Friday, May 29, 2015
News and Commentary: Avatar Trouble at the Basilique Linden Meet-Up
By Bixyl Shuftan
On Thursday May 14, Linden Lab had their "Inworld Meetup," in which a number of Lindens would show up at a certain time and space and answer questions the best they could. Before the meeting, Xiloa Linden posted in the Linden blog about a thread where residents could suggest where the meeting could be held. Early in the thread, Canary Beck suggested her place, Basilique, at the Our Island sim, "I would love to help you host a meeting here if you like." A few others seconded the idea, and so Xiola chose it as the place.
The description of the area was a nice one, "A lovely town on the shore of a northern Italian lake. Walk the square and waterfront piers, relax in the bars or cafe, or row around the lake. Meet new people that also aim for immersiveness and accuracy in a friendly setting." There was a webpage with more info at http://bit.ly/thebasilique .
But not everything was awesome. Shortly after my arrival, I got an IM.
Miss Ford (julietford): Hi Bixyl, my name is Juliet. Welcome to Basilique. Please join our group to stay up to date with current events. Also note that only human avatars are permitted here, and there is a casual dress code in effect in the town :)
What the hey?
In my over eight years in Second Life, only three times have I been asked to leave a sim because of my appearace. And two of them were probably from the same location, once a friend inviting me to a club (Frank's Place), and getting told to ditch my foxlike appearance or leave (I was halfway to the door when apparently someone decided I wasn't moving fast enough and booted me out). There were a couple other times with an astrisk, once a friend inviting me to a beach, then fifteen minutes later suggesting that we both head somewhere else as someone IMed her furred avatars weren't welcome, and once when I took part in a "Bid Me Human," and being told to avoid another beach where human avatars were unwelcome. While others whom prefered furred avatars have complained about being rudely thrown out of places, it's my personal experience it's pretty rare.
So I responded matter of factly.
Bixyl Shuftan: Um, this is the avatar I use for journalism. I only use what you're asking for activities like RFL "Bid Me Bald."
Miss Ford then responded.
Miss Ford (julietford): That's alright. You don't say. I heard other people use what I am asking for activities like RFL Bid you Bald too.
Miss Ford (julietford): Hi Nydia, my name is Juliet. Welcome to Basilique. Please join our group to stay up to date with current events. Also note that only human avatars are permitted here, and there is a casual dress code in effect in the town :)
Nydia Tungsten: even if it is a Linden meet up?
Miss Ford (julietford): Yes, even that.
Nydia Tungsten: you will boot me for my choice of Avitar?
Miss Ford (julietford): What makes you say that I will boot you for your choice of Avitar.
Nydia Tungsten: only human avatars are permitted here
Miss Ford (julietford): What about the other ones?
Nydia Tungsten: those were your words to me LOL
Miss Ford (julietford): All of them? I'm glad you find this amusing.
Nydia Tungsten: one moment while I try and find a human AVI
Miss Ford (julietford): One what?
DrFran Babcock was also there, along with her furry bat friend Areal Loonie. She got the okay for this bit of IM chat to be published.
Areal Loonie: I'm being asked to leave because of my avatar
JulietFord: Hi Areal, my name is Juliet. Welcome to Basilique. Please join our group to stay up to date with current events. Also note that only human avatars are permitted here, and there is a casual dress code in effect in the town :)
Areal Loonie: are you saying that I have to leave because of my avatar?
JulietFord: Yes, that's what I mean, isn't it clear?
It wasn't just furries who were having problems. Talun Resident, a tiny, told me about problems he had observed, "I went human, and for the brief time before I crashed (there) were several being asked to leave, they were protesting in open chat ... strict dress code/avatar rules." He told me of one friend whom had trouble, "Arabella went early to scope the place out I believe, ended up ejected and banned, furry. And (in the) early part of the meeting, they started asking people to leave." In the case of Arabella, "they meant it, ejected and banned, (an) hour or so before the event. I sent an alt to look, cos I is tiny." Talun did say this wasn't the first time he'd been given a rude reception, "I once got asked to leave an adult sim. Wrong sort of 'beaver.' (laughter)"
Arabella had posted in Xiola Linden's thread, "I have been just been ejected from the region and banned. The sim owners have a humans-only rule, and refuse to suspend it for the meeting. I have seen several Lindens with non-human avatars, as well as there being a large number of furry residents. And they seemed to be saying it's your fault for picking the venue." I sent Arabella an IM, but as of the writing of this article have yet to receive a response.
