Wednesday, March 16, 2011

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Second Life's Survival Seriously Threatened by Second Life Users' Hate and Fear of Change (1st of a Series)

LOLHumble

Recently I mentioned talking with newly appointed Linden Lab CEO Rod Humble about “the recalcitrance of Second Life's existing userbase to change.” To be clear, I do not know if Mr. Humble shares my belief that Second Life’s community resists and fears changing Second Life, even to save it from its current trajectory, which inevitably ends in oblivion.

However, I can say for certain that many Lindens past and present share my opinion about Resident resistance to change. I even suspect this is what Second Life's very founder, Philip Rosedale, believes. After all, he once warned SL's most dedicated users, “Try not to cling too tightly to what we have now... [coming] changes are sometimes going to be disruptive and painful.” One only expects pain, when one expects resistance.

Then again, Philip has all but left Linden Lab, as have nearly all the founding Lindens, even though they once spoke and advocated for Second Life so passionately. Second Life co-founder Cory Ondrejka now works at Facebook. Second Life community management founder Robin Harper now works at a company that makes Facebook games. Most other Lindens have followed them out the door, and many Lindens have since spoken to me about their frustration (almost aways tinged with affection) with Second Life's userbase, and its resistance to change. I believe that resistance is among the many reasons for their collective departure -- a sense that the community they have worked so hard to foster and support resents or dismisses their efforts. Outside analysts have made a similar observation: Forester Research's Tom Grant, for example, suggested Linden Lab suffers from an Iron Law of Oligarchy of "their best customers [who] are, in subtle ways, holding them back."

But more changes are coming, and so will more resistance. Take just a couple examples from recent weeks:

And so on, and on -- many more examples of this dynamic abound. Based on Mr. Humble’s experience with The Sims franchise, at Electronic Arts, we are likely to see Second Life become more gamelike, become more appealing to “the riffraff”, as one community member once referred to the mainstream. Some changes will likely meet even more resistance by Residents (certainly the most vocal ones.) The resistance may be so great, the Lindens may back away from the changes they had planned at the last minute, even if it means losing another opportunity to grow the user base, and thereby save Second Life.

But not all change is bad, especially if it's needed to insure the community can go on. Because, once again, here is the harsh reality:

Virtual worlds the size and scope of Second Life need millions in annual revenue to survive, but Second Life's existing revenue model, while currently successful, is not sustainable into the medium or long term. There are simply not enough people in the real world willing to pay hundreds of dollars a month for virtual land, and those who do now will slowly but inevitably leave for many and various reasons, making Second Life a candidate for lingering death from a thousand cuts. The imminent death of Numbukalla, once a treasured SL sim, is just one of many such blows; in the next 2-3 years, barring a dramatic strategy shift, expect many more to come, until the utter direness of Second Life's situation will be undeniable to all. Though by that time, it'll likely be too late.

So this will become a recurring theme of New World Notes for the next few months (or indeed, until Second Life shows signs of growth.) I’ll be writing not so much about how Second Life might survive, but how many Residents who love it so much are inadvertently threatening its survival by near-strangling it with their passion. I’ll be writing these posts not just to the community, but to the Lindens themselves, in a bid to convince them that they should not fear pushing forward on the changes that are needed.

Because in the end, it's not the Second Life Residents' hate and fear of change that threatens Second Life -- it's a fear of that reaction. That's what needs to be overcome. By the Lindens, by the Residents, and all of us who love Second Life.

UPDATE, 3/25:

This series continued in this post, click to read. Among the points I expand on from the above essay are:

  • Only Resistance to Massive User Growth is a Threat to Second Life's Survival
  • Only a Vocal Minority are (Actively) Resistant to the Changes Needed to Save Second Life
  • Resistance to Change is Not Bad or Unreasonable in Itself
  • Linden Lab is Largely Responsible for Their Users' Own Resistance to Change
  • Linden Lab is Mostly Responsible for Second Life's Now-Precarious State

Read it all here.

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Tinsel Silvera

You will be pleased to know the Second Life 2-6-1-223988 Dev version has PnC defaulted in. I am no fan of it but I did do some walking around with it earlier. I have always preferred keyboard to mouse movements but both should be offered. I think this whole "website movement" we see Linden Lab doing is proof they too realize their revenue model is not sustainable indefinitely. Wait. Did I just agree with you? {:o)

Vivienne Daguerre

I think you really hit on something here. Linden Lab needs to remember that the most vocal residents who cry "The sky is falling!" the loudest are not representative of the majority of us.

The Chicken Littles will always find something to squawk about. Ignore them and move on.

The changes I have seen since my rez date in April 2004 have been marvelous--flex prims, sculpties, and soon mesh! With every one of them people moaned about old content becoming obsolete.

With flex prims, my clothing stocks became obsolete overnight, and I had to work to make new stuff quickly to stay in business. The coming of sculpties made me jump through hoops to learn to make sculpties.

It brought extra work, but I enjoy this type of work. To me this is fun, and I love getting new tools.

Onward! To stagnate is a certain death.

Uccello

Hear Hear! Daily I listen in on the Third Party Viewer chats I hear nearly endless vitriol (mostly in the Firestorm group) against v2-style viewers. More than one person I know hasn't even seriously tried a v2-style viewer or tried to customize one. For example, I walked one person through the steps to make a feature more v1-stylish even to the point of sending screen shots of how I did it. The response? "Oh, that sucks. I shouldn't have to even do that. I want it MY way. No one should use the abomination called v2" (I paraphrased ... posting transcripts here without permission is against ToS I've heard). What if the new viewer is MY style? Why can't I have choice? I can embrace and work with change *if it is for the better good* of me and the situation. I don't advocate change for change's sake as is suggested by those who hate change. If I can't have everything I want, I do my best to adapt, adopt, and improve.

Go find the very short book "Who Moved My Cheese?" and read it. Or get the illustrated versions or the video. Or here is the Wikipedia summary for the severely time-challenged: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Moved_My_Cheese%3F You'll think about change rather differently if you understand the message within the Cheese.

Pam Broviak

I continue to see direct comparisons between virtual worlds like Second Life and the operation or governance of cities or other communities. Those of us working in government often experience the same feedback and reaction from residents in our communities. Even though we might propose something that is extremely beneficial for the public, if it changes something familiar, there is often a very vocal resistance.

Based on these similarities, I believe Linden Lab could save themselves a lot of frustration and position themselves for a higher rate of success if they could research how municipalities operate, function, and deal with similar challenges.

Laetizia 'Tish' Coronet

It's all very well that a slew of ex-Lindens complain about their former customers, but they were (partly) responsible for the utter failure of trying to launch the platform as a business tool - and many a decision was made with that in mind, not in the least the whole sanitation operation that we've seen. One that has left SL advertising with bunnehs and horsies while IMVU has half nekkid avatars passionately hugging. And we all know that sex sells, whatever one might think of the ethical side.

The problem I see is twofold: yes, there is vocal resistance to any change whatsoever, but there is also an unwillingness in San Fran to listen to customers, even when what they say makes good common sense.

They can unload their frustrations on all of us as much as they like but I have seen a lot of I-told-you-so moments coming by in these past years. Not to mention the many times we all had to pull a rope for a loooong time before something at the Lab started to shift in the right direction.

Pretty one-sided company view here Hamlet. You've gone from embedded journalist to company spokesperson, it seems.

Crap Mariner

I still find that warning of painful things to come as an utterly bizarre thing for a service provider to tell their customer base.

If they're rolling out products and services that provide better stability, functionality, flexibility, and performance, then people won't be experiencing pain.

They'll be experiencing joy. And telling others about it, bringing in more customers and revenue.

Oh well. Phil's a billionaire building a geek chic coffeeshop. What do I know, right?

-ls/cm

CronoCloud Creeggan

Didn't SL at one time have PnC movement? IIRC there used to be a "go here" command in the right click window.

I tell people all the time that 2.foo isn't that bad...sure for communication/friends/groups the UI is not as good as 1.foo, and it works best on widescreen monitors, but for avatar stuff/inventory/landmarks that sidebar is great. And the location bar is awesome because you can edit it directly. Stuck in a spot where you don't want to be, edit the bar to move yourself a meter or 2. I do wish they made notifications a bit more like 1.foo, blue and larger with black text on white and in the upper right, because the small size of them makes them not as useful.

And you know how people complain about search? I remember when it worked awesome. It was when it indexed EVERYTHING, and when you searched and chose a location you also got a list of objects at that location WITH location info within the region, which was wonderful for actually finding items at a large store. But then people complained about that and they stopped doing it.

I don't mind change as long as I have the option to make things work well for me.

Talwyn Mills

Just because you think something is a good idea doesn't actually make it one. And any given idea, good or bad, will have people that disagree with that idea, such is the nature of life.

But there is an additional here, in part I think its part learned behaviour, because many of the changes LL have came up with have either:

1) Not been good ideas (Freebie roadmap)
2) Have had negative effects on the userbase (Homestead price rises, concentration on businesses)
3) Have been handled badly (more or less everything)
4) Have been suggested, accepted as positive, maybe even worked on, then binned (Script limits apparently)
5) Results in people no longer able use SL on older rigs (Windlight)
6) Have the possibility of causing a major schism in the userbase (voice, there are people and places that won't welcome you if you refuse or cant use it)
7) Require release or RL info (the Facebook links you seem to think are so great when facebook considered avatars as illegal).

So I think LL frankly has only themselves to blame on this one.

I do think the whole Facebook thing is a stupid idea and getting old fast, make it an option that people can opt in to and I don't care, but wheres the option to remove the Like button from my web profile?

But the underlying thrust from Hamlet from this and recent editorials is that anyone that disagree's with his aparent opinions (Facebook is the saviour of SL, everyone should be required to release RL info, anyone that wants privacy is an idiot or has something to hide, if you don't have anything to hide you don't have to worry) isn't worth listening to and not worth respecting their opinion. If you don't respect my opinion, I won't respect yours, simple.

