Sundry thoughts on recent bans in Second Life

From Pixabay

From Pixabay

On  Sunday, February 21st, I posted an article concerning SL content creator Teager (Breeder’s Choice and Teegle brands). In it I covered the news that Teager was asking people not to buy from her Marketplace store, on account of her accounts having been banned from Second Life.

Some 24 hours after posting that article – and approaching a week after she first started encountering problems, Teager had her accounted released. As I noted in my update to my original post on the situation, the news first came in a * Breeder’s Choice * group announcement, via Teager’s husband, AgentEightySix in SL:

There is news regarding Teager. She has been unbanned. She’s not home right now, she got the email on her phone, but I’m sure she’ll be on a little later. For everyone who donated at the donation box, thank you.  No need to do any more.  We’ll take it down tonight, and everything can get back to normal around here.

The following day, Tuesday February 23rd, it was confirmed another creator initially banned under similar circumstances, WarmAnimations Lisa, had also had her ban rescinded.  In both cases, warnings were given about the risk of further banishment in the event of a re-offence.

The notifications that their bans had been lifted was also the first time both Teager and WarmAnimations Lisa were actually told why they had been banned: they had used images within one or more Marketplace listings which were deemed to be “not acceptable” – the actual items specified in the listings did not appear to be in question.

While objecting to an image in a listing, even one rated as Adult, may sound odd, it is worth remembering that there are subjects which can still be deemed as offensive or disturbing even among those who have consciously opted to enable the Adult content rating when browsing the Marketplace. This is something content creators should keep in mind when preparing their listings; the Adult rating isn’t necessarily a carte blanche allowance to post absolutely anything.

But that said, for the Lab to immediately respond with an outright ban, as was the case with Teager and WarmAnimations Lisa (and possibly others) without warning nor explanation, is, in five words: excessive  and completely heavy-handed.

Even with the best will in the world people make mistakes. They’re not wilfully breaking the policy; they’re not attempting any kind of subversion, they have simply erred. This can happen even when they’ve read all the standards, requirements and policies related to something. As such, there are cases where people should be given – for want of a better term – the benefit of the doubt before a hand starts reaching for the ban hammer.

As it is, Linden Lab can remove any content at any time from both the Marketplace and / or in-world at any time, might it not have been better to go that route first with these situations? That is, remove the content causing the problem; communicate with the affected content creators and explain what has been done, why it has been done, and issue any appropriate warning (if necessary) on the possible consequences of future transgressions.

Such an approach achieves a number of beneficial goals for the Lab:

  • It allows the offending images to be removed without fuss
  • It offers a clear explanation of what has been done and why
  • It allows said content creators to consider any other items they have listed with images which might be considered “not acceptable”, and thus replace said images
  • It may allow word to spread through the content creation community without undue rancour or drama, so that others with possibly questionable images in their listings might also replace them, removing the need for future actions on the Lab’s part
  • It demonstrates that Linden Lab recognises that people can, and do, make mistakes, and that most are prepared to accept their error if it is properly explained to them
  • It demonstrates consideration without removing the explicit understanding that there are policies which must be adhered to, and that repeated violations won’t be tolerated.

Obviously, there are times when it is appropriate / necessary for the ban hammer to be wielded within Second Life. no-one is denying that. But equally, there are times when it should not be seen as the immediate and preferred tool of action when there are other means to initially handle a situation. This is a balance those at the Lab with access to the ban tool seem to have problems in understanding.

Over the past couple of years, the Lab has been investing time and effort in rebuilding users’ confidence in itself on several fronts. If nothing else, an over-reliance on bans as first response to policy transgressions when there are potentially other ways to deal with matters, risks unravelling at least some of that restored confidence.

As it is, when looking specifically at both Teager’s and WarmAnimations Lisa’s situation, it’s very hard not to reach the conclusion they were handled in a manner akin to the image at the top of this article.

19 thoughts on “Sundry thoughts on recent bans in Second Life

  1. isfullofcrap

    Ah, using the ban hammer when less-draconian administration tools and simple communication would suffice. Just fills you with confidence on how they’ll handle issues with Sansar, eh?

    -ls/cm

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  2. orcaflotta

    Reminds me on my own ban from the SL forums. Received some warnings about offensive postings first but could never find anything bad in their examples. Didn’t even use the eff-word, so I asked them to come straight. And when that failed I received more totally unrelated warnings and I accused the mods of being obvious bots, only capable of communicating in one direction. Eventually my ban notice arrived with yet another totally harmless, helpful post of mine as an example of my offensive posting. Banned for life, not temporary … but for life!!!

    Calling the lab management heavy-handed is understating their actions. They are probably a bunch of either badly programmed bots or very young and badly educated bullies, operating far above their level of competence, not having the slightest human values.

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  3. salomestrangelove

    It’s worth noting that as of now, those reinstated still do not appear to have been told why their images were against the MP TOS. This makes it difficult to be certain they won’t make the same mistake again and be considered “re-offenders.”

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  4. ladywritesstuff

    excellent blog item as usual. A friend messaged me about Lisa’s ban and I’ve been reading all I could on it. Needless to say, this has put people on edge, wondering “could I be next?” for anything they have on their sim inworld. I have had an issue on both Facebook and Pinterest where a photo I posted (one of a disgruntled family member, one of a Pin from someone else) was removed. In both cases, I was sent an email noting the offending photo was removed as part of a complaint, thanking me for my cooperation and nothing more was done. I did not repost the offending photo because I fully understood the position. I did respect that in both cases, I was communicated with FIRST and knew what the issue was as well as they took the action of taking it down. In these two cases you’re reporting on, I agree that the Lab’s actions were “excessive and completely heavy-handed” and I further feel they show a disrespect for both these vendors and all of the people who support SL either by word or by money. These moves were wrong; unbanning them is only the first step in making it right. They need to fully address this issue and assure all of us that they will establish a more respectful procedure.

