Linden Labs late yesterday acknowledged receipt of the open letter drafted by Christiano Midnight and others regarding the current serious issues in Second Life. I became aware of it yesterday in a news item on Reuters Second Life news page.
I hesitated before signing the letter, because I trust that Lindens are indeed working very hard on issues. At the same time, I know that some issues have affected me and my small group of stores — namely the
llEmail bug from last week that seems to have been resolved.
I have never experienced inventory loss, though if I did it would be devastating. Other things to me are more on the level of “glitches” than major problems. Things like the friends list not working, or the problems with group instant messages. At least with the latter, Linden Labs has communicated clearly what they are doing and what is required to fix the issue.
In the end, though, I did sign the letter because I do not want my customers to lose inventory, and then for me to try to find a way to confirm if it should be replaced — though my JEVN server does send logs every day to me of sales, I worry that they may not get through. I would like to see the glitch-level issues addressed as well, not continuously pushed to the back burner.
This brings me to my next topic, and the title of this post. I’m so tired of people complaining in an incredibly rude manner, and with posts laden with a sense of entitlement. One that struck me was a comment directed to Heretic Linden on the official Linden blog and the comment read in part, “You are a liar and you don’t care about who you hurt. You are going to hurt a lot of people and I hope bad things happen to you and your deluded friends to make you wish you never heard of secondlife[sic].” (This comment has since been deleted from the blog.) All this in a post by Heretic about a contest for new gestures to be triggered with the new voice chat tool coming to Second Life.
On the milder side are the shrill cries that bringing voice chat to Second Life will destroy Second Life, and that no one wants it. What people forget is there was a feature request in an old feature-request tool long ago, and that many, many people had indeed requested voice chat in Second Life. Most people complaining about voice chat are convinced that this is something Linden Labs is foisting upon us unwanted, when in truth Second Life Residents had requested it even before I became a Resident a year ago.
One thing that is telling to me is that many of the loudest complainers have no technical understanding of how voice chat will work, though Linden Labs has explained it repeatedly. The complaint I hear is, “
Voice chat is going to severely lag the servers.” Linden Labs has tried to explain, in various locations, that voice is not handled by region simulator servers at all, but by a third party. Still, this is the number one complaint that I’ve encountered about voice chat.
Another is that voice chat in Second Life will relegate to “second class citizenship” people who cannot or choose not to use voice. I really don’5 see this happening. Maybe I’m different from other people, but I like talking to everyone. So if they want to chat via voice, I’ll do that. If they want to type, go for it! There are instances where I think voice chat might not work so well, but I have yet to see it in practice. That being dance club environments. I could be wrong though, and chat in clubs could turn out to be excellent fun.
The new sculpted prims have engendered a similar fearful response, but this time of people afraid that only “3D professionals” will be able to use the new prim type, and that they will be pushed out of content creation. To that I counter with the Residents who’ve begun to step up to the plate to produce tools for people to generate sculpted prims with tools like the free, cross-platform Blender. Another important point is that the prior prim types have not been removed — they still exist. But yes, sculpted prim creations might become more popular than old block prim creations.
It is true that creating object with sculpted prims is harder than using the old box and sphere and other primitive types. But should Linden Labs not introduce this new tool (grid stability issues aside) simply because some people fear that they cannot use it? Should Linden Labs similarly not introduce voice because some people don’t want to use it? How then should Linden Labs enhance (again, grid issues aside) Second Life to keep it competitive with other 3D worlds that already do or plan to offer similar features?
I thought of an analogy, regarding sculpted prims at least, that puts into perspective these fearful objections to new features. Put yourself in real life. You own a company that makes widgets. You make widgets that are popular and are of excellent quality. A new company appears with a new kind of widget that is also of excellent quality but with better features than yours, created using a new technology freely available to anyone. What do you do? Do you take this technology to make your widgets better or do you rail against this new technology for suddenly changing the playing field?
Business 101 classes tell us the answer to this one: adapt or die. We Second Life content creators have a new and powerful tool to make wonderful new objects. We ignore these and other coming tools at the peril of our virtual businesses.
In the end, I’m glad I signed the open letter. I do want the difficult issues before us to be resolved by Linden Labs. I signed it because I do want Second Life to be better. I also don’t want the Lindens to stop working on features — indeed, I know they cannot because of competition. More importantly, rather than just signing an open letter and wailing in forums and blog comments, I’m trying to do something about it. I log in to JIRA and at least try to tidy up things. I vote on issues I think are critical, close duplicates, resolve issues I know the answer to, reproduce bugs, and try to produce patches (so far unsuccessfully). Linden Labs has given us the tools to help them make Second Life better, and also for us to make Second Life better.
Rather than complain loudly and incessantly, rather than hatin’ Linden Labs, do something to make Second Life better.