Friday, January 31, 2014
Interview with Greenlantern Excelsior (Hal Jordan)
There's no shortage of occasions on Second Life when someone could use a helping hand. Newcomers at beginning areas often need advice on where to go and what they can do. And of course there's the ever-present problem of griefers. And ignoring them hoping they'll go away doesn't always work. One group with the goal of helping out with both, and more, is the Green Lanterns, led by Greenlantern Excelsior (Hal Jordan).
"So how did you find out about Second Life?" I asked him. "I don't remember where I first heard about Second Life," Greenlantern answered, "But as with everything on the Internet, I asked Mr. Google about it and he showed me a link." When asked how his first days went, he answered, "I wandered aimlessly along a large road and looked at the buildings and signs along the way. There was not a Welcome Area that I remember, and no Mentors to provide help. Finally I found an object called, something like, 'The Big Damn Book of Second Life' that provided some information. I always remember how I felt back then, and that's why I love to go to the Welcome Areas and help new residents." I chuckled a bit at the name.
So what was the purpose of the Green Lanterns in Second Life in a nutshell? Greenlantern answered, "The Green Lanterns can be described in basic terms as a Neighborhood Watch in Second Life. We dress as members of the Green Lantern Corps from the comics, and patrol the grid looking for those in need of help. We assist new residents in making the transition from Real Life into Second Life. We submit Abuse Reports to Linden Lab when griefers attack. We educate landowners about security arrangements. We provide security patrols for Second Life events. We adhere to several standard ethical principles which are described on our blog at http://thegreenlanterns.wordpress.com/about/. We only have three standard rules: 1) No Drama, 2) Have Fun, and 3) Don't be Evil. The group has 105 members, and we are actively recruiting new members who enjoy helping others and removing griefers from the grid through the use of timely and accurate Abuse Reports."
"Just why do griefers grief?" I asked him. Greenlantern's answer was, "I wrote about that in the very first post on our blog, and I have come into contact with most of these different griefer types. Here's a canned answer to that: The Exploration of Griefer Play document lists several categories of 'griefer motivations' that may explain many of the reasons that griefers engage in griefing."
Category – Game influenced
Motivations – Anonymity, Boredom, Greed, Protest, Testing, Game premise
Category – Player influenced
Motivations – Spite, Victim vulnerability, Revenge
Category – Griefer influenced
Motivations – Ritualization and group identity, Reputation
Category – Self
Motivations – Bad mood, Wanting to feel powerful, Attention, Enjoyment, Role-playing
" 'Greed' is a new one," Greenlantern added, "some griefers apparently make money by griefing for hire. That is disgusting. It's obscene that someone would get paid to conduct what is essentially a denial of service attack. These venue owners are losing money as a result. It should be referred to law enforcement, in my opinion." Were these incidents on the rise? "I don't have a good feel for whether incidents are going up or down," he answered, "They don't seem to be newsworthy items, so we don't hear a lot about them, or at least I don't."
I then asked a question which I myself had to deal with, "There has been some debate as how griefing incidents should be covered. Some feel they should often be documented to show others, notably the Lab, what's going on. Others feel people should keep quiet about them, as not to give them an audience and too many stories might give Second Life a bad name. Did you have an opinion on this matter?" Greenlantern paused for a moment, then answered, "My opinion has changed on this subject. I used to write numerous blog articles showing how bad and how frequent the griefer attacks were. My thought was that maybe someone whose last name was Linden would see the articles and realize that something needed to be done. But now I think not that the attacks should be hidden, but that they should be discussed in an intelligent way so people can come to reasonable conclusions about what should be done. I even made a couple of videos of griefer attacks, but I think now that there isn't much point to showing a sandbox full of cubes."
Is there such a thing as a reformed griefer? Greenlantern's answer was, "Yes! I know a few of those. They have stopped griefing for several different reasons, including fear of legal action, and gaining enough maturity to leave childhood pursuits behind." *smile*
So besides dealing with griefers, what has the group been doing? Greenlantern answered, "We have been spreading out across the grid. Some of the venue owners we helped have graciously provided space for us to build an outpost on their parcel or sim. It is just another example of how people can exhibit a stunning amount of kindness and generosity to anyone who wants to help them. We are considering rebuilding our parcel too. ... Reduce prim count and increase the number of cool looking gadgets! Actually we have been thinking about it for some time, but today a couple of newer members started talking about it seriously, so I will send out a Notice and we will see what happens."
Have the Lanterns ever had to disclipine a member? Greenlantern's answer was "I can't think of a single occasion when I have had to do that, and no one has ever been ejected from the group. We did have one member who was reported to be griefing in a sandbox. When I talked to him about it and asked him if itwere true, he confirmed it and then resigned. Another member had a sudden change of personality and became very angry with everyone. She went into the same sandbox and attacked a resident using griefer tools. When I talked to her about it, she resigned too. Our rules and code of conduct is very clear about the consequences if anyone is caught griefing, and everyone knows it."
So whom among the Lanterns had distinguished themselves? Greenlantern answered, "There are so many members of this group who have stepped up and done amazing things that I wouldn't want to give a list of names because I might forget someone. A shorter list would be the inactive members. Of the other Lantern groups, the one that stands out in my mind is The Blue Lantern Corps. Several years ago it was led by an amazing guy named Nomad Parx. He energized the group and it was growing and patrolling and creating some impressive equipment. When he left, the group withered away."
Greenlantern described a recent incident, "Last week we got a frantic call from a lady working at the Ocean Casino Hotel. She was being attacked by griefers and her parcel powers weren't working. So several Lanterns responded and we used our parcel powers to eject and ban the griefers. They stayed out on the sidewalk which was the public part of the sim, and we stayed in the parcel and faced them down. It reminded me of a scene from The Magnificent Seven." He handed me a picture of the incident.
It was about then the two of us parted ways. For those interested, one can head to the Green Lantern Headquarters at The Unknown Country (159/147/2023), where one can get information about the Green Lanterns, and an application to join up.