The admins referred to in this notecard are sim members who have such duties as picking up prim litter and keeping the server the sim runs on running or restarting it if required. Becoming an admin requires that certain of the permissions that control access to the sim control system and groups be delegated to the admin by the sim owner. The role play council was an alleged body of experienced role players who would direct and adjudicate disputes about role play events. I never saw any evidence that they actually existed.
Notecard – Sim Rules
THESE ARE THE RULES - BY BREAKING THESE RULES, YOU MAY BE EJECTED FROM THE GROUP AND SIM. IGNORANCE OF THE RULES IS NO EXCUSE. *SIM RULES* This is a privately owned Sim. We make the rules. Follow them, or do not come to the Sim. We follow the Second Life TOS rules. OVER 18, HUMAN AVI's ONLY. NO EXCEPTIONS. NO OOC CHAT......NONE. We take a very hard line on those who violate this fundamental rule. If you wish to argue take it off of the Sim or into IM. If you're warned about OOC chat and continue, you will be booted from the SIM. If your OOC chat behaviors continue, you will be banned. If you are confused at all about what OOC versus ROLE PLAY IC is, please read the notecards. NO FLYING, NO GUNS, BOMBS, LIGHT SABRES, GRENADES, ROCKETS, CAGES, ORBITING, INVISIBILITY, PUSH DEVICES, INVISIBLE PRIMS,SHIELDS or non approved weapons. That means don't wear SL based weapon huds, anti griefer huds or listening devices. WARNING. Violate this and you will be banned. Please let your captors know the limitations of your role-play, this should be done via IM, referring them to an entry in your profile is good. You are not required to allow things to happen to your avatar that you don’t want to happen. It is YOUR responsibility to notify your captors of your limits. We do not want to hear complaints that you were forced to accept something against your limits. NO scaling the walls of any City, Temple or Statue. You must use an appropriate method and it must be realistically roleplayed, that means roleplayed from the point where you set off from, since rezzing them out of thin air is not acceptable. Remember these are the walls of an ancient cities, not a garden fence. Please see HOW TO ROLE PLAY notecards for examples. Any and all open chat may be recorded, copied, or Note Carded, and may be transmitted to anyone to facilitate good Role Play, to aid in the judgment of Role Play validity, or for the amusement of those involved, their teammates and/or friends. Lindens can be used in Role Play for Role Play goods and services. However, lindens are not used for ransoms, bribery, theft etc. If you are not sure, ask a Sim Admin. There are no safe zones, however, we don't condone attacking someone/anyone unless you have a valid Role Play reason. Modern slang such as "lol" "brb" "kk" "wtf" "cya" "r u done?" is not appropriate in role play. Gestures are NOT allowed in the sim. COMBAT RULES *******Please Read before Combat in Anachronistic Lands********** Have Fun, but please be respectful of others. We all want to win and we all want to be the best. Yet, losing a fight in role play combat does not mean you lost. There are many opportunities for those who use their minds as well as their fingers to win the final fight. DO NOT attempt to stop combat by calling 'INVALID' the decision is not yours to make. If you feel that the combat you were in is unfair, then submit a complaint to an ADMIN after the combat situation is over. When your red cage is rezzed you are down. That means you are incapacitated (you have been stunned, knocked unconscious, wounded etc). You cannot YELL, scream insults to others, or otherwise act like you have full health. Your opponents have 5 mins to RP your capture or death. If they do not RP tie and bind you up and your meter brings you back to health, you can run away. YOU CANNOT RESET YOUR METER. We do not kill opponents without solid RP reason. Again, we do not kill others in combat without having a valid role play reason. You must have 3 full lines of text for your kill. While you are dead you have 1 hour to find something else to do. Ghosts do not speak at all in open chat, rarely in IM and never interfere with role-play. Non meter role play death may last longer than one hour as agreed to by the parties involved in the RP. If you don't understand this rule, please speak to an Admin. Only approved Weapons that would be used during our time in history are legal in Anachronistic Lands. Don't RP anything that is not humanly possible. Doing so in combat will not be tolerated. And will be reported to the RP council. Once combat has begun, YOU CANNOT tp in others into combat. If your group is outnumbered, then it is outnumbered, that is the RP, deal with it. You cannot TP out of combat once it has begun. NO EXCUSE. If you crash, well, you crash, happens to all of us. You cannot TP back into combat. If you do TP out, you must wait at least 15 minutes prior to coming back into game. You cannot then magically TP back into the combat area. You are allowed to TP back into that SIM. Again, if you tp out in combat, you must wait 15 min The most important thing in RP combat is that we’re all here to have fun, please follow the rules and it will be a better experience for all.
