Sunday, November 18, 2007

Why Proky Neva should not be considered a reliable source of information

Although not a legally recognised offence, paedophilia (sexual attraction toward children) invariably involves the commission of crimes such as sexual assault, indecency and offences relating to child pornography. Paedophilia may be dealt with either by adopting a medical model in which treatment is provided with a view to preventing the occurrence of further undesirable conduct, or by punishing individuals through the use of the courts. James examines many issues of relevance to the debate on paedophilia.

Adam Graycar in the introduction to Marianne James' Paedophilia.

Prokofy "Proky" Neva is justifiably one of the most detested individuals in second life. A long track record of angry rants, smears, lies, disinformation presented in an arrogant and pseudo-authoritative way, combined with the incessant presentation of her as something of a source of information are a very good way of making someone disliked. In reality she is just an oldbie land baron who vents and rants because she's never actually done anything but insult people and self-promote. She is a representative of a very small group of people who make money by holding Second Life back.

I'm not one to say that an interest group should not rally around their representatives. In fact, if the people they rally around are unpleasant and unreliable, that is a very good way for others to realize that the interest group is suspect. Nasty people elect or select other nasty people to represent them. In the end this is why the old Republican Congress collapsed, because it represented interests who selected Tom Delay, Mark Foley, and others, who engaged in illegal and immoral conduct as their leaders.

Proky Neva's method, or schtick, if you like, is to gain attention through trying to exploit sensationalism. It worked on Electronic Art's Sims Online, and has, to a lesser extent here. She is also a representative of a certain slice of people trying to make money in Second Life, and attacks Linden Labs from that angle. However, simply because LL has made mistakes, and engaged in actions which are deserving of censure, as even many LL supporters admit, does not mean that every ranting critic of LL is worthy of attention. For every symptom, there are dozens of false cures, in addition to appropriate courses of treatment. Proky peddles false cures, often for illnesses that don't exist.

An excellent example is her misguided position on the new search feature. Recently she was seen ranting that she "predicted perfectly" the problems with the new search. An examination of her argument shows that first her statement is self-serving: she predicted she wasn't going to like the new search, which is rather like me predicting that I will not like a meal at Taco Bell. While people like Vint Falken have been doing careful investigative work about real problems with the new search, including permissions problems, Prokofy is busy telling us that the camping farms are going to dislike a search that reduces, but by no means eliminates, the power of camping. If this were merely offered as an opinion, then well, Proky and everyone are entitled to opinions. But phrasing them as circular arguments is not a way to present those opinions credible.

But the difference between an opinion and a bias is the grounding in facts. It is one of the most important points made about public discussion, from Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, that while we are all entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts. Consistently, Proky wants her own facts. In the case of the search function she falsely proclaimed that camping only effected "a few" sites. This is simply not a statement that withstands scrutiny in any objective way.

The proof of this can be had in old search on almost any popular term. In fact, search on popular places, both mature and not, is as good a place to start as any. At this point following up with searches on "hair" or 'skin" and even relatively specific terms, should be enough to convince anyone that camping dominates the top 10 of almost any common search. Traffic as a warped metric for search is widely recognized by almost everyone who isn't part of the traffic system. Recently, in my world the major clubs have more or less given up on it, and have taken the hit to both search and visibility that this brings. But non one is really happy about it, it is just that it was impossible to supply content and camping. As a result, early searches for content lead to places that overcharge for free or close to free items.

Another example is Proky's position on huge prims, which is in opposition. This position is against the interests of almost all active residents of second life. Huge prims are far from the optimal way of implementing larger than 10M building, almost everyone involved in using them would gladly trade the current hacked set for the ability to directly create huge prims which were then integratable into second life and its physics engine. However in the question between yes or no, the quality of second life would be dramatically reduced without them.

Don't believe me, believe the experts, and believe Caledon, one of the most vivid and vibrant user themed continents. Proky's object, if it can be called that is that huge prims don't LOD out as easily, but this cost is more than balanced by the reduction in both client and server lag that having fewer polygons and fewer primitives. If people want a numerical example, they can come to Cecil, where we have hundreds of huge prims in use at Yedo, and check the statistics on the sim: it ranges between 7ms and 11ms, and that is directly dependent on script use or whether there is an event going on at the time. The numbers are very clear, using 10x10 prims to do floor and walls generates more lag than using huge prims, and means there are more objects and textures to deal with.

