The Lindens Do Good

by prokofy on 17/02/07 at 10:37 pm

Lindens00 Jeska readies the pitchforks for the mobs at Office Hours in Linden Village at Ambleside.

By Prokofy Neva, Dept. of Kremlindenology

OMG a man-bites-dog story for sure. Well, we Herald reporters can’t always go around with our half-curled lips, with that sunken, two-burnt-out-holes-in-a-blanket look in our eyes from a 3-day drunk, and our felt hats crammed down low over our balding heads and rumpled prim hair, ashing our cigarettes out on day-old bright-eyed newbies.

No, sometimes, something warms our evil little lump-of-coal hearts, and we become fanboyz for a day.

The Herald is always the first to tell you about Missing Lindens, more Missing Lindens, Lindens going againt their hippie idealism,, a resident-turned-Linden, and yet another resident-turned-Linden and then unLindenized, Kremlindenlab rejecting avatar rights, restricting academic research, or even “hating” it.

But do we ever shut up? It’s bitch, bitch, bitch, day after day. Never an encouraging word, a pat on the back, a note to crank up the Love Machine. This is hardly “fairly unbalanced”!

So when the Lindens Do Good, we do have to climb off our self-important pedestals and say…um…job well-done! “Which I’ll say, just as soon as I find one of them online…hang on…all of our operators our busy now…your call is very important to us….

Lindens1 Lovely lass Harmony Linden at the Concierge Ball — give that gal a raise!

The Lindens have done four Good Things lately — maybe five? — as far as I can tell — which are very hard to see as you peer through the grey squares, the shiny, happy rhetoric bouncing off their Teflon Official Blob, the blitz of news coverage still coming in from breathless RL media reporters still not on the clue train. But these Good Things, while not dramatic, will likely have a more long-term impact, and hopefully, provide a glimmer of hope for the Longest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game we call Second Life. (Where is good old reliable Nathan?)

Lindens4 Robin pounding the keyboard at office hours.

1. Office Hours.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found Jeska, in a sort of shy, retiring Victorian ladies’ gown, guarded by Brent, who had made some pitchforks for the occasion, holding what they called Office Hours, AKA “Throwing the Christians to the Lions”. This was sort of an open bitch mike, where anybody could roll and scroll your own with comments, complaints, queries. The Lindens held up womanfully and manfully through the session, and it didn’t even seem if many of the pitchforks were bought.

Robin Linden — short of hair but not of temper — also two or three times held Office Hours with the same free-wheeling agenda. None of this crap where Pathfinder tries to make you sit on a lagging or badly-working soapbox, as they do at the community round tables, that keeps telling you to”shh,” and none of this stuff where Torley ejects you as “off topic”. There are less people who show up, there’s only so many that can fit on the one sim where their “homes” are in Ambleside, so that means less idiocy from goons and geeks. It works a bit better — it may not last or scale.

Even Zero Linden held Office Hours for tech talk — these coders never come out of the cave, so that’s a good thing.

Jacklinden Beloved Jack “There’ll Always Be a Mainland” Linden, stuck in pose.

The Concierge party was frustrating for some because they couldn’t even move after managing to land — reminded me of those old games of “freeze” at birthday parties. And when they did manage to fly around four sims, they didn’t see a single Linden. But that’s because you have to know the Lindens’ watering habits. What they had done, was copy one of the sims and put it up for spillover and started TPing people to it from the overload, but you couldn’t see it on the map because it didn’t update. Then you had to realize that all 6 of the available Lindens were all in a clump on that one sim — like the M34 and M23 and other New York buses, they like to travel in packs for safety, and rarely come out one at a time on schedule.

Here are all the ways the Lindens have of communicating with residents. Far from perfect, but better, as Uri would say, than a stick in your eye.

Lindens2 Ethan and Chadrick Linden, who says his new mohawk keeps him from falling asleep at his desk.

2. Quietly Changing Research Policy

The article that the Herald bitched about is now scrubbed from the Knowledge Base.

No doubt due to all these marketing gurus swarming all over SL, the Lindens have now enabled a more enlightened policy, although all its pieces and ramifications aren’t entirely visible. Instead of that old article, if you hunt for “research” in the Knowledge thingie, you will find for example that it is now ok to take surveys of people inworld, as long as you get consent from them and not spam them with notecards. I tried other key words to try to get the Knowledge Base, which is a lot like the Lenin Library (you have to know what to ask for), to yield up policies on press work and academic research. “Academic” doesn’t show up anything now. Seems from anecdotal remarks, the Lindens have eased up on their former concept of overreach, that sought to approve people’s research projects back in real life at their universities or think tanks. Now, apparently they can proceed, but there is still a cultural norm that says researchers should identify themselves and their affiliations — if they are reputable, they’d be doing that anyway.

I see lots of surveys, some paid, some not, cropping up all over. I see some people still trying to go on the forums and ask basic journalistic questions and still getting the Treatment from forum regs who tell them to piss off.

Lindens0 The Concierge Valentine Party gave residents a change to see Linden Love and play a game of “freeze” and “guess-who-behind-the-grey”.

3. Improving Customer Service…Concept

This is something that many will likely heatedly debate. The jury isn’t in for me yet. I find that Lindens often come when I call, but that’s because I suspect I’m used as a training exercise or a quest in the Strategic Second Life leveling-up exercise — they take the new whippersnapper Lindens, and if I bark on the HELP line, they send them out there to wait on Prok and get their asses chewed off, and if they figure out how to dislodge the griefer prims rooted at four-corner sims 3 ways from Sunday, or find the tub-girl particles emitting from underneath the ground and griefing 4 sims, or restart that ridiculously lagged 3 TD sim yet another time and keep it running for more than 12 hours, they will advance on the long road to becoming Office Lidnens.

