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Q Linden

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In the Snowstorm Product Backlog Office Hour Wednesday, I commented that "I think options are bad for users and bad for code quality". If you read that whole transcript, you can probably see that it was interpreted badly. The most extreme variant, reported by someone who was watching in-world chat afterward, held that Linden Lab wanted to remove all options from the Viewer. Let me start by saying that is not the case and never would be, nor is it something that I or anyone at Linden Lab has ever seriously contemplated.

However, I still stand by my original comment -- options are problematic for lots of reasons.

Let's see why:

First, every option has to have a way to control it. In many cases, you have to have multiple ways to control it. From a user interface design point of view, that means creating option interfaces. For the SL Viewer, those are a) the preferences dialog, b) the debug settings, c) checkable menu items, and d) options within dialogs that control other features.

You'd normally like to put options with the things they affect, but screen space is always at a premium and many options are only changed infrequently. So instead, we group options together in a preferences dialog. But there are enough of them that it becomes necessary to create some means of organizing prefs into a hierarchical structure, such as tabs.

But as soon as you do that, you find that you have trouble because not everyone agrees on what the hierarchy should be. What tabs should you have? Where does each option go? When you get too many options for one tab, how should you split them up?

There's no one answer and there's rarely a right answer.

And then, once you have a place to put them, you have to decide what to call each option and what the default is. And if those decisions were easy there wouldn't be a need for an option!

Second, options add complexity to the interface. Every time you add an option, you add a decision for the user to make. In many cases, someone might not even know what the option controls or whether it's important. Too many options might leave someone feeling that the product is too complex to use.

Third, options add complexity to the code. Every option requires code to support all of the branches of the decision tree. If there are multiple options affecting the same feature, all of the combinations must be supported, and tested. Option code is often one of the biggest sources of bugs in a product. The number of options in the Second Life Viewer renderer, which interact not only with each other but with device drivers and different computers, make it literally impossible for us to exhaustively test the renderer. We have to do a probability-based sampling test.

You could say that it's our problem to deal with that complexity, and you'd be right, but every additional bit of complexity slows down development and testing and makes it harder for us to deliver meaningful functionality.

Fourth, options that are 50-50 probably do need to exist. Options that are 90-10 are addressing an advanced (and possibly important) use case. Having them in the preferences interface promotes them to a primacy they probably don't deserve.

Finally, adding options has a snowball effect. Having a small number of options is good, but having too many options is definitely bad for the product and for the customers trying to use it. Sure, advanced uses need advanced features, but we don't have to make everyone confront all of the complexity.

Add all of this up, and I think it becomes clearer why I said I didn't like options and would prefer to find alternatives.

So why have options at all, then? Because different people legitimately have different needs. Advanced users vs novices, or landowners vs shoppers. We get it. But it's also often an indication of a design that needs work.

There are alternatives to putting more checkboxes on the preferences screen:

a) Allow entire user interfaces to be "plugged in". This requires a major architectural change to the software. Although we've talked about it, it's going to be a while yet before we get there.
b) Allow options to be controlled close to the point of use. As I said above, this can clutter the interface but can be effective.
c) Make an interface that covers all use cases. This is the hardest of all, requiring real understanding and design, but is usually the right answer.

In short, I often consider adding a preference to the prefs panel to be the wrong answer to a real question. It's not that we don't consider different use cases, it's that we're trying to cover them in a better way.

So this has been my attempt to explain the thinking behind a statement like "options bad". I hope it's helped -- has it? Tell me in the comments.

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Naturally, there needs to be a good ballance. But if there are doubts, customer satisfaction should win. It's off topic here, but from some of the JIRA comments from the Marketplace team I got the impression their primary goal was to write as little code as possible. Generally speaking, if thousands of users suffer because one programmer made his life easier, there's something wrong. Don't let that happen with Snowstorm, please.

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Q I have these recommendations:

1. People like the viewers others make more than yours. You must accept this reality and try to learn why your work is considered inferior by your customers and learn to listen to the customers that are the revenue stream.

