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  ‘Second Life’ Griefers Set ‘Big Brother’ Ablaze  
Posted 2006-12-04 by Tony Walsh
When I discovered that TV show Big Brother was coming to Second Life, my worst-case-scenario-sense started tingling. "[I]t's entirely possible the event could be marred by griefers seeking attention or fame," I wrote, considering the outcome if virtual-island security wasn't properly implemented. As The Second Life Herald reported yesterday, the event was indeed marred by attention-seekers due to a lack of proper security.

The Herald posted a two-part interview with a single griefer--although "griefer groups" were reportedly present at the event. According to the interviewee, official contestant avatars were caged and set on fire while traversing the red carpet on the way to the Big Brother house. The interviewee says s/he passed through the walls of the house, assigned his/her avatar with the same nametag ("Resident") as the official contestants, and chatted with the group for 4 hours. Only two Big Brother crew members were allegedly present, and asked the intruder to leave after 10 of his/her friends were teleported into the house.

The rationale for the infiltration? No surprise to me: "I thought It would be this huge event with lots of media...I kinda got the idea 'hey I could ruin this and It might make the newspaper or tv.'" I doubt the event was ruined, or even a "huge" event at all, but based on how it was allegedly set up, I'm of the opinion that Endemol doesn't actually care what goes on inside Second Life. Like so many other corporate events staged in-world, it's all about generating outside buzz.
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Comment posted by Taran Rampersad (Nobody Fugazi)
December 5, 2006 @ 2:34 am
I always find it a little interesting that the griefers are interviewed by one group... they never seem to interview the people who were griefed (biased reporting?)... and they apparently don't file abuse reports themselves... and they give the griefers attention, which is what they want...

I mean, isn't that just a LITTLE weird? Strange? Peculiar? Odd?

I've filed abuse reports against people FOR abusing other people, just to substantiate the initial abuse report.

But some people profit from such things, right? *sigh* Is it possible to drown in how shallow a society is? :-)
Comment posted by Urizenus
December 5, 2006 @ 3:00 am
Taran, as usual I have to wonder what on gopod's green Earth you are talking about. If you are talking about the Herald we talk about/to the griefed party all the time. The endless reports we've filed about W-hat griefing never came from the griefers but from the griefed. And if you want endmol's side, call them, find out, write it up and post it on your blog. We'd love to link to it.

In this particular case we didn't file an abuse report because we didn't hear about it until the next day, and the griefer didn't do it because of us -- he had never heard of us.

Blaming media for griefing is the lamest strategy ever. If you knew anything about the history of online communities you would know that there was widespread and serious griefing before there was media or blogs to cover them. Read John Suler's essay on the "Bad Boys of Cyberspace" about griefers in the Palace if you want a case in point.

What do you want us to do? Pretend this didn't happen?
Comment posted by Taran Rampersad (Nobody Fugazi)
December 5, 2006 @ 3:29 am
Err. Uri:

If the shoe fits, by all means wear it. I didn't name you or yours - did I? No. Why would you leap to that assumption? Thanks.

When I read an article that interviews griefers and doesn't speak to the issue of griefing as a problem, I have to wonder if the intent was to profit by sensationalization. Now you can wrap it in whatever paper you wish and tie a bow around it, but a turd is still a turd.

I'm not blaming the media. I simply expect more than you apparently think should be expected. I'm not surprised about that, and I'm somewhat surprised that you are - not too much, though.

But, hey, it's the internet. You can wear funny hats if you want to. I can criticize funny hats if I want to.

What I did do was point out some things that are odd. Now, if you want to discuss the things which I think are odd - fine. But if you want to make a case for glamorizing griefing as opposed to reporting about it, I don't think we have much to discuss.

