Once upon a time Second Life™ had community gateways, Linden sponsored, built, and managed. In 2010 they closed. In 2011 user sponsored gateways opened. (Reference – an out dated list of gateways) In 2011 when Rodvik Linden, then CEO, was asked if they would ever come back, he didn’t know what they were. Then in late 2011 we got the Destination Guide and user gateways were depreciated.
So, are they coming back?
First, if you don’t know, community gateways are places where new users are dropped at first login. The location is designed for new users and is typically filled with tutorials and teaching experiences. Back in 2011 Prim Perfect did a piece on what are Community Gateways: So what were these community gateways? An answer for Rodvik Linden. Gateways are sort of synonymous portals. The portal is the sign up web site. The gateway is the region the portal sends you to. That it isn’t set in stone, but it will give you a since of how the words are often used..
We have already been speculating on whether portals for Sansar are a good thing. See: Drama: Community Portals for Second Life 2. We have had loads of people documenting how bad some of the gateways are: Second Life: The New New User Tutorial. We have had some great gateways: Second Life Player Retention 2014-21.
The gateways and the mentor programs were dropped based on data collected by the Lindens. It seems people that went through a gateway or got training from mentors were more likely to leave and never come back than those that had to make their own way. At least that is the reason given by Lindens of the time.
The real question is, do Lindens know their history or are they repeating prior mistakes? I don’t know. But, rumor is the gateways are coming back. That doesn’t mean they have forgotten their history, or that the remember it. But, they may remember and being doing some different but similar. Daniel Voyager has an article up about the gateways coming back. See: Firestorm 5th anniversary celebrations & Community Gateways are returning.
Daniel is quoting Inara from her new article: Community Gateways set for a return to Second Life.
I caught up with Patch Linden on the matter at the end of July, to find out some more. “We are bringing back Community Gateways as a test, based on the positive feedback and indicators of success they had in the past,” he confirmed with me. “We have 20 Gateways with whom we’re currently in discussions, but we’ve not decided on all of the programme details yet and plan to take an organic approach to re-establishing things.”
Now Inara is telling us that the Lab and the Firestorm Team have been working with a test gateway for 6 weeks to see how it worked. At the end of that time the FS Team was invited to come up with a new gateway experience. So, does that mean the Lindens realized the FS peeps probably know more about new users than the Lindens? Probably not. They may just be hopping for new ideas.
Personally, I think if anyone in SL could come up with a good experience, it would be the FS Team. They do have the best organized and largest support group in SL. They provide classes on their viewer. They have had a help island for some time (Aug 2012). (See: Firestorm Support Island Opening and Firestorm Support Island.) So, they get work with new users on that island.
The Firestorm gateway will be 6 regions. One will be restricted to new users. The existing help island will be repurposed and integrated into the gateway experience.
The Lab is providing API calls so the Firestorm web site can sign up new users and register them with the Lab’s servers. They will be able to download the Firestorm Viewer and login into SL. When the do they will rez in the Firestorm gateway regions.
The program is not ready for other participants. You won’t find anything in the SL Wiki or Forum about it. I looked but, not very hard. Inara says there will be announcements and she’ll have more news as it becomes available.
I suspect this is the Lab doing an experiment. There are new possibilities that are possible because of the advances in SL since the 2011 gateways closed down. One is experience tools. I think Exp Tools could make the teaching experience much easier on the students.
Also, the idea of gateways is a basic part of how Project Sansar experiences are planned to work. The idea of being able to create private experiences where new users are taken from your web site to your experience seems to be a basic of Sansar. So, the current Lindens are getting their feet wet with this type of gateway process.
The Lindens never spoke much about the numbers they collected from the previous gateways and mentors. Was there a massive difference in player retention? Was there only a tiny difference? If it was a small thing, which I kind of think it probably was, then recent changes in SL might tip the scales in a positive direction. Whatever the case, I am sure they want solid data for deciding what to do with Sansar.
There were some great gateways (like Caledon Oxbridge) and there were some that didn’t do much. I wonder if the Lab’s statistics distinguished between the two – quality is hard to assess (especially when some were in foreign language – I believe the Czech Community had a very popular gateway … for Czech speakers).
I know that the people involved had to invest a LOT in creating the gateways, and many were very unhappy when the program was cancelled with 18 hours’ notice.
It would be interesting to know the stats.
Every so often the Lindens do something that leaves me wondering what they are thinking. The quick closing of gateways is one of those.
I’d like the opportunity to correct some points relating to the new Gateway Programme, as the are made in the above article.
1. \ the Lab and the Firestorm Team have been working with a test gateway for 6 weeks to see how it worked.\
As per my article, Firestorm were in fact one of a number of groups with whom the Lab worked during the 6-week test, and were subsequently one of the groups invited into this new test Gateway Programme. They were not the sole group, as might be implied from reading this article.
2. \The Lab is providing API calls so the Firestorm web site can sign up new users and register them with the Lab’s servers. \
The Lab is providing the API capability to all selected Gateway providers who are participating in the programme.
3. \The program is not ready for other participants. \
As per the quote by Patch Linden given in this article, there could be up to 20 initial participants in the programme when the Lab formally announce it.
Further, and as noted in my article, when the programme is announced, the Lab will be providing participation guidelines for additional communities wishing to join.
These many seem minor points, but it is important to understand that the Lab’s intent for this test Gateway Programme is broader than Firestorm, as should be clear in my own article. My use of the Firestorm approach was purely down to my having been privy to the work going into developing the Gateway regions, and because Firestorm had sought the Lab’s OK to make mention of their work in relation to the Programme during their 5th anniversary celebrations.
I appreciate your additional clarity. Thanks.
I hope that Linden doesn’t shaft the Firestorm team like they did the rest of the gateway people.
I truly doubt SL would exist today if the FS viewer hadn’t been there when the garbage SL 2 viewer appeared.
We never know what the Lab will do. So, I sort of share the same hope. My belief is that the Lindens we have now never deliberately shaft users. But, I can’t deny some of the things they have done certainly feel that way.
We’ll never know what might have been. But, the Firestorm viewer and several others have made our lives much more pleasant.