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Linden Lab talks Adult issues at Second Life press conference

Tateru Nino

Last week, the Lab held one of their occasional in-world press conferences in Second Life. This time it was about the addition of the new Adult content category, which not unnaturally has generated quite a bit of interest and concern among users.

It's obvious from the questions that were being asked that quite a few people are still under the impression that this move is a precursor to merging Teen Second Life with regular Second Life (which is obviously not the case), that this constitutes censorship (it doesn't, though it does constitute additional editorial control from what the Lab is saying), or that all non-G-rated content is being pushed out to the Ursula continent (which also is manifestly not the case). We're not even sure how some of those notions got formed.

Of course one of the problems right now is that each of the three categories is absolutely segregated insofar as search results are concerned. A PG search result can't be returned if you've got Mature selected, nor can a Mature search result be returned for PG. And you can't get either, if you've got Adult checked. This, however, could be just a simple user-interface glitch in the release candidate. Hopefully one that will be sorted out. Having PG results suddenly become invisible to Mature or Adult searchers would be just a bit of a disaster.

One way or another, that's something that needs attention.

One thing we note with interest was the question of whether child avatars would be permissible in Adult zoned areas at all. After all, not all content rated Adult is sexual content. What stood out about this particular question was that the Lab point-blank dodged it. We're going to put that one back to the Lab, and see if we can get an answer. In our experience, people generally only dodge a question if they know you're not going to like the answer -- but perhaps the failure to address the question was unintentional. These things happen.

On search keyword filtering, "So, although search filtering is never 100% clean and efficient, we've tried very hard to make sure that words that have common dual meanings are not going to get caught up in these filters." Well, we can see an obvious fail right there. There's at least one popular fashion term has been caught up in the mill.

The Lab confirms that photorealistic means photorealistic in the commonly accepted CG sense. Avatars and avatar skins aren't photorealistic, so they don't automatically fall under the Adult categorization for photorealistic nudity.

Linden Lab also confirmed that it would be monitoring in-world content both directly and indirectly, in addition to relying on user-generated abuse-reporting, "We expect to get a number of Abuse Reports, and we'll talk to people, we'll be inworld, we'll be looking and listening, and there will be incentives for people to follow the rules, which we think people will do."

That's only partially reassuring, as we expect to see the level of content-relating griefing in PG areas in Second Life to go up, once the segregation is complete.

A particularly overlooked item during the debates and discussions is that there is a land-swap program planned for users who wish to, or are required to move their home or business from the regular mainland to Ursula (the planned Adult continent).

Jack Linden: For those that are going to take part in the free move period, for those folks we'll open the land up for a couple of weeks, I expect, before things kick off, and those folks will be able to go have a look at the land, a look at the parcels, which will be named in useful ways, hopefully. In terms of the actual exchange part of the question – when we get into the support tickets where people self identify themselves, they'll let us know where they want to move to, which parcels they're interested in taking on. There'll be some back-and-forth, I expect. For some people, there may be some swapping around, we may need to do a bit of reparcelling for them, but by and large, we'll be doing everything we can to ensure the exchange is a fair one for all concerned. But ostensibly, it'll be their choice as to which area., which parcel they choose, and there's a general feeling that we'll be able to provide enough land that there'll be plenty of choice.

In terms of compensation, the way it will work is that people will have several options in terms of the land they're leaving behind. If they want to keep the land they're leaving behind and take on extra land, then they'll obviously need to 'clean up' the content on their old parcel. Equally, they can simply sell their land and that'll be fine to, or they may want to just abandon it back to us. So we'll give them some device [we think Jack meant 'advice', or the transcript is incorrect] about how to avoid double-tiering and things like that, but that's essentially how it'll work.

As yet, there don't seem to be any announced time-frames to firm up the ratings guidelines and have them make more sense, and that's definitely causing friction and nervousness in the user-population.

UPDATE: The Lab says that it will not be an offense for child/juvenile avatars to be in regions rated Adult. However, the existing rules still stand: They must not take part in any sexual activity, nor may they be suggestively proximate to sexual activity, scenes or images.

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