Again Proky wants her own facts...

... but if Proky were merely a self-interested ranter who grabs on to random bits in support of her self-interest and the self-interests of the very narrow range of people who are like her, then it would not be very interesting to write about her, and I wouldn't spend any time on worry ing about what she writes. Instead it is that Proky combines an excessive visibility with a flagrant disregard for facts as a means of attacking other people.

The most well known example, I think, of Proky's outright paranoia is the so called "Feted Inner Core" hypothesis. In this Proky argued that there were a small group of people who had friend inside of LL, and they pushed out everyone else in a zero sum game. It isn't that LL has not shown favoritism, but as a sweeping explanation for why Proky herself isn't more important, it fails almost every rational test, starting with looking at who has been successful. Yes, some have been successful by working LL contacts, often wildly so. But there are clear problems with FIC.

One obvious contradiction in Proky's …hmmm reasoning is too strong a word, let's call it chain of assertions… is cause and effect: did LL make someone successful because they liked that person, or did LL do business with, and favor, certain people over others because those people were already successful and LL had to do business with someone? Proky never disposes of this as a possibility.

Another is that many people, Proky herself included, have become successful despite being on LL's bad side.

I am not even sure that the fundamental assertion that LL picked winners and losers, in particular, could be established by the facts. It is true that LL often does things that favor certain ends over others, and many of its decisions are questionable. That is that Linden Labs distorts the economy, and here I am usign the word in a speicfic way, does not mean that LL arranges for particular winners and losers. Or at least not to the degree that Proky asserts. and Proky nowhere comes up with any kind of data or analysis that would support the hypothesis in its breath-takingly conspiracy theory nut form that she presents.

It is also certainly true that Second Life is not a market economy, simply because LL is not under any pressure to make it, to use some jargon, Pareto Optimal. That is, LL has no incentive to make the total Second Life Economy as large as possible, but instead it has to make it as profitable for Linden Labs as possible. We live in a monarchy, not a democracy, on Second Life, and if LL could make twice the profit by halving the size of the economy, then that is what its business decision makers would do.

The next thing to do is to look at an example of the personal malice and delusion of Proky directed at individuals, and the best one I know of is in relation to someone who is much more important than I am to second life: Siobhan OFlynn. If you like anything about Second Life, then you should thank Siobhan because she, at some personal risk and expense, was there to fight for it.

I have had a falling out with Siobahan over her support for Cristiano and his "throttling" obsession, because I am one of the people that Cristiano wants to drive from second life. Matters of life and death spoil friendships in a hurry. However Proky's characterizations of Siobhan as being "odious and hate filled" are so far from accurate as to be unbelievable. Siobhan, while I disagree with her SL political affiliation, is rather much one of the more easy going people in Second Life. You would be hard pressed to find many people in Second Life who have been here as long, been associated with as many important events, and who have been in the thick of those events, who has fewer personal hatreds than Siobhan. Yes there are people who have rubbed her the wrong way, me included, and who have betrayed her sense of the loyalty due to friends. But that is in many cases, if not most cases, because Siobhan is one of the more generous people in second life, one of the more giving, and one of the most loyal of friends.

Proky's over the top bile towards Siobhan is well known. And is hardly isolated. For example, anyone who knows Vint Falken knows that she is extremely level headed, careful, and reasonable, even rational. I aspire to be as logical and as orderly as Vint, but I can never do it. Proky accused Vint of "rage and temper tantrum." It isn't Vint who is throwing hissy fits every day on her blog, it is Proky. At what people do people wake up and realize this? Not yet obviously, but I think soon.

Now let me frame this in personal terms, because this is a conflict that I am personally involved in. When I had just begun blogging I posted on the age play question. I was clear about my position, and as someone who is paid to write, and regarded as a good writer, I know that I was clear. An author has a duty to be clear to people who are good readers, or even open minded ones, and it is a duty that I work hard to live up to. However, people who are not interested in understanding cannot use their solipsism as proof of an author being unclear.

