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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

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Laetizia Coronet

I guess the influx of new Residents has brought people in who are just interested into 'playing SL' as some would put it. From a community of enthusiasts you've gone to a world of simple users.
Look at the Linden Blog. Surely, under every topic you will see 100+ replies, but mostly from the same people. I meet people who have never read the blog - just two nights back someone was surprised to hear (from me) that voice will be introduced into SL.
Linden office hours are not stormed by interested Residents - only when big issues are up will it be busy. And you know that in-world 'busy', through it's limitations, doesn't mean much in the big picture.
Then there's the Jira. That was done by nerds, for nerds. It is rather complicated and demands of the user a lot of involvement and especially a better-than-average knowledge of English.

Last but not least, in the real world many people complain but are not active in their communities. We shouldn't expect them to be active in their virtual communities either.

Anon

I was one of the 4540 or so who signed the online petition. Why? I have no idea. Maybe at the time I thought I could bring about major change in SL, not for me personally but for others, I just don't know.

In nearly three years, I have never lost inventory, never had to call for help, and never had any major problems so what am I doing differently to everyone else?


I love SL and it pains me to see all the negativity when LL announce a new innovation to the format.

The low votes to get bugs sorted out speaks volumes I think, some people just ain't bothered and love SL for what it is , with all its little quirks.

You want perfection? I say log off, and go take a walk in the park.

We should be supportive of SL/LL and not spend wasted energies knocking them down.

Brenda Archer

I use Jira and I'm glad it's there, but even my technical - and I mean by that software engineer - friends say it's not easy to use. I think the average user is intimidated by it. I could not get members of my group who cared *very* much about the Notices issue to go over to Jira and vote for it - it was "too confusing."

Ian Betteridge

This is really meaningless unless you compare about the complaint rates and participation in other service industries - which is effectively what SL is. Few people actually complain about bad service; fewer still post bug reports for software.

Onder Skall

It's just that governance is boring. Say it's "important" all you want, it's still boring. "Self-governance", as it was termed, still involved working somebody else's beaurocracy and calling it our own... and regardless, it was still paperwork.

So people don't vote. I'm not saying that's a good thing, I'm just saying that's the way it goes.

All anybody wants is to do as they will and ignore that which doesn't appeal to them. Give them that ability and they're interested. Add politics and governance, and we all reach for our remotes.

Kate Amdahl

This was the same kind of experience we had when trying to organize Residents to work non-violently against griefers with SLAGG (Second Life Anti-Griefing Guild). We had all kinds of enthusiasm for the aim, but practically no one (and I mean, apart from those of us who founded the thing, perhaps one individual) willing to actually do any work--even though we had identified several ways that, working together, we could make a sizeable dent in griefing.

After trying a couple of organizational solutions, we finally dissolved the group ( http://kateamdahl.livejournal.com/11109.html ). My unscientific conclusion was that Residents see Second Life as a leisure activity and are unwilling to do "work" during that time unless it's something that's immediately fun (like building a giant robot) or could earn them money. Ironically, even a tiny bit of income seems to be a much bigger motivator than, say, improvement of the world itself.

Cyn Vandeverre

I signed the petition, and I've been fairly happy with LL's responses to it. I do hope they are working on a way to back up our data so that inventory loss can be fixed going forward. Generally, though, my SL experience is great; little to no lag, things work the way they're supposed to. And I'm even on a Mac, which is supposed to be a bit chancy.

If I could change something, it would be to make people realize they can be unhappy and express it without being abusive, profane, and total cretins on the blog.

Jayden Emmons

I second the idea that the Jira is "done by nerds, for nerds". In order to submit a bug, you need to have a very good idea of precisely what is wrong and how to replicate it, which requires, if not necessarily technical knowledge, then at least a familiarity with the general process and mindset of troubleshooting.

Most of the users that I currently support (I work at a library) can tell me that "it crashes repeatedly" but they can't tell me whether there is any recurring pattern to the crashes because they generally aren't paying attention to that. They've been focused on their own tasks and after the crash, they're focused on getting back to whatever they were doing as best as they can.

Gathering data to replicate an issue can take a significant investment of time. In addition to that, add the time spent trying to figure out how to navigate the Jira and how to log into the Jira (that one stumped me, until I saw issue #WEB-47 - Jira login broken except on first page) and I'm really not that surprised that more people haven't reported or voted on issues.

