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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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DBDigital Epsilon

While I agree something should be done (and really NEEDS to be done), I disagree with you on a few points:

First I highly doubt the drop off is due to downloading the client. It is only 25mb or so, many many game clients are say 8gig (or more). If they can spend half a day downloading that, downloading SL is a only a eye blink in comparison.

Second, yes I agree that most of the people trying are hard core gamers and to be honest there just isn't a way to fix SL to make it work for them. Hard core gamers have requirements that SL just can't hack. Plain and simple. You can add game aspects yes, but to try and think it will appease hard core gamers is just nonsense. There are a lot of games in SL, people just have trouble finding them. Also more game tools would be an advantage, but I have to wonder if that would escalate the griefer situation. It would have to be done very carefully, and last time they added new tools such situations DID happen. Which LL fixed yes, but I suspect we would have more of the same until all the bugs were eliminated.

Third, yes the UI needs work but they had something that worked FAR better before with 1.x yes the latest 3.x has great improvements but it is still lacking in several areas. If they added more 1.x elements, with a little more customization, and hiding all the "extra" items not to confuse new users I think they would have a good UI. This would not take a huge amount of development time at all either.

Carl Metropolitan

I just did the new user thing for the first time in a few years. I was amazed at how badly it was.

There is not a single thing in LL's two-island new resident chain that makes any attempt to teach a new Second Life user anything at all. It starts with the MMO cliche of being by the seashore next to a wrecked ship. But unlike a typical MMO, there's no helpful NPC to talk to near by. There are just arrows sending you through a path around a rather uninspiring wilderness area. Eventually you get to a portal--the only way off the island.

That takes you to Social Island where you can wander around a cave, socialize with other confused new arrivals, dance by yourself at a faux night club, explore a campsite, a generic temple, and a lighthouse. If you haven't given up on SL out of sheer boredom by that point, you may eventually make your way to a "portal arena" where you can choose among Wilderness, Art, Roleplaying, Popular, Social, Music, Editor's Picks, Linden Realm, and Adult. If the new resident picks one, he or she will find there are no instructions for getting back. Unless they happen to intuit that SL--unlike every MMO in the world--operates like a web browser and try the back arrow.

So if the new resident picked wrong--or the random destination script in your portal picked wrong--you will be stuck until you can find a live person to ask for help. Hopefully, they will have a landmark to Caledon Oxbridge, Virtual Ability, or a similar resident-run area where they can find actual help.

One more trap for the poor new resident. The "Home" button doesn't take you back where you started. It picks a random InfoHub. With helpful posters that offer to open a web browser for you. Linden Lab seems to have helpfully isolated any of those InfoHubs to to minimize their chance of running into anyone that might help, leaving them to the mercy of they typical InfoHub/Welcome Area crowd. Finally on my 11th teleport (I counted) I hit the Shelter InfoHub.

It doesn't have to be this way. Hopefully Ebbe Altberg will be looking at this soon.

Carl Metropolitan

Now that I've finished ranting about how bad the SL new user experience has become, I'd like to address your points:

You wrote "There have been several attempts to fix the first time user experience in recent years, but they haven't noticeably improved retention."

Not quite true. Some of the old Community Gateways (Oxbridge among them) scored higher than Linden Lab's own new user experience. Which was a lot better back then. LL's excuse for shutting the program down was that it could not scale. Things "not scaling" were a very popular way for some previous single letter CEOs to dismiss stuff their team didn't invent.

You wrote: "Most of the first-time user drop-off occurs before the client is even finished downloading, so the first-time account creation/client download experience also needs to be fixed."

I strongly suspect you are looking at old information there. SL's downloading has sped up in recent years, and it takes far less time to install than any client-based MMO I've ever seen.

You wrote: "The vast majority of new users are gamers (casual or hardcore), and they'll expect a cleaner, game-like experience (which must also be created)."

I'm not sure this is correct. SL's demographics tend older and more female than the typical MMO gamer. However, they are a significant enough part of SL's audience that their needs definitely do need to be addressed. I would suggest some sort of introductory "quest" as an option.

You wrote: "And even if that game experience was created, nearly all users will quickly quit when they have to deal with the existing UI - so that also needs to be overhauled."

The UI is okay. I've seen far, far worse among popular MMOs. Could it be better? Sure. But as a compromise between a web browser and an MMO client, it works pretty well. Additionally, every time LL overhauls their UI it throws a lot of annoying, unpaid work--with usually little notice--at the resident volunteers who do the bulk of the orientation work here.

