Knowledge Base Article of the Week #18: Beyond the Veil

This week’s Knowledge Base Article of the Week is actually two articles on a somewhat unusual topic:

Also covered is a question we sometimes get that takes the form of “My friend Bob Avatar said he was going to kill himself in chat — can you call him up and check on him for me?” Give those titles a click for the answer! (you’ll be taken to the article in question after providing login credentials)

As usual, Jeremy and I (and Kate, if she’s free) will be holding Documentation Office Hours at our couch pier in Beaumont at 2pm SLT on Friday. Feel free to stop by and chat with us about your experiences with the Knowledge Base! (as always, support requests are for the Support Portal) Be well!

This entry was posted in Community, Customer Service, Resident Experience, Tips & Tricks. Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to Knowledge Base Article of the Week #18: Beyond the Veil

  1. onion says:

    couldn’t the link go straight to the article instead of the KB login page? 8( what a pain.

  2. Jon Linden says:

    We’re working on getting rid of that login, actually! It’s annoyed us, too.

  3. Concerned for a friend says:

    “I’m worried about my Second Life friend, who hasn’t been inworld for a very long time, or has expressed suicidal ideation, or [some other alarming real-life scenario]. Can you check on them for me? Can you give me their account information so that I can check on them?”

    Well I understand not giving the account info, but can we request you send them a message?

  4. Alexandra Rucker says:

    No, we are NOT always taken directly to the article after login.

    Once I log in, I have to go FIND the article that was originally linked.

    Big Pain In The Arse!

  5. Edward Griffith says:

    I urge Linden Labs in the strongest terms to revise their statement on suicide threats received by one avatar to another. Just stating “No. That would violate the terms of our Privacy Policy.” is dangerously flawed, and I cannot believe you are truly satisfied or comfortable with that bald line.

    Suicide prevention has been well studied. It is a fact that ANY talk of harming one’s self should be taken seriously by anyone hearing it. It is also a fact that the people hearing such talk have a fairly good inner “radar” that goes off when someone is in genuine trouble.

    As individuals in a virtual world, can not solve other’s problems, but we certainly CAN and SHOULD take some basic steps to help. Acting promptly when the need arises can and does save hundreds of lives every year. The proper steps to take are simple, doable by untrained individuals, and are NOT a violation of the Linden TOS.

    Please please Lindens – contact an expert in this field and get that simple language added to your Support Center page. For a starter – you might consider contacting the QPR Institute (www.qprinstitute.com) started by Dr. Paul Quinnett. He is one of the leading experts on suicide prevention in the world.

    We can all hope genuine emergencies are very rare. We can all hope we are never confronted with one by someone we know. But in the face of such an emergency – having some clue about what to do will likely save a life, and much anguish. Giving SL residents some guidance on what to do in a suicide emergency should be as basic to Linden as providing a fire escape map is to a hotel room.

  6. Vincent Nacon says:

    Oh great… I can sense a “Law & Order” story tied in over asset values motive here.

  7. Argos Hawks says:

    “I’m worried about my Second Life friend, who hasn’t been inworld for a very long time, or has expressed suicidal ideation, or [some other alarming real-life scenario]. Can you check on them for me? Can you give me their account information so that I can check on them?”

    The article explains why you can’t give out the customer’s personal information, but does nothing to answer the question of whether or not LL will make an attempt to contact the customer. It may be true that a lot of suicide stories over the internet are hoaxes, but some aren’t, and the issue needs to be addressed (especially in the article that claims to address it).

  8. Razrcut Brooks says:

    @ 5 Look at it this way: If your SL friend claims they are suicidal and you do not know their RL name or have any RL contact information for them–then I would argue that they were NOT really a friend. Chatting a few hrs a day with a pixelated-anonymous person is enjoyable and fulfilling–but they are not true friends.
    We all must realize that online friendships with anonymous people from around the world has intrinsic flaws. My so-called SL friends are helpless to help me (and vice versa) in REAL WORLD crises.
    Finally, if someone is intent on killing themselves-they will succeed.

  9. U M says:

    Thank You Jon Linden for put a blog thread thought this. Too many times on sl I heard people anting to end their lives and not knowing what to do. Resenty within this past 1 year i read in the data base on waht to do in this situations. As this SL world grows so does the problems a issue realted to human emotion. Unlike the RL way of being able to seeing the telling signs of possible someone taking their own lives. ( by directly seeing said person) We most figure out how to deal with those crying out of the need for help. In these new vr world this is very new degree of understanding and solving criss issues without directly seeing the said person. OMG lets hope we can learn and deal with the conditions that indeed araise when people cry out for help.

    Usagi M usashi

  10. Ron Crimson says:

    I wish there was some way to reach an SL resident by sending them a message to their registered email account… (same as when you send an offline IM and the other party has “Send IMs to email” enabled – except if they don’t, then you can’t reach them at all).

    Oh, how I’d love that…

  11. Pingback: Past Friends « Sean Heying’s Blog

  12. Uccello Poultry says:

    Thank you so very much. My SL partner and I have started discussion of these very issues. Huggs and donuts for everyone!!

  13. Chance Unknown says:

    My friend has deleted her account, and no longer shows in Search even though I still have her contact card. Can you phone her for me to see if she is still around? I miss the cyber we used to share.

