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Monday, June 13, 2011

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Natty Cioc

I think its not basically a problem with Linden Labs staff, mostly its the resident volunteers making the decisions (or prepare them) on such events. I had a booth at the actual SL8B, there was a misunderstanding with the volunteers, my builder was pi**ed, deleted the whole booth and left the exhibitors group, as i was trying to discuss -in a friendly way - i received just "[2:31] Doctor Gascoigne: You have been ejected from 'Second Life Birthday Exhibitors' by Doctor Gascoigne."
No wonder that the parcel count and builders quality is significant lower year by year. But as always: LL will ignore these effects.
I think it would be a great advantage to deploy LL staff for all relevant decisions on SL8B and other LL events.

Osprey

Unfortunately there has been an environment of conflict fostered in the past few years as customers felt the company did things deliberately that damaged the formerly good relationship.
I think things are much better now, but that LL will need to prove themselves to a quite-rightfully gunshy customer base. Both sides need to pick their battles, remember their sense of humour, and refrain from knee-jerk reactions.

Ann Otoole InSL

LL needs to hire out for professional logo/graphics work and customers need to stop doing free work for LL. Have a read: http://www.no-spec.com/

The so-called "California business model" is over.

Hamlet Au

Good point, Osprey, though I don't know if it's just the "past few years" -- I remember seeing stuff like this broil over even as far back as 2004.

Osprey

I'd very much like to see the other logo. I do agree with Ann, too, that it's not good to do work on spec and for free.
I agree there has always been plenty of drama, but to me there was a distinct change round about... oh, when homestead sims were changed and people felt they'd been betrayed. When was that?

Gwyneth Llewelyn

Heh. Touché! You're right, Hamlet, I also so quickly tend to accuse LL first, and residents next, just because of their awful track record in dealing with PR issues...

Caesar's wife must be above suspicion. That's the problem with LL: although "honest misunderstandings" might occur every day, after so many years where LL pretty much always was guilty as charged, over and over again on the same issues of appropriating residents' ideas and/or content, it's hard tos top a bit and say to oneself: "Wait. This time they might be innocent!"

When I ever have that thought, I always go: "Naaah." :)

Nevertheless, it's unfair to put always the blame on LL. I do apologise for not thinking twice about mistrusting the Lab's intentions, even if they have been baby-pure in their intentions this time. I'd certainly be overwhelmingly surprised about a SLB without any Linden-induced drama.

As Ron/Hiro so well put it elsewhere, it's a typical case of requiring a lot of good PR to make sure that if honest misunderstandings occur, they're properly addressed and explained to the public... because the public always raises the eyebrow of suspicion first.

It's terrible to have a reputation!

Chestnut Rau

I think much of the mistrust has nothing whatsoever to do with user created content. Rather, our mistrust has to do with things like the open space sim and edu pricing blunders.

We are quite willing to believe LL is screwing one of us because we have seen them screw so many of us, so many times.

Noirran

I agree Osprey, things changed with the homestead sims debacle, a lot of faith was lost in the lab and they have yet to earn it back.

Wizard Gynoid

i think there is a deep suspicion among the Citizen Builders of SL about the motivations behind the TOS Section 7.2: http://secondlife.com/corporate/tos.php#tos7
it raised its ugly head again here.

Vax Sirnah

In High School, I was a stage manager for a play, and I made a decision that pissed a few people off. I mentioned it to my best friend's father, who looked at me and said, "Welcome to management. In the eyes of the workers, management is always wrong."

My admittedly anecdotal experience has upheld this. I've seen this in pretty much every fan community I've been a part of. The fact is that there is a vocal subset of people who are apt to cry bloody murder whenver any group with authority does anything. I'm pretty certain that if LL started giving out free food to the poor, there would be at least one resident saying "That food isn't organically grown! Why does LL hate poor people so much?!?"

Sure, LL has done some stupid things. But the LL-bashing among residents is more of something people do as a form of cultural identity than anything else. Substitute some names with examples from, say, politics or sports, and they'd be almost identical to what you see on the SL forums. It has little to do with what is actually happening - people are always looking for an excuse to say "Damn the Man."

Osprey

I don't think you quite understand, Vax. It isn't mere 'stupid things' that lost them the trust of their customers. I think the rift will take time to heal, even if both sides approach things honestly and are willing to begin anew.

Franklin Lubitsch

I have a couple of comments. First, there were *two* posts by Miso on this subject, only one of which you have linked to, Hamlet. Here is the other one:

http://gomiso.blogspot.com/2011/06/addendum-magic-hat.html

In the second post, some things are explained, including the whereabouts of the original design.

