A little bit of dialog has started between merchants and Linden Lab. Rod Humble has engaged in the conversation. There is lots of history, debate, drama, and a ton of frustration. If you have never heard of the Lab’s Commerce Team you’ve missed one of Second Life’s great sagas. Well… may be not so great.
The short story on the team is: the Commerce Team is responsible for the SL Market Place and I’ll guess more than half of all complaints about Lab’s poor communication ability coming from residents. I’m one that believes they are hiding.
The short story on the Market Place is: It doesn’t work. Yes, you can buy stuff. You often actually get what you buy. But, that does not mean the merchant gets paid. Merchant’s paying for advertising often don’t get the ads. They are often billed for what is supposedly free advertising. Merchant’s product promotions often end up in another merchants store and product images get mixed up between products and merchants… the list of failures is long and this is supposed to be the short story.
The bottom line is the Market Place is a huge source of user frustration and bad PR for Linden Lab.
Probably most frustrating is the lack of any communication. What little communication there is seems to come only as a sequence of non squitur comments. Toysoldier Thor posted (10m/8d/2012) in the SL Merchant’s Forum an open letter to CEO Rod Humble requesting a meeting between Rod and the merchants regarding the Commerce Team. See: To RODVIK – Request meeting with Merchants on Commerce Team concerns. This is a huge thread now.
Toysoldier has been active in getting multiple problems fixed. His approaches are rational. He changes approach until he finds something that works. He is being effective in getting Lindens to move. If nothing else he gets the size of a problem revealed. I try to help him where I can.
Dartagan Shepherd added a concise post building on Toysoldier’s. See: Dartagan Shepherd – Request meeting.
Three days and 96 posts later Rod Humble, Linden Lab CEO, posted.
Hey folks, just dropping a note to let you know I have read the thread. The team reads the boards every day so they asked me to pop in to acknowledge that they read the boards and I have also read this thread. I appreciate the feature requests and bug notifications in particular.
For sure we can up the tempo of communication in blog posts and notifications to upcoming changes & fixes. We remain committed to our merchant community and I appreciate you taking the time to write down what you would like to see in the future for SL.
Darrius Gothy has written a blog post analyzing and speculating what may happen based on this post and some subsequent ones in the thread. See: Sipping From A Firehose. Darrius believes that such posts are carefully crafted before being made. I think the misspellings in the post say otherwise (I corrected them in the copy you see here).
Rod says that he will check the thread again and collect suggestions from it. Everyone is considering whether this means the Commerce Team will start communicating or not. They are suggesting the team start having a weekly office hour… now called user group meeting. Toysoldier even posts on how he thinks they could best communicate and addresses it to Brook Linden, the Commerce Team lead. See post: M28345. I think he is promising the team more than he can when saying the merchants will behave in the meeting. I just can’t see that happening.
Innula Zenovka points out the difference between the Commerce Team and other teams holding weekly user group meetings. See post: M28352. There is a good communication between the Pathfinding, Server, and Open Source people. The Viewer Development team is another silent team.
Ashasekayi Ra comments (M28366) on how Nyx Linden runs the Content & Mesh UG. Brook has had problems running the once-upon-a-time user group for the Commerce Team before a year plus of silence. Running it now in the face of built up frustration is probably well beyond Brook’s ability. People are going to want to vent. While the user group is not the place for that, I am not sure it can be avoided with the current level of frustration.
Couldbe Yue wrote (M28378) about the problems of having a weekly meeting. Because of the international nature of SL it is impossible to have time that is convenient for everyone. Some think having discussions in the forum is a better choice… more fair.
I’ll point out that the Adult Content User Group tried that. There is no longer an Adult Content User Group. Well… I suppose in name there is… but it doesn’t meet. The meetings were canceled in August 2012. If you look at the forum that was to take over in place of the user group meetings… well… the last announcement in general discussion was the cancelation of the meetings. Sad.
The only Linden participation I see in the Adult forum section stopped in August 2012. That level of inattentiveness has already been achieved by the Commerce Team. Moving a discussion to the forum has merit. But, if you want or need Linden participation to get things changed, fixed, or improved then it is a disastrous choice. If you need information on Linden planning for the groups activity, moving to the forum is a certain way to stop all information flow from the Lab.
At best we can say the 122+ posts in the thread have given Rod something to think about. At this point we know Rod has read the thread and will return to read it again. Read the thread and post anything you think is missing.
We have no idea what Rod is going to do. Some are speculating on wild ideas like: Close the Market Place and start over… right. That is going to help. I think he might sit down with the Commerce Team and ask WTF!?! Whatever he does we won’t know until he does it and even then it is iffy.
Personally, if I were the manager, I would be looking for an explanation of why things are not working and looking to remove obstacles whether technical or personnel-wise. If I were not getting good answers, I definitely would be changing staff. I might even hire a psychologist to come in and manage a Commerce user group for a time… to get the Lab past the blast of emotion pent up in the users.
I do think Rod is trying to change the image of Linden Lab. In an interview about the Lab’s new games Rod says as much. The Market Place and Commerce Team is definitely having a PR affect on the Lab. So, we may see something change… I have no doubt something IS CHANGING. Whether the change will be one we can is where I have a question. All we ever know about the change is just that things start to move and improve. At least I hope.