  14. Ron Crimson says:

    Razrcut @ 8:

    I found your comments a little upsetting at first (to be honest) but after some thinking I have to agree with you 100%. Fortunately, the way I see it things are like this: If you have an SL-only friendship then yes, you’re interacting not really with the real person behind the other avatar, but with the avatar itself (and the personality the RL person chooses to infuse that avatar with, whether it is their real self or a roleplaying character, or a little of both). It is true that in this case, the real lives of both persons remain separate. IMHO that also means that if I feel suicidal or have other serious problems, I’m pretty unlikely to turn to someone I only know through Second Life, rather than someone I’ve actually talked directly to in RL (chat, emails, phone, webcam, instant messaging). And those that you meet in Second Life that you form REAL friendships with, you usually end up establishing other ways of contact anyway (chat, IMs, email, etc. as mentioned before) so losing touch with someone’s avatar in SL doesn’t necessarily present a problem – nor does reaching out to the RL person behind that avatar if you have other means of contacting him/her. Or vice versa.
    I think all in all this isn’t as much of an issue as some people are going to make it out to be… However, the question of what to do if an SL account owner passes away in RL (I’m not talking about suicide in this case, rather a natural or accidental death) is an interesting one and warrants further debate.

  15. Ron Crimson says:

    Chance @ 13: If she deleted her account and made no effort to let you know or give you any other means of contacting her, then chances are she did not WANT you to be able to reach her. I have been in the same boat and understand how upsetting that can be (thus the comment I made @ 10)… but unless you previously were given other contact info such as an email address there is simply nothing you or anyone can do.

  16. Manjagan Rahja says:

    #8: “Finally, if someone is intent on killing themselves-they will succeed.”

    Agreed, and im thinking: What will it help to have LL call the person that said he/she would commit suicide?

    #14-15: Wise words as well, good point of view (to me) 🙂

  17. Shai Khalifa says:

    I’m sorry, 8 and 14 but I have to disagree with the impersonalisation you seem to understand is SL communication. I for one (and I know for a fact that I’m not alone) have few friends in RL, but many in SL and it is to these that I go when I have problems or something upsets me.

    It is to my SL friends I pour my heart out to for various reasons.
    1) I feel more comfortable discussing some things WITHOUT the physical presence of someone.
    2) In RL I”m somewhat of a loner, but in SL I have a number of friends who I would never have taken the time to get to know had it been a rl situation.
    3) I don’t consider an avatar to be a cartoon. I take seriously the fact that there is a living breathing individual automating the avatar, and to whom I’m actually speaking. The conversations we have with people inworld are real life conversations, spoken/typed in real time. To dehumanise these interactions is a dangerous thing. It has the potential to lead to gross mistreatment of PEOPLE emotionally. We all know that someone can do something in SL which upsets us in Ral, as well as make us laugh. These are a RL translation of actions or communications in SL. The two are, by the very nature of the connection between avatar and human, completely inseparable.

    I get as concerned for SL people as I do for RL people when they open their heart or confide a concern.

    It’s well documented and recognised that potential suicides feel cut off from human contact in some way, and this is why phone help services are provided.

    SL has the potential to take that same role, and even moreso because the contact has a stronger element of personalisation due to the visual nature of the medium.

    I have also been concerned (as I live on my own) as to what would happen to my fairly considerable holdings in SL should something happen to me – and I’m no longer a spring chicken so it’s a very real concern.

    So I thank you Jon for raising both of these important and pertinent issues.

  18. Blinders Off says:

    It is understandable that people would wish to help someone who has expressed such tendencies. However, this is one area in which I can see LL firmly caught in the middle. As a company, it is not their business to interfere with the private lives of their customers. About the best we can hope for in such an instance is that the friend has RL people who can be aware of the issues.

    The other option is to get that friend to confide in you, personally, their RL information so that you can assist them in getting help. If they don’t wish to, then it’s one of those unfortunate situations in which as much as anyone would like to help… it’s beyond our control at that time. In this one, I sympathize with LL. Not much they can do.

  19. Ron Crimson says:

    Shai @ 17: You misunderstood me… in no way did I mean to imply that avatars are just cartoons, or that the relationships you form with them/the RL persons behind them aren’t real. I’m much like you, actually… a longer in RL but someone with quite many friends in SL. My point was that my CLOSEST friends know how to reach me outside of SL, and vice versa. And it is those that I’m most likely to confide in with RL problems – and vice versa.

  20. Ron Crimson says:

    gahh, I said “longer” but meant “loner.” 😛

  21. Pingback: Real life death and Second Life : The Metaverse Journal - Australia’s Virtual World News Service

  22. > says:

    This sounds very interesting……

  23. Doris Haller says:

    Once, my friend announced he would kill himself.

    This was a cry for help and all of us and his family plus some institutions were necessary to get him back on track again.

    I can’t believe that some people say “none of their business” or “TOS violation” or “it’s only a hoax”.

    The statement of LL is unacceptable. It is right not to give away RL informations, but simply shrug and say “not my business” makes you jointly responsible because you did not even try to do something.

    It’s a REAL LIFE, yes, those things exist.

  24. glow Raymaker says:

    Sl has various counseling groups that provide free inworld help. So why cant these concerns be routed through them instead of LL staffers with probably no counceling training to actually help!

