Ebbe: the promise of better communications and a more open JIRA

Since his first official blog post introducing himself, Ebbe Altberg has not only been immersing himself in the activities required of a new CEO on joining a company, he’s been making the time to respond to a series of SL forum posts made in a thread started as a result of his blog post.

In doing so, he’s demonstrated the same candid feedback which has marked many of his Twitter exchanges with Second Life users, and also shown during his recent meet-and-greet with a number of us.

LL's new CEO, Ebbe Altberg, seen here on the right in his guise as Ebbe Linden at a recent meet-and-greet: laying the foundations for improved communications from the Lab?
LL’s new CEO, Ebbe Altberg, seen here on the right in his guise as Ebbe Linden at a recent meet-and-greet: laying the foundations for improved communications from the Lab?

On Communications

One of the major topics of early exchanges with him via Twitter and through various blogs has been on the subject of broader outward communications from the Lab.

Commenting on the forum thread, Amethyst Jetaime raises communications, saying in part:

However I hope you at least take our opinions to heart, take our suggestions when you can and honestly communicate frequently through the official SL channels. Not all of us use twitter and facebook or third-party forums …

His reply to her is encouraging:

Everybody I’ve spoken with here at LL want to improve communication with our customers as well…funny that…

He expands on this in a subsequent reply to  a similar comment from Venus Petrov, in which he says:

And they can’t wait to do that…most common question/issue on both sides of the “fence” has been the same thing! I’m getting love from both sides when I’m talking about fixing communication. I don’t know when/how it got strange but we’ll work hard to make us better at it…motivation is not an issue at all. We just need to figure out process for doing it effectively at scale…

How this will be achieved is open to debate; but the Lab has the means at their disposal to make broad-based communications far more effective, and I tried to point to some of them in my own “Dear Ebbe…” blog post on the matter. In that piece, I particularly look at both the official SL blog and the opportunities presented by e-mail, both of which would appear to meet the criteria of scalability, with an e-mail approach additionally having the potential to reach out to those no longer directly engaged in SL on a regular basis or at all and perhaps encourage them to take another look.

On the Public JIRA

Elsewhere in the thread, Pamela Galli takes the issue of communications to point to the closure of the public JIRA in September 2012:

… In the opinions of many, a good place to start is to make the JIRAs public again so we will know whether an issue is a bug that has arisen, or something on our end. Very often, residents working with Lindens have identified, reproduced, and even come up with workarounds if not solutions to problems. Closing the JIRA felt like a door being slammed, esp to those of us who are heavily invested in SL. (Just grateful for Maestro, who posts in the Server Forum.)

Again, there is an encouraging response:

Funny, both engineering and product heads here also didn’t like that jira was closed and want to open it up again. Proposal for how is in the works! I hope we can figure out how to do that in a way that works/scales soon.

Later in the thread, Innula Zenovka who provides one of the most lucid, clearly stated reasons why a complete closure of the public JIRA was perhaps more counter-productive from a technical standpoint than the Lab may have appreciated at the time. Ebbe’s response is again equally reassuring:

Yep, that’s why we will figure out how to open things up again…plan is in the works…

Whether we’ll see a complete re-opening of the public JIRA remains to be seen. I rather suspect the Lab will be looking at something more middle-ground, such as making the JIRA public, but restricting comments to those currently able to access it, together with those actually raising a report also gaining the ability to comment on it as a means of providing additional input / feedback.

While not absolutely perfect, it would mean that the Lab avoids any situation where comments within a JIRA become a free-for-all for complaints, accusations, and arguments (either directed at the Lab or between comment participants), while offering the majority of the advantages which used to be apparent with a more open JIRA mechanism.

Of course, optimism around this feedback – and particularly around the proposal for the JIRA – should be caveated with caution. Not only may it take time for changes to be implemented, it may also be that technical or other issues may impede something like a more open approach to the JIRA from being achieve to the extent that even the Lab would like. However, that there is a willingness to discuss the fact that matters are already under consideration at the Lab would hopefully suggest a reasonable level of confidence that things can be done without risking the disappointment following the decision that there would be no return of last names back in March 2012.

Whatever does happen, there’s enough in these replies to give rise to a cautious and reasonable optimism that things are likely to be changing for the better down the road. Most certainly, it is good to see an outward follow of communication from the Lab’s CEO that is open and candid.