You wrote: "Considering all that, we're looking at a project of two-three million dollars (I'd estimate) a development time of 8-12 months, and a lot of risk that this investment will yield enough new users to make it worthwhile."

I can assemble a team to do it all (save for the unneeded UI upgrade) through my company for much, much less. Easily under half a million. Final price would depend on 1) the negotiated scope of work, 2) how many different people I would have to report to, and 3) how often and how long I had to be in the Bay Area.

I'm serious. If Ebbe Linden is listening, consider this an offer. Check my reputation in-world. Take a look at what I've done.

Carl Metropolitan

My email is [email protected] My cell phone number is 972-822-5263. I can fix this.

David Cartier

There is one problem that I've been harping on for years, and it's easy to fix. I just visited the Welcome Area, for the first time in a long while. The same sick crew of sociopaths is still hanging out there, doing their very best to alienate, defraud or just plain scare off new arrivals. There is no excuse for this. Linden Lab doesn't need to staff the welcome areas with babysitters, but for godsake get rid of the nutjobs. They are a really crappy first impression.

Hamlet Au

"I strongly suspect you are looking at old information there. SL's downloading has sped up in recent years, and it takes far less time to install than any client-based MMO I've ever seen."

Last 2-3 years, actually, but the client hasn't gotten any smaller since then. And if anything, consumer expectations/impatience have gotten even higher since then, since on the web, 3D content starts displaying in seconds, not minutes.

"I'm not sure this is correct. SL's demographics tend older and more female than the typical MMO gamer. "

SL's *retained* users are older, yes, but potential new users tend to be younger. Look at the IMVU-like ad stream for Second Life nowadays. Linden Lab is running that campaign because it gets clickthrough. A lot of it from Brazil, which again, tends to be younger. And oh yeah, mainly speaks Brazilian.

Sure you want Ebbe to give you a call? :)

Adeon Writer

Clients not installing the viewer are because they are bots only signing up to spam the forums.

That aside, just rez the dang 2007 one, it was much better than what we have now

CronoCloud Creeggan

By "mainly speaks Brazilian" you mean "mainly speaks the Brazilian dialect of Portuguese".

But.... Carl is correct. On the web 3D content DOESN'T start playing in seconds. I know of no 3D content that does. 2D yes, 3D no. It even takes NWN a little bit to load up depending on connection. People are used to waiting. They KNOW that when you download something it can take a bit. In SL's case it isn't very long since you need a broadband connection to use SL in the first place. The client is whatm 56MB on Linux and only 30MB on Windows? Do you know how LONG it takes to download an MMO like STO or LOTRO? Hours! Those are multi-gigabyte downloads. With SL I can download a newer version of the client, install it, and be inworld in minutes.

And perhaps LL should focus on getting new customers that are KNOWN to have good retention...the "older and more female" market as we've all noted. Make their peace with the customers they have, not the ones they want.

Carl, you bring up something that I've thought LL should emphasize more. That the SL client is like a combination/compromise of a Web Browser and MMO client.

That's EXACTLY what it is. In fact, you can browse the web entirely within SL if you want, using the embedded browser. I've always said that the viewer 2/3 UI reminds me a bit of Firefox on Linux and that was a good thing. I've even heard non-technical SL users refer to the viewer as a "browser".

Saffia Widdershins

The thing about demographics is that though it may be a static group (older women, say), the individual who compose it will change, and so you need to be able to attract individuals who are joining that demographic.

I think Cloud Party had a good idea in creating tutorials that had you learning the basics - Move, Communicate, Build - and then rewarded you with a house. The houses were a little dull though, and not geared to foster any sense of community, which I thought a weakness.

I liked the idea that newcomers who went through the community gateway process at Caledon Oxbridge could then rent a place in the student dorm for a month - it helped them nest AND gave them a foothold in a lively community. I have a few thoughts on how this could be done as part of a general sign up process - and it could give a boost to the (flawed) Linden Homes concept too.

Arcadia Codesmith

Step zero: client download. It's fine. It couldn't be any quicker and easier, short of embedding the client in the browser (which opens a whole big can of worms).

Step one: character creation. Currently you get to choose from a handful of prefab avatars -- considerable improvement over the old days, but nowhere near where it needs to be. Take a hard look at a really top-notch MMO character creation system. SL's needs to be BETTER than that, simultaneously more powerful AND more intuitive to use. It should integrate with the marketplace to leverage freebies. There needs to be hundreds of millions of possible avatar combinations straight out of the box, before you even rez in the world for the first time.