  25. It is very obvious that SL must provide some fast mean to warn local police when a resident is in serious trouble (suicidal talk, violence, etc). This implies:

    -LL has a real identity check, with RL adresses of people
    -there is a fast emergency process so that, when a resident gives some alert, it must result in an immediate fetch to the identity database, and a dispatch of a warning message toward the relevant police corp. Of course, for the sake of privacy, only this police force get the private infos.
    -the alarm message gives the IP number, as the resident in trouble is not necessarily at home.
    -the process is automated, so that we don’t depend on LL staff being awake at two in the morning.
    -the resident who gives the alarm must be able to dump the chat log into the warning process. This chat log may contain precious infos.
    -clear instructions and explanations are given to the residents in case such thing arise.
    -abuses of this system are severely punished (in RL they are)
    -WHAT TO DO WITH KEEPING OUR PRIVACY IF WE ARE ABOUT TO DIE???? keeping privacy in such a case just don’t make sense, a mere ideological statement disconnected from reality.

    This is not a gratuitous prospect, I was already confronted to a guy speaking of poisoning himself. Even in a health support group (Support For healing), it resulted in nothing, as nobody knew where the guy was, and who to alert. Some narrowed the search by getting the state and town. But to know the adress, the police would need to have an emergency line to LL, with somebody who can give instantly the relevant info. Nothing such exists today.

    Also some common rules in such an occasion:
    -never leave the person alone. Even if you are about to be late at your job, it is a relevant excuse, a case of emergency and life threat.
    -In a group chat, don’t be 50 to IM to the person. The person will start to speak in private IM with one or two. if he don’t reply to your own message, useless to send many questions.

    Think that in a millions-large community, violences, depressions, troubles, suicides and deaths are dayly events, and everybody can be confronted to this. so YOU personally SHALL be confronted to this.

  26. well, residents also die… and pass beyond the veil.

    We recently had a case of a terminaly ill person, who choose to spent her last days into SL, into the faeries and Elven communities, to live a marvellous life before the end.

    See the story and her beautiful av:
    http://hrhprincessivory.blogspot.com/2008/02/we-lost-very-dear-sl-friend-today-in-rl.html

    It was sad for us, of course, but also a moving moment and a great lesson. This person was perfectly aware she was to pass beyond the veil (it was her very words)l, and just two hours before doing so, she was reassuring me that “this was nothing to be afraid of”…

  27. nifty questions:
    -if a resident dies, what to do with his asset? legally it belongs to his RL heirs… a good question when this asset is valuable (prims, lands, rented lands…). LL must not ignore this.
    -how do we know that a resident is dead? without a serious identity check, we even not know if he is alive…

  28. Edward Griffith says:

    The thought that even a total stranger in SL is “helpless to help me (and vice versa) in REAL WORLD crises.” is a common and understandable one. For most health and functioning people, I’m sure that often feels accurate.

    It is important to understand that that assumption is factually and scientifically inaccurate. The opposite is the case. Some people cannot talk to family or friends and instead find it easier to talk to a stranger.

    In 2003 Suicide was the 4th leading cause of premature death in Los Angeles, ahead of Lung Cancer, Stroke, Diabetes and HIV. Education and accessible resources greatly reduces the suicide rate. More importantly, it helps reduce the terrible pain caused by the depression associated with suicidal thoughts.

    #5 states correctly -“If someone is intent on killing themselves-they will succeed.” That is absolutely true. Fortunately – the vast majority of people considering harming themselves don’t have death as their goal. They want their terrible pain to end, and death is the only way the see that will do that. That is where we strangers can help.

    Here are some facts to consider:
    Anyone expressing suicidal feelings needs immediate attention.
    Suicidal behavior (including expressions of the wish to commit suicide) is a cry for help.
    Giving someone- even a stranger – the opportunity to vent and simply LISTENING is a real and sometimes vital help.
    Asking a despairing person “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” is a powerful help. You show you care and you take them seriously.
    Urging professional help and referring a person to a suicide prevention hot-line works. Try to persuade them to seek the professional help they need. It is free, immediate and available.

    Please note that all of those steps are doable in SL. None of those involve a violation of TOS. None involve expert training. They do involve staying calm, being a caring human being, and going a little out of your way to help. Some pointers by Linden Labs to available resources and a Support Page reminder to help in the rare cases where this comes up would be a help. At the very least – please provide this link and make it prominent:
    http://depression.about.com/od/suicidecrisis/Suicide_Hotlines.htm

  29. stephe ehrler says:

    And what if someone is roleplaying “they want to kill themselves” and another avie freaks and reports this. LL should contact the police, they go to this persons house only to find out this person was roleplaying in some online game? It would be crazy for LL should do anything like that..

  30. Xxander Jaxxon says:

    as for the, “if someone dies, what happens to SL assets.”
    i believe that entire issue is seperate from LL altogether. if a person is to will away their profile, then i suppose the best way to do that would be to plan ahead a way to get that specific info to your heir.

    the responsibility over ones account lies with the account holder, and so. im assuming if you plan ahead enough to write a will, you could probably plan ahead some more and figure out a way to communicate the neccesary info if your SL profile is THAT mportant.

    also, im sure that LL has a process for removing inactive profiles. if an account isnt willed to someone else, perhaps Linden Labs removes the account and keeps the L$ remaining, after its inactive for a few years or something

    perhaps a linden representative could clarify how they handle inactive profiles, as that could give us a better indication on how Linden would handle death as well.

