Exclusive – There Is No Secret Second Life Bloggers Club

Picture the scene, Daniel Voyager, Draxtor Despres, Inara Pey, Loki Eliot, Jo Yardley, Nalates Uriah, Canary Beck, Strawberry SinghHamlet Au and myself are all in a darkened room somewhere in Second Life, quite possibly Linden World, which is a top secret bunker. A door opens, the creak echoes in the room and we hear footsteps. Fire lights the room, a wooden torch held up to reveal that Gray of the Lab from San Francisco (AKA Pete Linden, AKA Peter Gray), Ebbe Altberg and Xiola Linden have entered the room.

They look at us, suspiciously, there’s a hush and then we are all asked to swear an oath of secrecy before being handed a dossier entitled “Top Secret”. This dossier contains secret plans from the evil empire with regards to taking over the virtual world under the banner of “Project Sanasr Sansar”. *See comments for explanation of the strike through.

“At least one of you will betray us .. three times to be precise,” Xiola Linden tells us.

“Three of you may betray us once each”, ponders Gray of the Lab from San Francisco.

“All of you belong to us,” cackles Ebbe Altberg and with that they leave the room. The bloggers stand there, cold and in silence.

I look at the dossier in front of me, this is gold. I’ll have countless blogs on this subject. At that point, Strawberry Singh elbows me in the ribs and glares at me “You swore an oath!”

So I’m here to tell you that I can’t tell you about the top secret dossier. What I can exclusively tell you is that Secret Second Life Bloggers Club doesn’t exist. The last person you would entrust with secret plans for virtual world domination is a blogger, seriously.

Now not all bloggers are equal, some get hold of more information. This is often because they attend public meetings which Linden Lab host. Inara and Nalates blog a hell of a lot about developments from Linden Lab but they don’t get this information via secret channels or handshakes, they get it from meetings where many of the attendees are not bloggers. They also provide an invaluable service by relaying these developments because many people can’t attend these meetings due to other commitments.

A claim I see aimed at some Second Life bloggers is that they are writing on behalf of Linden Lab. I find this hard to believe. I would expect any such bloggers or broadcasters to disclose any such ties, indeed I’d be most disappointed if they didn’t. When Linden Lab decided to sponsor Draxtor Despres’ Drax Files World Makers series, they blogged about it :

The Drax Files has been a labor of love for Draxtor from the start, but there are real production costs associated with creating something of this quality. We want to ensure that the series continues, so today we’re very happy to announce that Linden Lab is now sponsoring The Drax Files: World Makers!

This sponsorship has no impact on Draxtor’s editorial independence; we’re not taking control or trying to dictate what stories are told or how they’re presented in the series, nor does our agreement have any impact on his other work (his podcast, for example). What our sponsorship does mean is that Draxtor will be able to continue to produce new episodes of The Drax Files: World Makers series each month, which we can all enjoy and which Linden Lab can use in support of our Second Life marketing efforts.

So there was full disclosure there, there’s no hiding anything. The link between Draxtor and Linden Lab is out in the open. Other bloggers may have better relations with Linden Lab than some. They email them, they await responses, Linden Lab tell them what they want to tell them.

Linden Lab’s policy here has been pretty consistent, we can go back to 2006 to find a blog post; Attention: Second Life Press Organisations :

Please note, you will not be receiving any exclusive information that hasn’t already been made public by Linden Lab. Our intention here is simply to make it easier for news organizations to stay updated and informed.

Then in April 2010 Linden Lab blogged; New Groups for Resident Sources for Press and Inworld Journalists :

Also today, we’re introducing a new group for inworld press: Second Life Press Corps. We’ll use this group to share Linden Lab announcements and send invitations to inworld press events. This group replaces the “Second Life Media Consortium” group, which will be closed soon, as it was woefully outdated.

Well over five years on and I’m still awaiting a reply regarding my application to join the Second Life Press Corps. Patience young Padawan, Patience!

There have long been accusations that Linden Lab play favourites, some of this does seem to be a case of where there’s smoke there’s fire but it’s often an issue of a lack of transparency rather than dubious dealings. For example large land barons are rumoured to get discounts. I do know that the Atlas Program did indeed exist and possibly still does. The Atlas program was often considered murky because it was spoken in hushed tones, but the concept of a business giving discounts to their biggest customers is not remotely unusual.