The second coomment is regarding the use of the SL "hand" in the original design. LL's legal department, according to Miso, said no to the use of it. The implication seems to be that it would be a violation of copyright. But, isn't SL8B an official Linden function? Why would that be a problem? It's little things like that which tend to infuriate people. and which cumulatively add up to not being able to trust.

Nickola Martynov

I know Miso and I don't doubt her word on the way events transpired. She said they were to get back to her and they say she was to get back to them. I've had similar situations in rl and there isn't much you can do. But, we do know that a group of Lindens saw Miso's design and whether or not another person came up with the design independently, Miso showed it to the Lab first. It's her idea and they can't use it.

Miso Susanowa

Hamlet:

I have stayed out of SL today; I've been barely able to keep up wit Twitter and Comments; I did try to send messages to you via two people; I'm sorry they didn't get through.
I've tried to make it plain in previous posts that I have no particular axe to grind with LL. They have a monstrous PR problem; it's well-documented. I have said positive things as well about LL and issues.

As I have exhaustively spoken about this "bad faith" issue in both posts and Comments sections, what I object to is the characterization of the interaction between myself and this "committee" or whatever it was. No, LL employees did NOT try to contact me except for the IM via Courtney about Legal. No, they never made any comment about "yeah this is a go" or anything even suggesting interest past that 20 minutes out of a 2 1/2 hour "meeting." No, I did NOT have the Hand in the original design. No, the designs are not "merely" similar; the jpg posted of the purple hat even had a white prim background to show it up, just as the photos of my original design mockup did, as it was in prims.


I don't believe your statement "A company which depends on the user-created content of its own customers to sustain its revenue will regularly attract mistrust and resentment from those customers" need be true at all; certainly there are many large, successful companies who do not seem to have this widespread and general opinion from their customers.

THIS is the communication problem LL has with its consumers and why it often surfaces and what is in need of serious attention, or else it's all "the California business model" as someone mentioned above, and that model is showing the cracks and strains of its unnatural and counterproductive premises. Consumers are not farm animals to be milked and shut up with a gag and told, "take it... and btw, keep feeding us money."

I have been as forthcoming as I can on my blog with the process, what was said and not said and the whole muddy little issue; much more so than Linden Lab has been. The real problem that is surfacing and showing is this cavalier inability of LL to listen at all to its users without appearing imperious, deliberately insensitive ("we can do no wrong")and adamant in their position that they can depend on user-created content for their business model while simultaneously treating their customers like cattle. That's not a customer problem; that's a customer-relations problem, basic PR.

I didn't, never and wouldn't ask for money for doing this, as I didn't for any of the previous logos. But to have someone like Pete/Amanda assert that the Lab was being reasonable, did everything they could to contact me and all the rest of their comments are just bullshit, and I am calling it.

Rowan Derryth

When my students ask me if they have to make a citation for an idea of theirs that they then, subsequently, find in a book, I tell them yes, absolutely. Otherwise it is a form of plagiarism, even though their idea was original to them.

It may be the case that the Linden designer never saw Miso's design. But surely someone who APPROVED that logo DID see Miso's design. And although there is 'nothing new under the sun', SOMEONE bore some responsibility to speak up and say 'Hey, that looks a LOT like Miso's! Maybe we should run that by her?'

Don't cha think?

Hamlet Au

Miso, can you please send me a copy of your original design so I can post it in an update to this post? My email address is hamlet at secondlife dot com.

Ann Otoole InSL

You guys have no real idea. You should have witnessed what happened with the first new slate of avatars a few years back. Designers in tears because LL decided to "mix-n-match and screw designers' hard work up. It took a public spectacle to get the then new slate of avatars restored to what they were supposed to be. Linden Lab "Lindens" everything. People need to stop doing anything for free for LL. LL has the money. They can pay or close.

Galatea Gynoid

People rush to judgement before they even know the facts. Par for the course. I used to rail against it in my own blog. Then I just stopped blogging. The SL blogosphere remains, for the most part, the kind of thing that makes you substantially less well informed if you read it than if you don't. It can be entertaining from time to time but it gets old...

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

RUSH to judgement? Galatea, Miso has some ethos among those who read her blog and see her artwork. She's a talented creator and hers is no drama-fest.

I work for a private firm that happens to be a university. We have nearly 1,400 employees and, if you count living alumni, an active user-base that exceeds Linden Lab's.

All of us do our jobs, some better than others and sometimes we work at cross-purposes. Communication can lag and mistakes get made, but rarely, in my 20 years there, has the institution fallen on its sword in the ways I have seen Linden Lab do, repeatedly, during my scant 4.5 years in-world.