Jilly Kidd

When you said people were reluctant to change and that change would be painful I thought you meant the change to fees for educators and nonprofits. Many of us don't like that and found it hard to believe.

Not long ago I talked to you about how happy the London School of Journalism was on SL, and how active their sim was.

Now they have left because the discount for universities and nonprofits was taken away and they can't justify doubling what they pay. I'm in touch with other universities who are also leaving.

This is a massive change and sent out a message to us that was painful and hard to accept. After years of believing Linden Labs valued education and culture and that it was worth our while putting time and effort into building sims and communities for those kinds of activities we suddenly get shown that we were mistaken.

Resistant to change? Yes, I suppose we are in this case. You say it's the need for more income, well these people did pay and it's hard to believe their discounted rate was of so little value that it could be discarded.

The changes you mention are small ones, and people do react but then get used to it, just as they do with upgrading viewers. The reluctance to be part of any social network or website outside SL is also something we have to accept from some users who want SL to be a separate world.

The massive message that education and culture don't matter is quite different.

Rin Tae

This post does read like a 'rage-thread' of sorts. Actually when talking with people, reading what is written and listening to what they might have to say about SL I don't see much resistence to change. This might come as a surprise but the ressitence is more fueled by the so far less then satisfactionary performence of the lab. Lots of the vocal resistence is there, because over the years many residents stopped trusting the lab!

Mostly because of the absolute horrid and actually not existing communication with the customers and often no response to issues or complains beyond some corp-speak blog posts that have been so awful that it was too difficult to read them.

If you look at SL, then there is very little resistence to change. There is lots of support. There is a community that screams and shouts and actualyl begs for a chance to help the world grow, but so far LL has made a good job of ignoring it and cutting back on even more services. How can soemone be expected to invest money and creativity into the platform, when there is so little coming back from LL?
But then, there is still money and creativity being invested all the time. If people would be so resistent to change and so much complaining, then why are they still doing it and why are there many people waiting for mesh and larger prims? If there is resistence to change, then why everyone is being laughed at when they complain about how a new feature will kill their buisenss? When there is a resistence to change, then why are so many people jumping on the chance to use the Firestorm viewer even when it is a pre-alpha preview? Or use one of the other version 2 third party viewers already on the gird?

There might have been other reasons then 'resistence to change' that prevented the version 2 viewer to gain more users when it has been introduced. There has been lots written about this but it took LL way to long to accept this feedback.

I rather think, that all those experts are not really in touch with what they are writing about. It all seems like they have a premade perfect plan that has to work because it has been done by experts who must knew it since .. well .. they are experts! When the users say that it is stupid, it is of course the users fault and resistence the change since they lack the 'experts' enlightment.

There is so much to do in SL. So many problems to solve and improvements to make. There is so much support and love for it within the community, that it is almsot breathtaking. But no one is listening and instead we only get 'perfect plans' made up by experts. Now of course I have wrote up something of a 'hate-post' myself but once my fingers touched the keys it all got out on it's own. I think it jsut needed to be said ... and ... was there not something about Googles Lively havign been made by 'experts' who knew exactly what SL made wrong and who knew what would be THE virtual world of the future?

Machine

If they make SL more gamelike, I hope that some entrepreneur will start a new virtual world where people can focus on building things of interest to them, and explore what other have built in a non-game like environment.

Alia Baroque

Being on survivor island right now, I can eat coconuts for months if this will help SL get its sparkle, but just tell me...

..what's that black smoke?

Machine

I really hate games and RL sports generally too. I prefer to participate in a RL sport to remain physically fit, rather than spending endless hours watching sports.

I used to love video games back in the 80s when I was high school. I just find them to be childish now at my age. I anycase, most games involve some kind of fighting which I really dislike.

I used to participate a lot in RPG sims when I just joined SL, and now I really dislike them. I have enough rules to follow in RL to then follow more rules when I log into SL.

I enjoy the music scene the most in SL. So I also hope that if Hamlet succeeds in his crusade for game and sport lovers, that some visionary entrepreneur will start a virtual world where in addition to a main focus on building digital stuff of interest, there will be a vibrant live music scene.

Riisu

Facebook, point-and-click as options, I can't care less and nobody should argue... as long as LL don't decide suddenly to make any of them mandatory. That's the big problem with LL. Too often, they try to push disruptive changes down our throats, say "let's discuss" and just ignore anyone who doesn't agree with them, saying that we "hate and fear change". The best example of this strategy is Viewer V2. Those who hate it so passionately --like I do-- always keep in mind the endless forum threads of hatred against it as proof that LL don't listen to us. These threads were certainly unpleasant to LL but they pointed a big finger in direction of some obvious flaws in V2: The popups, the chat and the sidebar. I test every version of V2.x and I still see V2.0. How can I not hate it? (Please, don't mention the mini location bar or the detachable tabs of the sidebar, I still don't know if I must laugh or cry when I see them.)
As for the revenue model, it is definitively doomed. As a landowner, I pay for some server usage and I wonder from time to time why the prices weren't even slightly reduced when LL put 4 sims on a server. Less servers, lesser prices, no? Any way, the tier system is broken. I'd like so much to buy more land and I can afford it. I just can't afford to double my tier.

Arcadian Vanalten

I'm not sure I buy your hypothesis, Hamlet. Most of the residents I know actively want changes, but they feel rather disenfranchised b/c LL has not focused on the needs and wishes of their customer base. They keep trotting out new bells and whistles that no one asked for, while ignoring the tech fixes people have been requesting, in some cases, for years.

That's not fear of change, Hamlet. That's mounting disgust. There IS a difference.

Tateru Nino

"Didn't SL at one time have PnC movement?"

Yes it did, Crono.

Machine

On another point, I don't see how the revenue model can be substantially changed.

SL in hardwarde terms consists of servers that maintain the sims and avatars that people use. The more stuff you build, the more server space you use, so your payment has to be related in some way to server resources. If SL were mainly an avatar world with a static environment, you could charge subscriptions based on number of avatars. However, the main server resources in SL support sims with all the digital content that they contain.

I can't see how you can have revenue model in SL that is not based on the server resources that you use. Unless you do away with building and land altogether, in which case one would wonder what is the point of SL then?

Kim Anubis

The attitude that the most important thing is for SL to last forever, even if it requires changing it in ways that longtime customers protest, is about continued income, not continued enjoyment. While you and I and the folks at the Lab rely on the continued existence of SL for financial reasons, those who aren't in it for the dough don't have much incentive to put up with changes they don't want, or to keep their mouths shut about them. I think acting as if customers who are displeased when the formula of their favorite product is changed are a bunch of backwards whiners or recalcitrant, shortsighted children is both insulting and a great way to drive them to the competition. That competition isn't IMVU or Habbo. It's Netflix, Hulu, Shapeways, OpenSim, a box of watercolors, or maybe even a walk outside.

Robustus Hax

I don't disagree that there does seem to be an impression that SL residents are against change. However to say that is holding SL back is ridiculous. When have the users of Second Life ever successfully overturned a Linden Lab decision? Linden Lab made many decisions that were against the popular viewpoint, so if the Lab decided to go in X direction, they will go in X direction and will usually do so regardless of outspoken resident opinion.

I also fail to see how a Facebook connect / sl in a browser window changes their business model either. A million new freebie users don't necessarily guarantee Linden Lab anything except more costs.

If the Lab's income is dwindling it has to be from the failure of Mainland, since unrented/unowned land is actually a loss. Private Estates are pure profit money tree's for the Lab.

But back to the point, if the Lab wants to connect to Facebook, it is going to connect to Facebook, and no amount of bitching will change that. The only thing holding back Second Life is the turtle pace at which Linden Lab operates.

Cisop Sixpence

Seems like every society has groups that resist change, even though it may be (in this case) change that they had been asking for for years.

I say lets progress with the changes. We had a rough and confusing start, but we are finally making headway. Those that don't want progress, know where they can go. ;)

brinda allen

Oh Please!.
I pay my share... 6K USD a year.
No, I'm not golden... but I'm far from a freeloader.
Try to force me/us to use a UI thats so bad that literally thousands of daily users don't like it?
It's darned sure nothing to do with point/clic... the Third Party Viewers have that.
As was stated above we tug on the rope and no one listens for weeks/months/years?
It's not that people don't come... it's the 86% that never relog after time one.

Here, let me tug on the rope one more time.
This "new user experience" isn't working, and a large part of that is the complicated viewer that we "that are strangling Secondlife refuse to embrace". Return all new users to and island of their own with adequate mentoring.
Instead of sitting in and office emotionally, actually come spend time in world talking with that new user standing way off to one side of a so called welcome area where he/she has just been ignored... or even worse jeered at because they are so "lost".

Mr. Humble... if you read this and would like to hear from several of those that used to work with new users (and a few that still do... IM me or send me and Email, you have the address).

Cajsa Lilliehook

No wonder LL is having trouble with the residents when they have such contempt for them and are comfortable voicing that contempt with a journalist.

Residents are not resistant to change for the sake of resisting change. There are changes residents have embraced with delight - windlight, shadows, and there's great eagerness for the new mesh.

Residents have resisted changes that make the user experience less pleasant (new interface), more expensive (homestead fees0 or more fraught with angst (teen merge).

Danielle

The fact that the majority of SL residents use third party viewers proves we are not resistant to change, merely we are resistant to crappy software, which is what the viewer 2.0 initial version was a year ago.

The latest 2.5 and 2.6 beta, with the addition of third party add-ons, I find quite acceptable, and miles ahead of the original 2.0. I still keep some 1.x series viewers installed as alternates for those functions that work better on that series. The 2.x series is not "better in all respects" yet.