2. Try Kirstens viewer. Look on the graphics tab. You will see an advanced tab. People that don't need to go there won't. And that is fine. But those who want a richer more immersive visual experience, and have the equipment to support it, will go there and tailor their visual experience for the purpose needed. Like taking pictures. Or filming. I.e.; it is not that hard to put the options in. Just put them on an advanced tab out of the way. And then take the time to properly document them. Then you solved everything.

3. Never try to tell paying customers you know more about SL than they do. Of course you know stuff we don't. We probably don't want to know how sausage is made either. But we have a different perspective than you. You are not making your money from a business inside SL watching SL and your livelihood erode away into nothing because of one decision after another by LL (some of whom seem to adamantly insist everyone but them are clearly stupid). Yes I am stupid. I bet a lot of money on setting up for this thing and made a decision to concentrate on SL. A decision I now regret. Three years of my life are gone and cannot be listed on a resume and I no longer have any current references anyone would consider reliable.

Go in SL and sink or swim in a content creation business and learn why the customers have issues with your company and products. Then that extra few hours of work making options panels might not seem so bad. The available options are all in debug settings anyway as it is. All this work is looks like a few new forms on a panel to me.

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So this has been my attempt to explain the thinking behind a statement like "options bad". I hope it's helped -- has it? Tell me in the comments

I read the transcript, top to bottom.  And I'll tell you what I think:

I've never seen a dev team so disassociated from their customers.  I've never seen this level of sheer condescension, disdain, and arrogance in any team, anywhere.

This is obviously a lost cause.  Do what you want with Viewer 2 - as long as we don't have to use it.  Most already don't, and from what I've just read I don't see that changing any time soon.

Have fun with your project.  It's certainly not ours.

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I think you've clarified things as best you can at this point.

Complexity is both a blessing and a curse.  And "freedom from choice" is not necessarily sinister.

I recently wrote a piece about complexity and its relation to art and tools. See: "1-Bit Symphony and the Art of Constraint"   I think one needs to be very careful and thoughtful when speaking about such concepts, as regretful phrases like "options are bad" can easily be misinterpreted and fill people with understandable anger.

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Your primary goal should be customer satisfaction, not making code maintenance/testing easier.

The former gets a lot easier with the latter.

Right now, we're hearing that folks want a lot of code changes to v2, ranging from the behaviour of the sidebar to chat focus to attachment behaviour, etc. etc. etc.  Every code change we make needs to go through QA. The easier and more reliably we can QA our code, faster we can iterate, and the lower the probability that those changes will introduce new bugs. This means more responsiveness to customer requests and higher satisfaction.

this whole statement seems like a contridiction.

Your saying that by ignoring the changes your customers want, it will be quicker and easier to get through QA, and that will mean you being more responsive to your customers... yet how can you be responisive to your customers if your ignoring them in the first place, just so you can make QA quicker and easier???

I am confused.

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Wow, people. I'm amazed at the way folks are misinterpreting what I said. Some of it is, I'm sure, deliberate, by people who have axes to grind.

All I tried to do was explain why options should be a last resort. Nowhere did I say we won't have them.

Regarding the various accusations of condescension and not listening to our customers, how about a little reciprocity? I'm trying to have a somewhat nuanced, open discussion, explaining some of Linden Lab's desires and constraints, and what I get in return seems to be an attack because I haven't simply agreed to some hypothetical ideal. I'm listening and trying to engage, are you?

Please, let's assume good intentions here. If we all listen and comment with respect we'll get farther.

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We are paying you (albeit indirectly).  The reciprocity in that relationship (service provider / customer) is not being fullfilled.

No axes to grind, really.  But you still don't get it.

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You started by asserting that people have "axes to grind", then you asked for reciprocity and concluded with "let's assume good intentions". I'm not sure that's a nuanced discussion.

People are trying to help, Q. 

I think a fair starting point for the LL team as a whole might be seek first to understand, then to be understood.

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Oh.  Wow.

Really?  Accusing your userbase--which is already unhappy with your product (not you)--of being out to get you.  We're not "out to get you."  We're not hating for the sake of hating.  We're dissatisifed with what you, and the rest of your team, are producing.  When you cite, very clearly, something the users have a problem with, and lend your support to it, they're going to be annoyed.  When you make a post trying to justify this point, it's not going to convince anyone.  When you make another post calling everyone a bunch of big meanie heads, well...

