The Governance Team held the first of its renewed User Group meetings on Tuesday, September 18th, 2018. These meeting will be held twice a month, and are designed to provide a forum for the discussion and education of issues involving Governance. They are chaired by the current GTeam supervisor, Kristen Linden and are open to the public. Details on dates, times and location can be found on the Governance User Group wiki page.
- Around five people are in the Governance Team, and are all Lab employees – Governance work is not outsourced.
- The Team is responsible for dealing with Abuse Reports, in-world abuse, forum reports, Marketplace reports, etc.
- The team is not responsible for issues with accounts being compromised, account subscription delinquency, fraud, etc. These matters should be reported via Support, and not through the Abuse Report system, so they can be passed directly to the Lab’s fraud team.
- On average Governance deal with over 1,000 Abuse Reports per week, while the rate of reporting can reach 400-500 reports filed per day.
Please refer to the following resources for details information on filing Abuse Reports:
- The official SL knowledge base guide to abuse reports.
- My own Abuse Report tutorial, written with input from the Governance Team.
There is also a knowledge base article on how to deal with a range of abuse / harassment issues without necessarily the need to raise an AR.
A number of issues related to raising abuse reports – AR categories, how to fill-out a report, use of snapshots, chat logs, video, what is and isn’t “allowed”, etc., came up during the meeting. These are covered in the documents above, and not repeated here. Rather, I’ve chosen to focus on the more esoteric aspects of abuse reports and AR handling by the GTeam as discussed in the meeting.
- All ARs that can be investigated are investigated. However:
- 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 (e.g. privacy). 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.
- Reports are handled on a combination of age / priority. Those reports that tend to get the highest priority are griefing, certain types of harassment, age play, threats of actual violence outside of SL.
- Those who feel a threat being made against them personally (not their avatar) are additionally advised to contact their local authorities if they have reason to believe the threat is genuine.
- The volume of reports received about an incident makes no difference to the priority with which it is dealt with or the action that might be taken. So mass reporting of an incident by friends and friends of fiends TP’d into a location specifically to file a report is not a good idea.
- Banning isn’t the only action taken. Depending on the nature of the abusive action, people may receive a warning, a short-term account suspension (days) or a temporary ban (weeks).
- Generally, the process is warning, escalating through to a 2-week ban if offences continue, then ban.
- Offences can be cumulative if persistent / depending on their nature. However, if there are extended periods between offences (e.g. multiple months / years) they are unlikely to be dealt with on a cumulative basis.
- Major offences (e.g. age play, etc.), will generally go to an immediate ban.
- What to do about persistent griefers using alt accounts: continue to AR them (e.g. under harassment), if you are positively able to link an alt to another account, provide details of how (what’s said – via text chat transcript, for example) and indicate the name of the other account.
- IP bans are not seen as a solution for a number of reasons (e.g. many ISPs around the world assign dynamic IP addresses to their users, hence there is a risk an IP ban could result in an innocent party being blocked from SL).
- Avatar “Permission Stealing” VWR-13228. This is a long-standing issue which is not easy to resolve, as the object usurping an avatar’s permission (movement, camera, etc), is being worn by another, and the usual revoke permissions options in the viewer cannot be applied to other avatar attachments.
- Incident Blotter: (for those unfamiliar with it) at one time the Lab used to produce an “Incident Blotter”, a dealing significant abuse issues and their general outcome (not specific details on those involved) – see a 2010 sample here. This was discontinued several years ago, and unlikely to be reintroduced.
- Retaliatory ARs: people filing an AR in response to discovering they have been AR’d (e.g. because the original reports has IM’d them with “You have been AR’d” or something) can be a thing. The Governance team is aware of this, and does take time to check if a report might be retaliatory, rather than genuine.
- Vigilantism: The GTeam is aware of a number vigilante groups in SL who may use mass abuse reports either in an attempt to secure action or as a means of retaliation, and they do keep an eye on them.
- Marketplace flagging: the GTeam handles these, and the volume received means it can take time to get through them. People are rarely disciplined for flagging items, unless it can be clearly shown they are doing so maliciously.
- Could a generic notification be sent to a reporter when an AR is actioned: a complaint with the AR system is that those filing a report don’t get to hear whether or not it has been actioned. However, the current tool set isn’t geared to sending out even the most generic notification that an AR has been actioned (e.g. “Your Abuse Report of [date] has been actioned”), and it’s not clear if this could be changed.
- Contacting GTeam members in-world: general contact for advice and / or with questions is encouraged. However, contact to try to circumvent the AR system or to make a “verbal” AR report is strongly discouraged.
- Generally when in-world, the GTeam is actively dealing with ARs, or reviewing them while their avatars are parked, ready to go.
Subject to confirmation on the Governance User Group wiki page, the next meeting should be on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018. However, the location may change.