“Griefer.” If you are new to Second Life (SL), you may have never heard this term before. Like the real world, there are some individuals who just want to cause trouble. This guide will give you tips on how to keep the impact of griefing on your Second Life experience to a bearable minimum.
What is a Griefer?
“Griefer” is a slang term used to describe a person that harasses other individuals. The abuse they inflict is referred to as “griefing.” Griefing can take numerous forms, from the merely annoying or obscene to the genuinely dangerous. Some examples of griefing can include: verbal abuse, displaying mature content/conduct in a PG rated area, physically assaulting a person in a no combat area, creating “spam” (spam can be done through sound/noises, text, or visual objects filling a given area), all the way up to disruption of service by intentionally crashing servers. In some cases stalking can carry over into real life – this is the most dangerous kind of greifer.
Griefers come in several varieties, most notably voice trolls – people who attack others using the voice feature of Second Life because it cannot be documented or verified – and trigger happy kids with attack HUDs they buy in the marketplace. There are a few that organize into groups, and such groups are thrown repeatedly out of Second Life to the point where, in some cases, Linden Lab has taken legal action against them.
How to Survive a Griefing Attack
Griefers thrive on attention and the creation of disruption. The thought of knowing that their actions have aggravated you brings them a sense of accomplishment and amusement. The best strategy is to not give them that satisfaction.
First, and most import, remain calm. An attack may be frustrating, but remember that this is a virtual world. There is nothing that can physically harm you as you sit at your computer at home. While your avatar may be pushed around or your building or socialization disrupted, griefer attacks are fairly short lived. If you find yourself becoming annoyed and are unable to utilize the Abuse Report (AR) system, you can teleport to another area within Second Life, or simply log off and wait a few minutes for the griefers to go away.
If your avatar is being pushed by bullets or by random objects, find something to sit on. The ground is always a viable option as well as any objects in the area that are not movable. By sitting, push attacks are no longer effective.
The “Mute” option can work to silence a resident that you do not want to hear from any longer. Mute prevents you from seeing their text (locally as well as any Instant Messages (IM)) as well as any sounds from that resident (from their objects as well as use of their microphone communications (mic)). As a result though, you may lack additional or useful information with which to file an Abuse Report.
Last, and most importantly, never abuse or attack a griefer directly. By retaliating or “defending” yourself in such a way, you will be violating the same rules that the griefer is. All Second Life residents are bound by the Terms of Service and Community Standards as set forth by Linden Lab. A griefer could file a legitimate abuse report on your account, possibly resulting in a suspension of your own account, or worse yet, being permanently banned. Your best option is to remain calm and use the abuse report process the way it was designed.
How to File an Abuse Report
To file an abuse report, you must actually witness the abuse when and where it occurs. All residents witnessing the abuse are encouraged to file. The harassment in question may not impact you personally, but as a good citizen of SL, you can help others by filing a report. The more reports that are received for a given incident increase the awareness of the Lindens (who have the ability to remove problems and ban residents) who can respond quickly. You should not file more than one report per griefer, per incident, per location.
The first step is to identify which person or object is in violation of the Second Life Terms of Service or Community Standards. Usually a person is easy to identify. An object may be more difficult. Here are some tips to help find an object during an attack:
1. Hide Particles: Particles are images or textures that tend to fly through an area. Griefers use particles to completely obstruct your vision. The images used in the particles may themselves be obscene or offensive images. To hide these images, press and hold the Ctrl, Shift, Alt, and = keys on your keyboard at the same time. This will turn off the display of particles, and will make the attack more tolerable and allow you to find the particle source object more easily. You can turn on particles again by pressing the same keys.
2. View Transparent: One common griefing trick is to use a very small or “invisible” object. To find a transparent object, press/hold Ctrl, Alt, and T on your keyboard. You can turn off the highlights again by pressing the same keys.
3. Beacons: “Beacons” can be highlights or crosshairs placed on a variety of object types. For example, beacons can be used to highlight sound or particle sources as well as objects that contain scripts. To use beacons, select from dropdown on your client menu bar View -> Beacons. From this point, you should be able to select the type of highlighting desired.
After you know which individual or object is creating the issue, you can begin the AR process.
1. Start a Abuse Report: There are two ways to accomplish this:
a. From your client menu bar click Help -> Report Abuse
b. Physically “Right Click” on the abuser or object causing the abuse. This opens a radial menu. Select More->More->Report…
2. A pop-up message will appear describing what an Abuse Report is. You can close this small message
3. The Abuse Report opens for you to populate some information and will have already populated some information for you
4. Automatic Information: These pieces will always be populated for you:
a. Reporter: Your avatar name, as you’re filing the report
b. Location: Where you are at when the report was opened (this can always be changed if you moved)
5. Screenshot: When you started the abuse report process, your client took a snapshot of your last camera view. Sometimes a picture can tell a whole story and are good evidence of abuse. If a picture is worthwhile to include, click the checkbox next to Include Screenshot below the image in the report.
