Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Tales From Outside SL: Plagued Doctor at the Furry Con

Over the years, a few furs in Second Life have complained about harassment from human clubs. But it seems one has encountered it at a furry convention in real life.

JB Raccoon told me about one of his Second Life friends who went to "Furry Migration" in Minneapolis. His costume wasn't a fursuit that most associate with these cons. Rather, it was something from medical history, a plague doctor outfit. For those who don't know, this was the outfit often worn by doctors during the Black Death and other epidemics in late Medieval times. The outfit was all black with a hat or hood, and a mask with a birdlike "beak." In times of old, it would often be stuffed with smelling slats or other substances with strong aromas due to the belief plague was caused by bad odors. But at a modern con, it just makes someone look like a character out of Mad Magazine's "Spy vs Spy."

The man had a few props with him, his cane, a lantern, and claws. "All of yesterday day and today, I walked around with these props and other staff members did not say a thing about them," he explained to JB, "I wore my claw in the left hand, leather one on my right, cane and in left, lantern in right for the later hours. Most of the morning if wore one claw and glove with just my doctors bag. Any other detail, I can get is people commenting how good it was, suiters waving at me. I think some staff liking it, or volunteers." But on the evening in question, " I was walking out of the 4th floor and back to my room when this staff member asked me about my props,and now that I think of it was was something about putting a sticker on them, but I said I’m leaving them in the room for tomorrow."

"So he was there from the opening to current and had no issue 'till then," JB told me, "He had all those props on him since yesterday when he first arrived, and none of the staff approached him. Now, all of a sudden it becomes an issue and he needs some sticker or Lord knows what, that no one seems to know anythng about. I asked some other sources I have about this 'sticker' and was asked what I was smoking. ... Sounds to me like someone just didn't like his outfit. That has been rumored to be a problem there at FM that I have heard from several other attendees over the last couple years. ... I just do not understand why they didn't say something when he went through registration, the staff didn't seem bothered then by it. ...He's not the only one that does cosplay there, they have tons of anime outfits as well."

JB then showed me a youtube of the Furry Migration Parade ( He also showed me a few still pictures, "About midway through," he told me, "there's a suiter twirling a staff, but with the restricted vision, that's dangerous yet allowed. I see a lantern being used in the parade. Someone else as a plague doctor with a spear type staff in the parade." He also showed me one picture of someone in a hockey jersey with a hocky stick, "You and I both can tell that's no prop, that's the real deal there and can be used as a weapon. This pisses me off."

JB demanded an explanation for why his friend was singled out, but never did get a response, "I'm blasting them on Twitter and all I'm getting from them is silence." So since some furs are in Second Life, he asked the Newser to have his side of the matter explained. He did ask that his friend's virtual identity be kept quiet, at least for now, "He wants to just be named as 'The Attendee.'"

Later on, JB would tell me, "He had someone speak to staff today, before the closing ceremony. They told them without a name of the individual that did approach, nothing could really be done. However, they did offer the 'zip-tie' that was referenced as what is used to indicate accepted props. I am guessing they had some colored cable tie to indicate to other staff it was approved." So it seems the issue was resolved finally, though not without confusion and a damper in what should have been a fun trip.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, August 6, 2018

Reader Submitted: Partial Furry Ban

By Lia (Female Winslet)

On August 2, I visited The Lounge: Jazz By The Bay. I was promptly asked to leave by the host on duty, Benj Mimulus, a member of the furry community, because I was wearing a quadruped avatar. The Lounge bans feral furry avatars. The owner, xaphyre.ansar, confirmed this partial furry ban and that feral avatars will be asked to leave.

Upon arrival at The Lounge: Jazz By The Bay, my first impression was that the venue was small, possibly a recently opened club. DJ Speelo was playing reasonably good tunes, although his mic work needs improvement. He seems to interrupt tunes haphazardly and sounds as if he is shouting over the music. I had been there before in an anthro form, and this was all what I had experienced before.

Mr. Mimulus immediately began sending me instant messages telling me that formal dress was required. Confused by why he would be telling me this, I said I understood that and I was using a quadruped avatar. He again told me that formal dress was required. I pointed out that quadruped avatars typically do not wear clothes. He again reiterated that formal dress was required.

It took me a few minutes to realize why Mr. Mimulus kept telling me that formal attire was required. Until then, my experience had been that clubs either do allow furries or they don’t. And the typical dress code at a formal dress venue, if furries are allowed, is something like the one at Sweetheart’s, which states "4 legged furries must wear fur and 2 legged furries must be fully clothed please."

Eventually, I realized that the problem at The Lounge: Jazz By The Bay was with my avatar. Because quadruped avatars do not normally wear clothing, Mr. Mimulus wanted me to change avatars, not just clothing. I told him that I do not change avatars for anyone except myself, but I would leave if my avatar posed a problem for him. He confirmed that he would like me to leave, and I did.

I reached out to xaphyre.ansar, the club owner, to describe what had happened. I asked if it was correct that quadruped avatars are not welcome at The Lounge. She confirmed it was, explaining the policy this way: "[W]e discriminate against anyone not wearing clothes[.]"

Discrimination against furries is nothing new in Second Life. Frank’s Place is a particularly infamous example. But this was my first experience with a partial furry ban, in this case one affecting only the feral members of our community. It was also the first time that I have seen a furry choose to work enforcing a ban on members of his own community.

I hope that the club owner will recognize that discrimination is not the way to go. Until then, I hope that furries and our friends will boycott this club. And I hope that Benj Mimulus will stop enforcing a discriminatory ban against a part of his own community. He should never have taken this job and, if the policy does not change quickly, he should resign and go work in a place where all are welcome. As a furry himself, his active participation in discrimination against his own community provides xaphyre.ansar with a degree of cover to claim that the partial furry ban is okay.


Editot's note: the picture is of the avatar in question at a club that is happy to have well-behaved visitors, regardless of appearance (as long as larger ones are careful where they step).

Friday, August 3, 2018

Reader Submitted: Collection of Places That Restrict Furry Avatars

By Lia (Female Winslet)

The sole purpose of this list is to help furries be able to explore Second Life without running into hostile receptions, including bans or being asked to leave because of their avatars. I understand that some owners may feel their restrictions are justified by a desire for historical accuracy, a certain ambience, or other reasons. The reasons for the restrictions are irrelevant and I do not pass judgment on them. I only note that they exist. However, because I do not want to reward these policies or encourage harassment or other bad behavior, I will not provide landmarks to their locations.

I have reviewed the TOS and this list appears to be completely legal. However, I want it to be very clear that this is ***not*** a list to be used for harassment, punishing, or otherwise acting badly. This is a list of places to avoid so that you don't get instantly ejected, banned, asked to leave, etc. No aggressive acts against any of these locations. If that becomes a problem, I will end this list.

The vendor, the list, and the script are copy and trans, but no mod. This way you can distribute copies of the list if you so desire. But the admonishment not to harass cannot be removed.

For questions, corrections, or to report other places that should be on the list, contact Lia (female.winslet). If you are an owner whose location has been erroneously included, please contact me to let me know and I will correct the list.

From the place profile: "No avatars under 60 days aloud [sic], no child avatars, only human avatars."

Aux Bains du Paradis
From the place profile: "Human avatars only."

From the place profile: "HUMAN AVATARS ONLY*

Berlin 1920
Excerpts from the SIM rules:
Our rules;
-1920s clothes only
-Realistic avatars only

-Animals shouldn't talk, walk on 2 legs, be half human, etc. And yes... in Berlin people didn't have wings, pointy ears, claws, vampire teeth, etc, except on stage.

Bogart's Jazz Club

This is a part of Frank's Place, which is one of the more well known anti-furry spots. Please see the entry for Frank's Place.

Cage and Cell Club
From the place profile: "Human avatars only."

Club Texas
The rules posted on the community forums include "No Furries."

The Dreamer's Island - Surf
From the place profile: "Human avatars only."

Fairweather Beach
From their place profile: "Human avatars only."

Feral Woods Beach and Farm
From their place profile: "Human avatars only."

Frank's Place
Franks The Elites and Franks Place Jazz Club do not allow non-human avatars to use these facilities. You may be ejected and banned if your avatar has any "non-human" features (tails, cat ears, ect.).

Frank's also has a notable reputation for homophobia.

The F**k SPOT - Gangbang and Bukkake Room - Human Avatars Only

They put it right in their name. 'Nuff said.

Gianfar Peaks of Pern
Pern roleplay community. Furries are okay as long as th-ey are not engaged in the roleplay at all. But only certain canon feral avatars are permitted to engage in the roleplay.

