SL Historic Moments
We are in the midst of a history making month -- or even an era as it is hard to say how the demise of gachas will affect the grid and how far reaching the effects may be. Ryan had a link in his blog to an article on controversy and scandals in SL's history. It didn't make it up to present day yet but I am going to use it as a guide for my thoughts on our virtual past. And of course I have a couple of additions. Note that I didn't read his information on the events, just the text of the events themselves, so if my remembrances are different from his it isn't in an oppositional mode.
The Tax on Prims (2003)
I wasn't here then. SL was very new. But when I joined a few years later I remember reading about the uproar when The Lab decided that they would charge a weekly fee for EACH prim rezzed -- much like a tax. I remember seeing screenshots of protesters, meetings, outraged citizens -- you get the picture. This didn't last too long. Now and then The Lab backs down :D.
Copybot Scandal (2006)
I was here for this one. The lab had reportedly made the viewer code available to the masses and in that move opened the door to copybot theft. Creators as you might imagine were livid. A prominent protest campaign featured shots of famous folks in the nude (tastefully of course and honestly the bodies then were nothing to be proud of anyway). I tracked down a couple of the famous posters. (WARNING naked avatar picture here :D) They were everywhere back then. The thing that I found the most insulting (and I wasn't a creator back then) was that the Linden Lab's point of view was "well they can't get the scripts so it really doesn't matter". That is pretty much a direct quote. The idea that all the time people spent making skins and hair and such "didn't really count" was extremely insulting.
The Anshe Chung Griefer Attack (2006)
I don't remember this really but reading bout flying penises I can't say that it was anything very unusual back then. Griefing was much more prominent in those days. The sandboxes were notorious for all sorts of particle attacks, cages and the like -- certainly scary to new folks. That could still be going on but I haven't seen much in years. I believe sim owners have more control now than they did back then, but I can't say that for certain. I pretty much just exited the area when something I didn't like was happening. HOME is just a click away after all.
Virtual Pedophilia Scandal (2007)
This definitely added to the less than stellar reputation that SL was gathering around itself. Nasty stuff. Even though the participants were supposedly adults it was a very uncomfortable business. It was around this time I think that age verification came into play -- not the "what year were you born" box on sign up but lots and lots of paperwork very similar to what you have to do to process credit now. Passports etc -- and a fairly steep charge.
I found this mention via Google which suggests my memory is working well.
Ban on Gambling (2007)
It's hard to imagine how pervasive gambling was in Second Life. Small establishments and huge casinos covered the mainland. I am sure there were many on estates then, but there weren't nearly as many private regions as there are now. You would get paid to camp (sit to earn money) at the slot machines and play. There were money trees in many gambling establishments. And unfortunately plenty of people lost plenty of money giving in to their addictions. I was happy to see the casinos disappear but a LOT of people left when the change occured.
Woodbury University (2007 - 2010) and the Demise of Educational Support
I have no memories of Woodbury at all and reading Ryan's description doesn't bring anything back. I will say that sometime around 2007 Linden Lab stopped supporting teaching. In earlier years there were many schools that taught the ins and outs of Second Life to new residents. There were classes on building throughout the day at various schools. The Lab paid teachers per class and it was a fairly good wage in linden dollars. Some classes were spectacular and some to be painful sat through while IMing a friend and trying to make something amid the horrific instructions.
The system WAS faulty but the abandonment of learning left a large hole in the community for a long time.
I think his was the year that the birthday celebration committee removed the work from a very talented creator because the child in the multimedia depiction was a small girl and her nipples were showing. We are talking about a four of five year old with NO SEXUAL THEME at all -- and because it was a girl rather than a boy child? Some research found lots of mentions of censorship -- as well as some other instances of that censorship being based on gender. The exhibit in question was moved to the University of Western Australia which is where I viewed it. There was plenty of controversy at that time.
Openspace Price Change (2008)
The end result of the price change and downgrade of Openspace sims to Homestead sims gave way to a huge exodus and influx of SLers to Opensim -- namely Inworldz which opened in 2009. From $75 for a fill sim to $125 for the same sim but with limitations was viewed VERY negatively. Many just packed up and walked away.
Banning "Banks" (2008)
This was kind of a "really who cares" for me. I mean the idea that someone would put money into a virtual bank in hopes of gaining better interest rates was downright Ludacris. It was definitely not a loss to see them go although there were some pretty impressively built "banks". The whole scenario did not raise the view of Second Life for the outside world.
