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Friday, January 27, 2012

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Pussycat Catnap

"Most Lindens are mostly interested in SL as a platform, not a virtual community"

- the problem is that this stopped being good business sense in maybe 2004-05, and stopped even sane business sense by about 2006-07.

the moment SL hit its hype phase, it needed to switch corporate focus and hire the heck out of community-geeks. All those jocks and cheerleaders turned marketing people that techies hate so much... LLs has had a vital need for them since it entered hype phase.

That the hype ended only means LLs needs them even -more- in order to generate some buzz, AND to talk with and learn how to handle their existing customers.


I've done my years in customer service... and its really only the 'IT folks' that ever develop that 'the customers are all wackadoodles' mentality... Its why a smart company doesn't put an outside phone line in the IT department, but over in the cubicle where the mid-life former jocks are...
- Like it or not, you need socially minded employees... people who know how to handle a 'wackadoodle' in a way that results in a non-wackadoodle encounter on the trailing end.

If you start claiming your customers are nuts... its not your customers that have a culture problem.

Nahasa Singh

Instead, they are more likely to engage with those most apt to protest, and protest loudly: a vocal minority of SLers who tend toward obsessiveness and paranoia, and the conviction that other users and the Lindens are out to get them, or that everyone is equally interested in their exhaustively-detailed grievances.

Sounds pretty much like the Occupy movement. Yeah, I'd be standoffish too.

Shug Maitland

On your second point I could not agree more, there are many residents who - in their selfishness or frustration - forget that Lindens are people with jobs to do.
On the first point, that is like an automobile engineer who chooses not to drive and disses those who do.
Second Life the Platform and Second Life Community are joined at the hip, they are completely co-dependent. We desperately need people and methods to bridge that divide. Unfortunately the platform obsessed geek contingent holds most of the cards.

Serendipidy Haven

Absolutely, my post was a light-hearted jest and wasn't intended to be disparaging in any way. It's the way of the world - both real and virtual - that those perceived to be in charge probably receive more than their fair share of jibes and a certain degree of mockery.

That aside, i think the humour belies a more serious point - whether founded in fact or not, there's a widely held perception that the Lindens are out of touch with residents. Of course i take your point - there's a huge difference between the IT professional and the average sl participant. Both see a very different platform when they look at sl and both have a very different focus.

My rl work is insanely customer-focussed - in my business not only does the customer get what the customer wants, but if they don't get it we lose their business. Like sl, there's also a technical side to the business that the customer almost certainly doesn't understand, appreciate, or care about and i could argue until i'm blue in the face about some of the wackadoodle suggestions, protestations and idiocy that they can come out with - the simple fact is, i don't: Instead, i do the job and produce the results. Technically, that might mean compromise, thinking outside the box or cobbling something Heath-Robinson together to get there, but here's the thing: The customer gets excellent service and, ultimately, what they've asked for; the business grows and, by stretching itself to meet the sometimes ridiculous demands of customers, the business itself learns, improves and becomes more successful. That seems to me a good business model.

i admire the Lindens and what they achieve and i'm often in awe of what they produce, but when a good proportion of your customer base - including an awful lot of the sensible and reasonable ones - think you've lost the plot there is a very real problem that needs to be tackled. Yes, you'll inevitably have the wackadoodles to deal with, but what about the rest, who may well be saying the same things, only less vociferously? Demanding they may be, but without demanding and loyal customers, (or by ignoring them), any business is going to lose ground, stagnate and ultimately fail.

Orca Flotta

Exactly!
Most of us are thinking about the Lindens in the same way the wackos do, but we're not protesting and demanding as loud as them.
And LL really have lost the plot. We can see it in their totally misaimed and misleading marketing. They neglect their loyal and well-paying oldbie customer base and instead trying to lure new players in. With false promises.

"Be a vampire! Breed pets! Buy moar stuff! Why are you complaining about TPs into nirvana, why are you complaining about lag, borked sim crossings, failed group IMs? You don't need all that shit when you can shop in the marketplace! In fact we make SL so cool for you, you won't even need to log in anymore. So shut up all of you wackadoodles!"

Kim

Thanks for the explanation! Now we can all forgive the Lindens their arrogance and out of touchiness 'cuz they think we're wackos and they're too busy fixing the grid (haha).