My position then, as now, is that the problem with the age play question is that the current legal structure of banning play under the age of 18 conflates several things which are different things. In legal terms there is simulation of sexual activity with underage people that is malum in se, or bad in itself, and simulation of sexual activity which is malum prohibitum, or illegal because of the need to regulate. Sex itself isn't bad, but some kinds are, and some kinds are problematic enough to have rules about. The distinction is something that anyone who is writing about legal issues, which is virtually all of politics, should "get." Even Reese Witherspoon could get this.

Age play, like the acts that it matches to irl, has parts that are evils in themselves, and parts that are regulations that have a degree of arbitrariness to them.

The first kind is sexual acts with infants and children. I think we can all agree that using a baby as a sex toy is a sign of illness, and that that seduction, coercion or enticement into sexual activity of children who are not sexually mature or emotionally mature is wrong. It is a problem that has erupted into public scandal, but has been with us for a very long time. The sexualization of children is recorded in cultures around the world, and in places that were both uncivilized and highly cultured. Acts depicting children involved in sex can be found in a variety of texts. This is because the direction of libido at children is a variation present in human beings, but one with which we cannot permit its expression because of the damage that it causes.

This is true not because children are asexual beings, but because many of the components of sexuality, including the ability to form deep attachments, reach orgasm and direct affection, are present in children. We do not want to have the development of the psyches of children corrupted by the imposition of adult sexual needs upon them. Use of children as sex objects, or as sexual partners, is wrong in itself. We ban the use of literature, pictures and simulation because we do not want to give people who have this illness, or those who would use this illness for their own profit, a way of connecting and there by causing more damage. Whether our law enforcement methods are good or not, whether our laws are good or not, whether our protections for children are effective or not is a matter of public and expert debate. It is not something that will be solved in second life, or in a blog written by a pixel prostitute, or in any way but broad debate through political means.

That part of the question, like many, belongs in courts, in the major organs of public discussion, guided by the results of rigor and analysis. Just recently the FBI had a forensic test thrown out, with far reaching effects, including the potential to overturn major convictions. Just because we need law enforcement, and we are grateful for the more orderly society that law enforcement makes possible, does not mean that we can suspend critical thinking. Not only was this test invalid, but the FBI failed to notify defendants that their cases had been tainted by its use. The same lesson applies to our efforts to prevent predation on children: we all agree that paedophilia is an evil, however that doe snot mean we can then abandon all reasoning attempting to limit that evil.

However the second range of under 18 sex play is more problematic. People from the age of sexual maturity and the age of 18 are capable of a range of decision making, and in real life, the age of consent is almost always lower than 18. Not all minors are children, even though all children are minors. It is a logical rule that you get taught in school, and almost any one intent on stirring up trouble tries to forget: all A's are B, does not in imply that all B's are A.
We prohibit people from role playing or present acts which are, themselves, legal, or from enacting texts which are, themselves, legal. Consider the famous Romeo and Juliet example. Both Romeo and Juliet are under 18. Juliet is not even 14.

Thus it would be against the ToS, and the law as currently exists in the US, to roleplay Romeo and Juliet, and include the night together that they spend.

It would also be against the ToS and the law as it currently stands to roleplay the following:

"I had a girl that I had a major crush on when we were both 17. I want to roleplay going to the junior prom, taking her out dancing, and then have sex in the back of a limo." Age play, even though the act itself is legal, and the imagining of sexual experiences from teenage is a very common thing based on clinical data. Sexualized situations are common in television and movies, and have been for a very long time. Historically and practically speaking, 18 is late to prohibit all sexual activity.

My position then, and now, clearly stated, is that while sexualization is a question for law enforcement, are we effectively protecting people from an evil that is almost universally admitted to as an evil, sexual activities involving adolescents are not universally admitted to as an evil, and the present law forbids people from pretending to do things that are actually legal to do, and is a more complex question, and one where our current legal frame work is in contradiction with itself, with art and culture, and with practical reality. I am perfectly willing to say that roleplay of sexual activity involving infants and children is something that should be left to clinical and law enforcement situations under closer scrutiny and supervision. I am not willing to admit that the legal hysteria over simulated sex with teenagers is a good thing, nor that our present set of rules makes any actual sense.

On one hand we ant to prevent adults from preying on teenages. On the other hand, while ther are some people who want to ban all sex before marriage, that is not the general social norm we live in, an d it is not a healthy one, if the actual data on abstinence only sex education means anything at all.

