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Bot-avatar Pesters Second Life Users (For Science!) 124

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the yeah-sure-it-is dept.
holy_calamity writes "A bot-controlled avatar that tracks down lone avatars in Second Life and purposely invades their personal space has been created by UK researchers. The idea was to see if users value their virtual personal space. Bots avatars are not encouraged by Linden Labs — although this one is being deployed by academics, presumably spam-avatars (spavatars?) won't be far behind."
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Bot-avatar Pesters Second Life Users (For Science!)

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  • by dintech (998802) on Monday November 05, 2007 @09:55AM (#21241119)
    Sounds more like 'Second Wife' than Second Life...
    • Re:Personal Space (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Firethorn (177587) on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:15AM (#21241359) Homepage Journal
      The first thing I thought of was a response:

      "Virtual Shotgun". For those who really want their privacy.

      While I don't normally understand why you'd play an online game to just be alone - from what I understand of second life you could have the equivalent of 'prepping', IE you're creating something to be shown later. Whether this is a house or an adult accessory, it doesn't really matter.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Opportunist (166417)
        Not to be alone. But I tend to choose my company and spend my (spare) time with whoever I want to spend it with. Bots and stupidheads are usually not in that group.

        I mean, imagine you have a party and someone keeps trying to sell his Amway crap, going on everyone's nerves. Wouldn't you throw him out?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I think the issue really applies mostly to random situations in public. For example, the other day I was at the bank. It was not busy at all. There were two tellers and each was serving a customer. I was next to be served and there was no one else. Then a man comes in and gets behind me in line. He came up RIGHT behind me to the point where I could hear him breathe, almost feel his breath on the back of my neck and he reeked of bad after shave.

          I couldn't help but think to myself what the fuck is this guy's
          • How about "Sir, would you mind backing up a bit?"
            • Well, I'd be careful doing that nowadays. Depending on the circumstances, you could be perpetrating a racist incident. Don't oppress others with your idea of what the human body should smell like. Perfumes and deodorant are unnatural and poisonous.
        • "I mean, imagine you have a party and someone keeps trying to sell his Amway crap, going on everyone's nerves. Wouldn't you throw him out?"

          No, I'd beat the crap out of him. Then, I'd throw him/her out.

          MLM people are just plain annoying.
      • Re:Personal Space (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dintech (998802) on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:41AM (#21241635)
        Hold on, I post a comment about wifes and the first thing you think of is shotguns? :)
        You should be posting in this thread. [slashdot.org]
        • by Firethorn (177587)
          Actually, that part was my first reaction to reading the article, and your 'first reaction' post seemed appropriate to hand it off of.

          It was more of a 'get off my yard' response.
      • While I don't normally understand why you'd play an online game to just be alone

        It really depends on the context and how my day has been...

        Sometimes I will log in to WoW with the intent of playing alone. I'll go run through a dungeon, or do some quests, or kill some critters by myself. It's a game, it's fun, it's a nice way to unwind after a long day. And if the day has been annoying enough I may not want to deal with other people at all.

        Sometimes my wife and I will go off adventuring together... Explor

        • Reminds me of the guy I was near the other night - I started a new character ad ran him through a cave system. This other guy, who was a fair bit higher level, came along and started wailing on the critters, including the ones I was on, which reduces/eliminates the XP reward and also screws up my tactics. He wouldn't go away either - super tool.
      • I thought the same thing although a personal shield and an energy weapon equivalent of a shotgun would be a lot better :P watch things hit the shield making a blue splash of light and the resulting shot from the energy weapon instantly logging the spamatars off. You could use it in your "house" but no where else so it doesn't lead to... what am I saying? that would be an amusing and efficient way to dispose of known spamatars wherever they are. Give a bounty or something and let the players have fun wit
    • Don't you need a First Life before you can have a Second Life?
  • "Did you know that more Second Life avatars prefer the taste of Diet Pepsi Max to Diet Coke Plus with Vitamins?"

    "H3RB4L V1AGR4!!! Only $19.95/30 day supply!!!"

    "HI! I AM WEALTHY FOREIGN DIGNATARY AND I NEED TO MOVE A LARGE SUM OF MONEY..."

    *Arrrggggghhhh!!!* Thank the gods for my BFG10K Second Life hack!