Marianne McCann

Spot on, Pussycat Catnip

qarl

re: whackadoodles -

i should provide some context so that it's more understandable - after i was let go from the lab - one anonymous user began following me around the internet claiming "justice had been served" for my high crimes of creating sculpties and working on meshes. as time went on, he became more unhinged - claiming that i had personally wrecked his life.

it is true - there are genuine nuts in our world. we all know that.

it is also true - the lab needs to understand that 99% of its customers are not whackadoodles - and dismissing them simply because they're angry is a recipe for disaster. baby, bathwater, don't do it.

Dartagan Shepherd

Too many people fell for the tagline and confused it with product.

It shouldn't matter whether Lindens are arrogant, socially inept or angels in disguise.

It's an aging and slightly declining virtual world that needs an overhaul to be brought up to date, and to focus on what it is, rather than what they'd like it to be.

When people buy into Second Life as something other than a product (your world, your imagination), feedback can get strange when it comes to not feeling like they're getting a value experience.

At the end of the day, all complaints generally boil down to that.

A whackadoodle to me is someone that'd pay $300/month in tier and then pay more to crowd-fund a feature the company should provide, but what do I know?

Not sure where employee fandom ever came into the picture.

Doesn't matter what Linden employees are and aren't. What matters is that leadership and management drive a company to produce a great virtual worlds product and that it's worth the time and money spent on it.

Communication and documentation should be a natural function of the company producing the product.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

Hmmm...being a Linden is like being a faculty member.

You get a few nice folks who come by office hours but often, in crossing campus or leaving it, or in a frantic e-mail at odd hours, you get urgent pleas for help, all about something explained before several times and posted, prominently, on your Web site.

And the conspiracy-nuts, scribbling in their blogs and op-ed columns, think you are undermining the flower of our youth with your commie secularist ways.

We disdain marketing our "product" because to some it's crass and to others, including myself, a distraction from what goes into my annual evaluation.

Now I understand how it feels to be a Linden. As for the sort of nutjob Qarl describes? For them we have campus security. Ban Hammer!

Deltango Vale

"Most Lindens are mostly interested in SL as a platform, not a virtual community"

And that, ladies and gentlemen, has been Linden Lab's core problem since 2006. The product is not the platform; the product is what exists on the platform. Five years later and Linden Lab still doesn't understand its own product.

Jim Hasbeen

You will always get a percent of crazy customers. Yes .. 1 whole percent. When you start to preempt everything the other 99% do based on them then you have a real customer service issue.

Governance is a major problem .. but then if we are all counter culture freaks and weirdo's why should the lab care.

Pussycat nails it.

Shockwave Yareach

Indeed, pussycat is correct. But to add to that, the lab has not simply not paid attention to what the users have asked for, then insisted, then demanded, then quit over. They've ignored critical issues in favor of their candy of the day. And while candy is fine now and then, you cannot live off it.

The entire timespan before Rodvik can be summed up in the following manner.
LL: We are thinking about doing X.
customers: If you do, then Y will happen as a result.
LL: We are going to do X in a month.
customers: Don't!! You'll cause Y as a side effect!
LL: We have done X.
customers: And Y has happened, just as we warned you it would.
LL: It is our customers' fault Y has happened.
customers: What?! We tried to warn you!
LL: It is all your fault. If not for you, Y would not have happened.
customers: Why are we paying you guys?
LL: We are thinking about doing Z.
customers: I guess it's pointless to explain the wreckage that will cause, isn't it?

LL has not listened to its customers. Now granted, some percentage of them are nuts. I won't dispute that. But writing off every single person who is complaining about the service as being nuts is a sure fire way to turn customers into excustomers. And blaming us for YOUR gross incompetence and errors all the time ignoring and actively hiding negative data puts LL in the same category is Politicians.

LL had a wonderful product. LL screwed up the product by making the land of freedom into a gulag. And they then wonder why people don't want to pay the huge fees necessary to play in their gulag?

Kim Anubis

Hamlet, you should offer Pussycat Catnap an opportunity to write a guest article. Even if some professional community geeks aren't ex jocks or cheerleaders. ;). The best community managers don't come from the marketing department, though those skills are necessary.

