Second Life's calling cards (and now friends) system has changed very little since the beta period. The separation of "Friends" from "Calling Cards" was barely a blip on the radar in terms of change. Privacy controls have not been changed in the slightest since the beta period. While appropriately designed for the number of residents during that time period, they have fallen behind severely to cause some of the older residents to literally have to abandon their primary accounts.
My main account, FlipperPA Peregrine can no longer log in to enjoy an evening with friends, build, or script, without constant annoyances. A constant barrage of Instant Messages comes in whenever I'm online, even after dealing with the initial instant messages I receive while offline. Despite messages in my profile not to instant message me as soon as I log in, many people do, some of them thinking they're always "above the rules."
When I've asked about solutions in the past, the suggestions I have been given are not satisfactory: to delete all my friendships and calling cards, and so forth. Deleting friendships or calling cards creates a perceived slight that hurts feelings, is bad for business, and unpleasant. The one time I cancelled a great deal of calling cards (pre-Friends list) led to many, many long conversations where I had to explain that I didn't hate the person who's card I had cancelled, and that I just wanted some privacy. Also, the FIND menu still allows people to see if you are online or not, and now with P2P teleporting, I literally have people teleporting right next to me if I don't respond to IMs right away sometimes. This is an unacceptable situation.
While I will not do a full functional specification regarding how I think these systems can be improved, I'll give a general outline on what I would consider a much better system. This will still allow people to track each other as they wish, leverage the Find menu to a greater extent, and remove many elements of cyber-stalking.
First, I propose completely eliminating Friends and Calling Cards. When someone offers friendship, if you decline, the perceived slight can again lead to hurt feelings and be bad for your business reputation, much like deletion. Do you think that people would use SLBoutique.com if I went around rejecting everyone's friendship proposals? Of course they wouldn't.
Replace Friends/Calling Cards with a white and black list that each avatar controls. Instead of people being able to offer friendship or trade cards (for which the find menu works just fine), let people control who can see (or never see) them; reverse the current paradigm.
I currently have about 3000 calling cards / friendships; if I were to proactively manage a white and black list, I would have maybe 75. Think of the drop in inventory loads! Think of the drop in total assets! That's half my inventory right there I would gladly see deleted.
Privacy Controls & the White List
How would the white list work with the Second Life system? The next step is to move to standard IM-style privacy controls. To the right of the chat bar, and the left of the Gestures drop down, insert a drop down for your current status with the following options:
Modes 1, 2 and 3 would function much like the current Available / Away / Busy modes do, however, IMs and inventory passes should be saved, and displayed the next time you are no longer in Away or Busy mode (even if in the next log in session). Having inventory passes and IMs be rejected instead of queued is ridiculous; while you’re at it, get rid of the horrid IM-cap. Delete queued IMs and inventory passes that haven’t been picked up after some time period; say 30 days. Even avatars need to go on vacation.
Mode 4 would remove your green dot from the map, and make you appear offline to everyone BUT avatars on your white list.
Mode 5 would remove your green dot from the map and make you appear off line to everyone, INCLUDING avatars on your white list.
Only people on your white list would be able to map your location and teleport directly to you. If you delete someone from your white list, the person should NOT get notified that they are no longer on your white list. Let’s try to minimize drama while we’re improving the system.
REGARDLESS OF ANY OPTION, AN AVATAR WILL STILL BE SEEN IN THE 3-D SIMULATION IN WORLD AND ANY CHAT YOU TYPE LOCALLY. JUST BECAUSE YOU APPEAR OFFLINE IN FIND AND YOUR GREEN DOT DOES NOT APPEAR ON THE MAP DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU DO NOT APPEAR IN WORLD. THIS PROPOSAL DOES NOT CONSTITUTE TOOLS THAT COULD BE USED THAT EASILY FOR GRIEFING; IT IS TRYING TO PROVIDE THE OPPOSITE.
Privacy Controls & the Black List
People on your black list will always see you as being offline, regardless of which of the five modes you are in. They will never be able to map you or see your green dot on the map. (This removes a way I've been stalked in the past; people have seen one green dot in Indigo, and figured out that most likely the green dot is me, then come to harass me.)
Support for These Ideas
There are a bunch of proposals out there right now which are all calling for this functionality:
http://secondlife.com/vote/index.php?get_id=721 -- 180 votes
http://secondlife.com/vote/index.php?get_id=541 -- 25 votes
http://secondlife.com/vote/index.php?get_id=479 - 225 votes
http://secondlife.com/vote/index.php?get_id=52 - 965 votes
That is a total of 1,395 votes, just from those four proposals - and there are many more similar proposals.
In Summary: Pros
Better level of privacy; older, social avatars will be able to work without being swamped by requests
Removes a huge load from Linden Lab servers
Moves in line with a more IM-style privacy paradigm
Shouldn't take too much development time
In Summary: Cons
Will take some development time
Higher level of privacy than available in Jabber
Tuesday, February 28, 2006