Adeon Writer

I'm not resistant to change, I'm resistant to regression. For example: those who know me in-world know I'm very loud about my non-use of Viewer 2. But what is my reasoning for that? Am I a change-fearing, stuck-in-my-ways oldbie that is killing SL? Well... No. I actually don't use V2 purely because from the time it was released, to now still, voice doesn't work for me. If and when I can open my mouth while using it, I'd switch instantly and welcome it with open arms.

Ciaran Laval

Amanda's comment about Facebook was absurd, that's why there were negative comments about it, Facebook isn't the best place to find out about cool things happening in Second Life and I don't care if people think Facebook is the best thing since sliced bread, that comment was woefully inaccurate, Twitter and Plurk continue to be good sources of Second Life info but the best place to find out about cool things happening in Second Life, should be the website and inworld.

As for change, you can't just play the "They don't like change" card as LL did with viewer 2, and I say this as someone who has used viewer 2 since it went open beta and still find the land sales search to be so woefully inadequate that I fire up a version 1 viewer when I'm looking for land, this isn't because I'm resistant to change, it's because land sales search in viewer 2 is awful.

People accept change when they see benefits, after the inital rumbling, people adapt.

If you want to look at why the community gets frustrated with LL, take a look at the adult continent moves when people asked, asked and asked again for LL to create a PG continent as part of those changes and LL refused, the situation we've had recently with the teens arriving would have been far easier to manage had that PG continent existed, people were right to ask for that continent and even now I've seen people posting that their 16 year old child walks out of their land and is faced with a mature parcel they can't enter, right next door, that's why people were asking for a PG continent and this goes back further than the adult land moves, I gave up a PG parcel for that very reason a few years back and mentioned it to a Linden who told me, it was a known issue, Linden Lab were the people reluctant to change on that issue.

Change is better managed when it feels like a two way process, not when it's imposed on people, viewer 2 has improved a let since it's first appearance, but that's because LL listened, there were suggestions during closed beta that they weren't listening.

Cady Enoch

Unless and until Linden Lab really gets serious about good ole customer service, they need to stop complaining about our attitudes toward anything.

True story about a friend of mine, and quite possibly a soon-to-be-former SL resident. She called the BILLING SUPPORT phone line about a problem with her tier invoice. After answering "seven layers" of questions to ascertain her identity (which I do not quibble with), she was told that they could not help her, as they did not have access to her invoice. Again, this was the BILLING SUPPORT line.

Start listening to us, and start acting like you give a damn what we say, and that you value our business. Enough with the lip service. You need to start walking all your talk, LL.

Osprey Therian

The spice must flow, and currently LL is unwisely diverting the spice away from their customers by competing with them. That leaves precious little in the way of interest for many people.

Arcadia Codesmith

The users made Second Life. The users can break Second Life. And we will, if LL continues down the path of disregarding the wishes of the existing player base.

Here's a counter-proposal: develop a new platform. Working title: Third World. Throw out the existing code base and revenue model and start from scratch. License or build an engine that purrs like a happy tiger. Include tight Facebook integration. Optimize for use inside the browser. Include an achievement system. Include a microtransaction model that rewards creators while ensuring a revenue stream. Write a well-formed modular code base that can be upgraded more easily than changing a windshield wiper.

Launch it. See what happens. Will people play it? I bet they will. I'd sure give it a spin. But meantime, my old friend Second Life would still be chugging along in the background, and would likely remain my primary home.

Risky? Yes, no question. But less risky than alienating every last segment of your loyal player base in search of a new base that may never materialize.

Ann Otoole InSL

You are simply wrong pal. And tpv viewers are being made on top of the SLV2 code base and people are using it just fine. I use SLv2 all the time and have no issues other than the soon to be shut off facebook style privacy leaks. I haven't seen any stats from LL lately but other stats suggest Phoenix is probably only 20%, the others miniscule, the vast majority of SL users use SLv2 based LL viewers. There is no huge resistant to change mob you fictionalized.

And the viewer has had double-click to move forever and nobody cares if click to move is added as long as it is the seldom used option it will be.

Oh, and since you are the bastion of improving the experience for new users, why is it you don't know the snowstorm code base is out there and being compiled and now being alpha/unit tested by the OS Devs that has basic and advanced user modes of operation. What? You didn't know? Here: http://automated-builds-secondlife-com.s3.amazonaws.com/hg/repo/snowstorm_viewer-development/latest.html It is no secret the changes needed are incoming.

Do you even log in to the grid anymore Hamlet? Or have you effectively quit so you no longer see all the advances the diligent LL crew and OS Devs are rolling in?

Ordinal Malaprop

Goodness. I had no idea that opposition to silly copycat proposals about Facebook and click-to-move would be taken as such personal affronts.

I can only speak for myself, but I certainly meant no insult - we all say silly things after all, and if I say them publicly I would rather people tell me rather than just shrug and say "oh Ordinal is being daft again" to themselves. Do as one would be done to. I am not convinced that a series of posts about how we all just hate change and that can be the only reason and we're killing SL is really going to help things.

DD Ra

First was Philip :
Philip founded the Lab, hired the Lindens, and created the Grid.

Second were the Residents:
The Lindens herded them and told them : "This is you world, this is your imagination" In that, the residents believed, and with faith they populated the Grid, contributed to a world full of sex, drama, art and ideas... and Linden Dollars.

Third was temptation :
Temptation came in the form of media coverage.
The hard working Linden, who lived and toiled amongst the Residents, were lured by dreams of easy money (real, not SL) The Linden separated themselves from the Residents, pursuing strange corporate dreams. Second Life was deemed worthy, so they took it back for the Residents and declared SL was again only Linden’s World.

So yes, residents are resisant to change. Those who are not resistant enough are gone or in some Opensim.

Have fun and take care.

Darrius Gothly

Rather than belabor my disagreement with your post here, I'll let folks read my perspective on my blog. Just follow the link from my name.

Toxic Menges

The Lab needs to understand that this is not a one sided problem. I am sure there is resistance to change - but I would put to you Hamlet, that the issue is the way the change is presented to the userbase.

If no (or poor) explanation is given, no good lead time for the change, and the change is ultimately disruptive, then of course it will be met with resistance. All of the above are examples of the manner in which changes to Second Life have been introduced to the users in the past.

Imagine if your rl lounge was redecorated with no notice and you had no idea it was going to happen. Part of the attraction of Second Life, is the fact that the user has a lot of control over their environment. Now imagine how it feels to have broad changes made without any warning..

I have faith that the current dynamic at Linden Lab is a move away from this in favour of a more respectful way of introducing changes to the service, and this will be met with a more favourable response.

There is resistance to change, but that is because of the mode employed to make that change.

Respect for your customers is paramount when making change. In the past, this has been severely overlooked.

Machine

Another comment.

Some analysts believe that for virtual worlds to succeed they must use a light weight viewer with the ability to scale, in terms of server resources, to large numbers of users, and the system must be decentralized.

In terms of the first recommendation, a light weight viewer means less functionality and reduced graphics. Implementing this would make SL more accessible to a larger number of people, and more people could be held in one sim. However, this would make SL less enjoyable for current users, and there is the risk that although more people might be able to access SL, the reduced graphics and functionality might make the world generally less interesting than it already is. This could be counteracted by making all of SL into a more gamelike environment, similar to existing web games. I think this is what Hamlet is recommending. However, there is already so much competition in this market already. Would SL be able to effectively compete, and how would the existing user base be affected?

As it is now, the current architecture of SL cannot scale in a cost effective way to support millions of users. This is a point that has been made thousands of times. The only way to scale is to reduce functionality, unless there is rapid development in hardware and software capabilities within the next five years, which is possible.

In terms of decentralization, I don't know how this would work technically, but if this is a reference to the architecture of the WWW, how would a decentralized system remain under the control of one private enterprise, since no one entity controls all the web? Opensim could be the forerunner to decentralization, of which SL would be only one component. Since this discussion is focused on SL, it might not be possible for a private VW developer to decentralize and retain control. SL could only be one part of a decentralized system, assuming that there will be many other VW developers, similar to web sites. However, based on the costs involved and the lack of growth in VWs generally, this might not be the case.

I would like to propose that SL as we have been experiencing it, might be an idea before its time. However, technological developments are accelerating and a technological solution to scalability and cost might be found within the next five years.

Inara Pey

Perhaps one of the reasons people didn't agree with you on Facebook is not so much because you stated it was an "option", but rather than manner in which you trumpeted it as some kind of vindication for your own position on Facebook / SL. One that is not necessarily shared by all.

As to change, again, for every negative view on change you can pull out, there is bound to be a corresponding positive.

Take Mesh. It's coming. Some would argue it is overdue - but the majority can see it as being nothing but beneficial.

Point and Click? May not go down well, but on the other hand, the response to the SL Viewer getting a choice of "Basic" and "Advanced" modes have been pretty much *very* positive among those trying out the snowstorm build.

Sorry, I don't buy-in to your perception at all. As Rin Tae said: this sounds more of a rant post than anything else.

Nyoko Salome

:) as far as v2 conversion, i noticed the other day that trying v2 again after using, say phoenix, did -not- result in the old buggy of 'arriving newd'. ;0 or at least radically redressed... that is good news (and was probably on phoenix's part to - um, redress. ;0)

Nyoko Salome

and p.s., i think i'm repeating someone else - wasn't a kind of 'point-and-click' nav always already built in to the ui?? :\ when'd it disappear? i don't remember it being a special default-off preference, but once i worked the arrow keys i never went back...

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

Hamlet, you sure touched a nerve with this post.

Where's my bowl of popcorn?

Change is generally stimulating, but change without much warning or input from those who pay the bills insults them. Mr. Humble can change that perception, and that would be a welcome change.

