Randy Farmer's short essay "The Dollhouse Mafia, or 'Don't Display Negative Karma'" explores the well-known problem in reputation systems in which users abandon accounts that get negative feedback, and shows just how bad the consequences of this design can turn out to be.
That feature was fine as far as it went, but unlike other social networks, The Sims Online allowed users to declare other users untrustworthy too. The face of an untrustworthy user appeared circled in bright red among all the trustworthy faces in a user's hub.
The Dollhouse Mafia, or "Don't Display Negative Karma"
It didn't take long for a group calling itself the Sims Mafia to figure out how to use this mechanic to shake down new users when they arrived in the game. The dialog would go something like this:
"Hi! I see from your hub that you're new to the area. Give me all your Simoleans or my friends and I will make it impossible to rent a house."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm a member of the Sims Mafia, and we will all mark you as untrustworthy, turning your hub solid red (with no more room for green), and no one will play with you. You have five minutes to comply. If you think I'm kidding, look at your hub-three of us have already marked you red. Don't worry, we'll turn it green when you pay..."
If you think this is a fun game, think again-a typical response to this shakedown was for the user to decide that the game wasn't worth $10 a month. Playing dollhouse doesn't usually involve gangsters.
“We ask strangers on the street which celebrities they’ve been told they look like.” Another fun piece from our friend and collaborator Joe Sabia, for Vanity Fair.
Smash TV’s Megaplex feels like your entire 1980s life flashing before your eyes. Note: some of the 80+ films include 80s nudity.
Vanity Fair breaks down the individual incomes of people who work on a major Hollywood blockbuster. Assuming a budget of $200m, the breakdown is approximate but based upon average union rates and published figures. [YouTube]
Some truths are universal. For one, your phone will always run out of power when you most need it. For another, the charging cords that come packaged with your Apple device will fray, split, and rip faster than Usain Bolt in a game of tag.Instead, pick up a charging cord that anyone would have a tough […]
Some people say magic tricks are nerdy and best left to your 12-year-old asthmatic cousin. But others see value in perfecting the slight of hand and showmanship associated with a perfectly executed routine. We’re firmly in the latter camp. And now, we’re giving you the ability to put a few parlor tricks up your sleeve with the Penguin […]
Bluetooth speakers may be convenient to use, but many of them just aren’t that powerful. Sure, it may be fine if you’re seated in front of the speaker. But move across the room, and you may strain to hear what’s coming from those tiny drivers.There’s a reason why the G-BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Boombox (now $79.99 in the Boing […]