In regards to wanting us to listen to you, and not be condescending...  We are listening to you, and we don't like what you're saying.  Our fate's much more directly in your hands, despite the fact that your paychecks come (indirectly) from all of us.  Your initial tone wasn't inviting a "nuanced, open discussion."  You were taking the high ground and adopting a defensive tone, which is just asking for it.  You've all been treating us like low-class peasants who shouldn't know better.  How dare we revolt?  It's the very definition of condecension.

An "open" discussion would imply that you might listen to all points of view.  I'm sorry the points of view seem to be, almost universally, in opposition to you, but this may indicate how out-of-touch you and the rest of the Lindens are at this point.

We're listening, and we're engaging.  Are you?

 

On another note.  You said one option would be to...

Make an interface that covers all use cases. This is the hardest of all, requiring real understanding and design, but is usually the right answer.

It's hard.  This means it probably won't happen.

Real understanding already seems to be out the window, as indicated by, well, this entire blog post and the response I'm replying to.

Design?  Yeah.  Everything to do with LL currently looks like the wet dreams of a bunch of DeVry students and café culture fetishists, but I don't think most of the users sit around with a Starbucks cup in one hand and a Macbook perfectly balanced on one knee while they use Second Life.  And if they do, they're probably happy with Viewer 2.  They don't want functionality, just flash and "Dazzle."  Yes, we remember the Dazzle project (the one thing LL reversed after we yelled enough), and it seems this viewer has been its revenge.

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Really Q? That's the only comment you have on the feedback? To accuse some of us deliberately misunderstanding what you said?

I think you are confusing disagreement with deliberate misunderstanding. Disagreeing with your opinion does not imply malice.

I think a much more constructive approach would be if you commented on some points raised in the thread here instead. For instance, I would really like to hear how do you explain the fact that the most popular viewer used to connect to SL is the one with most options in it?

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Wow, people. I'm amazed at the way folks are misinterpreting what I said. Some of it is, I'm sure, deliberate, by people who have axes to grind.

All I tried to do was explain why options should be a last resort. Nowhere did I say we won't have them.

Regarding the various accusations of condescension and not listening to our customers, how about a little reciprocity? I'm trying to have a somewhat nuanced, open discussion, explaining some of Linden Lab's desires and constraints, and what I get in return seems to be an attack because I haven't simply agreed to some hypothetical ideal. I'm listening and trying to engage, are you?

Please, let's assume good intentions here. If we all listen and comment with respect we'll get farther.

 

Q, (I hope you're recovering well),

What you may not realize (I know that LL is a pretty big company) is that SL users, particularly the blog reading ones.. have been hit recently with a LOT of unwanted change. Mass employee terminations (I know you guys are still reeling from that as well), the teen grid merger, display names, the marketplace, and more.. in and of themselves these changes would already represent a massive shock to the status quo. But also this week "Emerald" exploded in flaming shards of drama. So what you're getting is an inordinate amount of heat and dissatisfaction, in addition to the dissatisfaction with viewer 2, all directed at the only person posting from Linden Lab. And you're just unlucky enough to be launching your project right square in the middle of it all.

Over the last few weeks, SL users have asked, begged, hollered and screamed to be heard on the changes we've seen.. some, like myself, are willing to wait and see what happens.. but a large number of users are getting really itchy to yell. While Philip's return promised us a new era of "listening to the customer", SL users are feeling "less heard than ever before". Many of us have had long histories with LL, hearing them say again and again "we want your input" only to proceed with corporate plans regardless of community wishes.

Personally, I'm optimistic about snowstorm.. and was particularly struck by Oz Linden's passion and honesty during the SLCC presentation, when he simply said "don't ask us for viewer 1 back, we're not going back". I get that there's a lot of new, clean components "under the hood" in viewer 2 that makes it much easier to develop for.. but I think that SL users are chafing at an overload of too much customer-facing change, from all sources, too soon. Moreso now that many are facing the imminent blocking of logins from the Emerald viewer.