6. Name/Owner: This reflects the name of the abuser. There are two ways this can be populated:
a. If you followed step 1.a:
i. If it is an object: Select the blue button in the report and select the object. It will automatically populate the data for you.
ii. If it is a person and not an object: Select the Choose Resident button. A search window opens to type in the abuser’s name.
b. If you followed step 1.b:
i. All information is populated for you automatically.
7. Category: Drop-down menu to select which type of violation has taken place. The list is fairly lengthy and there are some categories that sound the same. Just be sure to pick one which fits the attack best.
8. Summary: Input a one-line description of the griefing attack. Be short, but concise and descriptive.
9. Details: In this area, include specifics of the attack and how the abuser/griefer violated the Second Life Terms of Service and/or Community Standards. Use this to provide as much useful information as possible. Conversations can be pasted here.
10. Report Abuse: Submits the report
Once your abuse report is filed, the information is sent to the Linden Lab administration team. These are Linden Lab employees (known as Lindens) who police and manage Second Life and are the first responders when numerous abuse reports are received. Lindens can then access your abuse report(s) and review and verify the information you’ve submitted. The email address that you registered your Second Life account with will receive an email stating that your report was received.
Since Second Life is an online service and runs on a network of computers, Linden Labs is able to log all resident activity within their servers. This data is pulled and validated to support any Abuse Reports that are filed. It is extremely important to be timely with your Abuse Report filing for two reasons. Filing as an incident happens allows the Lindens to correct a problem quickly. Second, the servers at Linden Labs maintain logs for approximately three days. After that, the information scrolls off the bottom of the logs to make room for more at the top, and the corroborating evidence is lost.
The Linden admins determine appropriate action, if any. Some of the abilities include: removal of items, ability to issue official warnings, account suspensions, and permanent bans. The type of abuse and prior abuse report history are used to help determine which action fits best.
Be sure to file only one Abuse Report per incident. Five to seven Abuse Reports filed can result in a quicker response from the Lindens, however, the other reports should come from other residents. Encourage and empower other individuals impacted by the griefing attack to file abuse reports.
There is a popular myth in some circles that it is possible to write false abuse reports and use them as a weapon to get someone in trouble with Linden Lab and have their accounts suspended or deleted. The Justice League Unlimited (JLU) has even been accused of doing this by some very unhappy griefers who needed to rationalize to themselves and others why they were banned.
We’re very happy to report that this is a false rumor. Abuse reports are examined and evaluated on a case by case basis, and the events logged by the Linden servers are researched to validate the reports before any action is taken. While no system can be made perfect and mistakes happen, it is not an inherently flawed automated system that one can hack into or inject an exploit into to get it to do something arbitrary. If somebody has threatened you with filing false abuse reports as a kind of blackmail, you can rest easy. The worst thing that can happen is that the person filing the false report would receive a suspension or ban for trying to lie about something that didn’t actually take place. There are documented cases of this actually happening, where the people filing the false reports have been suspended, or in extreme cases, banned entirely.
Think about this – if it were actually possible to get somebody in trouble by filing false abuse reports, griefers would have been able to use it as a weapon themselves and would have managed a ban or even a temporary suspension of at least one member of the League in its history of over solid seven years of service to the Second Life community. Claiming this rumor to be true simply makes no sense since it would have been used by griefers against the general populace, and there is no evidence to support the assertion that this has ever happened.
Second Life can be wonderful place and there are plenty of great people who share a desire to explore and create like you! Do not let a small few ruin the experience for you. Use the knowledge you have gained to use the Abuse Report process. Be safe and if you have any questions, contact a member of the Justice League Unlimited (JLU), (Kalel Venkman and Kara Timtam founders).
About the Justice League Unlimited
The Justice League Unlimited (JLU) in Second Life (SL) is a public service organization who pattern their avatars after classic comic book heroes. While JLU members may model their avatars after these fictional personas, the JLU is not a super-hero role-playing group. The mission of the JLU is to provide mentoring and render aid to SL residents in need, primarily new residents, in such areas as building, scripting and security. The JLU often acts as a neighborhood watch organization. We also hold seminars and conventions on public safety, and help estate managers learn effective techniques for keeping their own lands safe.
Provided to you by: The Justice League Unlimited (JLU) / League of Heroes
Document Version: 2.1
Last Updated: 6/14/2011