Raising Abuse Reports in Second Life

Griefing, be it through word, action, noise, or object (as seen here), etc., is one of the items covered by the Abuse Report

The following notes are drawn from a presentation Governance Team manager Tommy Linden and team member Corky Linden are making to various communities within Second Life as part of an initiative to better disseminate information about the Governance Team, and on filing Abuse Reports (ARs). The hope is that the information provided will give users a better understanding of what the Governance Team hope to see provided in an Abuse Report in order to fully investigate it.

Note that  official information on Abuse Reports can also be found in the Knowledge Base.

Governance Team: Quick Facts

  • The team is relatively small – under a dozen in size – but handles an average of 400-500 Abuse Reports per day
  • All Abuse Reports get reviewed as the first stage of an investigation, with priority given to those seen as critical (such as an in-progress griefing attack)
  • All ARs that can be investigated are investigated
    • How far the investigation goes largely depends on whether the AR is filed against something Governance is empowered to investigate, and how much meaningful information is supplied in it
    • The Governance Team intentionally does not report back on the outcome of their investigations for a number of reasons. Just because the outcome might not be visible to the reporter / match their expectations when filing an AR, does not mean the report was ignored.
  • One of the biggest issues with incoming Abuse Reports is that they often lack the basic information required in order for an investigation to be properly carried out.

What is an Abuse Report?

The Abuse Report (AR) is for reporting any individual or group of avatars or any in-world object engaged in an activity deemed inappropriate under the Second Life Terms of Service  / Community Standards and/or is in contraction to the maturity rating for a region.

ARs apply to: griefing, spamming, age play, assault / pushing / disturbing the peace, disclosure of personal information, fraud, harassment, indecency and Skill Gaming violations. In addition, there are Welcome Area Guidelines governing places like Infohubs, which contain restrictions on what should not be done in those areas with any violations also subject to ARs. Report.

There are also certain things that do not apply to ARs. For example, being banned from a particular group or region or parcel, or a dispute over rental payment between residents are not actionable via AR.

ARs can be filed by anyone suffering abuse, or by those directly witnessing an abusive act. However, this does not mean teleporting multiple people into a location and having them file reports as well. Rather than “speeding up” any investigation, it can actually slow down the entire process by forcing Governance to spend time reviewing dozens of additional (and possibly contradictory) reports.

Accessing the Abuse Report Floater

The AR floater can be accessed via:

  • Menu bar > Help > Report Abuse
  • By right-clicking on an avatar or object and locating / selecting Report Abuse from the context menu / pie menu.
    • Make sure you have the right avatar / object selected when doing this
    • Launching the AR floater using either of these two options will auto-complete parts of the form.

The following guidelines are intended to help with filing an AR.

Screen Shots

Where possible, try to include a screen shot of the situation you are reporting. It can be the most effective means of illustrating what is going on, and gives the Governance Team clear visual proof / evidence of what has happened. It can also make up for information missed from the rest of the report.

The slide below outlines some of the key points to remember when using the AR floater to capture a snapshot – click to enlarge it in a separate browser tab for ease of reading.

Abuse Report snapshots: click on the slide to open it in a separate browser tab for easier reading

Note that most viewers do not have a refresh button for the snapshot preview, so try to make sure all the information you wish to capture is on your screen. If you are unable to get a screen shot for whatever reason, it is important you provide clear, accurate information in the Summary and Details section of the report (see below).

Object Picker

The Object Picker allows you to identify an abusive object (e.g. a particle / noise spammer, a weapon, etc.), and include its name and owner in the body of your Abuse Report. Instructions on how to use it are included in the AR floater, and this section will be auto-completed if you launch an AR by right-clicking on an abusive object. Remember you can further verify the item by including it in a snapshot with the Edit floater open to show the object name & owner.

Report Categories

The Abuse Report floater includes a pre-defined, drop-down list of categories which should be used when filing a report. Notes on the *valid* categories can be found here. Note that filing under the wrong category doesn’t prevent a report from being investigated, but it can slow things down, particularly if there is insufficient information provided elsewhere in the report.

