Google+ Adventures of a Southern Gentleman: How Linden Labs ought to handle the Adult Content Policy Change...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How Linden Labs ought to handle the Adult Content Policy Change...

In my previous blog post I've given my take on what the Adult Content policy change is going to entail and I've read a number of articles and comments giving opinions and suggestions on what Linden Labs ought to do. All of this has given me a few thoughts on how I think Linden Labs could/should approach this policy change to minimize the impact of it.

My contention has been that this is no difference than the current sim types of PG and Mature, it's just adding another type into the mix. My thought is that a new Adult type sim will work the same way as a Mature sim does now, you have some PG stuff, some Mature stuff and some Adult stuff all mixed on the sim, the difference will be that the Mature sim won't have the Adult stuff on it any longer just as a PG sim isn't supposed to have Mature stuff on it now. Part of the Adult Content policy change also entails something called "Age Verification" which quite simply that you have to follow a process to "prove" that you're an adult, at least to the point where Linden Labs is legally protected. Many have pointed out that this isn't foolproof, and indeed it isn't, but that's not an argument for not doing it. So in the near future, age verification will likely be part of the sign up process and it'll be old hat, if you're an adult in Second Life you'll have access to all 3 types of sim and the content therein, with options for warnings if you're concerned about wandering into an area that you aren't interested in seeing. If, like many suspect, this is a prelude to merging the teen grid in then a teen account would likely be the only type that has an actual physical restriction to access.

If I'm right, then ultimately there's no real issue as far as the private estates are concerned, if you have Adult content somewhere on the island or just don't care about teens having access, then you just set it to Adult and be done with it. There will be some pains involved since I'm sure the vast majority of active Second Life users are not age verified, but I suspect it's not going to take long for them to do so, it's just a matter of education which Linden Labs could handle by putting up a blurb on the login screen explaining the why and hows of doing age verification.

So, how can Linden Labs deal with removing Adult Content from the existing Mature mainland sims? Well, for one there's an option to just switch certain mainland sims from Mature to Adult if there is a predominance of adult content on the sim. The existing residents that don't have any adult content on their land are only affected by this in that they would have to be age verified. So far I know of no rule that says every meter of land on an Adult sim has to be XXX content. This might be the only thing Linden Linden labs really has to do if they aren't concerned about mixing PG, Mature and Adult sims on the same continent.

But there might be some mainland sims that have adult content on them but it's not desirable to change the sim's rating to Adult, perhaps a sim with Linden owned land such as Wengen or one of the other infohubs. So the adult content has to move, how do we do that without too much disruption? As pointed out in a comment to my last post, the issue with moving an establishment is twofold, it takes quite some time to set up and tweak a place so it's just right. It can be involved and complicated to take a store or club and move it lock, stock and barrel. Then there is the issue of existing landmarks and the customer base expecting the establishment to be where it's always been. Now certainly, dead landmarks is a normal issue with Second Life, we all have clicked a landmark and ended up at an empty lot or some place totally different from what we expected. But in this case, the move is forced, we have to deal with informing the customers of the change.

Both of these issues can be solved by time. So here's what I think that Linden Labs should do. Apparently there's already a new landmass with Adult sims on it. Work with the individuals that you need to move, give them a plot of land on a new Adult sim that is equal to the area of the plot they currently own and with the same dimensions if so desired. Give them 2-3 months where they own both the old and new plots of land while they establish their new build, then leave a sign and landmark giver on the old site to redirect traffic to the new place. After the time is up, the old piece of land automatically reverts to Linden Labs and is auctioned off as any abandoned piece of land would be. Perhaps even a stipend of a several thousand L$ could be given to offset costs incurred by moving, or at least for the bother.

Is any solution perfect? No, but there are certainly ways to lessen the impact that wouldn't entail much effort from Linden Labs.


Crap Mariner said...

"If I'm right, then ultimately there's no real issue as far as the private estates are concerned, if you have Adult content somewhere on the island or just don't care about teens having access, then you just set it to Adult and be done with it."

Islands that have a mix of public and semi-private spaces can't do that.

The convention most people in SL use is 300 meters and above = private. Hence, the term "skybox" and all the implications.

Allowing for parceling/zoning based on altitude would maintain the ground level for public and sky for private unless invited/verified.


Sougent Harrop said...

Like I said, it is my contention that it will be irrelevant. An Adult sim will be just like a Mature sim is now, only with a higher threshold for "adult" commercial activities. Any adult on the grid once verified can get access to an Adult area if they choose to do so. If you have a mixed content area that's Mature, a teen isn't going to be able to see it anyhow as they will likely be restricted to PG only sims. That's assuming they'll be merged in. So unless your mixed space sim of public and private areas is PG, it doesn't matter as far as teens are concerned.

Sure, if you refuse to be verified then you're out of luck. But it took me all of 30 seconds to go through the verification process, I have no sympathy for those that refuse to do it then complain about not having access. It's a choice. If, for some reason, one doesn't have the credentials to be verified and can't do it, that's a different matter. And one that LL will have to come up with a solution for.

While the ability to restrict based on altitude would be interesting, and perhaps even useful, it's a red herring in this discussion, IMO.

I don't see any real valid arguments against this, other than the ones on the trouble with someone having to move, which is something that should be easily handled if LL's statistics of 5% of the mainland falling in the "adult" category are true.

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