As for whomever called a potential influx of new users "riffraff," that's sad. Let's instead call them "potential paying customers." Bringing in a larger user-base of any sort would help all of us in SL. I don't care if there is more FB integration or point-and-click movement. We can opt in or out of the former and presumably the latter.

We are squabbling over trifles while the company--and the world that is so important to many of us--continues to decline.

Whatever the Lab does, it's too late for any SL changes to bring this educator back other than as a tourist...I have what I need in OpenSim. I'll keep my premium membership and my little 512 plot in-world in case I get proven wrong about the use of SL in my teaching.

Riven Homewood

I have never bought the "SL users don't like change" meme. Anybody who uses SL for any length of time encounters constant change, it is the essence of SL. However, nobody likes to have their world disrupted, except the minority who love change for change's sake. Toxic Menges makes some very good points in her comment about ways in which it's possible to prepare people for change and encourage them accept it as desirable improvement.

I'm very sorry to hear that you are planning a series of columns about how SL users are stubborn and a threat to SL's existence. Writing a "what's wrong with..." article is a tempting way to draw readers, but it seldom accomplishes anything positive. When it does, it's usually the result of some outraged debate that follows, and this leaves a lot of hard feelings. Mediocre writers muckrake, pontificate and indulge their egos. Great writers make people realize what they have in common and how they can work together to effect positive change.

Fleep Tuque

As a long term user, I agree with this sentiment whole heartedly. The nerd rage from existing residents over viewer 2 has been as exasperating to me as any complaint I have ever had about Linden Lab's actions, and that's just one of many examples, as you illustrated.

Second Life must continue to iterate and improve or it will go the way of the dodo and then what will they have to complain about?

Senban Babii

I can be pretty resistant to change as anyone who knows me will tell you. But I can also see that change can be positive if handled correctly. And for change to be handled correctly, that change has to be in the power of the residents, not the Lab. The residents have to feel a sense of control over the pace of those changes rather than having them rammed down their throats until they choke or swallow.

That's the real problem here when you get right down to it.

Consider how much resistance there is to various changes and you'll soon see that you simply can't paint with broad brush strokes like Hamlet here is trying to do. If so many residents are resisting changes of one sort or another then maybe the Lab needs to ask the following.

1. Perhaps this change isn't welcome after all?
2. Perhaps we're not allowing the residents to have control over the pace of the changes?

Ezra

Any and all change != Your ideas of change.

There's plenty Second Lifers agree about that needs to be changed that will make their and newcomers experience better; search, performance, mesh, content protection and so on.

I believe what you meant to say is: "Second Life's Survival Seriously Threatened by Second Life Users' Hate and Fear of My Ideas of Change"

If you're feeling out of touch with your commenters; hang with them in world. There's more valid perspectives to Second Life than the vantage points of techcrunch articles and quantcast reports.

AlexHayden Junibalya

I've only been back in Second Life for about fourteen months now, but if there is one thing I have learned about the people who come here and create, is that they are not resistant to change. If anything, they embrace it. (I could list countless sims that have been tweaked, or refined or revamped completely in the name of change).

And even you have to accept that the customers accepted the changes that Linden Lab threw out last year. Yes, sometimes begrudgingly, sometimes whole heartedly, but more often than not because they simply had no choice.

So here is a radical idea for you and the Lab to consider : If you stopped waving the flag for full Facebook intergration for just five minutes, accusing the residents of not looking toward the future AND ACTUALLY LISTENED TO THEM, and if Linden Lab embraced a different style of management and communication, one that instead of saying "Facebook intergration or whatever else we plan is the future, embrace it or else!" said "Facebook intergration and whatever else we plan is an OPTION, and if you don't want it, hey, fine with us, don't use it!"....what sort or reaction do you think you'd both get to change?

Just a thought...

PS Loved the suggestion that the ex Lindens look at the customers with frustration tinged with affection ("tsk those pesky customers! Love those bastards!!)..you looking to take Second Lie on in the humour stakes?

Nika Talaj

I look forward to your posts re: "I’ll be writing not so much about how Second Life might survive, but how many Residents who love it so much are inadvertently threatening its survival by near-strangling it with their passion." I certainly hope you're right, because if so, that is fairly easy to fix.

In your upcoming posts, I strongly suggest that you NOT use comments to your own blog as evidence of SL userbase resistance to change, as you have in this posting. You have become a bit of a lightning rod, Hamlet, particularly after your much-publicized "desertion" to Blue Mars. This may be painful to acknowledge, but I'm quite sure that some of the negative feedback on this blog is because quite a few SL residents simply don't like you anymore. Perhaps you and Prok should start a commune.

For my own part, I think your thesis may have been more true in the past than it is now. Philip & co. not only loved SL, they were desperate that (not only the product) but they themselves be well liked. Light casual criticism had the power to evoke a "hurty" response in the early days. Even as late as 2006, people in the forums joked that they shouldn't say this or that because it would "make -a particular Linden- sad".

Nowadays, Lindens do not wear their hearts on their sleeves. Instead, they've been moving toward limiting feedback from users to 'safer' channels, like their new user groups.

So, I think you're underestimating LL, Hamlet. The company has grown up, painfully at times. Now LL behaves toward SL more like it is a service than a highly personal dreamquest. In some ways, this makes LL more responsive, not being so personally invested in past decisions - their recent abandonment of the Jive portal software has resulted in a much more usable platform for the community, the move to Snowstorm is beating Viewer 2 slowly into shape, etc.. Nowadays, I don't see LL the service provider permitting resident outcries to influence them unless LL feels those outcries have some basis in fact.

Caliandris

I feel I have dealt with continual change since joining SL in 2004... it's one of the things I have found so stimulating about SL that it is necessary to learn and keep learning, because nothing seems to stay the same for any length of time. When I first joined people had to use a set of standard animations for everything, and of course, that soon changed as custom animations were introduced. The build menu and UI have been evolving since the moment I came into SL, and I have added the need to learn graphics programs, animation programs, how to make sculpties and now mesh. When a BIG group of your creators refuses to go on with something when they have shown themselves to be a group of early adopters, flexible and intelligent... and they continue to refuse the innovations, there's something wrong.

I can't tell you specifically what it is, except that I feel I am building in a box and I hate it. I would rather lose the search function and keep 1.23.

Allegory Malaprop

PEOPLE are resistant to change. This is not something limited to Second Life users. However part of the problem here is that there is a very vocal userbase, that are the ones who are actually building the content for SL. They have a larger stake (and sense of entitlement in the belief that they should have a say) because they are, after all, actually making the world itself. But, god, look at the forums for any online game that evolves (like, oh god, the WoW forums. You want to see a bunch of whingers?) This is NOT limited to SL, by any stretch of the imagination. This comes with the territory. If the Lindens at Facebook think people are less resistant to change there, it's because they're in a place where they can't hear the complaints, not because there aren't any.

The other problem is that, well, some of this change is half assed at best. Aside from the hordes of issues I have with the actual interface of 2.x (as someone who builds content, it has some serious hindrances in stupid ways that aren't necessary), it also has some subtle and extremely useful features left out that would be just as easy to have pulled over without changing anything but adding this small extremely convenient functionality. Wouldn't have changed a thing about the new interface. Would have gone a long way to making it something I could use for more than the occasional picture with shadows. And, well, it also shows that the 1.x interface had more solid thought behind some of it, awkward things about it aside. I've tried to work with 2.x, I know how to do things in it. I also know that doing any of it is going to be a longer and more frustrating task, when it was already longer and more frustrating than necessary due to a lack of useful features like batch tools in 1.x. And the first release of it was such an enormous mess it made a lot of people flee and refuse to come back, even though some of the issues have been dealt with.

As for Facebook, well, the sharing without having to share your av name is all well and nice, but it's backwards for a lot of people. I couldn't care less about sharing SL things with people who are on my RL Facebook- and they couldn't care less about anything I shared. They aren't going to join SL because I'm sharing random things that mean nothing to them, especially if I'm not going to even take the tiny step of letting them know my name so they can contact me there. Were I to have any SL interaction with Facebook it would be as my avatar, without connection to RL. Given the option to keep a completely separate avatar account, I might even post _once_ on my RL Facebook to let people know if they wanted to go over, but other than that, connecting the two is actively undesirable.

As for the point and click- your second link doesn't appear to be pointing the right place, and I had to hunt to find more information about it. And really, you had to lead with the girl thing? As a girl, who has always preferred movement keys and actually has a pretty decent sense of spatial relations, you started off making it combative. Get people's hackles up, and they'll disagree with you even when they agree with the rest of the point. I don't prefer 2D games to 3D either- I do, however, prefer puzzle games to most fighting games. Sorry, I prefer thinking and interacting, THAT is why SL has had a longer lasting appeal for me than MMORPGs like WoW. Give me real interactivity and I'll keep coming back. If I'm just following orders I'll get bored and realize it's just a waste of my time.

I'm all for point and click as an option (it actually sort of is an option, badly, and pathing is the HUGE issue with it to try to implement it better) even though it's something I would rarely use. I'd prefer an autorun- THAT is something WoW has that I've always missed here (hack and slash attachments aside to try to get by it). Yeah, steering's an issue, but it still helps. Even better- /follow.

Maurice Mistwallow

It isn't so much that we resist change as it is the fact that the things that they change are inevitably the things that are working, while they leave the completely broken things alone.

Just look at viewer 2. I don't mind most of viewer 2 really.. once I got used to where things were at. But they took a perfectly good events search and broke it to the point where it isn't even usable.. and if you like to build (the whole basis of content in second life), forget viewer 2 altogether. In the mean time I still can't even send a message to a group. Fix the things that are broken and we will wholeheartedly embrace change!

Gumby Roffo

Nice article with some very valid observations as the comments appear to confirm. Yes PnC movement is there, depending on which TPV you use this week. I was frustrated with the V2 changes initially, only because I had become very familiar with V1's building interface, then it all moved. Now I can use both because I tried to convert those 3 years of familiarity across. Anyway I ramble (moar coffee).
Keep up with the interesting reads and observations Hamlet.

