If you're in the mall or land rentals business, or in the griefer-chasing business, you'll know this acronym spells: No Payment Information on File.
NPIOF are considered lower-class citizens in Second Life, and you can even block them from your land. The theory is that griefers, especially determined griefers who are banned on one account and make another, will be forced to make 0-hour blank NPIOF accounts, and that's how you can nab them, by setting your land to block them.
I've found this rule of thumb to be in fact wildly inaccurate, and in fact destructive to SL.
The people who have griefed me the most are people not only with payment on file, but payment used (PU is the gold standard of SL) -- they own whole islands named things like "Revolution". The day-olds they create are quickly banned and deleted, and NPIOF is irrelevant.
Meanwhile, I've had tons of customers with NPIOF and I remain devoted to keeping this ban off my land.
That is, if a customer on an individual parcel requests it, I will put it on for them, but I have virtually no such requests -- perhaps once or twice a year.
And that's because everybody who tries to use this rule-of-thumb, and requests this as some kind of layer of security, rapidly discovers that "some of my best friends are NPIOF". They find that they also can't get their alts on to their own land they are renting. They can't make new friends and bring them home. They can't have newcomers come to their store -- or just people who remain NPIOF for whatever reason. And then they immediately ask to take it off -- I've had this happen numerous times. That's why I have almost no parcels with this feature -- and indeed, I struggle to make sure it isn't remaining needlessly, as I've found that prevents new people from coming to rent.
NPIOF are my customers; I specialize in low-cost newbies' rentals, starter homes and stores, and I also just specialize in Mainland which is cheaper and more low-rent, because it has some disadvantages compared to islands (I have an island, too).
Interestingly, NPIOF still have money -- to pay for rentals and buy stuff in stores. That's because they don't buy Lindens (for which you need payment on file) but earn them inworld -- they go to contests, they hit money trees, they take handouts from boyfriends, or they even make and sell their own creations. I see this all the time. Perhaps they only sell little newbie stuff, or put out a commission vendor, but they make money, and they spend it. I have some customers who are dancers or bouncers in clubs, or assistants to store managers, and they tell me they are late with their rent because they haven't been paid yet, or they will pay a little bit every day into the meter (which enables them to do this).
Far from being bums taking handouts, a lot of the NPIOFs are the working poor of Second Life.
So when Rod Humble tells us on Twitter to block NPIOF from our land, I tell him he can go block NPIOF from his game first -- and end the whole free accounts system, if that's what he thinks really controls griefing and copybotting.
But -- I don't think it does. After all, somebody who wants to benefit from copybotting might need a throwaway alt, but ultimately they need that main with the payment info used so they can cash out.
I think that if you want people to try these worlds, you need free accounts. A free account of course doesn't mean you can't have a requirement to give *identification* (driver's license, student ID, passport) in lieu of a credit or debit card number of Paypal. People get all defensive about providing their ID for these services, although the reality is, we'd all be a lot better off if people did.
In the 7 years I've been on SL, LL only messed up once and had a compromise of their dbase, but they had salted or hashed or whatevered the stuff into separate compartments, so it wasn't like actual damage was done, but even so, they had everybody reset their password, or even reset it forcibly.
I seem to recall that the notorious date for when free accounts started, which was 9/9/05 or something, was right before they had the database hack. I'm trying to recall what was important about that notorious date -- it was also a date that the world was supposed to end...or something. Anybody recall?
If the Lindens closed the public sandboxes, and made sandboxes an attractive feature of the Premium account (after all, all those furries pay $15.95 a month to play WoW, they can pay $9.95 for sandboxing), and maybe insisted on having a real name on the registration (not inworld), they might reduce griefing to some extent without having to get rid of NPIOF.
But somehow, I think Rodvik's big anti-griefing thing won't be getting rid of free accounts, but will be merely removing the view of prims. That's a feature already in Phoenix or Imprudence or some other TPVs, so it stands to reason the Lindens will want to add it. I hate the idea, because it doesn't govern then, it uses "code-as-law" - and leaves you the problem of endlessly having to chase the new alt's prims and get new renters to add the erasure, etc. etc.
If the Lindens had something that tracked people's IP address and banned all others coming in on that same address, but didn't reveal that IP address to you, that might be institutionalizing Red Zone in ways people want. But it might have false positives or prove unwelcome again, as most people don't mind alts if both accounts buy something -- they mind alts if they grief.
So if I support the NPIOF accounts as they are now, why am I saying I won't block them until Rod blocks them from his game? Am I in fact endorsing the end of free accounts?
No, I'm just saying that the Lindens should think up what their solution is to griefing and copybotting in a more universal fashion rather than stop-gap measures, and if the issue is lack of accountability, consider having more ID presented for access to SL, not necessarily payment info on file.
Does this somehow cramp somebody's creative style? Or their privacy? No, I don't think it does. MILLIONS of people provide their payment info or at least their mom's payment info to go on WoW; why can't they do this for SL?
On the old forums, people started a thread, Free Accounts Will Make More Furries. It's funny how idiots like Bunje/Roger Blackhawk/Mr. Fustachio give furries a bad name. I've had more positive experience with furries than not. There's a certain profile of griefers/sandboxing open source geek haters that tends toward the furry (Soft Linden) but most furries mind their own business and I have many as tenants, I think it's cool if someone has a creative avatar for SL.
Look, Second Life isn't that big, and there aren't that many griefers -- a few of them repeat because Lindens have been reluctant to use social means for this social crime (i.e. calling the FBI). The single greatest thing I want to combat griefing is the ability to block people from groups that still remain open.