Project Viewer: Group Bans

Editor’s Note: Thank you to the blog “Living in a Modemworld” which provided the basis for this post.

One of the peskiest problems that businesses, clubs and other public groups have are griefers and other pests who join groups, spam the group and then leave or are kicked out only to return over and over again. Or a disgruntled former employee or customer decides to use the group as a venue for airing their grievances. Either way, having a “click here to join” open group means that you are also opening yourself up to problems.

So how to solve this? Other than simply chasing out each person as they cause trouble, and watching them come back over and over again, or they create alts to wreck havoc and spam your group, there has not been a viable solution until now.

As of June 18, 2014, Linden Labs has released a project viewer that allows for group ban. This viewer was actually released on June 17th, but wasn’t active on all servers until June 18th. This viewer (version, as its name suggests, allows group owners (and those they nominate by role) to ban individuals from their group.

These group bans are enforced on the server side, similar to the way that parcel and estate bans work, and provides a viable way to remove pests from a group and keep them from re-joining. Eventually this will be part of the release viewer, but this project viewer allows users to get a taste of the features of this viewer. This will make SL group chat a lot more peaceful for most residents.

In the blog Living in a Modemworld, the author noted the following:

• By default, only a group’s Owners role has the Manage Ban List ability for banning other avatars from a group /removing avatars from the ban list

• The ability can be granted to other roles, if required

• Roles which are granted this ability are also granted the Eject Members from this Group and Remove Members from Roles abilities

• The ban list for a group can store a maximum of 500 entries. When this limit is reached, some avatars must be removed before others can be added

• Group Owners cannot be banned from a group (just as they cannot be ejected)

• When a group member is banned from the group, they are automatically ejected and will receive the usual ejection notification, but will not receive any notice that they have also been banned

• A user who is banned from a group cannot join it either directly or through an invitation

• If a group member is banned while using group chat, they may be able to continue using it until they close the group chat window (this problem also exists when ejecting someone from a group when they have the group chat window open)

• Any attempt to invite one or more banned avatars into a group, whether individually or as a part of a list, will generate the message: “Some residents have not been sent an invite due to being banned from the group.”

Obviously, it is not without it’s limitations, as if the avatar causing a problem has group chat open when they are banned, they can continue to continue to post even after being banned, and if someone is serious about spamming your group, or airing their grievances, if they leave the group chat window open indefinitely and don’t log out, they would be able to continue to cause a problem. However, hopefully eventually they will tire of their silly behavior and move on.

In the Release Notes from the project viewer wiki, it answers some important questions for group owners:

How do I ban somebody from my group?

1. Login with a viewer that supports group ban
2. Ensure that you have “Manage ban list” ability
• This information is found in the group info floater, under ‘Roles’ -> ‘ROLES’ -> ‘Allowed Abilities’ panel -> ‘Group Ban’ section
3. To ban via the group member list,
• Open the group info floater’
• Open ‘Roles’ -> ‘MEMBERS’, and select the group members you wish to ban
• Hit the ‘Ban Member(s)’ button
• The selected group members will be ejected from the group and added to the ban list
4. To ban any user from your group (a member or not)
• Open the group info floater
• Open ‘Roles’ -> ‘BANNNED AGENTS’
• Hit the ‘Ban Resident(s)’ button
• Using the people picker floater, find the avatars you wish to ban
• Hit the ‘Ban Residents’ button
• The avatars will be added to the ban list. If they were group members, they will also be ejected from the group.

Conversely, the wiki discusses how to unban someone:

How do I unban somebody from my group?

1. Login with a viewer that supports group ban
2. Ensure that you have “Manage ban list” ability
3. Open the group info floater
4. Open ‘Roles’ -> ‘BANNNED AGENTS’
5. Select the banned agents you wish to unbar
6. Hit the ‘Remove Ban(s)’ button

This group ban viewer is compatible with Windows, iOS and Linux.

Please visit the Modemworld blog; Inara Pey has some awesome pics and more information.

This viewer is a huge step forward in giving group owners a tool for removing and permanently dealing with disruptive avatars.

Related links:

Living in a Modemworld
Release Notes/Second Life Project Group Ban

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZoHa Islands Social Media Manager

Phoenix Firestorm Question and Answer Session

One thing that SLers often disagree about, is which viewer to use — the SL official viewer, Firestorm, Singularity — the list goes on. Each person has their favorite, and each person’s system handles one viewer better than another.

For me personally, I was madly in love with Singularity. It did everything I wanted it to, it was user friendly, it had the best features of Firestorm and SL viewer meshed into one… I was a happy girl. However, for some reason the last time I upgraded the viewer, I’ve been having rendering problems, and sadly I’ve had to start trying out other viewers. I saw that Firestorm finally had a 64-bit viewer, so I downloaded it, albeit a bit apprehensively, since both the SL viewer and Firestorm used to make me crash like crazy.  I was hoping the 64-bit version, coupled with the graphics card upgrade I made recently, would prevent the crashies like I used to have.

I’ve been using Firestorm for about a week now, and I really like it. I still miss some of the simpler features of Singularity, but the rendering problem was just too much for me to deal with. It was impossible to view SL properly.

One of the nicest things about Firestorm, is that it is the leading third party viewer, and it has amazing in-world support, including free classes that Firestorm staffers teach in-world. Recently, they taped a two-hour session where they discussed some of the issues that Firestorm users have brought up, starting with a discussion about the problems many users have been having with Norton Anti-virus and other anti-virus software. It sometimes interfering with the ability to use Firestorm properly, because the software identifies the Firestorm coding as a trojan horse and often quarantines it before it can be stopped, and the user cannot get it out.

After doing a “flame and shame” post on Twitter, they got an immediate tweet back from Norton apologizing for the problem, and within the hour, a representative from Norton had created an SL account and logged his avatar in world, found the Firestorm sim and came over to help facilitate the problem! This was someone who had never been in SL before in his life, and they felt the problem was serious enough to create an avatar to come help. Firestorm staffers were very impressed.

The video is quite long, but you can listen to it in the background while you do other things but it addresses many of the common issues, besides the anti-virus problem. It is very interesting to get an insider’s view of the viewer creation and update process, and the burnout many support people experience after a new release is issued and the vitriol that comes at them from users who have problems with the updates. It also has many good tips on how to deal with viewer problems, especially ones that seem to crop up overnight and for which they get blamed.

Have a listen; even if you’re not a Firestorm user, it has some very good insights into the workings of the viewers and their interactions with SL.

As always I remain respectfully yours,

~ Suzanne Piers, ZI Social Media Manager