Victor1st Mornington

Every Linden I've came across in world...from Torley to Oz, from Terrence to Esbee, wether they are visiting the all mesh Dr Who (Katrina) sim, or visiting New Babbage...all of them have been friendly and chatty.

Heck the Lindens who have visited the dr who sim or New Babbage usually stay for quite a while. I've never came across a Linden that's been stand-offish...and I've met a lot of them.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

I second Kim Anubis' nomination, Hamlet. Not only does Pussycat Catnap have one of the best names in a long time, but her commentary is always insightful.

She sure nails the techie/marketer great divide.

Arcadia Codesmith

It's the ex-jocks and ex-cheerleaders that have smug superiority complexes... until they encounter technology. Then it's up to the compassionate, friendly and patient geeks to rescue them.

Update your stereotypes. Seriously. Today's marketer isn't a "people person", he is a psych major with a concentration in mob dynamics and propoganda techniques. And a good community relations manager is somebody who is as friendly and outgoing as she is smart and saavy about tech.

The ex-jocks and ex-cheerleaders are all too busy setting up their Super PACs.

I bash Linden Labs on a regular basis and with great glee. But I wouldn't bash any individual Linden for being less than enthusiastic about 100,000 residents with 100,000 individual agendas all demanding priority attention (often with the same arrogant sense of entitlement associated with trust fund babies and Ayn Rand readers).

Pussycat Catnap

"But writing off every single person who is complaining about the service as being nuts is a sure fire way to turn customers into excustomers."

I can think of maybe 1 single SL user who most folks would agree is nuts. We don't need to go into that... but, while there are many who I very strongly disagree with over a number of issues - wackadoodles are not a common thing by any stretch of the imagination.

A customer service oriented business, which is what you have got to have when your business revenue comes from a community of users - knows this, and knows how to handle a diverse set of customers, sometimes even irate ones, without branding them all wackadoodles.

A genuine wackadoodle, you call and attorney and get them institutionalized. But such customers are so rare most community businesses will never need to do this.

I got lucky on my name. ;) Though I searched for a few months in SL on a prior account before making it. I feel sorry for the folks who don't get last names and can't work the imagination for some neat combo. Hoping that gets resolved soon (and hope its a way that lets them have last names -if- they want them, but not if they don't).

And its much easier to write comments on somebody else's blog than my own. :) Very easy to respond to a discussion that somebody else has kicked off, not so easy to start the discussion yourself. Hats off to Hamlet for being able to give us all good topics almost every day. Even when I disagree with him - he gets us engaged.


Pussycat Catnap

My comment about taking them from the jocks is in jest BTW, and is motivated just because one of the most friendly customer service types I ever met was a former jock and star athlete in his high school. He was on my mind when I wrote that, and I grew up hating jocks. ;) The second most friendly customer service person I ever met was a black Sudanese refugee - which just shows how the personality can come from any background.

(And by far the most chatty social person I ever met was an IT network protocol manager - blowing all stereotypes out the water.)

The real point is that you need social folks. Not social as in 'knows where the facebook friend button is 37,321 times' but actually social as in can chat up a room of people who would be killing each other if not for that person. 'old school' social - back in the days when humans actually talked to each other. ;)

Tethys Pestana

The few Lindens I have met are well rounded and gregarious. I enjoy having them hang out in venues I frequent.

I am wondering how Arcaia Codesmith was able reconcile the terms "entitlement" and "Ayn Rand" in the same sentence. Unless what was meant was compensation for individual achievement and merit. Unearned status and rewards would have been anthema to Rand.

Arcadia Codesmith

I've yet to encounter a group of people who feel they're owed more reward for less effort than the acolytes of satanic pop diva Ayn Rand, may the selfish bitch rot in hell.

Emperor Norton

Tethys Pestana @ "I am wondering how Arcaia Codesmith was able reconcile the terms "entitlement" and "Ayn Rand" in the same sentence."

Her opus magnus is about rich psychopaths murdering people in cold blood so they can make railway locomotives go faster. Apparently developing an alternative technology like an airplane to achieve the same goal without mass homicide is just being way to much of a autistic hippie in Rand's mind. I suppose its more fun for your Gliberatirans to imagine yourself a hippie shooting Stalin than a Howard "I gotz Constellation in my TWA" Huges.

