by Alphaville Herald on 19/11/09 at 12:39 am
"All official Linden Lab sponsored communication channels related to the Second Life Mentor group will be discontinued"
by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desks
Citing scalability issues, Linden Lab announced the end of the volunteer Second Life Mentors program on Wednesday evening with a wiki post on wiki.secondlife.com. Some observers were confused by the references to scaling issues and the implication that SL has a growing population. Have we been missing evidence of growth in concurrent users? Even Hamlet Au has been silent on peak concurrent users of late, after breathlessly touting growth in the Sunday afternoon population last year.
Meanwhile, mentors surprised at the end of their special relationship with Linden Lab should recall that scalability is an abstract, mystical concept with quasi-religious overtones invoked whenever the Lab feels the need to change course. Mentors who have invested their free time in assisting noobies should also remember that sustainability is important. As the wiki states, "Volunteers have been very successful and helpful. We appreciate all they do. They have been so successful that the official program was not enough to showcase all the contributions and allow growth in a sustainable manner."
So perhaps excessive Mentor success was to blame? I contacted SL Mentor Orange Planer for comment.
Pixeleen Mistral: how does the closing of the Mentors make you feel?
Orange Planer: Like many positions where one has been productive and useful, I'm sad to see the group go, but there's been plenty of time to prepare so this isn't the end of the world. I look forward to working with the resident help networks in the near future, as well as the many other projects currently ongoing.
Pixeleen Mistral: so you knew the mentors would be ending for some time?
Orange Planer: Overall, I think this is the best thing Linden Lab could have done for Second Life Mentors; I think we need to branch out and spread our wings a bit.
Orange Planer: Personally I was confident Linden Lab would close the group. The direction toward the community gateways indicates less of a concentration on simple help assistance and more toward a scalable solution. As the page I gave you says, the group concept does not scale, but solutions such as Second Life Answers do scale, where one answer can be used many times over.
Pixeleen Mistral: ok – so what sort of support does scale?
Orange Planer: That's a good question. No one has answered it yet, but I'm working on one possible solution.
Pixeleen Mistral: can you share that possible solution?
Orange Planer: Unfortunately, I can't.
Pixeleen Mistral: support is the hard part of these sorts of worlds
Pixeleen Mistral: maybe someone will figure it out
Orange Planer: I certainly hope so. There's a powerful need for excellent support at the community gateways in general. Very few of them have any sort of training in place, and that leaves many people to depend on their own abilities.
Orange Planer: The difficulty with that solution is that most individuals do not have the knowledge, ability, and self-confidence required to be consistently good at it. The result is that they fall prey to their insecurities, which leads to bullying, an excessive use of force, and general unhelpfulness.