Long may it continue once Ebbe has had to turn his attention more fully on running the company, and others have stepped in to fill the void, and to ensure the follow-through is both achieved and consistent.


13 thoughts on “Ebbe: the promise of better communications and a more open JIRA

  1. I was under the impression that people could be blocked from posting on JIRAs if they misused them?


    1. That can be labour-intensive, especially when one looks at JIRA reports such at STORM-1716 (which appears to have been one of the trigger-points for the original move).

      I suspect the Lab will look for a solution that is less “eyes-on” in terms of comments policing and moderation, hence the suggestion as to how it might be achieved. Yes, it is limiting in some directions, but at least people can see other JIRA reports and if they hit a related issue, they can at least file their own report and reference the JIRA(s) they beleieve to be relevant as well.


  2. We (the residents) used it to rant and attack LL every which way on every single issue, to the point that as a software development tool it became a pointless waste of everyone’s time. Case in point, look at the amount of actual work and bugs fixed since the JIRA went private.

    More access to view would be a good thing, returning to the free for all posting commenting voting directing ranting shit tip we had before .. no, not really.

    There needs to be resident engagement, but the JIRA is not the place for that.


    1. Agreed. Hence again why I feel the option I suggest is a reasonable compromise (assuming it can be done, not being overly familiar with the Atlassian software).


    2. The old Jira was far superior in terms of usefulness to end users, rants and all included. Innula’s linked forum post being a prime example of how detrimental the new one has been to the end user experience.

      If you want people to report issues you need to make them feel it’s worth their time.


    3. You shouldn’t be so troubled by other people’s free expression that you are not required to read, Trinity.

      You do not rule Second Life.

      It doesn’t matter if the bugs aren’t fixed or if it sinks out of view. Enough gets done to make it worth it for many people, don’t get in their way.


  3. The *promise* of better communication.

    The CEO performing the customer relations/outreach/meet-and-greet task when it really ought to fall to a community/customer relations manager or staff… not comfortable with that. It’s like the CEO cleaning the toilets because they didn’t think a janitor was necessary.

    I know he’s wanting to get to know the company, the products, and the customers better. (And the rest of the board, God help him.) However, for all these issues people keep bringing up and beating to death, the buck should stop long before it gets to his desk, with people that are trusted by the company to speak with authority on the subject. (Not “I’ll get back to you on that.”)

    But in the end, it’s “acta, non verba.” Not what they say or promise, but what they actually do. (Example: All the talk and smoke surrounding the ToS, and the Pete comments in various outlets, but no actual change in the document.)

    (I suppose that’s my dead horse to beat.)



    1. While I disagree with you on the subject of meet-and-greets (as we’ve discussed elsewhere 🙂 ), I’m with you on the fact that a communications structure should be in place that means issues are properly responded to and communications are better handled.

      However, while the promise is just a promise right now (and I did choose that word deliberately in the title), there does appear to be a desire to folow-through with the action – vis the JIRA proposal that’s under internal consideration. As such, on the issue of improved communications, I’m perhaps to be a little more patient 🙂 .

      The ToS situation has been mis-handled; there’s no denying that. Was mis-handled right from the outset – i.e. not even attempting to communicate the changes in substantive depth, but rolling them out and pretty much saying, “find them for yourselves”, which simply compounded matters by increasing the perception that the entire thing was some clandestine grab, totally undermining any subsequent attempts to offer explanation. I empathise with Peter, tho. With the best will in the world, he can only say what he is instructed to say.


  4. The problem with open communication is and always has been, the Wackadoodles. Of course your wackadoodle might be my trusted adviser. The best way is to have the ability to create your own filters, “always minimize posts from this resident” and “minimize posts from this resident on this page” would go a long way toward allowing everyone, Linden and resident, to not be overwhelmed by rants and irrelevant comments.


  5. I’m all for the JIRA to open again. But then, Soft Linden, Alexa Linden and most of all Oz Linden would have to be reined in not to threaten people with banning, or ban them. It’s just that simple. If you reopen a JIRA, it should stay open and not be prejudiciously closed — and you should not be punished for doing so. Reporting a bug or suggesting a feature and expressing your opinion about it should never be an offense. If someone doesn’t like that bug or feature they don’t have to vote for it, and they can move on to something else.

    The voting system should be restored.

    These are basics. Everything else would be only cosmetic.


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