  31. I think suicide prevention falls under the category of “cultural idealism”, while I have been indoctirnated in western culture that suicide is somehow wrong or undesirable I must also consider the fact that a number of people in SL have serious debilitating illnesses.
    I find it more unusual in my country that a human being has to sign a “right to die” waiver in the event of a coma or other similar trauma.
    While I think it is generally wrong for a person to commit suicide, I am not quite certain that calling the police and incarcerating a person will alleviate a feeling of hopelessness and despair. To me, governments already have too much of a hand in controlling what course of action I am allowed to take as regards my life, I am of some opinion that what we call life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is becoming a somewhat meaningless phrase in the modern world.
    I am also very much aware that this opinion will not be regarded as popular, however the idea of freedom of speech allows for offensive and undesirable utterances-freedom is not a pretty thing-it means many offensive and appalling things are allowed, but it also means I can conduct my own life according to my own wishes.
    I am sure in my statements there are a lot of “what ifs”,mental illness, etc etc-I am not addressing mental states , just cultural concepts.
    On a much lighter note, I see the date as February 29th,is this the post office? Or did I miss something? I was really hoping dreary old February would be over by now, I am ready for a breath of spring.

  32. Georgette Whitfield says:

    What I have done is pass my RL sister’s email address onto a trusted SL friend of mine. In the event that something happens to me then my friend knows that if I don’t log in for two weeks or so and haven’t said I was going on holiday or something then they can contact my sister to find out what’s happened to me and pass the word around. At least that way my SL friends will not worry and speculate about what might have happened. Many of my SL friends have my RL email address etc but that wouldn’t help if I had derezzed from RL lol. I was very careful to give this to a friend I trust who I do not envisage ever falling out with. Giving this kind of info to a lover/business partner could backfire if you ever come to blows in the future (not an unrealistic scenario). This is the only way I could think of of covering myself should any unpleasant RL emergency happen.

  33. @30: somebody faking a suicide attempt and misleading people and police is a RL fault, they can be finned and jailed. It could be called a fault in SL too.
    Anyway this possibility must not stop us in our will to help, at a personnal level, group level, and even not LL.

  34. Zebra North says:

    Hi, I would urge you to reconsider your policy on assisting suicidal residents.

    Let me relate a story that happened to me personally a couple of years ago:

    A person on IRC stated they had taken a deliberate drug overdose to commit suicide. I did not know this person, although I had seen them around before.
    They would not give me their RL contact information.
    I got their IP address through IRC, looked up their ISP using that IP address, contacted their ISP and told them the situation.
    The ISP clearly had a policy in place to handle this kind of event, and were able to look up his address from the IP. They then dispatched the police to his house. (The police are always sent in this situation, not an ambulance. They did not give ME his contact information, so his privacy was not violated.)

    Because of this, the guy’s life was saved and he later thanked me.

    So please, take these matters seriously.

  35. Imogen Thursday says:

    I think the best way is to either put sl access details and an explanation of how sl works in your will or in a place at home that is private while you are alive but where family will look if you die. At least that way those with probate can deal properly with what, for some, are significant assets and subject to the rule of law in the country the deceased resides. If someone knows they are going to die they could always divide their assets between close sl friends or liquidate into rl before they pass on.

    With regard to the suicide issue – sl definitely reflects rl and there are real people behind the pixels; in my experience most people mix the two to varying degrees and conversation soon runs out among friends if there’s only sl to talk about. If someone is feeling suicidal sl is quite likely the place they will feel most safe to say so and this being the case, following the sage advice given by others before me has to be the first thing we should do if we find ourselves in this difficult position. I do think however, the Lindens should provide a page with a list of telephone support numbers that we can give out; this is quite a tall order to collate internationally, but I’m sure if they asked for our help and provided a form, they would have the world covered in a week; we are after all that kind of a community. In Uk it is The Samaritans 08457 90 90 90 http://www.samaritans.org.uk – there they have their first one 🙂

  36. Mimi says:

    Most people who say “I am going to kill myself” are whiners and drama queens. Most [eople who have real intentions of killing themselves usually don’t announce it in a chat or Secondlife. If a person knows another for a long time, they are true friends here etc.. it may be possible.. but I belive most of them are fake.

    One person I knew for long in secondlife ‘died’ and his ‘mother’ came online to tell me it. I didn’t believe it back then, and I still don’t believe he died now. When he was ‘alive’ as a newbie he once showed me his real life webpage, and suprise suprise, he still updates it 8 months after his ‘death’.

  37. Flux says:

    Why fake a death?

  38. Razrcut Brooks says:

    As mentioned above, LL does not have a universally applied method of identitiy identification. What if LL notifies the police and the police are sent to the wrong house? What if someone else has logged into my account and began using my avatar to make threats of suicide? What if a griefer were able to re-create fictitious CHAT/IM logs and attempt to send the police to their victim’s residence?
    IP addresses and account info only identify the computer and account holder -not the location and person logged into SL. LL does not have our cell phone number or physical addresses either.

    Depressed people do need help but lets not depend on LL. As residents, we can create counseling centers for that.

  39. Jeannie says:

    @37: Yes, but how many times does THAT situation arise? I can see no harm in LL putting up links to sites such as the Samaritans in the UK..They can be a prevention and a cure!

  40. Meta Starostin says:

    Failing to prevent a crime (taking ones life is a crime) is criminal negligence.
    Is Second Life a shelter or harbour for criminals?

  41. Meta Starostin says:

    If I received such information as someone threatening to take their own life I would contact the police.
    Linden Labs will be obliged to provide personal details to the law enforcers and authorities.
    In law, the Privacy Law is not read on its own. Their is also Freedom of Information Laws. These two laws traded off against each other.
    Freedom of Information laws are designed for the benefit of public interest.

