[Air-L] Ethics in online virtual worlds

Matthew Bernius mbernius at gmail.com
Wed Aug 1 14:51:30 PDT 2007


I did my masters research work in YahooChat! rooms dealing with sexbots.

In terms of observation, I was able to successfully argue that YahooChat!
rooms represented a quasi public space because it could be freely accessed
by individuals with e-mail addresses, including free ones available from
Yahoo and other services. As far as I remember, joining Second Life is free
so the same argument could be made.

So I didn't need to get permission to reproduce conversations that occurred
in "public" chatrooms.

In terms of the interviews, like others, I was able to get by on just an
e-mail confirmation. However, I chose to only use screen names in my paper.
In fact, in just about every case I never knew the actual name of

Interesting, part of my IRB had to include my process for IDing bots in
order to justify why I didn't need to get permissions to quote them.

- Matt

I will be interviewing and observing avatars within Second Life as research
for my phd.  I have been asked by my ethics board to obtain hard copy
signature consent from my participants rather than online digital consent.
 Can anyone direct me to literature pertaining to the practicalities of
informed consent in online virtual worlds (mmogs, mmorpgs, second life,
etc..) or discuss their own experience with this?

Thank you,

Matthew Bernius
New Media and Customer Intelligence Strategist for Hire
mBernius at gMail.com

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