Friday, March 7, 2008

Jaymin Carthage gets the boot from Linden Lab for his "branch"

11:25am update: Per Jaymin Carthage himself (see third comment to this post), he just got his account back.

Via Tezcatlipoca Bisiani, I've just learned that Jaymin Carthage's Second Life account has been suspended for two weeks because of his "branch."

You may recall this story I ran on February 17, 2008: Jaymin Carthage's fast-propagating "Branch" - Scripting in the service of bodacious virtual nature, where I demonstrated Jaymin's "branch" that, once rezzed, self-replicates into a fractal - or tree - via some handy scripting.

Per Jaymin to Tezcatlipoca in an email, "Second Life upgraded their server code last night and it decided, in it's infinite wisdom, that something I was doing constituted a "Global Attack" and my account has been suspended for two weeks."

Tezcatlipoca commented, "Besides making interesting things, Jaymin used to run twice weekly script workshop classes. He's the complete opposite of someone you would want to ban. It makes me cranky they would do this. There are other people who are working on getting him reinstated, but in general it's a big question: I think we're all in Second Life to push the boundaries of the medium. If we can't do this without getting killed, it's not a lot of fun anymore... also, unless I'm wrong, the trees he built never existed on the mainland or in public areas, just the private sandboxes, so in short, it's possible to write code using the LL supplied tools, run it on your own land and get banned for it? I would dearly love to hear the official explanation."

Me, too.


Nobody Fugazi said...

Grey Goo vs. Fractals. A pity, but perhaps this is just something that Linden Lab needs to look into better.

Jo said...

Hey Folks! Thanks for the support, but lets not let things get too far out of hand. Administration a perennial problem with MMOs. It's hard to scale quality support at the same rate that your user base scales. You need to fall back to automated processes and part of the problem is false-positives.
I'm not going to get angry or offended by what some machine thinks of me. As long as there is a process in place to deal with these things.
I got burned years ago on Neopets when an account I had for years got suspended. No reason was given and after a year of trying, I finally gave up writing monthly appeals. I have hopes that the Linden Lab process will be better and that this matter will be resolved quickly.
Word from the desk is that I did "something" that "cause a lot of work". Mostly I'm curious as to what I did that triggered the false-positive so that I can avoid doing it again! So, lets see how the process goes. If it does become a personal witch hunt I'll let you know and we can start printing the T-shirts! :-)

Jo said...

I'm back! Many thanks to Jessica Qin for escalating the process. I hope it works as well for people without corporate backing!

Bettina Tizzy said...

Wewt Jessica! Good news, Jaymin!

dyerbrookME said...

Come, children, let's not be so self-indulgent. It's just not on to script self-replicating prims that travel across sim borders, get out of hand, and crash *other people's sims* who *pay for them* and who don't wish to have your lovely "nature" on their sims. It doesn't matter if it replicates as lovely "fractals" or replicates as Philip Linden party hats replicated by a griefer -- the effect is the same -- crashed sim, lost business.

I fail to see why creativity gets to endlessly extend outwards from its sandbox in some sort of eminent domain, and other people who also pay to use SL have to be inconvenienced.

Were any steps taken to prevent crossing of borders? I'm not sure that's possible. The Lindens are right to intervene and stop grey goo, and fence grey goo, hey, it's the literal 3-D proof of why net-neutrality is a self-indulgent script-kiddy's concept.

Those who overuse the service and impinge on other's service have to be stopped.

If in fact your lovely "creation" can be demonstrated to stay on its sim, and not crash that sim (which is, after all, the Lindens' server that we only rent), then it's easy enough, after getting a routine ban, to contact them on the phone or in a support portal or have a friend contact them on the dev list or on the JIRA or whatever, and explain what the issue is. It's not that hard. And obviously while everyone was cranking up into high victimy dudgeon, the matter was already sorted.

Jo said...

Hey dyerbrookME,
I agree with all of your points. Crashing sims does not count as performance art.
If my screwing around had ended up causing actual harm to some other citizens, I would have said "fair cop", and not even challenged a two week suspension.
In this particular circumstance I was working on a private IBM sim that did not border any other public sims. It was set up as a sandbox for the event that I built the tree for. The items are set up to disappear at the edge of a parcel and previous deployment in the public IBM sandbox had proven that the code for that worked.
So I hope you see that, in this case, I was trying hard to be a good citizen and abide by all of the good guidelines you cite. Once I had heard of the posting here I tried to quickly play down the seriousness of it. As you said, the matter was rapidly settled and there was no need to get out the riot gear.
This time.
If I had not been a worker for a big corporation I'm not sure that the problem would have been as expediently handled. This is a general problem for MMOs. So while we should avoid doomsaying, it isn't unreasonable to observe this as an object lesson. I wish people had been as willing to rush out with the candlelight vigils when I got my account suspended on Neopets. :-)

Tezcatlipoca Bisiani said...

