New community platform announced

Following Amanda Linden’s somewhat faux pas-ridden announcement about communications, Vogt Linden chips in with an overview of what to expect from the “new integrated community platform” currently on (apparently) a closed beta at the moment and due to roll out on March 2nd.

Given the Jive platform was supposed to be the saviour of all our woes some 18 months ago, and was specifically chosen by LL for its, umm… “ease and flexibility of use”, one can hardly be blamed for sidling up to this announcement (which, given the overall negative response to Amanda’s post, unsurprisingly has comments turned off) with a degree of scepticism.

The key points are:

A robust self-help facility: well, good – providing it works. Getting assistance is hard enough as it is at present, and anything the enables people to sort out for themselves what can be sorted out for themselves is a good thing – providing it stays relevant (and the comment about answers being editorially reviewed by LL for inclusion in the knowledge base is welcome. However (and you know that was coming, didn’t you?). Many things cannot be resolved through self-help or through the assistance of other knowledgeable users; they simply require expert and understanding help at the Lab’s end of things – and by and large, this is where it all falls down.

  • Non-premium members have a limited range of tickets that they can submit; often times the categories don’t match the problem they are encountering, and a ticket raised under the “nearest” (or most descriptive) category to their issue tends yo unhelpfully closed with a warning that it was incorrectly filed.Given that, by-and-large, non-premium members contribute to Second Life (and Linden Lab) in terms of content generation, revenue, turn-over, etc., this needs to be sorted out.
  • Even premium members are faced with tickets remaining open for weeks or even months at a time without resolution. Again, this is unacceptable.

These issues being the case, Help needs to be a level playing field for all users. It doesn’t matter if you’re a premium member or not, suffering an inventory loss or seeing items becoming visible but unobtainable in your inventory is upsetting on many levels, and LL need to beef-up their entire support environment, rather than rely on self-help and other residents.

A unified search function: “Search” and “Linden Lab” are not, to many residents, term that set well together (unless the words “borked”, “screwed up”, “messed up” or “doesn’t work” enter into the same sentence); ergo, it’s possible that this function in particular is going to come under a lot of scrutiny. Even so, if it works, then LL will equally be due the praise as well.

Single Sign-on: Many thought we had this, after all it was at one point touted as one of the “strengths” of the JIVE platform. Good on Linden Lab if it now turns out to be a reality, rather than a hoped-for.

Contribution-based roles: Here is where my hair starts standing on end, and I really would like to see more information around this idea. What I will say for now is, for God’s sake, Vogt / Amanda / whoever don not give any resident the powers of moderation! Period. The General Discussion forum is already awash with egos aplenty, cliques, and self-appointed “guardians” of what should or should not remain seen (though an over-zealous use of the Abuse button). More than one “high-scoring” forum participant has a reputation for re-editing her own past posts in order to “score points” against her adversaries. The very last thing we need is for these people to suddenly be granted additional “powers” that enables them to further interfere with discussions and debate.

Easier ways for Residents Customers to share their knowledge: again, good in theory, but I’ll reserve judgement on how this works out in practice, assuming there isn’t some overall Linden-grown editorial control.

Social Media hooks: Personally for me, a “meh” point – but if they provide a service other people like and wish to use, then excellent. Just don’t go making them an imperative (say on web profiles, etc.), for those that don’t want them. In short, and where appropriate, make them fully opt-in, not partially opt-out (as is indeed currently the case with web profiles).

It’s going to be interesting to see how some individuals handle the week-long block on forum postings. Given that some forum contributors  post at the rate of 5 or 6 posts a day (and one is currently running at an average of twenty post  a day (number of posts / number of days a member of the forums) – where on earth does she get the time to actually log in to SL?), I think LL are going to need to provide counselling and care for those suffering from withdrawal!

Home improvements

Yes, I’ve been banging the prims together again.

Since setting up my new sky house and platform, I’ve felt something has been missing. There is plenty of space, and the house I’m more than satisfied with; but something has been lacking.

Daisy first partially put a finger on it, suggesting the main patio needed a few koi in a pond. She was right, but even so, things were still lacking. The pond looks a little odd, if I’m honest, and while the front lawn provided a great vantage point to watch the sun set, it lacked … something as well.

It’s not often that I start tinkering without some idea of what I want; but that’s what I did yesterday; simply trying out ideas – round gazebos, additional planters, vines, simple rugs and so on. Nothing came together.

It wasn’t until today that I figured out what was needed: plants, water, fish and a gazebo with room to sit and room to snuggle. I had no clear idea of how to put it all together, but I did know the front lawn area was the place.

As first I thought maybe a Japanese-style area, little pools of water, plants, gravelled walkways and a small Japanese-styled gazebo.

The only problem was that it really wouldn’t fit with the rest of the build’s look; I really wanted something that would continue the lines of the rest of the build, but offer rooms to sit, watch the sunset and set itself apart from the rest of the platform.

So I started with the prims and the superglue, and I’m quite pleased with the results: a clean, open-sided gazebo, draped in vines on three sides, sitting over a large pond filled with koi, with planters all around to provide a little privacy, a wooden bridge linking patio to platform.

There is enough room on the platform for half-a-dozen to sit and chat, while the rug provides a nice little place for snuggles, intimate chats – and simply watching the sun set.

The gazebo is currently unlit, but I’m considering a couple of hanging baskets with candles, or perhaps flames, suspended from a couple of the beams.

The koi, from Jamay Greene, haven’t been used in about two years, so I guess they’re pleased to be back out of the box – although I have to admit the pond probably needs some suitable greenery to help them feel totally at home!

I’ll probably tweak bits and pieces over the next day or so, but overall, I think the gazebo and bits complement the rest of the house. Now I’ll just have make sure it gets used!