I'd say that for a lot of people, the Jira is yet another thing that needs fixing (see issue #WEB-109), rather than a specific tool for getting help. I think there are probably a number of people that have a desire to vote, but are unwilling to put in the not-insignificant amount of time to figure out exactly how to do so.

Patchouli Woollahra

Most people these days are apolitical. That does not mean they don't care at all about politics, only that they care enough about it that they don't have to care about it.

Yes, that just sounded wack. No, I think it makes perfectly good sense if you think hard enough about it.

Maybe the system IS working as intended. Or maybe it's farked up in the head. ^^;

Ananda

I don't buy the argument that 4540 signers is a *small* number by any means. That's at least 10% of the concurrent users on any given day. Moreover, this many people signed on in what - a week or so? I think this actually represents a significant uprising.

Just as a comparison, how often do you see even 1% of the concurrency (population) of your state sign a single-issue petition?

Oh, and ditto on the JIRA - why should I bother administering and sorting bugs *for* LL when all I want to do is keep playing in their grid?

komuso tokugawa

Triple ditto on the JIRA. I've used it extensively to try and push the group notice bug along and even as an experienced techie/IT pro it was a painful experience - just to sign in was a struggle most time.

It's a no brainer why people don't participate in it, and the signon dance you have to do alone is enough to put off another 50% of the small % of the population that will go and post on it.

If the company wishes to recruit users to do their testing for them then they need to provide proper incentives to attract people that have both the skills and the time to do it properly.

And I think you are way off base in your last points re:"enough that the Lindens publicly acknowledge and praise the protest."

Try using the JIRA system yourself before making inane statements like that;-)

Hamlet Au

I have used the Jira, actually. It is a pain to use. The obvious question, however, is if the problems are really that pressing, wouldn't a larger percentage of protesting Residents endure the hassle? Not even 5% of the petition signers did so. Why?

Morgana Fillion

I've ventured into JIRA a couple times, and voted when I can navigate through the sign on process and stay logged in long enough to do so. But the one issue I badly needed help with cost me *hours* of time just trying to get it in there and the responses were the same useless mess they are on the blogs - yes, yes, I can just 'sign off' if I don't like it. But answers like that, and closing entries that the person who wrote them did have a stake in, turns off people from wanting to keep trying.

To date, the response to my problem got me a form email about clearng cache - delivered well over a week after I reported the problem, and minimal response - most of it entirely unhelpful - in JIRA.

When a person has a problem, they want answers and are stressed... that's not a good time to try to figure out a horribly difficult system. And on a purely emotional level, it's belittling to realize that if you do manage to get your entry in, getting help depends on a bunch of people 'voting' on whether or not it's important enough to bother with.

I'll keep plugging with it as my time and tolerance allows, but I do not see it as any sort of replacement for an actual help system. All individual forms of help have disappeared... and I expect that people don't bother because they know they're talking into a deep, dark well.

Carolyn Saarinen

Why don't people take part in LL's consultation processes? Perhaps they've figured out that LL don't want them to, except on their terms. LL junked the Forums - in spite of huge levels of objection. Griefer reports result in no action or feedback. Town Halls which could be made accessible from multiple locations, remain lag-zones which it's massively frustrating to attend.
LL is quite happy to have the geeks work as unpaid bug-hunters, but they've made it more than plain that they have no interest in the opinions of the wider population on other issues. So people don't bother.

komuso tokugawa

@Hamlet: "The obvious question, however, is if the problems are really that pressing, wouldn't a larger percentage of protesting Residents endure the hassle?"

The obvious answer is no, hamster. Why should they endure the hassle when it's easier to leave because the company has no concept of ease of interaction with the customer? Morgana's points on emotion and context are right on the money.

@carolyn:"LL is quite happy to have the geeks work as unpaid bug-hunters"

This works to a certain level of product [ex: http://www.cockos.com/reaper/ is a great example], but I'm not convinced this is actually a good model for systems of this scale. It needs to be a lot more coordinated and organised to utilise the user base effectively, something they seem unwilling or unable to do.

Torley

Hi everyone! Intro from me if you're not familiar, I'm also known as Torley Linden, and you can often find me on the Issue Tracker doing forward-facing communications with our community.

Long story short, one of the biggest impediments to voting... there's a bug which blocks our Residents from logging into JIRA and voting, commenting, and generally further actioning issues.

