Second Life’s New Red Light District


Perfumed Gardens — An Erotic Sex Club To Be Moved Soon?

I’m sure that most of you have seen by now LL’s latest blog post about the upcoming changes in the rules for Adult Content in Second Life®. This is one of those cases where there is no “right” or “wrong” way to address the issue: depending on your country’s laws, your own morality, your stance towards freedom of expression, your business use of Second Life, or your position as an educator, your attitude will vary — and you’ll defend it with nails and teeth.

The surprising and interesting aspect of the new rules is that Linden Lab, curiously, is catering for all those opinions — simultaneously — with a single exception: the ones that wish that Second Life becomes a “free-sex-in-your-face” place as it is today (ie. a place where you cannot avoid mature content to be pushed upon you). With that exception in mind, and knowing fully well that Linden Lab just started the discussion around the issue of Adult Content, the most positive aspect of the change is how accommodating it actually is — unlike what we would usually expect from the ‘Lab.

But there are still some unanswered questions and incomplete answers.

The motivation

Let’s take a look first of what the problem actually is, and then tackle Linden Lab’s reply to it. Second Life, since it started, was a virtual world for adults, built by adults, and with adult content. Freedom of expression thus included the ability to engage in any sort of adult activity, or producing any sort of adult content — so long as it was deemed legal in California. This obviously required rules to ban online gambling and paedophilia at some point, but, in general, California’s laws are sufficiently liberal to accommodate most of our tastes in adult content.

At the same time, one person’s freedom of expression should not clash with someone else’s freedom of expression. Put into other words: if you’re not into adult content, you shouldn’t be “forced” to view it, and vice-versa: if you like erotic content as any normal adult, you should not have the misfortune to deal with neighbours with a Puritan education that wish to cover up your virtual home and limit your activities.

So a simple solution was set in place: split up the world in two sections. On one section, adult content is explicitly forbidden (‘PG’ areas). On the other section, you can pretty much do what you wish. Ironically, most areas in SL are Mature, but not exactly because people are engaging all the time in adult-related activities. It’s just because even someone with a casual interest needs to be in a Mature area. Totally PG communities with several sims, where nobody is really interested in around-the-clock sexual displays, are often flagged Mature — for the occasional engagement with adult content, once in a while. Those were the rules, and the residents adapted to it.

Things started to get complicated when new sources of residents began to arrive. On one side, we had, for instance, educators, who wanted to bring their students to SL. Their underage students. Now clearly this wouldn’t be possible in a virtual world created by adults for adults, so Linden Lab had no choice but to put them on their own grid — the Teen Grid. The problem, of course, is that this grid — due to child protection laws — cannot legally have adults in it, unless you go through a very thorough procedure to validate your credentials.

This isn’t perfect either. What about classes where ages are between 16 and 20? Which grid should they go to, and how will teachers teach a common class, split among two grids? This is a typical problem that was never solved, and a lot of educators had to drop their projects because LL’s rules did not allow this model. But, alas, it’s the 16-20 age group that is the most interesting one for so many educators!

On the other hand, RL businesses want to have an adult community of users to establish themselves (and that includes, of course, universities) — but one where “distracting” adult content is not around. Put into other words: if you’re a Fortune 100 company, you wish to keep the kids away from your conference about business economics — but you don’t wish a BDSM domme to bring her subs with her on a leash. It looks “bad” on a picture on a national newspaper. Alas, we SL residents are used to that — SL meetings, discussions, and conferences are attended by dragons, robots, blue humans, floating blobs, and the occasional semi-nude hardcore sex escort. We just oversee how people attire themselves and focus on what they’re saying. Businesses, however, don’t really think that way. Shareholders are not exactly happy about having a popular sex club just around the corner — because, as said, pictures of that would hurt their image. It’s a sad thought that in the 21st century you’re judged by what you wear, but, alas, such is our society — and we cannot change society that easily.

Common residents are of a mixed kind. A few, of course, just are in SL for the free sex — or to establish relationships starting within a highly sexual environment. SL is the ultimate sex dating site, where you can show off your perfect body — much better than with webcam sex, where, no matter how daring you are, or how much makeup you wear, there is a limit to how much you can hide from the camera. In SL, however, you can look exactly how you wish to look. The appeal, thus, is quite strong. And it has always been like that, even during the days where there were no user-created animations and people could only do standard sits in weird positions…

This group includes perhaps one out of five SL residents — a typical metric for the Internet — even if it doesn’t mean that they will be engaged in sexual activities or watching adult content all the time. Rather the contrary: there are a lot of things that can be done in SL, and members of that group are definitely among the ones more willing to engage in SL’s economy and participate in all sorts of activities. They have a commitment to SL as a “place”, as Philip would say: a place, like RL, where you will spend most of your time doing all sort of interesting things, but, like in RL, where you will also enjoy some moments of erotic pleasure together with a partner.

