Thursday, August 23, 2012

Two Pony Fans Speak Out

Recently, Second Life Newser ran a commentary by Zyker Finesmith questioning if there was some trouble between furies and ponies. Among those who read it was Skylark Lefavre, the owner of the Castaway Club. She contacted me, and asked to speak to me in detail on the subject. She and her partner Fyphfoko Yifu later met up with me and Jasmine Dawn Shuftan, and we talked for a while.

Bixyl Shuftan, "To begin with Sky, how long have you been on Second Life?"

Skylark Lefavre, "Since 2007."

Bixyl Shuftan, "So you have a wide range of experiences on the Grid?"

Skylark Lefavre, "Yes. I have been human, furry, vampire, full animal, avian, tiny. You name it I done it." Sky went on to say these days she occasionally wears three avatars in addition to her furry form, "I am currently … a dragon, a furry, a tiny, and a pony. I belong to Raglan Shire and Isle of Wyrms."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "It's an individual thing. I consider myself furry, pony, and consider ponies anthro characters."

Bixyl Shuftan, "Has griefing been an especially hard problem between any group, or has it always been limited to individuals?"

Skylark Lefavre, "All groups experience it. It's only bad if you dunno how to handle, or prevent it, which the tinies and dragons have done. They have about stopped it. Furries and other fandoms are equal in griefing and drama, including humans."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "Same here, and I frequent pony forums and the like, being a lifelong pony fan."

Bixyl Shuftan, "What has your experience with the Ponies been?"

Skylark Lefavre, "No more drama and griefing than furries or other fandoms. … every member is human … no one fandom causes more than others. It's like the political mud slinging commercials. … Things arent' as bad as those hating and fighting make it out to be."

The takedown of the first Pony sim, Bronyville, came up (articles here and here). Of the drama that happened there, "It's a fandom, it's gonna happen," Skylark remarked, "It's new, it's young. It hasn't learned how to deal with it yet. When they learn not to let it happen, and not cause it to happen, then they will rank with (the) tines and dragons (at) Raglan Shire and the Isle of Wyrms. But at the moment, most Bronies are Teen Grid crossovers (from) when it merged with ours. This caused another stereotype: if you have a pony av, you are underage. It's not true."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "Most pony fans are in their 20s and 30s."

Jasmine Dawn Shuftan , "Do any of you remember (Overbrain Unplugged), one of the sim admins, a Brony and one of the primary griefers there?"

Skylark Lefavre, "Not him. I remember the sim, though. I was there, I saw it all happen. I never spoke to Curly and those admin devils again."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "We were friendly with Curly, though."

Skylark Lefavre, "We were. Then factions arose from that little sim event. To be honest, Curly Fride is soon to turn 18. But he was more mature than the admins. Not very much, but still more. I saw his report from him, and the other factions."

Jasmine brought up an incident when everyone in Bronyvile was made weightless, "and slung to the far corner of the sim." Skylark replied, "Yes, I know. And I know how to reverse gravity." "Who did you think did that?" "It's an estate tool, and it's a griefer scripted weapon. Someone at (name withheld) showed me how anyone can make a griever tool, and change the creator/owner to you."

"The Bronvyville incident started with a supposed hacking of Curly's account, and the theft of his soon to be released 600 $L pony."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "Basically, if its computer related, it can be fiddled, usually relatively easily."

Skylark Lefavre, "Someone hacked into ti to make it so Curly was no longer a sim admin, then stole his pony, released it to the public. The admins were upset with Curly, they wanted to cut him out. The griefer group you spoke of caused the entire mess. They were responsible. They gave Bronys a bad reputation. And this was their plan all along."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "… 'My Little Pony' is more popular then Elvis right now, so of course its going to be a big griefing target."

Skylark Lefavre, "There is a collation on the 'net to do away with all things Brony. I dunno the specifics, but there is a group of Brony haters on the 'net and on SL causing the drama. They pose as ponies, but they are not. They get in so deep, the mess they cause never goes away. The fall of Bronyville was a planned event. They infiltrate new fandoms and take them down from the inside by destroying their integrity and reputation."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "If you're a terrorist, are you going to attack a tiny obscure village, or something like a major train station?"

Skylark Lefavre, "They tried to take down as many as they could. Bixyl, when that event happened, Brony population actually decreased for a while, at least for a few months."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "Exactly, and that's why popular things like Pony and Twilight are so often targeted."

