I hate to say it, but SL5B (Second Life’s 5th Anniversary) looks to be a bust. (I was going to use a different word there, starting with an F and ending with a D, but decided to refrain, in the interest of good taste.)
SLB5 was already on somewhat shakey ground back in May, due to some “suboptimal” planning by the Resident organizers. The call for entries was barely advertised, and the applications were only scheduled to be approved a month prior to the opening. So there was a bit of a time crunch, but nothing the SL5B people couldn’t handle. (Heck, the SL3B volunteers, myself included, put that together in less time, and it was awesome!)
But then Linden Lab stepped in with a heavy eye-in-hand: the eye watching everything and the hand squashing whatever they didn’t like. Linden Lab is providing the land for the event, so they decided to step in and dictate how the ostensibly Resident-run event will be run.
In previous years, the celebration had allowed both PG and mature exhibits. Not overt stuff that violated the terms of service, mind you, but exhibitions weren’t rejected based on an association with sex or violence. Not so this year, it seems — allusion to such disgustingly human impulses are now verboten. So speaketh the Lab.
Likewise in previous years, the SL Kids community was heavily involved in the planning and construction of the event and grounds, and their exhibits were always amazing and wonderful. (I’m not surprised there; many of SL’s most talented Residents choose to appear as child avatars. Maybe the avatar frees them from the oppressive boringness associated with adulthood?)
But this year, the SL Kids’ contributions were
Residents rise up
It was only after SL Residents rose up en masse to protest LL’s move that Linden Lab backed down somewhat (while acting like they hadn’t changed position, as always). They even approved 2 exhibits by SL kids, as a sort of “See? We’re not being bigots, we swear!” gesture.
Alas, even with LL’s placating move, SL5B was in trouble. As the controversy had been unfolding, a number of volunteer organizers stepped down from the SL5B commitee. SignpostMarv, who was heading the effort, had resigned just prior to the news breaking; others resigned after they heard the news.
A number of other volunteers stepped up to fill in the vacant roles. Trinity Coulter stepped into SignpostMarv’s old shoes, heading the effort and trying to keep the whole thing from falling apart in the wake of LL’s meddling. Slim though it was, SL5B still had a chance of pulling through in the few weeks left.
The Meddling Continues
Last night, Trinity came by Tateru Nino’s office hours to ask for some tips (Tateru being, in the words of Carl Metropolitan, the only person to have organized a successful SLB, in particular SL3B). Tateru’s biggest advice was to find some responsible, trustworthy people, and delegate the organization efforts to them; she also passed along some suggestions of people to ask. There was a brief spark of hope.
Then Linden Lab inserted itself again. This morning, Dusty Linden (purportedly in charge of “facilitating” events) ejected Trinity from the SL5B group; no one knew why. When I asked Trinity, she said that “it was determined” that it would be in the best interest of SL5B for Trinity to “step aside”. Trinity didn’t comment when I asked her who did the determining (she says she got distracted with other things; eventually I had to log off without an answer).
All other accounts indicate that Dusty actually ejected Trinity — that includes a transcript of the automated announcement sent on group chat at the time. So, I’m having a hard time believing that Trinity stepped down of her own volition.
Shoshana Epsilon’s latest post backs up this account, and further reveals that Dusty Linden is attempting to block any image with a child and adult in the same picture, or any image of a child on or near a bed — even completely nonsexual, family-oriented pictures. Shoshana describes it as a blanket policy (no pun intended), not a case-by-case review to screen out images which are or could be construed as erotic images of children (or child-like avatars).
So, as I said, SL5B is a bust. I honestly can’t see it recovering from all the meddling Linden Lab has done. The idea that this is a Resident run event is now patently false. Of course, Linden Lab has made no effort to organize it themselves; they have restricted their efforts to disrupting the work of the Residents.
The first head organizer resigned over disagreements with LL. The second was usurped by LL. A large number of other organizers have resigned or are thinking of resigning over LL’s disruptive involvement. And the event is less than two weeks away.
I think it’s safe to say that SL5B would have run smoother if LL had stuck to their usual non-involvement and minimal support, as they had done in previous years. Maybe next year (assuming there’s something to celebrate next year), we should “respectfully decline” LL’s involvement, and instead have our own event on our own land with our own rules.