Thursday, 28 January 2010

SL Left Unity Feminist Network Conduct Guidelines for Field Activism

On 27 November, 2009, the SL Left Unity Feminist Network mounted, in cooperation with other groups, its first really large scale protest with Second Life, at the "rape sim" Hard Alley. The event, which was organized as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, featured an impressive number of participants and garnered a very gratifying amount of attention in Second Life-related news sources and blogs. The success of this public protest has led to an affirmation of the group's commitment to further activist events of this nature.

As the SLLUFN and associated groups become more engaged with protests and other forms of activism in-world in Second Life, it has become desirable to codify in something like a formal way the standards of conduct expected of our activist members while "in the field." The Guidelines that appear below are really little more than a written articulation of the actual conduct of the group that participated in the Hard Alley protest. They were developed in consultation with members of the SLLUFN during two separate meetings of that group in January of this year.

These are not written in stone, and will undoubtedly be revised as further experience and thought seem to require. Your comments on these Guidelines are welcome!


SL Left Unity Feminist Network Conduct Guidelines for Field Activism

From time to time, members of the SLLU Feminist Network and associated groups will be involved in active protests with Second Life, as for example setting up an information picket.

Those engaged in picketing or other protest actions will, of course, have their own views and perspectives on the activities being protested. It is not the intention of these conduct guidelines to restrict or censor the varied beliefs that may bring protestors together: we value a diversity of perspective.

At the same time, as peaceable residents of Second Life, we have all undertaken to abide by the rules set out in Linden Lab's Terms of Service and Community Standards. As feminists, we wish to highlight our nonviolent principles and respect for others. And, as members of a collective activist group, it is important that our individual actions reflect well upon those with whom we are protesting. If you intend to participate in the action, and regardless of whether or not you are a member of the SLLUFN, we would ask that your conduct conform to the guidelines below.

You should bear in mind that there is a high likelihood that your participation in a protest action may result in a banning from the targeted sim, and possibly also from associated sims.

  • Please do not interrupt or engage with people on the sim unless they first approach you. This includes passing unsolicited notecards to those within the sim.

  • Please do not interfere in any way with the activities of those on the sim, even if you find them objectionable.

  • For your own safety, do not exchange IMs with anyone on the sim. Should anyone attempt to engage you in a conversation in IM, insist upon it being in open chat.

  • Please do not employ abusive or vulgar language.

  • Please do not wear clothing (e.g., tee shirts with slogans) that might be construed as abusive, vulgar, or constituting a personal attack upon anyone in the sim.

  • Please do not file an Abuse Report against any objects or behaviours on the sim, unless they constitute a direct attack upon yourself.

  • Please do not record the names of anyone present on the sim, as this can be interpreted as threatening behaviour. We are not there to compile a registry of people engaged in objectionable activities.

  • Please do not employ push weapons, HUDS, or any other objects that impact or disturb others against their will.

  • Please to not employ chat or notecard spam, self-replicating objects, or anything else that might deliberately and severely the performance of the sim.
Although it is not obligatory, we recommend that if you are a member of the SLLUFN or associated group you wear the group tag for the purposes of identification. There two main reasons for this. First, it will link you to group IMs, better facilitating communication within the protest group. Second, it will make it easier to find and identify you should you require assistance of any sort.


For your convenience, a few relevant excerpts from Linden Lab's Community Standards document are reproduced below. Please note that these can be quite vague, and are open to the interpretation of any Linden Lab official who may respond to a reported violation.

1. Intolerance

[...] Actions that marginalize, belittle, or defame individuals or groups inhibit the satisfying exchange of ideas and diminish the Second Life community as a whole. The use of derogatory or demeaning language or images in reference to another Resident's race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation is never allowed in Second Life.

2. Harassment

Given the myriad capabilities of Second Life, harassment can take many forms. Communicating or behaving in a manner which is offensively coarse, intimidating or threatening, constitutes unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or is otherwise likely to cause annoyance or alarm is Harassment.

3. Assault

[...] Assault in Second Life means: shooting, pushing, or shoving another Resident in a Safe Area (see Global Standards below); creating or using scripted objects which singularly or persistently target another Resident in a manner which prevents their enjoyment of Second Life.

6. Disturbing the Peace

[...] Disrupting scheduled events, repeated transmission of undesired advertising content, the use of repetitive sounds, following or self-spawning items, or other objects that intentionally slow server performance or inhibit another Resident's ability to enjoy Second Life are examples of Disturbing the Peace.

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