Ciaran Laval

@Fleep "As a long term user, I agree with this sentiment whole heartedly. The nerd rage from existing residents over viewer 2 has been as exasperating to me as any complaint I have ever had about Linden Lab's actions, and that's just one of many examples, as you illustrated."

This was LL's sort of line and it was the wrong line, the nerd rage as you put it actually led to improvements in viewer 2, although as I said earlier land sales search is still awful (it's far superior in viewer 1 until LL remove it) and the closing your search results after teleport is still an awful concept, these are things LL could fix if they had the will and I use viewer 2 99% of the time.

Sveid Heidenstam

I am really not certain the residents' feelings towards change pose any danger whatsoever to Second Life's survival. There are no real alternatives to SL at the moment (Blue Mars development seems to have, at least for the moment, stalled and Open Sim has a long way yet to go before it matches Linden Lab's servers). These residents are not going anywhere, no matter how vocal they are about sidebars, optional new control schemes or how LL chooses to market their product.

Linden Lab needs to resist catering to those who fear change, yet at the same time what changes LL does and does not make will decide Second Life's future.

The idea of Linden Lab having a Facebook marketing strategy is one thing, however they have yet to present a sensible one. Facebook's policies do not allow for SL residents to create accounts without disclosing their identity. This is problematic if LL wishes for their customers to use Facebook to do their marketing for them. SL's reputation alone is enough to discourage many from identifying with it. A professional game designer or visual artist may not wish to link their name to SL because of how poorly it is viewed in the professional design industry. A teacher or public worker may not wish to be associated with SL due to the more sensationalist commentary about it in the media.

It should come as no surprise there'd be a negative reaction to their recent comments about Facebook being "the best place to find SL content". Now, will LL let that negativity define their approach, or will they find a way to make Facebook work for them? It is Linden Lab, not the residents, who will decide that.

As far as new features, adding a point and click movement system in addition to the current controls will not drive anyone away. As such, there is no reason for LL to hold back on delivering such an option. Again, the ball is in Linden Lab's court, so to speak.

Now, how useful the new features Linden Lab adds, as well as whether or not they deliver on some crucial changes they have yet to make, will actually decide their future. The real question is whether or not they can draw in new users, and maintain those with legitimate concerns.

Second Life is a product with a considerable amount of potential, even now 9 years into its life. A lot of that potential remains wholly untapped. Much of the rest is squandered with poor marketing choices. None of which has anything to do with the feelings or opinions of their current customers.

Laying the blame for LL's current situation at the feet of its customers is to entirely misunderstand how LL came to be in this predicament. If Linden Lab cannot understand why they find themselves in their current situation they will never reverse their fortunes.

Ciaran Laval

Hamlet, one thing about change that you skirt over is that change can break existing content, LL aren't going to fix it, if one of my scripted devices is broken by LL changing things "for the better" damn right I'm going to be resistant, because people have paid me money for the product, it's not like Blizzard nerfing Warlocks, if you want a sensible debate on this, expand it and be open about what change in Second Life can mean, there are a lot of variables here.

Mickey

Pretty poor timing to offer this worn out debate as newsworthy.

Not sure which user base you are referring to, but will assume it involves those who are vocal, as the majority is inworld having fun, and couldn't care less.

User base is as diverse as it gets, but I just watched a pretty diverse sampling of the user base pull together on the security issues, and set any debates or past disagreements aside for weeks on end to inform, educate, and rally the troops to get something done.

They had to study this issue every day, and keep track every day, as it unfolded, requiring a considerable amount of time on their part. One of your buds told me a few weeks ago, to cut you some slack, as you don't get paid for this...but those people who were researching and gathering info to protect the rest of us, didn't get paid either.

We didn't exactly have a news source(?) such as this to keep us informed. At best, and carelessly, you offered a very clear dismissal, suggesting that the security issue effected a subset of users. It effects every single person that logs in.

They were cut off in middle of momentum by a forum that shut down for 10 days, then replaced with a forum that made it impossible to discuss.

They moved it to other venues, SLUniverse threads and Twitter, and kept it alive. Avril Korman did a very informative series that was thorough, and she did her research. Many others shared information by blogging and tweeting. Every single day.

Another news source stepped up to the plate in the last few weeks with some chunks of gold.

Pardon moi, but I don't recall anyone sending us to Facebook for information.

They used the tools they had available and were comfortable with. Many learned new tools overnight, and they did a bang up job. So not exactly the type you are referring to.

Can't really grasp how you didn't notice that on twitter, but will have to assume you don't use hashtags or searches. Pretty clear you don't follow the "user base."

That diverse group of people...yep, the vocal user base, were reporting back effectively inworld to all their groups. So it reached inworld as about effectively as you could get, with the tools we're provided.

Certainly would be nice to have a reliable "news" site! to aid with that attempt, but they did it fine without you, and in spite of you.

I respect every single person in that user base, and respect what they accomplished, and respect Soft Linden for working with them, and achieving a significant step forward.

I do not respect a news source or reporter who jumps in day after, with a headline and photo and commentary that attempts to kick all those people in the gut.

Now, I've been told that you are entirely clueless about what goes on day to day, and if that is the case....then you can disregard the paragraph above.

But definitely do not disregard the paragraphs preceding, because you dropped a very disrespectul commentary about a user base that made a HUGE step in SAVING second life.

If that security hole is not fixed up right...none of your commentary is even worth attempting to debate.

Kudos to that user base.

And shame on you. Wrong Day for this.

Aquarius Paravane

Hi Hamlet

What is wrong here is that Second Life's approach to change management and user adoption has to date been about the worst possible. They have in the past taken every possible way to raise and nourish an army of haters.

It's reached the point where people express their "hate" of the viewer as a way to seek approval from strangers or as a way to express their individuality.

Looking at the history of change introduction (Vista anyone?) there is one shining example - Apple's move from Mac OS 9 to OS X. They did it gradually, and they didn't expect anyone to take it seriously until the product was actually better than its predecessor. To seal the deal there was a killer app - iPhoto - which only ran on OS X. Even then there were holdouts and haters, but they were in a minority.

If Linden Lab wants people to stop hating change, then, simply put, learn to do change properly.

I remember when new versions of Viewer 1 used to come out with a Torley video explaining all the changes - often really exciting game changers. Then we had over a year of stagnation while LL worked on V2 in isolation, and when it came out it was full of holes. The supposed killer app, media on a prim, has not as far as I can see been successful, due to security concerns and failure to design for the use cases. Who wants to settle down to watch a video with friends knowing that the sound can be heard in adjacent parcels? Why is it that sound can be confined to a parcel, voice can be confined to a parcel but text chat and media on a prim's sound work by radius only?

Despite its deficiencies, I've used V2 from day 1 because, for me, some of its benefits make up for its deficiencies, and because of my interest in the whole user adoption problem.

It's worth comparing the approach with TPVs as well:
1) lots of little timesavers and goodies - for example, years ago in Emerald, if you rezzed an object wearing the wrong group tag and it won't be autoreturned if you are a member of the right group. LL still hasn't fixed this and people's time is still being wasted by this indefensible design error.
2) Bread and circuses - lure people in with "avatar mesh physics". Sigh.

Just for the record then my responses on Facebook and PnC:

"Facebook is the best way to find out what's going on in SL" is an utterly absurd statement.
- Second Life avatars are anonymous, Facebook accounts are not.
- Facebook does not allow anonymous accounts.
- Second Life is supposed to be a social medium, so to admit that a rival product is best at what you set out to do is a massive admission of defeat.

Rather than getting established SL users to give up their anonymity and link to their Facebook profiles if they have them, the focus should be on getting Facebook users to join SL. And this will not happen without lowering the barrier to adoption to Facebook levels - web client, able to see into the SL world before joining, relevance to real life, wandering the aisles of the Amazon store looking at the 3d goods for sale from all angles, trying out furniture for your real life home etc.

Re the point and click topic, I just don't get what the fuss is about. We have double click navigation or TP in SL viewers already. Navigating around in 3d is already second nature for anyone who has done any time on a Playstation. We don't hear that Playstation games are too hard because they don't allow point and click movement. Walking is SLOW but it isn't difficult. In fact as a noob I learned to fly everywhere first because it was faster, and at the end of a few weeks could still barely walk in a straight line. SL is littered with noob-unfriendly concepts, but moving the avatar around with arrow keys is not, for me, one of those difficult topics.

Oh and regarding voice - LL really ought to realize that some avatars will never use voice and just get over it already. Voice has a high emotional bandwidth. Too high for an anonymous identity. On the other hand, if you are using SL in a business context (as some of us still are) then wasting time typing when you could talk is simply inappropriate.

If you are not using SL in a business context then using voice may be unimaginable. If you do use SL in your day job then voice is essential. And some people do both.

LifeFactory Writer


This is one of the most astute bits of commentary on SecondLife I have ever read. Thank you, Hamlet. This should be an recurring theme of this blog, which is as much a part of SL's skelton as the servers that house us all.

I do not understand how such a staid and self-defeating conservativism managed to root itself so deeply into such a progressive and future-oriented platform.

SecondLife is so large....it can accommodate as many avatars and tastes as want to be here. Remember...SecondLife is *supposed* to be the formative step toward the future of the immersive Internet--Web 3.0!! It was supposed to become as large as the web itself! Remember???

I never even notice that the "adult" areas are now in their own regions and that the teen grid is behind its own firewall. These environments are not a part of my personal SL experience and it makes no difference to me if they are present or not. There is room for everyone.

I exchanged an email with someone yesterday who convinced a large corporation a few years ago to not invest in this platform specifically on account of the "local culture" and the sex. He was surprised to learn that I am an avatar. I tried to explain to him the vision that I see....which is the vision I think the founding Lindens saw, before they were driven off.