Golden Sunset Beach
From the place profile: Normal human avatars only[.]

Grandpa's Interracial Warehouse
From the place profile: "human avatars only."

Gregfield 1 and 2
From the place profile: HUMAN AVATARS ONLY!

Hook-Up Hall - "Let's Hook-Up" = %100 Human Only
From the place profile: %100 Human Avatars Only

House in the Woods
From the place profile: Adult human avatars only.

House of FED
From the place profile: FED Home of human only sadists and victims.

Isla de Amores
From the place profile: Human avatars only. No children or furries.

From the place profile: Human avatars only. Exceptions; wings and mermaid and mermen.

~ The Lounge: Jazz By The Bay ~

Cocktail/evening dress only. Quadraped avatars are deemed not compliant with the dress code because quad avatars do not wear clothes, so quad avatars are asked to leave. Anthro furries are allowed. Since there are multiple clubs with similar names, to be clear, this one is a jazz club founded by Xaphyre.Ansar. Xaphyre.Ansar confirmed the policy and called it discrimination.

From the place profile: Human avatars only.

Manatee Naturist
From the place profile: Human avatars only.

Masters/Mistresses Harem
From the place profile: "Human Avatars only!"

Playa Perdida
According to their place profile "Adult human avatars only[.]"

Pleasures XChange @ Serendipity CMNF
From the place profile: "Respect and tolerance is expected. Only human avatars."

Ramshackle Gentlemen's Club
From the place profile: "...NO animal Avie or Child Avies Human Avatars Only..."

Ritz New York City
Club owner says furries are "a problem" and not welcome at her venue. This is a venue created specially for RFL fund raising and RFL official policy does not tolerate this type of discrimination. Current status is unclear.

*Secret Life Lounge*
From the place profile:

From the place profile: "HUMAN AVATARS ONLY."

Tom's Prisoners
From the place profile: "Male human avatars only."

Tranquil Tiki Island
From the place profile: "Human avatars only and no weapons allowed."

Turtle Coast Adult Beach
Sim rules do not allow furry avatars. Neko is reportedly fine. Apparently sim management may be somewhat lax in enforcing the policy.

U N I F I E D - Adult MEN/MALE AVATARS Only Culture Connections:
From the place profile: Adult Human Male Avatars Only.