Yes I know Stalin was a commie but I am aware of no American captain of industry ordering outright mass murder just to expedite a product improvement. That was Stalin's bag.

Hamlet Au

"rich psychopaths murdering people in cold blood"

I read *Shrugged* a long ass time ago and kinda wish I hadn't, but I don't think that's accurate.

Dave Bell

I suspect that there are different classes of Lindens, and my experience of the coders is that they do seem to be detached from the community. And, in one case, the neat things a coding project was claimed to provide seemed to inevitably lead to the wrecking of a popular activity. I tried to express why I felt the particular argument was misguided: partly it comes from non-SL experiences, at a sort of meta-design level.

And, yes, I do think some Lindens should be kept away from customers.

But I also know of Lindens who run active Alts in some very alive communities, not really secret Lindens, but keeping a distinction between work and play.

I try to be polite but there are times when I feel that somebody, somewhere, has blundered. I can be quite acerbic, but when a bug is apparent on a Thursday, and had built to a rolling disaster by Saturday,and doesn't seem due to be fixed until Wednesday (why not a roll-back to known-safe code?), I get quite beyond that.

This is not something that would encourage the business market, though that seems to be already gone. It's almost as if, in the MMORPG world, there is an expectation of a slash-and-burn exploitation of the market.

How many versions have there been of Star Wars or Star Trek?

Hiro Pendragon

The same criticism can be said literally about any consumer-facing product / service company. Consumers that contact customer service are often idiots and whack-jobs, and the people working there care about the money, not about some community of customers.

So, I accept your explanations, and reject them as irrelevant. If Lindens are out of touch and arrogant for these reasons, they should wake up to the real world of consumer goods / services.

Tethys Pestana

@ Emperor Norton

"Apparently developing an alternative technology like an airplane to achieve the same goal without mass homicide is just being way to much of a autistic hippie in Rand's mind."

U.S. Air Carrier Safety Data from 1960-2010 shows 3,277 fatalities, while Tenerife's accident 27 March 1977 took 583 lives that day.

By your logic would these losses be just acceptable nuisances adjunct to process/product improvement?

Sources:
http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_02_09.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenerife_airport_disaster

Wizard Gynoid

Hamlet, it's "wackadoodle" not "whackadoodle." And in honor of all of us Wackadoodles of Second Life, Let it hereby be known that I have created the official Second Life Wackadoodle club. (It's a kinda exclusive club.)

Bunjie

I smell some hypocrisy here, as in one breath (article) you slam the Lindens when they choose to offer free space on the LL news blog, which was an idea that was implemented so that what you call "hidden talented residents" can get their ideas and themselves out in the open.

Which would fuel dialog directed at them perhaps in world with Lindens who are interested in socializing with those none "whackadoodles".

http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2012/02/blogging-about-second-life.html

"Instead, they are more likely to engage with those most apt to protest, and protest loudly: a vocal minority of SLers who tend toward obsessiveness and paranoia, and the conviction that other users and the Lindens are out to get them, or that everyone is equally interested in their exhaustively-detailed grievances."

Which seems ironic because that would put them above ex-residents + ex-lindens like you, tat & prokofy + others who actively blog about your grievances around linden labs policy's and implementations.

And in the other breath on this article you claim those residents whom are loud mouths are preventing such ideas getting out and or socializing with lindens, but you try to set yourself above it by claiming ex-linden rights grant that your 'critique' is more valid than other "whackadoodles" aka wackjobs who do also blog and shout loudly which is what most do and then send links hastily towards Lindens.

How can you claim your not one of those causing the issues or obsessed with SL while daily blogging for cash and then slamming Linden Lab for introducing solutions to reach out to those residents you claim to support should be listened to?

Please make sure to include yourself in any vocal minority that you judge as there are very few blogs that get shoved in Lindens faces or commented on by them and yours is certainly one, but that doesn't make you immune from criticism when you play 'whackadollar' with Rob Lindens time.

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Wagner James Au
Wagner James "Hamlet" Au
Dutchie Evergreen Slideshow 29112021
my site ... ... ...

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