Oz discusses TPV Policy changes

On Wednesday March 7th, Jessica Lyon of the Firestorm team sat down with Oz Linden to discuss the recent TPV Policy (TPVP) changes. Originally Oz had asked to appear with Jessica on the last Phoenix Hour, which is normally co-presented by Jessica and Phaylen Fairchild, but it was decided to hold-off on any appearance for a more focused presentation.

That Oz made the offer again speaks highly of his desire to engage openly with the community on what has become something of a sensitive (and in some cases incorrectly viewed, given the way it has been wrongly portrayed as stopping “any” innovation within TPVs) issue, and his willingness to try to provide further clarification on the changes and the reasoning behind them.

I’ve included a summary of the discussion on the following pages. As it is somewhat lengthy and potentially subject to “tl;dr” (shame on you!), I felt it better to provide my own thoughts on the discussion up-front.

Oz in conversation

While listening to the discussion I was also seeing Twitter comments appear on my screen relating to the posting of the interview video and was – to be honest – surprised at the negative tone of some of the comments being made. Overall, I felt the Oz was open and direct in dealing with the questions and statements directed at him, and he did much to fill-in the blanks. And before anyone starts on the, “But he’s only an employee” tack, I very much doubt that he was in any way speaking in isolation or sans the support for his management. As such, this is precisely the kind of engagement we should be applauding, even if the message may not be entirely what we want to hear,  and which LL should be seeking to undertake more regularly.

Some have complained that we “don’t know” any more following the discussion than we knew at the start. To them I’d actually ask, “What more do you want to know?” The boundaries of the TPVP changes have been given better definition – indeed, Oz has provided clearer definitions here, and prior to this meeting. Unless LL produces a set of stone tablets detailing every case, it’s hard to see what more can be said – and it should be remembered that tablets of stone can be as dangerous as having a broad definition. Things do cut both ways.

Sure, what has been said previously, and is said in this discussion, doesn’t provide any safeguards against any fear of how LL might at some point in the future choose to interpret the TPVP – but really, this is an unreasonable expectation. No-one can predict what tomorrow may bring much less a time eighteen months or two years hence, and it is unreasonable to expect any company to give guarantees where the security and growth of their business is concerned. At the end of the day, SL is LL’s business first and foremost – and I applaud Oz for being so frank on the matter of the business / platform relationship – and as such they can change the rules howsoever they like; as such the hammer could be dropped on TPV activities with or without the use of such a policy.

However, I think it fair to say Oz is being sincere both on a personal level and as a representative of the company when he says that LL is not looking to end TPVs, but wants to enhance and grow their working relationship with TPV developers. While it is clear from the phrasing of some of his answers that LL would like to see their effective market-share of users increase in terms of Viewer use, it would be a mistake to attribute the TPVP changes to purely that motivation. It’s fair to say that if that was the goal, LL could conceivably achieve it simply by removing the majority of their Viewer development back behind the curtain, leaving TPVs forever in a catch-up situation.

Nevertheless, the risk of stifling innovation is still there, howsoever small a part the “shared experience” has played in TPV development, simply because of the concerns TPV developers have around the whole aspect of having ideas and proposals accepted by LL as Jessica expresses in the video. This is something that LL need to remain attuned to and seek to demonstrate they will help and support TPV developers when and where they do see an opportunity for developing a shared experience capability that isn’t on LL’s radar or to-do list.

Some will most likely remain dissatisfied with the results of the discussion, which is a shame. While the proof of LL’s commitment to developing and evolving the TPV / LL relationship can only be judged on whatever occurs going forward, there is currently no reason to take what has been said at anything less than face value.

For my part, I would say that Oz’s openness and his candour in dealing with the questions and concerns relating to the TPVP changes is to be welcomed. I hope he does take Jessica up on her suggestion of future discussions of this kind, and that we may yet see LL encouraged to participate in other such opportunities to address user concerns on various matters as openly and directly in the future.

