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June 23, 2006


Cristiano Midnight


Your comments about credit cards are extremely naieve and unrealistic. Is age verification via credit card a perfect solution? No, but it is a major deterrent to casual entry by underage users. I would rather have an imperfect solution that. I agree that the SMS option is pointless, why you added it in the first place is beyond me - it was the first step toward an easy loophole in the registration process. In addition to providing a deterrent, credit card information provides a level of accountability. That is completely lacking now.

It is all well and good that you are rushing an update out next Wednesday to include information on whether an account is verified or not. Without the tools also in place to react to that information, it is pointless, and we are put into a holding pattern while you play catchup.

You have simply refused to address the question of why this change had to be rushed out BEFORE the safeguards were in place. There is no excuse for it, and we as customers suffer from your rush and short sightedness. Does this dramatic public outcry mean nothing to you? We don't need a laundry list of promised features. We need the tools now, or for you to put the system back as it was until such time as you have them. Unfortunately, you don't seem to be willing to do either, which is a shame, and which completely mars any sense of excitement over this anniversary. Your answers here are very disappointing, to say the least - we deserve better than being talked down to about the ineffectiveness of credit cards and how things are not so bad on the grid afterall.


Warda Kawabata

My chief concern about the current registration has always been about underage players. Even griefers is secondary to that.

Now, I'm not underage. I hang around mostly in PG sims, and I don't sell any content whose equivalent couldn't be seen in a typical Disney feature film. But I'm well aware that adult content is out there, and currently, it is available for the asking to any underage player.

In his own words...

"Regarding today's hot issue of open registration - we've got protests going on today and so let me respect those people and the issue by talking about it first. First I want to talk about kids and the worries about kids being in SL. Credit card validation does NOT keep children out of SL, and it never has. A 10 year old can have their own credit card. An 8-year old can use their cell phone SMS to register."

Yes, I know credit cards aren't a perfect means of preventing minors from entering the game. But just because it isn't perfect, that doesn't mean it should be dropped and replaced with nothing at all. You're right, Phil, a 10 year old can have a credit card. And it's even possible for a child to get hold of their parents card without permission. But let's be honest here. 99.99% of credit cards are held by adults, not children. And most parents do at least keep some control over their cards. Yes, credit card based checks won't be perfect. Some kids will still be able to register. But having that check does at least show a good faith intention to keep minors out.

Right now, a teen could register, and simply by accidentally mistyping their age (never mind intentionally), they will be registered on the adult grid. Equally, there is no verification at all for adults trying to get in the teen grid. The age notice doesn't even say anything about it being used to determine which grid you end up on, and certainly contains no notice suggesting that being dishonest here might have legal repurcussions (or any repurcussions). In practical terms, there is no registration based check at all.

As a side issue, having credit card based authentification is also useful because it shows the person has the logistical means to pay for their account. I am assuming here of course that LL actually wants paying customers.

And having an authentification system that has the means to lock out a person after creating an arbitrary small number of different accounts from one piece of ID also has a definite effect on griefer activity. LL has better statistics on that I'm sure, but I'd say thanks to the general pessimism about LL response to griefer reports, those numbers are now skewed.

"What keeps kids out of the main grid is the age verification process triggered by abuse reporting... if you have good reason to believe that someone is underage, please file a report on them. Our process in these cases is to investigate and demand age verification where appropriate. We haven't changed anything about that process - it is still the way we keep underage people out of the main grid."

Sure, you can investigate an underage user based on reports (which, as I've said, are skewed). You can even ban that avatar or move it to the teen grid as appropriate. And then what stops that player from creating an entirely new account? The present system just makes extra work for LL if they are sincerely policing this, and yet even a 100% success rate in transferring teens to the teen grid will simply result in those teens making a new avatar and coming back to the adult grid, the way things are currently set up.

Age checks have never been foolproof (ie perfect) anywhere, anywhen. But security isn't be about finding a perfect system that can't be hacked or gamed. It's about finding a system that is more trouble than it's worth for ineligible people to get through.


i'm curious why it is important to keep children out of the main grid? can SL just have parental locks keeping them out of mature areas? or a tag to identify their minor status?

i think the teen grid is of value for young people who want or who's parents want them to have their own sheltered environment. but sheltering teens from the main grid ssems really pointless. afterall, there are much craziers things that teens are exposed to outside sl and they are quite resilient to that.


Crucial Armitage

No offence but this is complete and utter nonsense There has to be some kind of age check at sign up for second life.

OK try this scenario
old system with CC check or cell phone check. 10 year old enters main grid and gets reported to LL and is summarily baned from second life for being only 10 years old. the credit card or cell phone they use is black listed and they are never able to use it again. they have been effectively banned from SL.
new system NO CC check or cell phone number needed. 10 year old enters the main grid get caught and reported to linden labs the account is baned and the 10 year old Laughs and Immediately gos to the sign up page and creates another account and is back in world before you can say boo.

now tell me witch system is better at keeping out minors. neither is good but is not something better then nothing?

congratulations on the anniversary of second life I heard you speak about second life at last years convention and I came away from that convention with great respect for you and every one at Linden Labs after hearing you and Cory speak you made me feel that Second Life was the new frontier of the Internet. I just hope that I can have the same feeling when I leave this years convention. Only time will tell.
As of right now my respect and trust in you and second life has been diminished and will take some doing to regain my trust and respect for you and second life.

with all due respects and sincerity

Crucial Armitage

nekokami dragonfly


Waiting until you catch a paedophile in action, banning them, then allowing them back into Teen SL (because you have no way of tying accounts to RL identity and enforcing the ban) isn't good enough. Had I known that you were allowing cell phone numbers as a form of identity, I'd have revoked my daughter's account on Teen SL long since-- prepaid cell phones are $20 at Walmart and can be bought with cash, completely untraceable.

I'm not sure you can afford to be cavalier about kids getting into the main grid, but at the moment that's not my largest issue. Until I'm convinced that you are taking identity and age verification seriously, neither my kids nor those of anyone else who takes my advice will be on Teen SL. There are alternative services out there for verifying ID and age that do not rely on credit cards and can serve international users. Please take this concern seriously.

Happy birthday.


katykiwi Moonflower

I am happy to see SL open to all, with free and easy access. Life is a rich blend of people of all ages and so should our second life be enriched. If there is content that may be inappropriate for minors then other group and land tools need to be put into place to guard against problems. I welcome all the new members of all ages to SL, and support the new open direction LL has chosen. We all have something to add to the mix! I look forward to the change and transformation year 4 will bring!

Hiro Pendragon


Thanks so much for the consideration and kindness with which you treat protesting residents and residents who speak up against certain Linden Lab policies from time to time. You and your staff continue to represent your company very maturely and very intelligently with the way you handle customer feedback. For this, I want to extend my personal thanks.

