Two Years!

Today is the second anniversary of the open public beta of Sansar, which happened on July 31st, 2017. And it marks the second anniversary of this blog, which started out as the Sansar Newsblog and focused almost exclusively on Sansar. I renamed it the RyanSchultz.com blog in February 2018.

Over time, I have expanded this blog to cover many other social VR platforms and virtual worlds. I even started a section of this blog devoted to Second Life steals, deals, and freebies, which has proven to be surprisingly popular!

Over two years I have posted exactly 1,268 blogpots, which works out to almost 2 blogposts per day. These are the Top Ten most popular (i.e. most viewed) posts and pages on the RyanSchultz.com blog:

  1. Second Life Steals, Deals and Freebies: Free and Inexpensive Mesh Heads and Bodies for Female Second Life Avatars (posted Sept. 24th, 2018; 8,922 views so far)
  2. More Details on the Upcoming Ability to Change Your User Name in Second Life (March 22nd, 2018; 6,252 views)
  3. RyanSchultz.com Reader Poll: What Social VR/Virtual World Do You Spend the Most Time In? (Feb. 21st, 2019; 5,532 views)
  4. Linden Lab Announces a Mix of Good News and Bad News for Second Life Users (May 29th, 2019; 5,079 views)
  5. The Dirty Little Secret of VRChat: Hidden Adult Content (March 28th, 2019; 4,174 views and rising fast!)
  6. Oasis: A Brief Introduction to a New, Adults-Only Social VR Platform (Aug. 7th, 2018; 3,611 views)
  7. Second Life Steals, Deals and Freebies: The Four Best Freebie Stores in SL (May 15th, 2018; 3,072 views)
  8. Second Life Steals, Deals and Freebies: Free and Inexpensive Mesh Heads and Bodies for Male Second Life Avatars (Oct. 4th, 2018; 2,752 views)
  9. Second Life Versus Sansar: Why Linden Lab Can’t Win, No Matter What They Do (March 9th, 2018; 2,502 views)
  10. Comprehensive List of Social VR Platforms and Virtual Worlds (a page based on a blogpost originally made on May 10th, 2018; 2,412 views)

Here’s to the next two years!

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Planning for the Future

According to Statistics Canada, the average life expectancy for Canadian men is 80 years. I am now 55, which means (if I am lucky) that I can expect another quarter-century of life ahead of me.

I was curious and I ran a recent photo of me through the old age filter on FaceApp, and this is what it came up with:

Ryan at 80 (from FaceApp)

Seeing this picture was a wake-up call for me. It’s time to be thinking ahead, planning for the future. I still need to draw up a will and a power of attorney, for example. I don’t have a lot of material possessions to leave to other people (my biggest purchases have been my computer and my car). But I do need to set something in place with my final wishes clearly spelled out for my next of kin to follow.

And I am still working on which Second Life avatars I will leave to other people in the event of my untimely death, via my will. You can read the entire saga hereherehere, here, and here on my blog to see how this quest got started! I know it might sound really silly to some of you, but I consider them perfectly valid possessions, and it would please me greatly to know they will still be providing entertainment and enjoyment to others after I am gone. (If you’re interested in inheriting one of my avatars via my will, please contact me and we’ll talk. I still have a selection for you to choose from!) In fact, when the time comes, I may have some Sansar avatars to pass on to others as well (and I am assuming that Linden Lab will set up similar procedures for Sansar as they already have for Second Life). My lawyer is going to have a ball drawing up my last will and testament!

But I will also need to think about much bigger issues that will impact my life. For example, global warming. I will live in a world impacted by climate change, with warmer temperatures overall and increased volatility in the weather. How will that impact my life? Canada’s universal healthcare system is under stress as the Baby Boomers age and make heavier use of doctors and hospitals. What if I develop mobility or vision issues later on in life, or have some other serious medical problem? How will that impact my life? Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball to see the future.

The important thing is to make plans for the future, but to be flexible and prepare for any eventuality. For example, if I were to be run over by a bus tomorrow, I currently haven’t left any sort of instructions to let people know my wishes concerning my blog and my show (which I would want to be archived for future historians to pore over). I also have an experience called Ryan’s Garden in Sansar, that I would like to be kept in perpetuity as my personal virtual memorial in the event of my passing. I haven’t given anybody else access rights to my blog to post a message in case something should happen to me. I need to set all these things up. Strawberry Singh (whom I admire greatly) wrote an excellent blogpost on these topics, which I recommend you read. You should be thinking about all these things too.

I also still expect that, at some future point, virtual reality in general and social VR in particular are finally going to become popular and widespread. This will mean I will have to work even harder at providing “news and views” on those subjects on this blog. Yes, I do plan to be here for the long haul! The good news is, at that point I will most likely be retired from my academic librarian job and I can devote myself full-time to blogging, my show Metaverse Newscast, and perhaps other endeavours (a podcast, perhaps?). Social VR and virtual worlds are my joy and my passion, and it’s so important to have something to live for and look forward to after you retire.

How are you preparing for your future?

Google AdSense Follies (Part I): OH MY GOD WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!??

I am, in a word, bemused.

In addition to the WordPress advertising from WordAds that I have been using in my blog since March of 2018, I recently opened a Google AdSense account and began serving ads from AdSense. (If you are connecting to this blog via desktop computer, you can see one such ad under “Advertising” in the left-hand column, underneath the “Follow RyanSchultz.com via email” link.)

Today, I was surprised to discover an email from Google telling me:

Dear Publisher, 

This Google Publisher Policy Report gives you an overview of recent activity related to violations found on specific pages of your websites. As enforcement statuses may change over time, please refer to the “Page-level enforcements” section of the AdSense Policy Center for the current list of active violations. 

