My name is GreenLantern Excelsior. I’ve been in Second Life since October of 2006, and for most of that time I’ve been involved with anti-griefer (“peacekeeper”) operations. While most of us come to Second Life to “play the game” the way it’s supposed to be played, some residents derive pleasure from bothering others, interrupting the flow of the game, and causing annoyance. These residents are generally called “griefers” because they cause grief for other residents. In this post we will discuss griefers: who they are, what they do, why they do it, and how you can stop them.
WHO ARE THEY?
The stereotype of a typical griefer is a young male. Although this is usually the case in Second Life, it is not always true. From what I have seen, as griefers get older they tend to lose interest in griefing. This may be due to the potential for legal action resulting in criminal prosecution or monetary loss. It could be because the griefer decides that he can become a legitimate player and earn money from selling items in Second Life. In rare cases, the griefer discovers his conscience and has remorse for the trouble he has caused. But I believe that most griefers stop griefing because, as they become adults, they get bored with it and discover more interesting ways to spend their time.
Some griefers are loners and others are part of a griefing organization. The Patriotic Nigras (PN) was an extremely active griefing group in past years but has become somewhat inactive today. Nebula Griefing had several active members at one time, but the leader quit Second Life due to the threat of legal action against him. Nightmare Dench is an active griefer whose objects are sometimes seen replicating in sandboxes. Because most griefers do not “sign” their work or claim responsibility for an organization, it is sometimes hard to tell newbie griefers from experienced offenders.
Traits commonly exhibited by griefers are:
- Blank profile
- New resident less than 5 days old (not all newbies are griefers, but almost all griefers are newbies)
- Newbie clothing, skin, and shape
- Provocative or intolerant username
Griefers have been seen to work in pairs. One older resident, who has all the griefer objects in inventory, gives them to the newbie resident but does not engage in griefing himself. The newbie resident conducts the griefer attack and is banned, while the older resident remains to supply weapons to the next griefer. A corollary to this is the older resident who supplies a mislabeled object to a legitimate new resident. The newbie rezzes his “FREE MILITARY GUNS” object in the sandbox and discovers to his horror that he has just started a griefer attack consisting of replicating cubes with intimate pictures of the male anatomy.
WHY DO GRIEFERS GRIEF?
The Exploration of Griefer Play document (sorry, the link to this fascinating article is broken) lists several categories of “griefer motivations” that may explain many of the reasons that griefers engage in griefing.
Category – Game influenced
Motivations – Anonymity, Boredom, Greed, Protest, Testing, Game premise
Category – Player influenced
Motivations – Spite, Victim vulnerability, Revenge
Category – Griefer influenced
Motivations – Ritualization and group identity, Reputation
Category – Self
Motivations – Bad mood, Wanting to feel powerful, Attention, Enjoyment, Role-playing
Many of these motivations have been seen in Second Life. One griefer told me that Linden Lab had permanently banned his friend, which was the motivation (Revenge) for his griefing. Another griefer came back time after time, attacked once or twice, then quit for the evening. He said that he wanted to develop the most efficient way to crash a sim in the smallest amount of time using simple objects (Testing). Members of the PN said their participation in raids built esteem within the PN organization and elevated the PN’s standing within the Internet community (Reputation).
WHAT CAN I DO TO STOP GRIEFERS?
As long as there is a large game online, someone will find a way to grief it. The griefing may consist of elaborate scripted objects or simple harassment. Although griefers can never be removed from Second Life completely, there are things you can do to minimize their impact.
- To remove the possibility that griefers can make a significant impact on your estate, region, or parcel, lock it down. Turn off Create Objects, Object Entry, and Scripts for everyone outside your group, or for everyone. Disable voice so no one can shout obscenities over voice chat. Restrict access so that only members of your group can enter, or restrict access so that only the residents you specify can enter.
- If you can’t or don’t want to lock down your land, you can still protect it. Give your group’s officers the ability to eject and ban residents and return their objects. Give the officers the ability to turn off building and scripts and object entry. Make sure that one of your officers is on duty at all times to provide security. Train them so they know how to protect the parcel.
- If you see a griefer attack on land that you do not control, and no one is correcting the problem, you should send in an Abuse Report (AR). Per the official Knowledge Base guidelines for Filing an Abuse Report, Linden Lab wants to see several ARs if several people are affected by the attack. Justice League Unlimited and many of the Lantern groups have experienced peacekeepers available to help you report attacks.
- You can join Assistance Notification Network or GridWatch. These groups respond to griefer attacks and submit ARs to Linden Lab. You can consider joining any of several anti-griefer groups if you want to take a more active role against griefers.
Griefers are here to stay in Second Life. Knowing who they are and how to respond to them will help to limit their impact on the grid.