Friday, November 20, 2009

choking on saltwater, but I'm not giving in

The Oilpunk Trilobyte. Keen! Where are the plans?

Antonius Misfit analyzes XStreet's anti-competitive measures.

And Miss Ordinal Malaprop takes on the price hikes with some excellent points (as expected):

The distribution of the message that Xstreet is for a certain sort of person to make money. It is not a general method of distribution for educators or philanthropists. I also say "a certain sort of person" because the economic engineering here encourages certain business models over others. There is no economy of scale and no attempt to allow for one; you should be making small numbers of high-priced items that all sell well, not even small numbers of high-priced specialist items (see above).


A corollary to that is the message that Linden Lab is not interested in you making things better for other residents by means of its services. In fact, Linden Lab would rather that you didn't, and will charge you more if you intend to.

And she's absolutely right. The Labs, at this point, have no interest in being everyone's virtual world--unless the end consumer has money, and lots of it, and a desire to give lots of it to the Labs--they couldn't care less.

Again, individual Lindens? Nifty people. At large? Mass mob of intoxicated bookies screaming for blood.

So, based on yesterday's revelation--I could price my one demi-free item back at L$4, and remove the in-world free option, or I could reduce it to L$1 or L$0 again, and then get hit with that L$102 (L$99 plus the L$3 commission) fee. It wasn't worth it to me, so I'm now entirely off XStreet, with, sadly, no other clear alternative on where to go.


In vendor news...I hate Apez. I really do. They are not at all intuitive, they are hard to use, they are hard to figure out how to get started, even, and the mere concept of getting a vendor box to start seems beyond their ability to make simple. It was agonizing work trying to figure out which little highlighted word went to the right damned place.

That having been said, I'm running the same test I'm running elsewhere, only this one has an option for in-world, as well. So you'll find the Bloody Carni gown and the new revision of the Bloodscratch gown on the grid in Black Sands, as well as on the web in the Apez store...somewhere, because unlike XStreet, they do not maintain separate shop sections.

I'll be adding more when I can, I think, though, anyway--because as frustrating as they are, they are established, and it gives me time to test out other firms, and see how they work.

Over on MMORPG, they're discussing what makes a healthy community. They're talking about MMOs, and their sometimes drama-ridden forums attached therewith, but I wondered if the same rules applied to SL.

What makes a healthy community?

I view community health as a combination of how active conversations are, ease of entry for the newcomer and general online safety. For my purposes as a community manager, customer satisfaction with the game isn't a component of the community health. If customers are dissatisfied, I want to make sure that there is a readily available channel somewhere in the community where they can discuss their issues.

The Labs tell us this "readily available channel" is the blogs, and the blog forums. I say, that's deceptive at best, and maliciously duplicitous at worst. One wonders what it takes, honestly, to get through Linden egospeak; as many have said, individually, Lindens are all right; but as a collective, they're an ungodly mess, and willfully deaf to boot.

Dealing with emergencies

When I fire up my browser to look at the forums, I know that anything could happen. A major exploit could be emerging. Servers may have gone down two minutes ago, and there's always an eight page thread on login troubles which will grow past 50 pages within the hour. These are the ones that need to be jumped on immediately.

In the face of a major service issue, people aren't posting contemplative thoughts, sharing strategies and insights. They're posting their real-time emotional responses to the issue at hand. It's a mob, calling for a fix to the problem, threatening to quit the game, and calling for developers to be fired. In their heightened agitation, players start flame wars amongst themselves, the word idiot will get thrown around and people will generally make themselves miserable while they wait for a response from you.

The Lindens have seen this. Over and over they've seen this. They've had residents calling for resignations, calling for firings, calling for the heads of various Lindenforms to be delivered to them forthwith while they burn effigies of Philip in heated pixel flames.What community managers need to do, Mr. Wachter points out, is be aware of these pressure points, and realize, community members are customers, and while their problems are generally problems with developers, programmers, coders and the like, getting an honest answer--or at least something that feels like an honest answer--is important when the customer thinks there's a crisis.

If you don't recognize the bad decisions before they go public, then you're back on the damage control treadmill.

Where are the Lindens right now? On the damage control treadmill, maybe--though I'm fairly sure they're not even close to the damage control treadmill, they're still standing around in shock because the whole damage control gym blew up.

Ciaran Laval speaks on Linden reaction to the BBC article; and I'm terribly amused by one point:

Now first of all, I do find it rather humourous that the lab are complaining that M was approached to do an interview about "a look at Second Life today - what's it up to, where's it going, why so quiet in the media after such great press a few years ago, etc." I find this humourous because not long back I attended an office hour that was about "Freebies, Demos, and Promo offerings on XStreet" that somehow got morphed into a policy to introduce listing fees for everyone selling an item of L$1 or more on XstreetSL, so providing input on one thing and then discovering that it ends up being about something else is an area where residents have experience, maybe Linden Lab will understand how that's not such a great thing to do to people now, hey?

Yeah. So not wrong.

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