Without much of an effort, I could rattle off six major self-impalings since January 2007.

Maybe that should be the new LL logo! No, Romans hurled on swords suggests imperial nobility, so let me suggest another new LL logo:

Foot with big hole shot in it.

Hamlet Au

But Iggy, why did you get so angry and say Miso had a legal case on her hands without at least first checking to see a copy of her original design, on the possibility that it may have been a good faith misunderstanding or a more ambiguous dispute, or another possibility?

Ann Otoole InSL

wtf is a "good faith misunderstanding"? Give me a break. There is no such thing Hamlet. LL tried to sweep it under the rug on the wiki already and thus damned themselves.

Let the lawyers sort it out.

Hamlet Au

... and this attitude is a very major reason why many Linden Lab staffers quit the company. They just get exhausted dealing with Resident drama and outrage.

Alberik Rotaru

Miraculous that one Linden managed to produce a logo that was almost identical with Miso's. That is known as the telepathy defence among intellectual property practitioners.

Sansarya Caligari

Huh, when I saw the logo I thought of RacerX Gullwing. Go figure. :)

Alberik Rotaru

Perhaps then, Hamlet, the Lindens should adopt a new and radical approach to Residents – cause less outrage.

Hamlet Au

Alberik, have you seen Miso's logo? I just talked with her, and she told me only one other non-Linden besides her did. Is that you?

Vecky Burdam

SL is not a democracy and not a free economic system. Whenever we decide to 'play' SL our ass belongs to LL (see TOS) and they can do whatever they want with it; use it without our consent, ban it, delete it, abuse it, ruth it, color it pink.
Because we identify so much with our AVs we tend to see SL as an extension of our RL and apply RL ethics to SL which just cannot be applied to a 'game platform service'. So either stay away from any LL activity or get into the mindset of "working hard" for a 'authoritarian regime' (and freaking stop complaining).

Having said that, LL knows about the psychology of its users and if they are interested to stay into business should adapt a bit to this psychology.
To me both sides still act very ignorant towards what SL is and became by unleashing a world 'created by its users'.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

@Hamlet, very simple: Miso's ethos. She clearly described how the LL design copied most aspects of her own. So I believe her account.

Miso inspires trust among her readers, whereas LL's ethos has been lousy for a long time.

So I put the burden of proof not on an artist who has, in the end, generously decided not to file a DMCA complaint but on a company with a history of bad choices and reversed decisions.

I won't deny a sense of outrage at a firm that not so long ago instigated a witch-hunt against anyone using the letters "S" and "L" in their work promoting Second Life™, despite earlier encouragement of that very practice.

Rod Humble appears to be changing for the better how the company operates, and I hope his firm can once again "make good" for this gaff.

Chestnut Rau

Hamlet I really have to say that blaming "residents" is ridiculous. First, we are customers. The use of the word "residents" is LL PR speak and is just garbage. We pay, they provide a service. We are customers.

Second, there is a relationship between all of us and LL -- a relationship that has many many strengths and a great deal of commitment on both sides. We love SL and certainly LL staff love SL too and they want us to be happy customers.

Having said that, this relationship is broken. Any therapist will tell you that both sides have to work to fix a broken relationship. Sure we customers need to chill when LL does things we don't like. I will grant you that. But, LL needs to own their mistakes and admit them and they need to make far fewer customer relations mistakes. Its old and its beyond what is reasonable at this point. Under Rod LL is working to deal with these situations better, we all see that. At the same time there is a lot of history to move beyond.

Yeah I just made a relationship analogy about an internet company. Sad, right?

But really Hamlet, please. Stop blaming us and us alone. If LL staff can't handle their customer base they *should* quit and the company should hire people who can manage demanding creative customers well.

Senban Babii

I remember a few years ago, at a place I used to be employed. We had a suggestion scheme where employees could offer ideas and if the idea paid off, they would be rewarded with 10% of how much money was saved over a certain period. The company only thought small suggestions for micro issues would ever be made. Then one day, someone made a suggestion that would save the company millions in the short term alone. The suggestion was considered and rejected for various reasons. Then a couple of months later it was quietly acted upon. The company knew it was a great suggestion but didn't want to pay out hundreds of thousands to an employee. It was uncovered, legal stuff happened and now that employee drives round in diamond-encrusted hovercars whilst eating swan sandwiches off an ermine plate.