How silly of this community. Changes can be made, corporate and new user money can come in, and you would never even need to know or see a single avatar that comes as a result. You could protect your regions from strangers entering; engage only with whom you wish. You could have stuck with the old interface install while changes were made to accommodate new-comers. Were you willing, perhaps we would not now be facing possible foreclosure.

What happened to the vision of the future? Word on the street outside SL...."history has passed SL by." Nice job.

But, this self-defeatism isn't just in SL. If you step outside the metaverse for a moment, you will notice its emergence throughout the "real world" too. So, you might feel right at home when we get booted back out into terrestrial space. But, I am going to feel uncomfortable. Escaping this trend is the main reason I came into SL to begin with!

Many thanks, Hamlet.

LifeFactory Writer

What happened to my posted 2 cents?
In short...I agreed with Hamlet, and thanked him for speaking this truth.

Alberik Rotaru

it is quite difficult to imagine a longterm future for a company with quite this contemptuous a view of its own customers. Linden Labs has consistently got its quest for new customers wrong. Alienating the existing customers by condescending to them is not really clever marketing.

Ghosty Kips

Resistant to bad decisions, crappy software and lousy attitudes towards Residents. This 'resistant to change' mentality is for the birds. Change itself is only as good as the change that's made, and most of the changes I've seen in the past two years are garbage, and to be blamed for SL's decline - not Residents resistance to stupidity from on high.

Machine

Hi Hamlet,

I think you should make it very clear that you are not representing SL nor are you speaking about their views!

Some of the commentators think you are speaking for SL.

Also, please remember Hamlet, in your drive to save SL you might be contributing to its demise. This sort of thing has happened many times in RL circumstances.

Deoridhe Quandry

I'm not quite sure why insulting people is viewed as in any way useful. Is the idea to shame us into being obedient, smiling, and keeping our mouths shut?

If I wanted that, I'd get an abusive boyfriend.

Luna Bliss

Hamlet...this is an early April 1st joke series right?

Bobbi Fett

Adding this site to by router block list. Hamlet has obviously slipped off his cracker and I think the only thing that will help is to not visit this site and increase his traffic. Let him be that one voice crying out in the wilderness, that no one can hear. On another note, I think World of Warcraft could really use such inciteful coverage. Go play there awhile. They will probably roll over and become the new Facebook for you sir.

Redbaron07.wordpress.com

Linden Lab are a bunch of wankers who don't listen to their customer base.

The best thing is for them to sell the SL platform to another company who are able to run the show in a professional manner

Darien Caldwell

If you change "second life users" to "people in general" you'd be more right.

I still eat cereal out of a ceramic bowl, with a metal spoon. I suspect people hundreds of years ago were doing something very similar. Things don't always *have* to change.

Change should be done for the purpose of accomplishing one of 3 things:
A) making things easier.
B) making things better.
C) forced *necessity* due to circumstance.

The problem with the VCs and Vally folk is they don't do change for any of these reasons. their reasons are:
A) to "Disrupt" or shake things up, just for hte fun of it.
B) because it's the 3rd tuesday of the solar calendar.
C) ???

Most of their change makes no sense, reason, or rhyme. So why should anyone want to put up with constant, unnecessary change? They don't, and won't.

Rawst Berry

So the death of Numbukalla was caused by our resistance to facebook integration and point and click movement, not rising tier prices?

Those two issues (Facebook, PnC) are incredibly trivial. They are optional and thus will not have much impact on existing users, aside from general annoyance. I think what angers people is you gushing over these features and acting like you speak for a majority, when a lot actually disagree with you.

Right now new user experience is abysmal. The Facebook ad I've seen the most of is implying that SL is a game for raising virtual animals-which it can be- but clicking on this ad sends you to the destination guide with slurls to bunch of stores that sell breedable pets. Right of the bat users are dumped into stores, with no tutorial, and asked to buy virtual currency for a "free" game. Bad first impression.

THIS, along with rising tier, is going to be the death of SL. Not our "resistance to change." I WANT change, just not the ones you are touting.

Solo Mornington

Blaming 'the best customers who are holding LL back' is absolutely stupid. Seriously: Why does anyone take this seriously? What kind of crap have we endured from Linden Lab, only to have Wagner and his little thumbs-up captioned photo blame SL residents for the company's mismanagement?

Linden Lab is a rudderless raft adrift on an open ocean, blown about by the winds of whim. Egos get jobs at LL and decide what Must Happen in order to Make SL More Relevant. Then six months later there's a new wind blowing another direction. And residents complain, as they should, because they tried to use Second Life as a platform on which to base some business plans. But while Whim #1 might have aided them in this regard, Whim #2 kills the last six months of investment in money and effort.

And you'd be pissed if someone did that to you repeatedly, wouldn't you?

Marianne McCann

Add me to the "I'm not resistant to change" crowd. I love it when we get new, better ways of doing things, and when we see good, positive changes come down the pike. I'm SL old enough to recall Windlight, and kept using that first look as long as I could, until we got it in the official client. I've tinkered happily with mesh. I tweaked my my.secondlife.com profile and my community.secondlife.com preferences within hours of those come ing out. Change? Love it, and am almost always willing to give something new a whirl.

But change itself isn't the issue. It is how change is presented. I don't need an engraved invitation, nor do I need the Lab to hang off my every word about every tweak -- but I do expect that when they have a change, that they communicate it to us, the Residents, in a clear manner.

More than that, it is respecting the users of Second Life. As an example, consider Viewer 2. In the private beta, several issues were brought up, and many of these were -- well, not ignored, but downplayed. access issues were a big sticking point, yet we still have a white on black UI with little built in option to change. Those in the test alerted to reversed play and pause buttons, and were told this wasn't an error, but expected behavior. We pointed out be flaws NOT because we were resistant to change (as if a group of eager beta participants would be SLuddites), but because we saw serious issues with this product, and felt it was simply not ready to shop. The better Lindens told us that they'd want to change things shortly after release. Others tried to tell us that we were the problem, not the viewer, and that we simply had to learn to "accept limitations."

Long story short, Viewer 2 flopped as a successful viewer. And this said by someone who *does* use it daily.

So its not change. Really it isn't. It's about how change is (mis)managed, and priorities wholly out of whack with ones' userbase. Its about how you communicate to Residents: not only how you present an idea, but how you listen to feedback about an idea. It's about starting discussions that are real discussions: not just window dressing because any discussions were made long before the "discussion' started.

Simeon Beresford

refuse to change? I suspect any one who has been i secondlife more than 6 months can reel of half a dozen changes that should be implimented.We have a whole Jira full of changes.from the easy to simple to complex, from
No brainers to brainless
and That is just the ideas they talk about. Ither thought they will carefully avoid mentioning because the interest of the company is not the same as the interests of the residents,
Linden labs have alway made painful changes. the loss of functionality in viewer 2. the price increase for educational landowners. these were painfull. If you think they users should welcome them. then you will be disappointed no one welcomes pain except in Zindra.

Ananda

Well, I put my rant on your Plurk, so I'll just say this:

It's a false premise.

If LL tomorrow were to anounce they've perfected Mesh, or solve all the web profile security and usability issues...

If LL tomorrow were to say they've figured out how to host empty sims without using up server resources and were thus prepared to cut tier prices...

If LL tomorrow were to say that SL can now be run in a browser...

or countless similar *improvements*...

I don't think you'd find the current user base would "hate and fear change" much at all.

alexis bonte

Hi James, I'm not surprised that some of second life users can be perceived as resistant to change. By definition Linden Labs will get it wrong with some changes and that is the ones that users that have been around for a long time will remember the most, often forgetting the good changes. Also the difficulty of having such a passionate and engaged community is that if Linden doesn't do what they ask, they get really upset and feel they are not being heard, when actually they are being heard just not obeyed blindly.

This is a challenge that all applications, games and virtual worlds that have a very strong interaction elements and community face. We have had and regularly have to face similar challenges at eRepublik. Key is to listen yes but always concentrate on what is best medium and long term even if it hurts (and may not be understood by some in the community) in the short term. And that it extremely hard to communicate because only real way to find out what will really work in the medium to long term is to iterate and try stuff not design a grand strategy and reveal it 12 months in advance and negotiate each step, because there is no way you will deliver on that the way you originally designed it and design by compromise is a recipe for disaster. A balance of 1/3 internal design, 1/3 community feedback from live iteration & focus groups, 1/3 analytics from live usage is the way to go, try & iterate is the way to go.

Flo2

Me, an average SL user, can't find the right words to express how much I feel being hurt and insulted by this blog post.

So now I know, that it is me to blame for Lindens leaving their Lab. It is me, personally me, to blame for SL declining or closing. Not the management, not the business strategy, not the human resource or marketing elements, not even RL sociological environment of virtual worlds, either to speak about SL as a product in a market. It's all my fault that this product cannot be sold to tons of new users! Lindens are all crying with big tears dropping from their eyes because of me! :O

It's not ridiculous: it's frightening. With a complete astonishment I'm seriously worried about Mr. Au, and the Lindens, if they are really blame us for their own incompetence.

Foneco Zuzu

I stil have hopes about New Ceo.
I really dont have any if Hamlet agenda is His own.
And as some said, there are more worlds around and beleas«ve as soon as SL residents start to be shoved with changes that will forfeit their privacy and the way they enjoy Sl they will move.
Sl moves a lot of money, 2 good only a few goes to LL bank accounts.
Cause they should really understand that Sl players are no kids nor stupid and will move to other worlds as soon as the trust that still remains will be broken.
Forget about developing a useless viewer, instead just make 3th party viewers the official ones and help them.
A dedicated fan suppport basis is worth a thousand mercenary employers that will chanbe in a sec for job to job.

