I must confess that I'm perplexed about what the right thing is to do here, so I open it up for public scrutiny.
Troy McLuhan is one of those strenuous Second-Lifers who is always busy with Science and Betterment of Humanity, but I guess it's gotten boring on his space sim, so he's decided to branch out.
After the meeting at the Sutherland Dam the other night, a meeting he sometimes attends but didn't that night, Troy McLuhan comes flying up and asks me if I would be interested in this idea he had.
It seems that he wants to lead tour groups to St. Paul's Cathedral in Grace, which is a replica of the real-life St. Paul's. (BTW, the nasties that IM me inworld and tell me this is not a true replica, or not a perfect replica, I can only say: so what? It's Second Life. Go away.) Recently, as I noted, this parcel was put in the Destination Guide (formerly known as the Showcase) and attracted lots more traffic than it has ever had, even as one of the top destinations in the SL Public Land Preserve). I continue to be highly troubled at just how casually and arbitrarily the Linden game gods hand out these traffic and sales windfalls, now that I've accidently gotten on the list myself. It's really annoying and highlights the woeful state of advertising and fairness in SL.
So that's how it came to the attention of the grasping Mr. McLuhan, and how he decided that what he needed to do to monetarize his SL experience was to grab this non-profit project of mine, which the Lindens arbitrarily happened to feature, and collect fees and/or tips as a tour guide to this location, explaining the history of the RL church using the SL replica.
These lands are open to the public to visit any time. So let's say if someone wanted to have a wedding, and the preacher or the wedding planner was paid, there wouldn't be anything I would do about it. They are welcome to have their wedding there, if they don't mind the fact that it's on the mainland and they could ask for minimal tools temporarily to ban people, but can't control how many people come on the sim, since there are multiple property owners on the sim. People coming to weddings often tip the SL Public Land Preserve jars on site, as I don't have a set fee for weddings (it's not practical given the conditions).
I also couldn't do anything about someone who photographed the site and others in the Preserve, put it into a book, and sold the book without providing any proceeds to the Preserve. That's just assholery, but the sort of assholery you can't really stop if you are dedicated to the proposition of buildings being open to the public. St. Patrick's Cathedral doesn't get any percentage of photography books of New York with its building in them, either. Still, in the community of SL, it would be something that "the community" might expect you to do, to donate some of the proceeds. You can't file a DMCA takedown on this (or it would be assholery to do so) since that would contribute to the idiocy around people misusing DMCA to control public use of SL.
Troy of course implied that bringing tour groups to this church would fill up the tip jars -- people would donate. I'd have to wonder how much they *would* donate if they had just got done tipping or paying a fee for a tour guide. So then Troy offered to somehow cut me in on a percentage of his tour guide fee or tips. And that sounded time-consuming and...I just wondered about the entire thing, anyway.
I can't stop someone from monetarizing a public space provided as a non-profit public project...can I? That is, sure, I could develop a policy saying that commercial activity is not allowed on these properties except in certain designated areas. For example, the TechHeaven free market in Thyris, which is free of rent after you join the group for $50, provides a space for people 2 years of age or younger to sell their wares. I constantly have to police this area to free it up of all the parasites on the commercial processes of SL -- all the hippie pays, gambling, "work at home" surveys, business-in-a-box, etc. etc. that people cook up to suck down the money of other people. I make this area available for people to sell their own creations, but I constantly have to police it as people either sell stolen goods or trademarked goods like Disney stuff or put up commission vendors. I'm all for commission vendors, but people then should rent their own land for this, not invade the free space designed to help newbie creators start a business. I've come close to just closing this site down, but because some people have gotten a good start there and appreciate it, I continue to maintain it. It's also revenue for the land preserve in the form of the memberships -- but of all the parcels, I have to say people tip the *least* there, even though they are in theory making some money off this free space. That lets me know not only something about human nature, but the efficacy of trying to get commercial spaces paid for by tips or the motivation of those in commerce to support the public interest.
In a few other spots, I have my own or licensed or commissioned goods given to sell for the upkeep of the preserve. I was very adamant in allowing both tips and sales in the Preserve because I think one of the things that made certain oldbie preserve projects fail is their religious zealotry about not allowing commerce in "nature" or in "art builds". This is ridiculous. Tier has to get paid for. I don't have a non-profit tier rate. Half the costs of the preserve are met by tier donors and tips -- but that leaves the other half to be borne by me. And I'm lucky I've got this much of the cost upheld because I have a variety of means to get money in the door -- tips, content sales, membership fees, and the occasional rental fee if someone takes up a whole area for two days for a wedding or photo shoot or something.
I see Troy's move here as predatory. He should make his own sim. He's done that. So...he should do it again. Going around and picking up other people's builds to make his tips off of seems crass. On the other hand, I'm devoted to keeping spaces open. I don't want to lard up the organization with policies that need policing, especially policies that have blanket concepts like "no commercial activity".
Why don't I make my own tours? or hire tour guides? Because I don't have the time, and I don't believe this is the money-maker that Troy seems to think it is. Perhaps he'll have time and talent to get lots of people to pay him money to tour this site. But it sounds time-consuming. I've never heard of anybody paying a fee to go on a tour in SL when they can just click on the links all by themselves and read notecards. Trying to put entrance fees on land is a showstopper -- no one will pay even $5, they hate it. Trying to get the notoriously tacky and low-tipping SL public to tip is also not a revenue manager. That is, I'm always surprised each week when at least one visitor puts in a tip of at least $1000 at one of the sites in the Preserve -- there are such decent souls who understand that a US $3.72 tip in fact isn't covering the tier of the place they've just visited. But most people treat their SL dollar like a US dollar and leave $1 or $2. A few leave $100 and feel as if they are big spenders. I'm glad for them because that's how we've come this far. The psychology of the Linden being what it is, I can't expect more. I'm also entitled to close the project if I feel I don't like paying tier anymore rather than whining.
What do you think?