However, the problems with simulation of sexual activity between teenagers, or involving a teenager, are not the fault of Linden Labs, but rooted in the legal framework itself. I'm far from alone in seeing this, and my position is solidly mainstream: no sex with children, no sex based on coercion, but anti-sex obsession is far to enshrined in our current legal system and is often picked up in our media system.

Proky Neva of course, has ridden, with handle bars attached to the four poster bed, this hysteria. And in an email exchange dating from the time of that first post accused me of wanting to engage in age play acts. This is a very serious accusation, one that absolutely cannot be drawn from what I do or what I said. Yes I have written about teenage sex, but because it is a formative experience, not because I have an obsession with teenage boys.

Such an accusation, that I have the illness of paedophilia simply because I don't share Proky Neva's confused reading of the legal problems, and her interest in promoting age play hysteria, is not to be taken lightly. People have their lives ruined by these kinds of accusations. If you genuinely believe that someone has the proclivity to engage in sexual acts with children, at the very least, that person should be watched carefully, and if you have any evidence, watched by the authorities. It only takes one victim to be too many.

Go and read the criminal justice report, paedophilia is invariably associated with crimes. Invariably. People should be careful before throwing those kinds of accusations around. Proky is not careful, or to be blunter, she has a willful disregard for the truth.

Proky Neva's trail of hate is not alone in having passed by my door. I am sure there are many people who can come up with more direct examples and longer campaigns of her bile and vitriol. I am also sure that people who are actual prokicologists can build a better case against Prokofy Neva than I can. I simply don't read her nonsense often enough, and it would take a stipend and the promise of a tenure track position to get me to do it.

So the bottom line is that if you want to know what is really going on, read Virtually Blind (who has this to say about Prokofy Neva, or Vint, or Tateru Nino a dozen other excellent bloggers in SL, bloggers who can get by in this world without Proky's insanely jealous vitriolic at everyone more talented at genuine accomplishment than she is.

If you are going to start your day with reporting on second life, then it should be New World Notes, not Second Thoughtless, that should be your first stop. Hamlet, stop me if you have heard this, is a reporter with real skills at balancing and searching for facts. He doesn't hide his interests and biases beyond a fog of noise. And well... shhh.... he can write, and in a clean crisp style that isn't tripping over inaccurate adjectives at every turn.

In fact, I think my very next post should be on the anti-Proky of Second Life, Gwyneth Llewlyn.


  1. What a lame and long post.

    If you don't like someone, don't read them... But saying they lie or smear without supporting facts just makes you look bad.

    It's funny how the people who detest Prokofy seem to detest comments, as well.

  2. @crissa:

    For supporting facts, I give you Prokofy's latest post from this morning:

    It's nothing more than an attack on Ted Castronova, whom Prokofy dislikes, apparently, because Ted doesn't play SL exclusively. I count over 20 ad-hominem slams in the space of 4 paragraphs, all because (a) Ted helps run a blog Prok was banned from (note that Prok has been banned from posting on most of the Internet by this point), (b) Ted is considered an expert in virtual economies (which he is) yet doesn't consider SL the end-all and be-all of virtual worlds, (c) Ted plays World of Warcraft, which Prok implies makes him a pederast.

    Can't make this stuff up!

  3. I don't have any "lies or smears," merely criticism that you don't like.

    Unfortunately for you, the depiction of child pornography by adults or near-18s that you are trying to rationalize and justify here is now banned in Second Life. And that's a good thing.

    So your continued support of it is suspect because you aren't grasping the very persuasive and compelling arguments that the rest of the world is making. LL isn't always right about what they ban; they can be arbitrary and capricious. But on this, they did the right thing -- but it took enormous pressure from real-life law-enforcers and the RL media, and to some extent, complaints from residents. You're out of step with that, in a tiny minority. It's your right to go on advocating these troubling and sad dysfunctions, but don't be surprised if you get static.

    Your venomous post here is merely just your spewing of vitriol because you don't like being challenged on this or any other issue. Land barons aren't evil, and are vital to Second Life. They represent a class and a part of the economy independent from content creators and people like you -- and that's why you loathe them. Too fucking bad. Collectively, we pay the Lindens' bottom line and take care of the customers they don't want to hear from. When you do that, let me know.