There are a number of interesting things to notice about the community rules. One of the very first things the sim rules state is “this is a privately owned sim”. This is a problematic statement and reveals the cause of many issues which were to arise in Second Life. As previously noted Linden Lab’s use of the word ‘buy’ is quite misleading. Despite it being clearly spelled out to the contrary in the Terms of Service, people act as if they have in fact purchased their land. Because of this perceived ownership they have a sense of proprietorship, a sense that they may make whatever rules they choose for that land, and they do, and these rules often contravene the Second Life Terms of Service. In choosing to ignore the rules imposed upon them by Linden Lab, many of which are imposed in turn on Linden Lab by the rules of the nation state, residents are duplicating meatspace legal assumptions. The notecard begins with “IGNORANCE OF THE RULES IS NO EXCUSE”. This is a replication of the principle of a monopoly of violence that exists in the meatspace world. It is the power of this monopoly that allows nation states to impose laws on their citizens and declare that ignorance is no excuse for violations. Sim owners likewise exercise a monopoly of violence in their ability to unilaterally ban residents, and this allows them, like nation states, to make these kinds of rules, against which residents, like citizens of nation states, have no effective recourse. In turn game and virtual world companies also utilize this same principle, which they enforce by means of their terms of service, which are in turn enforced by meatspace laws.
The events surrounding Peter Ludlow’s expulsion from The Sims Online is one such example. Mr Ludlow, a professor of philosophy and linguistics at the University of Michigan, had a penchant for writing stories about the less salubrious side of The Sims Online; currency scams, prostitution and so on. Electronic Arts (EA), the publishers of The Sims Online, emailed him to ask him to stop1, but when he refused EA banned him for violating their terms of service2. Ludlow claimed he was being censored by EA3 but he remained banned. So he moved to Second Life.
But this is not an aberration caused by some imagined failure of the virtual to facilitate the enforcement of meatspace laws. Linden Lab likewise exceeded its authority to impose rules on residents when it banned one Marc Bragg for allegedly subverting the land purchasing system4. Mr. Bragg was a lawyer, so he sued Linden Lab and the result was the first serious case in the United States in relation to virtual property. Linden Lab’s reason for banning Bragg was a clause in its Terms of Service that stated “Linden Lab has the right at any time for any reason or no reason to suspend or terminate your Account, terminate this Agreement, and/or refuse any and all current or future use of the Service without notice or liability to you”5. In an interesting turn of events the court was to rule that Linden Lab’s Terms of Service were unconscionable and could not be enforced6. These examples demonstrate not only the tensions that exist between the interests of the people using virtual worlds and the companies selling them access to these worlds, but also those between citizens of nation states and their lawmakers.
Despite the absolute statement in the Ptolemaic Egypt sim rules that they follow the Second Life Terms of Service, these sim rules directly contravene the Terms of Service. The Second Life Terms of Service specify that one must agree to abide by the Community Standards. This document sets out six behaviors that are prohibited in the world and then goes on to give specific examples of how these might be breached in the world. The six items listed in the Community Standards are: Intolerance, Harassment, Assault, Disclosure, Indecency and Disturbing the Peace7. The need to abide by these six items is contradicted by the sim rules for capture which state that;
“There are no safe zones, however, we don’t condone attacking someone/anyone unless you have a valid Role Play reason.
Please let your captors know the limitations of your role-play, this should be done via IM, referring them to an entry in your profile is good. You are not required to allow things to happen to your avatar that you don’t want to happen. It is YOUR responsibility to notify your captors of your limits. We do not want to hear complaints that you were forced to accept something against your limits.”
Both these statements contradict the Terms of Service by placing the onus on a resident to declare they don’t want to participate in activities already prohibited in the Terms of Service. This was a constant source of conflict, especially with new members, as they would invariably be attacked by the hardcore combat role players as soon as they entered the sims.
