SL10B Looking Forward: Part 2 – Discoverability

In my first Looking forward post i expressed thoughts on New Users and how the forthcoming experience permissions could give current users tools to make things easier for newbs first arriving. I had some awesome comments by the way 🙂 thanx.

Of course learning how to use Second Life will not fix the user retention issue if you can’t find anything worth staying for. In an interview with Draxtor Despres Rod Humble hit a pretty major nail on the head “discoverability”.

How do you and your friends discover new items of interest in SL? Via group chats? The destination guide or external blog posts? is it easy or can you go weeks without knowing anything new about Second Life? now imagine you are new and are not part of an SL community how do you find anything you might be interested in?

At the start The Lab has many portals named by possible interest through which you venture forth and arrive somewhere that might have no apparent relevance to the subject you chose… and thats it.

An answer to Gridwide discoverability probably isn’t something that can be meshed up and scripted in world, it might have to be an entirely new system. It’s a topic I’ve ranted about before where i dreamed of a new group and social system that could allow better sharing and discovery. Of mobile apps that might encourage discovery.

About this time last year Rodvik asks on SLuniverse forums “Assuming SL improved performance enormously, from region crossings to lag to render times. (big assumption I know but roll with me here) What would you do to insure new users ‘stuck’?” And the community as you might expect gave their thoughts. Now we are at a point where i think performance HAS improved not just because i got a new computer, so does that mean the lab might turn their minds to making new Users stick?

My own thoughts are that there needs to be a new system that marries users interests with communities. There needs to be an easier way to find and join groups. There needs to be easier ways to share and receive information from those groups. If a new User can find a community and feel they belong to it within an hour then i believe thats how they will stick.

Discovering places is part of the SL culture, so why is it such a clunky part of SL’s design?

So again looking forward I’m hoping discoverability will finally be addressed and not just by adding a Facebook plugin.

7 thoughts on “SL10B Looking Forward: Part 2 – Discoverability

  1. Yes, I agree completely.
    Regardless of technical advancements, lag, griefing, etc, etc, there is one thing that is most important when it comes to keeping people from leaving SL; finding something you like.

    When I first came to SL in 2007, I looked around, realised that the media was right and that all my preconceptions were true; SL was just a weird place where people chatted, dressed like barbies and had some virtual hanky panky.
    Not my cup of tea, so I literally run away.

    I only returned to SL later to try out the limits of my new computer.
    If I had not by accident decided to try the search option and search for a nice vintage place and if I had not discovered ‘Flashmans’, I would not be in SL today.

    If you find a place you love, people, and/or a community you get excited about, you will eventually leave.
    Whenever I lure my RL friends into SL, I take them directly to my sim, nowhere else.
    I know they love history, I show them history in SL.
    Another movie crazy friend I took to the Cubrick rooms, he loved it.
    That works, they soon become sad addicts like me. 😉

    Fixing the search system is perhaps even more important then lag, or any of the other problems.
    SHOW people how to find something you like and they will accept pretty much all the other bad things such as the steep learning curve.
    If you are desperate to see something, visit something or be part of something, you will do whatever it takes.

    The destination guide is awesome, they need to make that work inworld, they need to make that one of the first automatic stops for new people who have just signed up.
    Forget about the weird portal they visit now.
    Just show them the page and let them pick out a place they find interesting.

    • I think the Destination Guide is old hat. I dont think it’s integrated enough. I think all places should have their own destination guide sort of profile which you can embed on websites, pin to you SLfeed, tweet out or god forbid link to on Facebook. Im not saying get rid of Linden Labs great collection of filtered places, i happen to think the Editors picks and stuff is important, but we’re in the age of Pinterest, tumblr, geotagging yet all i get to share is an SLURL
      Compared to Destination profiles which you can see embed to the right which are much more inviting.

      • Yes but the big thing about the DG is that it is man made, someone takes care of it, updates it, puts it in the right order, etc.
        Yes it can be updated, it should be.
        I think LL should value it more and give it the time and money it needs to update.
        But at least it works better then search.
        New users in Second Life should he helped with finding something they like, not shoved a complicated window onto their screen with if you’re unlucky, mostly tips on where you can find some kinky places.
        Again, reinforcing the bad reputation SL has.

        I also think that perhaps the SL website needs to give every sim its own page, doesn’t have to be much, perhaps just a screenshot and a little intro written by the owners with a bit Teleport button that simply… teleports you!
        No opening of maps in your browser or other complicated stuff.
        You want to go there, go.

        Maybe you should design something for them, you make great tutorials and games and such and I think that it would be great for someone to visit SL and to meet a character there that helps them out and asks them where they want to go next.
        “Welcome to the virtual world, I’m your assistant, what kind of place would you like to visit?”
        And then you can choose from a few subjects, each subject helping SL learn what you’re looking for and finally suggesting a place to go to.

        Either way, finding something you like is very important and even with the destination guide, it needs a lot of work and upgrading.

  2. One of the challenges with having users involved in promoting destinations is the advertisers, those pushing their regions and shops. To date, every method tried by the Lab has been gamed. Trying to avoid gaming-the-system is why SL Search is such a mess. That keeps people from finding what they are looking for. Some measure of game-the-system has to be accepted. Google allows a level of spamming-the-system. They will not allow anyone to deceive searchers. If you are selling Ford you can spam the heck out of Ford (there is a limit). Spam on Ford to get people to a Chevy site… Google will ban the site, company, designer, every site they’ve designed… they come down HARD. The Lab needs to get search working well.

    The Destination Guide, What’s Hot, and players’ feeds are all things that could be improved and better integrated. Loki has talked about feed integration before.

    But, thinking of getting someone ‘somewhere’ probably is not going to help much. It sort of misses the point. We have a study that tells us what keeps people in SL: . Chun-Yuen Teng’s and Lada A. Adamic’s published paper: Longevity in Second Life.

    Discoverability needs to be about ‘discovering people’ more than about places. Teng & Adamic show meeting and interacting with people is where SL gets sticky and retains people. I think this is also where SL is at its weakest. Just try and find someone in SL that likes War Tunes or Backyard Monsters. There isn’t even a starting place.

    Anonymity is a big part of SL. That complicates meeting friends.

    Then there are griefers. The whole world is looking for that solution. Creating entry points for new users creates greifer magnets. If you lock out experienced users, you defeat the points Teng & Adamic’s well documented point.

    Whether it is homes or intro islands nothing seems to work for a majority of people and each has its problems.SL has related how stats have shown them mentors were worse than nothing… dropping people at random probably produces better retention results.

    If there were better group tools and search, random drops might be the best. Or drops into regions with 10 to 20 people already in them.

    There is that sticky problem of trying to figure out what someone likes before the system picks a region to drop the new user in. Every question asked in signup increases the percentage of people that do not make it through signup. Maybe some increase would be acceptable if retention increased. Otherwise… it is really hard to get a good web designer to add obstacles to signups or sales pages.

    • Yes absolutely but at least for me, finding people I liked was connected to finding a place I liked.
      When I found my kind of bar, I found my kind of people.
      I agree that finding out what new users want from Second Life and then sending them in the right direction is the best way to make them stick.
      Maybe there should be some sort of game on the SL website that not only teaches you the basics of getting around SL but also tries to find out what kind of place is best for you to start.

    • I neither think its discovering people or places but a mixture of both which is why im always banging on about the importance of groups. Groups where you can find likeminded people who share places of interest and inspire things to do and stay for.

      • Yes I agree, it is a combination of all of the above.
        If you help someone find the right group and explain how chat works, they can ask for help, landmarks and information there.

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