Skylark Lefavre, "Popular or (not), anything different is a target. … It's not the furries and the bronies who are at war its the griefers who make them think they are. They cause the drama. They cause the trolling. They cause the griefing. Neither side is at war unless they believe the griefers."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "Ponies and furries are no more at war then fans of (Classic) Star Trek and fans of 'The Next Generation.' "

Skylark Lefavre, "Ever hear of the Hatfield's and the McCoys? They fought and killed each other. They fought so long they forgot why. The fought because their parents told them lies, mangled truths. Hate needs justification. To justify you need to lie and lie well."

A friend nearby, Kryxia Silverfall, had been listening, and wondered, "With this griefing going around among the fandoms namely bronies and furies, if one allows the issue to see light in a way it is giving the griefers acceptance in that they are acknowledged and tend to crave that."

Skylark Lefavre, "That's true, but they make those they pretend to be look that way too, like attention whores."

Kryxia Silverfall, "Yes, there are tools out there that may cause what is now known as griefing tools. But then again, it could be and probably is was someone was probably trying to push the limits of say the sims, which the griefers seem to have been able to get their hands on (the tool) and turn it to be a weapon as well. To propagate their form of fun by causing said misery to two groups of people."

Skylark Lefavre, "Quantum Labs was a victim of this. Their tools were ripped off and used as griefer weapons. Now people think users of Quantum Labs huds are griefers."

Kryxia Silverfall, "Basically the griefers thrive on causing misery, for it might make them feel better about themselves by doing what they do. It is all human nature of what is behind the monitor and what they want to do."

Skylark Lefavre, "To put it bluntly, in every fandom there are bad apples to give the group a bad name. It never goes away. Its how you handle it and prevent it that matters."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "You can't control what others like. The founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses supposedly liked 'Care Bears.' "

Skylark Lefavre, "Seems people hated dragons, so they constantly griefed the Isle of Wyrms sandbox, which was public. Now its only usable if you are in group and their griefing is near 0% now. Tinies exists, but they don't push others to be tines, and they have a strict police system to prevent people from joining if they even seem griefer like."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "Dragons do get a bad press because of how they are portrayed in movies."

Skylark Lefavre, "Ponies and furries need a better faster and quieter way to prevent and handle things like grieving. Then I know the so-called war between furries and bronies will die. But as it stands, the griever groups not only exist in Second Life, but they exist in other (places), Facebook, the Internet, or real-life. All anyone can do is handle the ones here. Take the griefers out of the equation, there will be peace again."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "Personally, that video I linked too pretty much represents all I know about this apparent 'war.' "

Skylark Lefavre, "I know more than you think (Fyphfoko). I went around asking questions, gathering evidence, at the fall of Bronyville. We were in that group less than a year and drama hit big."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "I lost two small parcels, which pissed me off. Although I do like the new Ponyland."

Jasmine Dawn Shuftan, "I'm saying one thing then I am walking away from this. The day we live in a world untouched by hate is the day this world will be reborn."

Bixyl Shuftan, "Xymbers linked a Krypton Radio article from the JLU, was it accurate?"

Skylark Lefavre, "What article?

Bixyl Shuftan, " "

Skylark took a few moments to read, then, "Bix, this article is correct. It could not be better put, and I agree. The Bronies are not a griefing group. They were started by a griefer, but (he) was thankfully removed. There are no more grievers in the Bronies. But sadly the griefer group was involved with the removal of that Bronyville sim."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "I'm pretty sure there are griefers, but they don't run things anymore."

Skylark Lefavre, "And the copybot device he leaked is null and uneffective as new SL server code has made nearly all copybot devices unusable and to my knowledge the place to get them is neither advertised or sold. Nearly all, but not all."

There was a little discussion of technical details of copybot and other tools, then, Skylark continued, "It's sad a new fandom's rep was tarnished by the group, but thanks to the preserverance and hard work of people and Lindens its gonna get harder and harder for griefers to get the upper hand. Drama will always exist, harassment, hate groups, but they can't do what they used to be able to do. Bronies will emerge out of the pit they have fallen in, and become accepted as much as any other fandom, if not more."

"And Bix, you need to add, you do not have to be one thing. You can be a brony, a furry, a human, or even a tiny. In this world, you can be a lot of things at the same time. It's not a 'this or nothing' game, not like it's made out to be. I am human, I am dragon, I am tiny, I am furry, I am mythological, I am four legged, I am many things. I chose to be all, not just one."

