Generic Response to Prokofy Neva

Prokofy Neva is a well-known Second Life Resident, landowner, and weblog author, with a long experience in the world, strong and strongly-expressed feelings on various subjects, and good writing skills. He is one of the founders of the SL Public Land Preserve, among other interesting and worthwhile things in the world. He is also, unfortunately, prone to posting long and vicious diatribes against other Residents, full of profanity, name-calling, accusations of hidden malicious motives, and elaborate conspiracy theories. I know that at least some of what he writes in these diatribes is untrue, because for reasons that I can only guess at I have been the target of a significant number of them.

The falsehoods that Prokofy Neva has posted about me, primarily in his Second Thoughts weblog and on Twitter, but also in other online venues here and there, have become numerous and repetitive enough that I thought it might be a good idea to respond to them all in one place. Some notes and answers to questions follow the main text.

Prokofy often claims that I have stalked and harassed him; this is false. I have never done anything that any reasonable person would consider stalking or harassment. Virtually all of my interactions with Prokofy have involved either being a normal, polite, and reasonable commentor on his weblog (before I realized how much this upset him), or defending myself against his accusations. Prokofy has accused me of stalking and harassing him in a number of venues; I will mention some of them specifically.

Prokofy has accused me of stalking him within Second Life. In fact I have seen Prokofy in Second Life on only a handful of occasions. At least two of these involved Prokofy arriving at a performance or a gathering where I was already present, and I had no idea that he was going to arrive. Others have involved us both attending the same Linden office hours. I have also twice attended public meetings that Prokofy announced (at neither one did I say very much, or misbehave in any way). In no case has my intent been to stalk or harass.

Prokofy has accused me of harassing him in Group IM within Second Life. As far as I know we have never belonged to the same Second Life group, and have never exchanged even a single word within Group IM.

Prokofy has accused me of harassing him in the Second Life Public JIRA (the bug report and feature request system). This is completely false. Of the thirty-eight JIRA entries that Prokofy has created, I have commented on just one, and my comments were polite and constructive. Prokofy’s claim in his weblog that I have commented on every JIRA entry he was ever made is simply false, as he eventually acknowledged. His claim that I watch for him to comment in other people’s JIRA entries and then intentionally post harassing comments is also false. I’m sure that we have on occasion posted comments to the same JIRA entry, and that some of my comments were at least in part responses to some of his, but my intent was never to harass or annoy.

Prokofy has accused me of starting multiple JIRA entries of my own in order to harass or heckle him. This is false. I have started one JIRA entry based on a suggestion that came up in the comment thread of an entry that Prokofy started, but that JIRA entry was in no way intended to harass or heckle or otherwise have any effect at all on him. None of my other JIRA entries or comments have been intended to harass or otherwise negatively impact him.

Prokofy has accused me of harassing him on his weblog. This is false. I was for a time a regular commentor on his weblog (making, by his count, an average of four comments a week over a period of fifteen months), and while I often did disagree with or point out factual errors in what he said, I always tried to be polite and constructive, and since I realized that my posting there upset him badly, I have tried to stop posting except to respond directly to falsehoods about me.

Prokofy has accused me of calling him “gross names”. This is false. While he has called me and others a wide variety of gross and obscene names, the strongest adjective I can recall applying to him is “odd”, which I used when he began posting false things about my family life.

Prokofy has accused me of harassing him in email. This is false. I have emailed Prokofy on four occasions, once to reply to an email that he sent me responding to a comment I made defending myself in his weblog, once to point out that he had inadvertantly duplicated a paragraph in a weblog posting, once to ask him what he meant by a particular posted attack on me,and once to politely remind him of the provisions in the SL ToS related to disclosure of RL information. The texts of all of these emails are available to anyone who would like to see them. (In fact Prokofy posted at least one on his weblog, in order to attack me further.)

Prokofy has accused me of posting a Real Life picture of his typist (“with graffiti”). This is false, and Prokofy admitted months later that it was due to his misinterpreting something on some social networking site. But he continues to bring up the subject, sometimes suggesting that I had something to do with the posting of the picture, or that I was aware of it or commented on it. These suggestions are all false.

