Creativity and discussions

The art of discussions…

The discussion about age verification is good, but also fun. Much to learn, for me. Arguments, feelings, trust, humor too… Emotions and facts, interacting.
Almost like art. Interesting stuff, this. Not only for the actual things, that will happen. But also because it does something with emotions. For me a good thing to learn.

Fun to watch, and very good for looking at it, with an creative mind-set. Here ‘s a bit of text (not from me, but very good read).

Will history repeat itself?

 The full text of the reaction of T. Trudeau in the petition against Intrusive Age Verification ( http://yanai.blackmage.org/sky2/?page_id=2543 )

This is reaction 917. There’s more interesting info in the petition, but this one caught my eye. Perhaps because my reaction is number 916. And also number 918 (double, yes, sorry: system did not check my name, I’m afraid). It’s a good read, enjoy. And hope Sl will never end…

Text of T. Trudeau:
 

Before I became a member of SL in 2005, I was a member of another virtual world (actually 2 different worlds with the same parent company, VZones). My association with that other company began clear back in 2000.

VZones originally advertised one of their worlds – VZ Connections – as an “adult-only” product back in 1998. It was conceived as a virtual dating place for adults, and the parent company even worked in tandem with an online dating service. But that began to change within a couple of years.

How and why did it change? Well, management wanted to expand business. At the time, virtual worlds were still in their infancy. VZC had a small but loyal group of members, but the business wasn’t expanding as quickly as management wanted it to expand. So, to get new people to try their service, they decided to offer both free accounts, and greatly discounted paid memberships in VZC. And though new members still had to check that “I certify that I am at least 18 years of age” box, they didn’t have to furnish credit card numbers to become free members.

Free accounts were restricted to the “free areas”. It’s hard to compare apples to oranges here, but it would be like restricting all of the “no payment info on file” members in SL to say, 20 or 25 sims in all of SL. But for the nominal price of $9.95 USD, you could buy a 6-month account that had full access to VZC.

The end result of this offer was nothing but PURE CHAOS, for both members and management.

What they discovered was that – instead of attracting NEW customers – their discounted price was encouraging their present membership to invest in as many alt accounts as they could afford to carry. It also encouraged some families to allow their teenagers to have accounts there.

Their kids wanted those accounts…..they saw Mom & Dad having fun with those little avatars, and they wanted to join in. Some of the more liberal parents saw no harm in it. But they usually let the kids start in the free areas.

The free areas were more like free-for-alls. That’s where the griefers, cheats and con artists liked to hang out. Being in the free areas for any length of time was a uniquely unpleasant experience. The main inhabitants there invariably swore like sailors and acted like prize creeps. But once Mom and/or Dad had allowed their kids into VZC, they found it difficult to cancel their kids’ accounts. So their kids stayed IW and “under their supervision” (yeah, right), with paid accounts.

Eventually VZones’ management wised-up to the fact that they really hadn’t gained that many NEW paying customers with their free and discounted membership offers. They quit offering the free accounts, which (for the most part) was a GOOD thing. Ridding themselves of the free accounts also got rid of most of the troublemakers…..though there were some who had become so heavily vested in VZC that they decided to stay and pay their monthly membership fees.

Then there were the members who had joined at the discount rate. Those accounts were allowed to stay through their current 6-month membership period…..but once that last 6 months was up they had to start paying $9.95 per month, per account. There was a huge outcry against management’s decision to also stop offering the discounted memberships in VZC, and many people left because of it. The once heavily-prolific alt accounts became much more rare.

VZC no longer exists under that name, and the world it has evolved into now touts itself as a PG-13 world…..much to the dismay of most of the oldbies there. The partnership with the online dating service is long gone. I would conservatively guess that they have lost at least 50% of their old (and formerly VERY loyal) customer base, due to this and other issues. I dropped my last account there last month, after being a member of 7 years AND a former staffer.

The reason I bring this up is that I see history repeating itself in SL, and it saddens me. I’m NOT saying that everyone with a “no payment info given” account is a low-life (that wasn’t the case in VZC, either), but the sheer proliferation of those accounts has to also raise the likelihood of encountering more cheats and griefers.

Having said all that, I agree with almost everyone here that it’s patently ridiculous of LL to start “carding” all of its legitimate members, especially when those members who were caught in this age play incident were both – in fact – of legal age. I simply don’t see where age play in general has anything to do with minors being present in the adult grid.

LL has been no more or less remiss in its membership requirements than other similar companies. IMO, if a relative handful of deviously clever teenagers manages to make it into SL by deceptive means, then anything “harmful” they might happen to see is their own doing. Instead of getting angry at LL and threatening legal action, parents should be punishing their kids for their dishonesty. And while they’re at it, they need to take stock of their own lack of responsibility, in not supervising their offsping more closely.

LL cannot seriously be considering what so many fear. Until (and unless) it actually happens, I’ll view it as so much farting in the wind. They cannot legally ask for personal information (i.e. Social Security or Passport numbers), so why worry ourselves sick over it? And think about it….they are going to try and force over 6 MILLION members to provide proof of age?

I think once they consider all of the ramifications of this idea, LL will realize that they are:

1. overreacting,
2. directing their overreaction toward the wrong parties,
3. overstepping their bounds both legally and logistically,
4. seriously underestimating how many loyal customers they will offend.

They may just back off before this “plan” ever comes to fruition. Let’s all HOPE so.

Comment by T. Trudeau — May 14, 2007

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