The majority of the SL residents don’t really think so differently. Sure, they’re not here for the sex; but they aren’t exactly monks in their cells or religious fanatics. Most are reasonably tolerant with anyone who is a complete fanatic of adult content — they might just smile a little, shake their heads, but aren’t exactly against it. In fact, many recognise that, if you happen to meet by chance an interesting partner in SL (even if that thought never crossed your mind), you might jump over to the first group. The dividing line is fine — more a question of opportunity and not deliberate decision, at least for many — and it’s like RL really: most human beings are not constantly engaged in absorbing mature content, but they know where it is available if they feel the urge to get it. But it’s not their priority.

And, of course, there is a tiny — though immensely vocal — minority that is tied to outdated religious beliefs about sex, and wish to ban it — not for themselves, but for the whole of Humankind. If you think that this group is small and irrelevant, think again. They managed to ban sex from mainstream movies intended for adults, and replace it with gore and violence instead — as if kids over 13 or so don’t know everything about sex anyway — which shows how twisted their mindset is: exposing kids to utter violence is fine, but to sex isn’t.

And they’re the ones in power, the ones that write the laws.

So how is this dealt with in real life?

Enlightened jurisdictions simply provide a reasonable compromise. Adult content is restricted to specially licensed places, where only adults can enter, and they have to provide some sort of ID to get access to it. Sex clubs, sex shops, and casinos are typical examples. Renting a video with Triple-X rating is another. Granted, depending on the country, things vary a lot: in most of Europe, females are not required to cover their breasts in beaches and swimming pools or similar areas, while other countries strictly forbid that. Islamic fundamentalists only allow women to show their eyes in public (and you can guess, very correctly, what all the guys in those countries do during the night with their webcams). Some Japanese families take their baths naked together at home. There is not a single, universal definition of what “adult content” is, but only cultural ones. In all cases, however, social norms, aided by legislation, restrict the access to what a culture’s idea of “adult content” is. But if you’re an adult, of course, nobody can prevent you to go to those places or view that kind of content.

Thus, in countries where erotic dancers are allowed to dance in clubs, you cannot shut the clubs down just because someone across the street has a religious objection against that. Your freedom of religion cannot be more important than your freedom to access whatever legitimate content is available for adults. What you can do is to separate both: get the churches in one place, and the sex clubs in another. Don’t mix both: don’t force good Puritans to attend Mass walking through streets full of sex shops, but also don’t build schools (or business parks) next to popular sex clubs. Keep both separate, and everybody is happy.

Many cities have thus created the concept of “red light districts”, where adult content is featured basically everywhere, but it’s only allowed there and not spread around the place. That’s pretty much the model that Linden Lab is proposing to create in Second Life.

About Gwyneth Llewelyn

I'm just a virtual girl in a virtual world...

  • Laetizia Coronet

    (Yes, I’m still around.)

    It’s nonsense, and it’s a pack of lies. It’s about attracting businesses which in the US are fearful of being connected to anything sexy. You have seen the ads about having corporate meetings in SL. Total and utter baloney, no serious company would ever contemplate that, but it’s apparently the Lab’s business plan. Or road to failure – mark my words.
    On the web I can find gross pornographic imagery anywhere. Google doesn’t hide it behind anything serious. Governments do not or hardly throw up barriers. Why would SL ask me to be verified? Where in the world do they ban sex shops to just one closed-off area of the city anyway?
    I want nothing of it, nothing whatsoever. I will not -ever- comply to the wishes of a loudmouth minority. We need to hunt these morons off of the world instead. Go away, go make your own safe-and-sound happy little playworld. Leave us alone.

  • “Reality is, however, a bit more tricky…” + 4 para.

    I posted on this subject on my own before I made the rounds to see what others who had a head start were saying.

    It’s dead on, and I suspect this is going to be the first link of the chain of this policy to break.

    -ls/cm

  • Have always think that will be the first step before upgrade access rights to sims and …. plug the Teen Grid. Second Life (TM) Grids need “hypergrid” too.

  • I for one will never get myself “verified” with LL’s system.

    I know I’m over 18.
    My friends know I’m over 18.
    If someone wants to verify that I’m 18, they can chat to me on a video call in skype.

    I simply don’t see the point in telling a “system” that I’m over 18.

    p.s. Your OpenID login seems to have failed for me 😛

  • Ananda

    I gather from your insider look that a lot of the legitimate business and education complaint has to do with people wandering in as furries or robots or in fetish wear, or just plain griefing the proceedings. Funny how the new policies won’t do a thing to address that.

