Can Update Groups and Subscribe-o-Matics Be Rude?


In the past few weeks I’ve declined a few group invitations and note card offers from Gwenny Fanshaw, the most recent of which was to join SLASH! SHOES & FASHION (gotta love the caps). It was followed by an offer of a note card titled Every Month 3 Exclusive FREE Outfits – NOT Freebies! Get YOURS, with the GroupInviter object being owned by Dig Dollinger.

Can you see the irony in the SLASH! group’s charter description?

This is the SLASH! Update Group to keep our customers informed about new releases, monthly groupgifts and new additions.

Please DON`T use the groupchat for chatting or spamming. Every Spammer will get kicked immediately and reported to LL. Please respect the privacy from our groupmembers. 

Thank you!
Dig Dollinger

Despite Dig’s inability to use the space bar to separate his words, what stands out to me is a group that advertises using spam is against spam in group chat – and he definitely doesn’t want any of the group’s 5,000 members talking amongst themselves about … well … anything. Why? Because I can only assume that that would be annoying. As annoying as being spammed by their GroupInviter bot, Gwenny Fanshaw. Do as I say not as I do?

I don’t mind being “randomly” invited to a group, since I can simply decline. I do mind the follow-up spam note card slap, because it signifies my being added to an automatic group inviter without my consent. Especially since clicking the subscription object doesn’t result in my ability to remove myself from the damn database list.

A friend who also received the notices quickly ranted, “I wish these idiots had a life instead of sending unsolicited invites to people.  If I was interested in their group or product I would be in contact with them”.

Fortunately, Second Life® generates originating SLUrls for inventory offers and messages from objects, so, a friend and I teleported to Tenochtitlan (14, 218, 752). I’d received a different spam ad (‘NameListInviterAndNotecardGiver’ owned by Gwenny Fanshaw) for Club Aztec on an alt account that never leaves the sim he’s in from a similar SLUrl hovering above the Tenochtitlan sim (oddly enough, Club Aztec has ancient Egyptian motifs featured heavily on the building structure).

Upon teleporting, my lovely photographer/assistant and I landed on a platform on which Ben Turas, implementer of this particular unsolicited automatic group inviter system, was hanging out with just shy of a dozen bots who were doing his bidding – Accapulco Joles, AyrumaBank Oceanlane, Eliana Constantine, Gwenny Fanshaw, helpbrasil Aeon, KeikeLisa Franizzi, Milan Forwzy, Nel Little, QualityCouture Bravin, Reesa Ashbourne, and ZagoskinUpdateGroup Magic. Each was faithfully doling out group invites for Accapulco Mall, Club Aztec, Free BDSM Sex Club, Fashion-R-Us groups, and others at Turas’s direction.

When we arrived it looked as though Mr. Turas was adding names to his database to be disseminated through the bots (check out the Classified in his profile for how it works). He was very friendly, then got less friendly as I began asking assholey questions.

[8:46]  Ben Turas: hi catero
[8:46]  You: hello
[8:47]  You: i’m kinda wondering why i keep getting spam messages from this location
[8:47]  Ben Turas: how much did you get catero ?
[8:47]  You: the point is, i haven’t consented to be included in any of the groupinvites
[8:48]  Ben Turas: I understand. How many messages did you get ?
[8:48]  You: enough that i decided to come here myself
[8:49]  You: what option do you have for people to take themselves off your lists?
[8:50]  Ben Turas: The note card you got is accompanying a group invite. If you got it more than once, there might be a system malfunction. Thats why I ask how many times you got it
[8:51]  You: how are you collecting people
[8:51]  You: *people’s names for this?
[8:51]  Ben Turas: I have gadgets for that
[8:51]  Ben Turas: as far as i can see, you only got the invite once
[8:53]  You: well, ben, i’m fairly sure that if enough people complain to linden labs – which i plan to – this will be shut down
[8:53]  Ben Turas: what is it with people like you, You receive a friendly invite to join a group, that gives you something for free. 2 clicks and its out of your face
[8:53]  You: i’ve been below. the groupinvite panels in the club do not have any option to remove oneself
[8:53]  Ben Turas: in stead you spent all this time to come here and …..
[8:54]  You: because you’ve created a tool that is colossaly annoying
[8:54]  Ben Turas: two clicks is colossaly annoying ?????
[8:55]  You: A. you shouldn’t be sending notices to people who have not consented to be on any advertising list
[8:55]  You: B. the retailer who sent me a notice had NO information on their note as to how to remove themself from the list
[8:56]  Ben Turas: in your communicate window there is a group tab. if you joined the group by accident, you can remove yourself from the group there.
[8:56]  You: i didn’t join the group by accident. and they are not sending me unsolicited notecards by accident
[8:57]  You: i’m glad i clicked the slurl and came up here to see for myself. good day

(Is colossaly even a word?)

