Tyche Shepherd has done a profound public service by compiling and reporting on trends in the Second Life Police Blotter, whose name was nerfed to "Incident Reports" and buried in the back pages more than a year ago.
This got attention from Hamlet nee Linden Au here and even from Raph Koster who has a game of his own to manage, and likely already with griefers, given that Pixleen and the Woodburies (not a rock group) have moved in.
But neither of them realized a basic fact of the SL Incident Report: it is a tiny fraction of the number of incidents *on which the Lindens have taken action*. I don't mean "tiny fraction of all those reported" -- that number is huge. I mean *acted upon*. Tiny. Fraction.
Read deep into the weeds of the Sluniverse.com thread to see Tyche's clarification:
"Generally I must stress that these figures are only the Published Incident Reports, people say there are plenty of resolved AR's which don't make the Blotter and they certainly don't include any bans which do occur or suspensions for other reasons (account issues, activity which triggers money laundering detection etc) so it's difficult to draw concrete conclusions about the whole AR process from them . The only confidence I have is that these are an accurate analysis of the published incident reports."
I totally concur. How do I know this? Well, from five years of talking to Lindens endlessly, going to Governance-Team office hours, getting ex-Lindens to talk, etc. etc. And also following the police blotter myself and filing numerous reports, as manager of a big mainland rentals business, and *never, ever seeing them appear on the police blotter, *ever* even when I know for sure they have been acted on, because the accounts (day-old alts) have disappeared from the system or people have taken well-earned holidays from the grid for orbiting me in the infohub and even been permabanned for same (maria30 Klaar springs to mind). None of it on the police blotter. (In fact, I'm fairly certain the Lindens avoid publishing verification of incidents that they know people will blog about.)
The fact is, not only do the Lindens not report what they *do* prosecute; the Lindens handle a lot of incidents "extra-judicially" -- hundreds are executed at dawn daily. And if they show the MAC address of a banned account coming back as a day-old alt, small wonder. If they join the Woodbury group and within 15 minutes send grotesquely hideous particle pictures all over the sim, even with their hacker-evading MAC ban viewers, small wonder. And so on. There's an AWFUL lot of this in SL and the Lindens *do not admit it*. In fact, they have conditioned themselves even to avoid fully acknowledging it internally. I saw this when we'd have long talks with Daniel Linden or Adam (later Chadrick Linden) when it was clear that they didn't really have a notion of a public blotter as a *deterrent* for the public; rather, it seems like some sort of arcane "managed" report that they have internally as to what their priorities are. It's curious.
That is, originally they did, back when it was just a few people and it was on the front page and everyone knew everybody else and Grimmy or whoever the fashionable griefer of the hour was somebody everyone knew. Now, it's a vasty wild frontier with people speaking in numerous languages and they can't possible engage in RL-style justice, as it simply costs too much in staff time.
And that's why I'm for publicizing a lot more of it than they do, and that's why this exercise is important, but Hamlet is completely wrong if he judges the results to mean "there is only a tiny percentage of copyright theft incidents in SL*. There isn't. We've seen them successfully reported and seen Lindens remove material way more than the tiny number indicated in that report. There's also the problem that the Lindens may simply not act on these reports because it's politically uncomfortable for them.
One of the things the Lindens should be doing is letting us know how many people with payment information on file commit offenses, and how many people with no payment on file commit offenses. But doing that would be as politically sensitive as saying in RL that a given minority immigrant group is responsible for most of the crime in a city. The Lindens still remain heavily ideologically invested in the concept of the free, anonymous account, and basically, I can't fault them for that, because I think free accounts that do not require credit cards have to be permitted if you want SL to be free and international. I'd much rather see them control hacked viewer coders and their hook-up to the grid that chase after a million Brazilians and Russians filling up the grid now, some of them, like in RL, commiting crimes, particularly fraud and copyright theft, and often committing crimes first and foremost against their fellow citizens.
There's another problem with the whole Linden gestalt. They report on crime in sandboxes because they still think the point of SL is to script and build in a sandbox -- like they themselves want to do. They haven't really wrapped their mind around the fact that SL is not a sandbox for most people; sandboxes are a tiny, tiny fraction of the grid and most people are settlers, not sandboxers. The wild west frontier ethos persists because the Lindens can't stop thinking that shooting or selling in a sandbox is a worse crime than sexual harassment on a private sim or copying content in a store in a mall.
As always with things Linden, this artifact tells us something more about the mind of the House of Linden than it tells us about the actual state of the nation.