That said, Second Life is the very spirit of doing things in new ways, and so the protesting spirit is a direct product of the very nature of the platform. I think you are well aware of this, as I read Lindens recalling the tax revolt with almost a fond tone. :)

I want to emphasize that when Linden Lab is forthcoming with imminent changes, and includes the community, these changes go off much more smoothly. This goes for both features and policy changes. The registration change really shocked a lot of us, because SL has been billed as an 18+ venue. A lot of us like it that way. There have been lots of talks of whether and how to change this, but there was in no way any sort of common ground reached. Credit Cards don't guarantee age, but they do guarantee an adult is responsible for what happens with that account. And seriously - how many people have a computer that can run SL, a high speed internet connection, but DON'T have a cell phone or a credit card?

Now, if the approach you're taking is to basically move toward one grid, I urge you to say it. If you're giving up on the teen grid, tell us, be upfront, and we'll accept its fate. We know you need the teen demographics. We can help you figure this out as a community.

I would additionally urge the following:
- LSL command: llIsVerified(key avatar)
- Land tool: "Allow Unverified" checkbox
- Unverified are PG-only. By letting unverified accounts have access to M-areas, you shift the responsibility of checking for age from Linden Lab to all of the individual content creators. I believe this is contrary to Linden Lab's interests, because Second Life has always been about empowering the little guy.

I know this is a big issue for Linden Lab to deal with, and you have the community's support, but please, proactively include us so that we can back you up.


Androclese Antonelli


Let me start by saying, Happy 3rd Birthday. Congratulations on getting Second Life this far. May we see SL continue for years and years to come.

Now, to the issue of age checks. Thank you for acknowledging our silent protest, but I feel that you have missed the message we wished to convey.

I just don't understand why you don't see this as an issue and instead, choose to brush it off. By your own statements it sounds like you are throwing your hands up in the air and saying "since CC's are not a perfect solution for checking the age of a person, lets just have no check at all".

Checking for the existence of a Credit Card is the universal way the Internet checks to see if you are allowed access to the an adult site. I worked for a very popular Midwest ISP for a number of years, believe me I know; we had out share of hosted adult sites. As it was stated before me, it is not a perfect solution as some kids may have Debit Cards or Credit Cards their parents have provided for them. It is, however, better than nothing.

What it does provide is a level of accountability. If you know the name and Credit Card number of an individual, and they do something suspect, you can run a check on that CC# and find out who it belongs to and whether they belong on the Main Grid or not. As to security for the Teen Grid, I have not been nor have I attempted to get onto the Teen Grid, so I cannot comment about how security is run there. However, since you saw fit to create a Teen Grid and then remove any barriers to keep the two populations separate, I believe you are heading for a serious problem.

My greatest fear is that Second Life and Linden Labs will be labeled as the company that allows Adults to inappropriately interact with children. As you are probably well aware, MySpace was recently sued by the parents of a 14yr old girl who met with a 19yr old off-line and was raped. I feel horrible for that child and I hope that guy rots in hell for what he did. My opinion about who is at fault not withstanding, MySpace is taking a *huge* beating in the press and their reputation is trashed. What do you think will happen to SL and LL when a Pedophile is found on the Teen Grid? Or conversely, when a Teen is found on the Main Grid in an adult area with an escort? The first thing that the press will ask is "what steps have you taken to protect the children from these adult interactions?". Since you have instituted a completely anonymous sign-up process with no accountability to the person creating the account, your only response can be "None".

The World Press, particularly the American Press will have you for lunch. The pristine reputation that Linden Lab's has sturgled to create for itself will be ruined. All the corporations that are currently and possibly wished to do business with you will run for the hills. Who would want to be associated with the company that allows Adults and Teens to "interact in an inappropriate manner". That BBC1 event we had? The really cool one with all the music? That would have never happened. The colleges that rent private island for their class studies? Gone.

Sir, we love this game. We log on here on a daily basis. We build our objects, we code our scripts, we plan our events, we socialize and have fun. Second Life is our second home. We do NOT want to see this go away because of a what we can only see as bad business decision. All we want it to protect the community at large on both grids, so that LL's can continue to provide us with the game we love.

We understand that you are pushing to have improved tools to control who can interact with what, but in that period of time, you leave all of us naked and without protection.

PLEASE, for the love of God, PLEASE, at least until you can install those tools, reinstate the CC checks so we can give those who wish to be in the wrong place pause. As was said before, we know it is not a perfect solution, but it is better than nothing.

On a side note, my game client crashed after after waiting 4 hours for your speech (grid issues aside) so I missed the full content of your address. Would you be so kind as to post the test of your presentation online so I can read it? Thanks

Androclese Torgeson


I was hoping to see more info about what kind of new features were on the way. It's nice about the verification status being visible in profiles and I agree that credit cards are a laughable method of age verification. At the end of the day, some parents will buy accounts for their underaged children with their own credit cards, because they don't realize about the age limit or because they trust their kids to handle themselves. There is just nothing for it, until the day SL is talking to us over brain-computer interfaces, because that's the ONLY way to really verify who is using the client. For those who are satisfied with credit cards as a "Good-Enough" age verification system, the verified field inthe profile will do just fine.

Personally, I'd like to see some more work in the direction of letting us handle harassment on our own. If I could make it so that no one could llPushObject me or my physical objects, or llUnsit / llEjectFromLand / llTeleportAgentHome me without a warning, or freeze my planes by editing them, and if I could mute sound spam from specific people and their objects, that would put an end to about 90% of the annoying crap people can do to me in SL. The remaining 10% consists of 200-meter ban lines and particle spam, and at least I can ctrl+alt+shift+= the particles.

Prokofy Neva

Dear Philip,

Happy Birthday! I'm truly inspired by the sense of awe and mystery that you can still impart about Second Life, when in 3 years' time, working this hard and intensely, you could well nigh be burned out. Walking deep in the woods is exactly what I love about SL, too -- I'm so glad you saw fit to remember the first resident and her beanstalk, and the latest magic of new flora and fauna, too. All very fitting.

I'm permabanned from your forums, and therefore less than a full-fledged citizen, and that's wrong. And I'm banned arbitrarily on a whim from this very beautiful sim of Svarga you mention, merely because the owner doesn't like what I write on my own blog. That doesn't make me lose faith in SL, but I point out these problems as the by-products of what you're doing here -- letting the inmates run the asylum without the rule of law.

And that's the problem with all these "tools" and "code-as-law" stuff you do as an afterthought to deal with griefing -- it makes for a closed society, where an elite rules.

I still do my best to try to keep an open society going on the mainland, which you seem to have forsaken.

It's wierd seeing you get rid of your chaps and rock T and such and put on the more preppie RL clothes. I suppose it's symbolic of the changes we have to endure, like RL, when the kids go to college or we all grow up. No more following the Dead around the country, or whatever.

But this is Second Life. Your wierd scripted flashing boxers and rock T should hopefully still remain in your inventory and be pulled out any time.