    • Hmmm...I think I need help here (with the programming), but actually couldn't we use an algorithm to detect spamatars(c)?

      if..=|physical_manifestation=="ron jeremy"|
      ..then =mode, run!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2007 @09:58AM (#21241147)
    ...researchers stalk people online to see if they mind.
    • by CarpetShark (865376) on Monday November 05, 2007 @11:12AM (#21241993)

      ...researchers stalk people online to see if they mind.


      "Online research" patent claimed by FBI and RIAA.
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday November 05, 2007 @01:36PM (#21244211) Journal
      Well, if there's one thing I've learned in my days on MUDs is that there's always a minority who gets their kicks out of being assholes and annoying to everyone else. And they're always ready and willing to twist logic in the most incredible ways to argue why it's a good thing, and you should allow... nay, be thankful that they're doing it in your game. Among other things:

      - that it's great fun for everyone, and their victims who complain about it somehow don't know what they really want in a game. Why, they'd probably leave in droves if someone didn't harrass them.

      - that it's a pre-requisite for role-playing. (Apparently being killed again and again by someone 30 levels higher than you, and with battlecries of, "LOL! N00B! U SUCK! I FUCKED UR MOM!" is proper role-playing. In fact, the only kind of role playing.)

      - that it was testing, if they were using a bug against everyone else, and they were surely going to report it. They "tested" it 100 times a day for a whole month just to be really sure how it works, and submit a really really good bug-report, you know.

      - that the first amendment gives them a sacred right to say and do whatever they want, anywhere they want, and to anyone they want. And if you try to stop them, that's the road to tyranny and slavery. (Never mind that the actual text refers to the Congress, not to a privately owned server.)

      Etc, etc, etc.

      That it's for scientific research... well, now that's a new excuse. Just when I thought I had heard heard everything.

      But I hope that everyone will excuse me if I still see it through the eyes of a jaded old MUD coder. The primary aspect is that it's (mild) harassment, no matter in the name of what mis-guided idea or excuse it's done. It's inconveniencing someone else, so don't do it.

      Even if it seems like a mild annoyance at best, already there is no shortage of people annoying everyone else. And then there are people who come from a very stressful RL situation to unwind online. Even a mild annoyance just adds to the existing stress, when one is stressed enough. If someone came home after the boss riding his butt for 2 hours, dealing with clueless people for the other 6, and maybe add something like a visit to the dentist and/or an argument with his wife, the last thing he needs is an annoying newbie getting in his face all the time.

      And I might even shrug and move on if it were a genuine newbie who barely has enough WASD motor skills to get in that room at all, but not enough to maneuver himself in a socially acceptable position. But it being a (mild) harassment bot and justified as "research"... dunno... just feels... wrong.
  • Statistics! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Monday November 05, 2007 @09:58AM (#21241149)
    "Out of 28 avatars approached this way, 12 simply moved away and 20 also responded via text chat."

    So they 'simply moved away' and some also responded by text? Then they didn't 'simply move away'.

    And 28 is a pretty small sample. Why bother having a bot for so small a sample? Wouldn't it have been a lot easier to just do it by hand? Or just let it run a few days before publishing the results? And those who stayed put... How many were idling (not even at their computer) and how many simply ignored the childish idiot that was harrassing them? (You don't have to play online games for long until you've met enough idiots and learn that ignoring them is the best possible course of action, especially the ones that want to get right up on you and do stupid things.)
    • Re:Statistics! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kebes (861706) on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:05AM (#21241249) Journal

      Why bother having a bot for so small a sample?
      Well, it may be that for research purposes they want the behavior of the approaching avatar to be as consistent as possible. Therefore they use a bot to automate the approach so as to avoid the experimenter biasing the results somehow.

      That having been said, I totally agree with your post: 28 events is a ridiculously small sample size to try and measure the behavior of people in virtual worlds. Considering they went to the bother of writing a bot, one would hope they will leave it running for awhile longer to accumulate more data.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by foobsr (693224)
        28 events is a ridiculously small sample size

        But imagine how many nearly identical conference/research papers they can conjure up by slowly increasing the sample size they report on!

        CC.
        • "But imagine how many nearly identical conference/research papers they can conjure up by slowly increasing the sample size they report on! "

          And here I was going to say: "Yes, but a larger sample size makes it less likely they can get some anomalous result that makes headlines."

          I like yours better. Which reminds me, let's get back to debating this whole "42" thing...

