Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Proper Reaction to Griefers

Last night saw a number of griefing episodes in Oxbridge. Kathy arrived for one such episode, the classic "falling anvil" gag, hilarious to those whose sense of humor never outgrew the Bugs Bunny cartoons.

Kathy has no special powers to deal with these cretins (nor do I, for that matter), but Oxbridge had enough supermen to handle any number of them: Miss Gray, with her new ability to ban, was present, as were several NCI folks, and Kami herself was lurking on site. Des was on-line, too, should Ultimate Authority have been needed. (Well, Ultimate this side of a Linden.)

Nonetheless, I thought both Des and Kami somewhat missed the mark in their reactions to the incidents. Des noted that griefers are really just attention-seekers, and that the best approach is often to ignore them: bored and unfulfilled, they will eventually move on. I think that's correct in general, but may not be as applicable in Oxbridge as elsewhere. Kami made reference to her less-than-pure past with regard to griefing incidents, and suggested the whole thing was more humorous than anything. Again, perhaps correct in general, but not in Oxbridge.

Here's the difference: I've been at this for a year, and others much longer, and even a few months in-world gives one a good perspective on what matters and what doesn't, especially if friends provide a support network. Friends can explain that this, too, shall pass. Experience shows that the anvil, or particles, or whatever, have no effect beyond temporary annoyance.

Contrast that with the brand-new avatar, still in Oxbridge or Oxbridge Village, trying to get a handle on this Thing Called Second Life. In addition to figuring out how to move gracefully, get rid of the duck walk, find something decent to wear, and make a friend or two, all of a sudden anvils are raining down, or singing phalluses appear (as one lady explained to a bemused Kathy). Imagine the reactions. "Is this what Second Life is about, dodging annoying objects? Can the anvil hurt me? Will I have to spend much of my limited in-world time dealing with immature adolescent a**ho**s whose idea of a good time is to create singing private parts and to harass me?" As the marketing folks would say, a bad out of the box experience is likely to drive the customer away. In fact, it's a great deal more likely to do so in Second Life, where the only investment the user has made is a 30+ megabyte download, than a game that's been purchased.

My feeling is that there is no reaction too aggressive in dealing with the bored teenagers - at least with regard to Oxbridge and Oxbridge Village. Ban them at once, report them, vaporize them, it's all good to me. Elsewhere, in the realm of more experienced folks, perhaps ignoring them makes more sense.

Why do I care? I was fairly neutral about the value of having a gateway in Oxbridge. On the one hand, more traffic in and awareness of Caledon is a good thing - more people = more revenue at shops, more demand for land, more social interaction. On the other hand, many of those people are not specifically interested in the Caledon theme, so there will be more bling, more naked men with absurdly oversized genitals, more prim litter as noobies decide that anyplace with build permissions is a sandbox, and more griefing. Oxbridge may be a net benefit to the community, but it's not clear-cut. Yet Des, knowing all this, made a decision to do it. I'm not qualified to second-guess the decision, nor is it my place to do so. Having made the decision, Des has every right to expect the rest of us to help make it a success, by being polite and helpful to noobies, explaining the whole Caledon "thing," and so on. I don't spend a lot of time in Oxbridge, but I swing by when I can and talk to noobies who look as though they need a friendly voice. But it seems to me that one of the big items is: don't scare the noobies. Don't frustrate them with a bad out-of-the-box experience. Don't tolerate griefers.


Desmond Shang said...

Well! Attempt number two; it seems my other computer was having trouble posting :)

To summarise: agreed, I was probably too 'light' in my reaction that evening; once I had seen a bit more group chat it became evident we had some people being absolute turds.

Why my softness on the matter? Mostly from feedback. I have asked a number of new residents personally what they thought of things (about 20 ~ 25) and none of them were terribly concerned about the griefers, although some had seen it in action.

What I did get substantial feedback upon, however, was that our new resident area was being too heavily policed; i.e. 'suspicious' looking people told to move along, or ejected, when they weren't doing anything. Upon investigation, some of these cases turned out to be fairly egregious injustices. Hence the appointment of Fogwoman and Muttenchops recently.

Of course, once hostilities upon us are declared, we may as well break out the parenting skills.

Very good commentary and points, Ms Kathy.

Warm regards,


Rhianon Jameson said...

Oh dear! I can just imagine the scene (envision broad Brooklyn accent): "Aww right, break it up, youse guys. Move along. Otherwise I'm gonna have t' run youse in." You're absolutely right, Des, you don't want heavy-handedness.

I'm (pleasantly) surprised that few new residents were upset/concerned about the griefing. Perhaps I project too much. Having had no prior experience with online worlds, I didn't know what to expect with SL. Others are likely more experienced already, though new to SL.

Fogwoman Gray said...

I am in total agreement on the swift and unambiguous response to obvious griefers (did laugh at the anvils as they fell on me - then removed the perp). As Des mentioned, the real balance has been to create a welcoming environment for everyone, regardless of background, groups, or intent to stay. I have actually spoken with people who are meeting friends who are rezzing into SL through our gate simply because of our reputation for friendliness. I find this very hopeful. And how many of us discovered Caledon early and then returned after wandering the grid for a bit? This will be a learning experience for all of us :)
I would strongly encourage anyone who is not feeling like dealing with newcomers and the annoyances to go have fun and avoid the Gateway....some days one is just not up to it. And even those who enjoy it should take a break occasionally since it can be very exhausting dealing with that level of need.

Rhianon Jameson said...

First of all, congratulations on your new powers, er, responsibilities, Miss Gray. First Caer Firnas, now Oxbridge...the path to World Domination becomes clearer! And certainly easier than genetic experiments on...members of the public.

Second, the circulation from NCI with your addendum was right on point. (In fact, in a better world, it could have ended with the two principles enumerated at the beginning.)

I always feel a little awkward in Oxbridge, as every time I've been there (a) the number of Deans, Professors, and folks with NCI tags always seem to outnumber the new arrivals, leaving me think I'm a fifth wheel, and (b) I'm never really sure how much help a new arrival really wants. But I show up occasionally and try to help out. As you say, however, there are some days when one is not up to it, and there are always other ways to spend time. Some of it even in positive and productive ways. *grin*