Monday, June 04, 2007


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Gary Hayes

Re: the Pond - "With these two factors, you could just about level the build, transform the area into a sandbox and have it do as well."

Tateru having worked very hard to make the Pond a great community place for Australian's I really take offence at this comment. Can I suggest you actually go there, see what it is your flatenning and speak to the inhabitants before you make such remarks.


skribe Forti

Gary, why do you think that The Pond is a great community place? What does The Pond offer other than an entry point into SL for Telstra customers? Is it the events? The great number of regulars that willingly invite newbies into their circle of friends? What? Personally, the rampant lag and the apparent lack of anything happening keeps me away.

The voice of reason

Erm - isn't the point of statistics that they are empirical and factual.

Maybe oversimplifying things, but it seems they tell the story pretty clearly and kudos due.

Clearly there's something about the top SL worlds including The Pond that keep people coming back.


Georgia Masala

Although The Pond may suffer from some lag skribe, it isn't the only place in SL to do so. I spend a lot of time at The Pond due to a large group of friendly individuals who not only make SL interesting but who also know how to make their own fun out of an apparent "lack of events". The Pond's attraction is definitely NOT purely due to the free downloads offered to Telstra customers - I can objectively say that I would still spend time there regardless of my Internet Service Provider. In fact, there are many international visitors to The Pond who are obviously not with Telstra, but who find the people there friendly, interesting and fun to be around. The Pond provides a clean, friendly environment which is sought after by more than a handful of SL'ers and those who are responsible for this sim should be recognised in a positive light.

Tateru Nino

The staff of the The Pond are certainly excellent. My hat is off to them for continuing to provide a welcome and helpful environment. They are certainly key to the success of the site.

Gary Hayes

Well skribe - there are many spaces that have developed on the Pond (probably since you came here once many moons ago). One area, at least, has become a regular, very busy meeting point for Australians and that is important in this context. Go there now (slurl http://slurl.com/secondlife/The%20Pond/28/140/22), anytime between 6-12 any evening Eastern Oz time and see scenes like this http://www.flickr.com/photos/garyhayes/521174505/

Considering there is no build on in this particular area, no camping chairs, virtually no music I am delighted that the great environment attracts such interest. There are events, most driven by the community - even if they are off sim they come here to gather.

I am sorry that you can't make friends there because it is full of a broad range of Australians and now many Europeans and have travelled to many branded sims this is more social than many 'club' areas. As for lag, coming back to both ABC and Pond from the mainland is a breath of fresh air.

Patchouli Woollahra

I think what Tateru was trying to say was that The Pond's primary contribution to its success was great staff. If half the content got blown down (given its recent run-ins with the Sydney Opera House and the Uhuru rock indigenous owners of real life), and The Pond became The Desert With This Slightly Largish Tin Shed, it'd probably still succeed.

skribe Forti

So, what you're saying, Gary, is that it's less annoying than some other places especially those on the mainland? That's hardly a strong refutation of Tateru's original claim.

Patch Lamington

i've not been to the pond, but i have seen some really amazingly fantastic commercial builds full of activities and fun things to do... but no one doing them three months after the launch (at least not when i finally manage to drop in).

so i think the point in the initial post about having good staff as one of the key things that makes the pond succeed probably holds. tho perhaps it could have been phrased differently

having followed these posts for quite a while, i know that tateru has been working hard at trying to provide reliable metrics and to give as good coverage as she can - and i think the column has been getting both better and fairer to the commercial builds over time

good stuff tateru,
keep it up

Fortescu Fromage

Kudos for all the work done on these metrics - they would have to be on of the more comprehensive and aren't tainted by some of the stuff I've seen come from developers who have a direct interest in seeing big companies look good as their pay checks depend on it. I think every commercial entity should look at the native reality sites to see what really works - great to see they are on top and included in the count.