White Horse Hollow
Quote from sim rules:
~~~~ What is not allowed in our sims:
Bronies; Furries; Trolls - not welcome


* * * * *

Editor's Note: There was a small miscommunication with Lia when she handed me the list, I thinking she intended this for publication. As it turned out, she didn't. But she was okay with it.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The "Two Vixens And a Wolf" Radio Show

By Bixyl Shuftan

There's a new radio show done by three residents of Second Life: Two Vixens And a Wolf. The vixens would be Svetlana Snowpaw (Sarah Golem) and Roxy Noir-Snowpaw (creatureofthenight2011 Resident). Greigh VonGottreich (Greigh Dingo) is the wolf. Svetlana has a blue and white fox avatar while Roxy's is purple and white. Greigh's coat is a simple black. The show appears on the AllFurRadio stream, an Internet radio frequency aimed at fans of furry science-fiction and fantasy. I met up with the new media stars at their station in Rabbit Valley, and they invited me to take a seat.

On the question on how the radio show got started, Svetlana told me, "I want to say I was the one who initially pitched the idea to the All Fur Radio station owner, Markus Damone, when he had asked me if I wanted to DJ for him again since he was reopening the station for a third time and I had done DJing for him back when it was first open years ago back in 2007 I believe? Well anyway I was excited to do that, however after over ten years and four computers later I had lost a lot of my music and wanted to help out anyway I could. So It didn't take long for me to ask Roxy, my mate at first if she would be comfortable doing a talk show, and she agreed, but we both knew we needed a bit more, so we got approached Greigh about joining our little venture to which he seemed delighted by as he had recently got a new studio mic and wanted to put it to good use."

Asked how the first days went, Greigh responded, "Here's what happened from my angle. Initially, I was anxious and outright nervous as I never did anything like this before ever. I've performed DJ'ing in the past but never talked on the microphone. Some folks call me DJ Deadmike or The Jukebox because of this sort of thing. But once we started off with the show (initially with the test shows), I felt more comfortable once I've warmed up to being on the air for that moment."

Roxy spoke of what they have, "We have different segments throughout the show, Greigh's 'The List of Greigh' which he talks about incidents that are realistic and can range from bizarre to hilarious. Svet has a news-broadcast update entitled 'The Good, The Bad, and the Furry' which there are all sorts of articles from social media to real news that we discuss. My segment is a media review, somewhat like Ebert and Rupert did in the 90s. We discuss media, music, film, and even upcoming media releases that we are interested in. We have done trivia games where two of us go against each other, and even have storytelling moments where we jawjack about life, the community, and interesting topics. We never discuss religion, politics, or race since these tend to be topics we hear in the real world. Everything about our show is to bring a smile or to brighten one's day.

"We have had one guest thus far on the show and we ended up have a great reception with the audience even bringing in our segments with 2 The Ranting Gryphon. The show is all about having fun and smiling even when the world around us seems to be falling part. We are constantly revising the show and this is something we enjoy doing as we want to relate more to our audience. Greigh's segment is my favorite."

Greg broke in, "The fun part is that the show is flexible, given with what we're working with from time to time too." Svetlana nodded, "Yes so if our work gets in the way we can flip around the schedule of how the show flows, seamlessly and get stuff reorganized on the fly."

I asked more about their interview with The Ranting Gryphon, whom is one of the furry fandom's personalities. Greg told me, "The way our first guest came about was by surprise by the boss. We didn't expect anyone wanting to do a guest session with us at all. Plus it was a neat treat to have 2 onboard with us." A nearby friend of theirs, Shoshi Darkpaw, remarked, "God you should have seen excited Svetters was." Greigh grinned, "Heard nothing but 'EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!' for at least 15 minutes." Svetlana kept a straight face, "Oh yeah, apparently our boss, Markus Damone, knew 2 The Ranting Gryphon from years back. And so it wasn't to difficult for us to get 2. However I recently got a hold of Uncle Kage to do an interview with us or be a guest on our show some time after AnthroCon.  Getting guests is kind of like fishing, you just have to put your line into the water and see what bites." I asked when "Uncle Kage" (another personality of the fandom) apperance on the show would likely be. Svetlana answered, "It's still up in the air, we are to speak with him after the con, but we are trying for late July, but we have booked the Youtubers, Moms of Furries for August 6th.."

I asked how often Second Life is discussed on the program. Their answer was at the moment, not much, "... we dont get out much. We talk about our personal SL stories and pasts." The did say they would read the Newser more often for stories.

And this being live radio, I asked about their funniest bloopers. Svetlana grinned, "Oh let me tell you. ..." Greigh commented, "Two words: Murphy's Law." Svetlana continued, "Well yeah since the show is relatively new we are still working out bugs and everything that could happen did happen. The best one though ... down stairs someone was cooking and set off the smoke alarm, which was audible on air. So we decided to go to break after joking that we may be in danger." Shoshi, who was still nearby, chuckled, "Oh, I wish I heard that! I would have been dying!" Svetlana continued, "So our breaks are usually 1-2 songs long with possible ads and then we come back. Well we resumed the show like normal after two songs and five minutes into the next segment. I was talking, and then looked over and noticed we were no longer broadcasting, to which we immediately hooked back into the server and apologized to our listeners and joked about the situation and actually had to ask our listeners, 'What was the last thing you heard?' "

Svetlana moved on to another blooper about concerning a rookie mistake, "The other blooper came from the purple fox across from me, Roxy, when she was discussing how new she was to the fandom and said 'I'm the baby fur' while we had 2 Gryphon on air with us, to which we all just went 'Noooooo!' and laughed because being that she is somewhat fresh to the fandom she doesn't know all the terms and we had to immediately explain to both her and the listeners that was the WRONG terminology." "Et Tu Murphy's Law?" Greigh asked. Svetlana responded, "It's something you just can't make up." When I asked if the furry fandom had it's own term for newbie, Svetlana answered, "I haven't found one that I really like other than 'NewFur.'"

And then there were their reactions to bloopers, Svetlana saying, "We have an  inside joke during the show, because we all manage to slip up now and again, however when we start dropping F-bombs like B-52 I slam my fist on the desk and go 'This is a family show DAMNIT!' and it puts us back in check for the most part but the show is still a PG-13 show." I asked how creative they could be about using otherwise clean language to describe something that wasn't quite. Svetlana answered, 'Well there is a lot of sexual innuendo which is not planned, but both Greigh and I are smart-asses and sometimes cannot control what comes out of (our) maws." So who at least had some control? Roxy answered, "That would be me. I end up biting my lip and blushing uncontrollably as I have the thoughts and just start randomly giggling. I end up yelling at both the vixen and wolf as they make me blush the whole show. But that just shows even though I am innocent, I'm not completely."

And what were their future plans? Greigh answered, "At this point, we're wide open to things in the future. Depending on how things turn out over time. We're going to also target on attending cons as best we can as well in the future." Svetlana told me they'd be doing a live show at a panel at a con in Philadelphia from August 10-12, "Also our show lands on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. So we will definitely make a Christmas Eve Special as well as a New Years Eve special, I will have to talk to our boss, Marcus, and do a extended four hour show to bring in the New Year."

We would talk about a few other things, such as goings-on in Second Life, and eventually, it was time for me to check out another event, so I bade them good day and left the radio station.

"Two Vixens and a Wolf" broadcasts every Monday from 5-8PM (8-11PM EST) and rebroadcast on Wednesday at the same times. Besides it's station location in Rabbit Valley, it has a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, July 9, 2018

Grease Coakes' Tarot Card Readings

By Bixyl Shuftan

Grease Coakes is known in Second Life for his DJing, such as his performances at the Happy Vixen. But there's something else he does: Tarot cart readings. At his skybox at Perfect Paradise, he does the readings for 250 Lindens. But he occasionally offers them as prizes for a contest.

Welcome to my humble home here in Perfect Paradise. I offer tarot readings at an affordable rate of 250L

Confused of what's going on? You need a question answered? Things seem dark and tragic? I can help clear things up for you with a Celtic Cross Tarot reading.

I read from Dragon Tarot or also Incidental Tarot. Or also a diffrent dragon deck called "The Dragon Tarot." The posters you see are actual cards from those three decks.

Send me an IM or notecard or email if you're interested from a reading from me. I have been doing tarot for a year or so so I have plenty of experience and intuition to help guide you on your journey of life.

Grease offered to do a reading for me, and so I headed over to the skybox, "I did a reading exchange here the other day. ... The cards I drew reflected what he was thinking about. I won't say exactly what I drew to respect his privacy. But the cards were shuffled for him and it was happening around him and his future." Grease stated he wasn't a raw beginner at tarot cards, " It took me a lot of practice to learn the cards and meanings to link them together in a reading. So the investment of time and buying tarot decks is why I charge for the readings a mere 250L. Others have more experience, so they might charge more. My readings are more affordable for the average Second Life user."

Grease then drew a card, "So the first card I draw for you is the ace of swords but it's reversed. You're in a state of lacking clarity. Something isn't working for you. You have to take a step back and find a better way of doing things. Swords are air cards. Thinking and problem solving. The ace card is telling you stop tripping yourself up and find a new way of doing things."

He drew another, "Nine of wands is your current challenge your second card. Wands means fire and action. You're low on hit points,but you can still fight forward. Even if you're a little beat. That makes sense if you said this is your busy time of year." I nodded, "Yes, the Second Life Birthday, and the Relay season, notably the Relay Weekend."

Drawing more cards, Grease went on, "Five of coins reversed means you're watching your money. Coins or pentacles are earth/money cards. You're in a financial mess and you need to dig your way out. But in your past you had guidance of the high priestess upright. Which means your inner voice was guiding you. Your intuition was moving you forward. The hermit reversed says you want to get out of the house. You're tired of cabin fever. You want to get out and enjoy the sunshine and beach." Grease sent me some images, "So as you can see I'm not making up these cards."

