Monday, April 7, 2014

Profiles: Your mirror

Maybe twice a month or so, I receive a notecard inviting me to an event. Normally I raise my eyebrow, because they're events completely unrelated to any of my activities, so I wonder what made them think that I would be a fit. Anyway, I make sure of reading everything (who knows?), and of course, I also check the profile of the person that sends me the notecard.

Profiles tell you a lot about people. Often you can safely decide that whatever you've read, "I'm this/that" is unlikely to be true (People often show an amazing blindness when it comes to evaluate themselves.) I don't mind at all when I find some personal tabs in merchants' profiles. It's like when you see your coworkers' photographs on their desks: husband, wife, kids and any other people they feel proud of having in their lives. (We could of course get cynical about this. I will not, this time.)

However, when I read a merchant's profile, I'm a little more critical with what I read. I ask myself "would I want to contact this person, if I have a problem?", when it comes to purchasing, and "would I want to be associated with this store/event?" in the case of being invited to events.

I'm not too picky when it comes to my being a customer. When I read a long list of "do not IM me, do not this, please notecards only, etc.", I'm reading their frustration, a frustration I can empathize with. I don't see it, as others do, like they're raising a wall not to talk to me, I don't see that they're pushing me away. I'm only reading they've had a lot of trouble in the past with not too nice customers, and are begging you to please understand they can't be there 24x7 exclusively for you, 5 seconds top right after you IMd them. Use the contact way they've told you to use, like you would do with any RL company. I understand that a long "no" list can throw other people away, and I'm trying to write and rewrite my own profile for that reason, but personally, I choose not to discard a merchant just because they have a long list of "no's". I know they may have very valid reasons for them. (Plus, people sure do try. If you list the ways to contact you and don't use any "no" list, to sound positive and kind, then they contact you in all the ways you have not listed. Ah, you never said not to contact you in all those unlisted ways!)

But, I do pay attention to how the profile is written, whether this is for the things they don't want you to do, or for the things they expect you to do. And I pay attention to any other side note. Yes, I read the second life tab, the first life tab, and all of your picks. I may read even more, if you have it available, like SL feed, blog and whatever else you add in there. I'm that curious.

We finally reach to what I actually wanted to talk about. I've received a notecard inviting me to an event, followed of an IM. I confess, lack of punctuation puts me off. I expect good writing skills from an event organizer. Call me elitist if you will, but I prefer to talk about business with people I can actually understand. Still, I read the notecard. No mention to "no resellers, no BIAB (Business in a box)", no mention to "no copyright infringements". I check the website, nothing about that either. Alarms ring. Well, that would be the very least to mention about an event. Of course where and how it's going to be advertised, etc., but a commitment in all items being legit should be among the first priorities, if not the first one.

Then I finally go back to reading their profile. What do I find? Among other personal stuff, a couple of quite interesting picks. In one of them, this merchant shows... no, brags, about how a badass they are when replying to people that have complained by calling them spammers. I click on the link... pathetic. I don't even remember who the person complaining was, all I know at this point is that I don't want to do business with this event organizer.

The thing goes on. Another pick is about their blog. They mix the personal part of SL with the business part of SL all in the same place, threatening with publishing conversations there if you "piss them off" and going all "nyah nyah, this is an external place to SL, you cannot throw the TOS at me."

I know that if I publish a conversation here, I am not breaking LL's TOS. But still... Really? You're not even going to do the work of at least not telling who the people involved, are? Well, I sure don't want to have trouble with you, and how do I avoid that? Yes, you got it: not being involved with you, nor your event. I wish you the best of luck. This is just not my style. At all.

Whenever I feel I want to write one of these rants, I feel divided. On one side, I want to talk about it, but on the other side, I can't avoid thinking "Why are you writing this? Do you think you are any better than the situation you are picturing here?" I haven't published many, many posts, because of that thought. So I will add, I know that my profile isn't perfect either. I know I make mistakes too. Feel free to point them out. I'm just talking about something that put me off, but if you want to be like this case I've described, go ahead, be yourself. I will likely not work with you, but that is fine, because likely, you wouldn't want me to work with you either.

PS: After reading older entries from this merchant's blog, I found an item using copyrighted material. Well. I'm not the copyright police, so I will only say, that alone is enough for me to silently reject the invite. Thanks but... No, thanks.