    • I, too, was thinking this sort of study would best be done by hand, but for a different reason.

      In real life, I know I'd be far more annoyed by a robot of some sort entering my "personal space", pretending to be a real human, and striking up a somewhat stilted conversation with me than a REAL human talking to me.

      I've never seen the A.I. in these "bots" advance to a point where you can't tell they're not really another human. They typically ask a good "introductory" question or two, but can't keep up the ill
    • Quite small sample. But what do you want to do after you've asked everyone who's active, in public and not currently engaged in virtual humping?
    • by skeeto (1138903)
      Using a bot also had to do with escaping the normal ethical constraints when experimenting with humans. From TFA, they previously had undergrad students do this work. By using a bot, they felt that they did not need to get permission to run the experiment.
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        There were still humans involved, and even being experimented ON. If that was truly their reasoning, it's idiotic.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mattOzan (165392)

      "Out of 28 avatars approached this way, 12 simply moved away and 20 also responded via text chat."
      So it looks like there's only 28 people left in Second Life? More than I would have imagined. They were probably just startled to see someone new.
      • by nuzak (959558)
        > So it looks like there's only 28 people left in Second Life?

        No, there were only 28 connected who weren't engaging in furry/bdsm cybering.
    • And 28 is a pretty small sample. Why bother having a bot for so small a sample?

      Those were all users online you insensitive clod.
  • ... our "Spare-some-change-lad?" automatic beggars overlords!

    Now, that would be a cool idea for a bot net experiment =oP
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by cromar (1103585)
      Now, that would be a cool idea for a bot net experiment =oP

      I'm down.
      1. Steal top secret gov't research.
      2. ???
      3. Build mesh networked pan-handling robot emissaries.
      4. Profit!
  • One flaw (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday November 05, 2007 @09:59AM (#21241175) Journal

    They observed that female avatars were less guarding about their personal space then males, a behaviour apparently the same as in real life.

    The flaw? Female avatars do NOT have to be controlled by a female user.

    Would a male playing a female mimick this behaviour? IF that is the case, that would make a far more intresting study. If it isn't then their measurements are flawed since they cannot tell what sex a user really is.

    • Re:One flaw (Score:5, Funny)

      by sw155kn1f3 (600118) on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:13AM (#21241323)
      >> Female avatars do NOT have to be controlled by a female user.

      Huh? You mean that cute elf girl I've been dating... Oh shit..
      • by clickety6 (141178)
        So let's see, you're worried you might be dating the same sex, but didn't care that you weren't even dating the same species! ;-)

        (Especially as the second one is illegal in more countries than the first ;-)
    • Would a male playing a female mimick this behaviour?

      Careful, this can happen in real life also [wikipedia.org].

      • by KillerBob (217953)
        There are those, myself included, who would argue that your example isn't a case of male mimicking female, but rather a case of somebody who actually is female, and that there's a distinction between physical and mental gender.

        *shrugs* You do find a lot more transgenders in SL than you do in real life. But most of them are honest about it.
  • This begs the question... do Westerners stand further apart than Asians when chatting in a virtual world? I would guess so. For some reason I occasionally find myself backing up my avatar a step or two and facing it towards the avatar I'm talking to, without even thinking about it really.
    • Nope (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It does not "beg the question." "Begging the question" is a logical fallacy which is not being committed here.

      It raises the question.

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:57AM (#21241819) Homepage

      do Westerners stand further apart than Asians when chatting in a virtual world? I

      No, they stand the same distance apart; it would violate the laws of physics if one of them was "further apart" than the other. What a peculiar question.

      • by bentcd (690786)

        No, they stand the same distance apart; it would violate the laws of physics if one of them was "further apart" than the other. What a peculiar question.
        GURPS (a role playing game) has a rule that says something along the lines of "if your weapon has 1 more reach that your enemy's, then this brings him 3 feet closer to you, but it does not bring you any closer to him".

        Does Second Life use GURPS under the hood? :-)
        • by Miseph (979059)
          With the important caveat that this is only for the purposes of melee combat and the calculations of attack range, adjacency, and related numbers that represent perceptual, rather than actual, distances.

          Perceived distance is quite relative: a mile is a lot farther if you're walking than if you're driving; a child may view the top of a refrigerator as unreachable while an adult can reach it with ease; being 10 ft. from your opponent is a lot farther away when you're holding a knife than when you're holding a
      • do Westerners stand further apart than Asians when chatting in a virtual world?

