road to Maryport from Ravenglass, or on the Ravenglass Commons. They have all been repeatedly banned, but I've found that some of them were getting removed from the ban list, not certain how, possibly by using alts to pose as innocent tenants who got resident status to use "ban powers" then erasing themselves. I put them right back in.
On the night of January 23, I found Trebesan and At0M0ic Beerbaum, another frequent trespasser and taunter, sporting the "Ravenglass Rental" tag from joining my group, and putting out prims. Now...they aren't tenants. Sure, you can join open groups. But...why join them if you aren't a tenant or legitimate builder? Your joining after being repeatedly -- dozens of times -- expelled indicates that you are taunting, griefing, trying to exploit the openness of a group merely to turn the tables on it, to try to goad it into closing (that has been a long-time goal) -- basically, to work against the values of a civil society, exploiting the very openness of it in order to goad people into closing it.
MC Fizgig didn't remain around long when I flew in and saw them gallavanting around Furness, but the others had their orders and set to building a huge mushroom-like build, making faux edu comments all along the way. Intlibber Brautigan was on hand to provide guidance, and perhaps financing in his marvelous financial empire of um un-bank and therefore non-closed services related to his stock market, in which some of the Woodbury griefers are investors and have even been employees of his empire. (Remember when Intlibber fought them and gathered dossiers on them and said as much, before he decided to buy them out?)
Intlibber openly admits to hiring Woodbury b/tard goons and pretends that he isn't doing this to goad a critic and I suppose competitor (though he is in island rentals), but he thinks that's how the free market takes care of griefers: buys them out. I call that something else: mafia-like extortion.
So first thing that happens, Intlibber agitated the Woodburies to abuse report me for prim encroachment. Even Warren Finnegan didn't fall for that, but claimed falsely this would be "using my methods". Technically, there is a tiny corner of a prim belonging to a pavement on my land that is jutting on to this over-priced land that had sat there for months and months, ever since being confiscated another time for non-payment and sold at a high price on the auction. I'm happy to move prims when I have actual neighbours, not no-show auction flippers with hugely high prices -- indeed, until I logged on, I hadn't realized I had these "lovely" new neighbours. So that's all fake.
Next, Shaun Altman arrived, TP'd in by his new friend Windowlic -- part of the goon strategy lately has been to both grief Shaun mercilously, merely because he's become a public figure and that's what they do, and also pretend that some of them condemn that griefing, and are now his friends and advisors, who can tell him the inside story of the councils of griefers. They tried this Leninist terror technique on Intlibber successfully as well, which is why some of them are now handily infiltrated into the Intlibber empire.
Shaun pretended there was no griefing or harassment going on, and flew away. I sat down and began a careful abuse report, explaining that MC Fizgig was harassing me by stalking me to an area obviously owned mainly by me, near my flagship sim, to mount a base for a group that had constantly been trespassing on my land for months and bothering my tenants (there are dozens and dozens of reports of this, the Woodburies constantl congregated on this area to try to taunt, mock, intimidate, annoy, but skirt the TOS -- they were AR'd anyway because doing this enough times *does* make up a pattern of harassment and the Lindens *do* finally act.
I also wrote a note to Robin Linden in which I explained that the patterns of harassment may not be visible, that the G-team was exasperatingly being cynical to me when I pointed out the patterns in person at their daily meetings or in ARs, and were usually failing to act. Both in the AR, and in the email to Robin, I urged the Lindens to try to look at the entire year of incidents, and also track the dates and times of these 4 sim crashes, and the persons in the sim when this occurred. I find that this constant sim crashing is a real habit of these Woodbury goons -- they even apparently get careless and do it from their mains like Ralewyn did on occasion, or their alts are too obvious. Alyx Stoklitsky always flies in on the heels of the griefing posse as if he is monitoring it or urging it to stop, instead of helping to instigate it and covering it up.
I got no reply from Robin -- I haven't received any answer to her for months about various concerns I've raised, and indeed, she did tell us in the office hours that increasingly, she has to hand over the duties of customer service to Cyn Linden. I believe at one point she had mentioned that I should talk to Cyn about my repeated concerns of the issue of griefing in a systematic manner falling between the stools of G-team, which looks at each incident in isolation, and community, which won't look at policing. Cyn's office hours are at 5:00 am my time and I can't get to them normally.