  • Well spotted, Ananda 😉

    In fact, further clarification from LL has shown that they will only really flag “Adult content” extremely hard core pornography. This mostly means that regular (and even ever-so-slightly-kinky) sex pose balls will be perfectly legitimate on Mature areas. As well as (apparently) all sorts of fetish wear, ever outrageous ones.

    On the other hand, legitimate businesses and educators have a real simple way to keep out “wanderers” and griefers: just flag your parcel as Adult-only, and let your clients, partners, or students verify themselves. It can’t get simpler than that!

  • Second Life is a virtual environment, but what actually takes place there is entirely real, perhaps even hyperreal, as the meatspace boundaries and restrictions set forth by our corporeal existence do not exist in Second Life.

    All the complexities of this issue cannot possibly be addressed by one committee setting rules and boundaries. We all have to participate in the conversation and feel our way through this. It will take a long time, and perhaps there may be no satisfactory resolution. Instead we may be in constant flux, each time reaching a good approximation of what we consider to be consensus regarding its resolution, until a long enough time passes and the general opinion shifts, forcing us all to reexamine the issue.

    Basic liberties are at stake here.

  • Jabba Aabye

    As for the article, as most of the time, your view is most objective and from as much perspectives as possible. Although I have to give a reaction on one issue; Owning a Credit Card and the ability to verify yourself to a non-government company.

    As for Credit Card, for Americans it is the most normal thing owning 1 or more CCs. You could call it a cultural thing, where a consumer based society would not exist without (you might almost think that). Well, the point of why is not important, that’s another subject.. But, the rest of the world doesn’t use Credit Cards or a system likewise, only the minor richer people. That is also the reason why in the beginning of SL, there where mostly Americans registering. I for instants would be one of the oldest if no CC was needed in the registration process, as for more Europeans and Asians.

    So for non-US based SL citizens (around 70-80% of the SL population), a CC is not an option.

    For Ids and Passports, there is a privacy problem. Identifying yourself is one thing, a company storing that info is another story. For most countries in Europe it’s normal when you want to buy alcohol or cigarettes to identify yourself that you are above 18. For entering a club you may come across the same thing, although most of the people take copies of there Ids for security reasons (ID theft or possible loss). In the Netherlands for the police to ask for your identity you first need to do something prohibited before it is even legal for them to ask for it. These are examples where this verification data is only shown and not stored into a central database. Because there comes the big differents.

    In some countries it is even illegal for non-government companies to store this kind of data and thus for the customer to give it out. From my own view it would be a reason of privacy that I don’t send this data to any company. LL does already know where I live and how old I am because of my verified Paypal account (which is a bank, thus under global-government rules if it comes to ID storage, more trustworthy).

    But how does WoW do this for non-US customers? They have come up with a another system, the Game Card. You can buy this card from any game/music store where you only have to show your ID. The national rules of age apply here, something Blizzard does not have to worry about anymore. No highly personal data needs to be stored or handed out. And no CC needed. A very successful concept applied in dozens of countries.

    I my point of view, such a system would be ideal for any global based virtual world/game. No one is forced to hand out information, information is kept private and people are under national law entering worlds.

  • Jabba, the “Game Card” idea is an excellent suggestion!!

    You’re quite right about credit cards not being a good idea outside the US — thus LL at least said “other options”.

    May I suggest that you add your wonderful suggestion to this forum thread as well?

    I know it has a disadvantage — LL will need a global distributor to get those cards in all game shops around the world. But — think of the marketing possibilities! I haven’t seen a Game Card for WoW, but I can imagine this to be something real fun to do, e.g. being able to place a picture, your name, and your avatar name on it, and have a small fee — like, say, €5 — which would be converted to L$ once you call LL up with the code for validation.

    LL once suggested that there would be a “small fee” for validation services. Well, your idea would neatly solve the issue, give people another opportunity besides credit card validation, spread SL’s logo all over the world, and get you a small amount of L$ to spend. What could possibly be a better idea? 😀

    I really think you should push that idea to LL!

  • Jabba Aabye

    I am not sure if I want to ‘help’ LL in this initiative. Although I think the idea of a Game Card can solve other issues, like keeping out massive bot invasions and griefers.

    I am still wondering why LL has taken this step. And why now. Second Life has always been build on the philosophy of freedom. Freedom in choice, freedom in not having political, social or economical influences from ‘above’. LL had this perfect world of ‘Let the world be the world’. Only regulate the landmass (server space, hosting).

    By enforcing distinction of residents groups, placing labels on land and placing labels on content, something is dying. Divide and conquer, or regulate and control. The only reason I can think of is future plans to sell SL or get investors into the world. Because these new players WANT control, otherwise there investment will be to risky.