Gary Hayes

These figures and the weekly ones taken directly from Lindens dwell figures inworld at http://www.theprojectfactory.com show that the Pond is the most popular branded space - I seriously don't get all this talk along the lines of "if we knocked most of this number one down it would just as popular". A pointless discussion and applicable to any brand that is not performing as well as expected - it applies to all other brands not achieving good engagment - in other words hand all the branded land over to the 'natives' and it will thrive. That is going to achieve nothing. Give media and business to find its feet please, this is not easy but is is not impossible for 'native' and brands to coexist.

What I dont get is why on earth are you pointing the finger at the Pond - just because they are top of the pile - I think a serious 'tall poppy' issue going on here and instead of saying, finally a branded space that is approaching the levels of some of the native sites we say 'knock it down'?

And to respond to Patchoulis comment about Opera House and Uluru being most of the space - there are around 32 000 prims in various buildings across the Pond Islands, the opera house is less than 700 (and is far from the central areas) - Uluru is zero prims (being a terraform) so the Pond is far more than your perception of it and your statement like Taterus is again misguided.

Dannyboy Lightfoot

I was here commenting on another post but I have to say this looks like a massive own-goal.

Gary, seeming to speak on behalf of The Pond and its corporate owners, seems to have overshadowed a balanced, essentially positive review of what sounds like a successful, well-conceived SL destination.

His ill-advisedly abrasive comments draw attention away from everything that was positive about Tateru's initial assessment, and end up being the worst possible advertisement for a sim which should be positioning itself as an inviting, unintimidating social space.

Hamlet Au

> i know that tateru has been working hard

Totally agree with that, Tat does great work-- check out her site for a larger list of sites she tracks. What she's doing is going to become even more invaluable when LL carries through with their promise to end Traffic stats.


Sorry for the bold question but are those kind of (low) numbers make sense in anyway for RL companies to act in second life and if yes then why ?

Gary Hayes

Hi Dannyboy,

Thanks for your comments and yes it is often not 'what you say' but 'the way you say it'. Agreed. Also I do not represent the company here but my own personal feelings about a creation, which leads me to another more positive thought.

A key issue here with 'mixed reality branded spaces' is the emotional impact and personality they exude. (BTW: I will be posting on my personalizemedia.com blog about this in much more detail shortly). I think one of the key problems with brands and corporates engaging in social networks (2D or 3D) is that traditionally they are seen as cold and faceless and to a great extent many perpetuate this by creating real world clones of 'business' from the real world. I believe to truly engage with a native resident community any 'build' has to have a strong human, 'feeling', organic component - somewhere that is just 'great to hang-out' for extended periods if nothing else. I am always staggered by the numbers of concrete malls, cities, industrial estates and endless 'glass' offices in Second Life - to me these are not built with love but are safe clones of corporate'ness.

Back to personality/humanity, companies have and are learning it is in their interests to show this in the web 2.0 world (blogs from employees etc:). That human element also means that the spaces and activities themselves should be created by real people who have an emotional bond and love what they create.

I think being attached to any creation in the metaverse (corporate or 'native') and defending it, is actually not 'scoring an own goal' but completely the opposite - companies need to become human, and in doing so display personality and yes, a preciousness when a comment, may appear to be hurtful.

Tateru Nino

Of course I spoke highly of the quality of the build back in March, when I reviewed it in the Monday Reality Mix.

I had a number of very nice things to say, all of which are still true.

Of course, these days a good (or even a great) build, is just about the price of admission. Many of the sites we track have excellent builds, strongly themed, attractive and welcoming.

The two factors I highlight are the items that I feel particularly differentiate The Pond from the other mixed-reality sites that are not ranked so highly. You'll find one of those factors (staff!) in the top three native sites as well.

Having an actual presence at your site, therefore, seems to be one of the most important factors in popularity and engagement.

The Pond adds to that by lowering the barrier to entry by omitting the onerous metered bandwidth that many Australians are used to.

From where I'm standing, those are the key factors that make the site stand out. They are not the only factors, of course, and the build is a factor, but excellent builds are common on our list here - too common, I think, to be a significantly differentiating factor.