Am I overreacting, or is he indeed “worse than those GIF ad pop ups that sell you domain/webhosting deals with smileys”, as one resident has commented? Whether or not, residents have the right to choose what they intend to be involved in/with or not. And sending marketing information in this manner to someone who has not requested it shows a lack of consideration.

In real life, marketing companies can glean your contact information from or through public record, marketing offers, charitable donations, answered surveys or directly through the telephone directory. In Second Life, as Ben Turas states above, he has “gadgets” (presumably visitor list bots) that scoop up your name and transmit your information into his system. 

Turas seems to have adapted the Cassini Creations tool (see: New in SL: Automatic Group Invite), originally intended for avatars to give consent by clicking an object to join, into his own annoying application.

In Canada, legislation was passed several years ago that prevents unsolicited (tele)marketers from contacting citizens without their permission (read: Canadians will soon be disconnected from telemarketers). The Do Not Call Registry that was born out of the initiative has very recently been put into place. Private residents can place themselves on the registry and have the ability to file a legal complaint against any non-exempt companies that contact them (by phone) for advertising purposes. (Tele)Marketing agencies can register to see who they are legally not permitted to contact and the onus is on them to know (they must pay a fee for access to the list).

I’m sure if enough people complain about this particular use of automatic group invite technology, article 4.1 of the Terms of Service or the Harassment policy in the Community Standards could be used to give Mr. Turas a slap on the wrist or something more binding.

But maybe I’m one of the few bellyachers in this respect.

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10 Responses to “Can Update Groups and Subscribe-o-Matics Be Rude?”

  1. Hell no, I got spammed on two different accounts with this, and it totally sucks. I certainly did not join any groups or ask to be spammed with random invites.

  2. Excellent post Cat! I think just about everybody has been getting hit with increasing levels of spam in SL around group invites. I haven’t done the research back through the system though, and I just always assumed it was somebody taking advantage of one group I was in and then spamming the entire group with the invite.

    After reading this, I see it as a lot more nefarious and has a lot more potential to grow from mildly annoying, to major pain in the ass real quick. It is an invasion of privacy to collect your names, and use them to spam multiple entities without your permission. I see future ad farm leeches trying to shift revenue streams over by selling clubs and other retailers on the idea of trading this “service” for some type of payment. Sounds scary to me.

    The problem is that I am not sure the best way to fight it. Do we keep inviting LL into more of a policing role, which I have some reservations about? Or is there some sort of law already in place to protect consumers already that can be applied in this case?

  3. I was wondering how this kept happening and now I know. I get at least several invites, notices, etc. a week from places I’ve never heard of and groups I’ve never joined, with no idea on how to get rid of them. Thanks for doing the research and shedding some light on the issue!

  4. I agree and thanks for the list of the accounts or alts who I can now mute 🙂 .. please keep the list going until the Lindens step in.

  5. Thank you for the info Catero. I reqally thought it was someone picking names from one of my groups. Now I know better. Don’t know if ARs are going to solve anything, but at least it will be annoying for the spammers. As for the bots, LL is doing nothing about it I think 😦

  6. Jack Abraham Says:

    I’m with you that this is downright annoying. My practice is to report each instance, both the spamming bot and the owner of the group on whose behalf I’m being spammed, as harassment. I’ve got a boilerplate for it.

  7. Hello everyone,

    Yes, it’s me, the so called spammer. I agree with all the reactions that getting unsolicited pop-ups, whether it is a note card or a group invite can be annoying.

    On the other hand, look at real life. Could we do without advertising? How would you find out about an interesting product? See the “spam” in SL in the same light. The example given, the Slash group and the free products is in my opinion a harmless type of spam and should not lead to hefty reactions.

    It takes you less than 30 seconds to read enough of the note card to determine whether or not you should keep it or throw it away. If I see a free product that appeals to me, I would keep it. If not, I don’t. Just a few clicks and its forgotten, or stored to be used. If the pop-up comes at a bad time, two clicks and its out of your face.

    What’s 30 seconds compared to getting a free product every month ?

    *grins* and “colossaly” is misspelled, it should be colossally !

    The gadgets are not bought, but created by me and my son.

    Pity I didn’t found this page before, or else I would have reacted sooner.

    kind regards, Ben

  8. Man, I’m glad TSL doesn’t have this kind of thing yet. It sounds annoying as all hell.
    Least, now I know how I’ll deal with the spam like this when advert spammers get around to TSL / I transfer to maingrid, whichever comes first.
    How does one get the SLurl off of an item being spammed to you?

  9. Blau, when a scripted object spams your avatar name, the line(s) of spam include the SLurl of the object the message is originating from. This includes subscribe-o-matics.

    For subcribe-o-matics the message will include something like:

    [Store/service brand name] subscribe-o-matic is owned by [store/service owner name]
    = http://slurl.com/secondlife/Blahblahblah/128/128/0

    For other scripted objects is may say:

    An object named [name of prim] at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Blahblahblah/128/128/0 has sent you a message.

  10. Mm, thanks. That’ll be useful. 😀

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