Step two: tutorial. LL took a stab at this last time I created an alt, and it was pretty crude. That needs to be polished to a shiny gloss, so somebody who comes in with no previous experience beyond playing solitaire or Farm Candy Birds emerges with some sense of mastery.

Step three: home. Every player, free or premium, needs a home base. A small instanced room in limbo is fine. Just give them something they own from day one that can't be taken from them when the landlord goes belly-up or they forget a rent payment. At the very least, provide some sort of hostel/barracks where you can claim a bunk and a footlocker.

Step Four: Connect. You need a "new player channel" of some sort to hook up new players with people who want to help, and you need to moderate it 24/7 with paid staff to keep the riff-raff at bay.

Expensive? Yes. Risky? There is substantially more downside risk in doing nothing.

Uccie Poultry

Ebbe Linden has mentioned several times that creating an effective New User Experience is a priority as is creating new starter avatars. The Lindens I've talked to about this are also keen on making the experience better. They know that the pop-up HUDs for the current Welcome Island could be better (sometimes they don't pop up, especially if one whips through quickly) and that many expect a more game-like experience. And each liked my idea that the first item to show for new Residents is the How-To window (the one that you see if you click the button in the tool bar).

Saffia's comment about the Caledon experience is dead on. I often send newbies there as it is one of the best. But it isn't right for everyone. The Lab has to consider that it's users are not all English-speaking Westerners and has to tailor something to fit a broad spectrum of cultures. This is why the Welcome Island and the Social Island experiences are fairly vague, but they are better than several recent efforts.

Adding some helpful NPCs would certainly help, but why not bring back the Volunteers? Some helpers of days gone by do hang out on Social Island but the effort needs to be expanded.

melponeme_k

The main problem is that the new experience was built by people who wanted self starters as players. That was the ethos. They didn't want people who had to be guided by quests or babysitters. As a result the newcomer experience is akin to a hazing ritual.

The new starter experience needs to be built from ground up and it has to cater to the people who need guidance. However the changes needed to get to the average person could change Second Life in general thereby alienating the people already in SL and made it past the hazing. There is no easy solution, as far as I can see. Which contributes to why there is no momentum on making big changes for new users.

Iggy

I thought the old Orientation Island taught me what I wanted to learn before I left. But I'm nearly OCD. Some later iterations (I don't know about the latest) seemed aimed at ADHD folks whose avatars get dumped in the middle of...somewhere. Carl, from your description, it does not sound promising.

How about giving newcomers a reason to learn something: maybe not Linden dollars that could be cashed out by a gold farmer, but a voucher to a shop or some premium clothes.

Meanwhile, SL strikes a certain 1980s chord:

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife.

a.k.a. "Same as it ever was."

Iggy

I finished watching the video. Seems that a few activities like the Abbey Road shot could appear earlier, but not w/o context, to show what could be done in SL: art, DIY gaming, RP.

Remember the go-cart track? I loved that from the old Orientation Island.

Pussycat Catnap

"Most of the first-time user drop-off occurs before the client is even finished downloading, so the first-time account creation/client download experience also needs to be fixed."

I'm not convinced there even IS a new user retention problem, and this piece is part of why.

I think the vast majority of these people don't even intend to get the SL client because they don't know there is one because they're not even human.

I think they're spam bots, that sign up en mass all over the internet anywhere there is an insecure or non-human-verifying community. Ie: one lacking something as simple as a captcha system.

If you have a community online, and I can program something to create an account for it by simply filling in some common fields and not having to answer any questions - you will get thousands of new accounts per week, sometimes even per day.

There is no new user retention problem. There is a security problem.

Pussycat Catnap

"The vast majority of new users are gamers (casual or hardcore), and they'll expect a cleaner, game-like experience (which must also be created)."

Given how often people think SL is unique as a 3D world, or don't know even the most basic things about 3D world UIs outside of SL...

I think this one is also incorrect.

As others have said the users here trend older. I would say not just older, but outside the cut of older people that game(d) - because for anyone under 50, video games are normal to some level of current or prior engagement.

SL seems to be the one place online where you can find people who lack 'gaming experience.' Even non-gamers know the basics of using a video game UI and moving a character around in a 'game / 3D environment' these days - except for many of the people who arrive in SL.

Somehow it attracts a demographic of people least prepared for it.

Pussycat Catnap

"Step three: home. Every player, free or premium, needs a home base. A small instanced room in limbo is fine. Just give them something they own from day one that can't be taken from them when the landlord goes belly-up or they forget a rent payment. At the very least, provide some sort of hostel/barracks where you can claim a bunk and a footlocker."

