As 2009 draws to a close and people debate whether the forthcoming year is twenty ten or Two thousand and ten, it’s time to look back at the year, warts and all.
January was a strange month, we were still feeling the fallout of the Openspace fiasco when Linden Lab pulled a distraction trick by purchasing Onrez and XstreetSL! The rumours started to surface a few days before the official news was announced and covered here by Nobody Fugazi. We were treated to an official press release, FAQ, a forum thread and an official blog post. Interestingly back in January they were talking about new features such as shareable wishlists, they were also talking about merging accounts and balances, they partially got there but Xstreet would become a major bone of contention later in the year.
In other news, The Old London Docks sim was going through turmoil, closing down due to the owner apparently not paying tier. The sim did come back to life for a while, I’m not sure what the status of the place is today.
February was a very sad month for Second Life, the departure of the wonderful and so far nowhere near replaced, Robin Linden was announced. However before Robin left we had a party, aptly on Friday 13th which was ideal for such a big loss.
Unfortunately there was a bit of mischief at play on The Dublin sim where the party was held and the sim crashed a couple of times, leaving us awaiting a return to the party.
However eventually the party got started again and we all had time to say goodbye to Robin, she’s still sorely missed.
February also saw The Lindens getting excited about their new blog and controversy over SLCC2009 being held at a Marriott Hotel. I found this all a tad unsavoury as Marriott hotels have an excellent record on equal rights. The controversy also hid another controversy, why the heck was it being held in San Francisco anyway when Vegas had been a popular choice. Strangely it appeared that despite organisers talking about Vegas as a possible location, it was never really a serious contender.
There was also the unsavoury aspect of educators wanting to break off and do their own thing, some flimsy excuses were used for this, such as a thread over at SLUniverse. I was extremely disappointed with the educators over this.
March was a busy month, starting with adult content being herded out to Pornoville. This ill conceived move was officially announced on the blog and we watched the Lindens ignore all better suggestions on how to deal with this issue. I’m still convinced there’s more to this than meets the eye, nobody would want to hatch such a half assed scheme of inefficiency on its own, there has to be another step to come in this process. Viewer functionality was put on hold for this nonsense.
We also saw the third annual clothing fair, an event covering nine sims with one hundred and seventy clothing designers taking part to raise money for relay for life. Live musicians and DJ’s also played their part.
On the departure front Zee left the lab. The chief financial officer announced he was leaving, by December he’d turn up at Blue Mars. Zee was a controversial figure and involved with both full sim and openspace price hikes during his tenure but he was not into spin and would talk straight to people, something I very much appreciated.
At the end of the month Linden Lab announced they would be holding resident awards. Surely there could be nothing controversial about this.
And another one bites the dust, Ginsu announces he’s leaving the lab.
The results of the resident choice awards were posted…..and there was some controversy over little known people winning awards but people voted for them so I didn’t quite see what the fuss was all about and they were just a bit of fun anyway.
Taser were threatening to sue Linden Lab over intellectual property inffringement and were making some silly claims along the lines of not wanting their goods associated with virtual avatars smoking drugs, the case never got to any sort of serious stage.
Using bots to artificially raise your traffic score, using camping to do the same, using any means to artificially raise your traffic score were all officially banned. There was also a slight tweaking of the traffic formula, it was a top secret tweak. People are still complaining about traffic bots and camping today but there’s no doubt that some bots and camping has been removed, you see the former runners complaining that others are getting away with it still.
Things were calming down a bit by May, Linden Lab unveiled Avaline, a service that allows someone from outside Second Life to call you inside Second Life. I tried it, I called myself, I decided I didn’t want to pay for it. Big business may find a use for it but your average resident isn’t going to go for this.
Prospero became the latest Linden to leave. There was no official announcement but people found his personal blog and largely wished him well.
The Homestead tier increase from USD$95 to USD$125 was postponed, which was no great surprise. However newly purchased Homesteads after July 1st would be subject to the new fee….allegedly. This will be interesting to watch this year, I’m not sure Linden Lab can afford to risk the wrath of their residents by raising the price in July but we’ll see.
The Land expo was launched and a very nice concpet it was too with presentations on how to manage land as well as plenty of landlords around promoting their services. However a bombshell for smaller landlords was just around the corner when this appeared on the login screen:
I was not amused. Nor were others and this sort of thing really has to stop, this should never have happened and Linden Lab claims that they can’t figure out how things will work if they don’t test them was piffle, they could have just had a link there to the Land rentals section of the official forum instead of promoting select private estates.
slapt.me opened its doors in June, a new website based marketplace to offer residents a choice over Xstreet.
June also saw notorious landcutter and ad farmer Robo Marx get permabanned. Many rejoiced, I felt a little sorry for him as love him or loathe him, he had a great sense of humour.