It's odd to me, who spends a great deal of time protesting every aspect of SL, to feel less than motivated to protest on the third birthday along with the FIC. I view their protest as facile and shallow, and mainly preoccupied with self-interest -- people are worried about losing the freedom of sexual licentiousness and more importantly, the business of selling sex, if they have to cope with the legal threat of prosecution over minors.

Of course, if SL is to be "no different than the rest of the Internet," we can only say, "where are the parents?" What kind of parent lets a teenage girl of 14 go meet some guy off the Internet anyway? SL has to be supervised like any other aspect of the Internet in a child's life.

I'm someone who has actually been harmed greatly by griefing, particle and prim bomb attacks, loss of business, loss of property, loss of customers, and most of all time. But I could only welcome any system that will allow way more customers to come in the door and climb over this too-feted walled garden of Second Life, and especially enable people outside America to come to the table.
I find myself strangely in harmony with these ideas of yours even though I protest many other aspects of what you're doing.

I think mainly, to cope with these side-effects of the licentious society that in fact binds others with the side-effects of its hedonism even as it pronounces the name of freedom, you need to have policies, not police. Governance granted to the grassroots, not code-as-law. Social work, not mechanical tools in the land parcels.

In the Catholic school my kids go to, they have very strict discipline of course, more than in public school. And when a child breaks the rules, he is given a warning, then a reprimand, then the third time, his name goes up on the blackboard in the front of the room. Then comes the letter to the parents. But it's not only the name of the child, but the name of any other child reporting an offense, and the teacher's name.

And so with RL court cases -- the name of the perpetrator, the name of the victim and witnesses, the name of the prosecutor and judge.

In the same way, we need to name names -- all names. The police blotter needs to be fuller, longer, sortable, with topics, with ALL recorded prosecutions (I suspect you are being selective) and with MEMORY, not tapping out over 1 week, but being archived and sortable. They should be fed to a board inworld, too. The justice record needs to have the NAME of the perpetrator, but to avoid a witch-hunt atmosphere, it needs the name of the person filing the abuse-report. Yes, they must take responsibility for taking away another's freedom. AND we need the name of the prosecuting Linden, so we can see: are they just putting their personal enemies behind bars? acting on tips from old friends when they were residents?

Everyone fears vengeance with this approach of naming the names ALSO of those so happy with the abuse-report switch. But it is the ONLY corrective to the police state you are now building. There won't be nearly as much vengeance as anyone imagines -- after all, we're supposedly knee-deep in griefing, now, eh? And there will be a really important check on all these people who misuse the abuse reporting system to settle scores.

This is why I called for Proposition 1355

Name all the names. This is the kind of policy that could have a huge impact where tools cannot achieve as much.

I'm concerned about the idea you're starting of making some people second-class citizens-- these very non-Americans in particular -- by not having a "verified payment" icon show up in their avatar profile.

I, for one, will not be banning or discriminating against these people, although I bet you'll be hearing a huge clamour to have tools that can mass ban people based on their caste in this fashion.

That's wrong. Societies have never prospered historically when such castes and untouchables are made. That was Snowcrash, a dystopia! Yes, have transparency for crimes committed, and name all names, but the emphasis is on the offense and the shame for committing it, not on the class of person.

Don't lose faith! Try to make a better world!


Androclese Antonelli

> It's odd to me, who spends a great deal of
> time protesting every aspect of SL, to feel
> less than motivated to protest on the third
> birthday along with the FIC. I view their
> protest as facile and shallow, and mainly
> preoccupied with self-interest -- people are
> worried about losing the freedom of sexual
> licentiousness and more importantly, the
> business of selling sex, if they have to
> cope with the legal threat of prosecution
> over minors.

I'm sorry Prokofy, but your argument completely misses the point of what we are protesting.

Per your statement, those that are protesting against the lack of accountability and age checks in the current registration process are all a part of the so-called FIC (a creation of your own making, I might add). I, for one, am not part of your 'FIC'. I never have been and I never will. I wield no power or influence over anybody or anything in Second Life. I am a simple resident of Second Life who likes to build statues and script in LSL. That is the extend of my SL existence and I am happy for it.

However, your statement blankets us protesters as all being in league with the "sex trades"; A segment of Second Life that drives a large part of the economy. Your assumption is completely incorrect.

I am the most conservative person you will *ever* meet; both politically and socially. I was raised a Catholic and I spent 12 years in Catholic schools. I learned a great deal of things in that time; tolerance being one of them. Just because I do not find the 'adult events' of Second Life to my liking, it does not make them, in your own words, "facile and shallow". I recognize that others have different view points from mine and that I am in no position to judge their actions unless it harms another. ...and that brings us to the crux of our argument.

By removing *all* roadblocks, there is no protection for the consenting adults of Second Life, nor are there any protections for the Teens of Second Life. Anybody can sign up for either grid, regardless of age, and perform inappropriate actions on either grid.

What we want is restoration of accountability to the registration process. Putting in a check for Credit Card or Bank Account is the best and most consistent way of doing that. Our Children, Nephews, Nieces, and Grandchildren are now all at risk because there is nothing to tie a suck-fu** Pedophile to an account on the Teen Grid. Everything is anonymous and there is no accountability.

We acknowledge that the Credit Card/Bank Account check is imperfect, but it is better than nothing and nothing is what we currently have.

We don't want to control anybodies actions, we don't want to limit the numbers or types of peoples that wish to join Second Life. In fact, we want to expand the population of Second Life so we can gain more residents and expand the World. We just want to keep the people that are not ready for the adult grid, Minors as defined by the US Government (<=17) relegated to the Teen Grid.

It is as simple as that.

Let's keep the Teens on the Teen Grid and the Adults on the Adult grid. That is all we want; nothing more.

Moonshine Herbst

Congratulations on the 3 years!

Pham Neutra

It is hard for me to understand all the outrage about the removal of credit card verification - at least the part of the outrage founded in "the protection of minors".

I am writing this as the father of a six year old son - which is not active on the internet yet but will be soon, I guess - who is very much concerned about the influence of the media (and especially the web) on the further development and education of this child. And I will spend many hours in the coming years to make sure, that I know and approve (to a degree) the content my son is consuming through the web or other media.

For me, Second Life is like the world wide web. It is a platform on which people can create and present content. This content might be suited for consumption by minors or might not. It is not "the internet's" responsibility (or the ISP's or Linden Lab's) who watches and interacts with this content - but the content providers responsiblity. There is jurisdiction at least in some countries which denies this and makes the ISP or a hosting provider responsible for the content supplied. There are pragmatic reasons for this (it's easier to find out the ISP) but from a purely legal pint of view I always found this kind of absurd. It is *impossible* for a platform to control and judge the content interpreting a lot of very interpretable local laws in the process.

In this context please note, that there simply is no worldwide accepted standard in what is acceptable to view for children of different age groups and what is not. The US society for example has this funny notion that children below a certain age (and above breast feeding age) should never see a womans nipples. Let me assure you, that this *not* a universally accepted standard. :)

To me it sounds at least debateable, if access to Second Life itself should be restricted to people over 18 at all. But LL is a californian company and I understand the legal problems involved.