The moral of this story? Never ever ever work for free because companies will happily take your ideas and then claim credit for themselves. If you want to provide suggestions or ideas, get something in writing beforehand and don't leave it saved as a notecard in your inventory where *cough* database issues *cough* could accidentally delete it.

Senban Babii

@Hamlet
"... and this attitude is a very major reason why many Linden Lab staffers quit the company. They just get exhausted dealing with Resident drama and outrage."

Ahh, blaming the customers again Hamlet? Yes, why can't we all be happy little consumer cattle, feeding our money and creative thoughts into the company so they can profit from our efforts whilst beating us with a stick? How dare the cattle ask for respect, consumer rights and fair treatment!

I shall now return to my milking alcove like a good little moo cow :)

Ron T Blechner

"I'm inclined to suspect this was yet another simple misunderstanding without any bad faith on either side."

I agree. Linden Lab is notorious for left-hand-not-knowing-what-right-hand-is-doing. But why then from Pete/Amanda this explanation? Why didn't they just say:

"We at Linden Lab are sincerely sorry for this *obvious miscommunication* and do confirm that Miso's artwork was an inspiration for the final piece. We'll be giving her co-creator credit and giving you a free year premium membership as a token thank you! We value the artist community and love to highlight their successes!"

Arcadia Codesmith

If Linden Lab admitted the slightest hint of fault, every head in the legal department would simultaneously explode.

I humbly submit that this would be a positive event for the company.

If every decision you make is predicated upon the potential for civil liability, you might as well give up on life and become a career politician.

The right response is a public apology, followed by a conversation with Miso to see how they can patch things up with her (not unilateral gifts like an SL8B booth she doesn't want or need).

And the best way forward is to think of residents as fellow partners in this joint venture of ours, partners that you value and respect.

Even if the new logo was totally black-boxed, they should have taken one look at it and said, "hey, that's great! But we can't use it," and gone back to the drawing board.

Admit fault. Take the risk of legal retaliation in service of doing the right thing. That's the road to regaining trust and respect.

Terminated account

Linden Lab reminds me of Silvio Berlusconi.

It is interesting to note that it does the best it can to infuriate customers just before the SLB event. Four years in a row this has been: banning kid avatars in SL5B, lagging SL6B to the extreme, censoring a build in SL7B and now this.

Silvio Berlusconi is about to be kicked off for good, after years of turning Italy into its own company with Italian tax payers' money and being beyond the law. Linden Lab only needs someone to teach them the ultimate lesson in humility.

Rowan Derryth

Hamlet - perhaps some of the drama and outrage, which you blame for Lindens quitting, is stirred up on blogs like NWN? I certainly don't begrudge your reportage of the various controversies, but I find it a little funny that you are suddenly defensive about 'drama', when it is an engine that drives your readership.

I also think PART of the outrage over this issue is that it is MISO SUSANOWA - and artist who many of us know and respect, a woman of integrity, and who cares very little for things like monetary compensation. She is passionate about virtual art, and the potential of SL and other grids. I'm sure her original upset it down to deep disappointment, for she is as passionate a champion of SL as any, and ever the optimist. Even in the midst of this, she still makes it clear she is a fan of Rod, and has great (continued) hope.

So a lot of this outrage is also down to admiration for her. DON'T MESS WITH OUR MISO!

Alberik Rotaru

Alberik, have you seen Miso's logo? I just talked with her, and she told me only one other non-Linden besides her did. Is that you?

Nope, nor did I need have seen it to recognise that claiming independent origin is par for the course for a certain kind of legal defence. I did read Miso's blog and I trust her account considerably more than the unlikely legal boilerplate uttered by LL.

Moby Larsson

"... and this attitude is a very major reason why many Linden Lab staffers quit the company. They just get exhausted dealing with Resident drama and outrage."

Really? I can't believe you actually said that.

I don't have to give you of all people a SL history lesson. You know full well that LL has a prodigious history of following up poorly planned, poorly executed decisions that have a dramatically negative impact on their customers with a total lack of PR and customer service. But you're saying its our fault that Lindens have left the company?!?

1. They make bad decisions
2. They execute those bad decisions badly
3. They communicate the plans for and motivations behind those bad decisions badly.
4. They disregard the feelings of the customers hurt by those bad decisions
5. The customers express hurt and outrage

and...

6. Its the residents fault that Lindens leave the company?!?

You have stunned me, completely stunned me.

shockwave yareach

It will take MUCH time and MUCH hard work on the part of the new LL to make us trust them again. That's thing one, two and three. Probably 4 as well.

