OK, we are continuing with the subject of fraud and identity online, so hold
on and here we go. You all want to know about avatars. First, let's get this
straight, having a different set of demographic details is all an avatar should
be. Now most of the time, a person's demographic details and the story of their
life is not important. I mean unless I am dating do I care that YB George, my
brother in spirit, is in his sixties, in Canada and happily married and with
kids too. If he was a single college kid instead would that be a problem. No it
Now why wouldn't it be a problem. Well first off YB George asked for nothing but
to innundate my inbox with graphics, jokes, inspirational stuff which was fine
in moderation and when it got out of moderation I got out from under. If I am not asking to hog attention, take up a lot of your time, if I am not pushing emotional buuttons (faking a death or prolonged illness), or causing a public embarassment (People hate to have their buttons pushed and then finding out they wasted their time.) what harm am I doing. I think I am doing a heck of a lot of existential harm as in making the fabric of reality untrustworthy etc.... Remember I hate fraud, total hypcrite that I am.
But if I discuss largely impersonal topics, use humor, take care of business etc... do my demographics matter? Does it matter if I use my last name? Does it matter if I tell you I live in a different city or that I have children when I don't or that I'm eighteen instead of forty-two. This is personal stuff and unless I've got you involved on a very personal level, again why should it matter.
Where demographics fraud matters is where one starts asking for things. Prayer requests are the tip of the ice berg. They cost nothing. They require no committment
and are unlkely to leave those responding to them in a state that leads to public embarassment. Typically those who answer prayer requests in volume do so from a prayer list. The fraud's name becomes one more name on the list. There is no vetting so conceivably an attention seeker could create numerous situations requiring prayer. A frequent flyer on a prayer list is common enough. That one would go under the radar.
Asking for group support gets a bit trickier. If a person monopolizes the conversation with a tale of woe (Cancer is the favorite here), then when the woe turns out to be fiction, group members are going to be pissed. A faked death is
the same as a tale of woe on steroids. If the person goes to a support committee
and asks for support, that is close to the prayer request. The support crew goes out, sends the card, signs the guestbook and that is all she wrote. Geri Drahn continually came to the support committee at RAOK and we had no problem with her.
Where fraud really becomes problematic is when the fraud either fakes a death
or asks for money or material items. Deaths are public. Someone will verify them.
The fraud will be caught and create a public embarssment of mega proportions. The fraud asking for money has the same problem. Money has to go somewhere. How can
it get to the fraud who has no real life address. Even if there is a collaborator who has a post box somewhere, this is a more sophisticated scheme than that of which most frauds are capable. Requests for stuffed animals and blankets were the undoing of Geri Drahn, RAOK's most famous fraud. If she had stuck with the Care Committee she would have been just fine.
A lot of the damage a fraud does is related to why the fraud is out there in the first place. To me fraud is largely environmental. Build an environment with gates in the wrong places, not enough diverse roles for members of a group, a non crit ethods, tolerance for glurge, and you will have frauds. You will of course get them for different reasons. First, one can commit fraud merely to get past a locked gate. Thadea was born for exactly that reason. I own a web site competition which meant I could not compete elsewhere and I wanted to compete again and then recruit to ZOID using the personna of an unhappy but diligent fighter. Well, I needed Thadea to get in the gate in 2001. In 2004 most competitions will let an owner from elsewhere fight. It is questionable whether I would have created Thadea today, but 2001 was not 2004. Thadea was an access fraud. She intended to get access and once inside she did what any other fighter who is active would do.
Then there is fraud for personal expression. Good characters including personnae are fertile and sometimes a fraud comes up just because one wants to build the web site and have the fun of playing the role. Getting a ton of approval/attention from others does not matter. The web site and the talk on a blog or board is enough. Orelle and Haldis are to some degree (more Orelle than Haldis) this type of fraud. No, they don't exist. Yes, their back story fascinates me. I love playing their roles on the Run Amuck board. I really don't need to have them in other communities though some of the reason they are not is that I've had a sour experience with a small ladies group for Haldis and often other communities out there are just not very active. I get the community feel by letting the avatars talk to each other.
Third there is fraud for status improvement. I sort of did this with Thadea. She
had a fine run at a community called The Labor of Love. The community went defunct and I have never been able to replace it for her. The Labor of Love was a board for parents. Eileen as Eileen on that board would have been a second class citizen. She could have registered and joined but she would have had no way to talk and no one to listen to. I cook, but I have few places where I can post recipes. A single adult who cooks is kind of stuck. Thadea, however, could take some of my recipes and post them at the Labor of Love. She could also join the conversation from time to time. The Labor of Love was a large community and Thadea did not hog the spotlight. Through her I had first class status and Thadea gave the community a good twelve or so recipes before the thing collapsed, and it did not collapse due to goings on in the working parents or the recipe area. The group had a sex and relationships area that was steamy to say the least and prone to abuse. There were supposedly frauds in there.
Finally we have malicious frauds. These are the ones everyone is afraid of. Someone commits fraud to commit vandalism, embarass a community (probably the least likely), gain huge amounts of attention etc... steal money etc... I think these are a small minority of frauds. Most fraud is highly successful and under the radar. That's my best guess.
