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Web profiles, and why I believe they're a mistake


Mircea Lobo
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Every once in a while, there's that time when LL does something very very wrong. And not long ago, something I qualify as that has happened again, as the SL2 viewer introduced Web Profiles.

 

The UI profiles were much better in my opinion. Something that many people seem to agree with, as discussed on AW Groupies. One reason is performance. Loading only the profile values within SL was much quicker than loading an external web page. Second is that they were easier to use and much more practical, keeping them in the same place as all your settings. Like someone once said, SL is one of the few engines that has the ability to display and edit profiles in an interface, which is a blessing. And now, they threw this away for something worse. Also remember that at some point in existence, SL had "web logins" as well, and they were removed due to bad performance. What next... web inventory?

 

The question now is if there's any chance of LL reverting back to the UI profiles, and being convinced to undo this change. Keep in mind they can keep the web profiles too. But also the UI ones, and only use the web ones on the Second Life website. So in SL, profiles are on SL. And on the web, profiles are web pages. Hope something can be done about this.

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I completely agree with all you've said, Mircea.  i would like to add further criticisms of these web profiles.

They are extraordinarily ugly.  Consider how often a person might open a profile while the viewer is looking at a night scene with--usually--a dark UI skin.  Then this awful white thing blares out in ones face.  The web profile.  

Navigating around in it is truly tedious.  To look at someone's "Picks", if there are more than 3 (or is it 4?), I have to move to another page when I click through on the "More..." link.  3 is totally insufficient.  All should be there; or better, stop the web profiles.

At this point in time, given the problems with these profiles, when I look to see whether the profile has any Classified Advertisements, I have no confidence that I'm getting a true null, that is that the absence of a link for the person's Classified Ad(s) means that there are no Classified Ads to be seen.  Last night, looking at the profile of a very famous and well known animator, I was shocked at how difficult it was to get to his store from his profile.  And further, his profile said he had no Classified, whereas when I'd looked at his profile the previous night with Phoenix viewer, I had used his profile's Classified Ad Teleport button to get to his store.  Frankly, screwing up commerce like this is... well, a mild phrase for it is "poorly conceived."

KEEP THE OLD PROFILES AND STOP THE WEB PROFILES!

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A timely post, I was wondering today what on earth they were for.  The development team seem to be moving to web-based everything for greater flexibility and to make re-skinning, for instance, easier.  Fine, but I thought the point of the v2 interface was that it allowed that freedom - or was going to 'any day now'.

Meanwhile, like a lot of things, LL have said that web-profiles are a work-in-progress and that this is only the first iteration of them.  Just hope some reason for the change becomes apparant at some point and that it isn't "so we can put facebook and twitter on it".

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They are moving inexorably to "Web Everything" for a few basic reasons:

 

  • No custom or one-off interfaces that have to be maintained.
  • No special training of new hires to learn something that doesn't exist anywhere else.
  • No loss of expertise when people depart.
  • A majority of external development money is being spent on Web APIs, thus saving LL from "reinvesting in the wheel".
Not that I agree with the decision .. personally I've always preferred the performance of task-specific interfaces. But I'm afraid resisting the change is tantamount to screaming at a tsunami, determined not to be washed away. (With no insensitivity intended .. it's a very apt analogy I believe.)

 

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(DG story time .. y'all gather 'round...)

Years ago I worked for a major international corporation that was just on the cusp of hitting its middle-age maturity. As happens with all such enterprises, the transition is a time of great expanse and the addition of many "ancillary" departments. None of them were really contributing to the overall work product or income stream, but all of them were necessary, for "Feel Good" reasons as much as Federal and State regulations.

Each one added one (and sometimes) two little tasks to our day ... and each one said "it's just five minutes. that won't impact productivity". Needless to say, no one bothered to add up all those little tasks.

Within a few years it became evident that productivity was WAY down, and in their efforts to determine why, they had several NEW departments send around questionnaires to find out why productivity was down. Yeah, you guessed it, each one would only take a few minutes to complete.

I finally left there for other reasons (not the least of which was moving to the other side of town and having our first child), but at last calculation it worked out that every 8-hour day was consumed with nearly seven hours of "Productivity Increasing Paperwork" designed to improve our efficiency and productivity .. and one hour spent in meetings to discuss and analyze the results of that paperwork.