I have no idea if Robin got involved in this latest harassment of me by Woodbury, but I hope so -- it would be reasonable if she did, because far from seeking any special treatment, what I was seeking was *the normal treatment each and every one of us should get from the G-team* which is ACTING upon repeated abuse reports that show A PATTERN of stalking and harassment, instead of WAITING FOR A YEAR to do something about it (!).
So can you have your land confiscated merely for building a demonstrative grief-build to annoy, and stalking Prokofy into an area established as his rentals? I don't think so, and I surely wouldn't advocate confiscating land on that basis. And, I might add, if you *could* get land confiscated and accounts closed on that basis, gosh, I have a list of dozens of such situations lol.
Can you have your account closed and your land confiscated for continuing in a gross pattern of stalking and harassment that gets to be pretty obvious after awhile, even if the latest headquarters for your antics are still being built? Most likely. Could there be something more we're not seeing, such as being caught in plans for worst griefing, or crashing of sims? Very likely, but we'll never know.
I abuse reported all the people in the group, starting with MC Fizgig, for stalking and harassment, not building something that was ugly and laggy with taunting slogans (the FIC slogan was clearly in evidence on the Woodbury sign).
If that were the case, gosh, I'd be able to abuse report the Refrigerator of Ravenglass and other ugly builds, but I have no TOS basis for that, nor any expectation that the Lindens can act on it.
I can see as I was drafting this article, Shaun Altman and the Herald are winding up to portray me falsely as someone who has gained some kind of special favour from Linden Lab, which they imagine is a great "man bites dog" story, as I'm the one always railing against special favours the Lab dispenses to everyone else, including to Shaun, as a member of the select and prestigious SL Views.
Here's our chatlog, after I TP'd Shaun into look at Furness, since he had come along with the griefing posse originally:
You: Ok you were here last night correct?
You: remember what was on that parcel?
Shaun Altman: I do
You: now look at it, and its new owner
Shaun Altman: a tower
Shaun Altman: yes I see that
Shaun Altman: did u do that? :)
You: when I need to get something done, I get it done
Shaun Altman: Sweet
You: look in the People list
Shaun Altman: I wouldn't know who to look for
You: well non-People list then
Shaun Altman: the 2 people who's names I remember are there
You: not the land owner
Shaun Altman: Can I see the voting thinggy btw?
Shaun Altman: oh who owned it
Shaun Altman: ?
You: I ahve no idea what you're talking about
You: I have a voting lodge in Barton
You: I don't have any voting thing here
Shaun Altman: oh I heard something last night about a voting thing lol
Shaun Altman: with 5 choices?
Shaun Altman: maybe I misheard
You: oh that's something from a year ago maybe? I dunno they are retarded
Shaun Altman: oh lol
Shaun Altman: yeah I just flew over for a sec to see this "tower" I heard of
You: um righty
Shaun Altman: Its interesting that LL deletes content and reclaims land for u though
You: well if you were part of it, this is what you need to see: it's gone now
You: no, they enforce the TOS when ARs are filed
Shaun Altman: a part of what?
Shaun Altman: and how is a tower against TOS?
You: I don't think you'll get LL to divulge info on disciplinary actions they take against people
Shaun Altman: Well I sure hope they would not reclaim my land and ban me if my mainland neighbor didn't like my build heh
Shaun Altman: What I see here worries me, but I don't really understand the context.
Shaun Altman: I gotta get back to work tho.. let's IM
All the groovy kids in the Metaverse want to have collectivism, groups, collaboration (a word I prefer), wisdom of crowds, instant group gropes. But they don't ever want groups to take responsibility the way individuals do. They want them to be beyond the scope of law forever, always claiming that you can't determine what all the members of a group's intentions or even actions have been.
But there *is* a way you *can* deal with groups -- by disciplining their leaders, and those members you can catch at griefing -- and by watching the systematic intent to harass, and preventing it from continuing.