One area where there is secrecy is when it comes to non-disclosure agreements. Linden Lab apply these from time to time, there’s currently one for Project Sansar. The usual rule with NDA club is that you don’t talk about NDA club. NDA’s are not unusual, I’ve signed one in the past with a far larger company than Linden Lab and I still won’t talk about the details, other than to say, it didn’t come to fruition.

So I’ll end by saying, there is no Secret Second Life Bloggers Club as far as I’m concerned. There are differences of opinion and healthy debate should be welcomed by all. That’s part of the point of blogs, forums and inworld groups. Agree to disagree, but there’s no secret cabal, unless of course you have solid evidence.

Of course I would say this wouldn’t I, Strawberry Singh is currently glaring at me again and looks like she wants to elbow in me in the ribs again and as we all know, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.


33 Replies to “Exclusive – There Is No Secret Second Life Bloggers Club”

  1. “AND the first betrayal,” intoned a disembodied voice, “is the misspelling of the file name.”

    Cackling ensues, fading away even as the chills down the spines of those present increase.

    1. Oaths, handshakes, maybe something to do with goat sacrifices, you have much to learn, one day young Padawan, one day!

    1. All you need to do is say “Inara Pey” three times and then magically the not a clubhouse door will open, but don’t tell anybody I told you that!

  2. There isn’t?!
    Aw blasted.
    Well there should be!
    Lindens never spill the beans, even if we try to bribe, seduce, blackmail, threaten or get them drunk.
    But we can still have a top secret bloggers club without them!
    Just so we can sit in a dark James Bond villain like lair, drink too much and pretend we’re a secret organisation.
    You know, wear fake moustaches, plot conspiracies and get very drunk.
    Let’s set it up!
    Tell nobody!
    Oh blasted, I messed up already.

    1. The secret underground bunker I tried my hardest to get Blondin to reveal the secrets about but he held firm!

      We will need a cat to make this work.

  3. This explains why my applications to join the Secret Bloggers Club goes un-answered.

    On the serious side – I got some flak a few years ago during a blogger challenge when I wrote a piece for a Lab blog and Torley wrote one for mine. I was an “insider” for almost a month. Now I don’t even rate FIC (hard as I try). When I interviewed Michael Linden for the Bay City Post not too long ago I was asked to submit my questions to the legal team in advance. That was fine with me since it was going to be a puff piece anyway. Anything interesting information I get from Lab employees these days probably isn’t interesting to most Residents anyway and it comes with my assumption that it is for my ears only.

    Or maybe there IS a secret club and your post, Ciaran, is a ruse to keep others off the scent. And my application is ignored because my blog really isn’t that interesting.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. I sent questions to the Lab for an interview with Xiola, I don’t think they went to the legal team, they may have but it wasn’t a controversial interview about policies at the Lab anyway.

      A member of the FIC claiming they are no longer a member of the FIC, now that’s suspicious!

  4. but of course there is some benefited bloggers and websites by Linden Lab its an invisible thing like a bribe that everyone knows about but no one say anything just like there is a clique of creators and their alts and friends that are always the same ones over and over again to be on events and also benefited by Linden Lab “i.e. this new sales thing on marketplace” and also the big brands that do anything and beyond to control the market at any cost! its all about who you know and to who you kiss A** , its all fake ! only a fool can’t see it or don’t want to

    1. I would certainly disclose any ties between Linden Lab and myself if any such benefits existed and I would expect most bloggers would do the same.

      There have long been accusations of Linden Lab playing favourites, this has been going on for years and it wouldn’t be surprising if some people received notification of changes ahead of others.

  5. Yes Dercy, they buy Draxtor and control Hamlet that is a fact. I think Hamlet fears Linden Lab because he needs permission from them to write and sell his books.

    When you write about the intellectual property of a company you will need permission to publish about their products. You can’t write a book about Dior perfumes without permission of Dior, otherwise Dior can get the book pulled from the stores.