    Merging Teen/Main grid is not an argument. The technical overhead is little (same servers and software). And I think the positive social/economical argument(s) do not out weight the negatives.

    I hope LL will do this very carefully without making the residents feel they are controlled and/or surveillanced to much. And for some commenters I have seen on some other blogs too, I hope LL will be honest in their future plans, so affected residents can ‘choose’ and make a good strategy/exit plan.

  • Dale Innis

    Interesting post, as always. I’m a bit puzzled by the beginning, and I think I disagree with the end.

    “a place where you cannot avoid mature content to be pushed upon you”: People say that alot, but I’m surprised to hear *you* say it. Exactly how is mature content pushed upon anyone, in a way that this adult exile will help? I’ll still be in ‘danger’ of seeing a leather-clad domme leading a pet around by a chain while out shopping, I’ll still be in ‘danger’ of seeing sexual activities if I go to a sexually-themed place, I’ll still be in ‘danger’ of finding out that somewhere people are doing things that I disapprove of. This “pushed upon” argument is generally used as a flimsy justification for banning things that nosy people find offensive. When was the last time you had some unwanted mature thing “pushed” on you, and how will the adult exile prevent it?

    On your last paragraph, on how the adult exile will end griefing and content theft in the Adult areas: I think that’s completely mistaken. Hasn’t LL said that the third party that they use for age verification gives them *no* personal data outside of the one-bit answer to the question “has the Resident named Firstname Lastname verified themselves to be over 18?”? Given that, LL actually has no personal information at all about verified residents, and verification will have no impact whatsoever on griefing, content theft, or other antisocial behavior. Has something changed in that area?

  • Dale Innis

    “In fact, further clarification from LL has shown that they will only really flag “Adult content” extremely hard core pornography.”

    This is another serious problem with the current state of the proposal.

    The Adult criteria as officially documented in the FAQ are extremely broad, covering any depiction of genitalia at all (Michelangelo’s “David”), any “Photo-realistic nudity” (all nude photography, clearly, as well as nude beaches for instance), and even all “erotic themes”.

    On the other hand, various Lindens have *informally* said that oh it doesn’t really mean that, nude beaches are okay, nude photos on your walls are okay, anything done is a private residence is okay, the only thing that this will be enforced against are really extreme hard-core sex businesses.

    So, which is official: the official documented policy, or unofficial statements by random Lindens in the forums? Pretty obviously the former. But when people get justifiably worried by the extreme broadness of the official policy, everyone points to the forums and says “oh no Cyn Linden said that…” or “but Blondin says…”. This is like having an RL law against swearing in public, and not worrying about it because Officer McNice said “oh, I won’t enforce that unless someone’s really screaming at the top of their lungs for hours”. This is *not* a way to get good laws! What if Officer McNice retires, and Officer McNasty decides to actually enforce the laws as written?

  • Great post on this subject, Gwyn. Again, you show your command of the subject and well reasoned thought process.

    Here’s my take, and I gave you linky love.
    .
    http://secondtense.blogspot.com/2009/03/linden-labs-red-light-district-idea-re.html

  • Ananda

    Two very brilliant ideas here in the comments that I hope get wider currency!

    1. Educational and business use of Verification – it solves both the griefer issue AND removes the stigma from getting verified!

    2. An ID verification card for online that can be bought anywhere without reference to money or to passing private info all over the place.

    Nice.

  • Dale, excellent points… sometimes I should be “softer” on the way I write things. 🙂

    The “push-on-your-face-sexual-content” is… well, cultural, I guess. It’s hard to explain it really. We both have been around long enough that it doesn’t really bother us any more, and so, speaking of “pushing” is incorrect. I usually give a typical example from my youth. Our high school class did a field trip to the red light district of Hamburg (Germany). For almost everybody, it was a first time. Needless to say, most of the guys — except for the teacher, who used to live in Hamburg — were drooling at what they saw in broad daylight on the sex shops. The girls were nauseated. However, even back then, I used to observe people a lot: and what actually surprised me was that the natives of Hamburg just walked by the shops and did not take any notice (except for the occasional customers, of course). For them, this was just a part of their city, just like many others. There was a de-sensitising effect: get exposed to mature content too much, and it becomes “normal”. I had a similar experience, much later, as an adult, while visiting some areas in London and Amsterdam: it was quite easy to see who was a tourist or a local. The locals weren’t bothered: it was part of their city, and they were used to it.