  42. bokrug says:

    Meta Starostin, the protection of third party personal information (personal information about someone who is not the one requesting information) takes precedence over freedom of information, in practically every FOIPP act in the world, unless the third party is contacted and gives consent. Freedom of information only trumps it when the third party is a public body, such as a government, or (in the United States, not in many other countries) when releasing the information is in the “public interest”. You cannot, for example, ask to see my medical records because you suspect I am suicidal, even under FOI. You’d need my consent or, in the USA, you’d need to demonstrate that acquiring my medical records would be in the public interest (whatever the hell that means).

  43. Bucky Barkley says:

    The one about confirming if someone is alive or not can be difficult.

    I’m sorely missing someone that I last talked to in October. I knew she had cancer, and thought she was on the mend, but a mutual aquaintance seems to think she’s passed on.

    That’s the hard part – the not knowing. On the one hand, I want to ask the Lindens “is she gone?”, and on the other, I respect the right to privacy.

  44. Coon Surya says:

    I’d like to take this moment to pay respects to some of those I’ve encountered on SL who -have- passed away.

    Lindons, I would very much like a sort of system in place that notifies your friends list in the event of a user’s untimely demise. Peace of mind is important, and you never get a sense of closure when someone just…dissapears off the face of the grid. Transferal of assets should be secondary to this, in my opinion.

  45. Sarge says:

    Do you all plan to deal with this new improved version of Copybot?

  46. Hal Jordan says:

    Leave LL out of this. If you care about someone that much, maybe you should have some form of RL communication. Otherwise, it’s a game, people.

  47. Dark Princess says:

    #41 It’s your life so it’s your choice, don’t try to force everyone else into your religious belief system, or are you one of those that tries to make anything you don’t agree with a crime?

  48. 7z457 says:

    @46 Sarge, Copybot has been around for a long time. Always done the same thing. Did it end the SL economy as it was predicted it was going to do during the “crisis” at the end of 2006? As far as I know, we’re in 2008 and still here.

    Stop the hysteria. Snores.

  49. @Mimi (36)
    I like the lucky ones like you who never suffered… if one day you suffer, you will also feel the desire to put an end to your life. It is the same for everybody. Some will say nothing, others will realize the danger and call for help, not to let this desire overcome them. Ask to physicians before stating that most help calls are fake. Don’t let others die because you don’t want to involve yourself.

    @Hal Jordan (46) you seems to have missed the point, or confuse game and reality. Real life is not WoW. We are speaking in this thread of real people, real death, real suffering. And you could go in real jail if you don’t help.

    In a general way there seem to be much confusion about what is SL. It is not a game. Some are playing in, others do real business, some have profound concerns. Anyway never forget: there is alway a real person beyond the pixels.

  50. Jon Linden says:

    The issues Razrcut Brooks brought up in #38 are only some of the unfortunate but entirely possible situations we could find ourselves mixed up in, as much as we might like to help. However, some of you will be interested to know that I’ll be updating that article with links to some suicide/crisis helplines momentarily.

  51. Thanks Jon to do something.

    However let us not confuse:
    -in world help to a person who requires it (suicidal though, depressed, or any other). Thanks for the list, and don’t forget to add “Support for Healing”.
    -RL help, in general warning the police, which requires to identify the person. Linden Labs can provide the IP number (and should be able to provide adress, but the person is not necessarily at home). After, what to do with this IP adress should be the job of the police, not LL. But today most police stations are not equipped for this, and, to be frank, I don’t know what service to call. This issue is not specific to LL anyway, every online chat or community will have to face it. What LL could do is to have an alert system, automatically gathering some infos such as the IP adress and access provider. When a police call is practicble, this would greatly help.

  52. Pingback: The Grid Live » Second Life News for February 29, 2008

  53. Wyald Woolley says:

    Unfortunately, the fiction of some people’s SL personas can include some make-believe tragedy that a caring person cannot ignore or blow off.

    Recently a person in SL went through a long drawn out story line where they were supposedly a sex slave and suffered a beating that caused brain damage and led to their death. In their final throes of death, the “nurse” took over the avatar and bla bla bla…

    This caused the friends that were being jerked around by this story to contact Scotland Yards who were able to track down the source of this folly and arrest the person for reporting a false crime.

    It is an unfortunate aspect of some people’s make-up that for reasons only known to themselves that makes them feel some sense of accomplishment or because they have a cruel streak and like to cause pain, that they will perpetrate terrible hoaxes of this sort.

    It’s important to care and to try and guide anyone threatening to harm themselves or others to get help, but we also need to keep a clear head and remember at the end of the day, this is a virtual world and what we experience may not be any more real than the code that creates the clothes on our avatar’s back.

  54. Slartibartfast Magicthise says:

    I made a small program on my main home computer. It pops up every day and if I don’t click it once every 3 days it sends a message out to the e-mail accounts in its list saying that something may be wrong, It warns that it may be a mistake and that I may merely be sidelined for a few days and gives an e-mail for them to respond to for further info.

    So if I’m ever arrested (a serious concern for law-abiding americans these days since 1 in 100 of us are incarcerated), killed, sick, or dead, the right people will know.

    It’s an easy thing to set up in AppleScript, and probably easy to do on any windoze peecee.

