The myth of a mendacious, malicious Lab

Linden Lab are not without their share of problems when it comes to their relationship with the user community as a whole. I’ve banged on rather a lot over time about issues originating at their end. However, it is unfair to blame Linden Lab alone for the problem. As Tateru points out, it’s hard to carry on a dialogue when the user is part of the problem.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that there is an oft-voiced perception that Linden Lab’s actions and words are somehow either malicious or mendacious – or both. This was again brought home to me last week during a group conversation wherein the claim was forcefully made that the only reason mesh has been implemented in the way it has is (quote) “Linden greed”.

The conversation in question wasn’t the first time I’ve heard this view voiced; I’ve come across it in blog posts and forum comments in a number of places. The argument,  focused on the matter of Land Impact (previously known has Prim Equivalency), goes like this: Linden Lab have deliberately swayed the costings of mesh so as to give inflated Land Impact values in order to force people to move to larger land holdings, thus generating greater tier revenues for the company.

In other words, LL have maliciously crippled mesh in order to line their pockets. However you look at it, that’s a pretty harsh claim to make.

The idea that Linden Lab operates either maliciously or mendacious in its actions is not restricted to the matter of mesh. It’s a view that has been doing the rounds in a variety of forms for quite some time now. In fact, I first commented on it more than 18 months ago.

I didn’t believe it to be right then, and I certainly don’t think it is any more correct now. Linden Lab may well be guilty of many things: inept communications, an inability to actually comprehend their own product, a track record demonstrating their failure to learn from previous errors of judgement, and so on. But none of this actually makes them deliberately malicious. As I said back in April 2010:

“I don’t buy the ‘simply malicious’ argument because, at the end of the day, Linden Lab isn’t likely to profit or grow from it in a sustainable manner. Grabbing the profits today and saying to hell with the customer and to hell with tomorrow is an exceptionally myopic and ultimately stupid way to run a company.”

Yes, there is much that LL does err on at times (although equally, there is much that they get right but which often receives little or no acknowledgement). As such, when things are perceived as going wrong, or potentially damaging the platform / community, then it is absolutely right that we speak out, challenge and constructively critique in order to try to get LL to revise its view / policy / actions.

But to dismiss the company’s actions as being those of a malicious, greedy mindset is, I would venture to say, both shooting far wide of the mark and somewhat counter-productive.