    There are always exceptions, of course, but I feel the same happened to me in Second Life. The sheer amount of mature content when I travelled around in SL, during my first weeks, did not exactly nauseate me, but I was definitely conscious of it. But after so many years in SL, all this slowly faded into the background. One of my best friends in SL is an enthusiastic BDSMer (and she’s my landlady on the mainland — her castle looms in the horizon from where I live), and so is the community manager for the company I work for. Their attire never bothered me, since it pretty much became commonplace for, well, SL’s standards. But in both cases, it shocked customers, who refused to talk to them unless they got “properly dressed”. When I heard that, I was shocked in turn: who are those people that tell my friends and colleagues how to dress?? Who are they to judge them — and their qualities as human beings! — just because they have their fetishes? (We all have them, even the most Puritan ones!)

    And ironically, I was also once or twice accused of showing “too much leg”. Pfft! And I remember one silly little story when

    I guess I’m digressing! Anyway… from my point of view, as someone who is pretty much familiar with SL’s environment, culture, and people, I cannot seriously say that “adult content is pushed in my face”. Not for me! However, for someone who has not been around so long, and is mostly tied to their own little spot in SL (say, their virtual university campus or their company’s “walled garden”), SL does, indeed, give the impression that everybody is “pushing adult content at you”. Put in other words: it’s not that non-adult content doesn’t exist, it just seems “less” than it actually is. Taking a look at MItch Wagner’s article on Information Week it seems that adult content, however, is “only” 4-5% of all content on Second Life!

    You also quite correctly point out that Aristotle doesn’t give LL any real data — just a “flag” saying if someone is validated or not. However, it seems to be implied that LL will not really rely so much on Aristotle and have reverted their policy to just accept credit card and “other forms” of validation (e.g. sending over a faxed ID card). Ironically, using Aristotle’s services might be the best way to verify your age anonymously — however, due to the way the public has perceived how Aristotle works (ie. “they will sell my RL data to tele-marketeers!” while in essence what they do is sell profiling data to marketing agencies, quite a different issue, but one so subtly different that most people cannot distinguish both), it’s hardly likely that this facility of age verification will be little used, if at all. Credit card data will be the way to go. Or PayPal validation. In either case, Linden Lab has a tag on you

    And finally, I’m pretty sure that the biggest discussion will be on “what, exactly, is adult content?”. I gave extreme cases, because these are the very few ones that probably a vast majority (ie. over 99% of the resident population) will consider extremely sexual in nature and extremely violent: re-enactment of raping using chainsaws with the victim’s blood spilled all over the torture rack in a gore dungeon (or a Gor dungeon, pun intended) will most certainly be flagged “adult”, even by the ones indulging in that fantasy. But once we soften up the examples, it’s quite obvious that someone’s “graphical adult content” is someone else’s “mildly erotic fantasies”, and I expect that Linden Lab will keep those “merely mature”. At the end of the day, this looks like something quite similar than the ban on using SL’s trademark: a way for LL to act just in the extreme cases by using the ToS and not fearing counter-lawsuits, and not exactly a way to impose “correct thought” upon the residents. If so, that would be quite consistent with what LL has been doing for a long time. Seriously, except for banking and gambling, most of LL’s “extreme measures” were never “extremely enforced” (and while banks have all but gone, illegal gambling is still around, it’s just not public — like in real life).

  • I think the biggest mistake the Lindens made was not buying off the right bloggers. Clearly I am the cutest and pay the most attention to my appearance. But by leaving me off their little F.I.C. list they are left open to mockery. Oh well maybe they think any publicity is good publicity.

  • Where I live Gwyn my city centre has lingerie shops such as Ann Summers that sell sex toys in busy malls, this happens all over the UK, they are not shoved away to a “Red Light District”, in fact there are no legal red light districts in the UK.

    My city centre also has plenty of lapdancing bars and nobody is prevented from walking by them, same in New York, Manhattan has commercial ventures next to lapdancing bars.

    Entering the actual bars is where you require id, but you don’t shove them out into their own special area.

    The issue is that in your face adult content should not be displayed explicity outside of the buildings. This would mirror RL.

    I agree that there’s an issue for educators to have a 16-20 market, where I disagree is that they will happily co-exist on mature land. Already Linden’s are saying your sex beds are ok in your private home, if the educator are next door, they won’t be happy about it and you yourself are saying you’ll be happily telling business they will avoid adult content when this patently isn’t the case with the current proposals. Why would 16-20 year olds want to be on a mature parcel? To discuss mature issues perhaps?

    Give the educators their own continent, adult content free. No strip bars, no private homes, no escorts, no Xcite or Storkerz Toyz stores. This is surely the better proposal as they themselves then have a clearly laid out continents that allows them to avoid seeing anything deemed iffy. Many educators aren’t interested in Second Life’s main grid, they’re interested in the distance learning and conferencing features Second Life offers so what happens in the main continent isn’t their primary concern, what happens next door is of course.

