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.
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…
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
… 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.