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Monday, July 14, 2008


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Ann Otoole

Actually if you turn voice off LL turns it back on (Or the nasty mysterious voice gremlin does) so the metric for how much of sl is voice enabled is irrelevant.

Tateru Nino

Concur with Anne. Having it switched on doesn't mean you're using it.

Princess Ivory

I do not use voice, and I have no intention of doing so. The physical setup of my home prohibits it. My husband and I use our computers in the same room, and it is a small room without out door, next to our bedroom. Voice would be very disruptive and confusing to our household.

Additionally, I prefer silence, and a certain sense of anonymity. The world is such a noisy place. I look to SL® for peace and quiet. I like being able to speak with my friends quietly. And I like the absence of bias that can arise when you hear an accent, a nationality, an educational level, etc, in someone's voice. Text is an equalizer of sorts. Not perfect, but better than nothing.

Princess Ivory

Hamlet Au

Anne and Tateru, I'd considered that point, but Seaver says 80% of the 50% who have voice switched on are also using it. In fact I double-checked that point just to make sure, and he told me:

"We know that 80% are in group chat at any time and an additional few percent are in a one-to-one call, so effectively it's 80-85% of their time in world on average."

Belle Lefavre

On the other hand, I know a lot of the people in my social circle are regularly on Skype together while in SL together simply because the quality is so much better with skype so those SL residents who aren't using voice may still very well be engaging in voice chat with other residents. I voice approximately 50% of the time but of that time 80% is Skype not LL's provided voice service.

Scottius Polke

It would be a shame if those that wanted to maintain text chat were to be effectively shut out of most SL activities because of this huge push toward audio chat. And it would be an injustice against the hearing-impaired and those who don't speak English well, as well as those who simply don't want to yack their heads off all the time.

Two Worlds

Wagner, I don't think you were ever skeptical about anything in your life, you great big sycophant (except religion lolz).

CyFishy Traveler

Forgive me if I'm doing the math wrong, but if only 50% of the population has Voice switched on and of that 50%, some 20% aren't even using it, doesn't that mean that only 40% of the total population is actually using Voice?

Erbo Evans

Exactly, Belle. Lexx and I are generally ALWAYS in Skype together while online. Among other things, it means we don't have to talk to other people in voice unless we invite them, and we can stay connected in voice even when we switch between SL and EVE Online. (Which also has built-in voice support, but we don't use that either.)

Hamlet Au

"doesn't that mean that only 40% of the total population is actually using Voice"?

If I understand him correctly, CyFishy, Rob's saying 80% of those with voice enabled are talking at any given moment. But it doesn't necessarily follow that the 20% percent aren't talking at all, just not at that particular moment when 80% are.

Ordinal Malaprop

There seems to be some percentage-wrangling here, but if the statement is that 80% of the 50% who are using voice are actively using it at any time, that statement is 100% rubbish. 30,000 people using it at peak times? i.e. 50% of logged-in residents or more? Rubbish.

Half of people _having voice on_ I might believe, but half of people actually using it for meaningful communication is just simply _not true_. I have talked to a number of people regarding their use of voice as I am interested in the subject, and even the heaviest users do not go much past 50% of their online time being involved in voice. Even if they have it on all the time, a lot of that time is spent, you know, teleporting, moving around, finding people to talk to. And those Serious Voice People are only a subset anyway.

There is definitely some sort of issue here with classification of "voice minutes".

Night Morrisey

I find this trend alarming, i must admit. Not because of a strong philosophical stance on the immersive/augmentationist debate, but just because (like Princess) the circumstances of my daily life make it almost impossible for me to use voice. I currently enjoy the luxury of being able to pop in to SL with a high level of freedom, both from home and from work. However, drawing attention to my SL usage in either context by talking into a headset would put an end to that freedom in short order. I have already been pressured to use voice in one relationship, and in another instance was actually accused of being a man because i couldn't "prove" my gender thru voice on demand. Of course, my true friends understand my constraints, and have no question of my gender. Additionally, i have finally gotten a headset, so conversations and even some machinima recording projects will be possible on those extremely rare occasions when i actually have privacy. But none of that is the real point. The real issue is that i fear becoming a second class citizen, left behind in the SL culture as voice users become the mainstream and i become the minority. This is a cultural issue that will demand sensitivity on the part of the SL population, as it is foolish to think that use of voice inworld will do anything but increase. I fear that if this is not handled purposefully, in the coming years we unfortunate text-chatters will be huddling together on a few select islands, a sort of virtual leper colony, discarded and distrusted by mainstream SL society. I hope i'm just being a fraidy-cat:)

Tabitha Eichel

I always listen to voice. If I were able, I would probably use it a lot. I am physically mute in real life and use a dynavox to speak. This is not a problem in real life, because people can see me. In SL I am often accused of being a man pretending to be a woman. I'm not trying to sell anything to anyone, but still this causes mistrust and some people will not talk to me because of this. I've used a webcam to show a few people who I am, but I'm not about to do that with everyone. So as much as I would like to use voice, it ends up making my SL life unpleasant also. I think it will eventually segregate all non-voice users and those who can't use voice will not even be trusted by other non-voice users. Maybe instead of age verification, or in addition to it, SL needs sex verification, haha.

