The Way It Should Have Been

Request for opinions concerning zoning and sexual content in Second Life

Dear residents,

Conceived in a moment of passion, born healthy and vibrant, Second Life has gone from playpen to sandbox to schoolyard so quickly that we at Linden Lab gaze tearfully at the pencil lines that mark its growth. As Second Life approaches maturity, therefore, we feel the time has come to sit down with you and have a chat about the birds and the bees. In brief, we would like to know if it might be possible to improve the user experience regarding zoning and/or sexuality.

First, let me state clearly that Linden Lab is not seeking to impose social restrictions of any kind on the community. We recognize the unique value of the freedoms enjoyed in a virtual world – indeed, it was this insight that made us a successful company – so we won’t be killing the golden goose for the sake of a hot dinner. Instead, we wonder if there might be changes that would improve the experience for some without diminishing the experience of others. To use a fancy economics term, we seek a ‘Pareto Improvement’ to the social environment such that some people win, but no one loses.

For example, the mainland was originally created with PG and Mature sims side by side. Over the years, this has led to an increase in abuse reports as residents with different lifestyles clash at the sim borders. Recently, we have sought to be more consistent when zoning new land – Nautilus, for example, is entirely Mature – but perhaps some of you could provide a clever solution to the problem of older land.

Another question that has vexed the policy folks at the Lab is ‘sexuality’ within Second Life. As might be expected, there are an increasing number of residents and organizations who would prefer the removal of sexually explicit content. While we recognize that Second Life is an adult environment by definition, we wonder if the growth of Second Life is being hampered by a public misperception of Second Life as ‘pornographic’. Of course, anyone who has spent time inworld knows this is false, but we live in a media age in which branding is important. Perhaps you can help us.

A third question, related to the other two, concerns our own legal protection regarding minors. We believe that children should not be allowed on the main grid – this is why we created the teen grid – and we have wrestled with various methods of preventing children from gaining access. None is foolproof, but it is important for us to be able to enter a courtroom and defend ourselves against accusations of negligence. Therefore, we seek your opinions on what might constitute a set of legally defensible as well as practical methods of restricting the main grid to adults.

Before proceeding to formulate policy, we wish to ask you three specific questions:

1. Is there a better way to zone the mainland? <link>
2. Is there a better way to rate/flag search? <link>
3. Is there a better way of keeping minors off the main grid? <link>

We know this is political dynamite (and believe me, after pressing the submit button, I’m going out for a cigarette), but we think it is important now to solicit opinions from residents before attempting further discussions in-house. Remember that we are seeking a win-win solution. Perhaps that means doing nothing at all. We need your input.

In asking you in advance, we acknowledge that the collective intelligence of the community vastly exceeds our own. You, our customers, are perhaps the brightest minds to be brought together since the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. The insights from only one percent of 60,000 online residents represent the brainpower of 600 professional consultants. Imagine what McKinsey would charge us for that!

I look forward to seeing you in the forums,



Before anyone foolishly quotes the above, I wrote it – not Blue Linden. I did so to provide an example of how Linden Lab is squandering the intelligence, dedication and goodwill of its residents. The forum would be 50% shorter and 100% more productive if the company had the wisdom to treat its residents as an intellectual goldmine rather than a herd of cattle. Forgive my sharpness, but no business succeeds without consulting the customer before a major change in business practices. No army conquers with low morale. I am not promoting democracy here. I am simply asking for Henry V instead of Hamlet.

Publication history:

This entry was posted in Strategy and Policy. Bookmark the permalink.