But even taking into account a necessity or willingness to upheld the US standards in this matter, restricting access to *Second Life* based on credit card verification or something similar does not seem a very sensible solution to me.

Why not extend the verification system, which was announced by you and Robin, a bit and show in the profile, if this resident has verified "some" RL information with LL, if age hase been verified and maybe one or two additional attributes. And in the future the designation of a sim as Mature would prohibit all those who have not verified their ages from entering. Age verification would be available in LSL, too and would make it possible for providers of "mature" content to issue warnings etc.

But these are only technical issues. They might help or might not.

In the long run most juveniles will find a way to circumvent most if not any restriction. The only way to avoid this - IMHO - is for parents to watch and control what their kids are doing - in First and Second Life and try to teach them what is OK and what is not according to the values of the culture and the family they grow up in.

Angel Sunset

I take the lack of ANY age verification on sign up as serious; not because I fear a paedophile plague, but because I am concerned that it is a REAL issue for many parents (aside from the legal problems under US law).

I feel it will make little difference on the paedophile front; incidence of anonymous griefing may go up for a while; and the credit card system is not foolproof, but as has been demonstrated by the signup figures,credit cards are realtively rare outside of the US.

A better idea is that of prokofy - full accountability in the police blotter, all persons being named - NO anonymous accusers, victims or judges, plus am exact description of the offence and why that is a reason for the judgement.

Philip also has said, a system of integrated age verification will be added to the profile data, so that will help a lot.

However, the internet IS de facto anonymous, SL too... That means that Big Brother will NOT raise your kids / police the world / send everyone who is the wrong gestalt to the cornfield...

It up to us to get it running. I personally do not want Big Brother running my life, either here or IRL.

Its a huge level of personal responsibilty we need to take, that governments have shielded us from in the real world - and not for OUR good, rather to disenfranchise us, and to enable them to remove from society people that interfere with the absoluteness of the governing process, whatever random fashion THAT may follow at the moment.

You are the world, here, I guess.


Murder is illegal, and yet there are still murders. Therefore we should make murder legal.

Right. Compelling logic.


"If I'm right, we've still got a long way to go together. This whole place, large as it may now seem, all 2,668 sims of it, will probably be a speck on the map in a few years. I am pretty sure that SL will grow to be comparable in size to the net, and that means a lot of change."

But still one central grid, one world, not others licensing the code and hosting their own grids, correct?

Niko Domburi


For what it is worth, I just want to thank you for providing us with the opportunity to be a part of SL.

Please keep up the good work.



Phoenix Psaltery

Philip, thank you for the time you spend trying to make SL the best it can be. Despite the abrasive comments some make, I am sure that every resident of SL has that same desire (except for the griefers, of course, but I don't classify them as residents :)

I think you will agree that our concerns are valid -- we don't want SL to be caught up in a legal maelstrom resulting from some underage person getting access to someone's BDSM dungeon, or whatever -- yet I understand the need to open SL up to the masses.

Many of us missed the main content of your speech yesterday because of the crashes and so forth. When will the text be posted for us to read fully?


Jamie David

"Well it's been a crazy day with an event interrupted repeatedly by protests and problems."

It was an enlightning and wonderful day. You should be a proud of what you have achieved. From my stand point it was educational on many grounds. I learnt a lot about how sims operate with large loads. I do beg to differ that that protests intrupted the event. Maybe there was another protest that I am not aware of.

Moderation tools are a definate need for Philip as well as many of us who try and host discussions and talks. The intruptions are deathly.

I am sorry to have to say that I did not feel that the reasons given for the changes where valid and thought out. The numbers offered of increase in users does not hold against the numbers in the statistics.

I live in Asia and CreditCards are as previlent here as in the US. With millions playing Ragnarok and having to pay monthly for the right. CC are not a limiting factor.

I have asked staff at ISP I administer to look at SL months back. Every one registered no troubles. Their issue was the lack of players and assistance that was in easy english. Even though they are computer and game savy, SL was to complex with out the books they all buy on the games they are playing. The games here are HUGE. Ragnarok is not the king and has 13 Million Registered and Paying in SEAsia.

As to the increase from the international members I hope that LL is going by the IP and not what the person registering put down. I would assume that Fake addresses would be outside the US to make it even harder to pinpoint.

I was most sorry that you had such a hard time. It was a rough experience. I believe those protesting as I against these changes are your biggest supporters. We are showing how much we care. I was also very impressed that for 2 hours with lots of bateing by trolls and others the "Protesters" kept their cool. Throughout. That there was somone griefing while Philip spoke was very very sad. We wanted more than anything to listen to his and Robins speaches. So many were trying to get in and felt left out.

Prokofy Neva


Let's put it for the record here: you are making a so-called "Better Business Bureau" which is precisely the sort of third-party site that institutes the *effect of* a blacklist/whitelist in Second Life that will be unaccountable and beyond appeal -- based on criteria that many in the community will not know about, or be able to participate in shaping, as this site is "owned by a simple man" who just happens to be friends with Flipper and Baccara who are of course representing vested interests in keeping the status quo in SL and whitelisting those they feel deserve whitelisting through the effect of creating a biased system to blacklist those who either don't cooperate or don't pass muster.

This is exactly the force Philip is unleashing in the world with the attitude he is taking that the "federal government" (the Lindens) has no obligation to enforce the TOS globally, and to ensure that individuals or groups on servers don't partially or unfairly enforce or don't enforce the "Big Six". The problem of business libel by claiming "fraud" or "theft" falsely or unjustly without due process is one that the TOS abuse-report system can't even cope with anyway, as many of us know. So there is a huge can of worms opened up here and I, for one, want the Lindens to do some thinking about *what recourse* and what *dispute resolution system* they will have in place to deal with the inevitable injustices spawned by blacklisting/ban systems created by sim leaders throughout SL.

>Per your statement, those that are protesting against the lack of accountability and age checks in the current registration process are all a part of the so-called FIC (a creation of your own making, I might add). I, for one, am not part of your 'FIC'.

No, that's per *your* statement. The recent SL Views among many, many, MANY other incidents tend to confirm rather than dispel the "interesting myth" of the FIC which is really a reality. The tenacity with which some people try to fight the concept or discount it also indirectly confirms it
: )

FIC leaders like Cristiano are heavily identified with the protest and media coverage and it's appropriate to describe this as such. That doesn't mean all who raise questions about this new registration are FIC -- could I point out that I was actually the first one to protest them -- before it was sanctioned as cool and popular to do -- after Daniel Linden's "Abuse Levees Hold" post?

>However, your statement blankets us protesters as all being in league with the "sex trades"; A segment of Second Life that drives a large part of the economy. Your assumption is completely incorrect.

