Notes on the administration of money in the CDS

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Sudane Erato
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Notes on the administration of money in the CDS

Post by Sudane Erato »

I prepared these notes to assist the process of efficient discussion as we take steps to repair various holes in the system.

There are three separate functions. Estate Owner ( EO). Treasurer as holder and collector of funds (Treasurer Bank). Treasurer as record keeper (Treasurer Scribe).

Current situation: Three avie accounts, Avatar1, Avatar2 and Sudane Erato. Avatar1 is both EO and Treasurer Bank. Sudane is Treasurer Scribe. Avatar2 is a secondary Treasurer Bank meant to hold "extra" funds not immediately needed. This is not an essential account.

EO US$ account ALWAYS pays the LL tier. If Treasurer Bank is same avie, it is an easy step to sell L$s for US$s on a monthly basis... no further steps needed. But this is not essential. In SLNE (my New England estate), EO and Treasurer Bank are two separate avies. There is a monthly transfer between them.

1) Functions of EO.
Holds title to regions/sims. Transferring to another avie account is a big process and expensive.
Pays monthly tier to LL from their US$ account.
Designates and removes EMs.
As a holder and payer of US$s to LL, the RL identity of this person is available to the account holder. Explained below.

2) Functions of Treasurer Bank
Owns and maintains the Casper boxes. Transferring to another is a big, complex process.
Collects monthly tier from citizens via the boxes.
Owns the Casper website account.
If not the same avie account as EO, must transfer a monthly sum of L$s to EO.
As a holder of only L$s, with no balance and no transactions in US$s, the RL identity of this person may not be available anywhere in the account.

3) Functions of Treasurer Scribe.
Keeps the $$ records and reports such to the community. Must have access to both EO account (L$ records and US$ records) and Treasurer Bank (L$ records).
Should have basic RL bookkeeping skills.

Not everyone is committed to shield their RL identity from SL members, but many are, and indeed this is a profound part of the SL ethos. If one wants to be completely anonymous, and known only by their SL relationships, one can. So in defining the roles of EO, Treasurer Bank, and Treasurer Scribe, it's important to define the interaction between RL identity and the fulfillment of those roles.

All 3 roles require access on-line, via the SL website, to the accounts. The EO needs access only to their own account, and that account, when logged into it, WILL reveal the identity of the RL person who created it. The Treasurer Bank needs access to only their own account, and if this is a separate account, and since this function involves only L$ transactions, the RL identity of the person who created it will not be available. (I ask as a test of this last statement whether anyone who has access to Archie can extract Archie's RL creator/account owner. I tested this with CDSHistoria and was not able to do so.) The Treasurer Scribe needs access to both of those accounts, but their own account is of no interest. They provide only off-world functions with the data provided by the EO and the Treasurer Bank.

So, we have 3 roles, combinable if wished so that 1 or 2 people can serve multiple roles. But should it be needed to shift a role from one person/avie account to another, each role requires different procedures.

EO
To change the EO, the 6 regions must be "transferred" to the new EO. This is the fundamental change. Transferring a region is a specific defined process in LL systems, defined here: https://community.secondlife.com/knowle ... #Section_5
Both "buyer" and "seller" must file tickets with LL. And as you can see, the process is very expensive: $600 for each full sim and $300 for each homestead. So to transfer our estate to a new EO will cost us US$3000. Also, do not even consider attempting to achieve a transfer in the complete absence of the "seller", as LL will force the process into the US court system ( http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Linden_ ... econd_Life ). So any plan which monitors the availability of the EO must have built into the step by which when its determined that the EO owner is not responding, the community accesses that account for only enough time to arrange the transfer of the sims to the new EO. This is essential. This step MUST be taken before the EO's US$ account runs out of money. If this happens, LL will attempt to extract its tier payments from the backup payment system on file in the EO account. If the EO is unreachable, this backup payment system may not be viable. In that case LL will repossess the sims, and my guess is that the community will have very little ability to get them back.

Treasurer Bank
The primary function of this avie account is to own the Casperlet tierboxes and website account. They collect tier via the boxes and transfer those L$s to the EO. There is no US$ account, so it is my impression that the RL creator of this account may be invisible. As such, it may well be possible to establish an "Archie-like" account for this role, whereby a succession of RL persons might assume responsibility for this avie's functions. On the other hand, if we decide that the role should transfer to a new avie account, then we confront the serious problem of the "No Transfer" status of the tierbox system. I think that one research project I will take on is to discuss with Casper, the creator of the Casperlet system, whether he has any system for transferring a system to a new owner. The system MUST be maintained by its owner. While the system can in a limited fashion be maintained by designated Casperlet managers, only the owner has full control... so there MUST be an available owner.

Treasurer Scribe
This role is purely for record-keeping and reporting our financial affairs to the community. They need access to the accounts of the EO and the Treasurer Bank... simply to read them and get accurate and verifiable statements out of them. With those, this person prepares monthly reports on the state of the money and publishes that on the website. Only very basic bookkeeping skills are needed. For those who are in fact bookkeepers, what I have done over the years is to collect the Treasurer Bank information via an output file from the website, dump it into a worksheet, and sort it into the various categories of income and expense. With that info on a worksheet, a simple 3 or 4 journal entries into the actual books suffice to produce the actual financial reports. The lists of transactions from the avie account are not preserved. But another Treasurer Scribe (for example, Trebor Warcliffe served in this role briefly) might validly perform the reporting function differently.