As previously discussed people presume they are anonymous in Second Life. They also presume that their private conversations are in fact private. As the Second Life software client provides the ability to log all conversations, whether between individuals or groups, an interesting anarchic tension is here revealed between the Community Standards and the perception of ownership that residents have once they have “bought land”. The Community Standards state very clearly that;
“Disclosure: Residents are entitled to a reasonable level of privacy with regard to their Second Life experience. Sharing personal information about a fellow Resident –including gender, religion, age, marital status, race, sexual preference, and real-world location beyond what is provided by the Resident in the First Life page of their Resident profile is a violation of that Resident’s privacy. Remotely monitoring conversations, posting conversation logs, or sharing conversation logs without consent are all prohibited in Second Life and on the Second Life Forums.”
However the rules of Ptolemaic Egypt state that;
“Any and all open chat may be recorded, copied, or Note Carded, and may be transmitted to anyone to facilitate good Role Play, to aid in the judgment of Role Play validity, or for the amusement of those involved, their teammates and/or friends.”
This is a blatant contravention of the Community Standards as this rule means that anything anyone says in the local chat channel may be recorded and copied and disseminated freely. One might argue that as the Community Standards say “without consent” if one were to agree to the sim rules one has de facto given one’s consent for this to occur. However the sentence that contains “without consent” in the Community Standards refers to the posting or sharing of logs, whereas the sim rules would allow the sharing of anything in local chat even if it included information about “gender, religion, age, marital status, race, sexual preference, and real-world location beyond what is provided by the Resident in the First Life page of their Resident profile”8, which action is specifically prohibited by the Community Standards.
In practice the situation moved well beyond these subtle distinctions. In all the communities in which I participated it was the ubiquitous practice to notecard everything, including private conversations, and share them freely. In fact, people would make remarks such as “here is a Terms of Service violation” when passing notecards to others. Such remarks reveal the futility of imposing unenforceable rules.
Because residents of a community are invariably not all present at the same time, it is normal practice in Second Life to log everything and then to share it with absent members of the community. Whenever any event, of any level of importance, occurs, one would be inundated with a series of notecards that contained not just the contents of the local chat but also the contents of any private chats that any parties might have had about that event. These would also often be posted to any website that the community might run to facilitate communication between its members. Everyone was aware that this was prohibited by the Community Standards, but it was carried on regardless.
The reason people did this is that they could. There was no way for Linden Lab to stop them. This is a feature of online life which lies at the heart of the copyright wars. There is no practical way for copyright holders, or the lawmakers they lobby so heavily9, to stop people copying, or from accessing content from a specific location. If a law is passed in a particular nation state to block content a user can simply change to a different domain name server in another nation state. This will allow the user to access the blocked content by bypassing the local restrictions. Alternatively the user may employ a virtual private network, which will make their traffic appear to come from somewhere else and thus is an effective method to circumvent geoblocking (an attempt to restrict data to users in a particular physical location). Because these methods are so easy to effect, and so hard to prevent anarchy still prevails in online life, as Michael10 argues so compellingly.
Many of the rules of this community were designed to maintain the illusion that one is immersed in an ancient Egyptian world. For example, “NO OOC CHAT……NONE”. This rule aims to ensure that one only speaks in the local chat channel in the voice of one’s character. This rule was infrequently adhered to and no one was ever banned for breaking it. It was the actual practice in Ptolemaic Egypt that if one wished to address an OOC remark one would place it in parentheses. In the below example a number of priests are gathered in the temple to undertake a ritual. Some text is speech of the characters, some is emoting11 and the remarks in parentheses are OOC remarks. There are various reasons these remarks are inserted; in order to enable the completion of the ritual by giving directions, to deal with OOC matters that come up, and to comment on those OOC matters. For example when Thutmose says “repeat please” it is to indicate that the priest doing the ritual should repeat what has just been said. When “oh oh” is said it is because some visitors to the sim entered the temple where the ritual was happening and had to be directed elsewhere. Likewise “sorry dealing with the visitors” and “thank you”.
Chat Excerpt – OOC usage
Thutmose: let us all cleans ourselves before we enter the sacred parts of the temple Amon washes his feet in the holy waters Cleopatra: Washing her feet Amon slashes his face and neck Thutmose: may the waters of the temple cleanse us and make us fit to enter the gaze of our gods Amon: *splashes* Thutmose: (repeat please) Berenike splashes water over herself. Thutmose: ((oh oh)) Cleopatra: (sigh) Berenike: May the waters of the temple cleanse and make us fit to enter the gaze of our gods. Thutmose: ((sorry dealing with the visitors)) Cleopatra: ((thank you)) Thutmose: aspirant please wait here, Menka you too Thutmose: high priests please come with me
Because of the OOC rule being constantly flouted, from time to time those running the sim would issue notices to try to stop the practice, even though they themselves also frequently failed to comply with it, the practicalities of the interface making it impossible to abide by it 100% of the time as the chat channels which were supposed to be used for this purpose were frequently non functional.
