Security Orbs – Abuse or not Abuse?

So you are flying along peacefully with a plane load of enthusiastic passengers and next without warning you find yourself watching the virtual daisies growing in your front yard and your unsuspecting passengers are scattered about who knows where.  It’s probably happened to all pilots at one time or another and is a big reason that what few landlocked airports exist in SL are more museums than active airports.

Or maybe you received a 20 second warning, cranked up the juice and got out of there safely and continued on your merry way. Certainly 20-30 seconds is enough to escape anything other than a full sim parcel right?

So the question comes to mind, do you feel abused by the above? Certainly the second scenario at least gives you a chance to escape the wrath of the security orb and politely leave the parcel. The first one not so much.

So lets start with a few facts:

  1. Common ban lines, that is those that do not specify a named avatar, extend to a maximum of 50m above the land.
  2. A named avatar ban extends to the maximum rezzing height.
  3. A security orb has the option of kicking you off the parcel or forcing a teleport home.

Starting with point 1, common bans (group access and access list based restriction) was clearly designed to allow uninterrupted overflight. Were this not the case, these types of bans would be total (i.e. maximum height).

A ban on a specific person extends up to the maximum effective height. These types of bans are needed to deal with griefers and other specific unwelcome guests. Not at all intended to ban the general population from overflight.

This is where security orbs come in. A security orb has little value within 50m of the land since general population ban is effective at that level. The primary function of a security orb then is to build a gap between what Linden Labs intended by setting the maximum common ban to 50m vs what the land owner desires for privacy.

The overarching question here is, does this constitute abuse? On the surface, the answer seems to be a cut and dried “yes”.  But not so fast. A quick review of the knowledge base reveals a degree of tolerance for scripted tools for access management (a.k.a. “orbs”) (Ref: SL Knowledge Base: Managing Your Parcel:

Script Use

You can use scripted objects to enhance your land ownership tools. Generally, such scripts should:

  • Provide adequate warning to the undesired Resident.
  • Only work within the property lines (this includes projectiles that cannot operate beyond the parcel boundaries).
  • Not be excessive in the removal of the unwanted Resident. Pushing an avatar off the property or teleporting them home is generally acceptable; intentionally applying a script to disrupt someone’s Second Life connection or online status is not allowed.

Scripts or no scripts, you cannot use land ownership as a way to unfairly restrict another Second Life Resident’s personal freedoms.

Like or no like, this block in an official publication clearly condones the use of security orbs and does not restrict their use by height. So we are stuck with them.

However please note the first bullet point. This text clearly calls to “Provide adequate warning…”.  Combining this with the third point, while use of security orbs is acceptable, there is an expectation of reasonable usage without malicious intent.

That said, I submit that zero-warning security orbs ARE abusive. This clearly violates the intent of the above knowledge base article.  Anything short of sufficient time for the avatar to clear the airspace affected in a reasonable amount of time should constitute a reportable abuse and this entry in the knowledge base supports that.

There are of course two problems. First, obviously an actual abuse report isn’t likely to bring much attention in this case. Simply put, LL is a big company and you are a small fish. Should anyone decide to pursue this matter, be sure to have the above reference handy.

Second problem is, these orbs don’t exactly make it easy to identify the owner. Once they hit you, you cannot gain any insight to the land to find out the responsible person. The best workaround to that is to go back the next day to a nearby parcel and do a land view without entering the offending parcel. The thing is, most of these orbs set a timed ban of a couple of hours. This is to avoid filling up their ban list. Once that ban is cleared, you will be able to extract information on the parcel without actually entering the parcel and getting tossed again.

llTeleportHome

Unfortunately, the previously referenced knowledge base article specifically condones the use of llTeleportHome with security orbs. While this command has its place on private estates, it is and has been for years my opinion that this function should be disabled on mainland regions. Its use alone in my view violates the spirit of the opening line of bullet point three and the final paragraph of the knowledge reference.

On a private estate, there is simply no place to send an unwanted avatar except home. But for mainland, the powers of an orb to thoroughly disrupt someone’s activities and travels clearly conflicts with the spirit of the overall statement.