Which means that if you're not already logged in, you can't just deep-link to an issue and click to vote. Instead, you must first visit the front page of http://jira.secondlife.com , THEN enter in a specific issue link, or an issue #.

It's very frustrating to us (meaning Lindens + at least all the Resis who've written in to me about it), and Rob Linden and I have recently been communicating with Cascadeo (hosting company) and Atlassian (inventors of JIRA) for help.

Constructive, progressive suggestions for easier, elegant issue tracking are of course appreciated, it's the Web 2.0 in my veins. However, at the same time, please keep in mind that software development isn't a cakewalk, so those who wished to see more of the inner guts of how many Second Life issues there are and how they need to be triaged, are now having their wish fulfilled, as I observed in a previous blog post. Remember that PJIRA (Public JIRA aka Issue Tracker) is so far a fraction of the 40,000+ issues in varying states we have internally and endeavor to keep on top of. More and more, public issues are being linked to private ones, and I did a lot of that.

Intriguingly, at least 65 WindLight issues were filed since the First Look release a couple days ago. That's a big surge if you've been watching new issues created.

Also, one good piece of news I have to share is we did add a new "Fixed Internally" status yesterday. What does that mean? There was confusion over many bugs that were fixed in a Linden-only branch before being pushed out to public. Now, when fixes are public, they can be marked, simply as "Fixed", and it's a heckuva lot simpler than comparing SVN revisions.

Again, re: improvements, you can email that knowledge directly to torley at lindenlab dot com, especially if you've filed an issue requesting a new feature for the Issue Tracker. I definitely wanna know if there are small things that would make a big difference going undone... those... bug me tremendously. Thanks so much for helping us be better! :)

Torley

[UPDATE] It looks like the horrible Issue Tracker login bug I mentioned earlier is fixed!

Cyn Vandeverre

JIRA is severely daunting and I'm spending all my mental cycles reserved for SL by learning Blender.

Brace

Just so you know, that 147 count issue had that many votes due to the very interested people who run and participate in one particular group.

A group with well over 1000 members. A group who's main function depended on notices being able to go out when sent. (at least that's the scuttlebut I heard)

If the Jira wasn't so horribly wierd and nerdy and was actually user-friendly - there might have been a whole lot more numbers on that issue.

And on other issues in general.

Another thing to note, and this comes from my years of working with new and newer residents, as well as meeting a wide variety of people through teaching and hosting events:

the average user's knowlege about "where to go when" or "what to do when" or even to check in the forums or lindie blog or what have you - is quite lacking.

I'm not sure why this is, and we've all known from the getgo that those who DO access the forums/LL blog etc have always been way less than 5% of the total active user base.

I'm still to this day pointing people to the relevant forum sections (that are left) and still getting the same surprised responses as I did three years ago.

Can't say as to why this is. I have some theories of my own.

1. SL attracts non-gamers - people that aren't particularly used to using forums as an intergral part of "play"
(think guild forums, character stats/profiles etc)

2. People want SL to be just that: a Second Life. And running around bug fixing for LL isn't high up on the list.
They're paying for a service - it should be working?

I got a ton more, but I've been there done that already overn over to tired to do it agin :)


Oh and Hams: like the other poster said above - don't knock the numbers on that open letter petition. The swiftness of the signature gain alone should have been a wake up call to LL.

But as usual they chose to bust out with the lindiespeak instead, and stuff is still broken. I signed that petition and flogged it, not cuz I had any hopes of seeing any different sort of response than what we got - but I wanted to see if we could show a little muscle.

And we did.

And according to the REAL numbers: the response to that open letter was very significant. You've been around long enuff to realise that. Or are your (ex)lindie colors showing?

Hamlet Au

Brace, the only Linden colors I'm showing is my long memory of how hard it's been to get Residents to participate democratically.

I like your theories, though I don't believe it's right that just 5% of the active users read the forums and blogs. Given that the top five SL blogs (including the official one) are in the Technorati 5000, I'd guess the total readership is about 20% (i.e. about 100,000.)

komuso tokugawa

http://www.strategy-business.com/press/enewsarticle/enews053107

The Ignorance of Crowds
by Nicholas G. Carr

5/31/07
The open source model can play an important role in innovation, but know its limitations.


imo...Ditto for companies who think they can rely on unpaid labour to do the heavy lifting of bug testing and reporting.

komuso tokugawa

That is, unless you are prepared to recruit, educate them, and then make it a completely painless process, and possibly even reward them for it.