Some of the larger info hub sims have spaces that look like they were carved out for this. Look at the 'Korea' sims (that have no Koreans or Korean stuff, just the sim name 'Korea' for... reasons...). Behind the hub are these many blocks of buildings that look like they were meant for a linden run mall. Some of them can be entered and have floors.

- Noobs could be tossed into those as 'Home' spots and the places could allow rezzing on a 15 minute timer. Enough to open boxes. For a newbie, that serves the vital 'home purpose' with semi-privacy.

Its not fully your concept - its just the 'idea that would require no changes to the code'.

An instanced spot as you suggest would be better - but I don't think SL can even handle an instanced location in current code.

Pussycat Catnap

Something to keep in mind with videos like the one here:

They are invariable made by people on the wrong side of the fence.

They're made by existing users who imagine what a noob does or does not know, and often show themselves going through the experience 'pretending ignorance' of the platform.

But in reality they know exactly what they're filming and its like telling someone to show what a baby is thinking... You can imagine what the baby is going through and thinking - but you can rewind the clock and actually be the baby.

So these videos tend to be exaggerated.

Pussycat Catnap

Here I go again.

IN the video the filmer comments about no one taking the trail.

Last time I made a new AV, I got the bright idea to log out and go to my normal account to send myself some inventory so I could 'look epic around these noobs'...

I discovered that when I logged back in, it ported me off the then island - you can't stay there past your first session.

If still true... then any of these people who log in a second time will find themselve past 'Lost' and on their way to 'WTF is all this furry pron around me? How did I get here?' - because it can send you ANYWHERE the second time...

And the last time I did this, the island for noobs was about the size of a 512m parcel... But it seems they change it every few months...

Seymore Steamweaver

I remember a new user sci-fi ish experience. I thought that was way better than what I just watched in the video. Lots of signs explaining what to do and if I remember correctly, even a Parrot that was a bot that explained some things to you. Why can't there be great looking mesh-bots talking about what they should do and where to go.

Pussycat Catnap

"Ebbe Linden has mentioned several times that creating an effective New User Experience is a priority as is creating new starter avatars."

I know on the first point, didn't know he'd mentioned on the second.

If E. Linden were to read my comment here, which I doubt, I would suggest that fir the first concern he get a three-way mixed team:

1. Insiders who know what new users will face once they get past the new user stage, so will make sure it prepares them for it.

2. Gaming fans, who represent people who have responded to some 'are you curious about SL' survey but not yet tried it.

3. Total noobs, folks brought in from 'random' and 'over there' through some agency to test and talk about what they're having trouble with, and what they think should be in there. Cycle some of these out every meeting, but ensure at least a third of them are on the payroll from day one of the project all the way through to working with 'newuserexperience linden' in the final launch - so that you can measure their changing perceptions and keep that on file for later internal training.

- non-sequiter (spelling?) idea: Pay one random person from this project with a free sim for a year and... see what happens. Just as a thought experiment. Only caveat being that they have to be willing to let lindens pop into that sim over time and 'take notes'.


On the new avatars, if done: PLEASE ensure the replacements have good proportions. I don't care if they're 27 feet tall, or 6 inches tall, or somewhere in between. But "just say no" to T-rex arms and spider legs.

And make sure they have real ethnic diversity. Not 'blond white to white guy with a tan'. But a genuine 'white', 'brown/red', 'yellow', and 'black' set of avatars.

I think the 'select new avatar' screens should have you pick a sex, then a 'skin', and then a fashion statement - and then composite different library elements onto you in response to those choices.

And optional screen you have to purposefully choose to enter in this could open a limited shape editor for the face - with text saying 'once inworld, you can customize your entire look by right-clicking yourself and choosing edit-shape.'

Tracy RedAngel

I think it would be worthwhile to look at some smaller virtual worlds new user experiences.
My introduction to virtual worlds was in 2009 with a little tiny MMO called Onverse (it's still around!). It was a fairly new world, in fact it was so new pretty much all the players AND developers knew each other and interacted with each other almost daily. It's still run by the same 3 people. Half the fun for us was exploiting all the silly little glitches (like breaking into areas we weren't supposed to). For such a small game and tiny little budget they really created an incredibly intuitive introduction tutorial for new users. The world itself is quite cartoonish and geared towards teen users now, but they have a few games-within-a-game that are pretty fun. My favorite is icefall.

Metacam Oh

Ive been saying it for years, put the new user experience in the hands of the land owners, let them sign people up directly from their website deliver them to their land where they can tailor a new users experience based on the sim that got them to sign up. There is never going to be a one size fits all new user experience for something as diverse as Second Life.