18 thoughts on “Oz discusses TPV Policy changes

  1. Thanks for this. It does alter the way I feel about the TPV policy change, at least tentatively. Thanks to Oz for doing it.

    Three things struck me: one is that the LSL change has been put on hold. I had no idea of this, and I would be willing to bet that most people concerned about it don’t know, either.

    The second was Oz’ statement that viewer usage number are no secret. As far as I know, they *are* secret, and this ranking of viewers by use is the first I’ve seen.

    The last thing is that he said that users have resistance to change, and gave as an example that when the sidebar, etc. were added to the viewer people complained, and then when they were removed people complained. I don’t think this can be counted as “resistance to change”. It’s just people expressing a preference.

    Otherwise, it was reassuring and interesting. Glimpses into LL are rare, and this one was fairly extensive.

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    1. There has been a lot of misinformation circulating vis-a-vis the TPVP changes and knock-on effects that is taking time to correct (the most noticeable being the initial knee-jerk reaction that the policy changes halt *all* TPV development).

      That llGetAgentStatus is being looked at again has been known in some circles for a while – although admittedly, it is probably most widely known by those Watching the JIRA. Jessica made mention of it is last week’s Phoenix Hour broadcast, but again, the news might have been lost amidst all the issues around that meeting – sim crashes, sim restarts, stream breakages and poor audio.

      In referring to the Viewer use numbers, I think Oz was saying they were no secret in the context of the TPV developers – remembering that it is Jessica asking the questions. Usage numbers are regularly discussed in the TPV developer meetings, and are published in the meeting transcripts and as such are known, but again not in the platform-wide context you and I would regard as “well-known”.

      Where change is concerned, I think it fair to say a little of blame resides on both sides in many cases: there are times when LL doesn’t really disclose what is coming down the road, and so when things do happen, there is a fair amount of sturm und drang. Equally, and I have to agree with Oz, even when changes are announced and trumpeted well ahead of time, people state their opinion in such a forceful manner it does come over as outright resistance to whatever is going on. As such, it is fair to say the LL need to manage their side of things a little better – although they have made improvements in the last 12 months, and the user community needs to sometimes needs to consider changes being proposed / rolled-out with (dare I say) fewer histrionics.

      I think Oz did a sterling job.

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  2. We should remember that LL does not make any more money if someone uses their viewer instead of a third party viewer. While they might take some pride in having the “most preferred” viewer, at the end of the day what matters to them is that people are logging into SL and spending some money…no matter which viewer they are doing it with.

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    1. Precisely – and hence again why increasing the market-share wasn’t a motivator for the TPVP changes.

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      1. Maybe. I’m not so sure. The viewer to some extent controls how the user is directed. The first thing you see when you login with Firefox is usually a link to their blog or wiki. The viewer can provide immediate links to the Marketplace or destinations inworld that may be revenue generating. In many ways the viewer is to SL what the browser is to the web. Why do Google and Microsoft and the Mozilla foundation care which browser you use ? Because there is a lot of money to be made by corralling a user base in your browser (viewer).

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        1. I don’t see the web parallel as you describe it.

          Firestorm includes the ability to view the Destination Guide & Events pages (Phoenix, iirc actually displays the destination guide images towards the bottom right of the splash screen (it’s been a while since I’ve run that Viewer, admittedly)). Once in-world, users will be using LL’s search engine and Destination Guide regardless of the Viewer flavour. Similarly, Viewer-based purchases of L$ go via the Lindex regardless of flavour.

          While other Viewers don’t have the market-share of FS/PH, all V3.2-based Viewers pretty much use the LL splash / login screen as does Singularity (4th most popular Viewer according to LL) and so on.

          Currently, there isn’t a viable alternative to SLM that offers the range of products – if one exists at all. Apez was sold to Egoisme, but doesn’t appear to be in operation under either brand; MVX vanished; SLapt.me has gone; we all know what happened to On-Rez (there was another marketplace, but I cannot for the life of me remember the name, and nothing is coming up on Google), so there isn’t really a Marketplace out there to threaten LL’s dominance (and it would take time for one to establish itself sufficiently to become a threat).