Notecard – OOC Chat Guidelines
27/06/08 General guidelines regarding Role Play and OOC conversations in open chat. All of Egypt, and each and every one of the sims that are part of the Anachronistic Lands group, follow the same standards and rules. We are all 100% full time ROLE PLAY sims. What that means is simple... All of you are IN CHARACTER (IC) the entire time you are here. As a member, your participation is based upon your commitment to work within, and to support, these standards and rules. In choosing to be a member of our group of sims, you choose to obey and live within our rules. Some members from time to time will become lazy, or disinterested in ROLE PLAY, and will break the commitment to 100% full time ROLE PLAY. When that happens, they then speak OOC in open chat. Speaking OOC in open chat, is not within the purpose of our sim group. Speaking OOC in open chat, is disruptive to ROLE PLAY and also, disrespectful to all of the other members here who are fully committed to full time ROLE PLAY. There is a need for some here to turn their meters to OOC, in order for them to do work for the sim. In that regard, they are not in ROLE PLAY, and not are not participating in ROLE PLAY. In addition, it is completely unacceptable to our group, and to each and every member, to have anyone in OOC chat use language, or intentions, that are considered to be disrespectful of others here. Specifically, calling someone else a "fuck" or "shithead" or "whore" or "asshole", or any such language that is generally offensive has NO PLACE HERE. Nor are any comments that are derogatory to others here, in anyway, acceptable behavior. We are all here to ROLE PLAY and have FUN. None of us, NONE, are here to be subjected to any such displays of behavior, or language. Again... We are 100% FULL TIME ROLE PLAY. Thank you all for your continued support
Like most notices in the community, this one is contradictory. It begins by declaring all participants of the sims to be in role play 100% of the time and then goes on to say that sometimes there are necessary exceptions for sim admins, before again declaring 100% role play. This exemplifies the constant disparity between stated rules and goals and realised ones.
- Manjoo, F., (2003), Raking muck in “The Sims Online”, http://www.salon.com/2003/12/12/sims_online_newspaper/, Accessed 09/02/2014. ↩︎
- Goldman, E., (2005), Speech Showdowns at the Virtual Corral, http://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/facpubs/73/, Accessed 09/02/2014. ↩︎
- Harmon, A., (2004), A Real-Life Debate On Free Expression In a Cyberspace City, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/15/business/technology-a-real-life-debate-on-free-expression-in-a-cyberspace-city.html, Accessed 09/02/2014. ↩︎
- Bragg, M. S., (2006), Bragg v. Linden: Virtual Property Rights Litigation, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1092284 (original citation – now 404-Virtual Land Dispute Spills Over Into Real World, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/virtual-land-dispute-spills-over-into-real-world-56211482.html, Accessed 09/02/2014) ↩︎
- Lastowka, G., (2010), Virtual Justice, Yale University Press, New Haven, p. 18. ↩︎
- Lastowka, G., (2010), Virtual Justice, Yale University Press, New Haven, p. 19. ↩︎
- Linden Lab, Second Life Community Standards, http://secondlife.com/corporate/cs.php, Accessed 14/06/2009. ↩︎
- Linden Lab, Second Life Community Standards, http://secondlife.com/corporate/cs.php, Accessed 14/06/2009. ↩︎
- Lessig, L., (2004), Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity, p. 9, https://archive.org/details/freeculturehowbi0000less (Original citation – now 404 – http://www.jus.uio.no/sisu/free_culture.lawrence_lessig/portrait.letter.pdf, Accessed 18/12/2013) ↩︎
- Michael, G. J., (2012), Anarchy and Property Rights in the Virtual World: How Disruptive Technologies Undermine the State and Ensure that the Virtual World Remains a “Wild West”, http://ssrn.com/abstract=2233374, Accessed 31/01/2014. ↩︎
- Emoting is to describe in text actions that one’s avatar is doing but which cannot be actually carried out by the avatar because of technical limitations. This will be discussed further later. ↩︎