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March 24, 2006


Aimee Weber

Well, if we are going to be outing our Linden alts I guess I may as well come clean too. I am actually...

oh telephone...brb.

Elle Pollack

"Every Resident has a right to their Second Life"...and that should include Lindens as well. They're residents too.

Just my (tired) half-cent.

Oz Spade

I recommend Watchmen by Alan Moore, I just finished reading it, it's a great comic from the 80s with retired superheros that are in alot of grey.

Just like superheros I believe Lindens should be able to keep their privacy. If I had a Linden account, I'd keep it private, because I'd hate to not be able to shout out random curse words and push people around, among other things.

Isn't Ben[jamin] Linden a griefer anyway?

I shall call you Benjamin from now on and it shall catch on!

Ice Brodie

As a MUCK wizard, I've had this mental debate myself, for there, I had no pay, so I opted to run around as a wizard and do my own thing.
Though in a paid operation, one's freedom to 'run around rooted' so to speak, comes with a lot of negatives.

Torley honestly is part impartial friend to many, part celebrity, but mostly Torley. Someone like him would find hiding hard, as the temptation to be himself would eventually give away a differently named Linden alt.

The fact that you've had to live this double life is strong indication of your character. I know not of your alt, but I know you to be a kind intelligent developer of Second Life who's always had the spirit of Second Life (development, and improvement) on your mind.

I'd honestly rather not have smell or taste-o-vision, in leu of proper features and bug fixing.

Little peaks into moving prims, including attachments has indeed perked my interest, and I'm eager to see how those are designed.

Timeless Prototype

Hey Benjamin. Nice post, a really nice summary of the effects of living multiple identities.

But when you use your alt, you get to see people for who they really are, and more importantly, you can be yourself without the pressure of the public image.

It should be your Philip-given right to remain anonymous in your alt and prosper and live as you see fit (except where ToS forbid of course).

Ben Linden

Via Prokofy Neva:

Ben, many of us see Lindens as public officials or public servants in a country or virtual world, not game-masters and game devs only. Much of what you're saying rightly resonates with a former MUCK wizard -- because the entire way you are framing this issue comes from MMORPG culture and IT culture, and that's of limited value in the vastly grander enterprise of the Metaverse, that will intersect far more with non-MMORPG cultures and societal norms.

I find this post entirely self-serving, frankly, as you neglect to discuss what triggered the need for your post: residents speculating on your identity because of your use of your resident alt to advertise your projects and business on the general forums, instead of in classifieds. Indeed, the very notion that a resident goes on engaging in high-profile work like that with huge publicity, and a situation where only a small circle knows that he is a Linden.

This is the sort of thing that non-Linden residents and those who aren't Friends of Lindens find unfair.

You claim "here is enough visibility in the community that someone would notice most abuses of power, but there is not much transparency into what extra powers Lindens have." While there might be visibility, there is no process or procedure to do anything about these suspected abuses of power -- and indeed we have no catalogue of what the special powers are.

Can a Linden alt, for example, fall into conversation with someone they are working on a project with and gossip about a resident, and can that alt, using his Linden account, go and look into that other residents records, and then circulate claims about them, such as their true identity, or the fact that they may have defaulted on their tier? Just where are these firewalls and how are they supervised?

You make an eloquent case for why public officials should have privacy in their off-hours. Elle Pollack says everyone should have a right to a Second Life. But that's not at issue -- have a Second Life all you want on the most private and secret of alts. But if you use your resident account *also* to catapault yourself into the public eye with business or other activity, then expect people to raise an eyebrow as to why you get pride of place in any SL-related venture.

If you loved your resident activity or business so much, perhaps you should have remained only a resident, and thereby enriching the world, and making it less of a top-heavy world, where the administrators often seem to have to come in and build or script or perform because their residents don't quite pass muster?

No one expects that Lindens should have to forcibly out their private alts used for their down-time.

But that's not what this is about, and you know it. It's about residents who have prominent roles in the community either doing non-profit work or running businesses, and then elect to keep those roles and leverage their status as Lindens to become more privileged than other residents. That's wrong.

When Jeska modeled for a resident, when Shaun DJ'd for a resident, when you promote your projects on any forums you chose, when dozens of Lindens join all kinds of cool residents' groups and amplify their coolness by their presence, that's not creating a level playing field.

I personally think that Linden Lab needs a much more stringent code of ethics governing the behaviour inworld by all these Lindesidents -- residents who become Lindens and keep their original accounts as alts -- such as to prevent every kind of violation from theft to sexual harassment. Any company will have a standard guidebook on these practices, and a company that has to deal with many people in vulnerable situations should be even more sensitive to these issues.

All residents who chose to become Lindens should be required to give up their prominent roles inworld -- either you live by the slogan that it's "our world, our imagination" or you don't. That doesn't mean they can't be actively engaged in the world, but there should be more ground rules about Lindens who stage events, earn money, and post to forums, classifieds, etc. to promote themselves.

Most importantly, the terribly intimidating shroud of secrecy over residents who become Lindens really ought to be rethought. At this point, there are at least 4 Lindens who openly give their resident-Linden connections and names inworld and in real life.

When that's the case, it's very wrong for any special old friend of these residents-turned-Lindens to go on resident websites and threaten to abuse-report, or get banned, or harm in any way, anyone who raises the question about, or publicizes, the alt of a Linden, or who rightly asks questions about the misuse of alts leveraging the Linden connection. Intimidating the public in this thuggish manner is wrong.

While "disclosure" is a TOS rule we all respect, there isn't any specific guideline about "outing Lindens" such as to invoke such banning or suspension over these issues -- it's far too harsh and punitive an approach to what has become a very controversial and permeable area.

The world is growing by leaps and bounds. Do you really think the special and intimate relationships of beta-testers and early adapters can be the culture by which the whole world has to be defined?

Any person who decides to serve the public, and become involved in customer service, design, programming, or creation of a virtual world, has to realize that in a *massively multiplayer online* environment, he is in the public eye, and has to give up a certain amount of privacy -- or at least not expect that he can have his cake and eat it too, enjoying a prominent life as a resident in business or non-profit projects, and not expect the Linden connection to be scrutinized.

Honestly, you really can't be taking this subject as personally as you are, even implying that anyone who speculates about your identity or purposely or accidently caused some harm. This issue is larger than you, and your company has no clear-cut policy on it. Worst of all, you seem to have no awareness of what it means to make and maintain this special little group of friends who know you are a Linden, but the rest of us don't. This sets up a situation where the rest of us are second-class citizens -- ultimately, it means that we cannot participate in decision-making about features, and in the economy, at the same level as these special friends.

The status of Linden is a sacred public trust -- don't violate it

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