        No, they stand the same distance apart; it would violate the laws of physics if one of them was "further apart" than the other. What a peculiar question.

        Ridiculous. It is perfectly possible in a virtual world that the distance from person A to person B is less than the distance from person B to person A.

        If you're going to be a pedantic, grammar-nazi jackass, bring a little technical common sense with you.

        • by Rogerborg (306625)
          You must really have to beat the girls off with a shitty stick, is all I can say to that.
    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      I haven't touched Second Life in around a year and change (and was never really into it except as it was a curiosity) but, in that and other games, I found it preferable to stand back from other avatars to get a better overall view. In fact, if anything, I stood further back, to compensate for the laggy control scheme. (My video card was too weak to really be running that thing.)
    • do Westerners stand further apart than Asians when chatting in a virtual world? I would guess so. For some reason I occasionally find myself backing up my avatar a step or two and facing it towards the avatar I'm talking to, without even thinking about it really.

      It's interesting to see how many real-world behaviors show up on-line, even though there's no real physical reason for it.

      In the real world, I don't like people much. I can't stand crowds. I avoid Wal-Mart and shopping malls as much as possible.

  • IRB issue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ckolar (43016) <chris@NETBSDkolar.org minus bsd> on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:05AM (#21241259) Homepage Journal
    The article mentions fleetingly at the end that the ethical issue is still up for grabs. I wonder if they actually got IRB approval for use of human subjects. Even though it is a bot that interacts with the other avatars, it is still an investigator-designed intervention into this space, they are collecting data in a deliberate and systematic way, and looking to generalize the results. The fact that they are collecting data without consent and using it in this manner strikes me as a violation of user privacy. Yes, I serve on an institutional IRB, and no, this would never pass in my institution. It is frightening that these researches imply that there is somehow a lower standard for virtual environments (it is not the avatar that is being studied, but the human on the other end) for the conduct of psychological experimentation.
    • I wonder if they actually got IRB approval for use of human subjects.

      Not according to the article:

      The UCL team did not seek to clear the SL-bot project with its review panel, because the user interaction was so simple. Only if users had been asked for personal information would ethical approval have been needed, says Friedman.

      And I entirely agree with you... the idea that it's OK to treat people differently through the intermediary of a computer network is disturbing.

    • by skeeto (1138903)

      Yes, I serve on an institutional IRB, and no, this would never pass in my institution.
      What dreadfully boring institution do you come from?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kebes (861706)

      Yes, I serve on an institutional IRB, and no, this would never pass in my institution.

      Out of curiosity, why wouldn't it pass?

      It doesn't seem too different from psych experiments where a researcher stands in a public place and does something or asks a certain question. (E.g. a famous one was to have an attractive female and male person ask passerbys on a college campus if they wanted to go have casual sex right now.) I was under the impression that experiments in public places didn't require the explicit consent of each unwitting participant (provided, of course, that the experiment invol

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ckolar (43016)
        Well first off, my gut reaction is to reject everything. :) Just kidding. The problems (and I have not seen more than the article, so I am just making a lot of suppositions here) are like this.
        • 1. As other people posted in this thread, the terms of use for SL indicate that you may not use a bot to collect personal information, and so the users DO have an expectation that they are not being approached by bots for the expressed purpose of collecting personal information.
        • 2. As you mention at the end, t
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Atreide (16473)

        I was under the impression that experiments in public places didn't require the explicit consent of each unwitting participant

        this raises the question : "when connected online with other people, are you in public space or private space ?"

        * when online, i (presumably) am at home, in private space
        * only a part of my self & conscious is in relation with other people (the same if i am telephoning)
        therefore it can be seen as a huge private phone conversation ?

        after all there are regulations & debates worldwide regarding online privacy and what can be and cannot be done

        also the answer has repercusions on marketing (c

        • by nuzak (959558)
          > this raises the question

          I thought it begged the question. I swear, the world is loosing its ability to speak good.
  • by jhRisk (1055806) on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:08AM (#21241279)
    A few choice selections from Section 4.1 of their TOS http://secondlife.com/corporate/tos.php [secondlife.com]

    (v) take any actions or upload, post, e-mail or otherwise transmit Content that contains any viruses, Trojan horses, worms, spyware, time bombs, cancelbots or other computer programming routines that are intended to damage, detrimentally interfere with, surreptitiously intercept or expropriate any system, data or personal information;
    I'd consider that detrimental interference. Also, there's this one

    (vii) upload, post, email or otherwise transmit any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, or promotional materials, that are in the nature of "junk mail," "spam," "chain letters," "pyramid schemes," or any other form of solicitation that Linden Lab considers in its sole discretion to be of such nature;


    There are others that I believe apply to the utilization of a bot, potential exploits through bots (ex. spamming) or both. Also, what they're extrapulating from the empirical evidence is off IMHO as well.

