Second Life Blogger Network: an update from the Lab and some thoughts

via Linden Lab

Roughly 24 hours after the launch of the SL Bloggers Network – and which I reported on myself from the perspective of someone who helped with defining some aspects of the initiative prior to its launch – Linden Lab posted an update on the initiative, in which feedback by the Lab on the programme is given and concerns raised in various channels by bloggers and interested parties are addressed.

In Second Life Blogger Network Update – What’s Next?, the Lab reveals that the initial response has surprised them, and has caused something of a bottleneck:

Since our announcement of this new initiative yesterday, we’ve already had more than 100 bloggers opt-in! 

We’d like to extend a sincere “thank you” to all of the blogging community for the many years of coverage of Second Life culture, communities, creations, and, yes, even controversies …

We do ask for a bit of patience during our launch week as we sort through and strategize how to both efficiently and fairly review the many blogs who have opted-in. In all honesty, we’re a bit overwhelmed by the number of bloggers who have responded in the first 24 hours!

To be honest, the volume of potential material that might become available to the Lab and the challenge this would create was a concern I raised with LL ahead of the launch. When first discussed, the approach considered for SLBN was to have bloggers enrol and, after writing an publishing an article they believe might qualify for promotion by SLBN, submit a link to the post to LL so it can be reviewed and potentially promoted. I was, frankly, surprised when it was decided to go for a “simple” blanket opt-in, just because because I felt it would place a large volume of work on LL’s shoulders in trying to keep abreast of monitoring blogs and selecting posts for possible promotion.

This approach of letting bloggers submit links to articles to me had (and has) merit for a number of reasons:

  • It reduces the volume of potential posts that need almost daily review.
  • It could allow time-limited articles on events, etc., come to LL’s attention sooner than might otherwise be the case, and so get promoted in a timely manner.
    • While it may be a somewhat atypical situation given it was the launch of the programme, the initial post selected from my own blog in some ways evidences this: referring as it does to a series of events, the majority of which had already taken place by the time the post was listed.
  • Most importantly: it eliminates certain anxieties and concerns bloggers may have about opting-in to the process in the first place, including:
    • Fear that being critical of LL or SL could see them disbarred from the programme.
    • Concern that – and despite statements by the Lab otherwise –  in order to participate in the programme, bloggers must change their overall approach to and style of blogging (tone only might need to be adjusted when consciously opting to submit an article for consideration for SLBN promotion).
    • The general concern that by participating, bloggers have the “big brother” of LL constantly looking over their shoulder, monitoring all of their output.

The anxieties / concern are particularly worth referencing here, because as can be seen in the Lab’s September 27th Update post, they have already been raised by bloggers – and they could continue to be of concern for bloggers learning about SLBN in the future.

By having an additional level of “opt-in” through link submission, the Lab potentially helps reduce such anxieties and underlines the freedom bloggers retain in writing posts and determining where they might have them promoted. Further, such an approach might help limit the (inevitable?) incorrect claims that the initiative is just about “LL trying to control the SL blogging community”.

That said, I’m not advocating the Lab should change the approach to SLBN submissions right now; we are, after all, only 48 hours into the programme, and hopefully some of the challenges the Lab faces will diminish somewhat as they gain greater familiarity with the blogs opting-in to the programme. However, I do think it is an option that is kept in mind such problems of volume and the timely review and promotion of posts does continue to be a problem.

In the meantime, those bloggers who have not familiarised themselves with the SLBN initiative and who wish to do so, can follow the links below:

Second Life Blogger Network launches

Image courtesy of Linden Lab

There’s been much curiosity over the last few days about the Second Life Blogger Network (SLBN), and I can now help pass on more information about the initiative – which, alongside two other bloggers and Lab staff, I’ve been able to play a modest role in helping to shape.

Officially launched on Thursday, September 26th, SLBN is intended to be a referral service for bloggers producing high-quality, independent blog content to have their work promoted by Linden Lab through a new curated SLBN feed on the Second Life Community Pages and via Linden Lab’s high-visibility Second Life social media feeds and – in the future – on the Official Second Life Viewer log-in page.

How it works is simple and direct:

  • Interested bloggers review the SLBN Terms & Conditions and SLBN Content Guidelines.
  • If a blogger wishes to participate, they complete and submit the SLBN Submission Form to indicate their willingness to participate.
  • Linden Lab staff are then attentive to participating blogs, and when they see a post that is suitable for promotion, they will:
    • Produce a short summary of the post, generally based on the opening few lines of the article, and which includes the first image in the post (if the article does not have any images, a “blog image” supplied by the blogger via the submission form will be used).
    • The summary and image is  then promoted to the curated SLBN feed and to the various Second Life social media channels, etc., together with a link back to the original article and blog.
  • Those reading the various feeds / channels can then click the link through to the article and blog, read it in full and perhaps explore the blog in more detail.

Content that might be considered suitable for promotion through the programme includes technical reports, destination reviews, reports on events (including music and entertainment events) emerging fashion trends, tips and tutorials, reports on Second Life news, and so on.

Those joining the initiative should note that:

  • Not every post from a blog will be promoted by Linden Lab: SLBN is intended to promote several entries during the week from the pool of participating bloggers, with content selected – as noted above – by Linden Lab.
  • Participation in the initiative is on an opt-in basis, free and – importantly – non-exclusive: bloggers can continue to write their own posts in their own style, and continue to use wherever social media, networks and in-world groups of their own to continue to promote their work.
  • However, there are certain standards Linden Lab are applying to the content they will consider for promotion. These are outlined in the SLBN Content Guidelines linked-to above, which should be kept in mind by participating bloggers when producing content they might hope to see promoted by the Lab.
  • Should a logger decide they no longer wish to participate, they can do so at any time using the SLBN submission form. Linden Lab will cease monitoring their blog for potential SLBN content.

The SLBN Badge

Those participating in SLBN can optionally display the SLBN badge (seen at the top of this article and on the blog sidebar to the right) in order to help promote the Second Life Blogger Network through their blog / website. Copies of the badge can be obtained here. When using it, bloggers are asked to:

  • Hyperlink the badge to the Second Life community pages.
  • Include the following statement directly below the badge: Use of the SLBN logo does not constitute approval by or a representation or endorsement from Linden Lab.

Where bloggers place the badge in their blogs is at their own discretion. Those using WordPress can add it using that platform’s image widget tool.

Personal Commentary

As noted, I’ve been somewhat involved in the development of SLBN since Linden Lab first sought feedback on the idea roughly a year ago, and more recently with two other bloggers in providing more direct feedback to the Lab ahead of this launch. Given this, I have a certain positive bias towards SLBN, aided by the fact that it is a referral service designed to help drive traffic to blogger’s sites (while obviously giving LL access to the kind of content that will help them promote Second Life).

How well the initiative works and what additional adjustment may be be made to it in light of things like the response to it, etc.,  will only become clear over time. My own bias aside, I do hope that overall, bloggers will respond positively, and I look forward to seeing how SLBN develops and the content it generates.

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