If the engine of viewer 2 had something more akin to the UI of viewer 1, many of the complaints would evaporate like summer's rain. Very quickly, the snowstorm project, with it's very real potential to integrate user requested "Emerald like functionality" and other requested fixes/changes into the official LL viewer would be seen as the truly amazing acheivement that it already is showing itself to be.

But you can't change history. Like it or not, all the changes in viewer 2 were dropped on the users en masse. People "hate" the new viewer, because they "hate" the changes in the UI. They talk in absolutes like "unusable" "broken" and "tragically flawed". So because it's all been a big unwanted shock, what you'll see is attempts over time to revert behaviors, rather than continuing to develop them forward. The open sourcers will work on third party viewers, rather than doing what you REALLY want, which is working on fixing your viewer. It's the same thing that started all this third party viewer stuff in the first place. When LL pushed an unwanted change in the chat UI on us when voice was released, the result was the first TPV, Nicholaz.. putting out a viewer with the old chat interface.

In the end, there's no winning, except to push gently but confidently forward at this point, and realize that right now, the din from the crowd is just higher than normal. You're not going to do anything for Ll's reputation of "not listening" that way, but stopping to listen to what's being said right now, won't do much for your morale either. Critical listening is required, sifting through the anger and hurt to find out what the real complaints are isn't easy.. and it takes a lot of energy.

But if you do continue forward, and I do think you should do exactly that, as you keep developing features that aren't in viewer 1.23, eventually third party viewer users will return to the fold.. or be left behind.. and slowly but surely, third party viewers will have to adopt the latest sources, or risk being unable to provide the same level of functionality. The real hope, is just the constant turnover of old users leaving and new users joining who haven't seen viewer 1.23 before.

Do I wish you could "stop everything" and give us the old UI back? Yes and no. Yes, I'd like the old UI back, because while I PERSONALLY don't need it, a lot of people are unwilling to adapt to the new UI.. and it's delaying adoption of new functions like shared media, alpha masks, multi-attach./multi-wear clothing, etc... But mostly No, I don't want you to "stop everything" to do it. I've seen some of the things on the SCRUM backlog.. and I'm really quite excited to see things moving as quickly as they seem to be. I know that mesh is coming, and as a member of the beta.. I know that that's some technology that in the end will probably benefit everyone.And delaying that level of awesome stuff, just to go back and rewrite the whole UI system.. is just not a good idea at all.

Unfortunately this is the bed that was made 2 years (or so) ago, when all viewer developments were put on hold while the new viewer (or at least the UI) was outsourced. It was probably a poor customer relations decision "starting over fresh" rather than letting the UI evolve over time.. But as I said, what's done.. is done. The only real issue comes near the end of the year, When mesh will begin possibly entering the main grid.. because that will be another things that 1.23.5 based viewers won't be able to see. At some point, that door will have to be closed, and there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth then too.

The Emerald debacle has ended forever my trust in third party viewers. So for better or worse, I'll be using official viewers from here on out. I, for one, will be eagerly watching the snowstorm project, and am already considering downloading one of the daily builds here soon.. because the changes listed in the daily reports look quite promising.

My question for Oz, which I asked a few days ago in private, I'll point to you now in public.

What is it that we, the users can do, to become productive contributors, partners if you will, to your work in Snowstorm? We have thousands of jira posts that we've made over the years.. How can we properly and politely bring them to your attention, for hopeful resolution and incorporation in future versions of the LL viewer? Is there a process yet in place to say "hey snowstorm guys, look at this" ?

Tell us how to help you make the LL viewer better for all of us.

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Q Linden said:


There are alternatives to putting more checkboxes on the preferences screen:

a)  Allow entire user interfaces to be "plugged in". This requires a major  architectural change to the software. Although we've talked about it,  it's going to be a while yet before we get there.
b) Allow options to  be controlled close to the point of use. As I said above, this can  clutter the interface but can be effective.
c) Make an interface that  covers all use cases. This is the hardest of all, requiring real  understanding and design, but is usually the right answer.

a) first, why wasn't this done from the begining? (never mind, I think we all know). But second, why not just bite the bullet and do it now? Most people are not using V2.x now, nor will making little tweaks and making add-on's like display names bring people over to the V2.x UI.

b) as stated in other posts above, options are important... The UI doesn't need to be cluttered if simple sub-menu's or 'beginner-intermidate-advanced' options are designed in.

c) Sorry, but there is no way for a 'one-UI-fits-all' in SL. It is much too diverse, unless of course, you are trying to turn SL into nothing more than a 3D facebook. A fits-all UI may be fine for database and spreadsheet programs, where there are strict rules applied, but there are basically no rules in SL. It's a constantly growing and changing environment, with many aspects and uses. At least V1.x was usuable by all, albeit cumbersome to some, where the V2.x UI is unusable for many, and cumbersome for most.