Zindra - New Adult Continent (2009)
Making an adult continent seemed like a good idea, but the problem was that The Lab FORCED all adult oriented businesses off the regular mainland. No choice -- you just moved or perhaps they moved you; not sure on that. One big problem however (and only one) was that not everyone exited the mainland. I had a neighbor who was selling adult oriented "gear" and while I did report the shop, it was never moved. So much for "cleaning up the mainland". A dozen years later the "continent" is still waiting to be finished and is filled with for sale signs.
The Big Layoff (2010)
Mid June arrived and 30 percent of the Lindens vanished. What I remember most is the memorial someone made for those departed -- and indoor watery "graveyard" of sorts with the names of individual past employees etched into stones. This was of course the first of the "big layoffs" with another coming in 2020.
The Last Name Debacle (2010)
Any of you WITH a legacy last name remembers this time. The Lab once again thought they new best, even though the populous was loudly (oh so loudly) telling them they did not. The point it seems was to make it easy to integrate SL with Facebook. That seems odd now since Facebook also cleaned up its "avatar" files in favor of real people. We were given "FACEBOOK" tabs in the viewer for easy access. Those of course disappeared over time -- and a decade later last names were returned. Wait for it -- for a hefty price.
The Emerald Viewer (2010)
This wouldn't have made "MY" 20 historical controversies list. Bad person (also young but that isn't an excuse) used the viewer and the folks USING the viewer (Chic waves hands) in a Denial of Service attack. The viewer was blocked from use and eventually the "good" folks working on the Emerald viewer picked up the ashes and the Phoenix viewer was born. Now we have Firestorm. I doubt that there was much controversy over the blocking. It was the right thing to do -- in my mind anyway.
The Red Zone (2010 - 2011)
Again, not something that would have made my list. A script that used an exploit in media delivery to identify people's IP addresses. Eventually banned. Messy for some but not really up there in terms of who it affected.
Merging of Teen and Main Grid (2010 - 2011)
Again, not a biggie in my mind. Teens were already on the main grid. Easy enough to lie, but it didn't help with the perception of Second Life as a sexual conduit for "kids".
Canceling Educational and Non-profit Discounts (2011-2014)
This was sad to see, but for me -- not as sad as the end of support for SL teaching. A few years after this new rule went into affect I found out from several reputable sources that the discounts never really went away for "some" folks. Not sure if that is better to know or not know.
The DMCA Process (2011 -)
It's not good or fair or even working but in truth it is not totally The Lab's fault. Are we better off WITH it or without? Hard for me to say.
TOS Changes August 2013
This was a biggie. The new TOS basically said that Linden Lab had right to do anything and everything with ANY work you did. This included articles written on notecards later to be publish in real world magazines, mesh made that could be used on other grids. items made as "work for hire" in Second Life that were supposed to be proprietary -- the list goes on.
We lost so very many creators because of the changes. I only uploaded one 10 linden sign texture in the year following. From an outsider's perspective it seems like The Lab has repeatedly (or continuously, I don't know) employed overzealous attorneys. A later TOS actually used the terms "in the known and unknown universe". Honestly? Isn't that a bit over the top?
We lived through it but that was pretty much the beginning of the demise. Later and in retrospect it seemed like many of the changes had to do with plans for Sansar, plans that didn't work out or "pivoted" along the way.
Eliminating Outside Money Exchanges (2013 -2015)
This raised the cost of money exchanges for many to most people. It was also around the time that The Lab bought Tilia AND the beginning of Sansar. It all comes together or it doesn't. It made good business sense for The Lab, but hurt the people. Not a new scenario, but it IS their platform, their product.
My additions to the list:
SANSAR (2013? -2020)
It could have been great, it could have been the right move. Either way the siphoning of funs from SL to Sansar definitely hurt the older grid. Staff increased then decreased. The folks left behind in SL (some apparently by choice) worked hard with the smaller teams to keep us going and kudos to them. But resources divided are just that.
TILIA (2020 - )
Many content creators left Second Life (and Sansar) when the new rules for Tilia came into effect. Whether actually needed by law or not, this was the end result. Many people couldn't jump through the hoops needed; some simply chose not too. Our creative pool and general residency both suffered.
Gacha Ban (2021)
Because of world laws and upcoming restrictions Linden Lab decided to take action and ban gacha gaming. This would no doubt have happened eventually even if it was by court order. We will obviously lose some creator over this change. We may if the stars are shining on us remember how to make products that push our creative abilities and reclaim a bit of our lost spirit from the early days. It isn't really ALL about the money -- or at least I hope it isn't :D. Time will tell as it has with many other events listed here.