LL: Don’t fudge. TALK!

Ciaran Laval brings word that Linden Lab may well be making moves to “hide” the server Release Candidate (RC) channels away from casual viewing.

I’ve written in the past about RC channels and how they work, commenting on the three most widely recognised channels of BlueSteel, Magnum and Le Tigre (while there are others on a smaller scale that may come and go according to needs). Currently, one can find out if the region one is on or visiting is running on an RC channel in a couple of easy ways:

  • A pop-up will announce the fact that you are running on an RC channel (or, for that matter, the primary release channel) whenever you teleport to a region running on a different version of the simulator software
  • You can open HELP and the ABOUT option for your Viewer  and see what version of the server software the region you’re in is running

Now that is apparently about to change, and the information removed, hidden, tippex’d out or fudged over in some manner because, apparently, Oskar and others at the Lab feel the information is too easy to find, and people then start complaining about issues they are having and blaming it on the fact that they’re on an RC channel; something which may well have absolutely no bearing on the issues they are experiencing.

Well, I’d like to say I’m sympathetic to Oskar’s plight – but actually I’m not.

The solution to the issue isn’t to simply hide information about the RC channels because it is “too easy” to find. The correct solution is to engage with your users, explain the situation to them and tell them why the RC channel they may be on probably isn’t to blame for their woes.
Hiding the information or fudging it, or whatever solution Oskar and the team comes up with doesn’t remove the problem – it simply obfuscates matters.
There is a forum for server releases. There is a bloody technology section to the Linden Lab’s own blog. So why aren’t the Lab using them? If there is an issue with people understanding the purpose of the RC channels and how they work and so making incorrect assumptions, then is it really that hard to blog / post a couple of educational items on the subject to help enlighten people?
OK, so – as Ciaran points out – doing so might not stop all those complaints about RC channels “causing” people issues – but it’s fair to say it’ll go a long way towards stemming the flow – and it will put information out into the public domain that users themselves can point to and help others understand the nuances of the release process and why problems may well be unrelated (or not) to the server version someone is sitting on.
Rodvik – I’ve asked before, and I’ll ask again – just what have you people at the Lab got against constructive, on-going engagement, using all the tools at your disposal, with your user community as a whole? Precisely when will we see the uptake in improved communications from the Lab you yourself promised us back in May of this year?

17 thoughts on “LL: Don’t fudge. TALK!

  1. “Hiding the information or fudging it, or whatever solution Oskar and the team comes up with doesn’t remove the problem – it simply obfuscates matters.”

    This is why I adore you, you just summed up most of my blog post in one sentence. I agree entirely, they should be explaining the issue, not be afraid of giving people information, if they put the information out there, we can try and explain the issue too and the knowledge becomes more widespread.

    Hiding it will just lead to more frustration and you are spot on about the blog, I go to the forum now and the meeting minutes because the blog does not spread this information anymore, a blog should have more reach than a specific sub-forum, if that blog is used sensibly.


    1. Thanks for highlighting the issue to start with; but for reading your piece, I’d never have commented – and I just don’t have the time to attend all meetings (or even a fraction) or crawl through forums and meeting notes…

      The lack of pro-active use of their own platform by LL (notably the blog) is one of the biggest on-going irritants when it comes to their inability / unwillingness to engage and communicate (and at this point in itme, one is swayed towards it being “unwilling”, the situation has gone on for so long now). It’s an area where Rodvik himself has sigularly failed: we were promised more open, more direct, more informative communications through the blog back in May. Yet here we are in December, and the loudest noise coming from the blogs is that of tumbleweed rustling as it rolls by….

      As to the RC situation; this really is a facepalm situation. One has to wonder what is being smoked around the table at Battery Street for the proposed solution to be under serious consideration; it could well bring a whole new definition to the term “wacky baccy”….


      1. My RL workload has increased a lot lately,.so I am not able to attend meetings like I used to either. I am grateful that they publish minutes now. That is an improvement.

        I think we’re on the same page regarding communications, we’ve both long complained about it. I do agree with you, the blog has a technology section, it should be used.

        I also agree about the facepalm situation but Oskar is a techie, I used to be a techie, I have constant fights with techies about communication, I constantly have to tell them that informing users about what the problem is, is good customer service, hiding it helps nobody.


  2. Just communicating that your region is running an experimental server version is not enough, when said server version IS causing problems, consistently. On our LeTigre region, we’ve consistently been laggy. On at least two occasions, LeTigre has broken content on our region. Once, the movement of physical, temp on rez objects was disabled. Just this week, animations in scripted furniture and poseballs stopped working. We had to open a support ticket with LL, who was kind enough to take us off LeTigre and back on the main server channel.


    1. At least you could see your region was running on Le Tigre; if the information is taken away from the most obvious channels, you’re losing the most direct way of ascertaining whether issues are related or not, without additional (and needless) digging around and double-checking.

