Recently I've come across some status updates from friends complaining about how others blocked them for harvesting their street herb gardens. As someone who considers herbs near and dear to my heart (both in game and irl) I thought I'd offer my perspective, for what it's worth. ;)
I'm not in the habit of blocking folks willy-nilly, but I have blocked a few "pests" who cleared out my street herb gardens, leaving dirty plots behind. These were repeat offenders (minors, I'm guessing), and I made sure I was certain who the culprit was before I blocked them. A basic ethic in harvesting someone else's plot is to make sure to replant, that's common sense. Yet, some folks have been diligently replanting other player's plots, and have still been blocked, so apparently there's more going on here. So in order to get to the "root" of things (pun intended) we've got some...ahem...ground to cover, and first we might address the oft-debated topic of street-"ownership."
Many of us consider our streets to be "OUR" streets, even though technically speaking they are open to the public. The game dynamics support this sense of ownership: a street "owner" pays img to expand "their" street. They pay img to set a theme for their street, and to cultivate it with resources of their choosing. They are largely responsible for the upkeep of these resources, even though others may contribute from time to time in restoring depleted resources. Trees are locked to poisoning by other players, and certain items that are placed on an "owners" street such as icons or herdkeeping supplies cannot be removed or "stolen" by others. Not to mention that a street bears the name of its "owner."
Thus, even though these home streets are open to the public, they differ from public streets in the respects listed above. As such, there is a sense of personal proprietorship towards ones street, and many of us feel that our street is largely our personal property, though other players have the freedom to visit. In addition, a street "owner" has the option of blocking unwanted visitors, which further validates the sense of street ownership.
When a random visitor stops by "my" street, I'm quite happy to have them make use of the resources I've provided. At the same time, I feel no particular guilt in blocking folks who I feel are "abusing" my resources, such as by leaving dirty plots in my gardens. (Some of my friends have had their beloved animal pets stolen from their streets, and I would consider this another form of abuse.)
Why would I place an herb garden on my street if I didn't wish folks to partake of it freely? Good question. For me personally, it's a matter of aesthetics. My backyard is tailored to my sense of beauty, as is my street...the resources are placed in such a way that is in keeping with my sense of balance and harmony, regardless of their "use value." So yes, I have an herb garden on my street (which I might well keep hidden in my backyard) because it doesn't "fit in" with the scheme I've got going for the backyard. That's one reason. Secondly, I do wish to share resources with others, but at the same time, I appreciate a certain measure of respect.
I can empathize with street owners who consider their herb gardens to be their property, and who block accordingly. Even if someone replants your garden, they may not replant with the herbs you had initially planted. Even if they replant with the same herbs, it can throw off your rhythm if you come back in game in time to harvest your yellow crumb, only to find a bed of seeds. Some players leave notes requesting how other players treat their gardens, only to have the notes disregarded.
Resource routes have been created to direct people to folks who are happy to share their resources freely and abundantly. I'm a huge fan of these routes, and I applaud the participants wholeheartedly. At the same time, I'm not on a route for a reason. As much as I love the bonus img I receive from occasional visitors, along with the thrill that someone I haven't met before has made their way to my street, I also prefer some degree of privacy, and so I strive to maintain a balance that suits me. Again, for me personally, you are welcome to visit, so long as you are respectful of "my" space. Even if you throw off my gardening rhythm by your use of my gardens, I am largely forgiving, and indeed quite welcoming...up to a point.
But there's yet another element to street visiting to consider, one that goes beyond merely resource harvesting, and extends into the realm of gift-giving and random kindness.
My street is open to my friends, and to the occasional random passerby. If some random visitor wants to make use of my resources and in so doing passes on some bonus img to me, that's great! However, there is a generous sort of behavior that friends engage in between friends, that tends to differ from the random street visit. For example, if a friend visits my street, s/he may choose to harvest my herbs, but oftentimes that friend will do so for the sole purpose of giving me img, and will leave the harvested herbs with my butler as a gift for me. I do the same for them. The general idea when visiting a friend's street is to let the friend know you are thinking of them, and to leave them a gift. This gift takes the the form of img from resource harvesting, to be sure, but often a friendly token is left with the butler, along with a brief message. And of course if friends break eachother's resources, we are quick to do what we can to restore them. Again, we consider our visits to each other's streets as "gifts" we can give one another, and take joy in that.
Oftentimes, random visitors seem to be coming from a "taking" mentality, vs a giving one. So if you visit a random Glitch's street who is not on a resource route, nor on your friend's list, and harvest their garden strictly for the purpose of obtaining herbs, they may take offense and block you. If it's herbs you're after, and you don't wish to be blocked, my advice is to stick to the resource routes or community gardens. You may think you're doing someone a favor by giving them the img, but you may also be throwing off their gardening rhythm even if you replant. Obviously some folks don't appreciate that, and I can't say as I blame them.
Glitch is a wonderful community of kind-hearted, generous folks. We all have goals we are striving towards, but even so we are usually quick to lend a hand to someone who needs it. So maybe we can extend that generosity further, to those whose streets we visit. We can honor the personal nature of home streets, even if someone is on a resource route, and extend our appreciation in the form of gifts and caring for resources. We can broaden our view from "resources" located in databases to "players" and act accordingly, treating every person's street we visit as though they were our friend.
I'm reminded of a well-known parable where an angel (or faery, depending on your interpretation) was showing some dude around the afterlife. (Humor me if you've heard this one before, cuz not everyone has, and it's a good'un.:P) Anyways, he took him to a room where there was plenty of food available, but everyone was starving...their spoons were longer than their arms, and they couldn't feed themselves. "That's hell," said the angel/faery. He took him to another identical room, but here everyone was happy and well-fed. "They've learned to feed each other," said the angel/faery. "This is heaven."