“Our dreams are a second life.” ~Gerard de Nerval
By Buttercup Thursday.
After reading a disturbing account of griefing and extortion in Second Life in Inara Pey’s Living in a Modem World, and how it was affecting one of my old favorite hangouts, Junkyard Blues, I tped over to the venue to find the area restricted and owner Kiff Clutterbuck manning the front gate, handing out membership tags. I was happy that despite the recent serious problems, the place was hopping, the tunes were flowing and the chat thriving. But it is shocking to see how some aspects of Second Life have “evolved”, with blackmail and fraud becoming ever more common.
Kiff also passed along a notecard, which gives the background and the current situation at Junkyard (permission granted to publish it here):
Dear Junkyard Blues Friends and Staff,
I know this is a long letter, but a lot has happened lately. This is the story of it all. Because of a longstanding bug with notices (including attachments) this letter won’t reach everybody who might be interested in reading it, so I hope you’ll pass copies along to friends and anyone else who might like to learn about recent events at the Junkyard.
As most of you know we have become a members-only venue because of the relentless griefing we endured in the month of December. We were attacked by multiple griefers with blinding graphics card attacks and sim lag/crashes. In all but a few of the attacks we could not recover the Junkyard sim without Linden help, sometimes resulting in hours of waiting for business hours to begin the following day. In some instances the computers of many staff and patrons actually shut down or rebooted as a result of the attacks.
This was a concerted denial of service effort, worse than anything we had experienced in 6 1/2 years of operation. It was stressful to DJs, hosts, and patrons. Some patrons began staying away from the club because this was more than they had bargained for in a relaxing evening at a music club, and some Junkyard staff expressed concern about damage to their machines. At one point we were told that if we paid money to the griefers they would stop attacking us. We refused.
Dina and I were losing sleep over this, and there was no help available anywhere. All that was available from Linden Lab was the invitation to file abuse reports, one by one, on each individual who attacked us if we could even give them a name, and then we’d see the same people we reported returning to do it again. At one point a single DJ show was sim-crashed 4 times. Other venues were having similar experiences with the very same griefers. As the days dragged on with attack after attack after attack, we finally realized that we were not going to be getting effective help from anybody, and if we were to survive we had to do something.
Except for just giving up there was no other remotely viable option, so we went with making the Junkyard a members-only club. We weren’t sure how people would react or if it would work at all, but anything was better than being attacked almost hourly. (By the way, we were stunned to discover that you can buy sim crashers on the LL Marketplace. I still don’t have my head wrapped around why somebody decided that it’s a good thing for Second Life, but I digress.)
We held out for a few more days, getting the word out to patrons in between crashes that they should get a Junkyard Blues tag so that when we close the door to non-members they’d continue sailing right through. Many did, but quite a few never got the memo. Then, finally, we closed the sim to non-members except for one spot, the drive-in movie lot, which became the default landing area for non-members. Volunteers from staff welcome them after a brief look and offer group membership tags along with an explanation of why we took this step. We’ve handed out several hundred tags there over the past several days.
So far so good. We know of course that a griefer might get a tag, but that’s way more easily handled than dealing with hoards of them. We open the non-member door at the drive-in movie every day, and our volunteers take shifts at door duty, welcoming newcomers and offering tags. Anybody interested in volunteering to help with door duty just let me know. We have a great bunch of Junkyard regulars who will be glad to get you started, and there are comfortable lawn chairs if you get tired of standing.
Here is the basic message we convey to non-members: “Junkyard Blues is open to members-only at the moment to avoid griefing, but we can give you a no-spam group tag that will always get you in whether you wear it or not. There is no IM chat, and you can toggle off notices if you prefer.”
Some people who don’t know us very well and some people who are just naturally cranky decline the tags For some folks that tag is just too big a burden for some reason. Some feel it’s very unfriendly of us, not seeming to hear that we are refugees from being nuked. We have even been accused of staging a membership drive, as if some extra names on a group list will somehow be worth all this work. Oy! But most people are glad we are trying to deal with the problem, offering their sympathy, their good wishes, and their help.
Once we are pretty well satisfied that we’ve offered a tag to all the regulars who didn’t have one when we made our transition the question will be whether or not to continue with the non-member door in its present form or to try some other strategy. We hope to see new visitors through invitations from friends and from word of mouth, from DJ and host fan groups, and perhaps from a bit of promotion if that seems useful. We will be making further refinements to make it as easy as possible for people to get their tags once they’ve discovered us.
We’re aware that we will lose some patrons with this change. The important part for us is to make sure there is a Junkyard Blues for the community that has evolved around it. For us the community is our reason for being here, and we intend to continue providing a home for it. The Junkyard has always been about community, not a contest for traffic and certainly not a business. As always, the venue and the estate remain non-profit.
Let’s be patient as this plays out. If there are problems we will do our best to address them. There is space to breath now, and we’ll get by just fine as a community. We know that this change might have some impact on various aspects of the club and the estate, and we’ll deal with each of them as they appear. We are sorry for any impact this might have on DJ shows, and we hope that as things settle we’ll find an equilibrium that works well for everybody.
Between residential rentals and club donations we should be able to reliably pay tier for the Junkyard Blues sim. We’ll see if residential rentals continue to bring in tier for Palmetto and Sundown sims or whether we’ll need to consolidate somewhat. The other homestead sims are privately managed, so they are not a drain on resources for us. We also need to see if the little shops on the JYB South canal are still viable with only Junkyard members as customers. What we hear so far is positive.
Finally, it’s quite likely that we’ll open our doors again to the public at some point when it feels comfortable to do so. In the meantime we hope you’ll spread the word that Junkyard Blues is still a warm, welcoming venue and one of the best places on the grid to find a friend.
Thank you for your kindness, your help and your support.
Sincerely, Kiff & Dina
Consider the word spread, Kiff, and best of luck!
By Buttercup Thursday for slum magazine.