And I'll bet the Herald will attempt to have an empty-headed, grief-lubbing field day with this one, as Mr. Jessica Holyoke approached me as well in the usual fake griefer's manner:
[20:24] Jessica Holyoke: Hello. My name is Jessica Holyoke and I am a reporter for the Herald. I am following up with a story found here: http://www.shaunaltman.com/articles/2008/01/24/property-snatched-by-linden-lab ,that states that you used your insider connections with Linden lab in order to get people banned from Second Life and their plots seized. I am following up for my editor in case her attempts to contact you for your comments were in vain due to her possibly being muted.
[20:24] Prokofy Neva: ROFL I didn't use any "inside contacts," I filed an Abuse Report against a group of people who had harassed and stalked me for a year
[20:25] Prokofy Neva: and who crashed 4 sims repeatedly where my rentals are, where the bought property
[20:25] Prokofy Neva: I guess the Lindens finally read and acted up on their abuse reports
[20:25] Prokofy Neva: I have a blog on this coming out soon you can read *shrugs*
[20:25] Jessica Holyoke: thank you very much
[20:25] Prokofy Neva: oh I'll have to read what Shaun wrote, he was in the griefing posse himself
[20:26] Prokofy Neva: and you're not a reporter, you're a provocateur, you never "report" anything but are just part of the whole gang of incitement there at the Herald
[20:26] Prokofy Neva: and you know that Mr. Jessica
[20:26] Prokofy Neva: : )
[20:27] Jessica Holyoke: so how do you know that your neighbors were the same group of people that were griefing you for over a year?
[20:27] Prokofy Neva: oh I imagine Shaun, a favourite of the Herald these days, is trying to play a retaliation game here because recently, I've been repeatedly questioning him about where the money invested in Cyberland has gone
[20:28] Prokofy Neva: as his investors are wishing to know
[20:28] Prokofy Neva: also his "liquidation" of Ginko
[20:28] Prokofy Neva: and how do I know/ Because they have the same names, their names repeatedly occur over and over
[20:28] Prokofy Neva: in fact they are all banned from my rentals, it's the exact same people, they don't even bother with alts
[20:28] Prokofy Neva: YOUR defense of this griefing industry is what needs to be questioned sir
[20:28] Prokofy Neva: anyway read my blog
[20:28] Prokofy Neva: did you pass the bar yet?
[20:29] Jessica Holyoke: thank you for answering my questions
[20:29] Jessica Holyoke: and asked and answered
The land that this morning had said it was owned by Governor Linden Maintenance is now owned by Agent Linden.
Agent Linden? The birth date on his profile is 6/24/2003, so he is very, very old. He is so old, that he might be dead, in fact, because if you look for him in the normal fashion in the People List, he's not there. Through the funny wonders of the new search all in the new beta search, however, you can pull him up.
He shows a confiscation of the land on January 22, which I guess is one of those funny land purchase dating bugs, because it was purchased after that by Fizgig from what I can tell, then confiscated by the Governor.
Did the Lindens just make one of their increasingly profit-driven "business decisions" outside the rule of law, deciding that bad press about griefing in Wired and other publications, and the increasing dismay of law-abiding customers over their victimization, including high-tier-paying positive-Linden-flow customers like me? I'm happy to debate this, but for me personally, my question has been why the cynical G-team, who simply takes every avatar at face value and wants people like me to shut up, and who dislike their increasingly heavy policing responsibilities on things that they think should be free activities (or activities not taken so seriously), hasn't been able to be curbed by the Business Lindens, if you will.
I've often wondered why, just because I'm permabanned from the forums, ridiculed openly by some Lindens with elaborate cynicism, ignored by others routinely, and disliked for my vocal criticism on my blog here, that I'd be less entitled than the next avatar to basic enforcement of Community Standard No. 6 as to protection against disturbance of the peace, spamming, and the enjoyment of my Second Life free of interference.
Why would a RL picture of me sit out for days in an infohub on a megaprim? why would spoofing of my real life self's name in the people list, and all manner of harassment be allowed to stand, more than it would be for anyone else who could make a claim under the TOS to a Second Life free of disclosure and stalking?
I view the end to the violation of CS 6 as an enforcement of rights, not a violation of them, and one we need to see a lot more of.