If you go with 'hey, we can report and make it sound fun without giving the angle that it is wrong', just expect me to disagree. Capiche?
Comment posted by Gary Hayes
December 5, 2006 @ 4:09 am
Yea I wrote a report on BB in SL Witnessing the Birth of a New Entertainment Form which no one will read of course because it doesn't have a sensationalist headline. I should have called it "Virtual Sex in Big Brother House" or "Terrorist Take over Popular TV Show" or "Endemol Loses the Plot" - but that would be too easy. Now things have settled down I instead focused on the extremely interesting and subtle psychological interplay between the house mates and audience and the experiential nature of a TV form morphed into virtual space - . Shame on you/us media and bloggers ;-)

Comment posted by Tony Walsh
December 5, 2006 @ 10:49 am
Thanks for the pointer to your article, Gary--your blog fell out of my RSS reader somehow, but I've added it again. How many "audience" avatars were present at the Big Brother opening? Looks like about a dozen in the screen shots you posted. I might drop in today for a look.
Comment posted by Urizenus
December 5, 2006 @ 11:32 am
Gary, if anyone should be ashamed it is you. Your headline -- "Witnessing the Birth of a New Entertainment Form" -- isn't even remotely true. That isn't what we witnessed, and you know it. And sorry to smack you upside the head with reality, but what we *did* witness and what *is* a fact is that this was a meaningless hypervent that was griefed hard for four hours.

Somehow you seemed to have conflated corporate spin and the truth. Corporate PR releases are not the sole repository of truth.

Taran, I hate to break it to you, but you are part of the SL media ecology too, so instead of complaining about blog A on blog B, why don't you go back to your blog C and demonstrate what a "good" journalist would do, then come back to blogs A and B and give us the links to your outstanding journalism.
Comment posted by Taran Rampersad (Nobody Fugazi)
December 5, 2006 @ 12:58 pm

I don't write about griefing. I report it as abuse - if it's something interesting, I'll write about it. To date, nothing I've seen has been interesting. It's pretty run of the mill adolescent stuff. *Yawn*

I'm not looking to be the 'griefer's library' or 'anarchists cookbook to SecondLife'. However, if I do write about griefing I'll have a good reason and will be balanced about it. :-)
Comment posted by Taran Rampersad (Nobody Fugazi)
December 5, 2006 @ 1:06 pm

Good blog. Adding you to my feeds - thanks. :-)
Comment posted by Urizenus
December 5, 2006 @ 2:05 pm
Taran, I could care less what you write about or what is interesting to you or why, and I don't care what makes you yawn. I also don't care that you like to abuse report people. But thanks for sharing!

As for me, I like long walks in the park, champagne and strawberries, chick flicks, and stories about griefers. They don't make me yawn, they make my Uri senses all tingly.
Comment posted by Taran Rampersad (Nobody Fugazi)
December 5, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

You did ask.

"why don't you go back to your blog C and demonstrate what a "good" journalist would do, then come back to blogs A and B and give us the links to your outstanding journalism."

Thus I responded.

You have done a good job of not speaking to the issues, in my opinion, but I'm not surprised. If you wish to speak to those issues, I'm interested. If not, well - there's nothing to discuss, is there?
Comment posted by Urizenus
December 5, 2006 @ 2:43 pm
So let me get this straight then Taran. You are interested in this topic, but only interested just enough to come to Tony's blog and criticize the reporting in my blog and Tony's, and keep this story about griefing percolating in the blogosphere, but you are not quite interested enough to do the work of getting Edemal's side of the story.

In other words you have your level of interest perfectly calibrated so that you are allowed to criticize the reporting of others while still contributing absolutely nothing yourself.

Well done!
Comment posted by Taran Rampersad (Nobody Fugazi)
December 5, 2006 @ 3:00 pm
:-) As amusing as I find your read and your attempt at a vague personal attack, I shall respond.

My criticism on accounts of griefing which do not give a balanced report has not been answered.

I haven't criticized Tony or you directly, and I don't think that speaks to the issues. I don't think Tony, for one, has said anything that I could take issue with. I don't know about SLH, that's your jurisdiction and woe be it for anyone to criticize anything which you are involved in - you try to twist it into an issue against the person with the criticism.

But the criticism still stands.