  55. Mimi says:

    @ 49 Richard
    I’m sorry I think i didnt explain it the way I meant it. I think giving help to people who are really suicidal is good. Knowing one person who was truly depressed, i feel sorry for the people who are suicidal for real and think they need help. Having an inworld help would maybe be nice, but I wonder if Secondlife is really a good place to do such a thing. Maybe it would help to have an ‘official’ help place inworld, which has to be approved just like banks do now inworld, so people know it is the real thing and not some money sucker like the fake banks.

  56. Mimi says:

    PS: it has no use complaining about copybots. Linden Labs gave us several empty promises on the blog 2 years ago, but since then ignored the issue, never explaining even why.

    http://blog.secondlife.com/2006/11/13/copyrights-and-content-creation-in-second-life/

    http://blog.secondlife.com/2006/02/14/opengl-copying-and-stealing/

  57. Argos Hawks says:

    Jon Linden,

    The knowledge base article still does nothing to answer the question about whether or not LL will do anything to contact anyone. By now it’s apparent that the LL policy will be to bury their heads in the sand and pretend they can’t hear. You at least should tell people in the knowledge base article the reasons that LL won’t do anything. Privacy Policy does not prevent LL from contacting their customers.

  58. @Wyald Woolley (53) and others about fake suicidal calls.
    Most suicidal calls are true. Without knowing, it is a duty, both moral and legal, to help. Of course, fakes can happen. In such case, where it went so far as causing a police inquiry, it is a legal offece, and, if the culprit was found, I guess he was tried and finned. In some cse, sadistic-nutter people may tell such stories, just to enjoy seeing us shocked. This is why keeping a cool head is part of the process of helping suffering people. If someone is really suffering, being shocked and crying will not help, right in the countrary. If the person is a nutter, he will not have the pleasure of seeing you suffering from his fake story. and if LL build an efficient alert system, a police call for a fake story will result into the faker to be caught, a good thing for everybody.

    @Mimi (55) Thanks for clearing your point. Fakers must not avoid us helping people who really need help.

    @Argos Hawks (57) sorry if LL don’t do anything for an efficient alarm system. They (us) may pay the cost if one day somebody complains for a casualty, that such a system could have saved.
    To be fair, this is not a LL specific issue. Parts of the path from an in world alert to a phone ringing into the relevant police station, cannot be managed by LL alone. This arises both technical and legal issues, at an international level.

    However what LL can do is:
    -make a mandatory identity check, also useful for many other reasons (griefers, abuses…)
    -create an alert system which would result into two things:
    1) alerting an in world group of helpers
    2) when a police force calls LL there should alway be somebody or an automated sytem able to instantly give the info LL has, such as IP or adress.

  59. Hal Jordan says:

    @49 @51 Richard… No, I think it’s you who are confused as to what is going on. SL *is* a game. It is *not* RL. Anyone who thinks otherwise should really examine himself/or herself. Yes, people *conduct* business, but it doesn’t make it any less of a game. If not, why all the hiding behind avatars and pseudonyms? Why not just post a real-life picture to your avatar and your name and your IP address as part of your tag. People make up storylines all the time in SL, as in post #53. They kill off avs and make up stories. Who is to determine what is credible and what is not and send off the police to investigate? Can you imagine what griefers can do using this?

  60. @Hal Jordan (59)

    It is you who are confused.

    SL is NOT a game. it is not World of Warcraft.

    SL is an EXPRESSION MEAN.

    Some use it as a game, yes. But others use it for serious purposes, like business, spirituality, etc. Most use it to make their dreams true.
    So I don’t “hide” behind my av. My Elf av Yichard Muni, as most avs are, is an expression of my true self, much beter than the sick flesh thing named Richard Trigaux that is in RL. Just LL did not provided mean to take Richard Trigaux as a name for my av. And for what they should do this, I wonder.

    Some hide, yes. This is their right, and privacy is provided for this. But most people come into SL, right on the countrary, to SHOW what they REALLY are, in their HEART. And for most people, what they have in their heart is much more relevant to what they really are, than the name they write on their statement of income. Some are sick, or disabled in RL, or of a “wrong” race, gender or country. But in SL, they are free to walk, do dance, and to have a normal social life. Some have AIDS, and will never experience love again, save in SL. This is why privacy in SL is for, to protect what people really are, to avoid them judgement or retailation.

    And some use SL to call for help, when they are in trouble, because they have no close friends in RL. Ask any psychologists or psychiatrists, it is often much easier to call for help into a safe and anonymous place than to our close family. There are in SL several groups which are dedicated to such kind of help. These people are not playing, they are dealing with serious issues, real people, real suffering. When you will discover suffering, you will probably seek help into such a group, and you will be happy to find this help, whatever it comes from RL or SL.

    You want to show and reproduce your physical RL life in SL. This is your right, your way to involve in SL, nobody judges you, and even not comment this. But you have NO RIGHT to ask others to do the same.

  61. Meta Starostin says:

    Please know that Linden Lab cooperates fully with any Real World (RW) justice officials or law enforcement agencies credentialed with appropriate civil or criminal jurisdiction.

    On my SL account I have my email address registered which identifies you via your ISP. Of course my ISP has my physical real world contact details as does everyone else.

    For example, if someone commits any criminal act against me, eg Internet Fraud – I can assure you there will be a knock on your Real Life door when they come to arrest you!

    BTW – In Australia, Internet Fraud costs the country hundreds of millions of dollars and the government has an agency who will act, including contact with government officials and law enforcers in any country.