Please note this report doesn’t cover violations that may happen on an overall site or account level. You may be notified by a separate email if site or account level violations are found. Ads will continue to serve where no policy violations have been found, either at the page- or site-level. 

In the last 24 hours: 

New violations were detected. As a result, ad serving has been restricted or disabled on pages where these violations of the AdSense Program Policies were found. To resolve the issues, you can either remove the violating content and request a review, or remove the ad code from the violating pages.

Further details on enforcements can be found in the AdSense Help Center. To learn more about our program policies, please view the AdSense Program Policies.

Kind regards,
Google Publisher Policy

Now, I was very surprised to see this, since I have always strived to keep things at a PG13 level at all times on my blog. And, when I click over to see what the “violations” were, I find that four of my blogposts were flagged for “Adult, Sexual Content” violations, which are defined as:

Adult: Sexual Content

As stated in our Program policies, we may not show Google ads on pages or apps with content that is sexually suggestive or intended to sexually arouse. This includes but is not limited to:

– pornographic images, videos, or games
– sexually gratifying text, images, audio, or video
– pages that provide links for or drive traffic to content that is sexually suggestive or intended to sexually arouse

So, which blogposts triggered the violations? Glad you asked. There were four. Here are the first three (all linked, so you can visit and see for yourself how unoffensive and safe-for-work they are):

UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Romeo and Juliet Full-Body Mesh Avatars as Valentine’s Day Gifts at the eBENTO Event!, which contains, AT WORST, a blurred-over image of a female avatar’s breasts in the background of the first photo, and ABSOLUTELY NO SEXUAL OR ADULT CONTENT AT ALL. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT MESH AVATARS.

The Mesh Project Releases New Male and Female Mesh Bodies for Second Life Avatars: Why I Won’t Be Buying One, which, AT WORST, shows a naked male avatar with a COMPLETELY BLURRED OUT penis on the first photo, and two photos of The Mesh Project’s new male mesh avatar which is essentially a FREAKING. KEN. DOLL. WITHOUT. A. PENIS.

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Rick Bento Mesh Body by Alantori for Only L$50!, which, AT WORST, shows a naked male avatar rear end. OH MY GOD END OF THE WORLD SPARE THE CHILLUNS!!!

And then, finally, a double strike against this fourth and final blogpost: “Adult: Sexual Content” AND “Adult: Sexual Merchandise”, the latter of which is defined as follows:

Adult: Sexual Merchandise

Google ads may not be placed on adult or mature content. This includes fetish content as well as sites or apps that promote, sell, or discuss sexual aids. Examples include, but are not limited to:

– sexual fixations or practices that may be considered unconventional
– sexual aids or enhancement tools such as vibrators, dildos, lubes, sex games, inflatable toys
– penis and breast enlargement tools

The blogpost Google finds so offensive? Utherverse and the Red Light Center: A Brief Introduction. Now here, I can begin to see why it might have gotten flagged. All the female-presenting nipples and vaginas and such are completely blurred out, but it’s still clear from at least one photo that some (as Google calls it) “sexual fixations or practices that may be considered unconventional” could be taking place. And I do also include a link to the Utherverse/Red Light Center with a VERY CLEAR warning that the link is Not Safe For Work (NSFW). So now I have to think twice before I put in any links like this, even with a warning label? (UPDATE: I have decided to go in and blur out the offending images in this blogpost even more strongly than before, including completely blurring the kinky one.)

I would argue that my blogpost is simply TALKING about an adult virtual world at a PG13 level. I am tempted to remove the link to Utherverse/RLC, but instead, I have called for a review of all four “violations” (which I am told can take up to a week or longer to process).

The first three “violations” are ludicrous. Am I supposed to start blurring out AVATAR REAR ENDS OH MY GOD THE CHILDREN THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!! This is ridiculous. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT AVATARS, PEOPLE. THE DIGITAL VERSION OF BARBIE DOLLS. The fourth one, well, if the review is rejected, then I supposed I am going to have to go in and sanitize it even more. But this is a slippery slope; am I going to have to go back through 1,255 blogposts over two years and check each one for inadvertent tits and ass?

I have subtitled this blogpost “Part I”, because I have a horrible sinking feeling that this issue is not going to go away so easily. If the four blogposts above were flagged (either by machine or human), there a probably dozens more that would also fall afoul of Google’s AdSense rules. I have written about (and linked to) other adult/sexual worlds, always with a very clear NSFW warning. Should I remove the links and tell people to just Google them? (Now THAT would be ironic.)

But to date, I have never seen the need to blur out an avatar rear end (male or female) as I would a penis, a vagina, or a “female-presenting” nipple. And we are talking about AVATARS, which are not to be confused with real people. I’m not serving porn here, I’m talking about mesh avatar bodies! GET A GRIP, GOOGLE ADSENSE.

This is NOT over. Even though I have a feeling I am in a losing battle here. The good news is that it would appear that Google AdSense has blocked advertising only on those four blogposts.

Stay tuned; I will post updates!

Thank You

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

I just wanted to reach out and express my appreciation to everybody who took the time to contact me in various ways (email, Twitter, public and private messages on Discord, the Contact page on my blog. etc.) as I have been struggling with my clinical depression these past few weeks (which I talk about here). Your love and encouragement mean the world to me at a difficult time, and I feel grateful to have such support from so many different corners of the virtual world. I might not have responded to each and every message you sent me, but I do want to say to everyone: Thank you!