Wednesday, October 20, 2010

but nothing will grow on this burnt cursed ground

I'm...really not sure where to start. So much went wrong this week. I literally have no real clue where's the best place to begin.

I guess, first, Terrence Linden's post on thirteen to fifteen year olds joining their older teen cohorts on the grid struck me as in extremely bad taste, after the joint Linden Labs decision that gutted SL-based education. While I haven't heard of any institution-level closures, give it two months. I'm betting, between two and six months from now, we're going to see bigger changes on the grid than the Lindens anticipate.

Then...Brodesky Linden apparently lost his mind.

On a JIRA posting that dealt with the extremely broken SL Marketplace...well. Let's start with what ab Vanmoer said in response to the initial interchange:
Instead of wasting time with cosmetics why don't you fix the important stuff first like the migrations and the broken XStreet ID that has wasted everyone's time trying to use it.

Correctly rounded star ratings may be important, but not if the reviews are not showing at all!!!
Brodesky Linden answered:
Why don't you stop wasting time and put in comments in the correct tickets. I filter (Ab's) emails to trash. Gmails makes that very easy to do.
Now, I grant you, I don't hang out in JIRA lands that often these days. I've come to the conclusion that the Lindens really don't so much care, and moreover, I can't figure out what they do care about, so...

But this? Seemed insanely hostile as a first comment. Obviously there's enmity there, deep and abiding, but just off the bat, as a casual reader? What Vanmoer said sounded frustrated, but reasonable. Because Marketplace is badly flawed. Marketplace has deep problems, and they are infuriating problems that should have been fixed before release.

VanMoer answered back, and actually sounded calmer:
Actually this is a related ticket, it is about review ratings, many listings still don't show those at all, never mind having the incorrect star rating.

As for filtering my emails to trash, seeing as I have only sent three to the commerce team I find it sad that that is the level of customer service you are providing, however that didn't preclude you from responding to todays email. However not in a helpful way.
I would tend to agree. But it didn't stop there.

Chaffro Schoonmaker:
Seriously, did a Linden just publicly say "we filter your emails to trash"?
Sort of confirms why there are so many black marks on their Better Business Bureau account, doesn't it?

Fricker Fraker:
Quickly adds Brodesky Linden to his Trashy Linden folder. Nice people skills there dude.
This is the kind of incident that gives Linden Labs as a whole bad press. Do they not realize this?

Rosie Barthelmess:
How long is Brodesky Linden's bad attitude and rude demeanor going to be tolerated? That's acceptable why?
I'd be interested in that answer, too.

Vanmoer returned with a comment:
Please can we refrain from turning this into a Brodeksy bashing.
He was obviously angry and lashed out without thinking through what he was saying.

I have been a rather vocal critic of the SLM, however I think that the real problem is that the project has been severely understaffed and not a criticism of Brodesky personally.
That's noble of him, truly. And I agree in terms of the Marketplace--the entire refurbishing of XStreet to the Marketplace was done with fewer people than the project needed, in an atmosphere of dread and terror that saw, every day, people around them falling in a battle most of them never saw coming. If they had had the best and brightest coders on the job, it still wouldn't have been perfect on release, because you just can't lay off 30% of your total workforce and have that decision not ripple through the company at large.

But here's my thing: if I say something sucks, well, who the hell am I? Just another avatar. Just another virtual girl in the world. Who cares?

But if a Linden says that thing? I know we shouldn't, it's the worst level of conflation, but just on the off chance that any Linden-type is actually reading this...what one Linden says, the company says. If Brodesky Linden says this, the Labs have said this. If Frontier Linden acts like we're thicker than frozen mud, and steadfastly refuses to do his job, instead choosing to blame the customer for a wholly server-side issue? People remember for years afterwards. (I know. It's been over three years, Frontier's not working for the company anymore, but I still remember.)

It's not at all surprising that it works the other way, too. I was deeply sad to hear Spike Linden left...or was fired...or laid off...whatever it was that happened. He helped me, once, and that sense of gratitude and loyalty lasted until the day he stopped being a Linden. Because of that sole time he helped me.

Marx Dudek:
And when the name "Linden" is attached to a public comment on the corporate website, no matter where it is, it carries a lot of weight - and this public comment is quickly becoming a "shot heard 'round the grid".

And then Brodesky had to say that one last thing:
I'm glad this has been entertaining, and Ab is enjoying all the publicity this is bringing him. You can thank him for all the emails he has sent the commerce team about changing the item that gets delivered.
Honestly, I give up. It doesn't matter what we say; the Lindens don't listen. It doesn't matter whether we own sims or not; they attack whomever they will with no sense of conscience. It doesn't matter if we show them financial figures; they do what they feel is good from the company, even if it's tragic in the long run. And they keep making these goddamned rookie mistakes, over and over and over again.

It's like watching two children play dominoes, only one child is alternately setting up dominoes to flip and wandering away, and the other one is hitting the dominoes with a mallet, thinking that will make them tip faster.

Why is this happening? Why is Brodesky Linden not out the door with everyone else? Do the Labs only want people have all the social skills of viruses? Will it ever get any better?

Gods, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm actually starting to miss M 'Just call me Dubya' Linden. And that, friends and neighbors, is terrifying to contemplate.

Finally, we come to Philip. Philip who returned, and sent M into the darkness of obscurity, and there was much rejoicing...only now he's turning out to be nearly as bad as the venal bastard himself.

I have to ask again, why is this happening?