Pavig Lok

We need a lot more solid figures than that. I'd put a lot of false positives down to mikes leaking.

Frankly in my experience, both my own, and also observing the rezzable sims, most people have a dot. I'm one of them, and i've only talked in sl on very rare occasions. The dot is there for the few folk I know who find it hard to type - of which I know three... or five if you include my boss who is easier to follow in voice than text, and a cranky old hobo who likes to ramble. Those who don't particularly need voice often get asked to go text when possible if there's a few people around. Mitch, who claims talking is so much easier, probably falls into this category.

Most of the conversations I come across are taken in text, because it's much easier to deal with text if you are doing something in sl where there are multiple channels of communication, multiple people, or activities going on.

People can (generally) only concentrate on a single communication channel at a time, so the way text can be attended to at your leisure (even if it's a few second breather while you answer an im or click on a thing) makes text the prefered medium.

So 50% of SL talking 80% of the time makes no sense to me. It doesn't reflect my experience nor observations in the populated areas I frequent. It would also I expect create an incessant babble whenever a sim is full - which we don't see. In a full sim with a capacity of 40 say, you'd expect at least 10 avatars to be talking at once if they were all engaged in dialog.... folk would be talking over each other when distant conversations were factored in. We can hear right across a sim yet I have never experienced this.

Something is deffinitely wrong with the numbers.

Austin Weles

OK maybe I am not techie enough or immersive enough or Augmentative enough, but can someone tell me why this causes such an uproar among early adopters? I am well aware of the power of text chat and have been so since early Yahoo messenger days. In SL I use text probably 85-90% of the time I am on. The other time I use Voice and more often then not it is through Skype where the quality is better. I speak to many people who also use Skype instead of inworld voice for the same reason. It would be interesting to see the numbers for Skype usage along with voice. There are times where text is most appropriate and times for voice it just depends on the circumstances and how much freedom you need from the keyboard.
Could those conspiracy buffs tell me why LL or ViVox would have for fudging and fixing voice usage numbers, who benefits and why? I would like to follow the money.
Why does it matter if voice is turned on by default? Who cares! If you don't want to use it don't. Its simple, just like Windlight and now Dazzle. I think most voice is done through private channels, but i have been in several sims where there are any number of people chattering away public. If these bothers my desire for quite I simply turn down the voice volume.
I am a bit surprised by the numbers too but not to the point of disbelief, just go about and ask people if they voice some do and some don't all depends on the activity.

Athanasius Skytower

I wonder how they calculate "in chat" and "voice minutes" - I have voice turned on, just so I can hear what's going on around me, even though I never - well, hardly ever - use it to speak.

Does every time I hear someone else via voice count as me being "in chat" for "voice minutes"?

Ordinal Malaprop

> why LL or ViVox would have for fudging and fixing voice usage numbers, who benefits and why?

Well, LL would I imagine like to portray one of their new initiatives as successful, but they are not the ones making claims here in any case.

As to why a company involved in selling VOIP Solutions to virtual worlds amongst others might wish to make it appear that their paid-for voice solutions were heavily used...

...no, I can't think of _any possible reason_ for that.


There will be text chat until:
a/ the day people make a perfect voice digitizer
b/ everyone speaks (and understands) the same language
c/ we work out a way to shut the divas (of both sexes) up.
Someone had to say it... don't hate me :)

Ann Otoole

Hamlet, As you can see from the comments there is evidence that Linden Lab functions in a rather arrogant manner without any care or concern for the clientele that actually made SL a great place to be. Perhaps one day LL will reap the rewards such lack of empathy and utter arrogance deserve. Probably not because the main millionaire calls the customers a bunch of retards anyway. Somehow rich people always seem to forget their roots. May their advanced age days bring them much to think about.

As for what I spoke of in the first comment... I meant the sim level. If you turn it off at the sim level LL will just turn it back on. This is typical of their attitude and lack of mature business thought processes. Processes that apparently do not include any concern for the physically challenged of the world. I guess GTA4 in the basement is more important than thinking through why a lot of people are even in SL to begin with and acting with due respect accordingly. It really takes an utter lack of business acumen to disregard the physically challenged in the most litigious country on the planet.