    They should also go ahead and create the adult continent and sell it as being age verified access, this may appeal to the adult entertainment industy, but it should all be voluntary as to whether people move there.

    The existing community standards should be enforced on mainland and on advertising.

    The fact that you’re ignoring is that people have spent a great deal of time and money picking a location for their business, some paying a premium for waterfront land, location location location.

    Any moves should be voluntary, over time the adult continent may well prove to be very popular amongst the adult community but give people the choice of moving there, Second Life main grid is still 18+.

  • Ciaran, actually, in my country the whole idea of a red light district would be abhorring and against the constitutional freedom of setting up your business wherever you want 😉 Nevertheless, some types of adult content requires a license (which is hard to get) from the Town Hall, and maintaining the license is hard. A typical example is that prostitution is technically not illegal (you even have a special tax classification to be able to deduct your taxes from provided services like any other service); pimping, however, is (mostly because it leads to power manipulation and what borders on ‘slavery’ in the sense that most prostitutes are unable to leave their pimp through threats of aggression and forced drug use/dependency) — which means you can definitely get a license for pole dancing clubs, which can be set up wherever you wish, but bordellos are definitely forbidden. The fine dividing line is, however, very very small 🙂

    Anyway, I digress — these examples from RL just reflect cultural preferences, and definitely anedoctal examples from the most liberal cities/countries are not a good models for an international environment where we have a mix of cultural models to deal with.

    If LL’s statistics about “3-5% of all content in SL is explicitly adult” are to be taken seriously — and we can definitely contest that — the question is to judge what is more fair and just:

    – a Second Life where everything is adult content, except for a small walled area (Teen Grid, universities, corporations)

    or

    – a Second Life where everything is mature/PG content (allowing for erotic art and soft porn), but the small area (3-5%) is dedicated to adult content?

    If I were Linden Lab, I would certainly cater for the tastes of the huge, overwhelming majority of users, while still protecting the right of the tiny, but vibrant, minority to have their safe place, and fully protect their rights to do whatever they please in those areas. But… while keeping in mind that these are still a very small minority.

    I haven’t actually “ignored” the issue about property. One of my fundamental questions was “who will pay for the costs of moving?” and I suggested that LL would grant land ownership in a new continent for free for anyone who moves over there. Alas, almost all democratic countries respect private property and the State recognises the right to eminent domain: if the State changes the rules and “forces” people to move away from their property for the “common good” (for example, because they are going to build parks, schools, hospitals, highways…), the State has to pay the landowners a compensation.

    I’m all for pushing that very strongly. “Forced moving” out of people’s land should always be followed by an economic incentive to do so, or a compensation to be paid. The telehub issue showed a good precedent where LL effectively went that route, and I think that the only fair way to deal with the relocation is to handle it in a similar manner.

    Even if it’s just for 3-5% of the landowners or actually even less: only owners of extremely violent of graphical content will need to move. The rest — even shops for soft porn items — will naturally remain in the Mature areas.

  • @kanomi, just ask Catherine Linden to be placed on the PR list for them 😉

  • “If I were Linden Lab, I would certainly cater for the tastes of the huge, overwhelming majority of users, while still protecting the right of the tiny, but vibrant, minority to have their safe place, and fully protect their rights to do whatever they please in those areas. But… while keeping in mind that these are still a very small minority.”

    You can turn this on its head and say that similar applies to those who want no adult content, some people simply don’t even want posebaslls near them. Create a continent for them, in fact create two new continents, an adult one and a strictly no adult content one.

    I’ve been at plenty of discussions about zoned mainland and have always argued that zoning new land is the way to go, and in that regard the new continent fits the bill. However I have also argued that zoning existing mainland is problematic and should only be done with consensus, and in this regard the new proposals fail miserably.

    The logistics of moving buildings and business and finding a compensation package is a ridiculous undertaking. Encouraging people to move voluntarily is a far more feasible solution and if adult ventures move out of sims Linden Lab can go about installing covenants on mainland sims if the remaining land owners agree, to forbid adult ventures from opening in that sim.

    There seems to be a desire from some to have no adult content near them, so provide them with that space on a new continent.

  • You know the saying: “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” I actually think that this will be for the best. Like many, I’ve grown accustomed (or desensitized as Gwyneth says) to the blatant displays of sex, but I understand the many reasons to separate it out. It’s smart business sense.

    What I do wonder is how much Metaplace is the reason for this, at least in part. It’s not completely clear how Metaplace will work but it seems that the basic design of MP will naturally separate adult content, from what I understand of it. It has already garnered interest from educators. Could SL be preparing for what could ultimately be real competition for them?