Philip held a contest to update his avatar. The winner? Someone who made him look like the same damn person. And did he take time out of his so-busy day to thank the contest winner, even distantly?


And a few days later, somewhat as expected, Philip announced he was stepping down--again--and the search for a new CEO would commence.

Why am I even surprised anymore? Right now, with a new group, and the momentum of the Unknown Hunt behind me--let alone the incredible diversity of businesses who have fled SL entirely--my small business is poised to make the leap from miniscule to tiny. I could actually start advertising things. I could perhaps start selling things.

And...I can't even bring myself to design new things. I'm staring in the face of wondering why any of it matters. If the Lindens are just going to keep smiling and loading the gun, pointing it at their collective heads, and firing, hoping to miss. How long is this insanity going to continue?

I think I'm one of the (mostly) silent people standing behind Bettina Tizzy at this point, thinking our best shot to get through this is to help in every way we can to pressure the Lindens to sell their damned company and get the hell away from Second Life. And that is a sad, tragic thing indeed.

Horrorfest has opened, in honor of, and in support for, the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, which was set up in part because of the pure undiluted shock and tragedy of how she died. For anyone who doesn't know, she and her boyfriend were making plans to get married, and were taking a romantic stroll through a park local to both of them. A group of thugs saw the black hair and the pale skin and did their best to beat them to death for no other reason.

Sophie died from it, kicked so savagely she was unrecognizeable. Somewhat more tragically, her love did not, and has been endeavoring to put the pieces of his life back in some sort of order, afterwards. Her mother? After mourning her daughter, she set up a charity and is soliciting funds to raise awareness. Because she doesn't want this to happen, ever again.

This is one bright spot in all the chaos and bad decision-making. Because someone beloved to the people who run Octoberville died recently. It was unexpected, and no funds had been set aside for burying him. In a panic, Cherub Spectre turned to her community, the community that she and Master Kaos have patiently built up, and begged them for help.

They helped. Over the course of half a week, they raised enough money to bury him, and the date of the funeral was announced to the group as a whole, in case anyone could attend from the group.

That is a good thing Second Life does, and does well. It still is an excellent tool to put human faces on tragedies, to raise awareness and raise financial support for good causes.

And it's all resident-based. Linden Labs? Is too busy loading the gun for the next super-amazing set of announcements.


Marx Dudek said...

One look at Brodesky's inworld profile says it all. Linden Lab employee for one year, profile completely blank.

Emilly Orr said...

Somehow, I'm not surprised.

This goes well with reports of Lindens that, year after year, have no AOs, no change of outfits--hells, up until recently Philip Linden had the same noob skin and system hair he started with when the game spawned...

(And no, I don't count the 'update'--he 'updated' to look exactly as he did before. That? Is not an 'update'.)

They don't live on the same grid we do, and I mean that literally--there are Lindens that never, ever leave Linden land. No wonder they have no comprehension of our concerns.

Serenity said...

Don't know if you got a chance to read this one Emi.

Not just bad that we lose another CEO, well could be good or bad we'll have to see. But the possibility of Microsoft buying the grid? Wow..I'm scared. XD

Really nice post, didn't get to hear the whole story for the horrorfest charity too much besides your post and a some info touching in their notecard. ^^

Emilly Orr said...

Three weeks ago, word went out that the Microsoft buy-out was a bad rumor. Now? It's back in the news again. I don't get it.

Are they going to buy the Labs out? No clue. Could they do worse? That's a tougher question...

Sphynx Soleil said...

I was gonna say there WAS a thank-you post about Phillip 2.0, but you're right...that wasn't BY him, it was by another linden.

Least he could have done was write the damn post himself, it wouldn't have taken THAT long. :P

It seems like the creatives are the ones that actually "Get" SL - and are the ones willing to fill out their profiles, have avatars that don't look like them, etc. The rest...just seem to see the virtual world as an extension of the real, and I think that's where a lot of clash is going on.

Emilly Orr said...

The main difficulty I've found with the Lindens as a group is--they really don't understand the world they've built, on a fundamental level. We both have friends who know Lindens personally, and the one thing that keeps cropping up is that their in-game experience (when they bother with the in-game experience) is so radically different as to be two separate grids entirely.

Most Lindens know intellectually about lag, but most Lindens also spend the bulk of their time in Linden-owned lands; there is a lack of lag and crashing both because they're logging in locally on separate servers, and there's little in the way of conflicting textures, from avatars to builds.

There are still Lindens wearing basic system layers only. There are still Lindens with basic system hair. There are Lindens who have no concept of what "AO" means to the rest of us, as witnessed by the clashing, time and again, during the entire Zindra continent debate--they started using the acronym to indicate "Adult Oriented" or "Adult Options" or something (I can't remember now), when every single resident not a Linden had a very distinct and separate definition of AO.

The main divide, I truly believe, is not between those who just don't leave Linden spaces--they're pretty much virtual Marie Antoinettes. Her comment, when told that the French in revolt had no bread and were going hungry was 'Let them eat cake'--not because she was that cold-hearted, but because she had grown to adulthood surrounded by wealth and privilege, and literally had no concept of people who couldn't afford food. It was entirely outside the realm of her experience.

No, unfortunately, I think the big problem is with those who do leave--for a day, for a weekend, wandering the main grid, on state-of-the-art computers, logged in locally so there's an absence of concurrency. These people just do not understand, and there's nothing we can do to bridge that gap, ever.

Computer too old to access SL properly? Buy a new one. We can't afford a new one. And the conversation breaks down, because nearly every Linden is in a protected environment, and they just don't understand.