As many people are aware, Group Chat has had some problems of late, particularly with group chats failing, messages being dropped, etc.
One of the major causes of this has been known to be the manner in which the Group Chat member list updates – people in a group coming on-line, those going off-line and making the necessary updates to the group members list, then sending those updates to all the members of a group.
As you can imagine, all of this can take up a lot of time – in fact at a TPV Developer meeting before his departure, Oz Linden indicated that the service can spend more time managing these updates than in actually handling group chat messages. At the time, he indicated that Linden Lab was considering various ways in which the number of updates could be reduced to ease the load.
On Monday, April 5th, 2021, Maestro Linden provided an update via the Technology → Second Life Server forum on what has now been done to the Group member list updates – and what the viewer will display as a result. In it, he describes the changes thus:
What changed, exactly?
Second Life has historically listed all the people on-line in a group or ad-hoc chat session. In an effort to improve overall chat performance, we have limited when these updates are sent.
The Second Life group chat servers has been modified so that large group (over 10 on-line at once) will work so that only moderators get the full list of everyone on-line. Non-moderators now only see on-line moderators listed in the group chat participants list, for large groups. Groups with 10 or fewer users on-line should not be affected by this change.
How does this change appear in the viewer?
The list of visible group chat participants shown in the Conversations panel, when the drop-down menu is expanded. Before this change, the participants list would show all on-line members who were currently subscribed to the group’s chat session. With this change, updates to list is limited for large groups, as described above, unless the “Moderate Group Chat” ability is enabled for the agent.
Will this change affect who can send or receive a group chat message?
No, regular chat messages are unaffected by this change – any group member with the “Join Group Chat” ability will be able to participate in group chat just as before.
– Maestro Linden in Group Chat member list updates, April 5th
While this change means general members of a group many not always be able to seen the full member’s list for the group, the change has been made in the belief that it is more important to be able to send and receive messages in a chat session rather than view the full group list.
How well the change works in practice remains to be seen; there have been response on the thread that indicate some are seeing no significant changes to their group chat sessions – although it’s not clear from the forum post quite when the change to the service was made, and whether or not it is something that will take time to propagate out sufficient for all all users to see benefits.
As well as indicating that additional back-end updates to monitoring tools have been made to allow Lab staff to better monitor SL systems and services, Maestro commented on whether or not this change will be “permanent”:
I would expect this change to remain in place in medium term – there are currently no plans to revert it. That said, I would not declare the change as “permanent” – group chat will continue to evolve as Linden Lab evaluates its performance and tweaks the design.
– Maestro Linden in Group Chat member list updates, April 5th.
For further information, please refer to the forum post, as linked to above.