So then you try to twist it some more, in a different way, against the person with the criticism.

But the criticism still stands.

In the context of sensationalizing griefing, I don't feel a need to participate - so no, I contribute nothing in my own writing about it. But this topic hasn't been about my writing. It's been about sensationalizing griefing.

And the criticism still stands.

So go ahead, take your potshots as you can, but...

The criticism still stands.

If you want to discuss what I write about, well - feel free. But this thread hasn't been about what I write, and I never said it was about what you and yours write - you jumped in and made it your issue.

and, Mr. Peter Ludlow, the criticism still stands.

Would you care to respond to that, or would you like to simply continue trying to attack the person with the criticism?

The criticism is still out there. Maybe I just voiced what a few people are thinking. Maybe it's more than a few. Who knows? But I think you would do well to consider the criticism as it is and try to take something positive from it, instead of trying to demean those who quite obviously disagree with you.

I believe I'm done here. Are you? I doubt it.
Comment posted by Urizenus
December 5, 2006 @ 5:18 pm
I *understand* that you like to criticize things, Taran, I really do. We get the point. You are a critic.

My point is that the criticism is misplaced, since we never ever ever claimed to be fair and balanced in our news coverage. You can see it for yourself, right up there on the masthead. It says "Always fairly *un*balanced" (emphasis on 'un' added).

Your criticism is misplaced, but it is also massively in error, since despite our committment to being fairly *un*balanced at all times, we *have* in fact been more inclined to report on griefing cases from the perspective of the griefer. Remember? That was your original criticism -- that we don't give the side of the victim. But your criticism didn't hold up. So thank you for reminding us all that you had a criticism, but it was (i) mistaken and (ii) misplaced.

But that isn't all, and here I want to make a serious and subtle point about the media ecology of second life so please put on your little thinking cap and burn some calories firing those underutilized neurons of yours. The point is that it isn't *my* job to present all sides of every story and it isn't *Tony's* job, its the job of the press corps as a whole. So if *you* see a lacuna and it troubles *you* to such an extent that you feel compelled to spam other people's blogs with *your* criticism, then may I kindly suggest that *you* either fill that lacuna by doing some reporting of your own, or just log off and have a big steaming cup of STFU.
Comment posted by Taran Rampersad (Nobody Fugazi)
December 5, 2006 @ 5:42 pm
From what I understand, you are saying that sensationalization is to be expected from you and yours. Thanks for clearing that up, Prof, that's all that I was looking for. Why you couldn't say that straight out in one sentence, I'll never know. :-)

Thanks, though, for finally getting to the meat I have been doing reporting of my own, but I wouldn't expect you to read it. Your philosophy on what is worth writing about is not one I subscribe to, and that's fine. I'm not asking for a grade or approval from you - what I was doing was pointing out that it was sensationalizing, and expressing the opinion that people who report on griefing could make it sound less 'cool'.

As for the rest of your comments, well - hey, whatever knocks your socks off. Just know that there are people around who won't be brow-beaten.

I expressed an opinion on a blog. I haven't 'spammed' it, as far as I know. By your judgement on what is spam, you're a spammer yourself.

As for the rest of the scintillating conversation, I'm not interested - or impressed. L8r.
Comment posted by Gary Hayes
December 5, 2006 @ 7:03 pm
Hi Tony et al,

"Somehow you seemed to have conflated corporate spin and the truth. Corporate PR releases are not the sole repository of truth." uri

I have probably spent a lot more time than folk like Uri inworld participating with the contestants and I am very aware of the difference between corporate spin and reality and virtual reality thank you! The posting is my opinion and I take offence to suggestions otherwise Uri. They are about the 'format' of BB in SL vs just the opening ceremony which you and others seem stuck on. THe whole thing lasts a month remember not a couple of hours at the beginning. Uri I suggest you look beyond the nonsense at the launch of any event and look longer term, actually go and see what is happening, even read or talk to one of the contestants such as <a href=">Lillani</a> who writes a regular inworld update, reach your own opinion and DO NOT critise others for stating theirs.

