The blog firestorm over Linden Lab’s new policies for the Second Life® Birthday Celebration continues apace, and Vint Falken’s JIRA issue on the topic is up to 166 votes as of this writing. So far, the only comment from the Lindens on this issue has been one comment by Everett Linden on Massively.com…which has done nothing to clear up the issue, and has, in fact, raised additional questions. His statement that “the SL birthday on Linden land is PG” directly contradicts the draft policy for SL5B, which states “All sims will be Mature.” Of course, he may have meant that people were to adhere to PG content and behavior despite the sims’ Mature rating (the kind of rules enforced at The Shelter), but who can say for sure?
And it’s clear that Everett doesn’t make policy, he’s just passing on “the word from higher up.” Okay, then, let’s get this settled once and for all: I call on M Linden to make an immediate statement to the community regarding Linden Labs’ policies for the Second Life Fifth Birthday Celebration. In detail, and with footnotes. At least, if he tells us something’s no longer kosher, we won’t have to waste time going higher. You took the job, M; now it’s time to show you can deliver.
Strangely enough, Prokofy Neva seems to be taking the Lindens’ side in this matter, saying that this just involves Linden Labs’ right to promote whatever it likes. Well, Prok, you’re absolutely right; LL can promote whatever it likes at an event which it gives its imprimatur to. However, there are two important issues which follow from that principle:
- What’s with them changing the rules this time around, from the policies previously established for past birthday celebrations, and indeed from the draft policies they’d already established for SL5B? And why can’t they communicate the rationale for these changes in a reasonable fashion? Jacek points out that the Lindens had several options as to how to deal with the Second Life Children this year, and they took the option that was guaranteed to cause a firestorm. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark…and it sure as hell ain’t Danish blue cheese.
- Yes, the Lindens have the right to change the rules for birthday celebrations at any time, as they see fit. We, however, as Residents, also have the right, in turn, to decide whether or not we choose to devote our time and effort to making such a celebration successful, under those revised rules. Two principal organizers of SL5B, as well as any number of potential exhibitors and participants, have already made their choice known; how many more will walk away? And will there even be a Fifth Birthday Celebration, under these circumstances? It may turn into a sanitized, corporate affair, as Prok no doubt thinks it will, which may suit the Lindens just fine. They will, however, have sent a powerful message, one that Jacek has picked up on:
But Linden Lab, it seems, doesn’t want its Residents anymore. It doesn’t want a free, open, creative world. It wants a sanitized, media-friendly world, that universities and big corps won’t think twice about making major investments in. LL’s message for Residents now is:Thanks for making us so popular, but go away now. You’re embarrassing us in front of the cool kids.Linden Lab has continually neglected and offended its user base, and thus turned a natural ally into a second enemy.
We are Linden Labs’ customers. We pay premium account fees (and I know of at least one Resident who has downgraded to Basic over this very issue); we pay tier for land; we buy sims and pay tier for them. Yet LL seems to want to piss us off at every turn. I’ve said it before: The only company I know of that has shown it can thrive while pissing off its customers over and over again is Microsoft…and even they aren’t having such an easy time of it anymore.
I don’t have a good Last Graf here; either LL will find their principles again, or they won’t. Either SL5B will go on as it would have, or it won’t. One thing’s for sure: the ball is now in LL’s court.
“…and so I close, realizing that perhaps the ending has not yet been written.” – Atrus, Myst