Grease drew still more cards, "Strength reversed shows your soon to be future. Oh, by the way, the card layout is called a Celtic cross. Which means not physical strength. But your mental strength is fading. Emotionally you're getting tired and worn out." I did admit, "Quite a bit has been happening lately." "Ten of wands and nine of wands early on says the same thing. There's a lot resting your shoulders now and your plate is full. So there's lot of action surrounding you and it's overwhelming you." I nodded, "That's how things often are for me this time of year."

Grease's next card showed not all was bad, "But amazingly I draw the ten of cups. You're happy despite these challenges. ten of cups is the ultimate happy card. You're happy being a writer and being with friends. Cups is water emotion." I agreed, "Yes, I'm satisfied with the course on how things are going, at least how I perceive them to be going." The card after that however, "But your magician card is dizzy and he fell to the floor. You can't seem to get your projects moving. It's like his spell backfired and he's knocked out for now. The magician card is about making things happen through everyday means."

 Grease drew another time, then winced, "Ouch nine of swords is the last card. Nine of swords means severe stress like a living nightmare of challenge and shutdown one after another. But this will pass." I mentioned, "Well, it's on the record my computer was shut down for almost a week, stuck in the repair shop, but that was a month ago. But I wouldn't quite call that a nightmare. ..." "Hmmmms ... Nine of swords means a tough future though not your past."

Grease's tune then changed, "But not all is lost. After the nine of swords you get the star. So when your magician gets better, your star will come to inspire you. After all the hard work and future of nine of swords that star will regenerate you so you can move forward with that star guiding you. So with the summer time pushing your limits I'd say in the fall things will turn for the better. Listening is a good idea. I drew the star above the high priestess which was your inner voice in your past granting you wisdom and ideas. So the high priestess wandered off but the star will shine in your future."

"I hope this reading gave you a lot to think about," Grease concluded, "about your present and future." It was just we were interrupted by a bit of real life, then Grease had to log off.

So a busy, stressful time in which I manage to stay fairly happy and things get easier eventually. For someone reporting on news in Second Life, the summer can have a lot to cover to the point where choices have to be made and even good topics have to be put on the back burner for later, or even shelved. While one can always make a temporary extra effort, one can only burn the candle at both ends for so long, especially if things are going on on the other side of the computer.

So what will a tarot reading by Grease reveal to you? Perhaps a warning, perhaps a chance to relax, or perhaps of an opportunity in the near future.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, July 6, 2018

What's In A Name? Defining What To Call SLB Events.

By Bixyl Shuftan

Overall, the Newser coverage of the Second Life Birthday has been very positive. Though one reader messaged me about one small detail. "Why call the Cake Explosion an 'unofficial event' when it's in the schedule?"

Well, it was, and it wasn't.

Strictly speaking, on the timeline page of the SLB website, it just says:

Sunday, June 17 to Sunday, June 24: SL15B open with performances!!
Saturday, June 23: Official 15th Birthday!!!
Monday, June 25 to Sunday, July 1: Regions will remain open for viewing. No performances.

Well, obviously there were performances on these days, especially the Cake Explosion and other events that day. They were simply not mentioned in the timeline or stage schedules. So yours truly made the decision to describe them as "unofficial events." The reader in question wasn't so sure that was the right term, feeling the wording I used made them sound unimportant.

It wasn't my intention to trivialize these performances. Especially the Cake Explosion, which itself has become a tradition that many look forward to. I certainly do. But when the official schedule says the last events occurred days before, well, what's to do? To add to confusion, the official webpage only mentioned the Cake Explosion after it happened in an announcement.

Perhaps there's a better wording I could have used when the official schedule says there's eight days of events and seven days when there aren't. If so, I haven't found it. But in any case, the Cake Explosion was a fun and loved happening that it and the other events after the "The Birthday" was supposed to end demonstrate that after fifteen years, the enthusiasm for the Second Life Birthdays remain high. And that we can all agree on.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Satirical Aritst Kake Broek Banned From Second Life

By Bixyl Shuftan

Adolf Chaplin, known as Kake Broek in Second Life, has been known in some circles for his satirical artwork. Often strange and weird, and sometimes not safe for work, his art (Flickr Page - warning definitely not safe for work) was described in a New World Notes article as "Broek’s challenges convention without fear of offending." He was mentioned in a Newser article as having one of the few pictures in "Avatars Against Trump" made in humor. But satire can be a difficult art to understand even when done by an expert. Sometimes it's too subtle for the point to come across easily, or someone just doesn't get the point. Or sometimes when pushing limits an artist gets a much stronger reaction than expected, which may include lasting consequences.

On May 31, Kake posted a letter in his Flicker page sent by Linden Lab in which they stated he had been banned "for severe or repeated violations of the Second Life Terms and Conditions ... or related policy." The violation was "Misrepresentation as Linden. Falsely identifying oneself as a Linden Lab employee, a representative of Linden Lab, an official Mentor volunteer for Second Life or otherwise claiming or acting as if you are in position of authority within Second Life is a violation of the Second Life Terms and Conditions." He had appealed, and the Lab's response was, "we have determined that the permanent closure of your accounts was justified and correctly applied. The evidence shows that you have severely or repeatedly violated the Second Life Terms of Service or Community Standards and therefore your account and any alternate Second Life accounts are now permanently inaccessible." The Lab went on to say the matter was over and done with and there would be no responses to further communication.

In an article by Hamlet Au, Kake was quoted as saying, ""Maybe 'cause sometimes I'm wearing overhead text, 'I'm not a Linden'. But clearly I'm just a common good citizen old clown invested in the grid [for] 11 years, never griefing, harassing, hacking or any aggressiveness. And anyway, this conviction is so enormously disproportionate. I'm shocked sad and so disappointed!"

Others began writing to Linden Lab in support of Kake, and his alts which were also banned, including DrFran Babcock whom wrote for the Newser in the past. But the Lab's response was, "While we appreciate your concern for your friend, we are only able to discuss account matters with the owner of the account. Please have this person contact us if they are having issues with their account." So in effect, he was in a catch-22, the Lab telling his friends if the person had a problem that he himself should contact the Lab, but telling him not to bother calling again as they considered the matter closed. Not everyone commenting was in support of Kake, one remarking in the comments after Hamlet's article, "People who do this kinda expressive work and then fall into the abyss they have created for themselves, remind of me of how a Bart Simpson concert goes. Opening with Love and closing with I Just Can't Help Myself."

On June 6, there was apparently a protest in the Amsterdam sims in Kake's support (article not safe for work). He had an exhibit in a gallery at the same area, at Amsterdam (23/166/25) which has since been modified into a memorial of sorts by his supporters. On the wall is a sign, "This was the residence of SL's most dedicated artist Kake Broek. He was expelled from SL for making satire." On the sidewalk rests a picture of one of his oddly-shapped avatars with candles next to it, set up as if honoring the dead. In the next sim at Amsterdam 2 (141/210/25), there is a carousel set up also to protest Kake's banning made by Dekka Raymaker, "If it ain't Broek, it ain't worth a Linden." A panel in front of the interactive artwork reads, "This Round-a-Bout art piece was made in support of Kake Broek, who was expelled from Second Life because his world view and satire of Second Life probably doesn't match Linden Lab's management." On the carousel itself were messages like "censorship reflects Second Life's lack of confidence in itself."

As the Lindens do not go into great detail about why they ban someone, such as last year when buisnesswoman Luna Pawpad was banned from Second Life for no clear reason, Kake's expulsion invites speculation as to the exact reasons as to why. As Linden Lab has spoken out against the actions of the current President in the past, the artist's poking fun of Donald Trump can be ruled out. As his art can be strange and weird, it's understandable people would have a problem with it. But is making art in questionable taste reason enough to throw someone out of the Grid?

There was one satirist whom got some attention in Second Life a decade ago, Christophe Hugo. His "Caricavatars" was the subject of controversy, both for it's political humor and that he would sometimes ban people from the area. He would state that his time in Second Life led him to conclude a "for-profit" virtual world wasn't the best place to express satire as the owners "want to be mainstream, and will avoid controversy at all costs and aim for political correctness, even if it means curtailing freedom of speech." Christophe though stated he wasn't banned, but left on his own. So except for inside the corridors of Linden Lab, just exactly why Kake was banned may remain unexplained.

Sources: New World Notes, Apmel

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Looking Back: The Podex Exchange

By Bixyl Shuftan

Over time, the Second Life Newser has had a number of sponsors. Farshore Radio and Lorena Chung have been with us for a few years, and more recently Montecito Bay and the CDS. But our first and longest lasting one was the Podex Exchange. Sometimes called the Podex Bank in it's first days, they were a virtual currency exchange service, exchanging Linden dollars with US dollars and other real-life currencies such as British Pounds, Euros, Japanese Yen, and others. Early on, one could both buy and sell. As they were faster than Linden Lab's Lindex, many who used Second Life as a source of real-life income saw Podex as a good alternative as the official Linden exchange service could take days to complete a transaction of Lindens for real money.

The owner of Podex, Jacek Shuftan, approached me in Fall 2010. Although the Newser had done an number of advertisements since it's founding a few months earlier, it had yet to find a cash sponsor. Jacek had done business with our predecessor, the Second Life Newspaper, and hearing about us was interested in this higher level of advertising. The deal was done, and their banner soon appeared on the Newser's front page near the top just underneath the banner for the Sunweaver Estates, which was our land sponsor.