Cristiano himself issued a statement that it wasn't griefing that bothered him as much as age verification -- and age verification as a real issue (as distinct from a posturing, false issue designed to make the person look like they care about kids) only for those who are in the business of providing adult content. They have the greatest vested interest in protesting what looks like a curb on their licentiousness they've enjoyed untrammelled up until now.

>Just because I do not find the 'adult events' of Second Life to my liking, it does not make them, in your own words, "facile and shallow". I recognize that others have different view points from mine and that I am in no position to judge their actions unless it harms another. ...and that brings us to the crux of our argument.

This is the sort of stuff that elite-sponsored unassailable business slander is made up of -- hasty readings and snap judgements based on incorrect understandings -- yours. Go back and read my post, which says:

"I view **their protest** as facile and shallow, and mainly preoccupied with self-interest" Not the "adult business".

The protest -- a one-day site closure and wearing some t-shirts at a high-profile event -- is what as described as "facile and shallow," as you can see from the emphasis added here to the phrase in asterisks.

The adult business in SL should be allowed to flourish as it has customers and by LL's own recognition, makes up 1/3 of the economy (a modest estimate, to be sure). LL may possibly be correct to pass on the responsibilty for this content, its licensing, and its customers' behaviour, to the "owners" (leasers) of the sims.

The problem is that LL is something more than a mere ISP because of its subscription and various orientation services and infrastructure and its robust TOS enforcement system. So I'm not sure how this will be judged.

I myself run an adult "no-tell motel" and I'm precisely the kind of person who is likely to be harmed by over-zealous prosecution because I won't have paid off the right people, made the right connections, established the right Linden pipelines, or hired the right security forces -- all things that people in SL do. I just open up a hotel in a sim labeled "mature", lay out furniture with poses and say "right-click and pay the box". I'm part of the open, free economy of SL.

I don't see how I can possibly police the ages and identities of everyone streaming through this sim, usually on a short-term basis. Am I, the leaser of a sim from LL, now liable for a 17-year-old who comes to meet an 18-year-old in this hotel? This is ridiculous. I will have to put an age-verification statement on each and every rentomatic and a sign on the office door, I guess. I await advice from LL on this -- I *do* hope they plan on providing some minimal advice to minimize exposure to litigation of their long-term paying customers like me.

>By removing *all* roadblocks, there is no protection for the consenting adults of Second Life, nor are there any protections for the Teens of Second Life. Anybody can sign up for either grid, regardless of age, and perform inappropriate actions on either grid.

BTW, this has long, long been the case, long before these new unaccountable accounts. Why the sudden zeal about this? Ever since the cell-phone sign-ups became allowed, we've had teens on the MG and young kids on the TG.

>What we want is restoration of accountability to the registration process. Putting in a check for Credit Card or Bank Account is the best and most consistent way of doing that. Our Children, Nephews, Nieces, and Grandchildren are now all at risk because there is nothing to tie a suck-fu** Pedophile to an account on the Teen Grid. Everything is anonymous and there is no accountability.

I find this sort of statement merely to be emotional pandering and incitement to emotional reactions and hatred. I have children, including one who is on the TG who I forbid to go on the adult grid or make alts just as any parent should. I don't expect LL to do my baby-sitting for me.

Just because you and a small group of people who feel threatened by the further opening of SL in terms of business competition to yourselves especially decided to take a public posture about this doesn't mean that we who aren't wearing your t-shirts are all aiding and abetting criminals. When I was in TSO, I was part of a movement of people who routinely abuse-reported those who appeared in public places in TSO with BDSM recruitment and behaviour because there were children as young as 9 legally entitled to be in TSO.

In SL, I've never felt I had to get involved in any sort of movement like that because it required CC registration. Now that it doesn't, I want only one thing from LL:

A clear, unambiguous statement about *where* the responsibility lies for mature content and customer behaviour. If it is on the leaser of the sim, despite our contingent status, *and our inability to enforce a TOS as non-server owners* then *say so*. If they believe that LL still has responsibility which it discharges by responding to abuse reports only -- not proatively -- then creators of adult content and leasers or Mature sims are required only to file abuse reports, not take responsibility for the abuse itself, correct?

Let's get a definitive legal statement from Ginsu on this, and stop the emotional incitement and pandering and harassment surrounding this issue.

>We acknowledge that the Credit Card/Bank Account check is imperfect, but it is better than nothing and nothing is what we currently have.

Linden Lab has already responded to this request with a "No". They are going forward with this program, and they don't share your assessment. They have announced that they respond to abuse reports and kick off anyone found to be underage. On the TG, they expel permanently anyone found to be overrage. Your obligation or my obligation in this regard then, legally, as far as we've been informed, is to file abuse-reports -- full stop.

>We don't want to control anybodies actions, we don't want to limit the numbers or types of peoples that wish to join Second Life. In fact, we want to expand the population of Second Life so we can gain more residents and expand the World. We just want to keep the people that are not ready for the adult grid, Minors as defined by the US Government (<=17) relegated to the Teen Grid. It is as simple as that.

Well, no, it's not as simple as that, it's just *your view* that it is as simple as that. LL has said they aren't going to do it this way. You're not going to get your way. Your one-day protest has failed. SO either you must be prepared to make more cogent arguments and protest longer, or accept that their response to these concerns, which they share, is to do exactly what Maxis/EA did: to respond passively to abuse reports. Once they have a report, they then remove offending content or players under their guidelines.

Many people don't like this. Peter Ludlow didn't like it in TSO, and look what happened to him! However, it looks like this is what LL is telling us.

Cocoanut Koala

I am opposed to the new open registration. I see three problems with it:

1. Letting teenagers and children into the adult grid, with no means to know who they are.

2. Making it impossible to ever ban anyone, children or others, because of no means of knowing who they are.

3. This same casual approach likely resulting in more adults joining the teen grid.

Philip, what you say is good about SL, as opposed to the web - that others are right there with you, in real time, interacting with you - is precisely why you shouldn’t throw open the doors to everyone.

This isn’t a matter of kids happening to see something on TV or in the movies, or on a website. This is about real people interacting in real time with other people. SL is about a very sexually oriented place filled with adults having cyber sex with each other in every imaginable way.

This new open registration plan has in effect thrown the doors open not just to adults, but to teens and even children, allowing them easy access to participate in activities with people of all ages, including sexual activities, with no identifying information; and who can return again and again even if they are thrown out, as can those who would prey upon them.

You may think that children on the grid aren’t really going to be your problem; that they are going to be our problem, because our parcels are just websites on your internet. But I don’t believe this line of reasoning is going to fly with most people, including judges, juries, media, and law enforcement. I believe they will fault you for not taking reasonable precautions for keeping minors out.

Restricting access to SL based on credit card verification is a reasonable precaution, and a solution which many other websites and games rely on. It is an error to think that if something isn't foolproof, it is then useless. By that reasoning, no one would ever institute safeguards for anything whatsoever, or be expected to, or have any laws or rules at all, for minors, or for anyone.

My view: With this new plan, LL has abdicated its moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to take reasonable, expected steps to protect minors. No numbers of residents, no goal, nothing - is ever worth increasing the risk to children unnecessarily.

