This week i’ve seen this message, as have many other people, somewhere around a billion times – almost always in multiple instances, which pepper my screen like some sort of error message takeover bid. It’s insanely irritating, particularly when it happens whilst you’re rezzing immediately after logging in – it’s such a helpful message isn’t it? i like the way it leaves you guessing exactly which object has failed to rez, resulting in frantically camming all over your body to find out precisely which, shoe, hair or eyeball is missing. i’ve ended up completely bald, on a number of occasions, whilst friends have appeared in public wearing only what i’ve heard being quaintly referred to as ‘modesty clothing’.
What the message also fails to make clear is that ‘failed to rez’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘failed to rez’ but can also mean: ‘failed to appear on this particular occasion but will magically appear, as if from nowhere, at some vague point in the future when you least expect it’. This would explain why my hair looked a bit odd recently – on closer inspection, i realised i was wearing two completely different sets… the one being the ‘failed to rez’ hair from a couple of days previously. Actually, i was quite pleased with the result… maybe i’ve discovered a new fashion trend?
What is especially annoying is what i’ve been reading elsewhere about similar occurrences happening all over sl – but don’t misunderstand me here… it’s not that i’m particularly annoyed that it’s happening, or that it seems to be a widespread issue; what really bugs me is the way that people who raise perfectly reasonable complaints about the issues they’re experiencing often get treated to a tirade of self-righteous abuse from others for having the temerity to do so.
These responses to legitimate concerns are not coming from Linden Lab either, (they, of course remain resolutely silent), but from other residents, let’s call them trolls for the sake of argument, who seem to think that they are the caped crusaders of all things Linden and take it upon themselves to berate every dissatisfied customer on the Lab’s behalf.
My friends, i think it’s about time for a few home truths…
Let’s take a fictitious blog post on the sl Answers Forum:
Spongy Gallbladder: Hey, is anyone else having problems when they rez articles which then disappear forever? It happens to me all the time and it’s really piddling me off that whenever I buy something on the marketplace I’m totally wasting my money. This has been happening for weeks and I filed a ticket but I still haven’t had a response. It’s about time the Lab sorted this out!
Now let’s consider the usual sort of response that the self-appointed Guardians of Linden come up with:
Punitive Flatbustard: Oi! Stop slagging off the Lindens!!! Do you have any concept at all of what it means to keep something like sl running? If you think you can do better, then help them out, otherwise, shut up!
No, i don’t have any idea what it takes to keep sl running and i certainly couldn’t do better, but i think you need to get a grip on reality. Linden Lab isn’t a bunch of schoolboy hackers, holed up in their bedrooms running sl on a few secondhand PCs they salvaged from a skip. LL is a multi-million dollar international player in its market and is actively seeking to develop its products and services on the global stage. The businesses’ employees do not work for free, are not volunteers helping out in their spare time and don’t commit every single waking hour to maintaining sl. SL is their business; it’s their flagship product, which is touted as ‘a world with infinite possibilities’, where you can ‘live a life without boundaries, guided only by your imagination’.
With that in mind, if LL’s platform fails to perform then their customers are well within their rights to a) complain, and b) demand that they provide satisfaction. LL are big enough and ugly enough to take criticism, constructive or otherwise, and respond to it and – if they intend maintaining their market position – that’s what they should be doing. Don’t defend them – they’ve put themselves on that pedestal, out there in the big wide world of high-flying business – if they can’t deal with it, then they shouldn’t be playing the game.
Flash Harry: What’s with the moaning? It says in your profile you’re only a freebie member – what right have you got to complain?
Sorry Flash, i’ve every right to complain. If i was to give you a toaster for your birthday knowing that it didn’t work, does that mean you have to smile sweetly and thank me for the free, non-functional toaster i’ve given you?
