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Second Life users can flag accounts as bots, to no effect

Tateru Nino

Linden Lab have installed a new account setting for Second Life users, where an account can be marked as a 'scripted agent' (which you can call a 'bot' if you prefer). At present, it isn't actually known what effect the marker has, or to what use it is being put. At some future time, we are told, it may be used to exempt accounts from contributing to the Second Life parcel-traffic system.

Right now, though, it's sort of like being asked "Would all citizens who have firearms and do not use them to break the law, please leave your name at your local police-station." That is, there doesn't seem anything actually wrong with the idea, but you've got to wonder why it is being asked at this time.

"Failure to identify an account as a Bot could result in disciplinary action if the Bot is then found to be negatively impacting our service or otherwise causing problems," says the text, but actually an account identified as a bot is also subject to disciplinary action if "the Bot is then found to be negatively impacting our service or otherwise causing problems."

So, err, there doesn't actually seem to be any difference whether you do or don't at this stage. At some later stage, flagging an account as a bot "allows [Linden Lab] to improve the Second Life experience for all Residents (for example, by improving Search results)" which seems to have been explained by Jack Linden as exempting them from the traffic system which is used as one of several ranking keys for search results.

But that's some unspecified time away right now.

At present, though, we've heard a from quite a few of you who – for one reason or another – would like your non-bot accounts to be exempted from the traffic system, and you all seem to feel that this will improve the Second Life experience for yourselves and/or others.

The most common reason given is that teachers and site staff would like their own time on parcels not to get tangled up with actual traffic figures from visitors, students and guests, so that their own traffic metrics are more useful to them.

Some feel like they don't wish their presence or visit to a site to represent any kind of tacit endorsement that factors into apparent popularity.

A couple were just gleefully misanthropic about the notion of not contributing to parcel traffic metrics.

Issues of traffic aside, many have been extremely curious about the timing of this feature, and what ultimately happens to the data.

With no coupling to any system that benefits the users at this time, a lot of users are wondering why the flagging option has been given to users now, and what (if anything) Linden Lab is doing with the information that it obtains from it.

Are you a part of the most widely-known collaborative virtual environment or keeping a close eye on it? Massively's Second Life coverage keeps you in the loop.

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