During the Meet the Lindens conversation held at SL12B on Thursday, June 25th which featured Danger Linden, Senior Director, Product, Virtual Worlds and Troy Linden, Senior Producer, a question was asked about the SL feeds – also referred to as my.secondlife.com – and whether they would continue to be developed or enhanced.
Danger Linden was direct and honest in his reply:
That’s a though one, because I don’t think anyone’s going to like the answer … The short answer is no.
It’s kind-of a mess, and it’s very difficult to maintain; it’s usage rate is on the low side compared to other feature. So, it may not be a popular answer, but no more improvements are planned on that.
My.secondlife.com has had something of a chequered history. Web Profiles first appeared in 2011, growing out of the Lab’s attempt to provide a social media style capability to users with the acquisition of Avatars United in late 2009 / early 2010, and which was shut-down at the end of September 2010. The feed capabilities followed in mid-2011, and the capabilities grew from there.
From the start things were a tad awkward; people’s rezdays lacked the year in which they were born (see WEB-3486 – thank you, Whirly!); profiles were very slow to load when viewed from within the viewer; once loaded, they initially required a fair proportion of screen real estate.
When the feeds were introduced, people weren’t too happy that posting anything to them from within the viewer automatically appended your location, whether you wanted it to or not, promoting concerns about the potential for stalking and similar.
The Lab, however, took the concerns and critiques on-board, and listened to suggestions. Years of birth reappeared; the profile panel was resized; better controls were added for who could see your feed / interact with it; a Twitter-like Follow button was added, as was a direct messaging capability (subsequently removed at the end of 2013 due to abuse). All of which made the feeds far more comfortable for people to use, and people did start using them more frequently as a result.
And even when things did persist in going sideways at times – such as the 2012 issues of the wrong names, posts and images turning up on the wrong feeds, or the feed gremlins dining on snapshots during upload, people still continued to use the feeds, and suggestions for improvements continued to be made.
Hopefully, “no plans to improve” will be shown to mean just that: no new shiny added to the feeds, and not that general problem solving when thing do hiccup will cease, or that the feeds themselves are liable to suddenly poof in the near future. While it may be a relatively small number of people who regularly use the feeds, they do so with gusto, finding them a handy means of keeping in contact with friends and contacts.
The snapshots capability is a great means of pointing people to places and events in-world, and in sharing moments. Similarly, the comments capability is extremely handy for having informal discussions in an easy-to-follow format that’s a lot more immediate and convenient than using things like forums or shuffling through Plurk events. Also, and unlike Twitter, feed comments are not limited to 140 characters, something which can make the conversational flow a little diffic …