These Web APIs only add a tiny bit of time to each transaction, so surely we won't notice it .. right?

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The next logical step would be web-based conversations. Instead of a small and efficient chat / IM window, starting a conversation will soon open a screen-filling window with a complete internet forum software.

Of course there will be short delays when posting a reply. But to make up for that, you'll get a lot more functionality. You will have the option to simultaneously post your chat on Twitter, and the entire internet will be able to search your chat logs with Google.

That makes about as much sense as web-based profiles, imho.

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All this web-based stuff assumes that everyone has a computer that is capable of multi-tasking. Sure in an ideal world we would all have great computers, but the reality is that we don`t.

One of mine can run SL so long as NOTHING else is running, open a web browser at the same time and poof it will crash. Fortunately that is not my only computer, but a lot of people don`t have an option.

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Darrius Gothly wrote:

They are moving inexorably to "Web Everything" for a few basic reasons ... But I'm afraid resisting the change is tantamount to screaming at a tsunami, determined not to be washed away. 

Yes Darrius, and that's what I said.  You missed the bit where I also said that v2 was meant to provide that flexibility because it was also, underneath, fundamentally web-based technology (XML et al) instead of the previous stuff 'that doesn't exist anywhere else'.

I understand the direction, I just don't understand why things had to move out of v2 when v2 was meant to be the solution (whatever most people say they think of it).  [if I didn't know better I'd almost start to think LL weren't telling us/each other something]

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Peewee Musytari wrote:

All this web-based stuff assumes that everyone has a computer that is capable of multi-tasking. Sure in an ideal world we would all have great computers, but the reality is that we don`t.

One of mine can run SL so long as NOTHING else is running, open a web browser at the same time and poof it will crash. Fortunately that is not my only computer, but a lot of people don`t have an option.

 

Yup ... those would be the people that decide to try SL, load it up, log in .. CRASH .. and never come back.

"What's that you say? New User Retention Rates down? Well dang .. add more web stuff! That'll fix it."

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PeterCanessa Oh wrote:

Yes Darrius, and that's what I said.  You missed the bit where I also said that v2 was meant to provide that flexibility because it was also, underneath, fundamentally web-based technology (XML et al) instead of the previous stuff 'that doesn't exist anywhere else'.

I understand the direction, I just don't understand why things had to move
out
of v2 when v2 was meant to be the solution (whatever most people say they think of it).  [if I didn't know better I'd almost start to think LL weren't telling us/each other something]

 

Oops .. you're exactly right. I did miss that bit. Apologies.

Perhaps they decided since folks won't move 100% to v2, they'd best find another way to make folks adapt?

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Who asked for new Web profiles?

I didnt and I dont like them.

I have to access profiles on the web because I prefer my browser to open links because I have more security controls on cookies, scripts etc. I would prefer to check profiles of SL residents in the viewer but I cant because I have to have cookies etc enabled. And I certainly dont like having the ability for people to like my profile on FB or Twitter or any other social networking site - for me what happens in SL stays in SL.

 

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Suspiria Finucane wrote:

I happen to love the new web profiles. It's about time we get to use modern tech instead of 10 year old outdated tech. Now if we can only get new avatars...

Can you expand on that Suspiria?  Usually opinion is divided on anything new - I'm one of those that likes viewer 2, for instance - but you're the only person I've heard say anything nice about the web profiles.  What is it that you like about them? (I am only asking for your opionion, not to argue with you)

@ Deltango - profiles have been moved out of the viewer and into web-pages.  The major complaints against them are that they are very slow to load and ugly.  The second of these, at least, we can expect to change quite soon as they are still a 'work in progress' for LL.  Presumably Suspiria can give us the 'pro' view :-)

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Web-profiles do have lots of potential. They can be bigger, more cutumizable and much much more individual then what we have now. There is after all much more room on a webpage and I guess one could fit in as many 'picks' as one would want. And of course some links to other sites and profiles for who might like to do such things.

But this is jsut the potential. It is not reality and while LL has said, that those are a work in progress and not finsihed yet, their current state is not anywhere near anything that could be safely shown to the public. In the form, they have released it in it was bound to collect negative feedback.

