... As ethnographer, where confidentiality protects informants' identities, I choose to follow fairly well-established confidentiality guidelines (here: http://www.aaanet.org/committees/ethics/ethcode.htm), with respect to avatar identities, as well. Such guidelines are in development vis-a-vis the anthropological ethics of online research.
I've thus far only given one virtual world presentation where I showed people in a tourism conference a Second Life 'build' called the Gardens of Bliss (this build has been taken down), with its beautiful mountainous landscape as well as its pools. In giving this demonstration, I showed more how avatars work and how virtual Harbin would appear, than interact with other avatars. I thus didn't raise confidentiality issues in this demonstration. In the machinima “The Making of Virtual Harbin Hot Springs as Ethnographic Field Site in Second Life and Open Simulator” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nhvcHw54GE), I, as ethnographer, also only conversed with a friend helping me make this machinima, and not with any one else, not raising questions of confidentiality. Unlike Tom Boellstorff, who eventually banned … I think I'll choose to invite other avatars I know, and who have consented, for any public presentation or conversation I, or others, may give. Like actual Harbin, I may place a sign at the virtual Harbin gate house, that ethnographic study, and possible presentations-to-the actual-world occur in this virtual space, and that by entering, an end user will grant consent for his or her avatar. On this sign, I will mention that virtual Harbin is clothing optional and that Watsu occurs between two avatars, for example. I'll also mention that ethnographic study occurs here, including interviews. I may include a check box with this information as an avatar enters, as a kind of consent form. If students of mine start also to study in virtual Harbin, I may include this on the sign. Like Tom Boellstorff (Boellstorff 2008:81), I plan also to develop a consent form for interviews in virtual Harbin, which my hypothetical students could also use there.
Like actual Harbin, where, in addition to being a member of Heart Consciousness Church, or having someone in your party who is, and where you pay anywhere from U.S. $25 for 24 hours for one to camp on a weekday, to $300 for the most expensive cottage for two, to stay, on a weekend, I may also charge a very nominal fee in Linden dollars for entry to virtual Harbin – on the order of U.S. pennies – since this virtual Harbin is becoming a parallel-to-actual virtual Harbin field site. ...
(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2011/01/north-new-zealand-only-one-virtual.html - January 21, 2011)