"And also, I don't take sides. I don't let people choose who I can see or be friends with. No one should. I'm gonna be all and whatever I want to be."

Bixyl Shuftan, "Do you feel the ponies have been treated fairly in SL media as a whole?"

Skylark Lefavre, " I feel Ponies have been the uncle no one wants to be near, except by a group of some. (I'm) not saying they are hated by everyone, just saying they are not the most favorite. And so, they aren't as accepted as the sum of SL sims. But they are becoming accepted more and more as furries are on human sims. It's gonna take time to be treated fairly. You have to remember they had a past thats was laid in controversy."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "You can be treated unfairly no matter who you are, though."

Skylark Lefavre, "What fandom though did not have skeletons in their closet? As long as we keep the griefers and trolls out, Bronies will get treated fairly."

The talk then turned to a group that Skylark felt had an excellent reputation, "Tinies are so random they make me laugh a lot. You should hear the chatter on Raglan Shire group chat (grin). They are soooo silly. Tinies are widely accepted because they *are* happy, they *are* silly, they *are* productive, and give to SL as a whole."

Bixyl Shuftan, "And lots of jokes about waffles?"

Skylark Lefavre, "Oh yes (smile). Them and their waffles (grin). With the Isle of Wyrms, though, it's cookies."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "With ponies it's muffins."

Skylark Lefavre, "In my inventory, I have a lot of waffle and cookie builds from IoW and Raglan (grin). My Seawolf Ancient dragon has a cookie the size of a human, but round."

"Bix, I saw griefers and trouble come, and go for good at Ranglan and IoW. It will happen for ponies and furies. It's gonna take time. (smile) I have faith."

Bixyl Shuftan, "Any comments on this article on the tines: ?"

Skylark Lefavre, "Oh Em Eff Gee! (laughter) Bix! That article!! That *IS* them! (big grin) Something strange happens when I put on a tiny av. I become like them. Others have told me this too. It's infectious."

"You have to give ponies and tines credit, for a new fandom they rigorously enforce rules to keep their avatars from becoming walking porn, like with bits. They keep them fully PG. And ponies like clothes as much as tines. Even hatches have clothes."

Bixyl Shuftan, "Yes, I've heard those rules are strictly enforced at the Brony sims."

Skylark Lefavre, "It's a good rule, Bix. It proves they are worth giving a chance to. They are pure hearted, not perverts and griefers. The better sides of people come out in PG form, the cuter and more adorable side, the beloved and funny side." Sky paused, then chuckled when she read the latest in Raglan chat, "Hee hee, another Tiny raid on a sim. Those are a laugh (grin). … Store owners can ask a group of tines to come to their store. By doing so, this increases traffic to the place. I was in a few back when … A lot of my friends were tines before they were full-time furies."

Skylark, Fyphfoko, Jasmine, and I continued to talk for a while, but this was the end of the topic. Skylark would later make some tweaks to her pony avatar, and although usually goes about in her furry form, on occasion trots about in her pink pony.

*Addition* Later on, Skylark contacted me saying when they talked about the weightless incident at the Bronyvile sim, she meant to say "admin tool" rather than "estate tool." "And I should have added I do not know how to make the tool. ... I saw someone make the script, but I do not know how to make it myself."

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Titanic Misunderstanding

One of my most commented on articles in James and Dana's Second Life Newspaper was "We Don't Allow YOUR Kind Here," dealing with people shut out from locations just because of their appearance. Written a few years ago, it was my observation that it didn't happen as often as it seems, and while often against furry avatars by human sims it wasn't always so.

A few years later, I still get occasional complaints from friends about being made to feel less than welcome at a place. The most blatant example was from May of last year when a friend of mine was banned from a small store in Zindra, "get out of my sim." "What the hell is your problem? … What have I done to deserve this harassment?" "you are a furry that is enough to suspect you are a griefer and a copybot and other bad things too … furrys are annoying malicious griefer copybots" I didn't report on it then as I didn't want to end up accidentally give the small-time store owner more business, and was confident if this was an example of his mannerisms, his unprofessional attitude would soon lead to his bankruptcy.

More often, the complaints I get are of being ignored at a social spot. This might be a mater of perception as some clubs and other public places can get pretty quiet at times. It has still been my experiences most stores and clubs have no problem with furry, neko, tiny, or other avatars. So I was surprised to hear about a complaint about a place I had written about earlier this year: The Titanic.