  1. I don't believe we've ever included "no copyright violations" (or words to that effect, most short ways of saying that are actually clumsy and misleading, eg: "no copyrighted material" is one I see often and it would mean "no content at all, whatsoever") in the invites/info for The Femdom Hunt because compliance with the SL ToS is a given.

    1. Now that you say... I don't remember if that was included. I guess, I've gotten just too used to see it, probably because of all the "he copied-she copied-they used without license" drama that happens in events.

      As you say, compliance with the SL ToS should be a given. However, we know that unless explicitly said, and even if explicitly said, there will be always someone that will do as if rules weren't for them. A bit like when I mentioned the list of "no's". If you make a positive list, saying all the ways to contact you, it should be clear that anything not in that list, likely is not welcome. Yet you have to list all the ways not to contact you, otherwise you are the bad person if you don't reply (for whatever reason) :-|

      And it is because I've gotten too used to see it show up why now I raise my eyebrow when I do not see it listed. It should be a given, yes... (It also depends on if I know the person. If I get an invite from you, I know you're serious when it comes to business. But I cannot trust that any random stranger will be :-| )

    2. All good points and, of course, the web of trust will always trump random unsolicited contacts from previously unknown people. But I thought it worth a mention that the lack of a "no copyright violations" in a document might indicate a good understanding of the issues rather than sloppiness.

      Likely not in this case, of course, but in general. ;)

      The other problem with attempting to police copyright issues, as an event organiser, is generally you actually can't (some jurisdictions aside -- I see to recall things are interesting in Germany for example -- IANAL, etc, of course). I've run into this with TFH before, someone's come to me to complain that a gift on the hunt violates someone else's licence and.... there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. I can do less than the Lab can do about it and, generally, the Lab can do nothing about it unless the actual licence holder of the original item files a complaint.

      As such, making explicit mention of copyright issues could actually end up creating a false expectation, giving people the impression that you can and will work to check that everyone has all the correct licence agreements in place. An impossible job.

      Thinking more about it I think I'd be more likely to raise an eyebrow if I did see it because, as the author of the document, you've got almost no way of checking if the licences are in place.

    3. You got me thinking here... And probably you're right. I saw that happening too the last year in the Home and Garden Expo. There was a store with some items, and the art wasn't their creation, nor they had license to use it. But what the organizers can do? They're no judges, they can't remove stores based on hearsay, even if hearsay is right about it. That could bite them back.

      Maybe what I'm expecting is a "minimum" of commitment, for example, if you have an applicant that uses Disney artwork, Hello Kitty artwork... They sure have no license to do that, and if they do, it's up to them to show the licensing prior to being admitted. But that could also go down into another slippery slope...

      Gah... Wouldn't it be easier if we just use what we've created, or have license to use? >.<

      It's a little offtopic, but what I really loathe on the other hand are the witch hunts (which only serve to burn alive innocent people). We cannot judge, and if we are to judge, then we should judge everybody equally. Instead, small stores are lynched if they dare creating a texture similar to a pattern that you can find everywhere, while we have on the other side the "Cutie Moon Fair", where several items are a little more than "inspired", yet the "IP police" looks at the other side because oh shiny. Meanwhile, they can urge to boycott events if a single store is found in fault, for the event organizers really cannot do a thing about, which is why I think that lately that rule is being set in place more clearly. (Rule that, likely, I worded terribly.)

      Something I'm seeing in some events is that, while no fingers will be pointed at, stores that are found using templates from 3D sites that clearly do not allow SL as a platform, will be removed. Probably, because of the pressure of people that, anyway, only points out about infringement when we're not talking about their shinies :-|

      Sorry about the rambling, I'm not sure if I've made sense =)

    4. Rambling is fine, especially on your own blog. ;)

      Yes, it's the slippery slope thing that's the "dangerous" part. The moment you (incorrectly) set yourself up as an arbitrator of what is and isn't "right" in terms of copyright issues -- especially when you're not really in a position to judge correctly, you've said you'll take responsibility for all cases. The only people who can really be involved are the copyright holder, the (possible) infringer and the Lab. When it's come up (and it has a couple of times on TFH) I've always told people that if they have a concern they should raise it with the copyright holder first -- or at least go and speak with the possible infringer and query their licencing position.

      The mob justice thing is rather ugly. I've seen it, from the sidelines, a couple of times.