Brace

Hams.

I stand by my numbers. Less. Than. 5%. Of. Active. SL. Users. Even. Access. The. SL. Forums.

I don't give a squat what technorati's methods of ranking SL blogs are. My blog used to be weh up there too when I wrote alot, and that was with just my 5 Reader Crew.

no, I'm not feelin it. gimme some other source where you get ya numbers from.

I MIGHT concede to 10%. After all the world has grown a tiny bit. But 20%? In ya dreams.

Like someone mentioned before, its the same old same old people making their blog and forum rounds.

I'm trying hard to see how these numbers could rise when almost every single in game source of help that could/did/should/would direct those seeking info/answers/help to the forums, the blog, jira etc have been chopped out by LL.

In my experience - cited in my above post - MOST people after they log into the website and IF they stick around any decent amount of time, (and we all know the numbers on that) dive into SL and never look back.

I've pointed both much older residents and fresh faced 1-3 day olds to the forums, the blog and so on.

"oh how cool! I didn't know that was there! thank you!"

"oh wow this is great way to keep up on whats happening. thank you!"
etc.

Happens to me every day and has been happening since 2004/05.

I might point out the heavily touted log-in events and the interesting numbers that resulted from that.

It was primarily "advertised" on the forums. I had tons very active residents asking me WTF was this login event I had posted up all about?

I'll agree that your SL experience is very different from mine. You've been plugged into LL and know what the dealyo is, and even now still know where info is accessed from, and where to go and what to when you want something changed.

Most. Residents. Don't.

Seems odd, and I'm as confused about it as you might be. But there it is.

How many of us read the instructions that come with the stuff we buy? From our car manuals to how to make our electric toothbrushes work.

Mebbe its a symptom of that human nature quirk. People care. a whole lot of people do.

Some have, like other posters here have suggested - just given up, as the actions from LL seem to point toward them not giving a hoot and hollar about what we think.

Some might be like the latest influx of people - they expect to have a working application, since they're paying for it; and might not feel its up to them to run around pointing out the obvious:
this is busted, and should be fixed.

Anyhoo I won't argue with you any more Hams. I'm just sayin, like. Don't knock those open letter numbers and swiftness by which they were accumulated. You have a unique position, being ex-lindie-fied and all that.

Should use that to find out whats real and true and help those voices be heard that need to be heard, instead of dismissing them, IMHO. but do what ya like, you always have - its part of ya charm, despite it bugging me to pieces ;)~~

Brenda Archer

Hamlet writes:
Brace, the only Linden colors I'm showing is my long memory of how hard it's been to get Residents to participate democratically.

I write:
Democracy is an industrial-era model and is unworkable in cyberspace. We do need some form of standardized law and governance, but democracy requires authentication, and what people usually want is anonymity. They usually do not want to put themselves forward as unpaid volunteers if it requires a firm time commitment.

People intuitively sense that even in RL, business-as-usual style democracy is discredited. The solution is not to regress to anarchy, but to allow people to set up their own trust networks, including the power of defense, which at essence is what a government does anyway.

Opensourcing or licensing the server code partly solves this problem. Improving the group tools used by mainlanders to hold land, is another solution.

Without a way to authenticate one another and enforce contracts, everything in SL is tenuous at best, and we see swarming behavior, not settled democratic behavior. There's nothing wrong with devolving defense down to small groups, sim holders and individuals. But the education that needs to go along with it is lacking, and so what's happening now with the residents is misunderstanding and panic. In particular, there is a great fear that people will snitch on one another to LL and have too much power to ban each other from the world. This model of enforcement is unworkable in a real economy as all assets are exposed by it.

It's all part of being in a transitional culture. Cyberspace in general has not figured out how to organize people fairly, and we're just part of the process.

But I am very certain that importing tired old democratic models won't work.

Hypatia Callisto

"But I am very certain that importing tired old democratic models won't work."

People use Second Life mainly for entertainment, and it's quite simply not entertaining to roleplay government.

And some of us know better anyway - the real world laws and courts are the only ones with any teeth anyway. Leave them to what they're best at. What LL should be doing is doing their best to devolve true governance issues as best as possible to local real life governments, which have the real last say in everything, and get on with their true business of making their system better for creating entertaining 3d interactive spaces for people to create in and enjoy.

