Linden Lab Official:Bot policy

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The following is taken from the text of a post to the official Second Life Blog made to set policy on bots on April 23, 2009.

Camping or Traffic Bots

Almost everyone agrees that using Bots to manipulate traffic (and therefore Search rankings) is unfair. Not only with respect to Search itself but also due to the load on Mainland Region resources and how that can impact other Residents in the area. Therefore we are setting policy that attempting to gain an unfair Search advantage, by the use of Bots to inflate the Traffic for a parcel, will be considered a violation. This policy applies to both Mainland and Private Estates as both are represented in Search.

How will this be enforced?

This time next week we will begin to routinely look at the Search results and where we find clear use of Bots to gain an unfair Search advantage we will be handling it as an abuse issue. We will not need you to abuse report this, instead we will monitor the Search results. To begin with we will message the land owner to issue a warning, but this will escalate to an account suspension or removal from Search if it persists. The usual Abuse-appeals process will be available for anyone that feels that the decision is unfair. We will not be banning or removing Bots from Second Life. There are many amazing and useful ways to use Bots and the fact that in some circumstances they can be misused should not impact the more constructive users of Bots. We wouldn't remove Scripting because it can sometimes be used in bad ways, and Bots are no different in that respect. Going forward we are going to look at ways to allow you to voluntarily identify to us that an account is a Bot, so that we can remove it from Traffic completely. We will continue to strive toward providing more statistical data to land owners, including the number of visitors they receive. However, the way these statistics relate to Search ranking will be changing. In the next few months, we will be making both technical and policy changes to the way relevance and ranking works in Search. The "traffic" score will be only one aspect of the ranking logic, and it will be scrubbed and weighted to account for gaming vectors. Our goals will be to (1) provide an informative and delightful search experience for all residents, and (2) increase fairness and reliability of the Search service for people who place listings. So Traffic will remain as part of Search ranking. Stay tuned to the blog to learn more about Search improvements and to join the discussion.

Now we come to Land Bots

We know that being able to safely transfer Land between accounts is very important and so we have decided to provide a safe way to do this on the website, later in 2009 . In addition we also intend to move other forms of Land sale to the website, including allowing auctions between residents for the first time which we're really excited about. We'll be talking more about this soon. So for now we are not going to remove Land Bots; we expect that as we develop the web tools further, by the end of 2009 Land Bots will cease to work as far as buying up parcels is concerned. In the meantime, where we see Land Bots causing unreasonable load on Search or the regions they operate in, or where they cause nuisance by regularly getting stuck at welcome areas or infohubs, that will be dealt with as a violation. That also includes the use of large numbers of Land Bots to get around the throttling of Search requests. So to summarize..

  • Use of Bots to game Traffic will be considered a violation.
  • Bots are fine and we totally support their good use inworld, but we will deal with inappropriate use of them.
  • Traffic has value as a land metric, and will remain.
  • Responsible use of Land Bots is acceptable for now, but overuse will result in further action.