See Copyright and Usage Notice
Worlds Chat Tips and What
to do About Those Nasty Avapunks
Figure 5.44: wc6b.jpg
Be kind to human guests and to penguins!
Dangers on board
Worlds Chat, like any open
social setting, on the Internet or in real life, can fall prey
to people with bad intentions. You can encounter people who use
coarse or offensive language, or SHOUT (typing in uppercase),
but they are almost always the exception. How best to handle these
avapunks? It is a good rule of thumb to ask them politely to stop,
walk away if they donít, and if they follow, take it as
a game, try to lose them in the hallways of Worlds Chat. If they
keep after you, and it really bothers you, exit Worlds Chat and
come back in later. Chances are you will not see the same abuser
more than once.
Community to the rescue
I have seen time and time
again how the community of avatars responds to stop what they
see as unacceptable behavior. Avatars will crowd around a misbehaving
member and ask that person to stop what they are doing.
In the early days of Worlds
Chat, in May 1995, I was in the hub when there was an avatar which
was simply not moving and communicating. People gathered their
avatars around her, some saying, ìI think sheís
a bot,î (a robot) while others disagreed. In truth, this
person could have been away from her computer or perhaps Worlds
Chat had crashed and left her avatar hanging. Suddenly an aggressive
avatar rushed over and started to pass back and forth through
the disabled avatar. In Worlds Chat, you can pass through other
peopleís avatars. This is not considered rude if you do
it by accident or quickly, making sure you are not blocking a
conversation. However, this kind of avatar abuse (also called
avabuse or avattack) was different. Seeing this,
the other users became very defensive, saying, ìHey you,
you canít do that, that avatar belongs to a person, stop!î
It was a fascinating insightÖif an object is associated with,
or somehow embodies a person in our minds, we treat it differently.
Donít worry, no one
can kill your avatar, and you cannot be excluded from Worlds Chat
by anyone (no, this is not Doom).
Figure 5.45: wc6d.jpg
Someone just had to say mute.
Harassment in Worlds Chat (or when
chat turns ugly)
Terry-NZ recently contributed
this piece on harassment in Worlds Chat. You can find it at Stingís
Place on the Web at http://sting.yrams.nl/harass.html.
I have modified it slightly for length and accuracy to the
current version of Worlds Chat.
As those of us who live
there (well, spend most of our waking hours there) know, Worlds
Chat is great place to socialize. Chatting can take many forms,
ranging from humorous social banter to deep philosophical discussions.
Intimate relationships can even develop, from a one-night stand
of cybersex (wow!), to more serious and long-standing affairs.
Being an anonymous forum,
Worlds Chat provides an opportunity to take on an alter-ego, and
perhaps try things which the constraints of the real world would
not allow. However, like the real world, there are certain patterns
of behavior which are clearly anti-social and unacceptable. While
such activities are uncommon at present, occasionally a small
minority can inflict its ugly brand of humor on other users. It's
possible that if these forms of behavior become common in chat,
then many people may simply stop visiting. In a worst-case scenario
Worlds Chat could become like some of the darker areas of the
worldís major cities...a hostile environment, visited only
by roaming gangs of cyberpunks.
Cyberspace is often thought
of as an equalizer, giving the powerful and the weak an equal
voice. You can give 'em as much as you get, so to speak. Some
virtual worlds, like chat rooms, have moderators, who can identify
those users they feel are not meeting the community standards.
Moderators can identify those users by their e-mail addresses
or registration numbers and throw them off the chat channels.
Worlds Chat is unmoderated, containing none of these mechanisms,
so here it is all up to the community.
From time to time, any of
us may experience an unpleasant time in Worlds Chat for a number
of reasons. It could occur if you reject a proposal for cybersex
(especially if you are female), and the proposer takes exception
to the refusal. It could occur if you have won an argument, or
if you've asked someone to stop acting like a jerk. It could happen
simply because you
are female (or at least have a female avatar).
Forms of harassment
Harassment seems to take three
forms. These are listed in order of increasing seriousness.
Aggressive, obscene whispers,
perhaps combined with the continual presence of the offenderís
avatar...usually right in front of your face! As you can't kick
them in the you know where, the best policy may be to ignore them
until they go away. They will soon tire of the game.
2. Shutting down your system
This can occur if the offender
whispers many single letters or words to you repeatedly, in rapid
succession. It certainly prevents you from talking to others,
and if you have a minimum system (8MB), may even shut you down
completely. A very vicious form of this can involve two people,
where one sends the whispers while the other publicly denigrates
you. Of course, you are unable to refute what is being said.
The best solution is to use
the mute function to turn off the words from the offender, or
whisper to your friends about what happened and let the offenders
have it publicly before they can shut you up again. Hopefully,
your friends will support you with this.
3. Logging on at a later
date as you
This can be one of the most
vindictive and malicious acts. Here, the offender takes your name
and avatar, and visits people you know, gossiping and generally
causing trouble. Often it's obvious to your friends that it's
definitely not you, but sometimes the offender can be very subtle.
They may even accuse their victim of harassment just to watch
the fun. Having your own custom avatar may not be any guarantee
of security either. It should be easy enough to take a screen
dump of someone's avatar, and construct an identical one, which
the offender then could use. Some may go to such lengths to pay
you back for a perceived humiliation.
Reducing the risk
Nothing can be done to stop
people from masquerading as you if they want to, but there are
some ways to lessen the risk.
Of course, people may use
your avatar and name quite innocently especially, if the latter
is common. Having a public female avatar with the a common name
like Rebecca for example, is hardly going to be unique.
Worlds Chat Inc. is a free,
anonymous, unmoderated venue. This is both its strength and weakness.
It means we must all be responsible for moderating our own behavior
and any anti-social behavior in others. In this way, we'll all
enjoy the party!
Thanks for that,