Tracy RedAngel

I forgot to mention about Onverse, they a lot every single player (free or VIP paid account) a free apartment with nice little allotment of furniture. It's a very nice enticement to get players to stay longer and eventually spend money.

Hamlet Au

"It even takes NWN a little bit to load up depending on connection. People are used to waiting. They KNOW that when you download something it can take a bit."

NWN has a pretty high bounce rate, actually, in great part due to load time. And that's a matter of 5-10 seconds. But 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 SECONDS to load.

http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2014/02/why-second-lifes-project-zipper.html

Carl Metropolitan

James Wagner Au wrote: "SL's *retained* users are older, yes, but potential new users tend to be younger. Look at the IMVU-like ad stream for Second Life nowadays. Linden Lab is running that campaign because it gets clickthrough. A lot of it from Brazil, which again, tends to be younger. And oh yeah, mainly speaks Brazilian. Sure you want Ebbe to give you a call? :)"

Absolutely.

Assuming your stats are correct, I'd suggest that the team doing the New User Experience revamp created a version in Portuguese (as well as versions in German, French, Spanish, Japanese, and the other top non-English languages used in Second Life).

And while they are at it, they might have more than one non-white avatar choice at sign-up. Currently the choices are White, pasty White, and one sort of Asian (or maybe Latino) male.

As for revising the new user process to deal with different sorts of new users, I've expanded on my original comments at my own blog http://jcarlhenders.tumblr.com/ including the idea of a three-track orientation path for people with different backgrounds, and bringing resident helpers back into the process.

Carl Metropolitan

Saffia Widdershins wrote: "I liked the idea that newcomers who went through the community gateway process at Caledon Oxbridge could then rent a place in the student dorm for a month - it helped them nest AND gave them a foothold in a lively community."

Sadly, we no longer have the resources to do that at Oxbridge. We had to downgrade Oxbridge to a homestead a few months after Linden Lab closed the Community Gateway program on us with two days notice.

It is however an very good idea--and one that should be considered in any major revamp of the new user experience. As it stands, until a new user figures out how to set a home point, clicking "Home" takes them to a random infohub.

Carl Metropolitan

Arcadia Codesmith wrote: "Step three: home. Every player, free or premium, needs a home base. A small instanced room in limbo is fine. Just give them something they own from day one that can't be taken from them when the landlord goes belly-up or they forget a rent payment. At the very least, provide some sort of hostel/barracks where you can claim a bunk and a footlocker."

Bingo. And SL has hundreds and hundreds of sims worth of unoccupied mainland sitting around taking up server capacity. It seems like a two problems together that make a solution.

Carl Metropolitan

CronoCloud Creeggan wrote: "Do you know how LONG it takes to download an MMO like STO or LOTRO? Hours! Those are multi-gigabyte downloads. With SL I can download a newer version of the client, install it, and be inworld in minutes."

Exactly. I've downloaded four MMOs in the last year and each one of them took between 2 to 8 (!) hours to download over a Verizon FIOS broadband connection. SL's client is slim, speedy, and very fast to download compared to the competition.

Carl Metropolitan

Arcadia Codesmith wrote: "Step Four: Connect. You need a "new player channel" of some sort to hook up new players with people who want to help, and you need to moderate it 24/7 with paid staff to keep the riff-raff at bay."

Nearly all the major resident-run help organizations have such a channel. Many of them created those chat channels after Linden Lab dropped Live Help, which had been a resource that new people could use to get help directly from a Linden. (Live Help was discontinued because it "didn't scale".)

Carl Metropolitan

Uccie Poultry wrote: "They know that the pop-up HUDs for the current Welcome Island could be better (sometimes they don't pop up, especially if one whips through quickly) and that many expect a more game-like experience."

It doesn't work at all now. I tried the new resident experience two days ago with an up-to-date SL client. All you get is a white box that vanishes and then reappears as you walk along the trail to the portal off of the first island.

Uccie Poultry wrote: "Saffia's comment about the Caledon experience is dead on. I often send newbies there as it is one of the best. But it isn't right for everyone. The Lab has to consider that it's users are not all English-speaking Westerners and has to tailor something to fit a broad spectrum of cultures."

I agree completely. Oxbridge was never intended to be everything to everyone. We were part of a larger program. (Actually, Oxbridge was the inspiration for the program.) But LL killed the Community Gateway program, and it was a dumb move for a number of reasons. Number one was that the Community Gateway program had gateways in nearly every language commonly used in SL, and help communities made up of native speakers of those languages. And it cost LL nothing. Resurrecting the Community Gateways would most likely be impossible, as the original organizers and creators for the most part were badly burned by LL's actions, and have moved on. But there is no reason that LL can't have multilingual Orientation Paths.