Our very own Jezebely Bailey celebrated her RL 50th birthday.
The freedom for Robo front turned up en masse at Jack’s office hour to protest about his banning, they threw in some accusastions of corruption within the G-Team. Jack handled it all very well.
The Zindra land swaps were put on hold whilst Linden Lab produced more land. Confusion reigned, anger was still at pretty high levels. A land flipper tried to sell a sim they’d managed to get in a swap for L$1,000,000. This just angered people more and Linden Lab stepped in to stop it.
Summer months are traditionally quiet in Second Life, however not this time and the latest hoo-ha came over the Xstreet forums being merged with the blogrum. The official announcement seemed jolly, residents and users of the forum were not at all jolly.
Rezzable announced that the controversial Builderbot would not be released with an Opensource BSD license. This helped to allay some fears over the product but far from allayed all fears.
Gene Roddenberry junior visited Second Life and seemed to enjoy himself at a Q&A event.
Linden Lab announced they were going to produce a content management roadmap, designed to improve copyright and intellectual property rights. People were concerned about some of the wording and besides the new beta testing of DMCA procedures we haven’t seen much of this roadmap in evidence but give it time.
Xstreet got itself into a kefuffle over transgender issues when it was pointed out that their adult content warning specifically mentioned transgender images and content. A few days later the adult content warning was changed and an apology issued by Infinity Linden on the Jira.
The Xstreet forum merger issues which had been announced in July were now in full swing and tempers were getting very frayed over at the soon to be closed forum in the discussion thread on the subject. However things got even more heated further in the discussion when Pink made her infamous comment:
“I wouldn’t call the number of merchants who post in this forum the majority by any stretch of the imagination. For example, not a single one of the top 10 merchants who account for a significant percentage of XStreet Revenue are here, ever.”
Garth Fairchang lost his battle with pancreatic cancer and fond tributes were paid inworld and related forums.
Away from Second Life, IMVU’s Eric Ries blogged about listening to communities and learning lessons. This struck a chord with many Second Life users and I still feel Linden Lab can learn lessons just by reading that post.
Stroker and Nomine filed a class action lawsuit against Linden Lab over intellectual property infringements, claiming that Linden Lab weren’t doing enough. This is still ongoing.
A content theft step up! campaign was announced as designers tried new ways of fighting content theft.
Linden Lab announced a new Community Partnership program. I have seen no results so far of this.
The destination guide was announced, and I have seen evidence of this! The idea is apparently to replace showcase.
After being announced in March, the adult content policy was looking totally toothless by October, it still pretty much does look totally toothless, but hey, what do you expect with a bad policy.
Philip Rosedale announced he was setting up a new company! The founding father was sort of abandoning his child, this still worries me.
A new third party viewer policy was announced, sort of. Concerned residents became confused residents as the policy didn’t seem to do much more than the current policy but discussions have been ongoing.
Flagging your bots became an option. The plan is eventually they won’t be counted in traffic scores.
Linden Lab announced that their behind the firewall product “Nebraska”, would be moving to the beta stage, for lots of money if you want to purchase it. This is aimed at enterprises and enterprises will pay the sort of sums of money involved for the right product, whether this is the right product remains to be seen.
November sends fear amongst some residents, in November 2006 Zee announced that tier for full sims would rise from USD$195 to USD$295. In November 2008 Jack announced Openspace tier would rise…so with some trepidation we entered November.
First off, the mentors were axed! Well that’s not the way Linden Lab explained it, but that’s what happened.
Then came the controversy that will rumble on into the new year, the XstreetSL fiasco. The freebie roadmap was announced. Of course this went beyond freebies, L$10 listing fee for all to remove stale items apparently. L$99 for listing a freebie and then providing a shoddier service. How they ended up making such a mess of it is beyond me, but then again how they made such a mess of the adult content policy is beyond me too. Both policies had great potential but delivery is absolutely abysmal.
The Linden Prize was again announced. USD$10,000 in cold hard cash to the winner who can come up with a compelling way of using Second Life to improve the human condition.
Tyche Shepherd published her awesome mainland census.
Linden Homes beta was announced, if it’s a success all premium members with 512M of spare tier will be able to claim a home.
The FTC published a report on sexual and violent content in virtual world. Many people scratched their heads wondering why such a report was needed when everyone knows the content is around. However the report was largely kind to Second Life and seemed to give Red Light Center a free pass because it’s aimed at adults….yeah that confused me too.
Babbage blogged about script limits, it’s still way too early to say whether this will be good or bad news.
So there we have it, 2009, a year of two very poor policy decisions and a third if you count the ridiculous login screen advertising for private estates and fashion shows. However in the main it wasn’t that bad, things stagnated a little and so here’s hoping 2010 shows more progress, especially with the new viewer on the horizon.