Soon after that, we had a short article about them on November 30, describing who they were. In January 2012, we interviewed Jacek about buying Linden dollars from Podex. “We can describe buying Lindens and the risk with it as a pyramid,” Jacek commented, one with levels of safety, “At the top is Linden Lab, there is no risk buying from them. The next level are third-party exchanges. They are usually registered real-life companies with real-life addresses and telephone numbers, operating on the market. There is a tiny risk as they are not Linden Lab and not as large as they. However, most do not have prices as competitive as Linden Lab." Podex was competitive with it's prices, and had more options in what real life currencies to use and how to make the payments, such as credit the payments, such as credit cards and Paypall.

“Finances are not the sexiest part of Second Life,” Jacek once admitted. And after the first couple articles, I wondered how I could write more about him as I was interested in doing some free adverts for him as a bonus. Then I had an idea: do a fictional story as a commercial of a satisfied client. So on February 2011 came the first of our fun adverts. For the one next month, I had the idea of a dumb bank robber who failed hilariously and it turned out there was no chance of success even if he was competent. I went ahead and asked Jacek ahead of time, and he told he to go for it. And that would be the first of many of the misadventures of "Clumsy Cooper" as the raccoon bandit came to be known. Later on, Jacek would do a "Bank Robbery" video of his own.

So for a few years, my "Polish Cousin," as he called himself as we had the same Second Life surname, continued to do business with us. In April 2013, they moved their inworld location from Moonburry to Coda. But also in April 2013, the US Treasury Department published a paper about guidelines for the regulation of virtual currencies. Jacek thought it was potentially good as "if (Linden dollars) were virtual currency, it would be more trustworthy, and (Second Life) will have more investors."

But instead the following month, Linden Lab announced the biggest change in Second Life's economy since the ban on gambling: third-party Linden exchange services were no longer authorized. Jacek called it a "Really strange move of LL. … I really do not understand (their) motives." He tried to keep Podex open and tried to contact the Lab to talk to them. But instead they suspended his accounts and by doing so shut Podex down. But thanks to an outcry of the residents, some whom were saying they couldn't use the official Lindex and were talking about leaving Second Life for other grids, Linden Lab did a partial backdown. Third-party Linden exchangers could operate, but they had to register with the Lab, and could only sell Linden dollars. Linden Lab would insist on a monopoly of buying Linden dollars for real money. This was satisfactory for most residents, though a couple people from outside the United States would complain to me they couldn't use the Lindex and had a pile of Linden dollars they could no longer sell for their country's cash. Linden Lab would not authorize Podex to resume operations for almost three weeks after it reauthorized others, possibly because they saw his wanting to talk instead of shutting down right away as defiance.

Despite it's rough treatment by Linden Lab, Podex resumed business as a top Linden exchanger, and even hosted an art gallery in it's new building. The commercial articles featuring satisfied customers and more of the misadventures of "Clumsy Cooper" resumed. All went well for a couple more years. Then out of the blue, Linden Lab announced in June 2015 that as of August 1, they would no longer allow third-party Linden exchangers to operate, claiming improvements to the Lindex were satisfactory of the needs of "the vast majority of Second Life users." While some residents were highly critical of this, "it smacks of bullying for LL to usurp those income streams by fiat." Jacek remained hopeful at first,  "Linden Lab is not stable in it's decisions, as history taught us before, so I do hope that their decision would be changed in the future, as it happened before with 3rd party resellers closure." He was quoted as saying, "the Lab is only shooting itself in the foot ... Payment methods wich they offer are not accessible in many countries, so they will not only lose profit but also their best clients who invest real money in (the) grid, and now will not be able to do it."

Despite a petition to the Lab for them to change their mind, Linden Lab stubbornly stuck to it's decision. Then in late July 2015, a few days before the Aug 1 deadline, Podex closed operations in Second Life. On their website, they used the words "temporarily suspend," suggesting they were holding out hope. I would check by the office building in Coda every so often. When I dropped by on November 1, 2015, the office itself was gone. After five years, our first and longest-lasting sponsor was gone from Second Life. "Clumsy Cooper" would make one more appearance at the end of the month in the last of the fictional articles about Podex.

While the loss of Second Life as a market for Podex was bad, it wasn't fatal. Starting with the InWorldz grid in 2014, they had been moving to a number of smaller virtual worlds. Today, they boast services in over two dozen. While there is no doubt they don't make as much money as before, they are still around. Just outside Second Life.

The closing of our longest-lasting sponsor was bad, but for the Newser, it's misfortune was compounded by the closing of our other longtime sponsor at the time: Steelhead. Although it's owner then, TotalLunar Eclipse, had a number of real life troubles, it was Linden Lab locking out his account in a dispute that pushed him into making that decision. 2015 would see other questionable moves by LInden Lab, such as locking the account of Flea Bussy and almost closing Grendel's Children, one of Second Life's best known malls, if not the best known. And then there was the closing of the SS Galaxy, the largest build on the Grid, that had been doing well until hit with a series of griefing attacks that the Lab was little help with. It was, from my point of view, "The Year of the Linden Screw-Up."

Eventually, the Newser would weather the storm and get more sponsors, Farshore Radio, Lorena Chung, Montecito Bay, and the Confederation of Democratic Simulators. But we never have forgotten our first, and so far our longest running cash sponsor.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, May 21, 2018

What Happened With the CDS Elections?

By Bixyl Shuftan

It wasn't quite "Suppose they gave an election and nobody came." But the number of people who did was, less than expected.

On May the Fifth, the campaign for the Confederation of Democratic Simulators election was supposed to begin. But there was a problem. There were five open seats for the Representative Assembly, but only five people announced they were running. It was the same story for the Chancellorship in which there was only one declared candidate.  Lilith Ivory announced the news in the community's group.

Usually at this time campaigning starts, but with only 5 RA candidates for 5 seats and only one chancellor candidate there are no real elections necessary.

The members of the 29th RA are:
Bagheera Kristan
Lady Kiki Whatever (inekeb)
Laura Azalee
Rosie Gray
Tanoujin Milestone

Chancellor for the 29th term is:
Hannah Marie Bloodtempestwolf (han.held)

Congratulations and thank you for your willingness to serve.

I had a few words with the Chancellor-elect (by default), Hannah Marie Tempestwolf (Han Held), ": Hiya! Sadly, we only had one candidate for each of the open seats (5 candidates for 5 RA slots, one candidate for Chancellor) so we wound up deciding the election and giving it to the folks who offered to run for office. ... Trying to increase participation is an on-going issue we deal with. We have roughly 64 people but a lot of them don't run for office."

Hannah wondered if perhaps there was simply a lack of interest in politics by the local residents this time, "A lot of people come for the scenery and the quiet, I think, which is both flattering and vexing, especially around election time (smile)."

Hannah stated she would have more to say later on once she's officially in office, " I don't want to step on Rosie (Gray)'s toes, and she's still our Chancellor."

Current Chancellor Rosie Gray would also have a few things to say, "This time we didn't have an actual vote, because the numbers of people running for election were the same as the number required for the RA and for Chancellor.  So, this means everyone is acclaimed. ... it's in many ways similar to getting people in real life to participate in elections, to run for office, and offer their time (in) municipal elections, that sort of thing. It is a giving back to your community, without reward, at least in the CDS that's essentially it. And of course, many people aren't in SL to do anything like that, they primarily want a nice place to live and let other people figure out how to manage it. So in the last number of years there have been quite a few times when people have been acclaimed."

Rosie reminded that she might be stepping down as Chancellor, but not out of CDS politics, "I am until the end of the month, then I am on the Representative Assembly (smile), because I'm one of those people that likes to participate! And I also believe that if you don't participate, then you get what you get, and really can't complain about anything"

When asked to sum up her term, Rosie answered, "This term has been quiet. We've had a fun event each month. We've initiated a new building project that will make a big difference in the Neufreistadt region. And other than that, it has been a day to day administration of people's comings and goings. So not a particularly eventful six months." And what did she anticipate of Hannah as leader? "It will be interesting to see what Han brings to the position of Chancellor," the current leader answered, "as she hasn't done it before. I know she has some different ideas that she'd like to initiate.  Of course the Chancellor needs to have the RA ratification on anything that is really different. It will be a learning curve for her, but I'm sure she is up to it!"

 And so this round of elections in the CDS this month has become a formality due to the small number of people stepping up for public office. Will the public of the community be satisfied with the work of those getting the position by default, or wish others had also stepped up so the candidates would have to explain their intentions and how they planned to carry them out? Time will tell, and in six months they'll have another chance.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, May 11, 2018

News and Commentary: Is Second Life's Population Not Growing in Numbers Because It's Growing Older?

By Bixyl Shuftan

In late December, it was reported that in the past year the number of private sims had gone down by 667 from 16,783 to 16106 in 2017 or a loss of about 4%. While this is lower than the 4.4 percent of 2016, it is still a continuation of the long slow decline Second Life has had in the past several years. This is in spite of that thousands still sign up for an account every day. So why don't they stay? Chic Aeon, when commenting in a post by Hamlet Au in New Worlds, had one suggestion: Second Life wasn't really designed for Millenials.

Chic described how she found the place, and her observation that most of those who were doing things were Generation Xers or Baby Boomers.

... I was drawn to Second Life because it was listed as the world for CREATIVE and TECHIE folks. I am undoubtedly both of those things. The techie attribute has cause plenty of problems over the years; SL is simply NOT easy to learn. Items came in boxes that needed to be unpacked in an area where people could rez things and open them.

Think about that sentence and all you had to learn just to get some free clothes to try on your avatar.