    SL-bot observed pairs of normal avatars as they interacted. It found that users are, on average, six times more likely to shift position when someone comes to within 1.2 m. That backs up the idea that people also value their virtual personal space, say the researchers.


    I'm sure it had nothing to do with being courteous, putting the new character into view to inspect or anything else. Yeah, they wanted their "personal virtual space"... sure. Sounds like another misread on cause and effect at the expense of opening a pandora's box.
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      SL-bot observed pairs of normal avatars as they interacted. It found that users are, on average, six times more likely to shift position when someone comes to within 1.2 m. That backs up the idea that people also value their virtual personal space, say the researchers.

      I'm sure it had nothing to do with being courteous, putting the new character into view to inspect or anything else. Yeah, they wanted their "personal virtual space"... sure. Sounds like another misread on cause and effect at the expense of op

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:17AM (#21241373)
    Ring of power
    The ring connects the avatar to software that not only controls its actions, but can record everything going on around it. This is an extreme example of the way objects can control characters in Second Life


    Once again proving that Second Life is becoming more and more like Tolkien's world of Lord of the Rings
  • Bots (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ash-Fox (726320) on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:23AM (#21241447)
    Daily I end up banning a bunch of "naked ruth" bots (as others do) that don't seem todo much other than idle in various places.

    I don't know what they're doing, but if it's for research purposes, it's really getting to be really annoying. The banlist I have has exceeded over a hundred of these being banned and they keep coming back (under different names). This isn't the main grid which is considered public, it's a grid of private simulators (known as the valley sims) and there has not been any permission granted at all for research purposes in the simulators I help out in.

    It is at the end of the day wasting a lot of my time and I consider these bots without prior consent, harassment.
    • by MLease (652529)
      Are they hot?

      -Mike
      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        Are they hot?
        Quite ugly in my opinion.
      • by vadim_t (324782)
        Explanation:

        "Ruth" is the name for the default female avatar.

        The default appearance in SL is female, so unless the bot changes its appearance, it's going to look female.

        Bots, when created appear naked due to the bot's user not bothering to write the code needed to make it wear some clothes, or logging in under the account to put something on. This makes them very recognizable though, so I expect at some point the bot runners will start dressing them.

        I got to agree with Ash on that they're pretty ugly. Not e
    • it's a grid of private simulators (known as the valley sims)

      Like, maybe those weren't bots, but, like, Valley Girls, you know.
      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        Like, maybe those weren't bots, but, like, Valley Girls, you know.
        The reason why they're known as the valley sims is because the simulators all end in "valley".. Like "Kitsune Valley", "Rabbit Valley", "Fox Valley" etc.

        And to save someone from doing the sound effect, I'll do it myself.. WHOOOOOOSH
    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      It is at the end of the day wasting a lot of my time

      Sounds to me like you should replace yourself with a very small shell script [thinkgeek.com].

    • It's just like a web site: if you have an open access policy, you can't complain if people come in.

      If you want only real people to enter, use a CAPTCHA: put a texture on some surface and/or a sound in the environment that says: "Please say the magic word 'apple star' or be kicked out."
      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        It's just like a web site: if you have an open access policy, you can't complain if people come in.

        It isn't a open access policy, it's not the mainland.

        If you want only real people to enter, use a CAPTCHA: put a texture on some surface and/or a sound in the environment that says: "Please say the magic word 'apple star' or be kicked out."

        Not that it helps since we often get people from many different nations (who can't speak English)... Germans, Korean, Japanese, Russians and languages I don't recognize (nev

        • by m2943 (1140797)
          It isn't a open access policy, it's not the mainland.

          By "open access" I mean that people can just wander in. If they can just wander in, bots will wander in; that's just a fact.

          Not that it helps since we often get people from many different nations (who can't speak English)... Germans, Korean, Japanese, Russians and languages I don't recognize (never had to kick one out since they used common sense).

