The Interview with Ebbe Altberg infuriates me

So i listened to Ebbe’s Interview on the drax files radio hour as well as reading bits from various Blogs and i can’t help but find It a bit infuriating. The topic of ‘New User Experience’ was once again something the CEO wants to try and improve like every CEO thats been before him, and it feels a little bit like we’ve been taken back to the start of the level again.

Im not infuriated at Ebbe. Its just why are we still having this question of ‘Why don’t more people stay’ from the 4th CEO, i mean seriously, since its such an important part of the business in getting users to USE the platform, why is this still a question being asked????? WHY TORLEY WHY!!?????

Anyways It was also mentioned that LL had tried various ways to improve New User Retention, and that LL had tried to give a more Simplified Viewer Experience. Does anyone remember the Basic Viewer?

It was supposed to be a stripped down version of the viewer to see wether New Users experiences of Second Life would be improved by decluttering the UI, making it more focussed on experiencing SL and not creating. I liked the basic viewer and thought it was a step in the right direction, but it also highlighted problems with simplifying Second Life. The Basic Viewer removed the inventory and the ability to buy things because learning to search, find and add attachments and items is more complex than the basic viewer needed to be. But with the inventory hidden it became apparent that there is no simple way to interact with experiences in SL. I could not get a free Bumble Bear to ride.

This maybe partly why the Lab started to work on the Experience Permissions tools that would allow you to have a great experience with attachments and items that did not need your inventory. In fact when Linden Lab do get round to introducing the Experience Permissions System a basic style Viewer could work a lot better without the need for an inventory.

For the past 6 years people have had ideas on how to improve New User Sign up, yet you could probably count the different ideas the Lab has tried on one hand from what i can remember. User arrives, user is taught how to walk, user is left alone to motivate themselves into finding something to do with no idea what there is to do. The most recent change was to give new users topical doors to walk through and end up at random places of interest. This is fine if you don’t care what your potential customer does next.

I still think that perhaps the Lab needs to play a bigger role in the start of peoples Second Lives. Not necessarily hold peoples hands but give a few pointers at the start of whats available for them to do…

“Welcome to Second Life, would you you like to do next?  1. Explore the many Destinations? 2. Make new friends?  3. Play an Experience? 4. Learn to Create? 5. Be Free to explore Second Life.

“You have Chosen Make New Friends’, Here is a list of ‘ChatSpots’ where you can meet new people.”


Maybe pissing about with orientation and magical doors is pointless?

I still STILL believe that Groups in Second life could have a bigger role to play in improving User Retention. The biggest SL communities all have external websites because Second Life Group tools are a billion years old and SUCK. SLfeed was a great step, i socialise with so many more people on that and see new places to visit, but it feels like Linden Lab don’t have the inclination to build on that or even unify it with other SL systems such as Marketplace or Groups.

Groups is the thread that holds every community in Second Life together. If people are going to keep coming back to Second Life, the pathway to finding groups that support their interests needs to be VISIBLE from the start. The crazy thing is the SL communities are more than willing to welcome and help but the outdated way groups work simply won’t allow it.

I try not to write Blog Post like this anymore, because i just end up writing the same stuff i’ve written before which is depressing and does not reflect how i feel when building a huge Sky Pirates Floating runway. Anyways  here are a list of ALL my blog posts over the years about improving Group Tools and communication.

• Feb 2010 – Avatars United, Count down to Chaos

• Oct 2010 – Improving communication between residents would boost EVERYTHING in SL.

• Feb 2011 – Destinations Guide App

• April 2011 – Why i think Concurrency Keeps Falling 

• July 2011 – SL Profile Feeds

• Sept 2011 – Fantasising about the SL Eco System

• April 2012 Sl Feed is eating my Sl social Site

• July 2012 – Answering Rodviks Question about retaining New Users

• Oct 2012 – What would a Mobile SL be, SLfeed? 

• Jan 2013 – What i want SL Groups to be

• Feb 2013 – Sharing shared spaces

• June 2013 – Looking Forward Pt2 – Discoverability

• October 2013 – Are all Second Life Users Fools?

A return to New Babbage – Comparing #SL 2008 – 2014

Back in 2008 i did a video showing off what the residents of New Babbage had accomplished. It was picked up by the web site Boing Boing and almost went viral.. well, it was the most views of any video i had done before. And last comment posted in 2008 is “Good gravy… I was assuming the venture capitalists MUST have pulled the plugs on Second Life by now.”

It was also commentated on by NewWorldNotes and mentioned by the then CEO Mark Kingdon “A stunning video… Philip sent me a link to YouTube and said “Mark, you should check this out”, and I’d just seen it the same morning… it was really arresting because of the kind of foggy, smoky atmosphere, and it was beautifully filmed and I was just incredibly moved by it…”

So here we are almost 6 years later and Second Life has still not had its “plug pulled”. Instead New Babbage has expanded and grown, some places have stayed exactly the same, some places have disappeared and some places have been upgraded, just like a real world city. So i went back to the old video and tried to film a side by side comparison to show what has changed in New Babbage and what has not changed because it’s possible many don’t realise how organic and ever changing Second Life is.

Return to New Babbage – A Steampunk City from Loki Eliot on Vimeo.

While builds in New Babbage are a lot more grander, the SL viewer performance was not much different. Granted i have a higher resolution screen now, but i also have a much more powerful Mac Computer packed with 4 times as much Video RAM. Some say this is due to support issues for macs and OpenGL leaving Second Life Viewer way behind other applications performances. Also the smoggy atmosphere seems to have disappeared along with those clouds that used to be in the sky and windlight settings are buggy since Advanced Lighting was introduced.

But the community is still there, still strong and still busy creating and exploring industrial history and steampunk, and its still amazing!

Ideas for Premium Perk – Marketplace

Everything in Second Life bugs me in one way or another, its what keeps me scratching at it.

slexchangeThis particular itch is to do with Marketplace, one of the first user generated digital content marketplaces and it was originally created by Users of Second Life not Linden Lab in that fine SL tradition of User Generated innovation. Linden Lab bought SLExchange, inherited all its issues, implemented a tax on each item sold and rebranded it SL Marketplace.

OK now lets back up a bit. Last year during SL’s 10th anniversary celebrations i finally signed up to Premium Membership. Ive since then struggled to find any benefits for being a premium member of the SL community (other than the grandfathered stipend). The problem from my point of view is that since the Second Life experience is different for almost everyone, i can imagine its hard to catch people in an area where Premium Features benefit them. I have no need of free land or free house, and most of the toys offered at random points of the year hold no interest for me.

So i’ve started to wonder where in my daily use of Second Life could Linden Lab add Perks to justify my Premium Membership. Well one such area could be more options for my Marketplace Store page. Every Merchant has a store front, and its typically a mess of items that has not changed since LL acquired SLExchange. I would love to as a Premium Member  be able to add featured items to my store front, create groupings of items and have more dynamic choice over how my products are presented through the year on my Marketplace Store Front.

Here is a simple mock up…


Of course another Premium Perk could be to lower the tax on sold items.