Prokofy has accused me of harassing him on Twitter after he made the above accusation. This is false. I posted a small number of polite and reasoned entries, trying to determine why he thought I had posted his picture, and assuring him that I had not. He replied with a flood of items, eventually threatening to “savage” my friends if I did not stop denying his accusations.

Prokofy has on multiple occasions accused me of griefing. This is false. I have never done anything in SL that a reasonable person would consider griefing, to Prokofy or to anyone else (that AV I set fire to that one time was a ‘bot and didn’t even notice!). To the extent that Prokofy uses “griefing” as a general synonym for “stalking” and/or “harassing” and/or “dissenting”, see the rest of this document. (Prokofy has also stated that “IBM has sophisticated griefers”. This is ambiguously worded, but I can’t think of any interpretation that is not false. Like any other responsible company with a Second Life presence, IBM does not conduct or sponsor or encourage or condone griefing by its employees, and has a good set of guidelines on civilized behavior while in virtual worlds.)

Prokofy has posted various untrue things about my personal and family life; these are all false. He has admitted that he actually knows nothing about my personal or family life, but has stated that he thinks posting these falsehoods is justified by my bad behavior in other areas. I disagree.

Prokofy has stated that I have a religious belief in Open Source. While not necessarily an accusation (who am I to criticize someone else’s religion?) it is in fact false. I think that as a general principle it is good when people can see the source code to programs that that are running, but on the other hand I believe that there are occasions when closed-source software is perfectly appropriate.

Prokofy has accused me, and this weblog in particular, of being a front for IBM or other corporate interests, and suggested that what is posted here is written or otherwise controlled by someone other than me. This is false. He has also implied on multiple occasions that I represent my employer in Second Life, using phrases like “IBM’s avatar in SL, Dale Innis”. This implication is completely false. As it says in Teh Rules, “All postings to this weblog (well, except for the comments that other people post, obviously) represent my own opinions (at most), and are not official or unofficial statements of anyone else”, “No one controls the timing or content of my posts here but me, entertaining conspiracy theories to the contrary notwithstanding”.

Prokofy has suggested in his weblog that in my postings on the Second Life wiki in support of the usefulness of landmarks and user Picks, I am “in fact speaking against them”. This is false; I mean exactly what I say in those postings, and I think LMs and Picks are really useful, and it would be a mistake to get rid of them.

Prokofy has also suggested in his weblog that I think that “everything online is ‘victimless’ and has no consequences”. This is completely mistaken, and does not follow from the statements of mine from which he concludes it (in which I was defending a certain class of behaviors which, while edgy and potentially disturbing, are I think victimless). There are many online behaviors, such as harassment, bullying, blackmail, fraud, and so on, which are not victimless, and do have consequences.

Prokofy has said in this weblog that I have a “rabid obsession with ageplay,” and that I “keep justifying child rape by proxy in Second Life” and “flogging ageplay”. These are all false. In the discussion that he is referring to, on the “Second Citizen” web forum, I was responding to someone who believes that (roughly) all child avatars should be banned from Second Life, because despite the ban on anything like simulated child pornography that is already in place, a child avatar might do something inappropriate, and that might cause bad publicity for SL. I disagreed, and said so. In the (very very long) thread on the subject, various other topics came up, including freedom of expression. I do believe very strongly that freedom of expression means nothing if it does not mean permitting expressions that I disagree with, or find disturbing; in this opinion I believe I have very good company, including for instance many of the founders of the ol’ US of A. But I am not a supporter of child rape, in any form. And while I do sometimes use a child avatar in SL on occasion, because it is fun, I engage only in child-appropriate activities while doing so, and nothing remotely sexual (as might be suggested by the use of the term “ageplay”).

Prokofy has stated that I am not very smart. I am in fact pretty smart. :)

Prokofy has stated that I am a tool, a [expletive], an [expletive], and a [expletive] [expletive]. None of these statements has any actual content, but I include them here for completeness.

Sadly I imagine I will be adding to this list, as I recall other falsehoods that Prokofy has stated about me, or as he states new ones.


Note: I am far from the only person that Prokofy regularly denounces on his weblog. While most of the other people he attacks are people that I do not know, or do not know well, it seems likely to me that his attacks on them are made with as little regard to the truth as are his attacks on me.