Comment posted by Urizenus
December 5, 2006 @ 8:09 pm
Gary, I do take the point that this is a newish form of participatory media, and web 3.D is the experience web and all that, but a lot of us have been participating in this sort of thing for years and we long ago got over the "wow its revolutionary" aspect of it and we are begining to see the seams and the problems. Things aren't working, and in many cases the problems can be avoided with a little bit of care and attention. For chrissakes Tony *predicted* that the griefing would occur, but no one managing event could plan for it?

So I'm not saying that this isn't exciting new medium and the way we think about entertainment isn't changing in fundamental ways, and yes it is interesting to be able to get close to distant events and participate in them. Yes indeed it is, but we are past that now. It is time to start debugging this new media or it could crash and burn in a bad way.

Taran, I don't know why you think its some sort of scoop that the Herald likes sensational stories. Its a freaking tabloid!!! That is how we roll. You didn't discover this, you didn't trick me into saying it. Everyone who is even just a tiny bit aware of their surroundings knows this. It is on the freaking masthead: "Always fairly unbalanced." This is why we went freaking banannas when Axel Springer said *they* were going to start the first tabloid. That is why we have post six girls and gossip columns and whatnot. It is because we *are* a tabloid. And we are o.k. with that. This is not. your. discovery.

None of which changes the fact that what we reported was true, and in many ways much more honest than all the other hype spinners and fluffers in the SL bloggosphere. You say you are doing good journalism. Sweet. On this topic? Sweet. Post the link. I'd love to read what you have. Tell me the Endemol side. Who did you interview? I'd love to know. What's that? You didn't call Endermol? Oh right, you're not interested. You are only interested in criticizing what other people do.
Comment posted by Gary Hayes
December 5, 2006 @ 8:18 pm
Uri said "lot of us have been participating in this sort of thing for years and we long ago got over the "wow its revolutionary" aspect of it"

Yes me too - more than 14 years of leading new media development thankyou. Or are you saying that the worlds biggest reality TV franchise being re-created inside a virtual world is 'old hat? I disagree, I think you can't see the wood for the trees methinks. One thing I have learned is how important it is to constantly refer to the positive aspects of any new form, to grow interest in it from the uninitiated as constant critism or focusing on the problems will only turn people off and is actually shooting ourselves (those who are pushing ahead) in the foot.

New Media will always crash but it is often burnt by those influencing opinion and that includes all of us.

Comment posted by Urizenus
December 5, 2006 @ 9:09 pm
Well, every day we are greeted with some hyperevent in SL that is "the first ever" whatever it is, and I'm sure there is a description under which this is the first of its kind. But blending real world and traditional media event with Second Life appearances is utterly routine at this point: we've seen concerts by the likes of Suzanne Vega, Ben Folds and (in Habbo) Gorillaz, daily real/virtual world art gallery events, in-world lectures by bigigs loke Posner and Lessig, readings by authors like Vonnegut, television shows broadcast into and out of SL (Infinte Mind, for example), and fictional televsion worlds recreated in SL (Laguna Beach) and then moved elsewhere, radio station feeds, movies broadcast in, made in, made about SL, and whatnot done in conjunction with SL hypervents over and over and over.

Now some of them are handled well, and others are not. I don't agree with the idea that criticism kills the medium. The medium kills itself, and sometimes event managers kill the events, but the criticism is always the symptom of the problem, not the cause.
Comment posted by Gary Hayes
December 5, 2006 @ 9:49 pm
I totally disagree that these events should be treated the same. There is a wide range of 'hyped' brands just after real world press through presentations in world (which at the low immersion end is a skype audio feed to a static avatar) to having an audio feed from Suzanne Vega doing what in reality was a radio show with the audio fed into a looped animated avatar through to what I think this is as completely different - a long form, role-playing event based around an existing TV format. I talked (not just posted references to) about the difference between a constructed narrative and game format such as ARG's and of course about Laguna Beach which is a rather lame attempt at a TV space - more the equivalent of a TV website, complete with video feeds of the TV show - not immersive, just promotional, like many activities. What we are seeing in SL is the range we saw on early web. Sticking an audio or video feed on a site in the mid 90s vs creating a range of large web 2.0 social spaces (in this case, social activity within the world)