It takes a real interest to stick around and learn all you need to know to navigate these virtual world waters. For many years, my theory has been that the peak of SL's popularity gathered up all those techie and creative folks -- those in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60 and a few beyond; they stayed and became the baseline populous of our world.

While some young folks do come and participate, most all of the people I know -- the creators, land barons, educators etc. -- have a few decades or more under their belts. They were willing to put in the time and effort so that they could enjoy the world on a daily basis. I am certainly one of those folks that make up the 90% of inworld hours. I am here about sixty hours a week, creating, blogging, helping others in the forums, chatting with friends --- pretty much in that order.

Yours truly came in when I was 39. So adding 15 to 10 years means those who were in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, are now in their 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. While some might have more leisure time after their kids go on to college, others end up getting too sick to get on. And of course heart disease, and other ailments of middle and old age can mean death, and the end of their time in Second Life as well as their real one.

So Second Life has a problem that earlier electronic entertainment products such as the Atari 2600 never faced, a declining number of users not because of them leaving to a better product of the same kind, but that the users are getting older and there are fewer signing up than those dying. It's not that there aren't any in their younger 30s, 20s, and late teens coming in, there are. But the numbers are smaller. Which leaves the question as to "Why?" To Chic Aeon, she felt the idea of an open-end virtual world where it was up to the users to make most of the content just didn't appeal to Millenials, "They want things NOW, not later. They want their fun handed to them, not earned." Personally, I have my doubts as to this theory. Daniel Voyager stated the Teen Grid, when active, had it's own content creators.

Something else I've heard is that younger people want their own place, not the same one older adults are going to. I've heard some players on the Grid with teens say they're not worried about their youngsters logging in, saying they've heard them grumble, "Second Life is for *old* people." The response of many teens and young adults to older adults getting on Facebook was to stop using it and go to other social media such as Snapchat.

So could Linden Lab try to advertise Sansar as "The choice of a new generation," a slogan that helped Pepsi Cola increase sales in the 1980s among young adults then? It could, but so far Sansar's user base remains tiny. If any of the next generation virtual worlds is getting much of a population, it is VR Chat. It could be that while young adults do have a taste for virtual worlds, but many are looking to VR Chat instead of Second Life. So we could have a situation in which Second Life is inhabited mainly by Gen-Xers while VR Chat is the choice of Millenials. While this generational divide might help Linden Lab keep an audience for a few years, an inability to attract younger customers will hurt it in the long term. Such customers would need to be those Millenials who don't fil the stereotype of "Here we are, entertain us." But that shouldn't be a problem.

Sources: Daniel Voyager, New World Notes

Image Source:Turbotax

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, May 4, 2018

Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey Dies

By Bixyl Shuftan

Some sad news for Burn2 fans in Second Life, and for all fans of the Burning Man festival in real life. Larry Harvey, one of the founders of Burning Man, passed away on Saturday April 28. The cause of death was a massive stroke earlier in the month. He was 70 years old.

Burning Man has significance to Second Life in that in the early days of Linden Lab before the virtual world was developed, a number of the staff attended one of the festivals, and were influenced by it. Linden Lab would also sponsor an inworld version of the festival, "Burning Life," for several years. Eventually, the Lab would end it's sponsorship, and the festival became known as Burn2.

I had a few words with iSkye Silverweb, one of the Burn2 participants. "He had an influence on a lot of things and a lot of people," she told me, "you didn't even have to be part of Burning Man at all to feel his influence." She mentioned the Smithsonian had recently made a Burning Man exhibition., "Larry Harvey had a hand in this."

iSkye would write a tribute on the Burn2 website.

By now, many of you have heard that Burning Man founder Larry Harvey passed away on the 28th of April at the age of 70. A man who eschewed labels, he was affectionately known as the Man in the Hat.

Since the first Burn on Baker Beach in San Francisco, Harvey saw the development of a movement inspired by his vision of a free-spirited world of creativity and collaboration. With each year, increasing numbers of like-minded people were gathering with him on this beach; in 1990 the practice was shut down by San Francisco authorities. Undeterred and with the help of friends, the event reloated to the Black Rock desert in Nevada as Burning Man.

Every year since then, the event grew still larger, and has spawned 85 officiial Burning Man regionals, of which BURN2 is one. The Ten Principles of Burning Man were written down by Larry Harvey in 2004, a crystallisation of a guiding ethos that developed organically within the Burner community. 

Thanks to his foresight, Burning Man will continue into the foreseeable future; may we always burn the Man.

When the news first came out about his death, some virtual Burners put out memorials of Larry Harvey on the BURN2 virtual playa; if you have an avatar with Second Life® account, you are welcome to visit, to remember the dreamer and Chief Philosophical Officer of Burning Man, the Man in the Hat. The SLURL to the BURN2 playa is

Heading out to Deep Hole in an alt, I would see one tribute in the middle of the sim, a wooden man that someone had set to burn. There would also be tributes to him on the Burning Man website.

If you bring a little soul to the encounter, maybe you'll see something you didn't look for; maybe you'll open your heart a little, and see things you didn't imagine.

Burning Man is an annual art and music festival in the Black Rock Desert about 150 miles northeast of Reno Nevada. Having it's beginnings on a beach in San Francisco in 1986, in 1990 the event was moved to it's present annual location. Over the years, the number of participants has grown from just twenty to almost 70,000. The sheer number of participants led to some rules and changes that a few felt compromised the spirit of the event, and there would be a split with one other founder. A couple people whom were repeat attendees told me while good, the real life Burning Man is not like what it used to be. The event has also attracted some controversy from outside due to public nudity. In 2017, a man died when he ran into the flames. But even with Harvey's death, the event goes on. And no doubt Second Life's Burn2 will too.

Sources: Wikipedia, BBC, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Burn2, Burning Man

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Reader Submitted: My Banning From Faery Crossing, And Beyond

By MajikVixen (bluevioletvixen.lorefield)

“The Faery Crossing Kool-Aid Tasted Much Better Than The Red Pill”- MajikVixen Reporting

When I got banned from Faery Crossing, it really hit me close to home, literally.  In retrospect, it might be viewed as some type of psychological warfare, as I was cyber bullied, and robbed socially as well as monetarily.  It's not fun to have everything that you worked for, for so long, be rejected to the point where you end up feeling like you are not even a worthwhile being.  This consequently affected my real life health and welfare, and still occasionally does.

This is my first and only ban.  I am one of two people banned from The FC main group, and I was banned from the 10 "newcomer friendly" fantasy sims, on the Winter Solstice day of December 21rst, 2016.  Aside from being motivationally thwarted with my Second Life, another reason why I took so long to write this, was because I wanted to make sure I would present facts, and not raw emotions.  I had even considered dumping the article completely, as "even bad press is good publicity."  However, in the end, I decided to go ahead with this so I could educate, advocate change for the better, express to everyone that there is such a thing as a (Second) life after being banned, and to finally get some closure to move on.

To start at the beginning, my Second Life journey did originate in 2008.  However, I did not find what I was looking for, and left for five years.  When I returned, I searched desperately to figure things out, and ended up finding what I thought was this unseelie fairy's niche at FC.  I wanted to learn, I loved the fantasy aspect of being accepted as a fairy, I felt a kin to the druid rituals, plus I yearned to be a part of something wonderful and give back.  I spent three years living in the Wildefleur sim while working my way up the FaeWay Academy of Education from the role of Grasshopper (someone who explores and understands the lands), Brownie (cleaning up and logging prim litter), Merry Meeter (joining others to the main group), Events Committee member (I had a writing class, "Conjuring Voice Carvers"), to Gateway Guide (helping newcomers), and was one day looking forward to perhaps becoming a Protector (a team of sim managers that guard against drama) and a part of the High Faery Court (a team of leaders for FC).  Nevertheless, it was never meant to be.

What started the issue was an arch decoration in my backyard which led to the neighboring parcel that had gone up for sale.  I hadn't changed my decor in three years, and my home was featured in the "Faery Crossing Grand Tour" in June of 2015 (where Faery Crossing celebrated some remarkable places via descriptions, landmarks, and even a HUD).  My backyard had significance, as a secret pathway led to a special artistic skybox build.  I thought I was being neighborly with this arch that I had displayed so proudly from one of the renaissance hunts.  The Faery Crossing covenant also references that each parcel should be accessible via gates or openings in walls or hedges.  However, in the event of the neighboring parcel sale, Silver (silver.evensong), the High Faery Court Decorator who has since left, placed a wall along the border of that parcel (so that when someone walked through my arch, they would walk right into her wall).

I asked Silver about her wall possibly being modified or moved, and she passed the buck by telling me it was up to the parcel owner.  At the time, that coming from a HFC member, meant to me that the parcel hadn't gone up for sale yet.  Additionally, the parcel description still had someone's name in there as per owning it.  However, contacting that person and inquiring about the wall was in vain, because they explained that the parcel was already out of their hands.  I was even more confused when Qim Toxx, the Head of the Protectors, quickly contacted me and informed me that, "it is not the responsibility of a steward to make sure your flow is not disrupted from one parcel to the next."  That was just the beginning of my troubles with Qim.

In my efforts to rearrange my backyard and keep the arch decoration, Qim did call my new castle wall prim ugly, and said that she suspected no one would want to visit my place because of it.  That conversation ended badly when I explained I could always make the wall a notecard giver revealing why I had to build it to begin with.  She insisted all would be fine as long as I didn't break the covenant.  I didn't realize it then, but that is when Qim zeroed in on every move I made.

