Window Dressing – or something more substantial

So…we have a new “Resident Communications Manager” at Linden Labs, charged with managing company / Resident communications.

Huzzah!! Role out the red carpet! Trumpeters, a fanfare for Katt Linden!

No, I’m not being sarcastic. I genuinely mean it. One of the weakest elements of LL’s operations is their continued failure in talking to Residents (or is that in fact their “unwillingness”?) And now, after 12 months of hunting, the post has finally been filled. This is BIG NEWS for Second Life users….

So why has it been marked with more of a whimper than a bang by Linden Lab?

The position was clearly filled over a month ago…yet the first mention we had was a kind of , “oh by the way…” comment by posted by Robin (Harper) Linden when commenting on the forums on March 31st. Catherine (Smith) Linden actually introduced Kat on the 2nd April, but bizarrely did so at the end of a long rambling post about LL’s trademark policy.

Both are hardly blistering announcements for what is purportedly (and should in fact BE) a mainstay role in LL’s relationship with its customers.

And even then, we don’t get to hear from Katt herself for another 20 days, when she finally gives herself an introduction.

OK… in this latter regard, I’ll accept the poor girl needed to go through the inevitable corporate indoctrination – I mean induction – and receive training for her role in terms of SL requirements (although her post actually suggests she is already well-versed in the latter, and could well be a former SL Resident).

BUT….what is worrying is the immediate focus of her work in communications, as expressed by Catherine Smith and echoed be Katt herself: “…will be focusing on our Resident communication channels including this blog and the forums to make sure we’re using the right tools to communicate clearly and frequently with the community.”

Excuse me?

  • We have an Asset Cluster that breaks almost daily – and when it doesn’t actually break, it wobbles around in a very alarming fashion;
  • We have LL technophiles who appear incapable of either a) stringing a cohesive sentence together or b) are incapable of treating their readership with respect (or possibly both) and persist in pumping out blog reports that speak of “gremlins” in the “works” but people are “banging on things” to fix the problem;
  • We have a total lack of pro-active communications from LL when these things go wrong – no in-world messages; no updates or advisories. Instead, people are left to find out the hard way that things are borked: failed transactions, lost goods, missing funds.

All of these have a lasting, and highly damaging impact on people’s view of both Second Life and Linden Lab. These are issues that need vastly improved communications – FROM Linden Lab TO their customers.

Yet, when a person is hired to (one would hope) fill this void – what is she tasked to do first? Look at the blogging / forum tools.

Given that both of these tools – while not without their little niggles – both WORK and are SCALABLE, STABLE and not prone to collapsing in a very messy heap if anyone so much as glances at them in a wrong tone of voice, then one has to ask, “Why is the Resident Communications Manager even wasting her time poking her nose into these non-issues?”

So WHAT if HTML tags don’t work in the forums. So WHAT if embedded links (or whatever the perceived problem is here) don’t work in the Blog? Linden Lab, we can live with it!

What we can’t live with is an Asset environment that breaks with absurd regularity. Yes, we appreciate it will take time and a huge effort to fix….we can even accept that, however reluctantly (again given this problem has been around longer than LL has been “hunting” for a new Resident Communications Manager). But we can only do this if Linden Lab get PRO-ACTIVE in their communications.

So Please, Catherine, Robin, Philip, et al….forget the bloody blog and forums: start telling what things have gone wrong WHEN they have gone wrong – and put Katt in charge of in-world messaging NOW.

This simple act alone will restore some faith in your managerial abilities.

There are other ways you can further improve your communications (and your image with your customers (aka “Residents”)….but I’ve outlined those in my reply to Katt’s blog post, so I won’t bore you with them here.