In addition, it puts all of us and SL itself at unnecessary risk.


Norinn Richard


Credit card access and some form of age verification has never been a perfect solution, but it is a partial one. And one that was having a significant positive impact on SL. The spike in greifing, scamming, and kids in the grid is proof of how effective it was.

I am glad to hear that better tools to deal with greifers are on the way. One thing I have long wanted is a "master ban" that will ban and account and all know alts of that account in one swoop. Of course, the paying credit card is what would have identified those alts, so such a tool would now be useless, but you see the idea. Greifing was a problem barely controlled before. This move has poured propane on a fire.

As of now, I am starting to consider leaving SL. Yes, Norinn Richard, the guy who writes The Line and Sim of the Week has one foot out the door. The only thing keeping me here are my friends, and I'm contacting them more through yahoo then I am SL. And the flood of greifers on alt is *directly* to blame for this. Moreover, your lack of response to this problem has shaken my trust in Linden Lab as a whole. Just what will you do to push up membership numbers next? My trust in your judgment and devotion to healt of SL has been shaken. And I am by no means alone. *Eliminate* this new registration process before trust is total broken.

Norinn Richard
Staff Columnist
The Metaverse Messenger

Relee Baysklef

Ahh, thank you Mr. Rosedale. ^.^

I've been trying to convince people that removing the Credit Card requirement is a good thing, and that they aren't in any legal danger.

It's a bit strange to be on the side of the Establishment, but please maintain this position of yours! Don't be swayed by these short-sighted nay-sayers. You and the others at Linden Labs are doing the right thing.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

Happy Birthday to you all — and this was a particularly event-packed one, like nothing ever seen before. I'm prepared to be amazed at the next birthday: will we have 3 million registered and active users by then, and perhaps 100,000 of them online at the same time, as Yahoo allegedly has simultaneously on their pages these days?

Perhaps. It's not impossible to imagine, although my experience shows that Second Life is "not for everybody" — yet. There is some strange magic going on. Some people look at Second Life and are immediately appealed; some still look at it as a game (a notion that is hard to shake, since Doom was launched, anything having a 3D look is immediately classified as a game, unless it's an architect's modelling tool); and some feel "too unrestricted" and lost, without having people telling them what to "do" in Second Life.

I think that as we reach the 300,000 mark (due next Wednesday or so), Second Life is coming to a point where it is not an "early adopters' technology product" any more, but something for the masses. It should become something similar to a blog, Friendster, Orkut, or any of the nice, 2D, Web 2.0 "social tools". Unlike those, however, SL is totally unrestricted — you can do whatever you wish to do.

And this often means that people will ask themselves "what shall I do here?". If they can truthfully answer that, they'll stay. If not, they'll go back watching TV. An increasing number always asks: "Why isn't there XXXX in SL yet?" When I answer "Why don't you try and do XXXX by yourself — go ahead, you can do it!" many also give up. They want entertainment and be entertained; providing entertainment is something that takes patience and is not for everybody (or else, we'd have the world population doing stand-up comedy on TV).

From a 50%/50% split of consumers/producers, we're now near 75%/25%, and this will slowly move towards a more normal ratio — perhaps 100:1. The trick, again, will be how to keep 99% of the population engaged and attracted to SL. There is no easy answer, but one thing is certain: it won't be LL doing the entertainment. So the best we all can hope is that these 1% remain loyal to SL and stay around.

This said and done, growth is a necessity. I understand that very well, and will be certainly on of the first cheering when the counter on SL's front page reaches 300,000. Or perhaps 500,000 in 2 months and a half. And who knows, one million by Christmas (what a nice present that would be). Last year, I was curious on how this could ever be achieved; 5500 new users *per day* was an impossible dream, and the rate is still growing slowly.

The answer, of course, is simple: don't put any limits on registration, and people will come. All sorts of people. And here is the big problem.

It's an undeniable fact on the Internet that to make a system grow, it's easier to fall back to a totally open registration system. I have no idea on how many people are logged in on Yahoo or MSN, who don't ask for any registration details. On the other hand, PayPal, who does a very complex registration process, announces 100 million users — which is not bad, for a system that is so strict in its validation process, and so quick to shut down anyone's account without notice if something wrong is suspected (and no, they don't have "tech support" so to speak — if you're locked out, there is almost nothing you can do, except painfully start from scratch with a new registration, forfeit your many-years-long reputation, and become a "newbie merchant" again). While this is terribly frustrating for anyone who had the bad luck of being locked out, it means that the validation process has a reasonably good reputation of keeping troublemakers out (although the reverse is also true — PayPal is infamous for totally ignoring their customers).

Now imagine that PayPal forfeited *any* type of registration, in order to increase their user base. What would happen? I imagine that after a few weeks with this system, people would join with "PayPal alts" like crazy. Their user base would perhaps go up to half a billion users in just months. But nobody would bother to use their system. When you start with a somewhat "restricted" access, just later to open it up, users lose all confidence in the system. PayPal knows that, and it's highly unlikely they will ever go this route. As a matter of fact, they feel the responsibility of providing 100 million users with a good reputation as part of their duty — and by doing so, underlining their own good reputation as well.

Still, it meant waiting 6 or 7 years until PayPal reached the 100 million mark. That might have been "too slow" for some of their investors (some of which also seem to be LL's investors as well ;) ), but they were patient, and it's paying off :)

PayPal, of course, relies upon complex financial interactions to validate people. There is some leeway on the anonymity provided, of course. You can still do transactions anonymously, if you have access to a homebanking account for instance, and are able to see all the codes they send you. This means that any teenager with a bank account can enter PayPal, use a fictitious name, and log in on every adult site/game in the world that relies upon a PayPal validation. I imagine that there are many of those around. Certainly there are many who entered SL this way.

Opening up access for free, unless a serious business model is behind it, was one of the causes for the Internet bubble to burst (not the only one, of course, just one of many). My country has the advantage that it lags behind the rest of the world in most aspects, so one can follow what happens elsewhere first, and predict very easily what will happen here. I know a story of an Internet Service Provider which saw around 1998 that the "new trend" would be to give away Internet access accounts for free in order to increase numbers (similar to what is happening to SL, these accounts mostly had absolutely no validation). As all the major ISPs (a few state-funded) started to prepare to announce "Internet for free", the smaller, but well-established ones, quickly ran away. Nobody would be able to support the growing costs of free access without revenue. There was absolutely no business model at that time that showed people migrating to a paid account if they had already what they wanted for free. And, naturally enough, ISP Boards, venture capitalists, and all types of investors (even the media!) were absolutely blind to it. All they saw was the numbers growing and growing — with the cost of supporting the free infrastructure growing and growing as well, but no one noticed it — until finally things had to burst. That model was impossible to sustain. And the rest, as they say, is history; literally, dozens of Internet service providers *became* history as they failed to predict such a simple thing.

