Have you ever been enjoying a chat with some friends, and then get “[Name] wants to bite you. You will get a free bite mark”? 20 times in one day?
Update 2008-10-22. The alert now reads “[Name] would like to give you a Vampire bite. This will register you with The Thirst::Bloodlines system, and you’ll get a FREE pair of bite marks. If you accept the bite, you don’t have to play, and if you get bitten, you don’t have to drink a potion to undo it. Say Yes to accept!”.
That’s Bloodlines. It’s a pestilence of spammers who are often inconsiderate and often rude when rejected. Apparently, being refused for unsolicited bites is grounds for calling someone a Nazi.
There are those who enjoy role-playing vampires. Great! Role-play, vampires, fantasy and all of these things are a part of what make Second Life enjoyable. What I’m not great with is that my home is being invaded by a constant plethora of biters. What’s more is that as with all spammers, if you unknowingly or without understanding what a “bite” is, get bitten, you get entered into a database. I don’t appreciate my name being added to a database without my full and informed consent.
At Kuula, a newcomer learning center, it has become a plague. I’ve IMed and even dropped note cards on the maker, Mars Bracken and have not received a response.
Now, finally, Mars has come out with a solution. I appreciate that he has responded to non-RP community members. It’s garlic necklace that you wear and click and it opts you out of the database. The Bloodlines Garlic can be found here. (Later: necklace prims are mod, copy and transfer. Additionally, a vendor is offered for free. I can seem to buy the vendor, but I have not figured out how to get it to dispense the necklace. Credit where it’s due: Mars has made a first step.) While this certainly is one step in the right direction, I also feel that it is a partial and very inadequate solution.
Why the solution is inadquate:
1) All users must know about it in order to use it. They are not protected by default
2) All users must know where to get it, which most will not know about.
3) All users must be savvy enough to know how to use it, which most newcomers are not.
4) All users must be willing to be added to a database, which many are not.
5) Isn’t spam opt-out universally understood as “confirmation” which only leads you to getting more spam?
If RL worked in the same manner, it would be legal to assault someone until the victim had discovered, found, filled out and filed out the paperwork to have the assaulter to stop.
The Bloodlines game should be OPT-IN for those to be invited to be bitten. To do anything else is to sully the name of what appears to be a very well enjoyed product. How many newbies (who are constantly preyed upon because they unwittingly click on any alert that pops up) simply accept the bite without understanding what it is? If you’ve never been bitten, you are not in the opt-out database; therefore you are still vulnerable to the plague. You have to accept a bite, and then opt out. Either way, it’s a frequent annoyance or database city for you.
A better solution: It’s easy to complain. It’s more respecful to come up with some beginning of a solution. Here is mine.
I’ve proposed this solution to Mars about 30-90 days ago. A free script or API should be distributed that affects the region, not the individual. When a Bloodlines player TPs in or a Bloodlines HUD is rezzed, it should announce itself via llRegionSay() on a specific channel. If it receives no response, then it is disallowed.
Region owners should be able to have a script that response with either “Accept”, “Warn-Rules”, “Disallow”.
“Accept” is self-evident. It’s for bite friendly sims. It has no effect on the game, and the game plays as it normally would.
“Warn-Rules” sends a region-owner specifed message to the Bloodlines HUD owner. Example: “This is how you may play”, “Please ask before offering a bite”, “You are requested to willingly abstain”. Whatever the particular sim owner deems most appropriate for their own sim. This permits the game to play as it normally would, but the user is informed of expected behaviour in that particular sim.
“Disallow” literally prevents bite request from being emitted. It would probably be good for the HUD user to be alerted of this fact so that they understand that the product is fully functional, but that the sim owner does not permit it to be active within the confines of their land.
This solution is feasable. I refer to the excellent MystiTool hud that performs just such a function. Some sims have this system where the user is politely asked to allow MystiTool to go into “Sleep mode” and when the user teleports out, all functions are restored to normal. I can appreciate this and have never failed (and have been happy to) allow MystiTool to go to sleep.
Note: Related to the above, an additional option for sim owners might be to have a greeter that informs the user entering a bite friendly area that they can expect to be bitten, and thus, the user having been informed and accepted may have no recourse to abuse reports for bite.
Now, Mars Bracken, I fully understand that as a vendor that you want your product to be promoted as widely as possible. And I’m all for that, and it MUST be done within the confines of full and knowledgeable consent of all parties. At the moment, this is not the case, and has had more than one player banned from various sims that I know of. If you want opt-in, the very best way is to have your enthusiastic players charm people into the notion. If a product is mostly accepted only by default or accident or misunderstanding might want to reconsider the offering and/or consider adding new ideas or markets. However the upside is that those who would be your hardcore loyal customer and fans would be clearly measured and marked out for you, and would be by the very fact of their enthusiasm a sales force.
A side idea, what if you created a promotional piece of material, a note card, or a web page that was used to charm the user into trying your product that your loyal customer base could use? You could count hits, get a sense of the market and still be respectful. A user is not forced to click on a link, and those who go, are those who have interest.
I believe that the use of such an addition to the popular game would have a three fold effect:
First, it would buy back some good will from the non-RPers toward the Bloodlines game. For those who have been harried and annoyed by players not respecting their right to peaceful enjoyment of non-RPers seeing the creator take a proactive stance in resolving the issue can only be good PR.
Secondly it would make clear to the players which sims permit and even invite this kind of roleplay and what kind of behaviour is expected of them.
Third, it would allow the Bloodlines creator an opportunity to accurately and in real-time collect a list of sims that DO encourage this kind of gameplay, add it to the website and permit the furtherance of the game in a way that is appreciated and respectful of all members concerned. (Let’s keep full disclosure of databasing in mind here, please).
A humourous (and potentially profitable note). A friend who has a say in the running of multiple sims humourously noted that “The game owners need to start selling vampire hunter kits. You pay them xL$ and get x number of stakes. Whenever you stake one of their vampires they loose all their blood. They would make tons of money :)“. Even though this was said tongue in cheek, I actually believe that it’s a good idea. This would, of course work only in Allow and Warn-Rules areas.
A call to action
Mars Bracken, I ask you to consider this deeply, and to make such a product available. I’m happy that you have found a successful niche for a product, and encourage your continued success, and would be willing to offer what thoughts and assistance I can to help you bring this new feature to light, in a win-win manner.
Please let me know.
PS: I have posted a link to this article on the bloodlines website at http://www.slbloodlines.com/blog/?p=52
Follow ups: Sarah Nerd is actually using the Buffy Bot to handle this pestillence. This is what an owner controlled region looks like for the vampires that don’t play nicely. Allowing for the proposed solution, no ejections or bans would be necessary.