Gary Hayes

Worth pointing out Tateur that unmetered is not a big a factor as you said (many residents are there because they want to be regardless) - most of SL is unmetered, to quote from the BigPond FAQ

"...there are thousands more islands in Second Life. Many of those are unmetered too – but new islands are being added all the time...".


and I talk all about 'human' presence in my talks all the time (http://www.personalizemedia.com/index.php/2007/05/06/brand-and-media-survival-guide-to-virtual-worlds-talk-transcript/) , and I personally make sure I am around as much as possible.

As to builds, back to my previous comment, I disagree that all builds are equally good. I think as this is an experiential, 3D, immersive space - as in the real world some cities are more welcoming than others, some buildings more engaging, some activities more compelling - these to me are a highly significant factor to want to spend 'dwell time' there. I personally don't want to spend a lot of my SL time in a concrete jungle for example, others may do, but isn't that what our statistics are really about - the 'feel' and social engagement of a constructed environment and associated activity within?

Hamlet Au

OK, I'm totally confused: why would Telestra meter some areas of SL and not others?

Tateru Nino

Initially only the Big Pond sims themselves were unmetered. However, due to the difficulties inherent in that (with sims switching between servers at intervals), they decided to make the whole lot unmetered. However, it is not common knowledge that all SL traffic is unmetered; more common is the belief that only the Big Pond sims are unmetered bandwidth.

Gary Hayes

Sorry only just come back to this comment thread.

Tateru a statement like 'more common knowledge' re: if a space is unmetered is a subjective one and shouldn't be brought into your measurements and associated comments (this lead to your original statement about it wouldn't matter if there was an environment there at all!)

As it is an opinion I will state mine, that ALL those who spend a considerable time in world and who are part of the busy'ness of the Pond 'know' that they can go anywhere on the grid freely. Period. You know how I know this? I ask them, and don't guess.

With this and the fact that the support staff are 'actually' a lot thinner on the ground than you suggest your original comment is still pretty flimsy but I appreciate you probably could have said what you did in a more elegant way.

Pavig Lok

It's lovely to have two australian sims in the toplist. I think one of the key reasons the pond and ABC have done so well is that they give a safe, gentle introduction to SL and support the social space. This is one of the reasons NCI also keeps people long after they cease to be "new citizens". Staff plays a key role in this - you don't have to spend long in any of these three before meeting a helper personally (and they all exceedingly nice:P). In that way i think the build is less important than the fact that the pond and abc are multifunction spaces: build, socialise, view content, play.

As corporate builds this gives them better retention as they aren't built around a single product or message. This is one of the things I've argued for a lot in corporate builds - make the place compelling and let branding take care of itself. Reminds me of the early days of the web when i kept telling clients "have some content cause nobody who sees this is unaware of your brand". Getting them there is not an issue - keeping them is. That positive human experience reflects well on the brand. Well done folks!

Crystal Cazalet

What an interesting blog Tateru and one I will try and come back to while fighting my addiction to SL. I am a resident of BigPond. I say resident because I choose to be there a lot of time. No music doesnt bother me i load up my huddle and listen to itunes whilst dancing and interacting with other pondsters. I believe along with the incredible staff, that it is some of the characters of the pond that keep you going back, the av that just looks um less than beautiful, the girls dancing, the boomerang parties, the box parties on the roof, the pash room, and more than anything the continuing aussie "mateship" that can be found in world and out of world wherever you go on earth. We seem to have a different way overall (not trying to oversimplify) and the majority of sl'ers who are aussie are warm, generous caring people. Not that other people from other areas are not, but this is what makes aussies slightly different. I adore BP Islands, i actually started an account due to the ABC program, and did not rez in big pond to start with, but go there anyway. I have tremendous respect for the admins at both Big Pond and ABC islands and you will find that as well as the light presence of big pond staff there is a core of people that love the islands that work keeping it free from those that would want to ruin it, the IMs run freely when there are problems, and often they are dealt with without bothering the admins.

Tateru, what a brillian run down .. thanks for the information and I am visiting some of the other mentioned sites now to see what I have been missing out on.

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