If LL choose to ‘give away’ their expertise, then i still expect it to be of merchantable quality – see my comment above – and what about all those premium members who have to put up with the same substandard product and are paying for it? Facebook is free, does that mean its users have no right to complain about security breaches? Skype is free, so i guess we can’t complain when the global network fails, right? How about Hotmail… if they lose all my e-mail, do i just grin and bear it, shrug my shoulders and think ‘perhaps they’ll get round to fixing it one day’?
Anyone with any understanding the way business concerns run will know the value of complaints – they’re the equivalent to free nuggets of pure gold. If we’re denied our right to complain, then it’s corporate stupidity – the business loses a fundamental driver and indicator of satisfaction and progress – LL are not that stupid. Besides, who else is getting freebies… oh, yes… Linden Lab – how much in the way of product development and growth have they achieved through the contributions of their members, including the free accounts, over the years? And that’s not even mentioning the goodies they’ve grabbed from open source developers who do work tirelessly for free to improve the Lab’s code and make the Viewer even better, and then feed those improvements right back to the Lab.
Muckspreader Selfright: How dare you presume to tell the Lindens how they should conduct THEIR business. It’s their company, their servers and they can damn well do what they want. When you own the company, then you can complain about it!
Well, excuse me Mucky, old boy. Have you taken a look at the website lately? i could have sworn i saw that great and enduring piece of marketing, boldly scrawled across it… Your World. Your Imagination.
In my world, i imagine that things work properly, do what the Lab’s hype says they will and, when things do go wrong, nice customer service people quickly step into the breach and fix things, or at the very least, explain why they can’t fix them just yet.
If you’re going to sell a product using the contention that the end user is in the driving seat then it’s no good getting all uppity when that same end user gets a tad frustrated when they can’t get out of first gear and bits keep falling off when you go round corners. Either have the balls to say ‘it’s not your world: we call the shots and you lot are all just passengers’, or step up to the plate and give us a bit of credence when we have something to say!
Piddleoff Boringfart: I’m sick and tired of people slagging off the Lindens. Every time they do something amazing like creating a new vampire avatar, everyone thinks they can wade in and give them hell. Cut them some slack people, or if you don’t like the way things are around here, why not bugger off to some other virtual world and let us kiss Linden bottoms in peace!
Better still matey – why don’t you clear off instead! Fact is, i’m perfectly happy here but i’m terminally weary of all the problems. Does peoples’ hair fall off in WoW – i’ve no idea because i’m slavishly faithful to sl, but i wouldn’t mind betting that it doesn’t, otherwise they wouldn’t have over 9% of the gaming audience compared to sl’s piddly little 0.74% share!
Of course, i could clear off to some OpenSim lookalike, just like so many other high profile users and organisations have, but i have stakes in this virtual world: i’ve invested time, money, effort and a hell of a lot of other things to into making sl my platform of choice. That’s not to mention all the very good friends i’ve made – i’m certainly not going to lose them by moving to another platform! Then there’s the size and scope of sl, which no other virtual world comes near – i like to explore and i don’t want to run out of places to go!
Besides which, what on earth would i blog about?… ‘Once again in VirtualopensimfunandgamesLand there was no lag, nothing much happened and there was no controversy’ – not even mildly interesting to the remaining three readers i’d have left!
i’m not leaving, because i can see that if those annoying and irritating problems that i complain about would just go away, sl would be, frankly, unbeatable.
i have nothing against sl, Linden Lab or any of the Linden team – all credit to them for what they achieve, but i won’t tolerate sloppiness, inefficiency or failure when it comes to something that i have a vested interest in.
As for those holier than thou, moral high ground dwelling sycophants who hang around the sl blogs and forums, just waiting for any opportunity to jump on those who dare to complain, so that they can defend their poor, defenceless Linden buddies – do us all a favour; take the blue pill, gather your toys back into the pram and, for goodness’ sake, get a life… any life – as long as it’s not Second Life!
The one whose heart is of a saint
The other’s black as night
The one who never wondered
What made something wrong, or right
Crash Test Dummies – The Unforgiven Ones