Going forward.
The very most important factor in responsible community planning for our financial well-being is understanding that we must keep US$s in the EO account sufficient to pay tier each month to LL. If the RL person operating that account should not be attending to it, our community health will last only so long as there are funds in that account, currently about $1000/month. We currently keep 2 months. If the community should become aware that the EO is inattentive near the end of some month, they will have only one month remaining to access that account and either add funds to the US$ account or transfer the sims to another account. I suggest that we change that to keeping from 4 to 6 months in the US$ account, to give the community more breathing room if the EO disappears.

Secondly, the EO account and the Treasurer Bank must have some system by which the community can determine whether or not they are attentive. In the years of our history, during which I've served these roles, I've been continuously engaged with various members of the community, so defining this need has never arisen. But procedures should be put in place for the possibility that either I or a successor might not be attentive. At that point some procedure should provide the login information to these accounts to designated other members of the community, who can then log in and take whatever steps are needed to transition to new owners (if necessary), or at least maintain the basic requirements until the account holders return to attentiveness. Timo Gulfer devised a software system by which with appropriate defined authority, designated community members could access the login info of another avie account, but we never fully tested this system, and indeed last time I mentioned it to him he had forgotten he had made it. But I still do have it. However, the system may not need to be this elaborate.

Lots more could be said. But these notes show the basic structure and unresolved concerns. Let's move towards resolving some of the holes in the structure and make sure the community can sustain itself financially through inevitable changes.


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Tanoujin Milestone
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Re: Notes on the administration of money in the CDS

Post by Tanoujin Milestone »

Thank you for the information and analysis, Sudane! A first consequence would be to follow your suggestion and push up the Estate Owner’s Account to holding 6000 US$ any time. Or even 9k, if we want to keep the 3k for the region transfer there as well.

Another thing that comes to mind: If there was the role of a vice Treasurer, we would not lose time to designate a new person to fill the orphaned place of the Treasurer missing in action...
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Sudane Erato
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Re: Notes on the administration of money in the CDS

Post by Sudane Erato »

Tanoujin Milestone wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:39 am
Another thing that comes to mind: If there was the role of a vice Treasurer, we would not lose time to designate a new person to fill the orphaned place of the Treasurer missing in action...
Well, assuming you mean the Treasurer Bank, the primary role of that account is to own the Casperlet system. You can't really have two owners via the SL way of things.


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Rosie Gray
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Re: Notes on the administration of money in the CDS

Post by Rosie Gray »

I've just had a look at Archie's account, which I did not create, and I can see no place where it tells you who created him. He has money in his account, but doesn't have any billing information. This is the place where you would see any RL information. So, it seems to me that if an avatar was chosen for owning the Caspers, as long as they also had no billing information and wasn't a premium account, you couldn't see any RL information on who created it.
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Re: Notes on the administration of money in the CDS

Post by Sudane Erato »

Rosie Gray wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:00 pm
and wasn't a premium account, you couldn't see any RL information on who created it.
It has to be a premium account, because for this function you need the 90 days of L$ transaction history, and LL provides that only for premium accounts. But I'm not sure that matters for the issue of showing RL identity. I'll poke around and check that out. I THINK that only by generating a statement in the US $$ account is identity revealed.


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Re: Notes on the administration of money in the CDS

Post by Lilith Ivory »

I checked my own account lately and besides encrypted email and payment info the only hint to my RL identity is an old adress I had to give when creating my account back in 2007. I am not sure if this is still needed as LL seemed to be more strikt about the "only 5 Avatars per household" rule at this time :)
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Re: Notes on the administration of money in the CDS

Post by Lyubov »

Thank you Sudane for your very clear and thorough explanation.

I do think that planning for the transfer of the CasperLet is both important and difficult. I like the idea of this being owned by an "Archie-like" account, so that this transition should only be a one-time event. This transition should be completed well in advance of any planned or unplanned EO transfer.

The EO has thoughtfully named two designates to assist in the case of unplanned circumstances. We should also perhaps formally consider who exactly the new EO might be. Determining this in advance may help to set expectations and ease a potential transition.

There has been some discussion of an untested "Timo Box" for providing needed access. I would like us to consider a cloud-based password manager, such as 1password.com LastPass.com Dashlane.com or Bitwarden.com . Each offers different specific capabilities at various pricing levels, from free to a few USD per month subscriptions. A key feature is a secure, encrypted "password vault" stored in the cloud, accessible from anywhere. This vault may be shared with other designated users. Emergency access for designated individuals is also a common feature. Many providers offer enhanced services such as "families" or "organizations" where different account holders may choose only specific items to share and any access or changes are logged.

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Re: Notes on the administration of money in the CDS

Post by Sudane Erato »

Hmmm... Lyubov, that's an interesting idea (using a password manager), tho it doesn't really replace the intent of the Timo system. But I use Lastpass myself, and have used Dashlane in the past. I never thought of it for this... but it might bear considering.


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