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There is no such thing as "too many options."

You need to make decisions based on what existing users do with existing viewers, how existing users set those viewers, and whether most users do or don't do or not do everything that's available.

SL is a virtual world, not a video game. We have artists, business people, teachers, gamers, socialites, builders, machinimists and more, and they all use the same viewer in different ways. To restrict options is to restrict creativity.

Instead of trying to figure all of this out on your own, you should create an extended user survey as ask us. Because we're the ones that use the software day in and day out. We know what we like, what we want and what we don't want - and what we don't comprehend at all. We set our viewers based on what we do and how we do it - and you shouldn't assume that a complex viewer is the antithesis of Resident happiness, unless you've never loaded a copy of Emerald in your life.

Instead of "too many options," you should focus on "how do our customers use the software they're logging on with the most," and emulate that.

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Dear Q, in no way do I consider viewer 1.23 to be the "best viewer." However, it works for me because it allows me to complete my tasks in a MUCH more efficient manner than V2.  This is of course due to being so accustomed to the viewer, but it's also because of the issues V2 has with multitasking. V2 has located all the "important stuff" that I used to be able to open up 3-8 windows of if I wanted to.  Sure it's overwhelming... that's part of the draw of SL: that you can do MORE, you have MORE control, you have MORE freedom.  It's a practice in learning how to deal with overstimulation...  For many of us, V2 took away that "more," and that's why we're still using 1.23 or a TPV... we can handle it =)  V2 feels like a chokechain.  LL already has said that V2 isn't appropriate yet for power users.. so your comment about 'less options' was easily misread.  Many of us just want the functionality that already existed.

And why won't I use V2 at this moment?  Because if I do, I'm going to lose almost ALL my 1.23 settings, including my LOG SETTINGS which are extremely important for any halfway decent businessperson in SL, and I refuse to use V2 until it lets me log back into 1.23 without resetting settings which I may or may not remember to reset every time I switch before I end up losing hours/days worth of IM logs that contain important business information.

Just tell me where to put this request for V2 to not trash all my preferences in 1.23, make it easier for us power users to 'dip our toes in' without fearing Every Single Time that if we log in with 1.23 again, we'll be punished by having our preferences trashed (again, really important ones! like chat/im logging!)  Don't give b.s. about creating another user in windows, etc etc... fast easy fun, remember? I could maybe learn to deal with the rest... but this is keeping me from even thinking about it.

If LL has designed a whole new viewer in large part because people with no creativity or sense of adventure abandon the game after learning there isn't some 'score' to be achieved or easy money to be made, then why won't you make it easier for your existing, core, paying, dedicated, committed, present, engaged, devoted, frustrated users to switch between the two viewers, allowing us to experiment with V2 without the negative side effects?

At this point, that's one of the major hurdles keeping me from even getting near it; I've been burned enough.  I have work to do and like you, I take my work and this environment very seriously.

It's sad that most of the public "conversations" slip into insults and posturing... =(   It's also sad that you're missing out on a lot of input because many users simply refuse to use V2 at this time.

That said, I'm interested in attending your Office Hours... what are they again?

p.s. if this preferences/cache issue is fixed, hope you will make a blog announcement, or if you did fix it, wow i'd like to know =)

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I'm sorry, but you are whining. I didn't read the chat transcript, but your post here is just whining. And this follow-up comment is not only whining, it is telling us, your customers, that we are wrong, and wrong-headed.

Now, I happen to think that some of the comments I've read here are wrong and wrong-headed, and others I simply disagree with. But you are being paid to deliver a product to all of us, and if you need to complain about us, you should do it with your colleagues, not in public.