  62. Quotes of the knowledge base article (top page above):

    Question:”I’m worried about my Second Life friend, who hasn’t been inworld for a very long time, or has expressed suicidal ideation, or [some other alarming real-life scenario]. Can you check on them for me? Can you give me their account information so that I can check on them?”
    LL reply: “We’re sorry, but no; that would violate the terms of our Privacy Policy. However, here are some links you or your friend might find useful:…”

    this is not a correct documentation, as you give only one reply to two different questions. So this is confusing and mind-boggling, and, to say frankly, suspicious.

    Please correct as follow:

    Question1: ” …Can you check on them for me?
    Reply 1: “Yes we lanch an inquiry to know if there is something wrong. at need we lanch an emergency procedure to find the relevant police service and warn them. We are currently developping such an alert system”.

    Questions 2: “Can you give me their account information so that I can check on them?”
    Reply 2″We’re sorry, but no; that would violate the terms of our Privacy Policy. However, here are some links…”

    If you don’t correct as above, this will raise a very serious suspicion as what… you don’t read the replies to these blogs. (who dared to say that you are not currently developping the alert system)?

  63. Mark L. says:

    When I was growing up, I knew several people who attempted suicide.
    At one point, I learned that a 16 year old I knew had attempted suicide FIVE TIMES before he turned 15. Needless to say, his parents had no idea he was doing this.

    He told me because he *trusted* me with a secret that could have destroyed his life if his parents know. If he thought I would tell his family or friends… he never would have told me!

    Often, the greatest fear of a suicidal person is that by telling someone, they will be locked up in a mental hospital, drugged into oblivion, or otherwise have their lives confiscated from them.

    Suicidal people, first and foremost, need others to SUPPORT them, not to tell them that what they are feeling is “wrong” or “sick” and that they need to “get help”. It is their life, not ours, and we are NOT entitled to force them to continue with it if they don’t want to. We are NOT entitled to restrain them, medicate them or otherwise screw up their lives simply because we care more about upholding our beliefs about their life than we do about their feelings and their situation.

    Only when suicide is no longer taboo, will suicidal people feel comfortable talking about the battle that rages inside of them. Only then will we be able to have an honest discussion about suicide.
    Until then, we are merely infringing upon the rights of people who are already very distressed, often hopeless and scared.

    By all means, Linden Lab should encourage residents to take steps to combat suicidal feelings if they ask for help in this regard. However, it should also know when to take no for an answer, and breaching someone’s privacy simply because they are suicidal is unacceptable.

    If you start alerting the authorities to suicidal people in SL, then the suicidal people will only feel more isolated. They will withdraw even more, scared to express their true feelings even in Second Life, for fear of the men in white coats coming for them and putting through a “mental health” hell far worse than death.

    Yes, there are people out there who value their freedom and their privacy more than their lives. You are NOT entitled to screw up their lives by sending them to “counselling”, simply because you have different values. It is THEIR life to live, and unless they ASK for help, neither you, nor the government, nor even God himself is entitled to invade their privacy. They are free people, and, though under a great deal of strain, retain their moral rights.

    Choosing to die is not “sick”, it is not even a symptom of mental illness. It is simply a value judgement, like any other, about how one should life one’s OWN life. We make value judgements about our lives all the time – who we marry, whether to have kids or not… and these judgements affect the lives of others in profound ways. Yet, nobody else gets a say in who we marry. Nobody else gets a say in whether we adopt or not. Why should anyone else get a say in the decision we make about when we die?

    I long for the day when keeping someone alive against their will is treated just as seriously as killing someone against their will. The crime in both cases is the same – it is denial of the individual’s freedom – their right to do what they wish with their own life.

    I’ve dealt with a fair few suicidal people (all of the ones I have had long conversations with, I am happy to report, are still alive today), and I can tell you right now, that violating their privacy because you fail to accept their right of self-determination is only going to further alienate them, and make them even more convinced that nobody else understands them. It will convince them that those who try to “help” the suicidal often value their own beliefs about moral issues (suicide is wrong, etc) over the other person’s life, and certainly above the other person’s quality of life.

    If we want to combat suicide, we should combat the CAUSES of suicide. We should adopt a zero tolerance policy on bullying (especially homophobic bullying) in schools. We should provide residents better tools to not have to put up with hurtful comments from other residents. Most of all, we need to open up this taboo topic so that people who feel terrible can talk honestly about their feelings without feeling like criminals simply because they are in a terrible situation and don’t see another way out.

  64. mrkenneth says:

    yeah well. theres really nothing they can do because your playing as an avie not your real self. besides a lot of people online “say that” just to get attention.

    besides they cant legally do anything i mean. and as for if someone dies. i mean? how are you really gonan do that?

    its a game. not real life.

    and as for giving your stuff to someone after you guy

    its a game. its not real. sure some people can make real lindens on here but still….

  65. Required name says:

    I really don’t agree with you, Mr Kenneth.
    I have bought a land, it is REAL money. I am spending there wonderful times with my friends, REAL friends, and with my sweetheart, a REAL sweetheart. I am spending REAL time on SL, and REALLY invest a lot of myself.
    This is why I think it would be very sad, indeed to let all this vanish if I have to disappear. I would like to give this land, as well as all the REAL souvenirs I have there, to someone I have come to love for REAL.
    I hope it makes sense, it should, if you have feelings and a REAL will to understand people point of views.

  66. @63, 64
    Being “virtual” is a good excuse to inflict real pain, I see.