      Communication won’t solve all the issues, true. But it’s a more positive move than LL simply hiding the information that may provide one with a direct means of starting checks into possible causes. Providing more explanation to those unfamiliar with the RC channel process would also enable them to better educate themselves as to what may – or may not – be creating problems.


  3. Oskar Linden does a better job of communicating than most.
    Getting the rest of the Lab up to his level would be a huge improvement. But, as this shows, there would still be room for improvement.


  4. Well, Inara,
    I echo Wolf’s remarks here. I’ve been on what I thought were good terms with Oskar lately, but this latest idiocy makes me wonder if the actually IS anyone at LL who truly has engaged with the Residents of SL, at least those who own or rent land in SL. Whether the company likes to admit it it not, their paying customers have to know what server channel they are on in order to give LL support the assistance they more often than not need. This is madness.


  5. I may be completely missing something but I went and read the meeting transcript and it seems to me that the Linden Lab representatives were doing exactly what you are asking – talking about the issue with residents in attendance. I did not read anything like “Now we are going to hide this information”. Did I miss something ?


    1. As I understand it, the idea being floated is to remove the dedicated channel names, and replace with build numbers. So the most direct (and useful) means for sim owners to identify what their land holdings may be running on is going away, and being replaced by a numbering system that could be less obvious and more confusing.

      It may well ease the pain LL are experiencing with the rise in complaints about *channel* (which might be better given in terms of *problem*), but it also means that it is liable to end up with those who *are* experiencing issues related to channels finding a harder to pin down causes without digging around, getting confused and / or becoming even more frustrated with the Lab.

      If users are creating pain for LL, or if things are being misunderstood, far better for someone from the Lab to blog openly about what is happening to the community as a whole. It won’t make the entire problem LL are experiencing go away, but it is liable to generate a wider understanding than simply fudging information and / or shutting down yet another channel of communication (which has so often been LL’s response to problems of late).


  6. “There is a forum for server releases. There is a bloody technology section to the Linden Lab’s own blog. So why aren’t the Lab using them?”

    Oskar’s team is about the only one at the Lab that seems to use it. They posts the weekly rollouts and the release notes, every week. The people driving him crazy don’t want to understand the issues, as far as I can tell; they just want to complain that their precious snowflake of a sculpt map isn’t rezzing.

    Oskar does a damn good job of communicating – and I’m saying this as a principal in an in-world business put completely out of commission for two weeks in September by SVC-7283. If the other Lindens did as well, we’d be in lots better shape. In fact, this controversy is only happening because Oskar goes out of his way to speak to residents.

    I don’t think hiding the RC version is a good idea. But I entirely understand the temptation.


    1. Two issues really – one is, as you say, only Oskar’s team are actively engaged and other need to follow suit; the other is, when people are failing to grasp issues, LL should step forward and use the blog as a whole. “Hey guys, we appreciate you may feel XYZ, but if we could take a moment to discuss ABC…” It’s liable to get far more of a readership as a whole as more people will potentially be prepared to read, digest and pause for a moment.

      TBH – I can understand the temptation; but as you say, it’s not the most positive position to take and potentially won’t make the issue any better.


  7. Jack says he understands the temptation. I don’t. This is not multiplication where two negatives make a positive, it’s addition, and by no stretch of logic can two negatives make a positive.

    This is a lose-lose dituation, if it comes about.

    @missyrestless, talking about it? No they weren’t. That does not constitute communication in my book. And moreover you seem to be in a small minority if you didn’t see the quote that most folk are debating here.


    1. When noise is greater than signal, and the noise is painful, it’s tempting to shut off the channel altogether. That’s all I was talking about, Ayesha. It’s not reasonable, but it’s tempting.


      1. Sadly it is the easiest option – even if it only means the noise simply becomes SEP elsewhere within the organisation. It’s short-sighted, but I agree, it’s always the most tempting avenue to take. It’s also the option LL have a long track record of taking over the years, not just with this, but in maintaining open communications in general.

        It’s a shame that things seem to be once again moving in this direction – although if I’m totally honest, I have to say that the suer community itself is not in some ways responsible as well for the way in which communications are breaking down…a subject for another article, no doubt. but even that doesn’t excuse LL from appearing to be gradully giving up on everything, however tempting.


      2. I see the point you make, Jack, and if memory serves, you tend to be one of the more reasoned voices that are raised on the forums, but I maintain my point. If LL choose to shut off the channel, to me it is tantamount to applying a tourniquet to the neck to stop a bleeding nose. There is usually only one outcome.


        1. There’s another point; if we no longer know what channels we are on, how will we know what day to expect a roll? Is it to be that we go in fear of disconnection from our homes and work in SL for two days instead of one?
          In what way is that progress?


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