Second Lifes Linden Groups

Second Life Communications

Listening - By: vagawi @ Flickr

Since long before I found Second Life residents, users, have complained about poor communications between Linden Lab and users. In 2010 Phillip Rosedale proclaimed that would change and the Lab would be more open. That has been happening and there have been problems. So, more changes are coming.

 

Contacting Linden Lab

Some time ago I wrote an article on how to effectively contact the Lab. Contacting & Influencing Second Life. Things are starting to change and eventually the information there will be way out of date.

This article is sort of the transition phase of how to connect with the Lab until we know more.

Office Hours

Many of you will know about Linden’s having Office Hours. Office Hours are typically an hour per week that a Linden devotes to being in world and answering questions. Over time that evolved into a more formal meetings with an agenda. The minutes of the meeting are usually published shortly after the meeting.

Some of the larger projects have a weekly meeting too. Some Lindens combine the project and their Office Hours Meeting into one meeting and others make separate meetings.

The Snowstorm team has been placing their agenda and meeting transcripts in the SL Wiki. The Mesh team has used the Wiki for their agenda and the SL Forum for their transcripts. These may just be differences in the preferences of the Lindens doing the work or the group’s preferences. Or they may have been experimenting to see what works better. I suspect experimenting.

Problems

Some problems with current processes are obvious and others not so much. Meetings are done in chat to save having someone create a meeting minute’s transcript. The chat log can be run through a beautifier and posted with a minimum of effort.

The problem is attendees coming to vent their frustration. Why people think they are entitled to do that I suspect is due to a degenerating education system in most societies. Or maybe those with more rectal opening DNA are breeding faster than the intelligentsia. Whatever, they burn up productive time and make for unpleasant meetings. I suppose it is for PR reasons that the Lindens have not banned such people from the meeting areas, which is probably a mistake.

Whatever the case, the ongoing abuse has to take a toll on the Lindens and shape their perception of the general population of Second Life. It also has a negative effect on other residents and their participation in the various forums.

A good manager is going to look at how to improve things and make better use of staff. Also, since most residents have the idea the Lab does not communicate, the process can’t be working that well. So, something needs to change.

Over in the forum and blogs we are inundated with spam. Trolls, abusers, and haters run rampant through both. Those with the lowest common denominator IQ seem to create a massive work load for the staff.

There are basic procedures for dealing with such problems. (See: How Open Source Projects Survive Poisonous People – 60 minute Google Training Video) Again, I suspect the Lab has PR concerns. Whatever, they allow repeat offenders to remain. To be honest, I’ll point out that in many cases trolling and chastising (often seen as abuse) are hard calls. Sometimes trolling to one person is an innocent question to another. Smacking down an idiot can often raise the level of conversation several IQ notches and there are times a smack down is appropriate. The problem is in deciding when and what is appropriate.  Plus keeping track of who does what in such a large user base is not easy. Add in those that deliberately try to game the system to lock out those they do not like by team abuse reporting. Then consider there are socially ignorant kids in the mix. One has a complex mess. So, while most of us see lots of room for improvement, what the Lab is doing is not all that bad.

Changes

You may have noticed the blogs and forum are locked down today. That was announced and planned. Blogs, Forums, and SL Answers in Read-Only Mode Until March 2nd. We are getting new blogs, forum, help sections, unified search (whatever that means), member ranking or reputation, and industry standard social media features.

In February a new page appeared in the Wiki; Linden Lab Official:User Groups

Currently there are 15 groups listed. Some have twice weekly, weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly meetings. The times and places are listed. The Snowstorm Project is part of the Open Development Group.

Groups are getting new pages in the Wiki for their agenda and meeting planning. I suspect the Wiki is used because it allows better editing of a rapidly changing agenda in which several people are participating. The forum and blog do not lend their selves to multiple editors for a single entry. Plus most readers are not used to the idea of multiple authors in a single forum post, so returning readers may miss changes.

We have seen posts about the new meeting process. The big one is: Improving our Lines of Communication with the Community. Their purpose here seems to be to move to Constructive Dialog. I’ve been in several office hours meetings and read loads of meeting transcripts where specific people apparently show up just to heckle and berate anything the meeting lead or the Lab is trying to do. So, it will be interesting to see if the new standards are enforced.

Linden Lab Official: Community Participation Guidelines

You may start to see LLO appearing more often, the ‘O’ being for Official.

The Participation Guidelines are said to be for the; Second Life Blogs, Forums, Answers, Bug Tracker, User Groups, and the Knowledge Base. The page was created in the Wiki mid January 2011 by Rand Linden.

These are the basic rules for user conduct on the; Second Life Blogs, Forums, Answers, Bug Tracker, User Groups, and the Knowledge Base. I don’t see anything that is really new. So, one has to think maybe this is posturing prior to a shift in enforcement.

Email Lists

There have been email lists to which one could subscribe to keep up on happenings in various groups and projects. That was recently cleaned up, so entries are current. See: SL Lists

Summary

So, how to Contact Second Life and how to Contact Linden Lab is changing less in method and more in style. We’ll see if the new style improves things.

The change to more open communication is apparently still alive. It seems to be working well in the Snowstorm and Mesh Projects …and others too. The Market Place group is slow getting there. I think the animosity toward and frustration with the Market Place developers comes in part from their not opening up their process sooner. That communication situation is changing so hopefully things will change in the Market Place Project.

In all, it looks like the Lab is moving forward and improving many aspects of its communication processes.

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