Check your sources!

I know this'll make no difference. It'll make no difference mostly because 99.9999% of SL won't be reading this blog. But, worse, even if 99.99999% of SL did read this blog people would still do this....

Stop reposting unsubstantiated rumour in SL! Please, just stop it. Yes, I know, you mean well, you want to help your fellow resident, you want to be nice to people around you (and, doubtless, some want to feel like they're ahead of the curve, they're the "FIRST POST!" types on busy blogs).

When I say this, I don't mean posting rumours about other people (although that's not nice, and there's a class of that that I'll come to in a moment), I mean "facts" about what's happening in SL right now. Almost always, if said "fact" comes without a URL to a primary source, it's nonsense. Take this one doing the rounds today, I've seen it in two groups so far, multiple times in one of them:

Linden Labs has recently made the decision to kull older unused accounts from the grid. The reason given for this is that the amount of unused accounts are lagging the inventory servers. If every avatar has just one alternate account, that's twice as much storage unnecessarily being used.  On October 1 2011, Linden Labs will commence kulling any account that has not been signed into for 60 days.....So if you have alts you want to keep, you need to log them in before 10/1/11.

There's a couple of things in the above should tip anyone off that it's dodgy. For one thing, notice the spelling of "cull"? We all know that Linden Labs is capable of making mistakes but you'd think, if the message did come from them, it would have been proofed a little. Another thing that raises the alarm bells right away is the reasoning given. It suggests that the data associated with each account (we'll be generous and assume that this "lag" it speaks of is a result of the inventory data) is equal. That's a very obvious nonsense right there isn't it? I control four accounts (me, an original account from a long time ago which is my "quiet time" account, Zanda the shop bot and "Crash Test Mistress" who I use as a stand-in domme when I'm building something that needs a domme and sub -- METABolt is so handy for that) and the inventory sizes of those vary wildly. My inventory is far larger than those other accounts.

And Miss Vila's inventory count puts mine to shame.

And I know people who have inventory counts that make Miss Vila's look tiny.

On top of all of that the whole thing just doesn't read right anyway. It's badly written.

Even then, they're just some alarm bells that should make you skeptical. But there's one big glaring issue with this too: where's the primary source? Really, come on, if Linden Labs were going to do this it would be noted somewhere. I know many like to talk down LL, like to portray them as incompetent idiots but, mostly, they do release information on changes before they make the changes. A change of that nature would be noted up front. It just would.

There was another example of this a couple or so months back. Most will recall the SNAFU with the Adam and Eve avatars that could be found in your Lost And Found folder. Here's the JIRA for that incident. Again, this got mentioned in a handful of groups and, in one group I'm in, a group manager posted a note saying that nobody should use these items because they were a virus and that we should delete them right away. I contacted the person in question, even pointing them at the JIRA. Their response was that they didn't want to risk it not being a virus. Even after I pointed them at the status message about it, they did nothing to retract the original group notice. Meanwhile, the rumour will have rolled on. Doubtless, to this day, there are people who "know" you can't trust anything called "Adam and Eve" because they're a virus.

The "rules" should be simple enough. If it looks like nonsense, it probably is. If it's full of spelling mistakes and/or punctuation errors, it's likely not from an official source. If the primary source isn't given (ideally as a URL) you should distrust the information and ask for the source. And, if none of the above are satisfied, it's probably a good idea not to pass it on.

As a closing point, and relating back to the issue of rumours about people, there's one class of rumour that I think deserves special attention, for different reasons. It's the group notice and copy/pasted text (or notecard) that goes around informing you that a named avatar has griefed a sim. Sometimes the sim will be named, often it won't be. And, yet, the details of the attack (at least the effects of it) will be given in some detail. This sort of thing is a little more tricky to check the veracity because, of course, this isn't something that has an official source. One thing I would say though, if you're faced with such information and a desire to pass it on: read up on the concept of a Joe job first. Can you think of a better method of trying to get an innocent avatar banned from as many sims as possible?


  1. Well said. I really think critical thinking should be taught more frequently.

  2. That'd help so much wouldn't it?

    Even then, I think a bigger "problem" is that many people won't accept correction. It's understandable to some degree, I guess, because when informed that something is fake or a scam or just plain nonsense they're bound to feel like they've been duped -- and I guess nobody likes to look and feel like they've been duped.