Stone Semyorka

So, let's say I see an Oldsmobile ad on TV and am persuaded to go out and buy one. Then GM falls on hard times and must stop producing the Oldsmobile line of cars. Is it my fault? I bought the car. Could it have been the fault of the manufacturer for failing to successfully sell the product to more people?

Blaming the victims -- the current Second Life residents -- for Linden Lab marketing shortcomings diverts responsibility to us for their poor effort.

The deaths of Numbukalla, Space Destiny, the Gnubie Store and other elegant sims are examples of how life works. People come and go. Residents pass away. Innovative leaders at LL move on. At any moment, one can expect to see sim owners unable to continue for one reason or another. Sometimes for financial reasons, especially during and after a heavy-handed recession in RL. It's up to LL to replenish the supply of innovative, imaginative, creative residents.

Sure, it's okay to ask current residents to help find replacements, but it's mainly Linden Lab's job to keep the pipeline full. When was the last time you saw an ad for Second Life in any major medium?

I'm one of those people who will tell you SL is not a game. Definitely not. However, I know most people pigeonhole it in that category. Are games in trouble? No. The video-game business is bigger than movie box offices. There are 100 million gaming households in the U.S. alone. More and more, people are interacting with their video screens instead of sitting back passively watching TV. They like looking at their monitors for interactive entertainment.

At the same time, Zoosk.com claims to be the world’s largest social dating community. Its sales have grown by 250% in a year. And then there are eHarmony, Match.com, Chemistry.com, SeniorPeopleMeet.com, ChristianMingle.com, and on and on. These sites offer long-term social communication without having to leave home. Obviously, people like looking at their monitors for social relationships.

Have you seen any TV ads for Electronic Arts or Activision products or other games? How about TV ads for online dating sites? When was the last time you saw an ad for the virtual world Second Life in any major medium?

Check the overlapping cirlces of any Venn diagram. You'll find logical relationships and connections. Surely some proportion of all those gamers and all those daters overlap to become people willing to go online to find new social relationships in a virtual world. But who is telling them about SL?

Linden Lab needs to bite the bullet, join the advertising fray, and sell the heck out of its virtual world.

--Stone

Ossian

Every business has to attract and keep customers. If they can't do that, they have to find a new strategy. The customer has NO obligation to deliver success to the business; the business has to cater to its customers.

When a business fails or is doing poorly, the worst thing to do is blame the customer, because that sort of thinking goes absolutely nowhere. The onus lies on the business to find ways to reach the customer, maybe even teach the customer, but they can't boss the customer around.

If Lindens who had problems with residents left, that is GOOD thing. In every company where I worked, the customer may be a PITA, but they pay the bills. Complaining about customers and treating them badly was a good way to get fired.

Talvin Muircastle

During a Metanomics show, the question was asked, "What would you say to Linden Lab if you could?" While this was directed at the featured guests, those in the crowd were quick to give their opinion as well.

My advice to them is now my advice to you as well:

"Do not defecate where you eat."

FlipperPA Peregrine

When Facebook rolls out a new interface, there's clamor and angst. For about 48 hours. Then people get over it.

SL isn't headed in the wrong direction because of vocal Residents, it is tired because people at the high end of the food chain didn't have the balls early on to do some of the things vocal Residents were suggesting. They alienated a great many of their most vocal supporters.

When v1.4 came out, with the ability to stream music and custom animations, everyone was overjoyed; I don't remember people complaining. That was a pretty drastic overhaul. You just have to do it the right way, and since v1.4, there hasn't been a really mind blowing feature released. Flexi-prims and sculpties are pretty cool, yes. But where's mesh?

FlipperPA Peregrine

Oh, and by the way, the amount of money you pay to Linden Lab has nothing to do with what you contribute to Second Life. In fact, the two figures are often inverse.

Casper Jideon

you are desperate for page views

Magnus Brody

Everyone is a little fearful of change: it's human nature and a long understood, natural reaction.

Where change in SL provokes rants across blogs and forums, is an indication not of the character of the resident (because fearful reaction should have been presumed) it is, rather, a failure to effectively communicate the reasons for, and the benefits of, change. That's surely Change Management, Day 1, Opening Session?

It's stating the obvious to say that residents (or any user base, customers or workforce) is resistant to change. Those introducing the change should be aware of the obvious and, effective introduction of change should involve communication and explanation.

Even negative explanation, or reasons why a change might be to the perceived detriment of all, can be acceptable. Truth is best.

An example would be, a company struggling to make money during a recession, best for it to openly address its workforce and say, "sorry we must cut everyone's salary. It's either that or redundancies and, potentially, the bankruptcy of the company as its wage bill exceeds its profit. Until we make more money we either cannot afford to continue to pay you all at your current rate, or we need to pay all of you less." This news is not going to be greeted happily, but mostly everyone will understand it to be preferable to a few, individual redundancies or, worse, no jobs at all because the company couldn't balance the books.

Right now, most especially with a new CEO in place, the Lab has an ideal opportunity to be frank about changes which, ultimately, may not benefit all residents. There's nothing wrong with saying, "I know we always did it this way, but it's expensive and unsustainable, potentially risking the failure of the company and thereby the demise of SL."

What is wrong, is to sneak things in without communication or explanation and expect there to be no speculation (including completely wrong conjecture). That's the way the Lab has seemed to do things during my 4+ years as a resident.

You see, in my opinion, the Lab must start to more openly communicate the changes it makes. It would result in benefits to them if they did: blogs might rant disagreement, but at least they'd not be full of conjecture, conspiracy theory and people moaning about having a toy taken away because they don't understand why. I mean, you can reason with a 4yo child they must give you their teddy bear, to free-up their hands to eat, so why ignore the unspoken "why?" from adults?

Talvin Muircastle

"So this will become a recurring theme of New World Notes for the next few months (or indeed, until Second Life shows signs of growth.)"

Every time I read this, I am reminded of that old saying, "The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves."

Arcadia Codesmith

So can we ditch the "hate and fear" paradigm? These are not residents' primary motivators. Our reservations with fundamental changes to the nature of the platform are informed by rational consideration of the potential impacts.

Counterexamples in this thread clearly illustrate that residents consistantly embrace changes that they percieve as enhancing their experience and the experience of others.

We're neither ignorant savages nor selfish short-sighted singletons. Many of us work in the games industry, or in software development, visual design, IT, or other related fields.

In any MMO or Virtual World, the players are part of the development team, and arguably the most important part. But if you treat them as enemies or obstacles, rather than partners, they will obligingly become enemies and obstacles.

That individual titles in the field are plateuing is not surprising in the midst of a global economic recovery. What is surprising is that new titles are continuing to launch and picking up an audience without major cannibalizing of existing player bases, and only a handful of truly marginal entries have closed up shop.

We may not be as popular as FREE web apps, but dang, talk about apples and oranges!

Wayfinder

With all due respect to the OP, this is nonsense. ;)

For years Linden Lab has exhibited a repetitive and marked policy: BLAME THE CUSTOMER. That seems to me what we're seeing here. The problem isn't with LINDEN LAB... it's with their CUSTOMERS! OF COURSE!

Look, even if true… just whose fault would that be?

Personally, I don’t fear change at all, nor hate it. In fact, I’ve been trying with all my might to get Linden Lab to change– even drastically– for years. Most people I know don’t hate change either… if it’s for the better. In truth, if I were in charge of Linden Lab (snicker snicker)… the company would see changes that would make their heads spin… and I’d turn the company around in 6 months. I do not exaggerate. I’d come in and do an Iococca that would turn the company inside out– for the better.

No, we are not afraid of “change”.

It’s not the change we fear– it’s the method of deciding what those changes are going to be and the end result. When Linden Lab decides to make “changes”, they do so in a consistent and negative manner:

1. Will this change bring us extra money?
2. Is this change easy to implement?
3. What is the cheapest and fastest way we can do this?
4. What will the customers think? LOL LOL JUST KIDDING. No no no, refer back to items 1, 2 and 3.

Now, what is missing from this decision-making process is the following:
1. Is this in the best interest of the customer?
2. How will our customers feel about this?
3. Is this a GOOD change?
4. Let’s think this all the way through, in depth, to see the best way to implement this change.

As a result, when we see a “change” coming out of Linden Lab… it has almost always been a change for the worse. I have even “bet” on such (no, I’m not a betting man… I’ve just publicly announced my expectations– and been pretty accurate in doing so). When Linden Lab announces a big change is coming, people start cringing. Not because we hate change… but because we know Linden Lab’s record. Their “changes” are almost always bad news, knee-jerk conceived, half-baked implemented, with no follow up, no debugging, zero support.

We don’t hate change. We hate Linden Lab management methods and the unthink-tank that produces them.

Foneco Zuzu

If no official statment from Linden Labs will be released, sayinng that this blog does not reflect nor is an authorized source and this post foes not reflect their opinnions regarding residents, im goint to not only quit my premium membership!

Wayfinder

As a brief follow up-- you mention the extremely negative user reaction to the Facebook announcement. Consider possible reasons for this:

1) People feel threatened by Linden Lab. Quite often when the company does something new... it winds up harming or financially crippling their customers.

2) We see Linden Lab focus on these "new" things... when existing problems still cripple the system (group chat has been an ongoing issue for over three years. Seriously... they can't get TEXT CHAT right?)

3) Facebook as a REPUTATION for being a user-abusive, privacy-invasion system. While it is very popular, countless experienced users (me being one) refuse to use it.

4) Second Life performance is already bogged down with its current population. Their support staff already cannot meet population needs. Their security is nearly non-existent. And Linden Lab is trying to bring in vast quantities of more, new people to negatively impact the grid?

Those are just SOME of the legitimate reasons people reacted negatively to this announcement. I don't think paranoia or resistance to change actually was much of a factor.

