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


Sunday, April 1, 2018

ApRiL fOoL!

Happy April Fools Day from the Second Life Newser!

May your April Fools Day be filled with joy, merriment, and general foolery.

For previous April Fool jokes, check out 2017, 2016, 2015, 20142013, 2012, and 2011.

Bixyl Shuftan