    I seem to recall you writing me enormous long and stupid emails about "ageplay" and BDSM. I sure do challenge these deathstyles, and while we all agree that people can do what they like on their land and in the privacy of their home, what's odious about these things is they bleed out into the whole public commons, becoming a style of "governance," i.e. forcible changes on the JIRA, intimidation of people, hostility to any democratic participation. So it definitely needs a pushback.

    Ted Castranova is a B-group economist who made a reputation as a game economist back when nobody bothered. Now there are many more pundits and analysts crowding the field, and he just comes off looking like an ignorant and self-satisfied crank. One doesn't have to be somehow "stuck" on Second Life and its economy to appreciate that it far outstrips in openness and sophistication anything like or World of Warcraft. It's silly to pretend

    Playing WoW doesn't make you a pederast; it does illustrate that you are infantile, however. Somebody just needs to stand up to these arrogant and insolent game-playing boys. I'm here to do that : )

    If a handful of SL-related blogs is "most of the Internet," I guess scott doesn't get out much *bursts out laughing*.

    I'm proud to be banned from blogs run by narrow-minded obsessive-compulsive geeks who seek to control the Web and the Metaverse. They need a huge resistance and I'm here to start tht process, if nobody else will.

    My banning from TN was a patently stupid and unjustified thing that makes these "academics" look like toads. Many people have stopped reading TN. It's not serious. It's about games. Virtual worlds aren't games.


  4. BTW, your faux-sophisticated legal analysis and word-fisking is merely a justification of "ageplay" which is the cynical advocacy of child rape.

    The old Romeo-and-Juliet canard is silly, as in the modern age, people live longer, childhood begins later, and society does not condone, let alone encourage sex by 14 year olds.

    It's literalist and cunning manipulation to suggestion otherwise.

    And it doesn't matter what you find acceptable, legal, just-in-under-the-wire -- the Lindens have made it clear.

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  6. I get tired of the "people live longer now" uninformed excuse. Almost all of the average age gains are from changes in infant mortality. There is a little bit more to it, but that covers most of it

    Lillie would be crazy to even make a hint at condoning ageplay in Second Life. Even if she wanted to, she knows she is too well known to take the chance. It's one thing to debate real life situations-- two 17-year-olds as an example, outside of SL, but in world, any escort with SL assets needs to follow the rules to the letter.

  7. Beth, um, your little friend Yifu *is condoning it right now in this blog post*. She's using specious, cynical, and literalist arguments, just as pedophiles do, with the canard about Romeo and Juliet. She's trying to find areas of justification, and that's wrong.


  8. Use of children as sex objects, or as sexual partners, is wrong in itself. We ban the use of literature, pictures and simulation because we do not want to give people who have this illness, or those who would use this illness for their own profit, a way of connecting and there by causing more damage.

    Maybe she should have used smaller words.

    Or maybe Proky thinks Genarlow Wilson should still be in jail.

    Or maybe it wouldn't have mattered, since dear Proky doesn't bother to confine herself to the facts when attacking people anyway.

  9. I'm really quite amazed that you went here, in a very Prok-esque length post. Amazing!

    Anyway, this isn't anything we aren't aware of. She's insane, she makes stuff up, and she screams and throws tantrums. Great. Just let her stew on her own, it will make the rest of us feel better rather than having to see her starting to affect other mostly impartial blogs as well.

    This is a 2nd SEX blog... why don't you please stick to that? We see her twice as is on the feed. Three times is just too much.

  10. >Use of children as sex objects, or as sexual partners, is wrong in itself. We ban the use of literature, pictures and simulation because we do not want to give people who have this illness, or those who would use this illness for their own profit, a way of connecting and there by causing more damage.

    Um, right. And that's why Yifu needs to stop word-fisking, prevaricating, raising fake Romeo and Juliet analogies, and all the other shenanigans she's engaging in here. "The lady doth protest too much," to quote another Shakespeare play -- if the shoe didn't fit, she wouldn't be ranting in such a long blog : )


  11. "Proky is not careful, or to be blunter, she has a willful disregard for the truth."

    No more true statement has ever been made. Prok is the most intentionally caustic and willingly ignorant person I've ever had the displeasure of talking to.