It would be nice if there did not have to be as much fraud as I think there is out there. There are a number of ways to prevent fraud. First, if you don't have to know someone's exact demographics accept you'll get some falsification and let it go. If demographics are important, don't be selective. You don't have to be most of the time. If you are a Christian group admit curious nonChristians. It is OK to come in and lurk and learn. This way no one has to pretend to have a faith one lacks. If you are a parent group, have a place for the curious. The single person can join and put up her recipes. Maybe she has something to give. If you are running a memorial group, set up a section for those wanting to give support and give them credit and kudos for their work. Publicly done memorial work attracts groupies but groupies are better than someone who fakes the death of friends so she can be part of the club.
Second, and this is harder than making a space for people at the table, value real personal experience. Now this seems like a contradiction but I'm not saying to vet demographics. I'm saying squelch glurge. Glurge is clealy not the experience of people on the list. It does not reflect reality. Most children who are dying are
in the third world and sick with infectious disease. If you want to discuss a possible cure for malaria or AIDs in Africa go ahead, but if that is too depressing find another subject and skip the glurge. Glurge crowds out real experience and sets the bar for what is a good story in the wrong place.
And value positive experience as well as negative. Death and illness shold NOT be the only way to gain attention. Make sure there are as many praise reports as prayer requests. That trip to Wal-Mart is important. That new recipe,
those new clothes, that raise at work, are all worth while. The more you accept the less likely someone will be to fake it.
As for personal expression fraud, that does not need tons of attention so it is likely to go under the radar. It may not ever even join your group since there are blogs and multi voice boards that act as fora for that sort of thing. There are also fiction lists.
Well that's it for fraud. I wish my writing were a bit better. Tomorrow night unless something comes up, I'll do avatars and how to make them and run them safely and right. This is a lot of fun. I love writing to this blog because I can say whatever I want here. Everyone should have a blog like this.
In other news, YB George, my brother in spirit, is temporarily banished from my inbox. The reason is that I really can't deal with 10mb a day of unselected "cute" Christmas graphics. I love the holidays as much as anybody and I adore Christmas decorations. I visit RAOK members holiday pages and all, but there are limits. Too much of a good thing makes it a nuiscence and right now given that I'm spending Christmas alone and feeling my way through that, it would be way too big a nuiscence.
I rejoined Super Packin' PSP and reactivated at Ghostletters. I need to turn some of my PNG files into jpgs for use with the PSP group but this is where I belong. I also owe some thankyou mail to people in groups who comforted me about Georgia. In the words of Gerald M. Phillips "you have to know who your real friends are." I know that does not sound original but that was what he said and I am taking him out of context just a bit with all due respect of course.
I ought to be in bed, but personal expression time is important. I have gotten next to nothing done at work so I am going to go in tomorrow for a few hours and see if I can make up some of what I left out. It wasn't just the day I missed to tend to and bury Georgia. Losing her has taken a lot out of me. I can't cry but I'm exhausted. I find it hard to just do anything. I am dragging myself through my days. Also most of my time at work has been out on the desk so all kinds of back office stuff has just been left to rot.
Lou did not get started on his trip south. I suspect strongly I'll be spending Christmas alone. Why Lou can't plan a trip and be gone is beyond me, but he can't. I've been on the phone with him and he is supportive. By all rights, I should take the bus to Utica and spend Christmas with him up there, except they don't make much of a Christmas.
Saturday I take the shuttle to Atlanta. I know no time to sit down and refresh myself. I'll sleep in a bit in the morning. I don't think I need a whole day at work. I also plan to go to schul tomorrow night.
And yes, I miss Georgia. Life goes on and I miss her. Hertzel is not Georgia. She had an assertive presence until she became very ill and even then, even on her last night, she came out of that cupboard to greet me and looked me straight in the eye. She may have even meowed at me, but she did not have much meow left.
It is lonely in this apartment tonight. I can't walk in and ask Hertzel: "Hey where's your partner in crime?" We both know she is gone though he enjoys being the sole object of my affection.
I don't even know what food I want to buy in Atlanta. I started thinking about that. I know I want tea and black radish and kobacha squash. The last kobacha squash I had here was bitter. I also want opop or moqua squash, most likely moqua. Pseudo cucumber salad is a good thing. I'll get some pasta too...maybe. I'm not sure about that one. I want some good citrus and apples, blue cheese, olives, soy nut butter. Lou says he wants to make spahgetti and anchovy sauce for Christmas so I'll get oil cured olives.
He thinks he wants to come down here. He says it and then he doesn't leave. I've gotten used to this. You can build for damage in any system and Lou's indecisiveness is damage.
It's the long week of days off after Christmas that are going to feel worse than the holiday itself. Most Christians celebrate right up to the day and then let it peter out. I have a whole week off just like a kid in school and the season is a weird one. I can walk anywhere I want and may go to Atlanta again. Maybe I will go to see the Atlanta Zoo or the Martin Luther King stuff. There is also a civil rights museum in Birmingham. It is supposed to have a beautiful monument where water runs over rock. That might be worth seeing.