Lucius Nesterov

I'm actually amazed with how much people have put up with. If your web hosting tells you that they added the option to upgrade from PHP 5.1 to 5.2, then yay! If you get an email saying that all servers have been upgraded overnight and now some of your website might not work, then boo!

If a restaurant swaps the tomato for pickles in your favourite burger, and you don't like it, then you can complain. If they increase the price half-way through the meal (as LL did with educators), then you're justified never to go back.

In fact the constant tinkering of LL has meant that some Universities CAN'T use SL. It isn't a matter of grumpiness. A mandatory viewer upgrade in the middle of an academic year, in a locked-down software environment, which then after all the pain breaks something that you're using (like web on a prim in a HUD), just to add the ability to tweet from the viewer - or whatever the important feature was, is unworkable.

You can't say that educators exploring immersive virtual environments in a field dominated by chalk-and-talk lecturing, are resistant to change. We love change, and new technology. Just stop breaking things.

Alberik Rotaru

Companies and blogs that resist change have their own problems as well.

Wayfinder

Vivienne: "Linden Lab needs to remember that the most vocal residents who cry "The sky is falling!" the loudest are not representative of the majority of us. The Chicken Littles will always find something to squawk about. Ignore them and move on."

Without intent of insulte... that is total tripe.

Rather than merely stating personal opinion, I'll offer a few facts to counter those concepts:

1) Second Life has been in "downfall" stage for over two years.

2)Sim count is falling, not increasing

3) 2010 user hours dropped by 11%

4) 2010 user concurrency (number of people actually using the system) decreased by 12%

Now, if you consider that "sky is falling" mentality... I think you're failing to notice the chunks that are smacking you soundly in the head. ;)

It's one thing to claim people have a "Chicken Little" mentality (yes, we've heard that analogy before). What we're seeing however, is the things those people have warned about (me included) actually coming true. What's more, we've been in that situation for years (since October 2008 to be exact).

So please, spare us the "Chicken Little" analogy. I think, considering the statistics and facts, that analogy is obviously misplaced. No, the sky isn't falling. Rather, the foundation of the house is crumbling, the landlord is a greedy, uncaring windbag, and we're not receiving value for our rent. As a result, customers are rebelling.

So I'll ask again... whose fault is that? It's certainly not the customers who are in the wrong here.


Adeon Writer

I don't agree with the idea that Linden should not break old content. Just because you paid money isn't even an excuse. I paid good money for a computer in 2003 that probably can't even render this blog. As I've recently said, SecondLife content isn't just virtual, it's also technological. You can't expect something you buy to never become out of date and stop working correctly. That's just a fact of technology. and as long as people keep making awesome new content that will never be a problem.

(And to give credit where it's due, a virtual car I purchased in SL with a creation date of 2006 has outlasted my real life car of the same year. ;) )

Machine

This blog makes me want to leave Second Life. Personally, I hope SL ceases to exist very soon so that you can all focus your mental energies on more important things.

Machine

I think SL has too much of a depressed and negative user base that the company would be better off without. Negative energy is not a good thing. Almost every SL forum I go on I get the impression that a lot of people using SL would be better off with Prozac. Like I always said to such people and will continue to say, "Please take you negativity elsewhere."

Machine

"I know that people are finding this hard to believe, but I have not checked Second Life out yet. Too many other things going on in my life." - Neal Stephenson, author of Snow Crash, the book that possibly inspired the creation of Second Life.

Bettina Tizzy

I haven't been active in SL for over a year now but I do keep an eye on it and stay in touch with many of the residents whom I deeply admire and love.

While I disagree with the way that Hamlet broached this incredibly delicate subject with you, I do think that it's time to sound the alarm. SL *IS* dying. VERY fast.

The world's biggest annual gathering of Internet cognoscenti and early adopters - SXSWi - has just ended. SL was NOT a topic they wanted to discuss. Why? Because it's a failed walled garden. The future is a fascinating mix of "the Internet of Things," mobility, and augmented reality. People don't want to sit at their desktops anymore. Hell, they don't even want to sit at their laptops anymore. If they can't put their connected world in their pocket and interact with others on the fly, wherever they are, they don't want to hear about it.

I applaud the passion and the intensity of your desire to persuade Linden Lab to make things work, but the issues concerning the future of the platform are far greater than what viewer is made available, etc. etc.

EVEN if LL corrected all the current issues... EVEN if LL lowered its prices drastically... No matter what LL does moving forward with the current platform scenario, SL is going to fail.

That is, unless the thousands of SLers who make SL their *first life* save it. Linden Lab employees are too demoralized and disorganized to do it.

To do this, though, it's necessary to zoom WAY back and look at SL in the context of tech industry offerings. And to do that, you need to stop looking at the inside walls of SL and consider the future of interactive technologies.

Hamlet, I said it to you last week, and I'll say it to you again... This is the most urgent and complex community issue that SLers have ever faced. I urge you to conduct a series of CONVERSATIONS with people who share their visions of how to save SL and then publish them verbatim.

Finally, I'm dismayed at the number of smart, wonderful people who are out there focusing all their energies on slamming Hamlet for accusing SLers of whining SL to death. That's exactly what you are doing.


Machine

SL die already please! Put these people out of their agony. LOL

Ragamuffin

SL is /may be doomed, who knows. Reality is created in the now, and not in the boring group-think hive of SXSW. In contrast with our current fascination with the social web, virtual worlds are about content creation and creativity. Yes, to some extent these are social undertakings, but before we dismiss this medium in terms of it's ability to liberate us from our laptops, let's step back a minute and see SL for wat it is, a medium for creation, a "world", not a tool.

Kim Anubis

"I haven't been active in SL for over a year now ..."

Yet you post as if you care about it deeply. Are you unable to go inworld because of a physical ailment, or is your computer broken and you can't afford another? Something external must be keeping you from logging in, right, if you care enough to post your whine alongside the rest of us but don't participate inworld?

I think your nonparticipation in SL for over a year is far more indicative of what is really going on than just about anything else posted in this discussion. I'm not joking or picking on you when I say that. "Whines" posted on page three or four of a Hamlet drama thread don't say as much as the longterm departure from the world of someone who was once considered a pillar of the SL art community.

CodeBastard Redgrave

Hamlet, I like you, you know that, but what the hell did you smoke?

I got to agree with Cajsa here: residents will resist to NEGATIVE and REGRESSIVE changes. You won't hear anybody complain about mesh or sculpties or more groups (apart a few complainy pants). But to say that the residents are holding back LL? Give me a freaking break. Like SRSLY.

If anyone is pulling LL back, it's LL itself. The number of very unfortunate management decisions and negative changes that has been made in the last 2-3 years is preposterous. Most of those changes have been done with a total lack of consideration about the immediate or long term impact on the SL community, be it oldbies or newbies.

Those were not evolutive changes, they were regressive. Nothing has been improved to fix the retention rate, apart blind attempts at shooting fishes in the water.

One thing that LL never improved, and that you are quite frankly not helping here, is that LL stopped listening to it's userbase ages ago. If you fail to retain your current customer base, how can you expect to attract and retain new users?

So that pseudo-theory like what "users are reluctant to change" is pure bullcrap and is just digging the ditch between LL and reality even larger. Give us positive changes, changes that adds a plus value to our experience, changes that re-enforces that makes SL unique as a creative and experimental tool.

Stop going after the mass market; unless SL is dumbed down like Facebook or IMVU, that will never happen. Foster your current user base, and push it to spend more for more services. And avoid kicking in the balls of every mentor and educator that spent years promoting your own product. Stop trying to dumb down the product (Viewer 2? Display names anyone?) and concentrate on giving a better welcome and first experience to users. Stop hiring external firms that have 0 idea and experience with the product and the userbase (Big Spaceship anyone?). Give them more incentive to invest more money in your products (ease transactions, go against content theft, crank up security, etc..).

What you did there, as a reporter in that article, is completely counter-productive and just probably pushes the LL management to avoid looking at the straight facts: if a product fails to grow, you can't blame the freaking users; you failed to engineer and manage it's growth as a provider.

Sorry if I sound harsh, but it's time to stop playing the ostrich. Most user's complains are legitimate. Failing to address them would be a capital mistake.

Codie

Rhianon Jameson

For all the talk of different social platforms, connecting with others on the fly, not wanting to be tied to desktop computers, Second Life has unique characteristics that strongly appeal to those who have stuck around all these years. Just to mention one, the ability to create characters of virtually any sort and interact with like-minded individuals in free-form roleplay is something that's not possible at present with handheld devices.

Maybe it's the case that there just aren't enough users for whom Second Life provides a unique experience for the platform to survive. However, the way to find out is to ensure that the people who have the most invested in the platform are getting what they need out of it, and then worry about whether there are ways to induce new categories of users to join and stay.

When longtime customers complain about change it is *not* because that change is obviously wonderful and the users are stuck in the past. Rather, the complaints are because the changes often make things worse. Viewer 2 is exhibit one in my book: it's not just different, it's unusable.

Mimmy

The users are not resistant to change they are resitant to change that have a negative impact on their online experience. This is a big difference and if LL don't want to understand it, SL will surely end into oblivion.

About the idea to connect SL to Facebook, in fact to link as tight as possible the second life and the first one it will just put an new nail in the coffin. It will totaly destroy the fantasy and turn SL in a side application of SL as useless as facebook stupid games.

Gahum Riptide

Actually Hamlet, if you and Linden Lab actually listened to the users, you'd realize that it wasn't the *option* of linking SL to FB that pissed people off, it was this evangelical vibe that people got where you and LL were seemingly implying that the direction to go was turning SL into FB 2.0 or turning it into something like farmville or mafia wars.

Honestly, anymore it sounds a lot like you're sour grapes that people haven't latched onto the evangelism of FB and for a while Blue Mars that you had running full steam.

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