Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Laying Down the Law Online

There was an interesting article "crimes" and punishment in the virtual realm in the Washington Post today. When it comes to virtual worlds, part of me can't help but think of this exchange between Dwight Shrute and Jim Halpert on The Office regarding Second Life:

Dwight: It's not a game. There are no losers.
Jim: Oh, there are losers...
On the other hand, I realize I spend an inordinate amount of my life online: job hunting and networking, reading and writing blogs, e-mailing and Superpoking friends, shopping, researching, catching up with the news. The internet isn't my second life. It IS my life.

According to the article:
"Slipping a four-letter word into an instant message now could land a user in a virtual timeout. Repeated attempts to make friends with an uninterested character could result in a loss of blogging privileges. And if convicted of starting a "flame war," or an exchange of hostile messages, a user may endure the ultimate punishment -- permanent exile."
Hmm--seems like the community managers could come up with more original and fitting punishments than THAT!!! Here's a couple of ideas:

Crime: Content Scrapers
Punishment: They should be tarred and feathered. Not virtually--in real life!

Crime: Shameless self-promotion
Punishment: You will be required to relinquish your cool "Wizard" avatar and replace it with a picture of Donald Trump.

Crime: An overwhelming need to be the resident "expert"
Punishment: 30 days of only ASKING not answering questions

Crime: Spamming fellow community members
Punishment: Points can only be spent to buy virtual Viagra (whether you're male OR female), car insurance (whether or not you own a virtual vehicle) or Detox products (this seems quite fitting for a spammer!).

Crime: Posting in ALL CAPS
Punishment: One week where any all cap word will be auto-translated into Swahili and a permanent ban on the use of the exclamation mark key.

Crime: Rampant misspellings, bad grammar and the use of "txt msg" syntax.
Punishment: One week of communication limited to words that use only the letters P, G, B, I and U.

If you were "Sheriff of the Internet," what crimes would you punish and how?

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