          In-world revenue generation will generate revenue for LL regardless of Viewer – it’ll come through tier and through cash-out commission.

          As such, it’s hard to see the Viewer being a major determiner of revenue for LL beyond the obvious – getting people in-world in the first place.

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  3. I read this, and I’m still boggled by why they’re so hurt about the online status indicator.

    It’s such a big nothing, that nobody even thinks about, but they felt the need to make a vague, yet potentially broad-sweeping rule about it >_> It feels like they’re testing the water like they did with the Received Items beta – Push something out that they know we won’t like, let us RAEG all over it, and then come in for the knockout punch while we’re all tuckered out.

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    1. The rule with regards on-line status was already there insofar as the Viewer was concerned long before the “on-line truth” status first appeared in a TPV (Emerald): people have the ability – and therefore the expectation – of being able to set some degree of privacy around their in-world time by broadly defining who can or cannot see when they are on-line.

      Since its introduction in Emerald the Viewer-end “on-line truth” capability has rendered this ability and expectation null and void without any real justification for doing so. In asking for its removal, all LL are doing is re-balancing the scales of expectation based on the capabilities they provide for users within the Viewer code.

      As to the Received Items beta, it is also clear that LL is actually listening to constructive feedback and seeking to improve the capability based on the feedback they have had to date. I can say this with confidence as I’m one of the people who supplied initial feedback and, as a result have been asked to review a further proposal on the capability to help determine if LL are understanding and addressing concerns correctly.

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  4. “LL could conceivably achieve it simply by removing the majority of their Viewer development back behind the curtain, leaving TPVs forever in a catch-up situation.”

    That is exactly what they have been doing. Huge gaps between code drops. The most recent one followed weeks of silence and while large, contained only bug fixes and tinkering.

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  5. I thought Oz did a very good job of laying out what LL is trying to do and what it is not trying to do. Despite comments to the contrary, I think there is a huge benefit that LL sees in having the most used viewer in world. Simply put, their job gets a lot easier if they don’t have to worry about bringing the third party viewer’s along. I wonder if perhaps the situation has, by no fault on anyone’s side, reached a point where the current method of allowing TPV’s is broken. Both sides seem so bogged down in meeting the other side’s needs, that neither is really developing much.

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    1. I’m not sure that the TPV dev / Lab relationship is/was “broken” – as Oz states, the relationship has, if anything improved from a state of “cold war” confrontation to that of mutual co-operation. Rather, I think this is purely as Oz states: a way to put a stake in the ground as to how Viewer development should be handled between the to going forward in order to help LL manage its business.

      Demarcation like this way can usually be a good thing as relationship grow closer and more collaborative, simply because the dividing lines that were apparent during “cooler” times in a working relationship can get increasingly blurred and lead to direct misunderstandings – simply because things can be taken for granted or assumed on either side up to the point where someone says, “No.”, and real upset ensues.

      The only real problems here are how LL announced the changes to the broader community (they didn’t), and for not adding a couple of very brief lines to the Policy that could themselves has helped prevent a lot of the subsequent misunderstandings around the intention of clause 2.k.

      That said, I agree, Oz has done a really open job of sitting down and taking the time to address concerns and upset, and to provide insight into the Lab’s motives and thinking. Not just here, but in the forums and elsewhere.

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      1. Very well put, and I hope you are right. It does seem as if LL is at least offering some opportunities for communication with TPV developers. Putting together a simple set of “rules for the road” for developers may bea good thing that will ultimately make development smoother for all parties. That would be my hope, as I worry about developers on both sides getting slowed down by having to jump through each others hoops. The clause 2.k, once understood, is relatively minor in my opinion. The problems, I think, began when users where having to get the info through their TPV developers instead of LL.

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