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Well, Yoz.  Let me be brutally frank.   You just don't get it....how easy it is for YOU has no bearing on customer satisfaction, none, nada, zero, zip....   Handing folks what YOU think they want based on how easy it is to code does NOT yield customer satisfaction.    It yields a viewer 2.0 which has a MISERABLE adoption rate.   Something is quite wrong with YOUR way of doing things when the antique viewer 1.2x has multiple times the users of 2.0 and TPV's proliferate.   AND the mere existance of more than one or two highly specialized TPV's should be indicative of failure on your part at the Lab to provide what customers really want.   As should the fact the majority of TPV's are 1.2x not 2.x.x.   People have clearly REJECTED your way of thinking (no options, ease of coding and QA) and top-down paternalism, yet you persist in trying to foist it on us yet again.

As far as how easy it is to code and QA....I truly do not care.   Your job is to code and test, not mine...if it is too difficult to produce what the customers want, I suggest a different line of work since the TPV's are providing it quite handily.  I regularly am given assignments at my job that have to meet customer expectations that are NOT easy to implement (but would be if I ignored the customer as it appears you and Q want to do).   I do NOT argue with the customer, telling them how much easier my job would be if they only did it my way, yada yada...that is rude, patronizing and insulting.

And no, giving me less of what I want and things that you think I want to make your job easier does NOT lead to higher satisfaction.   Crap scrummed out at 2.x.x speed is still crap.    Again, the whole 'we hear you' posts clearly mean nothing to the people running the Snowjob project, and sadly, the entire Lab.

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Wow, people. I'm amazed at the way folks are misinterpreting what I said. Some of it is, I'm sure, deliberate, by people who have axes to grind.

All I tried to do was explain why options should be a last resort. Nowhere did I say we won't have them.

Regarding the various accusations of condescension and not listening to our customers, how about a little reciprocity? I'm trying to have a somewhat nuanced, open discussion, explaining some of Linden Lab's desires and constraints, and what I get in return seems to be an attack because I haven't simply agreed to some hypothetical ideal. I'm listening and trying to engage, are you?

Please, let's assume good intentions here. If we all listen and comment with respect we'll get farther.

Wow Q, While my initial post was one which was more in support and praise, your last post was more condescending than any other post on this thread. Axes to grind? Really? And that you are listening? Listening is one thing but understanding and accepting what your costumers are asking and expecting of you is another. Your attitude is the perfect illustration of the cult behavior of everyone at Linden Lab. You (LL) believe that all of us (your costumers) are dumb and you know what is best for us. Every Linden at Linden Lab should run for congress you all would fit right in.

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Well gee Q, you put the information out there and people commented on it and you run and hide? We are the users my friend. We are the one's paying the wages and salaries in the Company. If you want to ask questions and cry when someone has a shot at you, then my friend it is time to find another job.

Viewer2 stinks! That is the message people have been giving you. It really stinks. It is awful, rotten and compared to other viewers, hard to use. Get used to it. Until Vwr2 is changed totally, it will stink.

If you and your team took more time sorting the problems out rather than concocting excuses why you cannot, we would be far better off.

Me personally? If you guys continue in the vein you have now, then I will be leaving SL, regardless of the Return of Phillip.

It is my personal opinion that this "can do" man (Phillip) is surrounded by "can't do" plebs and yes men.

"To achieve a solution to a problem takes time. To achieve the impossible takes a little longer."

With the many alternate worlds now springing up, all the one's I have visited do not use Viewer 2. I wonder why? Simple answer - It is rubbish my friend. Throw it out and start again. The waste of space on the damn thing is disgusting. The need to navigate through hierachy is pathetic. Lack on p/b access to regularly used options. Mate whoever gave Vwr2 the greenlight (imo) should be strung, drawn and quartered, because it is bloody rubbish.

Most of us are happy driving our late model viewers (majority viewer = Emerald), but LL continues to push its Model 'T' hunk of junk viewer2. Why? I believe the LL developers are too bloody lazy to do the job and are more inclined to look for an excuse NOT to do something rather than spend time working out ways of achieving a result.

Come on, get serious and do the job you're paid to do for crying out loud.

