an Editorial by: Vagabond 'Tony' Carter

All to often the word “griefer” is used as almost a blanket term for someone you don’t get along with. This I cannot help but feel is in error, far too broad a brush used far too often. So I’d like, if I may , to examine closely the meaning of the word.

Wikipedia defines it as “.. a player in a multiplayer video game that purposely irritates and harasses other players.”
Wiktionary, a cousin of wikipedia, has this to say ” griefer – One who griefs: a player who plays a game primarily to reduce other players’ enjoyment of it.”

Second Life requires a bit of a refinement here. SL is not a game by definition, but is rather more akin to a platform in which, among other things, games are played. Second Life has clearly stated Terms of Service and Community Standards agreements which further clarifies matters. Applying this logic we arrive at the hybridized definition of:

“Griefer, one who habitually, intentionally, and maliciously acts to disrupt the usability and enjoyability of the virtual world for other users or residents, these acts are usually in direct contravention of ToS/CS agreements as historically and currently enforced by Linden Labs.”

This statement provides a good litmus test for whether or not the term griefer should apply in a given situation, so it is quite important to be accurate when applying the term.


A few examples:

  • A person or group of persons who openly object to or protest the actions of a person or group but do so peaceably and in a nondisruptive manner : not griefers.
  • A similar group that resorts to use of defamatory material, attacks or harasses the target person or group, and or uses third parties without their knowledge or consent to harass attack or defame the target person or group : griefers.
  • A person who is otherwise content to let others enjoy SL as they would, who gets into a single fight in a moment of anger : not a griefer
  • A person who habitually attacks or harasses other residents : Well that’s a bit obvious , griefer.
  • Here’s one that may prove a bit harder:

  • A member of a group, said group is known to harbor other griefers and may even supply members with tools used in attacking or harassing residents, but said individual has never been directly observed involved in such an attack: did you guess griefer? Well, you might be wrong there. In several cases it has been shown that while such a person may be worthy of keeping an eye on, this alone does not strictly imply that they are a griefer.
  • There are numerous other examples but the above, I personally feel, covers the majority of cases. Now, all that being said it is also important to understand what is and is not an attack or harassment. As these things can come in innumerable forms I will provide here a list of a few things often mislabeled as such.

  • Documenting or observing online status or location: While a bit creepy, is not by itself an attack. If that information is thereafter used to harass , or is obtained by means of subterfuge that is of course a different matter.
  • Documenting actions done in a ‘public location’: When in public locations (e.g. sandboxes) there is no assumption of privacy, the same can be said to apply to ‘open’ areas of privately owned ‘land’. The aforementioned note about subterfuge still applies, it is for this reason that covert chat relay type devices are forbidden by the Second Life Terms of Service and Community Standards.
  • Filing truthful abuse reports, even in groups: note the the emphasis on the word truthful here, Linden Labs has and continues to suspend accounts for false reporting, as they should. This is often misattributed to groups like the JLU/LoH and PD. The root cause of this is an assumption that Linden Labs employees do not do their jobs in accordance with their own rules which state: “If the reported incident violates Second Life’s Community Standards or Terms of Service, we will take appropriate action. We will investigate each report independently.”
  • In short, an Abuse Report is never taken at face value, is investigated, and action is taken only if warranted by evidence. Linden Labs requires that abuse reports be filed only by witnesses to the event and thus the policy of  abuse reporting in groups often used by peacekeepers is in line with this. More eyes means more points of view and more accurate information for Linden Labs to use in investigation.

    The point is that the word “griefer” is all to often misused. It doesn’t apply to someone you just don’t like or disagree with, their words or actions, but rather someone who poses a genuine threat to the enjoyment and utility of Second Life to others.

    An epilogue here: Remember, Linden Labs runs the show in Second Life, it is their playground, their rules, if you do not trust them to follow their own rules well… there really is only one option isn’t there, cross the bridge and try to find your greener grass.

    – 30 –


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