Incredibly Hostile Exchanges: A Chat With Philip Linden

by Alphaville Herald on 31/08/06 at 5:24 pm

by Prokofy Neva, Special to the Second Life Herald

Today marks the first day of the last of the Second Life forums. As Linden Lab begins to shut down the message boards that have been home since beta to a never-ending stream of advice, sales pitches, information and vitriol, the Herald took the opportunity to check in with SL kingpin Philip Linden on just what led to the decision and where he gets his news these days. Correspondent Prokofy Neva went one-on-one with Philip for this report:

Prokofy: When did you stop reading/keeping up with the forums?
Philip: I’d say about a year ago, the sheer volume of messages overwhelmed me in terms of my individual ability to read/scan most of them.

Prokofy: Why did you wish to close them?
Philip: For me personally, two things come to mind. First is that the sheer volume and diversity of messages in the more general forum categories is overwhelming all of us at LL as readers, and there is an appropriate expectation implicit in any Linden-run forum that Lindens are reading everything. We aren’t able to any more.

Philip: Second, it seems that the design of forums in general is flawed in that it tends to bring out the most negative behaviors in people. I read incredibly hostile exchanges between people in the forums and then find them to be friendly and well-reasoned when they are discussing the same subject in-world. At LL we have the mission to make the world a better place for people by improving communication, and I think that the forums are generally so negative that they probably reduce communication between people by making them so unhappy that they are unwilling to speak more.

Prokofy: What did you like LEAST about the forums?
Philip: Their ability to amplify minor disagreement or interesting debate into fractious and destructive hostility.

Prokofy: What did you like BEST about the forums?
Philip: Their open context, the ability to have many different categories, and the rapid, multi-tasking communication they enable.

Prokofy: How do you plan on keeping in touch with the “pulse of the nation” now that forums are closing?
Philip: By being in-world, reading and writing in the Linden Blogs, reading the various user-created newspapers, and possibly by reading user-run blogs. I will probably only do the latter if they somehow are built in a way or around a community that can convey a more balanced tone, and that is a hard challenge.

Prokofy: Do you read all/some of the Official Linden Blogs?
Philip: I try to read most/all of the posts and comments.

Prokofy: Do you plan to write more on your own blog now and read more readers’ comments on your own blog?
Philip: Yes, I think that the more accessible and simpler UI of the blog format will allow me to reach and get comments from a larger audience.

Prokofy: What is the role of the free media and readers’ commentary in Second Life?
Philip: I think that Second Life will only be deeply compelling and continue growing if it continues to be a level playing field and free space for communication. I doubt that the existence or absence of the Linden forums have much impact on this. Every day in-world in Second Life, 50,000 people create and/or consume about 12 million lines of text. That is several thousand novels worth of free speech.

6 Responses to “Incredibly Hostile Exchanges: A Chat With Philip Linden”

  1. Gwyneth Llewelyn

    Sep 3rd, 2006

    Ah, the eternal debate of “free speech” versus rude behaviour. Well, a line has been drawn somewhere. I guess that if Linden Lab mantains a platform that encourages mostly rude behaviour — something that happens outside the forums related to “technical support” — they are indirectly accused of institution ally encouraging rude behaviour as well…

    Hard to draw the dividing line. Still, people are free to set up their blogs, E-Zines, websites, whatever, and complain how much they want, in the style they prefer… so there is no “stifling of free speech” — just not “official encouragement of rudeness” :)

  2. Nacon

    Sep 5th, 2006

    Let him close his forum down, after all they are the one who is PAYING for the server host. Since when Linden Labs is a government that has to obey in support of “Free-Speech”?

    It’s like asking your next door if it’s ok to write your words on their lawn with toilet papers.

    “Philip: By being in-world, reading and writing in the Linden Blogs, reading the various user-created newspapers, and possibly by reading user-run blogs. I will probably only do the latter if they somehow are built in a way or around a community that can convey a more balanced tone, and that is a hard challenge.”

    Not actually true, it’s not a hard challenge… unless he was talking about a great mass of “noobs” that doesn’t have the skills to run a in-world newspapers and/or magazines, so they just find the easy way to rant their words on the forum. …Kinda like the real world where they end up using a forum on a internet after they failed to get a job at some communication business like CNN.

    Phillip, if you want to close it. Do it!

    It’s beyond silly to see bunch of noobs confuses with their SL forum for a chattin box instead of a communication & support.

  3. Cocoanut Koala

    Sep 7th, 2006

    I’m glad Philip will be trying to read most of the blogs and the comments there.

    (Those that don’t get arbitrarily removed before he can see them, of course.)

    I’m surprised, though, that he apparently seems to think that the state of the forums just “happened,” as if it were inevitable.

    The forums became a rats’ nest due directly to mismanagement, favoritism in moderation, a wishy-washy interpretation of the rules (depending on who broke them), and ultimately, neglect.

    Forum negativity will inevitably ensue if the rules are applied strictly to a few, non-favored posters, while overlooked entirely for favorites, who can say “f*** you” and worse to others with impunity.

    When the rules are meaningless, chaos and negativity inevitably follow.

    The “design” of the forums was not flawed. Nor was the number of posters a problem. The problem was inefficient (and often corrupt) forum management.

    If the only purpose of the forums was for Philip to read efficiently, then of course we don’t need them.

    But if they had any other purpose, I think the more honest way of explaining the move away from them would be: “We don’t want to spend the money to run them right.”


  4. Brace

    Sep 10th, 2006

    Town Halls went to voice (exluding a large population of hard of hearing, hearing impaired and deaf residents) just because philly “don’t type so good”.

    And now the forums are closing cuz he has the attention span of gnat.

    “hasnt read the forums in a year”

    Talk about out of touch. I look my forum reading down to once or twice a week and got hopelessly out of touch. So his employees have been basically telling him whatevers been going on in the world – picking and choosing what issues to focus on.

    And now it’ll get even worse with specialized blogs and specialized access and no commentary allowed.


    But I’m sure all that will end up as mismanaged as the forums were anyhow – only a matter of time.

  5. VTOR - Virtual TO Reality

    Sep 26th, 2006

    What types of SL-related blogs Phillip Linden reads

    In an interview by Prokovy Neva with Linden Labs CEO Phillip Linden the following exchange takes place regarding Second Life related blogs (emphasis mine):

  6. Codeine.

    Aug 30th, 2009

    Promethazine with codeine.

    Codeine and no prescriptions and no consults. Codeine 3. Acetaminophen-codeine 3. Adverse effects codeine. 50 mg codeine phosphate equivalent. Codeine antitussive action.

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