Why am I being a little bit tough? I expect LL to take ideas from every single avenue open. That is not the case lately It appears you guys ask questions then go and hide when you hear things you don't want to hear... Cut it out! Listen and learn!

"To achieve a solution to a problem takes time. To achieve the impossible takes a little longer."

We enjoy SL, immensely, without using Vwr2. Yes, I have tried it for extended periods but continually get frustrated with the UI and end up using a TPV.

Be a "can do" man, not a "can't do because" man, ok?

"To achieve a solution to a problem takes time. To achieve the impossible takes a little longer."

For the record ol' mate, I'm well over 50 years of age and been involved with computers since the mid 70's.

You are up to the job Q, the problem is that you just don't know what you and your team are capable of producing. Break the shackles, release the chains and go for it ol' mate!

MISTER LINDEN!! TEAR DOWN THOSE VIEWERS!!! (Wonder where I heard something like this before)

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Very unprofessional, Q.    People disagree with your take and they are either 'misinterpreting' or 'have an axe to grind'.    Perhaps we don't agree with you?  Perhaps (less charitably) it sounds like a cop-out?  Perhaps we have been had sunshine blown up our collective ***es enough times we don't trust you?

Reciprocity?  Dear gods, man/woman/being, did you actually SAY that with a straight face?   This is the standard practice for the lab....we're listening, we want feedback, get feedback, promptly ignore said feedback (due to desires and constraints, etc.) and agree only with whoever post 'respectful' (aka, fawning) agreement.   The only difference between this case and previous ones (windlight feedback, viewer 2.0 feedback) is that instead of just ignoring negative feedback and stroking the egos of a few fanboys, you've added whining at your customer for disagreeing to the list.  Nice touch.

Now, just a few words of advice. 

Look at 2.x.x.  Look at the adoption rate compared to 1.2x and TPV's.  Look at feedback both during beta and thereafter on 2.x.x...and how it was ignored.    Folks hated the sidebar...it still went in, all feedback ignored.  Folks disliked how focus to the chat window works and wanted it like it was previously...again feedback ignored for what would be a simple fix.   These are STILL two of the top complaints about 2.x.x.    

Now, when folks see yet another giant blow-off of feedback brewing, you DARE to act hurt and mumble about respect?     Seriously, Q.   Never met you, probably never will...so I have no axe to grind against you....but I've been here long enough to know from past experience 'we want your feedback' means 'we want you to agree and we will ignore those that don't'.   You want respect and trust...YOU have to earn that by overcoming the past actions of the Lab when dealing with players...and a good way is to drop the attitude and TRY for once, just once, to give the players what they desire.   Copping an attitude about 'bad', 'difficult to QA', etc, does not earn one respect...that's the usual LL song and dance repeating itself on a different project.

My question to you is this...do you want this project to be a success, or do you wish to sit, spin your wheels and turn out another variant of 2.x.x that the bulk of the playerbase avoids like radioactive waste?   Your call....but I will remind you, the TPV's became popular by implementing community desired elements and options, not limiting options.

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This strikes me as a cop-out.

We are getting the OPTION of display names. Its gonna add a ton of complexity to inworld. What people asked for was the ability to choose their last name... something that is relatively simple to add. There are already ways to add extra names above our heads. Instead we get something we didn't ask for - at a level of complexity we don't need .

Theres plenty of instances of things that we ask for that are simple to add - but they get ignored. For instance control of windlight settings for all sim visitors - something another grid added in ONE week. Our jira for it has been sitting there over a year, ignored apart from Torley saying 'coming'. That feature alone would make so many people happy and SL a more beautiful place.

LL hires a VP of marketing. Ignores the fact that your existing users are your best (and free) form of advertising. Users who are waiting over a month for support tickets to be looked at now - and its going to get worse because you're trimming support services. People are tired of not being listened to, frustrated with not getting support and frankly i find it hypocritical to be saying 'we don't like adding options' when LL is announcing new options we don't ask for.

Look at this Emerald debacle... why has it happened?... because Emerald could give people options they wanted - so it became hugely popular. Then their team let us down unfortunately. It wouldn't be a problem if LL had originally given us the options people asked for - but they were ignored because someone decided we needed a completely new viewer instead.