You obviously don't see the subtle differences Uri between a build of an office block with a brand stamped on it, an audio feed inworld and attempts at really treating SL as the immersive social space it is (and will become more and more), drawing audience interactions, generating true resonant involvement. Not all hyperevents are part of your 'cynical' cycle, I again suggest you are missing the wood for the trees. The devil is in the detail, pushed media vs participatory media.

Best Gary
Comment posted by Urizenus
December 6, 2006 @ 2:28 am
Gary, I certainly can see the diff between the Big Bro thing and the events you mention, but of course the in-world appearances of various authors like Lessig, Dibbell, etc, the Infinite Mind project, the Ben Folds event and others were interactive in the way you describe -- although they certainly did not go on for as long a period. On the other hand, those authors etc were people that I actually *wanted* to interact with (except for Ben Folds). Which is not to put down the participants in BB in SL; I'm a big big fan of Lillani, for example.

But... I didn't need someone to put Lillani in a hamster cage to know about her or think she was cool, and I wonder if this project isn't making people like her *less* acessible to us. Almost like the project is designed to put a TV screen between us and people like her so we can watch and not touch -- as though it is an attempt to construct live 3D television inside SL.

Yes, I understand that you can talk to the bubble boys and girls and I guess you can call that participatory; to me it all looks like a step backwards though, like it isn't moving us into the future but putting a drag on where we could and should be going.

To reiterate, I'm all for participatory media over push media, and I've screamed about that for over a month now -- for example contrasting the experience of the Nissan vending machine vs hanging out at JR Breed's car place, but participatory media of that sort has been with us for a long time and predates second life by a lot -- you can go back to the old MUDs and MOOs for examples. I don't see what is different about this case except that (i) there is a lot of hype, (ii) there is a big corp behind it, (iii) a wall has been placed between participants, and people on one side are observers and the people on the other side are the objects to be observed -- the hamsters in the cage, the ants in the ant farm.

I still don't understand why you are so allergic to criticism of projects like this. It would be one thing if BB in SL had received an avalanche of criticism, but so far as I have seen it has been hype hype hype and fluffing with the exception of the post on my blog and this post in Tony's. Yet that was enough for you to start saying 'shame'. That is troubling to me.

I get the very strong sense that these projects are being put together by armies of yes men, everyone echoing each other's hype, not one looking at the real problems. Thus it's funny that you close with Da Vinci's statement that "the devil is in the details", because his point was that when you look at things closely you see the problems in your project. But of course you weren't supposed to ignore the problems you were supposed to fix them. I would suggest that details like security for events like this are important details.

I would also suggest that criticism of sloppy or poorly executed attempts at new media can only help, not hurt. As the Bauhaus archtects said, "God is in the details" too.
Comment posted by Gary Hayes
December 6, 2006 @ 2:59 am
Hi Uri,

To be really boring, I agree with your response and we don't seem that far apart in perspective on this after all - apart from one thing. Nothing is perfect first time round and BB SL has tremendous flaws, agreed and I would expect a few 'really big' problems to come round the corner in the next few weeks. I was only being critical of the tabloid focus on the opening and not on the bigger, long term picture, which is really the interesting aspect.

Any initiative in SL that provokes large numbers to get involved in shared, resonant events is good. Any that really enhances social interaction even better. One that brings people together around an agreed, constructed narrative (game, arg, tv show form) is very exciting. So the one thing I don't agree with is that this is a step backward or drag as I think 'story' and 'artistic' developments in SL show a sign of maturity and layer on top of the non-game aspect which is SL, something even more immersive. The only real negative aspect of a BB SL to me is the effect it had on real world television - polarising and dumbing down, I would truly love to see far more innovative 'tv-like' formats in SL, but someone has to start and hats-off to Endemol. Now lets try to promote quality.