Q. Why are you feeding the troll? Just ignore him!

A. I’m not sure that Prokofy is, strictly speaking, a troll. Certainly his effects are like those of a typical troll; any conversation that he takes part in quickly becomes a conversation about personalities, motives, conspiracies, and Prokofy Neva rather than about whatever the nominal subject is. This is why he has been banned from so many conversational venues on the Web. On the other hand, it’s only trolling if someone behaves this way with the intent of stirring up trouble. It’s not clear to me that Prokofy’s intent is so clear-cut; he may sincerely believe that his behavior is proper, and conducted in the service of valuable causes. So he may be a troll only in effect, not in intent.

Q. Yeah, whatever. But why do you keep responding to him? Just ignore him!

A. It’s a fair suggestion, and one that I’ve heard from a number of friends. I’ve tried to ignore him, and to stop posting as an ordinary commentor to his weblog (although I regret having to do that, since the discussions that occur in the comments are often interesting). But he claims to regard even my normal use of other parts of the Web (the SL JIRA, other people’s weblogs) as harassment, and I am not going to curtail my ordinary use of the Web to placate him; I do not believe in rewarding bad behavior. Similarly, when he posts falsehoods about me in his weblog, I do not feel comfortable allowing them to sit there unchallenged. Prokofy’s weblog is widely-read, and I value my reputation. This page, in fact, is my latest attempt to steer some middle course between silence (which could be interpreted as acquiescence), and active engagement (which has not proven useful).

We’ll see how it goes!

Q. Why do you hate Prokofy so?

A. Actually I don’t. Some of what Prokofy does and says strikes me as admirable, as skillful, as funny, as generally good. If he were to stop these random attacks on me (and on other undeserving folks), I would be proud to call him my friend. I have this weird fantasy in which that eventually happens. :)

Q. Why aren’t comments active on this page?

A. I’m not interested in hosting a debate about, or with, Prokofy here. But if you’d like to send me your thoughts on any aspect of all this (all the way down to typos), I am DaleInnisEmail at gmail.com.


Page history (oldest first)

2009/07/28 – Prokofy Neva posts a series of false statements about my JIRA postings to his weblog. Torn between responding and ignoring, have the idea of writing a page to respond to everything all at once. Do that and post it, and post a link on the relevant page on Second Thoughts. Prepare for calls from the Pulitzer people.

2009/07/28 – On rereading, decide that the page is too grim and unfriendly, and add the “Why do you hate Prokofy so?” section. Much better.

2009/07/28 – Prokofy responds in the weblog comments with the “four posts a week for fifteen months” number, and deriding the original page’s statement that I was “an occasional contributor” to his weblog. Now if an average comment discussion contains four or five rounds of interaction, then four posts a week is less than one discussion per week, which seems plausibly occasional, but rather than get into a debate over word usage, change “occasional” to “regular”, and put in the number.

2009/07/28 – Realize that silently changing the page after it’s posted might be seen as Nefarious in some quarters, and add this page history, despite how pretentious it seems. Also add visually-pleasing horizontal rules. Still no word from the Pulitzer people; perhaps they are in a meeting.

2009/08/01 – Notice that Prokofy has posted a chat transcript in which he says “IBM has sophisticated griefers like Dale Innis of course”. Add paragraph about untrue accusations of griefing.

2009/11/18 – Having been banned from commenting on Prokofy’s weblog, I have been rather neglecting his public statements, but since he used my name in a posting title again I look back through the last week or so, and add corrections of a couple more errors of his: about the value of landmarks, and whether everything on the network is ‘victimless’. Just for completeness…

2009/12/07 – Prokofy reads the massive “train wreck” thread on Second Citizen II about whether child avatars should be banned, and incorrectly calls me a supporter of “child rape by proxy”, as well as using the new incorrect phrase “IBM’s avatar in SL” to describe me. Make relevant updates to this page.

2009/12/14 – In an in-world discussion (a transcript of which he posts to his weblog), Prokofy both discloses RL information about me, and describes me as “flogging ageplay”. I send him a polite note reminding him of the disclosure section of the SL ToS, and update this page accordingly.

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