          Well, tough. Either bots wander in, or you have people register, or you use a CAPTCHA.

          Nevermind the fact th
          • by Ash-Fox (726320)

            Well, tough. Either bots wander in, or you have people register, or you use a CAPTCHA.

            That will kill the simulator traffic, no. This was already tried with denying lack of payment info and the end result was unacceptable.

            Of course, you can control where people are allowed in your sim and where they can teleport. RTFM...

            1) There is no manual you dipshit.

            2) You can only control teleports on normal second life clients (that haven't been modified) that actually obey the coordinate destination given by Second li

            • by m2943 (1140797)
              My point is this: bots are here to stay, they can serve various reasonable purposes, so people like you should just deal with it and stop complaining. What you were saying sounded an awful like you didn't want bots around at all, and that's simply not reasonable in the long term.

              I'm sorry that you didn't find my advice of using a CAPTCHA useful, but other people who aren't as unimaginative and argumentative as you may, in fact, find the suggestion useful.

              I'm also sorry that you can't figure out how to make
              • by Ash-Fox (726320)

                My point is this: bots are here to stay, they can serve various reasonable purposes

                They can, but these ones are just harassing.

                so people like you should just deal with it and stop complaining.

                You're the one who is offering suggestions with what appears to be barely any technological knowledge of Second life.

                What you were saying sounded an awful like you didn't want bots around at all, and that's simply not reasonable in the long term.

                Bots are useful in certain circumstances, such as one that is connected to

      • by wikinerd (809585)

        If you want only real people to enter, use a CAPTCHA

        CAPTCHAs allow only people who can recognise the letters to come in. They don't allow all real people in. Blind people can't get in, as well as those with little time in their hands who prefer to do something more meaningful than spending their time trying to decipher CAPTCHAs.

        Many times I have encountered CAPTCHAs that I could not solve (at least in the few times I tried), so I just stopped visiting sites that employed so stupid CAPTCHAs. A simple CAPTCHA which can clearly be read is perhaps okay wh

    • by davburns (49244)

      Ruthing happens when someone's connection is flaking out, or your sim's connection to the asset server is flakey. Sometimes that means they're also naked (their clothing and attachments aren't loading properly -- just like their shape and skin).

      So... banning them because SL is flaking out on them -- while your right as an estate manager -- seems arbitrary and unfair. (Probably better to send them home -- they either come back unRuthed, or not at all.) Also, better to bug the Lindens (via jira and mayb

      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        Ruthing happens when someone's connection is flaking out, or your sim's connection to the asset server is flakey. Sometimes that means they're also naked (their clothing and attachments aren't loading properly -- just like their shape and skin).

        Ruthing is the default model in Second life. I know when someone is ruthed and when a bot idles in a place for hours, spinning itself around scanning constantly the scene.

        So... banning them because SL is flaking out on them -- while your right as an estate manager --

  • Second Life players are used to harassment from morons. When you are harassed by morons in real life, you have to move away, as that's the path of least resistance. When you are harassed online, you completely ignore them, as that's the path of least resistance.

    They should have given their spamatar a virtual trenchcoat and bare feet, had it holding out lollipops and rasping about the joy of intergenerational love, and then they would have fit right in.
  • You don't need to spend hours writing a bloody bot for this. I tried Second Life out last week, and this was one of the first things I came across. Because I found the movement a little different, I was accidentally walking into people/on their toes, which in most cases resulted in them complaining about their 'personal space' and/or privacy.

    Why was a bot used for this anyway?
    • by nuzak (959558)
      > Why was a bot used for this anyway?

      Perhaps because its behavior is consistent.

      Seriously though, I remember this sort of bullshit "research" 10 years ago on MOOs. Sure there's room for legitimate research into social dynamics of virtual environments, but I always wondered what kind of state academia was in when this sort of methodology was considered acceptable. It reminds me of the sort of high school science fair exhibits like "comparing the effects of classical vs rock music on insects".
  • Cage Gun
  • This is a really crude technique, given that they could automate either the OpenSL client or the open source version of the SL client rather than using a scripted attachment.

    But more than that, if they were doing this in RL... walking up to people and deliberately annoying them as part of an experiment, without getting consent... would they have been allowed to do it? Should it be any different in VR?
    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      walking up to people and deliberately annoying them as part of an experiment, without getting consent... would they have been allowed to do it? Should it be any different in VR?

      argent.