Enjoy your voice. I won't ever use voice in SL out of respect to those who do not wish to. However I do use voice everywhere else. There are no jerk rich guy attitudes elsewhere.

ArminasX Saiman

I've been playing with voice since it came out, and I find myself using it more and more, for reasons that I wrote about here. Yes, it completely disrupts RP, but I hardly ever do that anyway.

When I am building custom particle effects, I really prefer voice so that I can understand requirements that just don't come out properly in text. Trying to create an esoteric particle effect based on a text description only often has catastrophic construction consequences.

That being said, I always defer to text if there is someone in the group without voice.

Austin Welles

I don't remember paying for any VOIP in SL. And as i mentioned many folk are using Skype rather than in-world voice,due to quality issues, which means that even more people use voice of some form in world than ViVox's numbers suggest. Listening to a lecture or panel discussion in a classroom setting is much easier to follow than text; has anyone looked at the transcripts from the birthday speeches or town meetings, or tried to follow a class in world strictly through text. There are times and situations for both methods of communication, and most likely there will be more options in the future.
Furthermore I guess being unable to type because one has limited use of hands and fingers or possibly unable to read printed English do not count as "physical challenges" or learning disabilities. So, SL is only for the literate, those who can communicate through the written word or with use of hands and fingers. So how are those who can't see suppose to reap the benefits and opportunities of this virtual world. The use of discriminatory charges as an arguement is full of holes and in general the internet/web 2.0 discriminates against many races and classes. Ask the inner city child about his access to broadband or the farmer in Sudan.
We use text, voice and image in RL and it will remain present in any fully actualized virtual life until they implant the chip directly into our brain.

CyFishy Traveler

Listening to a lecture or panel discussion in a classroom setting is much easier to follow than text; has anyone looked at the transcripts from the birthday speeches or town meetings, or tried to follow a class in world strictly through text.

I personally prefer classes in text, because I can scroll back in the event I've missed something. Try doing that in a spoken lecture.

I don't use Voice, mostly because I don't want to go to the expense of a headset with microphone to communicate when I've already got a perfectly good keyboard. To say nothing of the fact that my avie's gender only matches my physical one about half the time. (I think if I ever do wind up investing in a headset, Beginning will be the one to speak with it.)

There's also the fact that not everybody who uses Voice uses it all the time. Voice works well for small, intimate conversations. Text works better for larger groups of people. In my experience, after Voice was initially adopted there was a big rush to use it, followed by the realization that "oh, wait, this kinda sucks" and the quiet abandonment of it. I've also seen a number of mixed text-voice conversations, where everybody has voice on in order to hear, but only a few people are speaking while others are typing. It actually works just fine that way.

I've never gotten any stick from anybody because I don't bother with Voice. I'm really baffled by the horror stories I hear. If anybody's going to give me crap for continuing to type, guess what? It's a big damn world in there--I don't have to deal with them.

Tateru Nino

I think the definition of 'using voice' is the basic issue here. I've always got it switched on, even though I've got my audio muted much of the time. Why? I can see who *is* talking onscreen.

The last time I got an out-of-the-park statistic like this, it turned out that (when pressed) the definition they were using didn't match the definition that anyone else had.

Rusalka Writer

Any headset recommendations for a Mac user?

Ann Otoole

You are right Austin. It goes both ways.

Too bad someone else holds the patent on voice command capable 3D virtual worlds eh? Guess we can't have voice commands in SL without a problem.

People will line up on both sides. But I suppose it takes a mature mind to just ignore it all and go on about your business doing things the way you want to and not discriminate against others for the choices they make. I'm done discussing it. The numbers don't matter. What matters is what *good for SL/the world* can be done with the technology and make that outweigh the negatives lesser people will try to thrust on the community.


Hmm. I've never thought about just walking around muted, to tell if anyone is talking or not. My attitude of Voice in SL is similar to my feeling of it in Uru - It works, but there are better alternative (in our case, TeamSpeak). So its off.

A secondary reason is the fact that I go through headsets like their out of style (keep breaking on me). I've given up and got a separate stand-up mic.

The 'semi-split' voice/text cooperation is best seen on There actually. I've seen the two intermingle quite well. This may be due to your ability to see if someone is talking, even if you did not pay the one-time fee to enable it, or if you disabled your own Voice access for better performance.

And yes, I know of good friends who can't type much (arthritis and such), so access to voice solutions like TeamSpeak or working within There are paramount for them. I would assume that some of them are now looking at SL again but recent discussions I've had still mark the OI experience as a 'showstopper' compared to a place like There.