But at least they have the concept more or less right. That involves charging for customer service of the more complex and time-consuming kind and not constantly draining and exhausting themselves teaching the endless and clueless stream of freebie account holders produced by the malls and meth labs of middle America. There are now six more Concierge staff — and I bet every one of them is hopping. You almost never see them in the Concierge Group, but if you think going to Office Hours is like the Lions v. Christians, you should try stepping on to the Concierge Group. The Lindens now have a system to put in a request to have a sim rolled back — at least islands get this privilege. Now, stick in the same sort of system to report mainland sims that are down or showing really unhealthy signs on their stats, and we’ll follow you anywhere!

A key improvement is division of labour — they are making the Lindens who are on the front line more visibly related to certain topics or themes of what they actually do or are good at. That will hopefully get rid of this annoyance where the only Lindens you find responding are bug hunters whose profiles tell you to piss off.

The Lindens, like the Mentors and various FIC, put a lot of stress on the Knowledge Base. Some geeky and obsessive types may very well use it. Like the F1 Help, it’s something that is hard for people to load and focus on inworld, depending on their connection. Notecards don’t help everyone — chat is notoriously bad because people keep asking the same question, never reading what you reply, and never scrolling back.

I think that we’ll have to resign ourselves to the fact that until Voice is added to Second Life, it will be hard to get it through to some people to help them work the difficult levers of SL itself.

I personally don’t think the Lindens have utilized a tenth of their own platform capacity for helping people learn — there isn’t 3-D or even 2-D rendering of data, there aren’t animated tutorials, there aren’t machinima tutorials on the Linden side (you can find them in ESC-made L-Word). The new orientation islands have more 3-D builds on them and show some promise but we can’t really know how that’s shaping up without hearing about improved retention numbers.

A lot will depend on how Pathfinder’s reform of the volunteer service is going. IMHO, it’s good that Jeska, who tended to form networks of her close friends and people she relied on heavily who were obsessive volunteer types like Tateru, are gone from the volunteer scene now. It’s always good for a change in a stressful burnout job like that, even if you loved the person to pieces. Pathfinder may not be an improvement, but let’s give it the benefit of the doubt. The proof will be in the retention numbers.

Lindens5 Lindens load about 360 people on 4 sims, then quietly copy 2 of the islands, one of which is hidden.

4. Admitting Wrong About Breaking the SEARCH PLACES

This was a particular pet cause of mine, since my business, and the businesses of everybody renting from me, and the members of all kinds of groups I’m in, like the Concierge Group and Dreamland, depend on SEARCH. People often don’t understand how search, combined with traffic, are the engine of sales in Second Life, but trust me, they are. Classifieds just doesn’t work for everyone, and costs a lot to get visibility. The $30 search, combined with traffic, is what makes you show up and get sales.

When the Lindens borked the SEARCH a few weeks ago, making practically ever search you started only show up age play and cum-dripping sex shops for some reason, at first Cory Linden didn’t get it. Some of us wrote to him over and over. The proximate words matter — as Ordinal discovered and explained, if you put “Victorian” and “weapons” you might only get loads and loads of Victorian dresses or loads and loads of weapons, and not her steampunk cannons and gadgets and whatnot in Caledon.

To his credit, Cory finally did take it under advisement, and James Linden then stepped up to the plate, and told us he was sorry for breaking the SEARCH, explained what had happened, and then fixed it.

Lindens01 Hearts and flowers swing in Jeska’s garden.

5. Minimizing Torley

I don’t know if this was by accident or design, but I’m going to put this in the plus column for now. And it’s not a hate-on-Torley thing I’m saying here, either. I think Torley, like anybody thrown to the lion’s den, was beginning to burn out and fray at the edges, and it’s good to get a furlough. The happy watermelon stuff was really, really grating on people and it probably wasn’t too fun for Torley, either. Torley’s handiwork is visible behind the scenes still in things like improving knowledge articles based on her actual usage of the grid, something the code cave-dwellers would do well in acquiring. I don’t know what’s in store for Torley, who hasn’t posted since December 8, 2006, about the “CommMonkey”. I can only say that on both sides of the servers, absence will make the heart grow fonder.

Yes, the Lindens, our awkward and reluctant dance partners in the dawning Metaverse, are trying to do good. They often are very slow in cranking up the do-good that was in response to complaints of like 18 months ago that everybody forgot. They often muff it up even more when they go to fix something. But when they *do* get it right, we should say so!

Lindens002 Light at the end of the Linden tunnel…dawn of the Metaverse or the train coming in the other direction?

5 Responses to “The Lindens Do Good”

  1. Urizenus

    Feb 17th, 2007

    So it begins. The Herald leading the Second Life Backlash Backlash!

    But I think we should wait until the last of the fanboiz has turned on them before we really crank it up.

  2. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 17th, 2007

    Yeah, this is just a little pastiche to see if anything comes out in the comments, like you always say, Uri lol. The office hours are fun, though, you should try them.

  3. Sabrina Doolittle

    Feb 19th, 2007

    I dunno, Pathfinder Linden was quite helful to me when I dropped in on his office hours, sat in an orderly queue, and asked my polite question.

    Plus, you know, he’s a totally weird little gnomey wizard and you end up being polite just out of fear that he’ll make with the wand and smite you or something.

  4. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 19th, 2007

  5. Khamon

    Feb 20th, 2007

    As a pseudofical royalist technoeducator that doesn’t love this world, I enjoy attending Lindens’ office hour sessions. It’s good therapy for them and us.

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