Second Life: How are User Groups Doing?

Second Life State Communications

After years of attending user group meetings I think Oz Linden has figured out how to have the most productive meetings. Oz keeps meetings focused on the subject of the group meeting and is clear about what he can, can’t or is and isn’t permitted, and will or won’t discuss in any group meeting. Other Lindens had similar meeting strategies but, I think have now adopted some of Oz’s techniques.

Nimoe *Geisha's Garden*

Nimoe *Geisha’s Garden*

In general Oz is limited in what he can discuss, the can-can’t. He is not the top CEO of Linden Lab. So, he has management’s directives imposed on him.

Plus, there is the Linden unwillingness to talk about things they have in a consideration process. They discuss among their selves what users feel is import and what they can likely provide with available budget, time, and manpower. When these types of discussions made it to the general user base they typically turned into near riots. Lots of disagreement. The user base does not understand the Lab’s limits and priorities. Thus, users seldom come to the same decision the Lindens do. Therefore, lots of disagreement and often hard feelings. People fuss when they can’t have what they want. Under Oz’s management we seldom see these out breaks of disagreement.

The Lindens facilitating the meetings have either been trained in how to say no or… they are of the same sincere mind set. Good and ridiculous ideas are presented by the users at some of the meetings. Lindens politely, and think sincerely, listen to the ideas. We get their feedback. A ‘NO’ answer is seldom anything other than: we’ll consider it but, if we decide to implement it, it is way out in the future. There are too many more important and interesting things to do first. While this could be a taught-to-Lindens response, I believe most Lindens are providing a sincere answer.

The Lindens will provide a: it is really unlikely to happen because the development philosophy of the Lab is… A recent example of that is the Firestorm Teams request to have parcel music off in the Linden Viewer by default.

The Lab’s view is a region developer designs and intends their experience to have or not have music. Thus, turning off music by default restricts the region developer control of their region. The Lab simply will not do that as their philosophy is to give developers as much creative freedom as possible. The Lindens are not willing to violate that tenant of their design philosophy.

The Linden compromise is to lower the default volume setting.

My take is the current information flow is about the best it has ever been. User input is well considered by Lindens, not always acted on, but, considered. We don’t get annual plans of what the Lab plans to do, as we once did. I suspect Oz found that a bit restrictive and a source of user conflict. I think the Lindens still have their annual and long range plans in place. Now they keep those plans private and avoid the drama. We hear about the things when they reach a stage of development where user input is needed. The Lindens we have no seem to have figured out about the right place to bring users in. Serval people think they did very well with Project Bento, I’m one of them.

So, while SL development is less exciting with fewer emotional ups and downs, it seems to move forward with better Linden-user cooperation and less conflict.

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