As an early real life birthday present to myself, I bought the neighboring parcel with intentions to sell it, and returned the wall to Silver.  I then stayed up all night building a cute oversized night stand house as an example of what could be done with the parcel.  I didn't even get any time to breathe before Qim insisted I was breaking the covenant with this build.  The covenant states this for the theme, "Wildefleur is an abandoned English countryside garden taken over by the Faeries.  Attracted by the foxglove, fairy primroses and briar rose, they have taken up residence in old clay flowerpots, empty birdhouses, and a hollowed out gourds or beehives.  Garden-related structures are encouraged."  My old real-life roommate used to grow flowers and vines out of things like barbeques and dressers.  Qim then insisted it was too big, when it was actually smaller than my pumpkin house, and it fit the specifications of the covenant, "Please keep the size of your build in relationship to your surrounds, with room for landscaping appropriate to a country or small village feel.  Homes should be no higher than 20M."  The night stand house got to stay.

The next thing Qim picked on were my "for sale" signs and plushie bat greeters on top of them that periodically said informative things into nearby chat about the sale of the parcel.  Julius Forwzy, Qim's partner and the Ambassador of Faery Crossing, asked me to revise the signs for a more medieval theme, and I of course obliged.  Thinking that Julius had seen all this, I thought I was now up to code.  However, Qim didn't waste any time in then returning my plushie bat greeters, as the 20 page covenant somewhere references, "Objects that give out inventory or messages automatically (i.e. by proximity) are not allowed."  I was also confused because my friend who used to live in FC had a talking parrot for the longest time in Wildewood.  I can only imagine how a newcomer would have felt in this situation.  However, I apologized, and Bugs Larnia, the Head of the Merry Meeters and Scripter, did help me make the greeters have pretty and unobtrusive floating text instead. 

Because I got physically ill from all this, I decided to block Qim to give myself some relief.  Following the next HFC meeting, Qim took away my Brownie role.  My Merry Meeter role was threatened too, but Bugs convinced them that probation would be best.  I eventually unblocked Qim, and even wrote about Bugs's Conflict Resolution class to show that I was trying, and to help spread that valuable knowledge.  My husband, (joncernunnos), became a Brownie and helped make up for what I could not do.  Three months went by and I passed probation.

A few months later, I bought my Zamargad sim.  I proposed to the HFC that my dark fae themed place be added to FC's 10 sims.  There were a few concerns as to if I were to ever sell the sim and the next owner not following the covenant, but I made additional offers to pay the fee to have the sim moved again upfront, and to enter a legal binding contract to never sell it (as this was an artistic investment for me, my "baby," so to speak, no sweat!).   While waiting for the discussion of my additional offers to take place at the next HFC meeting, Qim even made her Milis Muirnin sim available for lease to me.  I thanked her of course, but I had already bought Zamargad, and that was just not in my budget.  Things seemed to be going well, I had high hopes, but my proposals would never come to fruition as shortly after this, I got banned.

The final straw was when I moved my pumpkin house to Zamargad.  I set FC's 1181 Cheshire Smile parcel for sale and placed a "We've Relocated" object on the ground.  When touched, it offered a landmark (Zamargad was not open to the public yet, but this was for everyone's records) and a NC.  The NC basically stated why Jon and I were moving to a sim, that everyone was welcome, and that we hoped to one day join our sim to FC.  I was so proud, our dreams were coming true.  In my exuberance, I had listed our ^v^/<|;) (Bats Out Of Hats) store's links to our Marketplace and to our Avatar Social Network (now ASNers) page in the NC, under my name in the signature.  It was meant as a professional title.  The intentions were something along the lines of, "look how successful we are, you can do it too, we started off in FC."

Next thing I know, Qim said, "For a Meeter, you sure are having trouble following the covenant," and with that, she returned my object and banned me.  I asked her why, and she made gruff reference to the skyboxes clause in the covenant.  The covenant stated this:
" 2.3.4 Skyboxes

"Above ground objects or builds must adhere to the above zoning regulations unless they are above 512 metres.  Discreet private business transactions can be conducted in skyboxes above 512 metres, but no exterior signs or landmarks advertising the skybox are allowed on the parcel.  The following activities are not allowed: clubs, casinos, malls, bars, and other mainland style businesses or rentals.  Contact the High Faery Court before you make your purchase or begin your lease to ascertain that your transactions are of an acceptable scope."

I still did not understand, but she ended the conversation.  In the FC market, on the FC sim, are shops that have LM givers (and they pay way less in tier for their space).  I sent Bugs a copy of the object, and she clarified that it might have been seen as advertising, which was obviously not my objective.

I was devastated (especially financially, as the tier paid, as well as the sale of the FC Terra Firma and 1181 Cheshire Smile parcels were irrecoverable, per the covenant.  And I lost out socially, too).  I was beyond heartbroken.  In trying to help me communicate with the HFC and friends, my worried husband was stripped of his Brownie role for "causing drama."  He helped me turn in my first ban appeal (which one is only allowed to send to Qim or Julius), but come the next HFC meeting, Julius "had not received anything to discuss," despite the transaction history records.  We resent it, and after the following HFC meeting, all I got in response was a NC from Qim explaining, "The appeal to your ban was received by the Faery Crossing High Faery Court.  Your appeal has been denied and you are permanently banned from the lands of Faery Crossing.  FC Protectors.  FC High Faery Court.  January 8, 2017"

With no detailed explanation or feedback on my ban appeal, I inquired why the banishment was so harsh as to be permanent, and I was answered by more silent indifference.  This got me thinking, I wondered if other avatars that had also been banned, had been victims of a similar witch hunt.

In my search for relations other than FC, I reconnected with a friend, who wants to be referenced in this article as "Deep Throat."  Deep Throat had tragically been banned from FC several times, all in their similar hopes to simply just be a part of the magical dream.  One of their alternate accounts was most likely being groomed for Protector, as they had the ins and outs explained to them in great detail.  There are several security leaks, but one in particular was inside the FC Castle (at ground level, available for anyone to see).  It was a set of Protector Logs (book objects), sitting on shelves, textured by year, built by Qim.  If you edit-linked those books, you could see in their contents, NCs titled by names of avatars and acronym codes.  The codes specified avatars as to having specific minor infractions, warnings, or banishments.  From only the years of 2014 - 2016 of FC's much longer history, there are about 160 names.  This piques curiosity as to why a place that so strictly enforces rules and scrutiny, would expose defaming information, to the public of SL.  Likewise, why is FC so strict, when they pride themselves as a newcomer friendly community?  One would tend to think a place of this nature would be a little more forgiving. 

(Screenshot of NC with codes, supplied by Deep Throat)

When asked about their experience, one of these 160 avatars that were promised anonymity for this article explained, "Honestly I visited there a while back and I had just got a new magic HUD.  I was still kinda new and tested it in the wrong area.  Sorry for any inconvenience.  I would love to be entrusted to revisit those beautiful lands again, sincerely."

Another, older avatar, who owns and manages a huge role-play sim, and is a part of Linden support for new players, says they got a warning and kicked out when one of their friends teleported them during a sim restart.  In their friend's efforts to show them something interesting, they started sword fighting and were booted.

A FC member, revealed this, "Well... after much hesitation, I decide to speak out, even though I risk being permanently banned from that place, but...  I had a few incidents where a few individuals accused me of entering their house illegally, which never happened, but I felt I was badly mistreated by a Protector at the time and I even had my staff tag revoked for a while.  I had to fight like hell to prove my innocence and I eventually got my staff tag restored, but the damage was already done and after that point, I completely lost interest in The Faery Crossing and I hardly ever go back there, except to satisfy my vampiric urges for faery blood and visit a few friends, that's about it."  In response to how they were discriminated against, they also added, "Well... in short, they treat their staff members like they are second class citizens, as if they are expendable.  People, like me, who have contributed an enormous amount of their time, effort, and dedication to that place don't get any proper treatment at all.  Instead, they just throw us under the bus so to speak."  "Basically, any staff member who isn't part of the High Faery Court is considered second class."

One fairy followed the love of their life into FC and tried to follow in their love's footsteps to support them in their roles.  They ended up getting a warning and suspension for being in a text only viewer and accidentally being naked in their own house at ground level, because "someone could look into the windows and see them," even though privacy is something all stewards have, per the FC Guidelines embedded into the covenant.  In another instance, this same fairy, excitedly teleported to their friend in FC, to show them a typing AO they had been very proud of acquiring, and then fell asleep at their keyboard while accidentally still wearing their BDSM tag from the previous location.  When they woke up the next day (the day before Thanksgiving), they were banned.  Aside from some other heartbreaking consequences that were stricken for purposes of anonymity, they added, "The other thing... that does really still piss me off... is that yes, they did have me on some things.  But others made up events... I didn't even question them because they were thrown in... i.e.... on a neighbor's house, I was accused of camming in while the other avatar was in there.  And I swear, I never did that.  I think the avatar that said that, did that to promote their rise to being a Protector in training ...which they are in now."

Another avatar simply stated, "I was banned and for having fun.  Which is why many people won't visit the fairy land.  Because it's boring."

This was said, when another avatar was asked why they had been banned and what happened, "Putting it mildly the Faery Crossing members do enjoy their little semblance of power.  I was banned for not complying with some mod's request.  Funny enough I was in an M rated area using the sandbox to try testing a mesh clothing item I just uploaded, on my male avatar.  Apparently that was too offensive and I quote, 'not in the spirit of a sim.'  Funny enough that's what got me banned, not for harassing like would be trolls.  Plenty of sandboxes around, and a few of them are not even administrated by self-righteous a******s."