This has been an interesting Friday. Since I was quoted in the original post, I feel compelled to share my thoughts, even as I reluctantly pack the candles and fold the tshirts...

There are two issues here that shouldn't be confused, Jaymin's ban and the issue of the clarity of LL build policies (or lackthereof). In the case of the ban, I think it was resolved wonderfully.Welcome back Jaymin! Thank you Jess! And bravo LL for your swift correction. This couldn't have resolved itself better for all concerned.

All that said, there are some very serious questions still remaining in my mind about what it means to create in an environment over which content creators ultimately have minimal control over infrastructure. These questions are NOT new, but they are real. Yes there must be community standards, and no, owning a sim does not exempt you from them, but this feels a lot more like a discussion over eminent domain than net neutrality (and sorry, dyerbrookME, you are simply wrong to dismiss either discussion as self indulgent.)

Having promised a world built by its residents, LL has found that it suddenly has, in fact, such a beast, and was woefully unprepared to deal with it. I say was because, from what I've seen (and to their credit), LL is getting better, but public discussion is really the key to this. While on one hand I fully support LL's ability and right to make whatever choices they feel are necessary to support their existence so that myself and others have a place to play, I also would like to publicly encourage them to continue listening to their content creators. Which, for the record, I believe they are doing (albeit quietly).

For those of us who are making things in this space - we are (or should be) constantly pushing the boundaries of the technology. Megaprims, fractal scripts... these mutations are not abnormalities to be lopped off, these are creative solutions, outliers that signify a healthy hacker/builder community. Can such techniques be abused? Of course, but it is wrong headed to play the "private company" card and drop a sack of rocks on your most interesting experiments before they have a chance to prove their worth. This is all the more true when the experimenter has gone to great lengths to keep the system under control. Having worked on a build the last two weeks or so in close proximity to Jaymin's branch, I can tell you it was not in the least bit "out of control" and was, in any case, restricted to a private sim not on the mainland, and not bordering sims owned by anyone else.

If you enjoy SL for sex beds and dance parties I think that's great, and it turns out to be a decent business model. You should be able to do this in peace, and LL should be able to make money off of it, but it's not anything near the promise of what LindenWorld was supposed to become.

We NEED people to push the boundaries and, perhaps, get banned now and again, in order to make the world worth visiting. This isn't LL bashing nor "victimy whinging." If we can keep it out of the black hole of SL drama, I think there could be a rather a serious and interesting discussion about the nature of the tools with which some of us make art. Then again, perhaps I overestimate people... the internet IS serious business.

Seifert Surface said...

On a semi-technical point, it's entirely possible to script fractal tree like things that are all rezzed by a single root prim (which is how I wrote mine, didn't trust myself to not create some grey goo accidentally). Doing it this way bypasses the self-replication and there's no chance of running into the grey goo fence.

Jo said...

Yes, that's how every other fractal tree I've seen in Second Life is done. That didn't meet the needs of what I was trying to do. I wanted a tree that would grow slowly, over team. Each branch pushing the next one out as it grew.
Now, yes, you could probably do that rezzing from the root. But either way the amount of rezzing is quite low. 2000 prims over the course of an hour. Well below the grey good threshold. When I turned the growth rate up I did run into and, maybe, crashed the IBM sandbox.
Hopefully the Lindens will get back to me and tell me what set off their alarms. It may not have been the tree at all. I also had a avatar presence monitor system deployed across the island. 150 odd monitors pinging a URL once every 15 minutes might, by some stretch of the imagination, be interpreted as a Denial of Service attack by an aggressive system. Never mind that the server they were pinging was the same server that the e-mail address of the owner was set to...

James Taylor said...

Definitely a tricky area this, and I can understand all the various points of view. The two things that spring to my mind:

"Hopefully the Lindens will get back to me and tell me what set off their alarms."
I am not at all surprised that Jo is having to ask, but it would be nice if people were at least given a hint about why they were banned as a matter of course.

I also wonder whether, if a private island is not isolated enough, people wishing to push boundaries might consider doing it elsewhere in the future. You wouldn't annoy anyone running your own sim on your own server. I think that would be a huge shame for Second Life- being able to interact with people working on intersting things is one of the things I really like about Second Life and anything that drives creativity off the grid can't be a good thing.