Abuser Name

This allows you to grab the name of someone causing abuse from those around you. If you launch an Abuse Report by right-clicking on an object or avatar, this section will auto-complete (make sure you have selected the right avatar), otherwise click the Choose button and follow the on-screen instructions.

Location, Summary and Details

  • Location should be the SLurl of the location where the griefing took place. If you were forced to leave the location before filing an AR, use your teleport history to obtain the region details. If you are taking a screen shot of a situation, make sure the region details are visible at the top of your viewer window as further verification
  • Summary should include a clear summary of the situation
  • Details should include a concise and clear explanation of the situation and any steps you may have taken to rectify it (e.g. asking someone who has littered some land if they would come and clear it up). Be as specific as possible, particularly if you cannot include a screen shot.
    • Do not cut and paste chat or IM text in this section, as this cannot be accepted as evidence, due to the fact it may have been edited. Text should be shown by Including the relevant chat / IM tab from the Conversations floater in any screen shot you take.

What Else Can or Should Not be Filed with a Report?

  • You can include anything else provided as a part of the official viewer which might be used to help investigate a report (e.g. the Bumps, Pushes and Hits  floater (Help > Bumps, Pushes and Hits) could be displayed to indicate physical abuse in a “safe” area)
  • The following cannot be accepted by the Lab as part of an Abuse Report:
    • Chat or IM text which has been pasted in to the Details section of the AR or to a notecard included in a screen shot. Copied text can be too easily altered after-the-fact, and so is not seen as acceptable evidence by the Lab
    • Voice or other recordings – again due to risk of post-editing or dubbing
    • Screen captures outside of those taken by the AR tool.

What Is The Governance Team Looking for In a Report?

The Governance Team is looking for clear, concise and consistent information in an Abuse Report, as outlined above. This includes:

  • The Category matches the reported issue – this speeds the process of the report being triaged for further investigation
  • A clear, concise Summary supported by an informative, explanation of the situation in the Details section of the report
  • The correct resident / object is identified
  • (If possible / relevant) a screen shot supporting the rest of the report / helps clarify the situation by providing pertinent information (such as chat / IM histories, etc.).

A “good” Abuse Report, presenting all the information and making good use of a screen shot – click to open the slide in a separate tab for easier reading. With thanks to Corky Linden

Other Items

Profile Violations

All information within a profile should be G rated. With the general exception of Picks, anything which is not G rated can be AR’d, this includes:

  • Nude or sexually explicit images (flesh or avatar)
  • Profiles with sexually explicit language in the About descriptions
  • Profiles demonstrating intolerance, hatred, etc., in any text they contain can be (including text and images associated with Picks)
  • Profiles which “out” the Alt(s) of another avatar
  • Profiles which explicitly advertise sex may also be subject to AR, although this is a grey area (e.g. “IM me for a good time” isn’t explicit, and would not be actionable; however, a list of sexual acts and prices could be considered actionable).

Offending profiles should be featured in the screen shot submitted as a part of the report.

Note: Disclosure of personal information in a profile by anyone other than the profile owner can also be AR’d, regardless of the fact it appears in the profile owner’s profile. See Disclosure > Real World Information in the Abuse Report Category notes accompanying this article.

Exploits

If you have a strong suspicion someone is using an exploit to grief (e.g. to crash a region), the preferred method of reporting is via a SECurity category JIRA. However, if you have never used the JIRA system, or are uncomfortable in using it, you can file an Abuse Report instead / as well. Use the Disturbing the Peace categories.

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2 thoughts on “Raising Abuse Reports in Second Life

  1. Wolf Baginski (@WolfBaginski)

    I find it hard to believe anything happens. It has been years since we have even had a summary published, on the level of the number of reports and how many people have had action taken against them.

    It’s hard to justify more detail than that, but I don’t think we even knew the scale of the problem. And I have always wondered if my reports were any good, whether I was misunderstanding something.

    It’s good to see this, but is it enough?

    Like

    Reply

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