I had gone to the Titanic sim a few times before, notably when I wrote about it during the Centennial of the real Titanic's first and last cruise. A few friends had the impression the staff of the place didn't like furry avatars. But no one bothered me while I was there. At the docks, it was explained the place had a dress code: formal attire and no child or "animal" avatars. Later when one of the staff was asked, he answered this meant four footed creatures. Furry avatars were welcome as long as they were formally dressed. Also when checking the staff page, they had one neko catgirl among their number.

More recently, one of my friends, a neko, come to me with a complaint, "Did you know that the 'wonderful' Titanic sim  is now banning people just for being a furry?" She and her furry partner had went to the ship, after changing their clothes to formal wear. They went to the ballroom, began dancing, and "we got told to change your av or leave: 'Now I have to ask all the furries to please change avatars or leave the ballroom.' … so much for them being a welcoming place for everyone."

Their response was to get a few friends and make a protest at the dock with signs, "Furs are people too!" It wasn't too long though before they were ejected from the sim, and were banned.

Considering how this contrasted with my earlier experiences, I went to the Titanic that night. It was after the party at the ballroom, and there were only a few people there, though a couple were staff. I was automatically sent a notecard as a reminder about the dress code, but no one raised a peep.

The staff member whom had cleaned up the protest was Joyful Finesmith. I contacted her, and she answered. She hadn't been on the Titanic at the time my two friends were asked to leave, she told me. She had returned only when several regulars complained about the protest. She found the protest amusing, calling it "well organized," but it still had to go. She did say she did inform the owner of the incident and what the protestors were complaining about.

But there was no ban on furred avatars, she explained, "we have several furry couples who come regularly." How could this have happened? Joyful did admit it might be due to an inexperienced hostess whom was confused by what an "animal" avatar met, saying they had a "lot" of new staff. She did add that even avatars not normally allowed sometimes are, saying the dress code is not always enforced away from the ballroom, and on weddings child avatars can be allowed. She also described one pony wedding, saying all they insisted on was that the party be formally dressed.

So it would seem what happened was not a change in policy by the venue's owner. Instead, it would appear to be the result of a single staff member booting people whom while unusual for the place still fit in it's dress and appearance codes, either out of ignorance or possibly malice. It's safe to say if the new hire was uninformed it was corrected, and if done due to prejudice the person will be looking for a new job if this is kept up.

Before closing, of the one place in "We Don't Allow YOUR Kind Here" that asked me to leave, it later began letting only club members enter, and membership cost five hundred Lindens. Five hundred Lindens just to be allowed to go to a laggy hole in the hall, in my opinion. Also at least one roleplay place that once disallowed furry avatars later changed their mind. The now defunct Firefly sim once wouldn't allow them, but later wrote them into their rules so one could play one as character there. When I wrote about the New Bastogne combat role-play, I stated the German army group had a policy of not promoting furs. One of the officers later told me that's not the case, but promotions in the group can be slow as they try to keep the higher ranks small.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Of Ponies and Furries

Are the Furry and MLP fandoms at war?
            Well it appears that the so-called rumor was sort of true, because from what I am getting at is I went to both furry and my little pony sides. I got some information on if it was true or not. Some say that everyone has a right to their opinion. Some say that they are not at war with one another. I don't hate the MLP fandom or furry fandom in fact I am a furry myself. 

    The furry side at first didn't talk at first, because in my mind I was thinking it would make them look bad. I however went to Luskwood and interviewed some furrys there. They say that they are not at war with the MLP fandom. However, I got a video related with what I have been looking for. It's on you tube the link was from Fyphfoko Yifu. His link was this, and it seems to make sense in what was going on: It's a you tube link to what I been hearing about.

The MLP side said they don't consider themselves furrys. They plan to take over the furry fandom. I however went to see for myself to see if it was true. They say they are not at war with the furrys. They say they don't want any trouble. In my mind, I think they are causing grief to the furrys and don't even know it, or do they? We don't know. All we can do is wait and see what happens in the future.

    In all this, I quite got the experience of both sides, and both sides I think are not at war but causing grief to each other. Because I think that the My Little Pony is rather cute. Even though IT may and I quote "IT MAY" be a little gay related, such as Rainbow Dash etc etc. But that is not the point. The point is that I think the MLP should form an alliance with the furry fandom and not be so pushy or anything like that to what some furrys say. Only time will tell.

Zyker Finesmith