That ISP I mentioned is still around. They are still small, grown perhaps to just three times the size it was at the turn of the millenium. They were hit hard and roughly, as they expected, while the "free Internet" grew until it burst. Then it was time to pick the pieces, and looking towards the ones that still stood faithfully in the middle of the ruins with a solid business model. They plodded along, slowly and mostly ignored by the new, post-bubble giants (who have learned the lesson and only sell paid access with validation). They traded off "exponential growth" for stability, reputation, and quality of service. There is a market for the latter as well; a market that makes both investors and customers happy.

Does this mean that I'm suggesting a slowly-growing Second Life? No, not at all. Like Philip, I want to see 20 or perhaps 200 million users on a metaverse — and preferably with a good captain at the rudder in whom I can trust, like LL's team. But what I fear is that the lessons of the past haven't been acknowledged and apparently ignored. "Growing at all costs" (and I mean *literal* costs — infrastructure, technical support, bandwidth, servers...) just to please the media and the investors was never a good strategy in the past. Unless there is a different business model beneath it that we don't know anything about.

LL looks like ICQ when it started. It was free, and immensely popular. In no time they reached the multi-million figure. And then the company asked themselves: how will we charge all those users? Oops. The cat was out of the bag, and there was no way to put it back in. When ICQ started to think that getting just one US$ per user per month would be a good way to balance their accounting sheets, the ICQ user community just told them: do that, and we'll simply start a new IM system (and thus Jabber was born!). The ICQ guys were at the mercy of their unpaid users. They survived to this day (with perhaps near to 300 million accounts, the vast majority of those unactive for years), but they also learned their lesson: you can't start with something free and expect people to pay after a while. That doesn't work.

On some business schools, or salesforce training, there used to be some slogans posted on the wall: "Never drop prices". Once you drop the price to get a customer, you'll be never able to charge more for the same. Instead, offer them other things included in the same price. You could extrapolate and say: once you give something away for free, you'll never be able to charge a cent.

This is, I believe, one of the things that SL has to struggle with. When I joined, except for those on trial, all users were paying users. But today, the ratio of paying vs. non-paying customers is 1:10, and with free accounts so easily had, this can only grow. Currently, there is no incentive to pay anything to LL for using their services, their technical support, their servers, their infrastructure. Why should one feel "compelled" to pay anything? Land is only important to a few, and you can always rent. So, unless there are *compelling reasons* for paying anything, no user will be interested to "go premium" (unless they want to become the next generation of land barons — a possibly lucrative "entertainment" in SL, but which is not appealing to many). Worse than that: why should existing premium users keep their monthly payment to LL, if they don't see any advantage in doing so? I must confess I'm a Premium user since my third day in SL, but I don't even own land — I rent it all, and most of it is unused really. I just pay the yearly fee because of loyalty, and nothing else — I'm the sort of person who pays for shareware and donationware just to encourage the programmers to keep working on their amazing products. But the truth is, I don't get "anything in return" for being a faithful Premium user. I didn't expect anything, really; but it's hard to keep up a sustained growth with "ethical users" who "feel" they should pay just to keep the company developing nice things for them. That model is also condemned to failure; and when one reads that the most faithful SL users, who have been around for these three years, and are masters of providing content and entertainment and keeping large masses of users around them, are actually basic accounts, one wonders about what "loyalty to LL" really means.

I fully understand the fear of seggregating user types. Here is an unvalidated user, here is a paid user, here is a validated but not paying user. Each has different ways of access, different toolsets, and different privileges. This is what is usualy done on other platforms (not related to virtual worlds), and having user classes based on their registration type and the amount of payment is not unreasonable for most companies. Although I understand the legitimacy of trying to establish an "equal opportunity" metaverse, no matter how much money you're willing to invest in it (since your labour and content is also as valuable as putting your money in LL), this doesn't mean that LL is helped out in this process. Rather the contrary: by not giving good incentives to go Premium, nobody will do it. The interesting bit is that currently Premium accounts only have two advantages: a puny stipend of L$500 (which will have to be revised sooner or later), and land ownership. You can get money through LindeX (where LL charges are minimal; *and* there are non-LindeX alternatives as well) and you can rent land — so, there is nothing to provide encouragement to become Premium. Clearly, this model is not interesting for a sustained and continued growth of the user base — since it'll grow, but the income will remain the same.

Eventually, we'll get those 200 million users, but only 30,000 of them will be paying customers. Will that be enough? I'm afraid that under the current business model, the answer is "no".

Open registration, no validation, easy logins, no incentive to become a paid (and verified) member, all contribute to the same issue: exponential growth without a sustainable, medium-to-long term business mode.

While naturally there are thousands of possible models to apply, I'll stick with the one I like best: Google.

Google is a weird company in all respects. They make money from advertising on websites, growing well after the Internet bubble burst, which is completely insane. People get told on business classes today "don't rely upon advertising on the Internet to pay for your system; nobody sees it; you won't be making any money to pay for your concept".

But Google ignored all that and built a whole series of applications based on that very same concept. Do simple ads, and charge for them. Buy web space on other sites and offer advertisers money, with a simple, no-fuss system. And target hundreds of millions of users. All those cents add up. One can only be baffled at how they managed to pull it off. Google, by itself, doesn't provide much content — they only make other people's content more readily available. To an extent, Yahoo is doing the same thing (just look at how Flickr did a similar model and was promptly bought by Yahoo) — or YouTube, or whatever is the fashion these days.

This is something that is somewhat lacking in SL: a mechanism where *all* users — not just Premium users! — pay something to LL, even if indirectly. A clear incentive to do so should be incorporated into SL. I could imagine that by simply prompting a few Google AdSense ads on the login page of SL would be a way to start; or having a non-removable HUD attachment on a specific area of the screen where ads would be displayed (to remove the ads, you would have to upgrade to Premium).

Google also has an interesting way to deal with growth of "unregistered" users, like they do on Gmail or Orkut. They rely upon "networks of trust" — you invite only "valid" accounts (in theory) by giving accounts to your friends. This could be done similarly in SL: allowing Premium users to invite a certain number of "unverified" users into SL, and having Premium (verified) users somehow responsible for the people they invite. The number of invitations could also be tied somehow to your participation in Second Life, ie. the more you "invest" in SL (content, money...), the more people you can invite in.

This is naturally not perfect; people abuse this system on Orkut and Gmail all the time, getting free accounts for illegitimate purposes. However, it addresses nicely two opposing concerns: the ability to do (indirect) validation (since at the root of a network of contacts will be a validated user), as well as allowing a fast-paced growth due to not requiring a complex validation scheme.

Naturally enough, this does not address the issue of having a paedophile logging in with a valid credit card (even a stolen or forged one...) and then inviting a whole bunch of kids. But at least you'd have a track to follow. The problem with no validation at all is that it's impossible for the authorities to track down.

So, what I suggest for the upcoming year...