One other thing that LL needs to take into consideration when designing their new user experience--people with disabilities. By some counts up to 25% of people using SL have some sort of physical, mental, or psychological disability. Virtual Ability does great work, and has a new user orientation that is one of the best in Second Life. But Linden Lab shouldn't just dump the entire job on them, and call it a day.

Carl Metropolitan

melponeme_k wrote: "The new starter experience needs to be built from ground up and it has to cater to the people who need guidance."

I would argue that the new user experience needs to have options--paths--that cater to different types of new users, and different learning styles. I talk about some ideas along those lines in my blog post on the subject.

Pussycat Catnap

"NWN has a pretty high bounce rate, actually, in great part due to load time. And that's a matter of 5-10 seconds. But 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 SECONDS to load."

I suggest you get into analytics deeper and find out why that bounce rate is 40%. Its not giving up - its misdirection. Tie it to search words that brought people there, and you'll see Google is actually pretty horrible at finding what people really want... SL Search is not as bad as people think it is when you start breaking into all of this.

New World Notes Blog by Hamlet
- Just think about who could land here wrongly...

Notepad
Hamlet by Shakespeare
Was there really a historical Hamlet
Hamlet movie starring [...]
Ham and Eggs lets me diet.
New Hamlet mayoral election.
New World Order politics.
How to get a blog.
When did Columbus land in the New World?
New World thinking
Old world versus New World [insert anything to compare here]

- ALL KINDS OF STUFF could land on your page for... reasons...

stuff...

etc...

interwebz...

messy...

Now add in Bing and Baidu.

One reason a commercial website employs an SEO person to fulltime manage a google analytics and adwords campaign is train google to know that you are not a website about people in the Amazon rainforest performing a school play of Hamlet for the New World action committee on cultural exchanges...
(or like... whatever...)

Cause on its own, Google gets this wrong so often its absurd...

So bounce rate is never a good metric to toss around - its not a sign of people giving up, its a sign that google is messing up.

Carl Metropolitan

melponeme_k wrote: "How about giving newcomers a reason to learn something: maybe not Linden dollars that could be cashed out by a gold farmer, but a voucher to a shop or some premium clothes."

LL used to have a minimal stipend of 50L$ a week to everyone who finished the tutorial and logged in at least once a week. It ended in 2006, I believe. The reason given was that the non-premium stipend was being farmed by people with scores of alts. There are ways around that using the same kind of IP address & MAC address checks that are used to limit access by banned accounts, though. And one thing that LL has had trouble with in the past is allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good. Anything you create, someone will game. But if you can keep gaming of the system--such as a stipend for all users--to a minimum, the benefits will outweigh the problems. I'd suggest trying a stipend that starts at 200L$ for completing the orientation path, then is 100L$ a week for the first four weeks, then 50L$ a week for the next eight, then ends. Along the way, I'd include information each week about how to use the Lindex.

Carl Metropolitan

Pussycat Catnap wrote: "They are invariable made by people on the wrong side of the fence. They're made by existing users who imagine what a noob does or does not know, and often show themselves going through the experience 'pretending ignorance' of the platform."

That is certainly a factor, but I redid the current orientation after watching only a few minutes of the video, and agree with their conclusions. I like to think I have a significantly better-than-average understanding of what issues new users encounter.

Pep

I should point out that Carl Metropolitan's estimate of differentially abled users of SL is out by 75%.

Pep ("by some counts")

Ferd Frederix

Certainly not a typical User experience as seen in the video. A minor point is that it was made in Firestorm, with Ctrl-Alt-F1 disabled UI and Shift-Alt-H Disabled HUDs, using Alt-Click camera action. If you use V3, as I did a week ago, it's not so bad, as there is a large Destination Guide open. The Map button was missing, which made me mad. What's with that? Really a very bad idea to remove the Map.

I teleported my main avatar in to help, as it was pitiful. A lot of griefing going on. A lot of people being deformed. They need to add translators. They need to put a stop to griefing in a startup area. Obviously the griefers created an alt, telported in their main account, and then started handing our garbage.


Mentors will not work. They used to have about 1,500 of them, and less than 1/2 of 1 percent were ever seen in a Help Island. I know it as a fact, as I ran the stats database for all the HI and OI's. You would be lucky to find 1 or 2 mentors working 15 HI's each with 10-15 people per sim.