Summary

In closing, here are my conclusions for what they are worth:

  1. Security orbs with sufficient warning to clear the area are not abusive.
  2. Zero warning security orbs are abusive.
  3. Orbs that force teleport home are not abusive but should be.

Sadly security orbs are here to stay and there is no getting rid of them.  But it would be great if we could see the end of llTeleportHome.

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3 thoughts on “Security Orbs – Abuse or not Abuse?

  1. I find that ten seconds is rather too short a time for reacting to a security orb, partly because of general lag delaying the arrival of the warning, especially if sim-crossing is involved. About all anyone can be reasonably be expected to do is carry on in a straight line and trust to time and speed to clear the affected parcel. Some mainland land-rental operations have clear indications of their presence, visible on the map and from a distance in-world. You have to be very close before you see a ban-line, which can be problematic for ground vehicles.

    In the real world, possible dangers to aircraft such as TV masts are expected to have marker lights, and are indicated on aviation charts.

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  2. In general I don’t really object to orbs if they A) give a 15 second or longer warning and B) are actually protecting something and aren’t just set to an unlimited range. Most of the time ban lines should be enough and if you have a skybox, it really should be high enough that a reasonable orb on it wouldn’t be a problem. Most of the time when I hit an orb, there is nothing in sight that would need one.

    Aside from zero second orbs, another type that is abusive are the ones that then auto-add you to the parcel ban list or worse yet, a muti-sim banlist for everyone using that brand of orb. . That is a function that shouldn’t even exist in LSL. The only way you should be able to get added to a ban list is if a real person manually adds you.

    There is one scenario where I can’t totally blame a parcel owner for a fast orb or even whitelisted entry. That’s where some idiot builds an airport without clear access to Linden protected water or land and the owner(s) of the parcel(s) on the approach suddenly finds their quiet beach area has low flying aircraft constantly overhead. In that case, I condone whatever they feel they need to do to protect the enjoyment of their parcel. Land with water access is more expensive. That’s one of the costs associated with setting up an airport. More than one person has found this out the hard way when access to their runway was effectively cut off

    Ultimately there’s not much you can do about it on mainland sims. LL’s stance is pretty much that the parcel owner has full control of access from the seafloor to the rez limit. Thus most pilots really try to avoid flying over mainland as much as possible.

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  3. I agree with Crim – I won’t buy or rent an estate that absolutely forbids me security orbs. The properties selling small island estates which did forbid orbs were beset by griefers, predictably. I’d say I understood the issue on islands, but some orbs with “bounding boxes” can be set so that a yacht would have to be attempting to sail literally onto a beach or shoreline to run into orb trouble… which makes the yacht owner the bad guy to me.

    Aviators just need to be restrained from zooming property owners or hovering copters over other folks’ property while they fap to naked pixels or create other privacy or usabiility issues.

    Does anyone have a UNICOM-like messager that simply warns aviators off when they’re ABOUT to verge over someone’s property, say, below 100 meters above sea level?. This would allow a reasonable co-existence between island owners and aviators, so that air space over islands could be shared without excessive loss of privacy, or at least restricted in the same way it is in real life – with a warning in time for the aviator concerned to change course before his flight was ruined.

    An all-in-one product that warned aviators about to violate someone else’s air space before momentum actually carried them into it, then bounced them once they’d actually violated air space for more than (say) 20 seconds would be nice. I’d buy one for a reasonable price.

    I’ve invested in several different kinds of orbs (ones that let you define boundaries with “bounding boxes,” ones that hug estate boundaries, ones that protect everything within a certain radius (worst kind of all AFAIC, for I’ve never seen circular property). I’ve never set warning times less than 15 seconds (usually they’ve been 30 or greater unless griefers took advantage of that).

    When I shared a sim with friends, I made sure to set a ceiling on how high my orb would exclude strangers, so the friends I was renting from wouldn’t be inconvenienced by ban lines on the level above mine where most of their activities were held.

    That last capability would solve almost all of SL aviation’s problems with orbs. That leaves people who fly ‘phibs, but since amphibious operation is usually near aviation-friendly marinas, and far from private property held by those who aren’t pilots or passengers, why should that be an issue, really?

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