Don't tell us you don't like adding options because they add complexity, when LL has spent over a year on a new viewer that has added huge complexity to all your processes. Try listening to what we want instead of justifying your existing beliefs.

The customer ain't always right...but it certainly helps a business to listen to them and give due consideration.

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Dear Q, this blog posting is about options. But frankly, I couldn't care less. As you see in the comments, the real story is about customer satisfaction. Your customers, to be exact. Many Residents feel that LL doesn't listen anymore. In fact, many of us, including me, think that Linden employees don't spend enough time in Second Life to fully understand what living and working in SL actually means.

V2 is the best example. Several polls indicate clearly that 70, 80% or maybe more of the Residents don't like or even hate it. We were told that real SL users helped developing V2. If so, how come that many many users don't like it and the UI is unworkable for many content creators? Why don't you do anything about that dreadful sidebar in V2? Or make it at least moveable.

Another example is the big Search fail from the last months, which drove many longtime respectable business owners into bankruptcy. During those months people were desperate, because their cries of help to Linden Lab weren't heard.

It's all about customer satisfaction. Listening to your customers and NOT ignoring them and just go along as you yourselves have planned. So, more or less viewer options? It's just a meaningless discussion. Your customers just want a stable network and a good product that they can work with. You can only provide that if you listen to your customers.

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Torley had a great approach to this not so long ago (dont have the link but I'm sure someone else has it) where he asked, "What changes do you make when you initially log in?"  He wanted to know what settings were changed the most etc and the power users answered....in droves.  The question was posed simply, without judgement.  Torley started by saying, I turn this on and this off and tweak this and do this and people joined it.  It was a fantastic way of learning new ways of tweaking the UI.  The best thing, Torley would have learnt some of the things that people would prefer to be default instead of what was already there, and everyone felt like they were inputing to the conversation and not being attacked or ignored. 

Everyone is upset.  Residents have long felt like they don't matter.  We have for years put items into the Jira that have just been dismissed out of hand.  They may have been dismissed for a reason but the reason has never been explained. The fact that so many items have continuously shown up in the Jira should have sent alarm bells "Oh shit, they REALLY want this to happen".  Many of us live in SL.  We don't just spend an hour every couple of days playing a game, some of us spend all day, every day (I know - it's sad isn't it =0P)  creating, helping, learning, being.  Please listen to what we have to say.  Explain to us why something isn't viable, give us options that can be implemented instead.  (We can't give you X because of Y but would Z be helpful instead? And if not can you suggest anything else we could do to give you as close to X as we can?) or (We can't put X there because of Y.  Do you think there is somewhere else we could put it instead?)

We know that there are some amazing things coming but please, instead of just implementing new additions (display names and voice morphing as an example), spend the time and energy on fixing say the top 10 or 20 items that are on everyone's hit list.  I know its a big ask.  Everyone that has to clean up previous mistakes, whether they are their own or other people's, have a huge task in front of them - the biggest of which is gaining back the trust of the people the mistakes affected. Give us something that shows that we are being heard Q.

Everyone needs to stop being defensive and start being proactive.  The Lab needs to learn that if you continue to approach people the way they have in the past they will get the same kind of responses.  Remember it's not always what you say, it's how you say it.

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I could comment on so many aspects of the post - but here is a fourth option:

  • Enable skinning as in Viewer 1.** - that way several different skins presenting simple or complicated preference options could be chosen - and the users will help you by wtiting them.  Many of the options that are already in the debug settings, but few people seem to know about, were discussed at the OH - providing them as options in an advanced skin would provide users with more choice at no extra effort to the Lab.  These skins can also be developed to give a viewer focus to different user communities while using the Viewer 2 code.

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No, you do not have to be a rocket scientist, but you DO have to be able to do the following

  1. Listen
  2. Contemplate and Understand what you heard
  3. Set your ego aside and act on what you learn in steps 1 and 2.

Based on Q's reply (and to a lesser extent Yoz's), they haven't progressed to step 2, treating disagreements like 'axes to grind' and taking things personally.

Nothing ever seems to change at LL, other than the name of the Linden stuck at step 1.   Q owes the players an apology for his comment.

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