1) A business model based upon sustained growth, where each new user represents *immediately* a source of income to LL, even if it's not directly tied to "membership fees". We can be talking about things as low as a few cents per month (like Google AdSense) — multiply that by 300,000, and it'll sum up nicely at the end of the month. This income may not come directly from the user's pockets; there are several business models that can address that. Some would be totally shunned by the residents (say, a transaction fee for every item you'd sell, or putting up for sale L$ from money sinks on LindeX — both would generate riots in SL, but they are possibilities).

2) Use indirect validation techniques to limit the possibility of abuse. Right now, LL does not even know if they get a valid email address (and it's so easy to get one these days!). I haven't researched much to see what alternatives to credit card validation exist. In my limited knowledge, none are as easy to sign up, but there might be some clever systems out there.

I think that the whole issue actually comes from a different reason. Somehow, people in SL felt "protected" because of an existing validation technique — one that allowed tracking people down if they lied, cheated, or forged identities. This "protection" meant that they would have (paradoxically) a higher level of freedom, specially regarding their in-world sexual acts: there was no way that a minor would be around to watch it. In return, this made several people call in all their friends telling them: "come to SL, this is the only place where we can do this safely", and naturally, through mouth-to-mouth recommendations, many more joined this "paradise" world where minors were absent.

Suddenly, though, the tables are turned, and now you can't be sure about minors in the Adult Grid any more. What this means is that SL would have been something like Disneyland if it allowed teens since its beginning; changing it suddenly after 3 years means a hard change. People *want* this to be an adult-only environment. They *want* mature content (contrast the number of private islands that are Mature compared to the handful that are PG — even when nothing in the way of "mature content" goes on on most islands, people feel safer if they label things as Mature. One never knows what can happen, and Mature labelling is all-encompassing. Better safe than sorry!).

Having the risk of having a substantial part of the user population being a minor, this naturally makes people react in violence. The residents feel cheated by LL. Yes, like all of you, I also signed up for an "adult" environment. In RL I participate in a few, and am quite sure that through a reasonable effort, minors are kept away from those communities. On the other hand, none of those communities seem to do much more than ask people for their age — although some adult sites are naturally credit-card-protected, many aren't. They rely upon the community to identify and expel underage users, by pointing the out to site administrators.

My mind is thus torn between so many contradictory trends. On one hand, this is an adult environment, and the Teen Grid is a teenager environment. Mixing both is a nightmare, so LL's original approach made sense. On the other hand, there were always minors on the Adult Grid (but hopefully no adults on the Teen Grid). They were dealt with successfully, and my guess is, sooner or later they will be picked up and thrown out. However, this is not always true. When I was 16 or 17 I considered myself rather "mature" and participated in groups and organisations iRL with people much older than myself. I could have been very convincing as a "mature adult" if SL existed 20 years ago — not so hard to do, when you have 18-25 year olds behaving like complete jerks. So, since maturity is detached from age, how can you prevent very mature minors to stay inside the Adult Grid and *never* be found out? (It would take building a rather good reputation, but that is easy to do in a world where people's reputation turns bad much easier than good — your "underage, mature" teen would stand out from the crowd by just being friendly, nice, cooperative, and providing a valuable link inside the community) This is an extreme case that many would get very annoyed with — but I have the impression that SL is the kind of platform that attracts precisely quite a lot of "mature teenagers". You might not be surprised to know that I have been in touch with a few very clever individuals on the Teen Grid through off-world IM (they read my blog, they get my contacts, I'm easy to search, and they send me a "hi"). Most of them are *starving* for good content in the Teen Grid, and they behave much more maturely than many "legal adults" I know. Fortunately for me, they tend NOT to lie about their age — but if they did, I would be completely fooled, since nothing in their behaviour would have indicated that they were anything but intelligent, witty, talkative, and very mature human beings.

Sadly, you can't have a verification system based on "maturity", but only on physical age, so this "blur" will always exist. Teenagers are not stupid. If they know that to have access to the Adult Grid, the only thing they need to do is basically to shut up, look but don't talk much, and stay quiet and only answer when asked to — it's easy to pass for a newbie or an inexperienced user, although most of those teenagers have hours of training on other, non-mature MMORPGs — then some will do that. And those will be the hardest to pinpoint, no matter what.

Until something happens.

But of course I understand Philip's attitude as well. Yes, minors in the Adult Grid are a real problem, and he probably knows that reporting them is not a solution (since abuse reports take ages to get processed). On the other hand, Linden Lab cannot accept responsability as tutors, teachers, or surrogate parents. What they can and should do is to provide the *best possible system* to ensure that *only a very limited amount of minors* are able to go through the login page. And, at the same time, open up the world as much as possible to allow further growth and expansion. Philip's surprise at getting now so many international users is absolutely no surprise to me. Around my country, it's not uncommon to see government-financed campaigns to say "Never put a credit card on a website". People fear the Internet, because the Government tells them to fear it. There is only a handful of people trying to repeat the contrary mantra. The result: nobody from my country logs ever in, although everybody that has a bank account (over 90% of the population, including many teenagers) has a VISA-compatible credit card (or a similar system). The climate of terror against using credit cards on the Internet is an utter deterrent for anyone to log in to SL — but now that it's "validation-free", people are starting to come in from the most unexpected places. Specifically, we'll start to see an increase from all countries where credit cards and PayPal don't work or work in a very limited way — Russia, China, and several East European countries, all of them very tuned in to online communities and MMORPGs, but up to now blocked to SL. So this growth is *good*. But... at what cost?

But at the end of the day, we expect much more from LL than just a nice platform and a few servers. We expect from them ethics, moral, responsability. We expect them to form a bond between users and their expectations, and investors and the need to get a quick return on investment. I also expect, in the mean time, that LL runs a successful business — I want to be logged in 2010 or 2050 or perhaps 2100 (who knows...) — and this means that LL has to find a way to deal with both antagonising expectations.

To run a successful business, LL has to grow at a faster pace. Failure means shutting down for lack of money to run the infrastructure.

To keep their users happy, LL has to adopt an ethical conduct.
Failure means users will ostracise LL and move elsewhere — and spread the bad news that LL does not care about that ethical conduct.

I don't envy you your difficult choice. Neither extreme is the reality, of course. It lies somewhere between both. Finding it and "staying there" will be your challenge, but I'm hoping that a compromise can be found.

Mark Gjellerup

This is a strange position by LL. I've only been in SL for 3 months, but if I had a more developed in-game business I would be very worried about the future of SL.

Don't you know you're going to be sued so hard the first time someone underage meets a pedophile offline from Second Life. Their parents will have a strong case asking 'Wheres the Age Verification' after the pedophile says he thought she was legal... especially when they had "virtual-sex" in-game.

People who use SL for business have a vested interest in the success of SL more than any other "Game." If Google for example started hosting Adult Content on Google Video with no age verification I would be mad. I own stock in Google. If they go under I lose big. If SL goes under, SL businesses lose big. You're taking an unreasonable amount of risk here and should listen to your members.

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