  67. Aaron J. Freeman says:

    Mystic Academy was recently in discussion of Confidentiality Policy, for Mystic Consultants, and I pointed out this article as an interesting case study. The article is something to think about. What I find in Befrienders, seems consistent with Privacy. Someone who can listen is important, for the question of Suicide, more than is someone who wants to intervene on a role play. It’s just a hairy question, when you find somebody’s life in your hands, and some panic button should be available but, your being there, is probably the best you can do. Yes, you’ll be pretty awful: Talent is what you can do well; Art is what you can do better; Perfection is something to guide our ambitions.

    Given Phillip’s taste in Music, I expect Linden Research Labs is not taking this question lightly. Befrienders might even like to host symposia, on the subject, in World. SL is a City, a City prophesied in Sim City 2000, as transcending Place, and I guesstimate the population, subtracting Bots and Car Accidents, to have about one person a day logging off posthumously; a Suicide Hotline has probably got a market.

  68. Pingback: Second Life web resources for March 1st 2008 through March 13th 2008 | VintFalken.com

  69. space rockett says:

    hi my account was disabled on 20th april 07 i have sent several email to linden lab to no avail, i have also phoned, but still i’m waiting for your response could you contact me asap to resolve this matter, i think my subscription will be due for renewal soon, i.m not sure what date exactly as i can not access the relevant page, i am in the u.k and have phoned your u.k office, with no response to date, i hope to hear from you soon.
    Thank You.

    regards

    (space rockett)
    Reference Ticket number:
    Attachment:

    Solution
    Solved:
    (6/12/2007 1:26 PM PDT) Hello Space,

    Your Second Life account was suspended due to violations of our Terms of Service (ToS). We took this action upon being informed that you purchased Linden dollars that were fraudulently acquired by the seller. This information came in the form of a fraud dispute initiated by a credit card holder through their issuing bank. Upon conclusion of our investigation we have reason to believe you were not aware you were purchasing fraudulently obtained goods. We have therefore restored your account and noted it accordingly. As the goods you received were fraudulently obtained, we are unable to allow them to remain in your account. You are encouraged to engage the fraud recovery channels available to you that are provided by the site where you purchased these goods, and/or your payment service provider.

    Regards,

    Aki Linden

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    Action Date Actions CSR /Customer Comment
    7/12/2007 3:00 PM PDT Sent Information Aki Linden Hi Space,

    I apologize for the delay. It has been busy around here lately. :). Because of the status of your account (being in a negative Linden balance/not in good standing) we are unable to process credits for you. However, if you do have funds in your account balance, that will certainly cover your monthly fees etc. Unfortunately there’s nothing that we are able to do to help restore the Linden dollars that were removed from your account as we are legally obligated to remove what is essentially stolen property. The best thing you can do in this situation is contact the company or source of the Linden dollars and ask for a refund.

    Regards,

    Aki Linden

    7/10/2007 8:21 AM PDT Customer Posted a Comment Space_Rockett Rockett hi aki, its been a while since i heard from you, hope you havent forgot about me.*smile*

    regards

    space.
    6/25/2007 4:09 PM PDT Sent Information Aki Linden Hi Space,

    I apologize again for the delay. I am working on your situation right now.

    Regards,

    Aki Linden

    6/23/2007 4:11 AM PDT Reopened Space_Rockett Rockett hi aki
    thank you for your response, i have been waiting for the info you were going to send me , I do appreciate your time and help and I guess your busy, so i expect you forgot about it.
    Hope to hear from you soon.

    regards

    space rockett.
    6/19/2007 4:45 PM PDT Sent Information Aki Linden Hello Space,

    Thank you for your patience. I understand that this is frustrating time at the moment and I will do what I can to help. I wanted to give you an update as I will be sending you more information tomorrow morning. Please let me know if you have any new information. Otherwise you will here from me soon.

    Regards,

    Aki Linden

    6/16/2007 11:28 PM PDT Reopened Space_Rockett Rockett hi aki thank you for responding to my help request, the problem i got now is since returning to my account i find that i’m unable to process the credit , you say i obtained fraudulently also when i looked in the transaction log it was empty besides some transaction linden lab had made, i before all this happened had a inworld streaming business, i also sold a few plots of land, and now have no record of the transactions to help me show that i have obtained the credit hosnestly, i have not involved myself or my account in fruadulant activities and i’m being treated and punished like i’m a criminal, in fact if your investigation is correct i,m also a victim of all this and think that i’m still being made to pay even though the credit in my account was obtained legitemately, i hope you can understand my position, also if possible could you provide me with a copy of my transaction log/history from the 20.04.07 twenty april 2007- to the 12.06.07 twelve of june 2007 because as far as i’m aware i sold land during that period and have no record of the transaction or credit .. ? and also for some reason i was charged $25.00 for land tier fees …?
    thank you for your time and hope to hear from you soon …

    regards

    space rockett

  70. space rockett says:

    Seems to me like i arrived in one of George A. Romano films “Night Of The Living Dead” people seem happy to let lindens do as they please regardless of the cost to their integrity, I Would like to congratulate Lindens for their amazing brainwashing exercise they call Second Life.I too was a zombie sleeping walking to the Linden tune.No longer !!!
    Wake up people !!!!!

    Space Wide Awake Rockett.

  71. I can not agree with you in 100% regarding some thoughts, but you have got a good point of view. Thanks for your thoughts.

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