Oh, Christ-on-a-crutch, the scurrilous Herald has an epic tower of hate published against me (no, you don't get a link) and my business, uh, I guess because I dared to slam the odious Tenshi Vile using her own tactics, and because I remain a steady critic of SL's former independent newspaper, which I used to write for (which is why I am still on the masthead).
Let me see -- is it ever worth polemicizing with hate posts? Well, yes and no. I don't have time for the full treatment now, especially because if I have time to fight communist posts, I'm much rather spend it on debunking Kevin Kelly's encomium to Web 2.0 communism, a more serious problem, or the news that we now have 5 Google execs in the Obama administration (the horror!).
The premise of the Herald alt screed (looks to be Pixeleen Mistral/Mark McCahill's obsessiveness, few others would bother) is that I attack communism as a way of -- wait for it! -- covering up my own communism lol. Of course, this is like one of those Leninist "social democracy is social fascim" screeches -- nothing makes a Red like Lenin, or the Herald hippies, more furious, than seeing a viable form of community and collaboration that is NOT their socialism or communism but more liberal and democratic. That drives them crazy, the way social democracy used to drive Lenin more crazy than fascism or monarchy.
Since so much of it is based on lies, damn lies, and misinformation about Ravenglass and rentals in general, let me debunk what it says, simply by printing the facts:
o mainland rentals are much cheaper than island rentals or purchases because mainland rentals are based on tier for mainland sims, which is $195, not $295 per month per sim.
o Mainland bulk sim owners with grouped land can offer you discounted prices that are lower than what you'd have to pay in tier to the Lindens, so mainland rentals offer the cheapest option for living in SL.
o if you "purchase" land on an island, you could lose it at any time, and your initial purchase fee, which may be high or low or non existent, depending on the set-up, is lost and/or your rent paid ahead is lost. Fraud among island owners is common enough to be of concern.
o buying mainland from Lindens or the auction, and paying tier to the Lindens, is much more expensive than paying for a mainland rental; paying island tier/rentals is more expensive than what you would pay to the Lindens yourself.
o by contrast, there is no down payment on a mainland rentals, and in my system, you can refund at any time for a small cancellation fee -- you are not stuck being denied a refund as you are on an island, or paying tier to LL, and you have flexibility that way.
o I think open rentals groups give people maximum freedom, which is what I like to see, because they can join any time, and also have friends who build with them, or who want to temporarily place prims, able to instantly join. In island rentals or mall rentals, the most annoying thing is paying a box -- yet having to wait sometimes as long as 24 hours or even 48 or more hours for an owner to show up and give you the group so you can lay your prims. I hate making people dependent on that, so I have a simple basic membership open for setting prims and home, the two powers people immediately want in a group.
o Open groups can be vulnerable to griefers, but actually, despite their claims, griefing is actually a minor problem. I solve it in a variety of ways. The open permissions in the first layer don't include ban, so that all residents can ban anywhere on group land, so they do. Griefing in SL is overly feared, and in fact many incidents that people think are "griefing" are miscommunications, like someone just flying around or not answering an IM or something. I believe obsessiveness about security and having all kinds of orbs and security teams and whatnot only invites more griefing wars. I think it's worth publicizing griefing now and then to illustrate that groups claiming to have "reformed" or "not to group" are lying (like Woodbury).
o I charge people group liability for a number of very compelling reasons, and I alert people to this feature in three different ways, so they have ample notice, in the lease, on the group, and in a separate, manually sent card of rules that they get upon renting. These compelling reasons hinge on the nature of the group -- open -- the nature of the pricing -- free search ads for stores -- and the nature of the cost -- changing.
1. In an open group, the only way to prevent it from filling up with huge numbers of people and becoming unmanageable and laggy is to count on the fact that people who see $4 debit out of their account who are there only temporarily, and disregarded all ample notice, will leave the group to avoid further charges
2. I maintain a list of some 40-50 open rental vacancies all over updated twice daily, which is a huge boon not only to new people wanting a simple way to get a self-paced house tour, but to people already in the system wanting flexibility. Large numbers of my tenants move from sim to sim, either going up in prims or just changing their styles. With these ads, they have very easy ability to do so, and I manually return their cancellation fee if they stay within the system.
3. Search ads for stores are included in the rent, and people don't have to pay the $30 a week addition of they rent commercial land; the commercial land enables many rentals to stay cheaper.
4. My rents are among the lowest in SL.
5. The amount of the total search ad fees changes every week and can be $3 or $4 or more -- I put in all leases that each person must consider group liability up to $4 as part of their rent, but over $4 it will be reimbursed -- and it is, on Wednesdays, after the debit Tuesdays.
6. In the groups where I don't charge liability, I have to have tip jars, or I have to raise the rents -- it is much better to have a system especially for stores where people don't pay the liability in fact after they set prims and leave the group!
7. Raising the rent or charging for search ads would not reflect the fact that those most using this -- prospective and existing tenants -- are not paying the costs, plus it would be hard to have a rent raise that really covered costs some weeks, and it would overcompensate for costs other weeks.
o I have many, many long-term renters with me, some even more than two years, and some who keep repeatedly coming back, after making sojourns to the islands, their own mainland property, or RL. They find it easy to come back and use a self-service open system with lots of choices.
o On islands, restrictions as to what you can build, terraforming, styles, themes, etc. are often more onerous than my simple rules, and that's what people appreciate.
o Far from "controlling people" as Gwyn insinuates (shame on her, it's a repeat of old tactics she used on the forums where she called me a "tyrant" because I didn't have a collectivist group like Neualtenberg that vetted and approved every tenant and business), I enable people the freedoms to control their own land. They have ban/media/plant etc. and they operate on the principle of being considerate of neighbours, which works pretty well, but having freedom to build any theme. I have some themed areas for those that want themes, and they're low-cost -- so much of the RP and themed islands cost an arm and a leg.
o Ravenglass is a virtual company owned by one person, with no co-owners, and with only occasional hired builders, scripters, terraformers, etc. But instead of calling this a "tyranny" or a "communist collective farm" (!) you could merely call it a "sole proprietorship" like a bed-and-breakfast. That's all. It's a small business, even being spread across 65 sims, and it is nothing compared to the authoritarian regimes under which many live, paying premium prices, in all kinds of other places, subjective to themes, whims, even gouging and theft.
o By refusing to allow ban lines, closed groups, and security orbs, I make nice whole community areas where people can actually befriend their neighbours instead of fearing and suspecting them, and where they can fly, walk, boat, hang out, etc. without constantly running into red lines.
o There's the refund button, with a small concellation fee, should you be unhappy with your rental. Come back any time! : )