As for the design, come on -- letters coming out of a hat is hardly a new idea which Miso is the first to think of. Not being able to compare the two, I cannot make an educated decision. But if the only ground she has to stand on is that the icon will have a hat with letters coming out, she's got no ground to stand on at all. A quick search in google will turn up thousands of them. And LL, a simple "original by:" byline is probably all it takes to salve this wound.

This is what happens when your company steals from customers, commits bait and switch, and turns a fun creative world into a powerpoint slide -- the people with the money to be here already were here, and you are at the top of all of their S**t-lists. So forgive us our hair-triggers, as we try to forgive those that gave them to us.

Metacam Oh

1) Why doesn't Linden Lab have a graphic designer on staff that can attend to the graphic needs of the company, like designing a logo for the companies 8th birthday?

2) Why doesn't the graphic designer have a copy of the original logo or mockup to show anyone? I originally wrote the Davinci Code.... I have it around here somewhere just can't seem to find a copy of it. (yes I read the original posts from the artist, she did not want to take the time to look for it, but had plenty of time to write about it)

3) This is probably the worst case of logo copying I have ever seen. The SL8B logo I could have done something better in 3 minutes no joke, that Linden who did that should stay away from future graphics.

Hamlet Au

"Hamlet I really have to say that blaming 'residents' is ridiculous."

I didn't do that, Chestnut. I was responding to someone who said they were positive Linden Lab was in the wrong and *needed no evidence* for that belief. *That's* what I'm talking about. Not a legitimate grievance for an actual failing, just irrational anger and blame. Witness all the outrage over a disputed logo no one here has actually even seen.

And yes, many Lindens, from top executives to support staff, have told me this kind of unreasoning Resident drama is one big reason they've left the company, or are glad they have. (These same folks will also gladly acknowledge all the times they actually did screw up.) Ironically, this makes Second Life worse for you, not better. Every time Linden Lab has to deal with some artificial drama like this, there's an opportunity cost of time they could have better spent improving Second Life. Every time the frustration with this artificial drama provokes them into leaving the company, that's hours of quality support time lost and an overall degradation of the company culture, as the (increasingly demoralized) remaining staffers spend time replacing the departed.

Chestnut Rau

Hamlet what I would like to understand is this -- is the SL community radically different from the WoW community in this way, as one example? I have been told there is a similar level of emotion on the WoW forums but I really don't know. I am not involved in other games or other virtual worlds and I wonder if we SL customers are all that far outside the norm. Perhaps you could compare this phenomenon across worlds to inform this discussion and support your assertions about SL customers.

Even though we are loud, annoying and are destroying the work satisfaction of LL staff, the future of SL depends on improved communications between LL and its customers.

Uccello

@Natty: "No wonder that the parcel count and builders quality is significant lower year by year." I've been zipping around the SL8B sims making landmarks of places I intend to blog about and I'm highly impressed by the increased quality of this year's builds. Maybe you didn't look around enough. Sure, there is some dren out there, but overall the exhibits are top-notch.

@several people: The volunteers have been wonderful and patient even when being ranted at by many. Some builders have had genuine problems and concerns while at least as many and then some could have solved their problems simply by reading notices or paying attention in the group chats. Instead, most rants and abuse came hair-trigger and were uncalled for, in my opinion.

@several people: Attribution should be given when anyone uses the work of another but I can see that with some recent departures of Linden staffers involved in SL8B things can go awry. When I asked to use a different (and much nicer) SL8B graphic for some work I was sent the one in question then later asked to NOT use it until lawyers were contacted as there may have been copyright issues. Eventually, the logo was cleared but at no point did I know who made it. If I had known there was an option to design a logo/graphic pre-event I certainly would have participated and done so at no charge. The birthday celebrations are all-volunteer events and no one (that I know of) gets paid for the work. With prims it is easy to see who contributed but not so with the graphics. It would be nice if there would be a way to determine who uploaded (and possibly originated) a texture on a prim. *Some* means to give attribution is needed.

Ole

@chestnut: i know at least from the german wow-website and forums it is quite the same emotional way users complain to blizzard. visit their website see forums... drama

what actually surprises me is the fact that blizzard is doing the job way better than linden lab. from havin the forums on first site + including the users creativity (for example screenshot of the day or user art) + often asking what the users think they do a fantastic job. still the users are complaining.

i simply believe commenting, chatting, notecarding always includes a high chance of misunderstood that than turns into more and more emotionalism.

the idea of demoralized lindens i can not follow. they work. they earn money. their are jobs on this planet way more shit and frustrating than being linden. i would more worry about frustrated users than about frustrated lindens. if they do not like their job - give'em a nice kick into their butts and search for some new virgin linden blood! arr ^^

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