It is of the utmost importance to notice that groups on the Internet are not just at liberty to formulate codes of conduct for their members but that they do so with great abandon; and these rules are in almost all cases extremely moral, in the sense that they conform well to codes of behaviour promulgated in the past by religions and other moral authorities. This is partly because such rules are deeply embedded in human nature as a result of evolution, and will immediately come to the surface in any grouping of people if there is no externally imposed frame of reference. Partly also there is no doubt a degree of cultural uniformity among some of the populations that form groups on the Internet, which is reflected in the rules they make for themselves.
Proposing that Internet groups will have basically moral structures may sound rather extreme, or a triumph of soppy hope over reality. But just look at the evidence displayed by the following example of standards set up by an Internet group, SecondLife. It would be easy to find dozens of such examples (and see Appendix 3, which consists of a survey of a number of Virtual Internet Communities - VICs - including extracts in some cases from their rule-books).
Secondlife.com is a prominent example of 'virtual reality' sites. Secondlife's 'Community Standards' are a good sample of virtual world 'ethical codes'.
Welcome to the Second Life world!
We hope you'll have a richly rewarding experience, filled with creativity, self expression and fun.
The goals of the Community Standards are simple: treat each other with respect and without harassment, adhere to local standards as indicated by simulator ratings, and refrain from any hate activity which slurs a real-world individual or real-world community. Behavioral Guidelines - The 'Big Six'
Within Second Life, we want to support Residents in shaping their specific experiences and making their own choices.
The Community Standards sets out six behaviors, the 'Big Six', that will result in suspension or, with repeated violations, expulsion from the Second Life Community.
All Second Life Community Standards apply to all areas of Second Life, the Second Life Forums, and the Second Life Website.
Combating intolerance is a cornerstone of Second Life's Community Standards. Actions that marginalize, belittle, or defame individuals or groups inhibit the satisfying exchange of ideas and diminish the Second Life community as a whole. The use of derogatory or demeaning language or images in reference to another Resident's race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation is never allowed in Second Life.
Given the myriad capabilities of Second Life, harassment can take many forms. Communicating or behaving in a manner which is offensively coarse, intimidating or threatening, constitutes unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or is otherwise likely to cause annoyance or alarm is Harassment.
Most areas in Second Life are identified as Safe. Assault in Second Life means: shooting, pushing, or shoving another Resident in a Safe Area (see Global Standards below); creating or using scripted objects which singularly or persistently target another Resident in a manner which prevents their enjoyment of Second Life.
Residents are entitled to a reasonable level of privacy with regard to their Second Life experience. Sharing personal information about your fellow Residents without their consent -- including gender, religion, age, marital status, race, sexual preference, alternate account names, and real-world location beyond what is provided by them in their Resident profile -- is not allowed. Remotely monitoring conversations in Second Life, posting conversation logs, or sharing conversation logs without the participants' consent are all prohibited.
Adult Regions, Groups, and Listings
Second Life is an adult community, but "Adult" content, activity and communication are not permitted on the Second Life "mainland." Such material is permitted on private regions, or on the Adult Continent, Zindra. In either case, any Adult content, activity, or communication, that falls under our Adult Maturity Definition must be on regions designated as "Adult," and will be filtered from non-verified accounts. Other regions may be designated as either "Moderate" or "General." For more information on how to designate land, events, groups, and classified listings, please carefully read the "Maturity Definitions."
Disturbing the Peace
Every Resident has a right to live their Second Life. Disrupting scheduled events, repeated transmission of undesired advertising content, the use of repetitive sounds, following or self-spawning items, or other objects that intentionally slow server performance or inhibit another Resident's ability to enjoy Second Life are examples of Disturbing the Peace.
Global Standards, Local Ratings
All areas of Second Life, including the www.secondlife.com website and the Second Life Forums, adhere to the same Community Standards. Regions within Second Life are noted as Safe or Unsafe and should be designated by the SL account holder as either "Adult," "Moderate" or "General." Resident behavior within each region must conform to the respective local rating.
Warning, Suspension, Banishment
Second Life is a complex society, and it can take some time for new Residents to gain a full understanding of local customs and mores. Generally, violations of the Community Standards will first result in a Warning, followed by Suspension and eventual Banishment from Second Life. In-World Representatives, called Liaisons, may occasionally address disciplinary problems with a temporary removal from Second Life.
Objects, scripts, or actions which broadly interfere with or disrupt the Second Life community, the Second Life servers or other systems related to Second Life will not be tolerated in any form. We will hold you responsible for any actions you take, or that are taken by objects or scripts that belong to you. Sandboxes are available for testing objects and scripts that have components that may be unmanageable or whose behavior you may not be able to predict. If you chose to use a script that substantially disrupts the operation of Second Life, disciplinary actions will result in a minimum two-week suspension, the possible loss of in-world inventory, and a review of your account for probable expulsion from Second Life.
While Residents may choose to play Second Life with more than one account, specifically or consistently using an alternate account to harass other Residents or violate the Community Standards is not acceptable. Alternate accounts are generally treated as separate from a Resident's principal account, but misuse of alternate accounts can and will result in disciplinary action on the principal account.
Linden Lab does not exercise editorial control over the content of Second Life, and will make no specific efforts to review the textures, objects, sounds or other content created within Second Life. Additionally, Linden Lab does not certify or endorse the operation of in-world games, vending machines, or retail locations; refunds must be requested from the owners of these objects.
Residents should report violations of the Community Standards using the Abuse Reporter tool located under the Help menu in the in-world tool bar. We review these abuse reports, and the identity of the reporter is kept strictly confidential.
With fairly minor adaptions, this would do very well for a code of social ethics under which most 'real-world' inhabitants would be only too happy to live their lives!