      Hey, argent.

      argent.

      Hi, argent.

      argent.

      ZOMG, I HAVE BORKEN TEH INTARWEBS HARASSMINT LAWZ!!

  • little robot helicopters flying around with advertisements yay
  • Hiro (Score:5, Funny)

    by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:40AM (#21241617) Homepage Journal
    So how many users chopped off the intruder's appendages with a katana and then had their homemade daemons clean up their handiwork?
  • by nweaver (113078) on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:41AM (#21241627) Homepage
    An interesting part of the article was the discussion of the technique involved.

    Apparently, Lindon doesn't want bots, so you can't script avatars. But items can be scripted, and items can instruct avatars to do things. So you just script an item to instruct the avatar what to do...

    Trez cool. (Now if only you could make the item replicating and infectious.... :) )
    • by kallisti (20737)
      You have to give the item permission to animate and/or attach to your avatar. And even once that is done, you can remove the object at any time and regain control. There are some ways you could use this to grief, such as leaving objects in an odd state, but it won't last past a reboot.

      And as for replication, check out the YouTube video on a "gray goo" [youtube.com] attack using self replicating rings. Despite it's many flaws, I find Second Life interesting simply for the way that it has to deal with such things. The
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:50AM (#21241747) Homepage
    When I do it to teenage girls on the subway, it's called 6 to 12 months.
  • One of the very few things I never saw shouted at Britain's bank in UO was "GRIEFING FOR SCIENCE!"
  • As someone said in the comments to TFA, many people back away not to keep their personal space, but to be able to see the avatar in front of them.

    Personally, when I was on SL, my avatar was rather tall. If someone about 80% of my height came up to me, I couldn't see them, not without moving the camera around. It was easier to just hit the down arrow and back away a step. I've seen many people do this, over and over. Even people in a relationship, posing their smooches and kisses while standing far enough ap
  • by xPsi (851544) * on Monday November 05, 2007 @11:15AM (#21242047)
    Back several years ago when Star Wars Galaxies just came out, my brother did a similar avatar experiment on me. SWG only allowed one character per server per game copy so my brother went out and bought a second copy of the game and another computer to run a full time mining character on the same server as our adventuring characters (ah, the glory days when we still thought that kind of thing was important). He failed to mention this detail to me. One day we were out questing (using headsets) and this very random character came up to me in Mos Eisley and started following me around typing a stream of non sequiturs like "what's the frequency Kenneth? Reveal the blue bug rathouse conspiracy!" over and over. My brother and I had this extended conversation in the headsets about how random and rude this was until I finally caught on when the freaky character mentioned some inside joke (which took me aback initially). Invasion of "online space" is rarely Evil, but it can be really, really annoying and distracting. I doubt this is a surprise to anyone.
  • Seems to me that following statement is still faulse :

    "Nowadays, most institutions have a review board for research on human subjects which would flag most proposals that could lead to harm for the subjects, but not so in the past"

    ./ "Ten Strangely Cruel Science Experiments", http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/11/03/1730257 [slashdot.org]
  • If other online spamvertising models are to be trusted, any actual "human" in Second Life will be set upon by a mob of dirty spambot bums immediately after they log in. Want to find the humans on Second Life? Look in the middle of any spambot herd. That is, if you are able to look before a shuffling mob of spambots surrounds your avatar.

    Maybe Second Life could start allowing a chainsaw item. That or they could hire bounty hunters who would ride around on platforms atop big black vans and harpoon the spa
  • Hm (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by argStyopa (232550)
    Spamming by any other name? You're still being an annoyance, no matter your motivations.
    Since it's 'legitimized' apparently by the academics' good intentions, would it also be legitimate for an enthusiastic and devoted Christian to issue a spambot that chases you around with the message of Christ's Forgiveness until your avatar accepts electronic baptism?

    Frankly, I think someone should mailbomb the researchers....as part of a legitimate academic survey, of course.
    • Don't go giving Christians any ideas. If they're willing to accost people in the street or knock on doors, rolling characters in online games isn't much of a stretch. One of them just gave me a leaflet with a drawing of Christ that's so bloody it'd give Mel Gibson a three day erection.
  • http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/09/11/1857215 [slashdot.org]

    Oh, it's a bot this time. That's completely different.

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