CronoCloud Creeggan

Just an FYI, but I'm one of the many Caledonians who helps out at Oxbridge. (I was drafted! I'm more of a troubleshooter and watch the Oxbridge chats.)

so I'm biased in wanting the Community Gateway program back, and wanting the dorms back, and wishing that LL would do something with all the empty mainland, and practically everything else every Oxbridge associated person in this discussion has said.

So, yes, what The Smart People said.

R. Crap Mariner

Want to speed up a newbie's first go through SL?

Cache the Library items in the Viewer they download, and use only those textures in the initial experience (tutorial, welcome, whatever).

That solves the lag/speed issue. What you assemble out of those pieces to engage, teach, and keep the new user is your problem to solve.

(Or, hopefully, Carl's - who I suspect would actually solve it.)

-ls/cm

Paola Tauber

"Step one: character creation. Currently you get to choose from a handful of prefab avatars -- considerable improvement over the old days, but nowhere near where it needs to be. Take a hard look at a really top-notch MMO character creation system. SL's needs to be BETTER than that, simultaneously more powerful AND more intuitive to use. It should integrate with the marketplace to leverage freebies. There needs to be hundreds of millions of possible avatar combinations straight out of the box, before you even rez in the world for the first time."

Arcadia Codesmith for LL CEO nao!

Just for that step one reason alone. \o/

Guni Greenstein

No offense, but the idea that by "fixing the newbie experience" you can turn most people into active Second Life users is fundamentally flawed. People at Linden Lab have been looking at this from a wrong perspective for years.

The real problem is that Second Life has been marketed to the wrong people with the wrong message all the time. Those people will naturally drop out sooner or later. If you fix the signup process they will dropout during the client download. If you fix the client download they will drop out at a later stage. You would have to dumb down Second Life and turn it into a casual game or first person shooter or whatever to satisfy "the mainstream". Most people simply do not have the time and attention span for something as deep and as complex as SL.

Someone who can't wait 5 minutes for a client to download will never ever become an active SL resident.

A much better approach is to focus on two other points instead:

1. Market SL with honest and focused messages to the demographics that qualify and have most to gain. These are people who have the time, attention span and motivation. You don't need the whole world population. Just 0.1% of the 8 billion people on this planet would be ten times the current active user base! Key is to find the right target groups in the first place.

2. Encourage or even require people at signup to make a financial commitment and then focus human resources on this higher quality newbie stream: mentors, help chat and better support could be re-introduced. Fewer signups of higher quality could lead to more active residents in the end. Existing residents would also be more likely to interact with those newbies and help them in world.

Why do I think this would work? Because it worked in Second Life in the early years when signups still cost $10 and new signups came through more qualified channels. Second Life never was a mainstream product and will never be. What Linden Lab did since 2006 or so is like marketing bungee jumping to a mainstream demographic as a "fun family experience". Either you end up with high dropout rates or you have to water down the experience to a degree that it becomes something else entirely.

Aliasi Stonebender

Expecting 'hard core gamers' to flock to Second Life is very, very silly. I've long agreed with Gwyneth Llewellyn - Second Life is inherently a niche product.

This is not a bad thing; so is Adobe Photoshop. But SL - or any open, sandbox-style virtual world - is going to be naturally limited to people who aren't "lazy" about their fun. Not necessarily a builder or a 3D modeller - plenty of people who can't build still enjoy DJing, or hosting social events, or what have you - but beyond all else, you can't just wait for SL to tell you what to do.

Many people prefer passive entertainment. This is why television is popular.

Arcadia Codesmith

The elitist attitude on display in certain of these comments is a death sentence. Elitist enclaves stagnate and fade away. Every. Single. Time.

There are a number of factors in play, but I think the biggest is simply that art needs an audience. You can show your art exclusively to the people rich and cultured enough to appreciate your genius, but here's a sad truth; snobs are fickle beasts, and critical darlings crumble into the dust of history.

Art that endures encompasses universal themes, and that means finding common ground with a diverse audience... including the vast majority of humanity with less education, less money and less power than rich patrons.