Regarding Jira - its not only a pain to use - it's mindbendingly SLOW. Goodness gracious - it takes only the truly obsessive and determined to get through that sluggish site. People simply don't find that *fun* - folks here to just enjoy themselves (the majority) will never use it. Only the truly hardcore whose bottom lines are affected by the bugs are the ones who will stick with it long enough to post anything. The casual user will just log in, see that stuff doesn't work, log off, and that's it. Some may complain, most won't. You will rarely to never get feedback from these people.

Ace Albion

I think Brace's estimate is generous if it even goes up to five percent of active SL users on the official forum. The blog seems to mostly revolve around three users arguing for 30 posts each until the 100 limit hits :)

I'd also guess that a lot of user complaints/problems/frustrations are being directed through landlords, content creators etc. When someone can't rez their house out on their land, they go to the estate manager and the prefab builder, not JIRA or whatever. That greatly reduces the feedback, especially when the solution is "try again when it's less laggy." Linden Lab doesn't get feedback about this if the people worked through the problem without them. Only people who savour the *additional* chore of flagging up the issue or searching some bug tracking site for the exact same problem to vote on, will be generating the feedback. Added the that, I doubt if 95% of SL users even know what JIRA is. I don't use it, it's a chore and a certain level of resignation settled in a long while ago. Newer users, I'm guessing, have their expectations more suitably grounded in short order, or figure that so long as they can chat, the sky isn't falling.

CronoCloud Creeggan

Yeah, the group notice issue was publicized on the Fashoin Consolidated group. I didn't contribute to the voting because:

I loathe JIRA. I'm an amateur geek (I run Linux, though I don't run SL on Linux) and I can't stand JIRA It's just too geeky and annoying to use.

Warda Kawabata

I tried using Jira to report an issue once. the clumsiness of the interface convinced me that, rather than being an effective means of "democracy", LL is going to have to pay me if they want to to do the bug reporting that should be the job of paid beta testers. Seriously, people get paid to deal with that kind of awful interface.

Gary Kohime

There are multiple issues going on here. Political, Economic, Social and Technical. At any given point, any one person considering reporting a problem has to jump through too many technical steps. This should be the primary focus, if this is the need of LL. A direct link/feature built into the SL Client would be the best in my view.

On a political note...In a voting/statistical environment if you have one person complain, there are statistically about 10 more with same view. Therefore, this should skew the #'s significantly. Self-Governance, this is a huge "ball or wax", and as someone else pointed out (above) the Internet is not governed per-se. In addition, since Open Source is embraced this further supports that. I think it was James Madison who said, “If men were angels then government would not be needed”.

Here you have this Virtual planet, and we are born into an almost utopia environment, after a failed attempt at orientation island (getting lost), we are “thrown to the wolves,” so to speak. Heck, I had no idea there was help in my inventory, and the help from the client is not very good, as you really do not know where to start. Why not add a direct link back to orientation, or make it a default location until that person has had some fundamental education on SL. Or have a Help item for Tutorial island..or something?

On at technical note; you cannot have developers totally control any particular issue being fixed or not. This is not the part of the product that they manage. Management is up to the company managers(LL).Furthermore; if I report a problem to some vendor, I expect a response and normally get one. Some of the issue(s) that are brought forward could be classed into development/Beta testing issues, even RTM (pre-view) versions. Therefore, you have a choice, throw out a pre-view version to the masses and resolve issues in that environment, assuring those users that this is still a developing product…up front.

I think the Beta version has a built in flaw with respect to its implementation, the only things one can do there are not real in-world functions, except building things or making fake transactions. Your friends aren’t there, the social aspect is almost non-existent; this is not suited for its intent. The best avenues that LL probably has are the pre-view version and to add features in a modular fashion, therefore if something goes terribly wrong they can pull it back. Still, LL needs an easily accessible reporting tool. If you have Web versions 1 and 2, which are really outside the virtual realm, then you should not use it as a method to report virtual world problems. That is like saying, the only way you can contact me is THIS way...when other in world methods, like making a purchase are done in world. Why not add an item to the “Right Click” menu, like “Report Problem” or something? If I can IM a friend in world, why can I not at least send an in-world message or chat with technical support, in-world? If that is too daunting for support representatives to deal with, then the phone probably is the best way to deal with it, as then a user can clearly describe, and or show the rep what’s wrong.

I could write a thesis just on the Social issues raised in a virtual environment, but I’ll save that for some other time. :)

Gary

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