Who Killed SLCC? Linden Lab and the Second Life User Community, Suggests Post by Former Director
This is an absolute must-read post by Chris "Fleep Tuque" Collins, formerly a director at the organization which ran the Second Life Community Convention, the user-run conference that was cancelled this year for vague reasons. As I suggested yesterday, it turns out Linden Lab was reportedly unwilling to spend enough money to make it viable; just as crucial, however (as I read Ms. Tuque), the Second Life user community itself shares equal or more blame, by making SLCC impossible to run through a combination of apathy and hostility.
First, the blame with Linden Lab, according to Collins:
"[T]here is no SLCC this year is because Linden Lab opted not to sponsor one. Instead of being treated like valuable customers who had just volunteered months of our lives working for no pay to organize a fan event for their product, we basically got chewed out for not producing the equivalent of BlizzCon. Seriously, that’s what they said. (Note to Linden Lab, if you want BlizzCon, you have to pay for it – BlizzCon had a budget in the millions.)"
However, she goes on, "These kinds of community events require many things to be successful – but a company and a community that is actually supportive instead of antagonistic is essential." Emphasis mine. Because as she goes on to write, much of the community was the opposite:
- "A very vocal contingent of the Second Life community is pretty darned mean. Some of the 'celebrities' and thought leaders in Second Life seem to really enjoy trashing the event (and by extension the people organizing it).
- "Griefers and lawsuits make the risk not worth it. [At SLCC 2011] we were forced to deal with people’s personal vendettas against each other (!), threats of harm against other attendees (!!), vandalizing of sponsors’ booths (!!!), and even threats of lawsuits (!!!!).
- "[T]here just weren’t enough volunteers to cover all the bases without requiring some people to basically have no life outside of SLCC for months on end – and that’s not sustainable or fair for anyone. If more people had been willing to volunteer, things might have been different."
There's much more, which you should absolutely read. Having been to two of the last three SLCCs, I can attest to the high amount of community drama, including the threats and general unpleasantness. (Along with, of course, all the well-meaning attendees just there to have a good time.) In the end, this leads Fleep to a highly negative conclusion --at least in relation to SL:
"The thing that inspires so many of us is the concept of the Metaverse, an open, freewheeling 3D internet, full of amazing experiences and opportunities – but Second Life is not that. It is not open. It is not free or even reasonably priced, in fact, it’s ridiculously expensive. The experiences that were amazing and cutting edge in 2003 or 2006 are no longer either, the technology has stagnated. And the opportunity for profit, or creativity, or fulfilling your real world mission is limited by a shrinking user base, constant changes in direction and management, canceled programs, bad policies, and the simple fact that you can’t “own” anything you create if it’s locked on their servers. As sad as it makes me, I honestly believe the story of Linden Lab and Second Life is the perfect case study of how to screw up your competitive edge while screwing your most passionate userbase."
I somewhat disagree with her thesis, but she brings up some important points. The core problem, I think, is that Linden Lab has bought into its own hype. Yes, SL has one million monthly users, but most of them are first-time noobs, or lightly engaged, casual players, and we are years from the era when actual major companies and organizations were interested in attending SLCC. Consequently, the userbase is no longer large enough and engaged enough to support and finance a user-run conference. By refusing to fund it adequately and leaving it to its own devices, it's no surprise that such anger and waning interest would follow.
Anyway, that's just my take on Fleep Tuque's take, so you should read the whole thing here. And be sure to offer condolences to her late beloved cat while you're there.