What do you think of the new Linden Feedback & Suggestion Page? The more cynical might shrug it off as simply marketing hype or another ill-fated Lab idea that will never go anywhere. Equally there will be those who completely miss the point and will treat the new tool as if it were their own personal hotline to Ebbe, sending wholly inappropriate messages, comments and random observations that will simply clog the system and fill up the inboxes of a lot of unhappy Lindens with useless spam.
Personally, i think having a suggestion page of the type the Lab has introduced is a big step in the right direction. To begin with, it’s an effective method of diverting feature requests and ideas unrelated to the technical side of things away from the Jira. One of the big problems the Jira has faced over the years is that it’s been one of the very few means of raising issues that we know will be noticed, and even acted upon, by the Lab. Consequently the Jira has become stuffed with things that have no place in what is primarily a technical issue tracker, along with vast swathes of duplication and – as a consequence – large numbers of issues are closed down, mothballed and perceived as being ignored. Jira is good at what it’s supposed to do, but not at all suited to dealing with many of the queries that were being pushed its way. A bit like expecting the supermarket to repair your car. The alternative, for the user with non-technical problems is pretty much limited to the the forums, which in recent times have become a very one-sided method of communication – one which nobody really considers to be an effective method for getting any sort of message across, even if anyone took any notice.
So the new suggestions page fills what has been a quite significant gap, and it also tells us something about the Lab’s ongoing plans for sl. This is a an important nod in the ‘your world, your imagination’ direction – a tenet of sl that lost its way somewhat until Ebbe took over, but which has become once again more established in recent times. In effect what the Lab is doing is asking us “What would make sl better for you?”, giving us free reign to suggest improvements in pretty much every aspect of sl – from documentation through to teleporting.
There’s also a message here for those who think the Lab is about to unceremoniously dump sl in favour of the looming spectre of SL:Mk2. Clearly – if it wasn’t already crystal clear from the messages they’ve previously been sending us – sl does indeed have a future. Whatever any pessimist might choose to believe, no developer – particularly one with the experience that Linden Lab has – is going to actively encourage the submission of suggestions and ideas for new features and improvements for a platform that is going to be deprecated any time soon. And if you’re still cynical, just bear in mind how ruthless Ebbe has been right from the start when it comes to shelving projects that don’t cut the mustard, (and before you suggest that’s it’s just a way to get good ideas to incorporate into the new platform, i won’t deny that they won’t be watching with interest what the userbase really wants, but if that’s all the Lab were doing, that’s what they’d be asking for).
What the Lab are granting to us is the power to influence how sl develops in the future and therein lies a cautionary note. To misquote Voltaire, “with power, comes responsibility”, and that i fear is the stumbling block. It’s up to us, the residents and users of sl to ensure that we use the suggestions tool in a responsible and effective manner. If we abuse that privilege and fire off thousands of ill-conceived and pointless requests then it’ll achieve nothing. However, if we use it in the intended manner, with constructive and well thought-out suggestions and ideas, not only will we see sl improve in many desirable ways, but we’ll also foster good relations with the Lindens and the developers who make our virtual world possible. It’s our call, but knowing how appallingly we can behave on occasion, when given free reign to voice our opinions, i can’t help but be concerned.
Perhaps i’ll be proven wrong? Hope so!
That this is the time
This is the time for action
This is the time to be seen
Secret Affair – Time For Action