Thanks for the Bauhaus ref: totally agree ;-)

Comment posted by Taran Rampersad (Nobody Fugazi)
December 6, 2006 @ 3:19 am
Hmm. I balk at re-entering this thread, but there's good reason. I've been following it via email updates, and you both have valid points - which is not why I'm posting this.

No, why I am posting this is because I actually agree with Urizenus here. I've been to a few openings, visited a few corporate places, and generally haven't been too impressed with most of the stuff around. Personally, I like the stories of the individuals who come in and do good on their own - I've interviewed a few people like that. The overhyping of such events tends to drown out the individuals who are doing cool things (not the companies named after an individual).

The saddest part is that the work of individuals is that they are also drowned out by the backlash against the corporations who are large and noisy flashes in the pan. I cover events I attend, but I feel no need to see someone light a Christmas tree , try to sell a computer, or drop vehicles from a vendor.

The distinction between BB and what else has happened is not large from my perspective. I actually wrote about it some time ago and said it didn't interest me because it wasn't interactive.
( )

To me, the BB event isn't even worth mention... in my mind, mentioning it detracts from other cool parts of the community. Rather than screaming at the bad, I simply try to focus on things that are more interesting to me. My thought is that if people quit overhyping their responses to the overhype and instead put content out there about other things, the overhyping will become more diluted and less acidic to the intestines. I see no reason to become inflamed about it. Some do.

Is it interesting from a media perspective? Well, the technology use is interesting, but the results will be more interesting. Maybe it will become popular. It's not my decision, the community will decide. The real story isn't how it started. The real story on that is how it ends, and what legacy it leaves behind. It's an experiment. Let it run it's course.

So Uri and I are in agreement on what it appears to be (it took a while for him to put it in a way that it made sense to me, which, I will be told, is my fault. lol). We disagree on the method of dealing with it, apparently, in that I believe in just ignoring the stuff that doesn't matter. Life's just too short.

It's a virtual world. In 5 years, no one is going to care too much about these trivialities. They'll dwell on the good things. In media that changes quickly, people tend to forget that. I stick with Michelangelo - criticize by creating. Not destroying.
Comment posted by Gary Hayes
December 6, 2006 @ 3:38 am
To respond Taran - I am inworld in the background at the moment. Fifteen of the contestants have just collaboratively created probably the best XMas scene in SL over the past couple of days as part of the BB challenge, for charity auction. Lillani has just said a moment ago "I think this charity thing is worthwhile...probably one of the best things I've been involved in in SL".

To me this is not really about BB it is about the initiative to drive new forms of participation, collaboration and creativity. I think in 5 years one will look back at media forms melding like this and point to a couple of examples - the worlds biggest reality TV show franchise and the most celebrated virtual world may be in there.

Comment posted by Gary Hayes
December 6, 2006 @ 3:48 am
Oh forgot to link a quick photo I took of the XMas scene here. For those not inworld...
Comment posted by Urizenus
December 6, 2006 @ 6:02 pm
OK, I'm going to drop out of this discussion before it turns into a Teletubbie group hug thing, but I will say that it will be interesting to see where these kinds of events go in the long term. Clearly BB in SL can only involve so many people as spectators in world -- just a few dozen at most and looking in from the outside (via participant blogs or something like ESC's Destroy TV) are not as compelling as the direct in world participation. Maybe the answer is sharding these events ala the NBC Rockefeller Center events. I'm not at all sure how large corps are going to make money off these events (I guess sharded events will reach lots of eyeballs, so there is a possibility with that) or even get publicity out of them once they become commonplace. This is the puzzle that Joseph Jaffe (End of the 30 Second Spot) has been addressing in his podcasts (called "Across the Sound"), and while he *is* a Crayonista he does have some interesting ideas about how this might work. It will be interesting to see what happens, that's for sure. /hug
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