    1. Like who? The Moles? The Project Sansar group? You do realise that Project Sansar scenes can be published from Maya with a plugin for Maya that LL have developed?

      They will get around to other programs such as Blender later. Project Sansar is still in Alpha mode.

      1. First who said I was talking about Sansar? What exactly is the point of publishing a scene from Maya, and how is this any different than any other program. Right now, we can publish a whole scene in a dae and import it into SL. So what!

        No crap they will get around to Blender, as they’d be morons not to. Nobody even needed to say that. Just because something is in Alpha mode, doesn’t mean other programs can’t be used. I find it funny that Philip is developing HF is the open, which LL develops Sansar behind locked doors.

        1. Early HF Alpha was Mac oriented, they didn’t even have a Windows client. They also asked people for quite some time, not to blog about their experiences in HF Alpha, it was closed Alpha. Whereas HF is open source, they also have closed some doors in their early progress.

          1. My point is, that LL talks about developing Sansar for creators, and then choose 1 program to develop the platform for, to the extent of writing a plugin for it. There is no need for a plugin for Unity, nor Unreal. And if you were going to make a “plugin” then it would be smarter to do that in an open source program with millions of users, not the most expensive program on the market. Ebbe has already said that open Alpha will start next year. You do realize that is almost a full year of development and only getting feedback from 1 small group of yes people? As embarrassing as it may be, and Phillip has seen quite a few moments with HF, you need the push back to be able to make something decent. You need those criticisms.

            LL runs the lab like they are EA, or Blizzard. These are not companies making games for content creators, hence why they develop in “secret”. If you want to make games for content creators, then you either needs some content genius on your team to develop that aspect, or you get the collective knowledge of your community. You never know what big idea is going to change the whole landscape, or a different way of looking at things. Again you need that community criticism.

            I bitch about not letting Blender users in, because I know just how great the community is. Heck, they’ll do most of the work for you, if they believe in your idea. Blender, in itself is a piece of art. LL is seriously lossing out by not involving them.

      2. Seriously tho, if LL needs to make plugins for a established program, just to import something from Maya into Sansar, I have little to know hope for Sansar. They better hope the Blender community saves their asses.

        1. I think we’ll have to see how it all works to know if a plugin is a good idea or not. Time will tell.

          However yes, the Blender community are good. Indeed it was the Second Life users who are interested in Blender who helped to keep collada in Blender as there had been talking of Blender dropping that option as Collada wasn’t being updated.

          They also got exports for Second Life settings into Blender. So I do take your points about Blender being a tool with a lot of competent and creative people involved seriously. Blender must get an airing in any future venture.

  6. Yah I also checked the stories about the CEO “ring ring” accusations and they also check out to be true.

    No wonder Linden Labs did update their TOS trying to scare people to not talk or they get banned. I am pretty disgusted Linden Labs tries to use such methods. It is like a dictator regime from Korea.

    1. Are you talking about Niteflirt and such? Ebbe has spoken about how he helped build those brands with regards to discussions on adult content in SL, he has never tried to hide that.

  7. Since 1969 there are a few that still don’t believe Armstrong did put a foot in the moon.
    So what?
    No company in modern world exists without lobbying, having their favorite employers, control or try to enforce media and so on.
    Does any believes LL, after all of its history, will be any different?
    So i don’t believe there is such a club in Sl nor a malefic plan.
    I dare to say i wished so, it would explain much easily the last events, cause now all we have to wonder is how much of the doubts placed in the hearts of its customers where only made by sheer incompetence and not a single clue about what that users base is..

    1. Yes companies play favourites, no its not always right or fair for them to do so but it happens, it’s a natural process.

      1. Along the lines of natural process, I’m betting that the bloggers who are ranty, aggressive and constantly critical get less traction than those that are cooperative, pleasant and constructively critical. It’s just human nature.

        1. Absolutely, that’s human nature and happens in many areas even the serious media. I know that journalists from local papers have been banned from covering football teams because the club were not happy with the coverage said journalist was providing.

  8. Still strange that nobody at the Lab is replying to creators that are requesting written consent from LL to share accounts (regarding the recent TOS updates).

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