It was like they missed a big red warning light flashing right into their face.

And what will be the result? Not only will the trust and faith into LL be lowered once more creating negative comments and less investment and user growth, it will also hinder the implementation of the web profile once the faults and shortcomings are corrected. Especially if it takes too long to do so (I guess the slow loading and the size of the display will remain a big problem and be a showstopper for many for some time).

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I don't have a problem with profiles being web-based in itself. For me, the major problem is the time they take to load, *when* they load. Lately, I haven't been able to open any profile, not even my own, in the viewer. They just do not load. I've had to open them in an external browser.

I wouldn't be surprised if web profiles is one step in a process of moving SL away from requiring a separate viewer to becoming a browser based service. But I could be wrong...

- Luc -

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Rin Tae wrote:

But this is jsut the potential. It is not reality and while LL has said, that those are a work in progress and not finsihed yet, their current state is not anywhere near anything that could be safely shown to the public. In the form, they have released it in it was bound to collect negative feedback.

It was like they missed a big red warning light flashing right into their face.

And what will be the result? Not only will the trust and faith into LL be lowered once more creating negative comments and less investment and user growth, it will also hinder the implementation of the web profile once the faults and shortcomings are corrected. Especially if it takes too long to do so (I guess the slow loading and the size of the display will remain a big problem and be a showstopper for many for some time).

 

Right on Rin Tae! This is exactly one of my favorite gripes about the LL release process; they continually turn out half-baked 'solutions' that don't fully work, work slowly or have major problems. When it was "Garage Cowboy Tech" it was okay to turn out 'concept code' .. but not anymore. It's got to have polish and be release potential or it will not fly. And when it falls flat on its face, people lose another chunk of that precious trust.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have tried to live with them... they suck. Period!... they totally suck... there is nothing redeeming about them. I have spoken to everyone I come in contact with about them..and not ONE person finds them anything but annoying, time consuming, and go back to the old viewers just to change their profile pics... REDICULOUS LINDEN LABS!!  CHANGE THEM BACK!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I just discovered what I think is the biggest problem of all with the new profiles: they have altered something (database, data flags, ???) so that old inactive Calling Cards have become blank in Version 2 viewers.  I've been around for a long time in SL--since 2004--and have many older Calling Cards which I can see in a Version 1 based viewer, but cannot see in a V2 based viewer.  

Basically, while it's not yet gone completely, as soon as V1 is made unusable, so will these cards be unusable, too.  There will only remain the name in our CC foldesr to remind us of a person, but none of the notes, no glimmer of the information on any of the tabs, gone.  A person gave me that card, it has survived many card inventory clean-up sessions, and now, without let, Linden Lab has removed all but that person's name from my inventory.  

Some of these people are dead in Real Life, which is why the account associated with the card is inactive.  Though I have other virtual things of the virtual person that these real people created, with these execrable V2 profiles, I have much less than I did before.  This is totally unacceptable; it is disrespect for the dead and the feelings of the living persons who loved them.

 

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Mircea Lobo wrote:

Also remember that at some point in existence, SL had "web logins" as well, and they were removed due to bad performance.

 

That some point is right now, SL has been using web logins for the last 4 years. The fact that you didn't notice and thought that they'd stopped using them speaks volumes.

As for my take on web profiles I can see where LL is going with them and I think it's the right direction in the long term. But just like always LL released them too soon. They should have spent more time working out the bugs, putting in all of the features, and getting better customer feed back.

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The new profiles take several minutes to load, sometimes I'll open a profile, go and do other stuff, realize like 30min has gone by and the profile still hasn't loaded.

There are too many screens to click through to get to Picks or Groups. Does this remind anyone of Facebook?

I've crashed several times trying to edit my profile. And it is very inconvenient and exspensive to add a computer upload only for profile pictures, after wasting L$ on upload fees.

The profile space is huge, yet the character limit has been decreased from the older profiles. 500 characters may be enough to give a general biography, but I run a shop, I need more space. And why are the images so small, if the profile is bigger, I think the images should be too.

No matter how much we complain, they will move on with these horrid changes. Most of us are free members squatting on their property, we don't have much say in the inner workings.

 

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