This is an absolute must-read post by Chris “Fleep Tuque” Collins, formerly a director at the organization which ran the Second Life Community Convention, the user-run conference that was cancelled this year for vague reasons. As I suggested yesterday, it turns out Linden Lab was reportedly unwilling to spend enough money to make it viable; just as crucial, however (as I read Ms. Tuque), the Second Life user community itself shares equal or more blame, by making SLCC impossible to run through a combination of apathy and hostility.
First, the blame with Linden Lab, according to Collins:
“[T]here is no SLCC this year is because Linden Lab opted not to sponsor one. Instead of being treated like valuable customers who had just volunteered months of our lives working for no pay to organize a fan event for their product, we basically got chewed out for not producing the equivalent of BlizzCon. Seriously, that’s what they said. (Note to Linden Lab, if you want BlizzCon, you have to pay for it – BlizzCon had a budget in the millions.)”
However, she goes on, “These kinds of Socialverse community events require many things to be successful – but a company and a community that is actually supportive instead of antagonistic is essential.” Emphasis mine. Because as she goes on to write, much of the community was the opposite:
“A very vocal contingent of the Second Life community is pretty darned mean. Some of the ‘celebrities’ and thought leaders in Second Life seem to really enjoy trashing the event (and by extension the people organizing it).
“Griefers and lawsuits make the risk not worth it. [At SLCC 2011] we were forced to deal with people’s personal vendettas against each other (!), threats of harm against other attendees (!!), vandalizing of sponsors’ booths (!!!), and even threats of lawsuits (!!!!).
“[T]here just weren’t enough volunteers to cover all the bases without requiring some people to basically have no life outside of SLCC for months on end – and that’s not sustainable or fair for anyone. If more people had been willing to volunteer, things might have been different.”
There’s much more, which you should absolutely read. Having been to two of the last three SLCCs, I can attest to the high amount of community drama, including the threats and general unpleasantness. (Along with, of course, all the well-meaning attendees just there to have a good time.) In the end, this leads Fleep to a highly negative conclusion –at least in relation to SL:
“The thing that inspires so many of us is the concept of the Metaverse, an open, freewheeling 3D internet, full of amazing experiences and opportunities – but Second Life is not that. It is not open. It is not free or even reasonably priced, in fact, it’s ridiculously expensive. The experiences that were amazing and cutting edge in 2003 or 2006 are no longer either, the technology has stagnated. And the opportunity for profit, or creativity, or fulfilling your real world mission is limited by a shrinking user base, constant changes in direction and management, canceled programs, bad policies, and the simple fact that you can’t “own” anything you create if it’s locked on their servers. As sad as it makes me, I honestly believe the story of Linden Lab and Second Life is the perfect case study of how to screw up your competitive edge while screwing your most passionate userbase.”
I somewhat disagree with her thesis, but she brings up some important points. The core problem, I think, is that Linden Lab has bought into its own hype. Yes, SL has one million monthly users, but most of them are first-time noobs, or lightly engaged, casual players, and we are years from the era when actual major companies and organizations were interested in attending SLCC. Consequently, the userbase is no longer large enough and engaged enough to support and finance a user-run conference. By refusing to fund it adequately and leaving it to its own devices, it’s no surprise that such anger and waning interest would follow.
Anyway, that’s just my take on Fleep Tuque’s take, so you should read the whole thing here. And be sure to offer condolences to her late beloved cat while you’re there.
I totally understand the frustration. It is though to please the crowd.
Honest this year I wanted to skip with MetaMeets the European Virtual World Meetup for the same reason as Fleep describe. Bloody drama…even and still grateful for those that helped and made it a great event.
But thank to someone in the Community with brilliant ideas we will continue only a bit later this year in a different concept.
Maybe it is good for Avacon to skip a year or to make a little meeting and rethink their concept.
As MetaMeets we gave up on LindenLab long time ago. Ofcourse we asked support but they didn’t even read the mails that we wrote with advices of Avacon Team in that time.
We were almost blamed for copying Avacon while we were really working together in that time and still when there is a SLCC or a MetaMeets we support.
Instead we had to change the thought of a European SLCC it became a meeting about all kinds of user created worlds and its community. Most important it is about what the community is doing from various discipline. We really tried as much to show how much co operations are going between artists and businesses and educators etc.
That faith will never be lost. But indeed give it a break.
LindenLab should be ashamed of themselves. They have here a group of free advocates promoting their product! Cherish that I would say!
The community makes Second Life but it can also break.
When I read this last night I was almost like lets have a few days not supporting Second Life / Lindenlab and not loggin for a few days to show how bad it is not supporting its community.
I wonder mainly if you hear about major events inworld that normally was visited or supported they are not there What are they up to?
Anyway I hope Avacon Team does not lose faith and will rethink. There are more user created virtual worlds out there. There is still more to explore with the community as technic is getting better. We must realize inclusive LindenLab some of us are big inworld but out there people still think that user created virtual worlds is cult or whatever. It has been demonized by the press..LindenLab is not stable enough to convince real businesses that is why they pulled out.
The outside do not see yet what we see all together as a usefull 3D tool to communicate, connect innovate on a low cost base. That it gives people ability to show what they can do. Takes people out of isolation and brilliant solutions ideas are created.