D. Linden portrait by Tao Takashi
Daniel Linden's post on the official SL blog yesterday has provoked not a little consternation among many Residents, for while it restates the Lindens' sometimes ambiguous prohibition against sexual "age play" (sex involving avatars who appear to be minors, even if all participants are verified as real life adults), it also specifies prohibitions against "avatar portrayals... of sexual violence including rape". This might apply to SL's consensually BDSM-themed (and often popular) areas; more worrying to some, Daniel states that "other broadly offensive content are never allowed or tolerated within Second Life", without clarifying exactly what that entails-- then enjoins the community to keep a vigilant eye on such behavior, and to file an official Abuse Report on it. (Over at Second Life Insider, NWN contributor Tateru Nino has a round-up of outrage and worry, including one Resident who memorably describes this as "Second Life's Patriot and Domestic Surveillance Act".)
All that in mind, I fired off some questions to Daniel, someone (full disclosure) I know personally and like a lot. His replies after the break-- and the debate over them, no doubt, to follow in Comments.
What exactly does "broadly offensive" beyond the offenses you already enumerated?
DL: There is no new policy in yesterday's blog posting-- our Community Standards have always prohibited broadly offensive behavior. While this most recent statement did include examples, it would be foolish to attempt to catalog everything that might qualify as broadly offensive in the context of Second Life, and attempting to do so would only serve to implicitly endorse behaviors not listed but still unacceptable to the Second Life community.
You say "our community has made it clear to us that certain types of content and activity are simply not acceptable in any form." When did the community decide simulated rape was broadly offensive? Some consensual roleplay areas include activity that would arguably be called that, and some are relatively popular.
DL: The Community actively defines what is and is not acceptable in Second Life by providing feedback to Linden Lab via Abuse Reports, blog commentary, forum discussion, and other communication channels. Linden Lab sets standards and acts in-world according to the expressed wishes of the Residents.
Many Residents are expressing concern that by refusing to define "broadly offensive" any further, it's going to encourage vindictive abuse reporting and paranoia, since people aren't clear whether their behavior falls into that catchall phrase. What do you say to them?
DL: There is no direct correlation between the number of Abuse Reports received and disciplinary action from Linden Lab-- our staff review the complaints and take action that is appropriate to our stated Community Standards.