The answer is, of course, never, as long as some script kiddie is getting his (and yes, it is usually ‘his’) lolz by causing misery, frustration and anger in other people.
But we really don’t have to enable it.
Yordie Sands has an excellent post written yesterday about the griefing that has been happening at that brilliant music venue, Junkyard Blues. Go and read it – I’ll wait.
In brief, Junkyard Blues has recently been hit by relentless griefing attacks – as they (Kiff Clutterbuck and Dina Petty, owners of Junkward Blues) describe it “multiple griefers with blinding graphics card attacks and sim lag/crashes … In some instances the computers of many staff and patrons actually shut down or rebooted as a result of the attacks.” Staff were concerned that the repeated attacks were damaging their machines, and pretty inevitably, patrons of the club were staying away. And, in fact, this wasn’t just for the lolz. Junkyard Blues say: “At one point we were told that if we paid money to the griefers they would stop attacking us.” This is a protection racket. This is criminal extortion under UK law – and I would imagine US law too.
As a result, after six and a half years, Junkyard Blues has had to become a member only venue. That lovely environment, which we featured in our May 2010 issue, is no longer a venue for popping in to casually to catch a favourite act. Inevitably, audiences will be decreased. And that has a concomitant effect on the small stores that trade alongside the club, from which the club draws a significant part of its revenue, I’d imagine. That is an economic model, remember, that has already taken a body blow from the Marketplace.
Yes, you remember the Marketplace. It’s the place where griefers can get sim crashers for as little as $50 Lindens. These are, of course, sold with wide eyed declarations that these are only to be used in sims which purchasers are allowed to blow up, and they are not to be used for griefing.
This is simply not good enough. The Marketplace is policed by residents and Lindens for instances of copybotted goods; the same thing must happen to tools used for griefing – in other words tools whose primary functions deliberately violate the terms of service.
In addition, there needs to be a system where sims that are coming under regular attack attract a special level of attention. in the case of Junkyard Blues, “In all but a few of the attacks we could not recover the Junkyard sim without Linden help, sometimes resulting in hours of waiting for business hours to begin the following day” and “All that was available from Linden Lab was the invitation to file abuse reports, one by one, on each individual who attacked us if we could even give them a name, and then we’d see the same people we reported returning to do it again.”
In a system where it is the work of minutes to create new alts, arm up with new weapons and attack again and again as part of a criminal enterprise, there needs to be a better system for protecting residents under systematic and criminally motivated attack than abuse reports.
The grid is already suffering economically and seeing a pattern of slow long term decline. If (in addition to the problems of high tier and the dominance of the Marketplace forcing small businesses off the grid) venue owners are forced to lock down their clubs to members only, the grid is going to become even less welcoming to newcomers and the decline will continue.