Not all responses were negative, here's one that ended on a much happier note, " I really don't know my actual status in Faerie Crossing and honestly I could care less.  I think it might be important, though, so I'll take some time to explain.  They (I'm assuming is a group of people) had a justified reason to act in the way they did.  I was very noob when that happened.  The thing was that someone gave me a scripted object in a beginner friendly area and I stupidly accepted.  It was a box that exploded and I teleported to Faerie Crossing thinking that teleporting to wherever I could, would shut off the thing when changing areas.  I learned the hard way that's not true.  I was banned from the place and later I explained this to, I don't remember who, a woman, if I'm not mistaken.  And honestly, she was ok, she understood.  I think she saw my profile and my lifespan and it was obvious that what I did was not on purpose.  I was allowed to enter again with some warnings and that's it."

The members of the High Faery Court and Protectors were also invited to anonymously answer a few questions about fair treatment versus favoritism and discrimination.  These are some of the questions that were asked, but have all been responded to with silence:

"What is the purpose of Faery Crossing?  What is Faery Crossing's main goal?

"Do High Faery Court members and Protectors treat newcomers fairly?  Do they treat long time residents fairly?

"How do High Faery Court members and Protectors tell the difference between someone getting their bearings in SL, someone with a disability, or someone that is a griefer?

"What are the offenses that are cause for a ban?

"Was the Covenant written extensively simply to accommodate loop holes for Protectors or High Faery Court members to ban avatars for any reason?

"If an avatar is banned, are they ever able to come back?  Is the banned person treated fairly?  Has anyone ever been successful in coming back to Faery Crossing after being banned?

"How do the Protectors or High Faery Court members determine if an avatar is an alt of a banned avatar?  Is this scrutiny fair?

"Can anyone become a High Faery Court member or Protector?  What does it take to become either one of those roles?  When did the last advancement to High Faery Court member or Protector take place?

"Do members of the High Faery Court and Protectors discourage or encourage others from advancing to Protector or High Faery Court member?  How?

"Is Faery Crossing a cult or clique?  Why or why not?

"What is the lasting impression you want to leave with others about Faery Crossing?"

During the investigation, a FC member did reveal pertaining group notices.  At first, the notices were requests for FC members to ignore the inquiries.  Qim insisted that this was "an attempt to undermine the covenant and the Protectors who try to keep the lands drama free."  She threatened that the request for opinions were not authorized by the HFC, and claimed that no Protector Logs were ever shared.   She furthermore stated that there was strong evidence that a banned ex-member of FC was behind all this, to attempt to harass the folks of FC.  Then another notice was sent to encourage members to talk to the Protectors in handling any troublesome folks, and to direct all questions to them, to further understand the situation.  Yet another notice was an apology from Qim, ironically maintaining that she was only trying to do her best to keep the lands drama free.

The last notice regarding this Streisand effect was from Sempervirens Oddfellow, a now previous member of the HFC, written in a confirmative matter that may remind one of novels about government conspiracy, with an attached statement from the HFC.  The statement reinforced what Qim was trying to assert, in a more professionally written matter.  It also accused the questions asked to the 160 avatars as being "leading questions," that "presupposed an abusive relationship between the various managing bodies of the FC and its folk" (when in reality, they were simply open questions, inviting avatars to speak out about their experience, freely).  The statement was also trying to convince members that the procurement of these 160 names was an act of theft, but that the security vulnerabilities that FC had would be addressed.

Since then, the edit-linked Protector Logs in the FC castle thankfully no longer exist.  However, with everything that has transpired, this tends to leave more questions than answers.  For instance, what good is a Protector if you need protection from them?  What exactly is it that the HFC is trying to hide by omission after they baited the public?  Why would they have anything to hide if they played fair?  Why do they assume avatars cannot think for themselves in their natural progression (and why are visitors and members not encouraged to do so properly)?  Is FC newcomer friendly, simply to mold avatars into what the HFC needs, to fit some seedy desires and issues about control and power?  ...One thing is for certain, though, "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts, absolutely."

Since 2016, FC has undergone some remodeling.  Some of the full sims have become homestead sims, some of the HFC member have left, and a couple of new ones have been added.  The Queen has retired her reign completely, and passed her lands explicitly into the hands of Qim (and Julius).  Which makes sense with regard to Qim's teaching credentials (as there is a tier price reduction for that).  FC is also being given a new user destination sim.  With regard to all the issues of power, I'm sure this is not what Linden Labs had in mind when it came to their vision of Second Life.  I realize, being a sim owner myself, there are times when it's necessary to ban avatars that are trouble makers.  However, perhaps FC has been a bit harsh here as they are more concerned with their regime, rather than long-term solutions that work for everyone and promote proactive learning.

I notice that every time I tried to contacted the HFC, the items in my MP store got flagged for something.  I suspect this will happen with the publication of this article too, but my Abuse Reports are at the ready.  I was also not allowed at the FC memorial for my dearly departed friend, Bakki Beeswing (however, there is a memorial site on Zamargad for her).  Recently I turned in my 3rd and final ban appeal, which several friends and other avatars did help me write.  On April 13 of this year, Qim responded, "Your appeal was considered by the FC High Faery Court and Protectors, and denied.  The decision is final and any further appeals will be ignored."  In that very conversation, I still tried once more to resolve any issues Qim and I had, as I sincerely wanted peace and understanding between us spiritually before we departed this life.  But of the few words she spoke, she contended that in banishment of my avatar, "the issue had been resolved," and that I "was just not accepting that."  The history of my ban appeals and experience with FC is available for anyone to see, at the FC bridge, on Zamargad.

Meanwhile there have been several other things in Second Life that have kept me sane.  If I were to leave you with a lasting message, it would be that there is such a thing as a (Second) life after being banned from your community.  In this case, and many others, a ban like this is like a badge of honor, please wear it with pride.  You don't need to waste time and millions of L$ on alts.  Just pick yourself up and start over with a place that is worth your time.  You are NOT alone.  Second Life is HUGE, and there's bound to be other, better opportunities out there!  Just don't put all your eggs into one basket.  The only constant is change itself, as this is the natural evolution of things.  And eventually Linden Lab will do something about repeated ARs from enough avatars.

My activities outside of FC started with breedables.  There are several communities of them that are quite vibrant.  From my experience, I can recommend KittyCatS!, Amaretto, and especially EVO.  I've found them all to be quite caring, honest, and passionate people.

The thing that helped me the most was acquiring a family.  I owe lots of my ambition to my mother,  Pixiedust Darling - Napier (pixiedust.xia), who Skypes with me all the time about RL, SL, and other platforms and games.  She also inspired me to get a cat in real-life as a pet.  She even sent me the most delicious homemade cookies all the way from across the country!  Our family is a very decent size.  I have grandparents, an aunt, sisters, nieces, a nephew, and even a son!  From my involvement, I can recommend adoption places like Heritage and Next Gen Inc.

I have also started helping newcomers at a more reputable and professional place.  Treacle Darlandes, of New Resident Island, has been very good to me, and there are several helpers there that are quite wonderful!  NRS has 0 banned avatars in their group, has expanded to the "You Matter" group, and features a "You Matter" spot.  It makes me feel very fulfilled and proud to be a part of a team of leaders who genuinely care about the residents of Second Life.

Lastly, my friends of the Treasure Quest SL game, who just recently celebrated their two year anniversary, came through on something especially fun.  A new "Off With Their Heads Mega Coin," worth L$500, has been designed from inspiration of my, and at least the 160 avatars', memoirs regarding FC.  I guess you could say it started with StormyDaze15, Chris (chrs1969), and Jenni Witherspoon's banishment from the Linden Gold Hunt SL games, and their "Ugly Terry Mega Coin" response.

At any rate, my being banned isn't an isolated case in SL.  It happens all too frequently.  Love is the answer to everything here, not inequity.  We are all in this together.  Let us take this as an opportunity to contemplate how our behavior affects others, and remember that even what seems like the smallest incident, can devastate or inspire another person's life.  With every action, please consider how you would like to be remembered.  Have fun in Second Life, and like my favorite male musician of SL, Vinnie (acoustic.rhapsody) of the Vinnie Show, says at the end of every show, "Be good to each other, and yourselves!"

Additional Information:

"Give me your world weary, your idealists, your winged dreamers yearning to be fae.
"Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
"I lift my lamp beside the golden veil."

Reference URLs:

    Gateway to the Faery Crossing
    The Faery Crossing
    FaeWay Academy of Education
    Faery Crossing Events Committee
    The Faery Crossing Events
    Druids of the Second Realm
    Faery Crossing Merry Meeters
    The High Faery Court
    The Faery Crossing Protectors
    The Faery Crossing Seelies


The headlining title of this article references the poisonous Kool-Aid the Jim Jones cult from Jonestown drank, and the red pill from the 1999 science fiction action blockbuster, "The Matrix," "After this, there is no turning back.  You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.  You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.  Remember: all I'm offering is the truth."

Preferred Contacts (starting at 2016):
High Faery Court:
Gypsy Tripsa  - Faery Crossing Queen - presides over the High Faery Court
Julius Forwzy - FC Ambassador and in charge of agenda and minutes, real estate and market manager, steward representative for The Faery Crossing and Wildefleur (interim)
Bugs Larnia - Head of the FC Merry Meeters, steward representative for Faery Mere
Meadow Copperfield - Gateway Coordinator, steward representative for Madrigal
Qim Toxx - FaeWay Academy Administrative Dean, steward representative for Aetheria, interim head of Protectors
Caryn Eleonara - FC events coordinator
Bear Hird - Head of Protectors (on temporary leave of absence)
Sempervirens Oddfellow - Steward representative for Wildewood

Bear Hird
Qim Toxx
Meadow Copperfield
Julius Forwzy
Sempervirens Oddfellow
Joanne Pevensey