The current hot topic across Second Life forums is ZF Redzone, the device aimed at preventing griefers, copybotters and alts from causing mayhem and getting their hands on your wares. The aim at first glance is noble, the execution is far from it.
There are signs that all is not well with this system from its description, where it claims to eject and TP home intruders, often crashing them. That right there sets red flags. Another red flag manifests itself in the shape and form of the creator advising in the comments of the reviews that it’s a good idea to ban your competitors from your land because they will spy on your or send alts to do so….alarm bell city, this is getting into the realms of paranoia as a marketing point.
However, there are features of this system that would be useful, the fact that it can ban more people than the inworld tools being one, being able to manage access controls from a website being another.
I’ve spoken to people who have been copybotted, I’ve listened to a content creator in tears as she finds once again that her items have been ripped and she wonders whether it’s worth continuing because all her hard work is going to waste whilst the thieves seem to prosper. The issue of the size of the ban list inworld was an issue she raised me with quite a while ago.
The frustrations merchants are faced with regarding content theft are the reason there’s a market for products like Redzone. The problem is that this system itself goes above and beyond what it should aim to do and links suspected alts to accounts that are deemed to be malicious. These accounts are deemed to be malicious by whom exactly?
Enter into the fray, the Greenzone system, free to use and it detects sims that are employing redzone and provides you with instructions on how to avoid being scanned. This product can of course be used by those with malicious intent, so now we get to the point where redzone users think greenzone users are bad and start adding those who are preventing this intrusive scanning to the redzone ban list. There are also rumours that those who turn off media options or add the redzone domains to their firewalls or local hosts file are being added to redzone banlists, which if true is due to further paranoia.
The whole thing is getting out of control, the alts issue is one whereby people are able to be incredibly nosey regarding Second Life, the data is simply not fit for purpose for wider consumption, there’s no need for anyone to be able to view everyone’s alts, even if the system does what it says it can, which brings us to another point, there’s a very low number of the alleged 77,000 banned accounts on the database who are there due to copybot detection and even then it’s questionable whether there’s a 100% accuracy rating for those alleged copybotters.
Then we have the issue of boycotts, with people threatening to boycott stores that use the redzone system. Are they threatening to boycott because they support content theft and griefing? No they’re threatening to boycott because the redzone system is too intrusive and they see that as griefing, we’re into two wrongs not making a right here.
There is no easy solution here, this is going to rumble on and on until Linden Lab do something about it. The positive features of the redzone system such as increased ban lists and web controlled access are heavily outweighed by the bad parts of the system, if the creator of the system could see this point, then he might be able to come up with an acceptable system, however to do that he’d have to dilute some of his selling points of the system.
I have every sympathy with content creators who want to protect their creations, but when the tools they use for that are in themselves causing problems for users, then they are just adding to the problem, not providing solutions, it’s time for all parties here to sit down and look at what’s happening, because this isn’t good for Second Life at the moment and it’s time to stop the neener neener gesturing and look at the bigger picture.