Dear Mr. Humble …

March 10, 2011 by
Filed under: Linden Lab and Second Life 

(What follows is the content of an email sent to Rod Humble of Linden Lab. I felt it was something that should be shared with all …)

Mr. Humble,

My name is Darrius Gothly. I have been a resident of Second Life since mid 2008. Although that is not a long time as compared to many others, it is long enough to have seen and learned more than I cared to.

I first became aware of the “Inner Workings” of Second Life toward the end of 2009 when the Commerce team announced plans to begin charging Merchants for the “privilege” of posting their products on XStreet SL. In a series of decisions and edicts that later became known as “The Freebie Roadmap” I saw a great disconnect between the truth and reality of Second Life and the perception held by the employees of Linden Lab. Being the type that tilts at windmills, I took up the gauntlet and set my sights on helping those in charge understand what they seemed to not see. I was pleased that eventually the total lunacy of their fiat was made clear to them, as they subsequently set aside those plans. But that was not the end .. nor was it the real beginning either.

Shortly on the heels of The Freebie Roadmap came the plans to enact Script Limits. Bold and fairly close to a good idea, it also had totally unrealistic assumptions at its inception. Fortunately, the hew and cry that I participated in (along with many others) helped open the eyes of the Scripting Dev Team so that eventually they revised and reworked their initial goals into something that could be implemented without causing overnight catastrophe. Again it was a triumph for all in that the voices, concerns and input of the Residents was combined with the goals and needs of the Scripting Dev Team to create a solution that made sense, promised gains and did not fly blindly into the brick wall of ignorance.

Last year the Commerce Team again planted both feet into a quagmire of blind foolishness. The Marketplace was designed and foisted onto the Merchants of Second Life with no real input from those that would use it most, in a state that was pre-Alpha (while being touted as Beta) and with a hard-nosed attitude of “We don’t care if you don’t like it .. so shut up.” Fortunately a few of the people that remained toward the end (such as Brodesky) managed to right a few of the glaring wrongs, but the overall exercise cost Linden Lab a fair piece of money and “hide” (in the form of lost confidence and permanently disgruntled customers). The sheer insanity of it was what amazed me the most. There was never a need to rush a broken, half-designed and totally unacceptable “solution” into production. And there was never a need to ignore the excellent examples of the prior platform (XStreet SL) nor the valuable experience and expertise of the Residents and Merchants either.

In early 2010, the existing In-World Search system (based on the GSA 5) was removed and replaced with the newer GSA 6. From the beginning, those of us in the customer base that knew about the GSA and its intended purpose also knew that it was the wrong choice. But of course the decision was made before anyone knew, and once made that decision would not ever be reversed. So as the Search Dev Team began grinding off every handle and knob that made the GSA at least workable, Search became less and less valuable or useful to the Residents. Late last year it reached a state that, while not really fair or logical, was at least usable by the Merchants of SL. However, for some reason which still eludes me, on February 15th a new update to Search was released that completely upended the entire Search service such that more than 50% of my client base has lost sales in numbers larger than ever before. Again an example of implementation without need or reason .. but with very real and permanent damage that cannot be denied or dismissed.

And now we come to the latest “Service” shoved down the throats of your customer base .. namely the Lithium Community Platform. Instead of providing a valuable service that enables open and free communication among the Residents, it has in less than a week become a platform of repression, censorship and favoritism. Today I was “Warned” by one of the moderators that I was harassing someone and my post was edited to remove said harassment. However the person I “harassed” had been harassing me, slandering my name and my skills and engaging in thread hijacking .. all without the slightest whisper from the mods. In fact, he was promoted to “Member” and given greater privileges to harass and demean others instead of being pulled up short for his actions.

But that is not the straw that broke my back today. No, instead the straw is that I see in today’s actions toward me and many others the intention of the moderators and (by extension) Linden Lab to sanitize the Forums so that nary a single word of disagreement may be visible.

You and I have both been around the mill enough years to know that such perfectly sanitized glop is … well it’s just that .. glop. It has no value, no taste, no use and eventually no place in a growing, dynamic enterprise such as Second Life could be.

I have never been a “Sunshine Pumper” .. willfully ignoring the blemishes so that I may sing the false praises of plans and deeds that are obviously wrong and destructive. By the same token I have never been stingy with my praise when good is done or solutions are attained. I call it like I see it. But this new platform has no place left for honest people like me .. and thus I withdraw from participation in it. I think in short order I will most likely withdraw from participation in Second Life altogether as well.

Second Life was a dynamic environment. It was exactly the differences, disagreements and polarity of the community that energized it. As my old Physics Teacher commented “Difference in potential is the source of true energy.” Sadly the efforts and actions of your staff are rapidly removing one pole of that potential .. and what will be left is an unbalanced and impotent band of sunshine pumpers with nothing to contribute other that the obligatory “wow!” and “neat” that is their hallmark.

I hope you will find in my words some spark of sanity and reason that will illuminate your challenges more clearly. However, not knowing you any better than I do, perhaps these changes are exactly as you wish .. I just do not know. But whatever happens, whatever you take away from this letter, I know that my desire to participate has been damaged beyond all repair.

I owe a lot to my existing clients in Second Life, and I will stay around long enough to ensure those commitments are met. Perhaps I will be surprised and see changes that are designed to restore the vitality and energy to Second Life .. or perhaps not.

My best wishes to you Mr. Humble. Whatever path you choose, I hope you are successful in reaching your goals. I only know my goals, my ideals and those of many many others like me have been dashed on the rocks for the last time.


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3 Comments on Dear Mr. Humble …

    […] I’ve never been one to keep my mouth shut, and I have received warnings from Mods before, but on the new Community Forums I received a warning for “harassment and personal attack” after I was harassed and personally attacked by one of Genn’s Thuggees. I addressed that in a previous post “Dear Mr. Humble …” […]

  1. Toysoldier Thor on Wed, 16th Mar 2011 8:07 PM
  2. Hmmmm I can only guess who this LL Cheerleader was. If it is who I think it is, I have learned all to well that he is purely a LL Untouchable. He has broken almost every Forum TOS in the book and has even openly admitted in the same postings that he has violated the TOS. He has had countless TOS ARs submitted against him and the Mod’s heve never punished him.

    Most of us SL Commerce Forum vets know full well who this pom pom grasping cheerleader is. But we also know that LL will never do anything to punish him – even if Mr. Humble stepped it.

    The new Community Forums is just a fresh coat of paint on top of the same moderation and favoritism cultures and policies. That is LL – it will never change.

  3. Darrius Gothly on Wed, 16th Mar 2011 10:11 PM
  4. Truth be told? The post wasn’t about any one person (although I did mention one in the post). It is more about the lopsided imbalance I saw happening in the way moderation was being meted out. I saw more of it today, but I think .. just maybe .. they’re pulling closer to the middle. At least, I’m praying that’s the motivation behind the actions I saw taken today.