PS - Believe it or not, I am not bashing LL on this one. I just care about my friends being able to have the experience they're used to (without my needing to hop through multiple VWs), and it's horribly frustrating to be *so* close with SL - and yet so freaking far...

Ravishal Bentham

For me voice is a tool that I use for certain situations when typing is too slow. In a group only one person can speak at a time while in text chat multiple people can go at once. Voice chat also kills of music listening too, a sore spot for me since I run a radio station in SL :( .

What is the deal with all the people accusing others of being the opposite sex because they do not want to use voice chat? Are they chronic masturbators afraid that they've pleasured themselves to an avatar belonging to someone with the same plumbing? Seriously, if you get upset by that then you need to reevaluate your behaviours and attitudes.

Arcadian Vanalten

*shrugs, largely unconcerned, and somewhat baffled by the apparent drama swirling around the issue*
SL is currently set up to permit the choice of modalities, and I think it's great. I prefer text chat myself, but if I'm being maligned for not keeping my voice on most of the time, I never hear it, hehehehehehe. I'm a DJ and am soooo not shy about opening the mic (XD), but I just like the theatre of the mind that text chat does better. Besides, the voice my mind applies to folks' chat is invariably cooler and/or more interesting than their actual voices, in my experience.

May not be the same way for everyone, though, and I think that's fine. It's largely a waste of time to look down on folks for having a preference different than yours, and reveals more about you than it does them, I think. I will concede that it's a lot easier to voice-chat while shopping, b/c you can walk and talk at the same time, although I'm more inclined to use Skype due to sound quality issues. In the vast majority of the time, though, unless I'm asked to go voice, I still stick w/ text chat.

Kate Amdahl

"If I understand him correctly, CyFishy, Rob's saying 80% of those with voice enabled are talking at any given moment."

Hamlet, could you check with Rob for clarification? It sounds like he might mean that 80% of those 50% have it on, and are either talking or listening at the time. Surely it isn't the norm for people to be talking 80% of the time even if they're in a conversation - the numbers don't work! If you and I are in a conversation and we're both talking 80% of the time, we won't hear most of what the other person says. And of of course it gets more and more improbable the more people are talking.

So may I safely conclude that he means that 80% of those 50% are either talking or *listening* with voice chat at any given time?

And if that *is* right, then I wonder how many of those 50% only put voice on to be able to hear voice conversations? That wouldn't be "using voice," though, since that implies talking with it! That would be "listening to voice."

I don't mean to quibble about the figure. It would be all right with me if 50% of people really were using voice - but I'd like to know for sure whether that's the case!

For others who are mystified at these statistics, we're having a discussion over on my LiveJournal blog of where those voice users might be, since there are some of us who never run into anyone who seems to be using voice. One voice user gave what I thought was an enlightening answer.

Kate Amdahl

Oh, and when I say 80% of those 50% are talking or listening, I believe that would mean "have voice enabled to hear whatever's around them", not necessarily actually hearing someone say something at that moment.

Maybe Rob could provide statistics about how much of the time those 50% are actually talking, if that's a metric they track?

^^^\ Kate /^^^

Tateru Nino

Reading through Seaver's data points again, actually there's a whole lot of "means nothing" in there.

"50% of online Residents use voice on average"

Define use voice. On average over... what? A period of time? Ever?

This could as easily mean "50% of users have ever enabled voice at least once" or "50% communicate via voice at least once per session"

The data is meaningless without definitions.

Marianne McCann

Just because I have it enabled doesn't mean I'm talking on it. It's almost always on above my head, because I like to be able to monitor all conversations around me. But I'll reply in text, thanks.

Beatrix Noel

I always have Voice but I don't always use it. Sometimes I do, but a lot of times when my SL partner is on we are private voice chatting. Although sometimes we do a mix of voice and text chat.

I've run across people who are talking in voice and have responded to them in text and it's been fine. And I do the same thing with when some people in a group are on voice and some aren't. If the person has voice on then I speak and if they don't then I'll use text.

I find that I have longer conversations and say more with voice than just text. Often I'll give short one or two word answers whereas if it was a group chat I would elaborate more.

I have run across at least one person who only uses Voice and does not use text at all (arhtirits keeps him from typing). So under certain circumstances voice can be limiting or text can be limiting depending on the person behind the avatar.

But then I'm easy, I don't care what gender the typist is behind the avatar of if it matches up, I don't care if someone can only voice or only text. If people like to use Voice that's great, if they like to use text great as well if they want to use a mix sure I'll do that.

I've been in sims where voice is turned off and that's fine, I've heard people talking about my appearance in voice while I was not able to voice and I supplied in text where I got my wings. That was all good.

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