  • @Gwyn, ah ok I’ll try 🙂 And thanks for the kind comment on my piece.

  • For Laetizia’s and Ciaran’s sake: let’s think a moment about a different scenario which is totally unrelated to adult content but shows exactly the same issue: smoking.

    Smoking is, in our Western society at least, something you’re allowed to do in the privacy of your home — and on specially designated areas (which, over time, shrink until probably one day all of them will disappear). The non-smoking lobby, since it’s far larger in number, managed successfully to restrict smoking down to a few scattered places. So there is a clear segregation, while not exactly forbidding smoking. In general, smoking is considered an “adult” form of entertainment as well, and tobacco sales, at least in most of the Western world, is restricted to a certain age (which of course varies from country to country, but nevertheless requires some form of identification to buy it — the most sophisticated being the Japanese automated vendors where you put an ID card in a slot to be able to buy a pack).

    That’s pretty much what Linden Lab wants to do with extremely violent and graphical adult content: not disallow it, but put it away from the general public, inside a restricted area for adults. It’s conceptually simple.

    Now you might argue that smoking damages your health, and second-hand smoke damages other people’s health, and thus, for the protection of one’s own citizens’ health, Governments should take harsh measures to stop people from killing themselves — while there are few published studies telling that watching extremely violent and graphical content harms people’s (mental) health. Of course I never bought this theory — deaths because of cholesterol are as high as from tobacco use, and you don’t see many world-wide campaigns to ban junk food from restaurants and supermarkets. Smokers are just a more convenient target because a majority of non-smokers get annoyed at their “filthy, smelly habit”, and you can back up a decision enforcing segregation and limiting adults to access tobacco use, by using the argument of “health issues”.

    The same thing happens with the “segregation” of extremely violent and graphical adult content in SL. The lobby of those who don’t want to wish it casually all over the virtual world is far greater — if LL is right, over 97% of the resident population — than the ones who wish to engage in watching that kind of content. Still, Linden Lab is not forbidding it, which would indeed be a measure of curbing freedom of expression. They’re just letting those 3% to have their own places and protect their right to do what they wish — in privacy. But to enforce that privacy, they require that people prove they’re adults and will not simply take their word for it (like in many countries you really have to show your ID if you want to get an alcoholic drink or a pack of ciggies).

    So is that “fair” or not? I’d say, it’s as fair as locking smokers iRL into their tiny places and not allowing people to see them when they indulge in their habit, and even remove the act of smoking totally from the entertainment media (in some cases, I’ve heard that some extreme groups have pushed for deleting smoking scenes from old 1940s and 50s classics; and if you take a look at YouTube, you’ll see that many smoking videos are flagged as “adult content” by the community of YT viewers).

  • @Zillow, have you actually seen Metaplace? 😉

    Mmh with due respect to Raph Koster, it’s not a “competitor” to Second Life, but one to Habbo Hotel…

  • The Metaplace screenshots I’ve seen do actually remind me of Habbo Hotel.

    Anyway back to the mainpoint, the smoking analogy doesn’t work because I don’t need to go to Smokesville to buy the cigarettes, they’re still available in the high street.

    I also don’t see how this halfway house pleases those who object to adult content. The Lindens have said skin stores are ok, but a store that sells sex beds will need to move if people can demo the sex bed. Now a naked skin image that’s there 24/7 is surely going to be more objectionable to someone who is complaining about adult content than a build where people occasionaly test out a sex bed.

    The motivations and goals don’t make any sense, but creating an adult continent and a no adult content at all continent does make sense as that pleases both parties, but the moves need to be voluntary, that is providing true choice. I find the forced relocation really objectionable as people have bought land in good faith for their ventures.

    Corporate business and education don’t want to be next to adult content on the mainland, I can fully understand that but this policy does not deal with that so it raises the question of what is the point?

    The bigger issue in all reality is having PG and Mature sims on the same damn continent, that’s a ridiculous situation, I once had a parcel on a PG sim and one day noticed my neighbour had opened a gentleman’s club. Thinking this couldn’t be right on a PG sim I stepped onto their parcel to discover I was in a neighbouring sim and it was mature, which completely made the PG rating of my parcel meaningless. They should deal with that issue first. I can fully understand why people object to that scenario, indeed I did object to that scenario.

    I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not object to an adult continent, I think there are benefits and were I to open an adult business I would absolutely want to open it on the adult continent. However I do object to this forced relocation policy that doesn’t deal with the issue of a campus neighboring a parcel that has adult content, because adult content will still be there so it’s a lose lose situation for LL. Something simply doesn’t add up.

