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?

12 thoughts on “The Interview with Ebbe Altberg infuriates me

  1. It is annoying that this is still an issue.
    I am also in favour of a basic viewer, but how it was done in the past showed me that many people at LL still didn’t understand SL.
    They removed the things even basic users would want, such as inventory but also changing your avatar.
    I think we need 1 viewer, but with different settings.
    You start with just the basics that will allow you to walk, talk, change your avatar, buy stuff.
    But if you then want to do something more complicated you click the ‘go advanced’ button and woosh, there you go, extra options.

    I also think that we have to help new visitors learn the basics and then find the place they want to go to before they even log in.
    They don’t need a starters area, a noob land, a portal.
    Teach them everything they need to know online on the SL website before they start their viewer, let them create their avatar, learn to walk, interact etc.
    And then finally help them find a sim they may be interested in, perhaps with the use of the destination guide or by asking them some questions or letting them figure out how search works.
    By the time they start up the viewer, they teleport straight into that sim they found.

    Anyway, here is what I wrote about the new user experience;

    • On the Sl feed there has always been these really pointless recommendations based i think on what you choose for your profiles ‘interests’. It could be a far better use if recommendations recommended groups or destinations based on your interests instead of random strangers.

    • “Teach them everything they need to know online on the SL website before they start their viewer, let them create their avatar, learn to walk, interact etc.”

      Did you have in mind something like what several MMO games (like Ikariam, Travian and Grepolis) offer, i.e. an easy “getting started” tutorial for new users?

      • Yes, exactly.
        Even though people don’t like comparing SL to games, I think that LL could learn a lot about how games teach their users the basics.
        Look for instance at The Sims, one of the most successful game franchises of all time and with some similarities to SL.
        But very easy to learn, quick to get started and with very nice, fun and simple avatar edit tools
        If a game does this part very well, borrow their idea.
        Better to copy something good than create something bad.

  2. I think there should be 4 modes for the viewer, each with a different UI: Explorer Mode, Chat Mode, Creation Mode and Learning Mode. The Explorer Mode comes with very limited options, but it helps people to discover new places with map and search like tools or easy access to the destination guide. Chat mode focuses on chatting, communicating, finding people, gestures and dancing etc. Creation mode is the advanced mode with all the building tools. And then there is Learning Mode which helps people to learn everything via tool tips, HUDs, easy access to support, wiki, SL Answers etc.
    For newbies there should be very good tutorials. SL does not have them, because people don’t like to learn a lot. But there could be rewards to motivate people. For example people learn about shopping and customizing their avatars, the reward is a collection of better avatars or clothes than the basic noob avatar. Or people learn how to build. The reward is a free small parcel of land. It will be free for a year, then they can move to paid land. The idea is that once people have property in SL, they are much more likely to return. Also the first land gets too small very fast, which creates very fast the desire to buy more land.

  3. Indigo Mertel and myself are both fans of groups being web based, where people can find the information there.

    The basic viewer didn’t work because one man’s basic is another man’s pain, as you point out, they removed features that some noobs would want.

    When I signed up for Eve-Online many moons ago I got daily emails for five days I think it was, full of tips of how to engage with the platform, I think there’s potential in that approach.

    • Yes that would be a great idea, it might also make the sending of messages a little more reliable.
      The basic viewer didn’t work because people who don’t spend a lot of time in SL build it and thought they knew what noobs didn’t need.
      They could have asked ANY SL users and we all would have told them that even noobs want to change their avatars appearance.

      LL could use the website for a lot more things, a tutorial, communication, groups but also sim management.
      I should be able to restart my region, change day to night, see if its busy there, check on prim usage, etc, without having to log in and run around.

  4. Oh boy…since Loki knows my basic answer to these things I am not sure why I am posting but I am. Here it goes: I don’t have a solution but I am taking in good faith that at LL many things have been tried. We are dealing with something incredibly broad and LL is battling against shorter attention span all around, a large contingency of human beings who want spoon-fed ready-made entertainment AND yes = some UI and tech issues of course [some of them beyond their control like old machines and shitty internet in the United States due to a crumbling infrastructure]. However there are 2 things that can and must be done = HUMAN RESOURCES that hold hands, no automation!! Actual people in-world that help, guide, become friends = hire folks for minimum wage in all time-zones, train them, supervise them somehow. THEN what we said on podcast = get ready on the WEB before you log in – make a killer avatar that you LOVE, that you connect with etc. And oh THIRD [but that is coming up in a podcast] = do what Minecraft does = once people are in-world they MUST BE ALLOWED to manipulate the environment RIGHT AWAY, they must have a sense of purpose [at least for some folks a few gamification thingies may be alright!]. In closing: I think we need to remind ourselves that just like LIFE itself SL means a million things for a million people: some want to sit on their butt and play Flappy Bird, others get up at 5am to practice arpeggios on the clarinet just because they want to beat the metronome. Some love McDonalds when they go to Rome, others want to rid Europe off every US food franchise and only eat in dingy Kebab booths….ahhhh tangents… i love thee…..

    • Ok so after 10 years Linden Lab haven’t been able to come up with what you just wrote there? And after 10 years of not doing anything ambitious, do we really expect them to build some huge online front end avatar building kit. For this idea to even be considered it needs to already exists somewhere for Linden Lab to buy and cherry pick.

  5. I don’t use the Linden noob supplied viewer-2.0? But somehow it must hide incoming chat to new people.

    I say hello and offer help – notecards etc to new folks – rarely get reply — same approach used to work and I miss having a noob under my wings for a week or two . Some become – became friends – some shot me questions until they got settled or left.

    Also , camping was a great way to force noobs to explore – talk to each other . So what if some store got more head counts – if they couldn’t cover tier – they closed or became a charity of sorts. Name one RL city that doesn’t have tourist traps. In SL those tourist traps help fuel new people shopping and staying.

    The Realms( right name?) – the cartoon game for some crystal money pay off kills you ( why does slamming a new avatar back to some welcome hub make them want to stay?) , the game is not at all what SL is about and doesn’t foster making friends. Very unpleasant.

    Sitting for a few minutes in a store and asking – what did you find in SL since I saw you last was more fun . Having money to shop was good. Having a reason to log in and a place to go was good.

    New people need a place and purpose and cash until they find their unique SL voice.

  6. I can’t help feeling like dumbing down the experience isn’t going to do anything but encourage a wave of people who would probably be a whole lot happier in a simpler place. I have brought friends and family members into SL many times, helped them get on their virtual feet, held their hands for as long as they seemed to need or want, and some stayed, and some didn’t. Those who didn’t stay all expressed to me that they didn’t get the appeal. Not one said “it’s too complicated”.

    I do wonder what happened to the old mentors idea- I know it apparently crashed and burned, though I can’t imagine why. Having someone you feel you can IM and ask newbie questions of seems to me like a cure for those who come in and just get overwhelmed. And I’m pretty sure many of us are still happy to do that for people, if and when we find someone who needs the help, it’s just not an official thing anymore for some reason.

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