“Business ethics is a form of the art of applied ethics that examines ethical rules and principles within a commercial context, the various moral or ethical problems that can arise in a business setting, and any special duties or obligations that apply to persons who are engaged in commerce.”*1
When Jelly ask me two days ago where this article was I told her “It's in my bathroom. I am using it page by page because I've run out of toilet paper. It's much softer than newspaper... and quilted for absorbency.” That's probably a very apt appraisal of the business ethics in/of Second Life, or rather the lack of them. This article will extend past mere business in Second Life to the business of Second Life itself.
We all have seen the lack of ethics in Second Life companies, from ignoring broken merchandise to doctoring photos to make products look better on ads, and even corporate sabotage, employee raiding (usually found in the music stations with DJs *cough- markus Damone -cough* and design firms), and plain old back-stabbery. The business market in Second Life is a dirty back alley full of panhandling hobos painting themselves shiny and doing the robot. Sure, some of them got where they are honestly and are responsible, ethical businesses devoted to the people they serve and to giving back to the communities. The fact that there are business like that make Second Life worth living. Even still it is a very 'Caveat Emptor' (or 'let the buyer beware') market full of shady dealings and thievery that Linden Labs does nothing about, thus condoning and allowing them to flourish completely unhindered.
Remember the copybot scandals? How about blatant texture thieving in the hair market or the full perm 'business in a box' creators who resell stolen designs? How can Linden Labs expect designers to put time and effort into their creations to release them on a grid that offers them no protection and enforces no consequences?
Linden Labs makes it feel like they are a benevolent god sitting behind the pearly gates refusing to dig in and get their hands dirty working with what they created, weeding the garden and raking the leaves. Sure, they give us 'updates' but if you've ever been around for an update you'll see that they usually break more than they fix and add in frivolous things instead of making what they've already added actually work or work better. Linden Labs exhibits no trace of CSR.
“Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a concept that organizations, especially (but not only) corporations, have an obligation to consider the interests of customers, employees, shareholders, communities, and ecological considerations in all aspects of their operations. This obligation is seen to extend beyond their statutory obligation to comply with legislation.
CSR is closely linked with the principles of Sustainable Development, which argues that enterprises should make decisions based not only on financial factors such as profits or dividends, but also based on the immediate and long-term social and environmental consequences of their activities.”*2
Not only does Linden Labs not care about the community that pays their salaries, they don't allow residents to set up any form of support for businesses and business ethics. Rather, they refuse to 'back' any system. Take the Second Life Better Business Bureau for instance. A fantastic idea, giving people a safe haven with respectable businesses being held accountable for their actions, as it should be. Linden Labs has made it quite clear that they do not back this endeavor, even though it is exactly what the business world needs.
Even then, the SLBBB has no real power and can mearly mediate. Still, for the few months it has been live I have seen people try and take advantage of it. They become almost sue-happy, in a way. (Like a client of a marketing business who demanded all of her money back for two banners she 'did not receive' even though the company in question did provide the banners. The problem was that she gave the company the wrong logos and wanted the banners done over. The company was more than willing to do this even though they had gone out of their way already to take all of the pictures and design the wording for the first set of banners, which is usually not included in the design process. The client was ask numerous times to please supply the correct logo textures for the second set of banners. She never did so the company never made them. Branding and logo design are completely different from banner design and deffinately not included in a simple flash or stationary banner price. She contacted the BBB and demanded all of her money be returned to her. Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong? It was completely her fault, what she bought was supplied and even though it is not company policy to do complete overhauls of banners for free they bended over backwards to do it anyway and she doesn't follow through and then wants to cry about it.) It's really sad to see something that is a great idea being taken advantage of by the very people it is trying to help.
Linden Labs allows dishonest businesses to thrive in an unchecked world, thus ruining and souring good businesses and honest residents.
Linden Labs – Get your head out of your ass, pay attention to your consumers, and start being RESPONSIBLE for your creation. At least make an effort at sustainable development. This world is created by the residents – they are the reason so many of us are here. Don't drive them away by allowing dishonest peoples to take advantage of your refusal to actually involve yourself.
*1. Wikipedia search term, 'Business Ethics'.
*2. Wikipedia search term, 'Corporate Social Responsibility'.
Sorry, Orchid. I bumped you. Neener. :P