  • @Gynneth, yes I’m aware of the comparison to Habbo Hotel. And it’s baffling as to why they decided to go that route. However Metaplace basically will allow you to create content and sell it on your website. Koster is bringing a virtual world to the browser. If it works as I’m thinking (and that’s a big if in this market), that will be huge. And that’s what I think will be competition for Second Life. Admittedly, the style of Metaplace will deter some, but maybe not those in, say education or many businesses. Exactly the types that SL’s move to separate adult content was designed to appease.

  • @Ciaran, well, you’re definitely right on two points: the motivations are a bit “confusing” to say the least, although the results are clear.

    The other point is dealing with “eminent domain” issues. When Linden Lab, as a “government” which recognises private property, removes a resident’s private property “for the common good” without that resident having actually done anything wrong (changing the rules mid-way is not really “doing something wrong”), there is due compensation for the loss of propriety and (indirectly) loss of profit.

    How exactly Linden Lab thinks to compensate residents “forced” to move is a difficult question. I’d go for the simplest method myself: forfeit the costs of buying new land. I also might agree this is not enough: what about, for instance, all landmarks and SLURLs on notecards pointing to old locations? Also, how do you measure the “value” of a location? I would certainly plan this quite well — preferably with the resident “forced” to move — before evicting them out of their properties. It’s the only fair way to deal with it.

    @Zillow, I should not discuss Metaplace yet 🙂 Raph Koster suggested that I’d join the Metaplace Evangelist Program and word my opinions about it, but, alas, I’ve declined doing so. I’m waiting for the Open Beta and the removal of any restrictions to publish my thoughts 😀

  • Ranma Tardis

    I think it is a lot more than 3 percent that want adult content. I would place it at more like 50 percent. The educators, the corps and children need to move to another platform. Why doesn’t LL just make a new grid for these people? Oh add the 50 percent as well. Hmmm giving it some thought split the grid into 2 grids. Mature and PG kiddie land and be done with it.

  • It might be more than 3%, Ranma. We don’t know. The only source of official information is Linden Lab, and two years ago they said (somewhere) it was 18% to 20%, now only 3%…

    I just take that their decision was made based on those statistics. If the statistics are correct or not, well, who does really know…?

  • “In fact, Adult content is not viewable by non-verified adults.”

    If that’s actually planned (I haven’t found a source for that yet, but I was thinking about if that is doable before), then there is no need for a segregation of sex content. The cultural diversity of Second Life could stay the same, for verified residents. A much better solution than banning all adult content, and thus supporting commercial sex, but not casual cybering.

    To speak 4chan-lingo: Sauce? 😉

    Cheers,
    Torrid

  • Glowylight Color

    Id like to say that its not the “puritans” who are asking for or wanting this change, in SL they don’t truly exist, and if they did they would not have a say either. I don’t consider erotic content to be something “adult” in my opinion its very childish and leaves people open to targeted manipulation.

    SL for the most part is a liberal, atheistic/new age community which leans toward buffet style spirituality, thats fine, to each his own, but now the bottom line men want money from the masses so they are cleaning house, When are the progressive / Liberal types ever going to learn

    ~once you get your utopia up and running, the people who funded you into existence show up, and then, all of a sudden you become aware of “who is paying for this paradise” then the sheepdipped dreamers are executed or banished~ ask trotsky, its “ordo ab chao” time unfortunately.

    SL has always been red, Americans just dont know what that means, nobody in sl ever had any say in anything, they just let us build their world into existence for them, now they are culling it and letting you blame non-existent bible thumpers like the terrorists, they dont really exist in our world, corporations dont care about morality-

    you’ve all seen the documentary “the corporation” all your work belongs to them, its in the TOS, in sl, you have no rights, no say, no vote, only the allusion of it, the “lindens” are the guardian class, and school is out- thats what made me quit my business, because the people who built this place were the last to know what was up, im still hooked but i get my fix elsewhere now, dont think for one second warcraft isnt being culled too. [for the horde]:P

    If the people of sl dont want this adult banishment then they should protest, perhaps you think im in agreement with it, Im not, the sex stuff in sl got on my last nerve and i got sick of ignoring it but i refused to register anything but my middle finger with These b-stards they know who we are.

    The porn never made me as disgusted as the corporate porn, the false hype, the in world pimping of their real world crap that they cant sell, its not the furries or the chained girls, or some stripper nun, ceo’s do that in rl, believe me there is nothing in sl that wasn’t going on at bohemian grove in the 1920’s, they are killing our world by degrees and it p-sses me off to no end.

    Sorry about the rant, it just upsets me to check in on sl and see how these b-astards wont ever just leave it alone, I was wanting to come back but i see the corporate roaches hate virtual worlds and the internet “would have been better if it had never been invented.”