If you're not willing to expand your vision to encompass the seething masses, well, enjoy your well-earned obscurity.

elizabeth (irihapeti)

as one of the 1 or 2 mentors who did spend most of my login time on the newbie Help Islands back in the day, I can suggest why the Mentor Programme didnt work

the problem with it was that Mentors didnt have to work to a proper Volunteer Schedule. Was no schedule. Just turn up whereever whenever you felt like it, if you could be bothered

by schedule I mean like how volunteers are run in a homeless kitchen, surf lifesaving, ambulance volunteer, etc. Not like a rubbish stream cleaning or tree planting community volunteer group effort where turn up and do as much or as little as you can/choose

if volunteer for a homeless kitchen or surf lifesaving or Meals on Wheels driver , etc. then you have to turn up at the time you volunteered, on the station assigned to you. Just like reporting for any job. That you not getting paid have nothing to with the job. The job still has to be done at the appointed time. It dont wait just bc you never turned up. bc people. They cant wait for you like rubbish and trees can

so if as volunteer I say I can be available on this day at this time for this long then is expected by the Volunteer Administrator that I will be there. If I am not then I better have a very good reason. Same if I keep disappearing from my assigned station while at work. If I do this kinda thing frequently then a RL Volunteer Admin will give me the sack. bc unreliable

LL never ran the Mentor volunteer service like you have to. Run it professional by holding the volunteers to professional standards. So that the job will get done when it has to be done

of the 1,500 or about Mentors that did survive the big purge when was chopped from 4,500 names, most of the survivors had lots of experience working as a volunteer in RL. They used to volunteering this way. by professional scheduling working to a professional set of work standards. Is nothing that cheer up a volunteer more than when work for a org that runs its volunteers professionally. Can turn up and get into it and do the business and no messing about

was high hopes by everybody that the purge was going to result in a whole new professional approach from LL. An understanding that we dealing with people and not picking up rubbish or planting trees. but nah!

+

other thing. LL never actual ran a Help programme in conjunction with the Mentor programme. The point of a Help Programme is to help people. When the point is converted into a Retention programme then fail. People who dont have much/any RL experience of running large-scale help orgs that operate on 8:12:24/7/365 volunteer scheduling hardly ever get this

Once understand that is a Help programme and not a Retention programme then: How many people were helped? How many people were not helped bc no helper?. Of those who were helped initially then how many went on to seek further help once inworld proper? Where did they go for this? etc. Is how you measure a help programme

when do all this well then dont have to worry about any Retention programme

maybe LL will do Help programme instead of Retention programme. And maybe they will actual hire in a person who has successful experience in running 24/7/365 help programmes

elizabeth (irihapeti)

ps. @Ebbe. give a Carl Metropolitan a call. Will be most enlightening for you

pps. and if Ebbe you ever do decide to run a Help Programme then hire a experienced St John Ambulance or Surf Lifesaving or Meals on Wheels Administrator to run it. Don't hire an educator. Not that educators are wrong people. Just that compared to the other people then they actual have the wrong skillset to run a professional help service

Carl Metropolitan

A volunteer program--where people are expected to do certain hours at certain times--run by and on behalf of a for profit corporation could run into problems with various state labor laws. And California's are some of the toughest in the nation. I always assumed that is why LL put the Mentors on as loose a leash as possible. It may have even had something to do with the reason LL eventually got rid of the program.

Aliasi Stonebender

I'm not being elitist, Arcadia. "Niche" isn't the same as talking about how SL users are some special superhuman faction of society; it means exactly what it means. I dislike television, can't imagine sitting in front of the tube for hours unless I have no choice, such as when I've been in the hospital. But I'm not proclaiming my choices in entertainment as being superior for anyone but ME (and others like me). Since I'm who I'm most concerned about when I'm considering "how to have fun", that's what I look for.

R. Crap Mariner

@Carl - Comment. Of. The. Century.

-ls/cm

elizabeth (irihapeti)

@Carl

is about working to a set of standards. If I volunteer to help at lunchtime on Wednesdays to serve lunch at the homeless shelter then is expected that I will turn up bc I said I would. I volunteered

When I do turn up then I just work my station whatever it is. bc people need their lunch on Wednesday at lunchtime. Is no good if they don't get any lunch at lunchtime. Or maybe they can have for afternoon tea instead when I do turn up at 3pm

if I make a habit of not turning up then after a bit the Homeless Shelter people will go umm! maybe be best if you don't volunteer for that day. maybe another day be better for you. What you doing on Tuesday?

Is the volunteering in advance that makes it work. When can know how many volunteers will turn up at a time, bc they said they would. Then can schedule/plan round that

If find that at certain times is not enough volunteers to fill the gap then put the shout out for new/more volunteers. Do anybody want / or is able to volunteer for these times to help plug the gap

Guni Greenstein

@Carl: Maybe the solution to the labor law problem would be to allow a professionally organized enough resident organization to do the scheduling of volunteers. Mentors don't need to be called "Second Life mentors".

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