Of the Linden meet-up, one local told me he had also joined in at the tail end. Another told me the event had taken her by surprise, "I was wondering why there were so many people around outside." Someone joked, "We were going to have a Linden toss, but decided it (was) best not to." She later commented more seriously, "It's hard to have anything really happen with so many people, and so little time to plan. ... I liken it to the Rolling Stones turning up to play a small club. The whole town comes unglued."
I brought up the forum thread in which the sim had been chosen to be the place for the Linden meet-up. The locals acted positively, "So everyone voted Basilique? How freakin awesome." "Thats great." I then mentioned, "There was one thing at the tail end of the forum thread though, someone saying she got booted." One looked at me surprised, "Booted?" Another responded after reading it, "Well they clearly weren't booted for not being human." A third told me, "Two people were booted out of well over a hundred. ... I don't think that is why they were ejected." A fourth, "What did they do? I didn't get it."
I asked the third person for her opinion why this someone had been booted. Her answer was, "They were just being rude and difficult. And at that point, you really do not have time to be nice about it. There was 104 at one time. But that doesn't count all the unique visitors either. And trust me when I say, Becky is slow to boot, not like me. (smile)." She told me she had enough administrator powers to boot someone if she felt it was needed. The feline mused, "Dammit I didn't know ... I've always been very very nice to you, haven't I ... ?" It seems this admin didn't think the "humans only" rule was worth enforcing.
Of the bot that was giving people the message that irked people, the admin told me, "The bot just states the rules for the sim ... but they cannot differentiate who is a furry or a tiny." Another local asked "Does Basilique discourage furries?" The admin answered, "Yes, and no kids. But like anywhere, exceptions are made. ... There was a wolf-man kind of guy here. He didn't get kicked." The feline commented, "I think the rules were suspended while the event (took place) Bixyl. I saw loads of anthro in the streets." I asked, "So either they were (booted) because of bad behavior or by accident?" "Bad behavior," the admin told me.
I would return a few days later. There was no attempt to give me the boot. I didn't hear the bot message me either. Was there a change of policy? Maybe not, as there were signs around that nonhuman avatars were discouraged. I then logged in with an alt. After a few minutes came the bot message. Walking about as the alt, there were a couple of avatars who logged out when I got near, but no one complained. Dropping by the bar where a couple people were, two people were willing to talk to me.
My investigation was less than conclusive. I have yet to get Arabella's answer to the admin saying only those causing trouble were booted, but it's looking like a case of one's word against the other. With Canary not talking, it seems nonhuman visitors are okay on the sim when she's not around. When she is, I can only guess. Perhaps nonhumans are discouraged rather than truly prohibited. It's still enough to annoy many furs whom keep telling me they're tired of people questioning their choice of avatar to the point entering a room that suddenly goes quiet, they see as being given the silent treatment. Other furred folk just tale it in stride, feeling life, or Second Life, is just too precious to let people get them down for long.
On Basilique's webpage, I found a link to Canary Beck's own blog. I didn't see anything about why she would want only human avatars at Basilique. But there was one post in which she brought up a Zogby poll asking 3500 people, apparently not users of Second Life, if they would make their avatar the same as in real life, similar but enhanced, or dramatically different. Only 15% in the poll picked "dramatically different." Her own response, "Looking at this chart, something doesn’t really square, does it? ... Unless I’m reading this wrong, this chart would suggest that at least 6/10 of us are actually perfect super-models in the non-virtual world too! Do beautiful people just happen to love Second Life? Or, are we saying one thing while doing another?" Her own poll at the end of the blog post had over 50% saying they looked "dramatically different."
No Canary, something really doesn't square.
*Addition* The resident who IMed me after I finished my conversation with the group later requested that I spell out two lines of his dialogue more fully, saying my description sounded misleading, "be aware for next time, furries not allowed here usually (smile)" "This is how I go about reporting. I'm not called 'fox news' for nothing." "(grin) yeah I know, but rules are rules ... I'm a lion usually, but the owner told me nicely it wasn't allowed."