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  5. Pixel

    I agree with your article entirely. I wonder what kind of image in the Adult listing could be deemed as so offensive or disturbing though: in the MP there are the most extreme, darkest, even snuff sex stuff, and it looks like they are accepted (as well as whole regions dedicated to that stuff). Not to mention that it’s plenty of behaviors and items that are blatant IP infringement or against the TOS in other ways, but they don’t seem to care. So I don’t get it, unless they suddenly hired a puritan or it was something pedophilia related, which it’s something (perhaps the only thing) known to trigger quick reactions and heavy hands from LL staff.

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  6. Bet

    If Linden wants to clean up the grid— why not review the RL photos in profiles. Truly utterly sickening things are posted and never flagged and removed .

    If I open an adult marketplace storefront I expect to see positions etc. But opening a profile and seeing real life photos of things that way beyond community norms anywhere is disgusting.

    I’m far from a prude but some images disturb me greatly and haunt me . No warning system in place .

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    1. SC

      Playing devil’s advocate here, but I can imagine LL claiming, ‘you don’t have to look at profiles – it’s a choice’.

      I’ve been caught out myself, checking a profile and then wishing I hadn’t.

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  7. Ruby Silverblade

    A friend in SL sent me this link as I too am a creator and have been banned from SL without explanation other than quoting me the Term of Service 6 (vi) which states: “Post, display or transmit any Content or conduct or host any activity that is sexually explicit, or intensely violent”.

    I was banned on 19 February 2016. I had to guess why I had been banned in order to make an appeal which wasn’t successful, but then I was playing a guessing game based on the clause above. They responded by saying my ban was final and they wouldn’t engage in any further communication on the matter. I too see my items on Market Place being sold with no way of collecting any monies from the sales or responding to customer enquiries, which is sole distroying as this will lead to negative feedback eventually and with having over 350 items listed I receive emails of sales on a daily basis.

    I have been in a state of shock ever since I was banned last week and my heart was lifted when I read your article, as I realised I was not alone. It also gave me the strength to submit a further appeal, so armed with the knowledge that I may have been one of several placed in the same position over Market Place listings, they may also reinstate me. Well I have nothing to lose by trying. So thank you again for your article and fingers crossed, I will keep you posted:)

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      1. Ruby Silverblade

        I have some wonderful news and I’ve only just heard, Ruby Silverblade (me) has had her ban lifted by LL. I’m over the moon to say the least and I need to thank you Inara for bringing those that were banned together, which gave me the strength, hope and drive to continue to pursue and challenge LL for the way they had unfairly treated us. Your blog also enabled me to speak to a couple of people who had their bans lifted and one recommended I file a complaint to BBB, which without their advice I may still face a life ban. Needless to say my funds have also been reinstated. So Diversity Tattoos is now back in business:)

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    1. Maxwelltristan Resident

      Good luck with your appeal Ruby, many people will be rooting for you to win. I know SL has absolute control over all our SL lives, but it seems extremely unfair that someone who has contributed so much to SL over many years gets banned with no warning. SL should AT THE VERY MINIMUM provide a warning of what they deem offensive behavior prior to any ban since it is a very arbitrary judgement. Al of us are at risk (and the loss of our time and lindens spent) until the rules are changed. SL MUST provide specific reasons for any banning and a warning prior to giving any ban.

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  9. Ladylisa69

    I am still dumbfounded at the way they are running SL like a dictatorship. Banning people with no warning, and then taking the money these same people should be receiving. It will get to the point where those that create and make SL the wonderful place it can be, will choose to no longer do so. I wish you all success in your appeals process.

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    1. Ruby Silverblade

      Thank you for taking the time to respond to my plight to have my SL ban lifted. LL continue to close every ticket I open without any response to my request for an “informed appeal” where I promises to remove any offending items from MP and never break their rules again. I make mainly tattoos, some clothes and a handful of skyboxes (Diversity Tattoos).

      Through friends emails I have managed to locate the ONE offending item which they have removed, a themed sky box. So it turns out that I have been banned for one item which was in the Adult section of MP that doesn’t represent the bulk of my creations. I have placed a complaint with Better Business Bureau and await a response from them.

      However my attention has now turned to trying to obtain my US Dollar balance, which I have exchanged for Lindens over the past few months prior to my ban. My account history reads that in February it stood at a healthy $260.08 and then when I check March’s statement it reads zero and there is no entry saying this has been withdrawn, it just vanishes and defiantly not to my PayPal account. Surely this is theft!!! I have printed off both statements as proof and if I don’t get a satisfactory outcome I will contact the police. I accept that I can’t get my Lindens out, which incidentally are increasing daily due to my MP sales, which is another frustration. Surely LL can’t continue to sell my products and keep 100% of the monies taken?? How long will they do this? will it be forever!!! All I want is my ban to be lifted like the others that have been successful in having this done. Surely not too much to ask of LL. I welcome any support from others on this matter. So frustrating.

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  10. SC

    Inara, I thought your post on the situation was generous to a fault where LindenLab is concerned and I congratulate you for your restraint.

    I, however, am not so restrained.

    LL isn’t known for it’s stable, organized or logical management practices. For the most part, it seems to be run by ‘fluffy’ idiots with no scruples, itchy trigger fingers and out-of-control egos, with the left hand clueless about what the right hand’s doing while giving their own offspring expensive sims on a silver platter that everyone else has to work hard (and pay through the nose) for.

    SL just isn’t a decent or fair place to be anymore. As someone else mentioned, it’s being run like a dictatorship (well, that’s what ‘democracy’ has become irl, after all).

    As for Sansar – they can shove that where the sun don’t shine, baby.

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