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Lindal Kidd

Experiments in the New User Experience

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15 minutes ago, Lindal Kidd said:

Beth's experience just goes to show that you can't please everyone!

Yes, you are quite right.  Social Island is very "unstructured".  The intent is for people to wander around and discover things more or less at random.  The HUDs have a dual purpose, which may be why there's two of them.  The main one is a way to impart information to new residents (nobody reads signs!  We keep putting up signs and posters and nobody reads them!).  The "fake $L" HUD provides a way to demonstrate one of the most important things about SL...how to buy stuff.  Again, it's a learn by doing thing, rather than reading about it.  These HUDs are one of the first uses of Experiences in SL.

It's possible, but not immediately obvious, to get through Social Island quickly.  Run down the stairs from the arrival plaza, run STRAIGHT THROUGH the little plaza in the center, and continue straight on up the stairs to the Portal Plaza.  But if you do that, you miss all the interesting little side trips, which is why that central plaza is put there to block and redirect you.

The tutorial at Caledon Oxbridge University is much more linear...and one of our biggest frustrations is how many people simply run through it, not stopping to read ANY of the hundreds of posters we spend so much time creating for them.

It would be great if I knew I was supposed to do those things, but I didn't. I'm just starting a new, exciting Thing and I want to get into doing the Thing. Take me where the Thing is happening, and give me the tools to be able to go back and figure out the Thing once I realize I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with the Thing and need more knowledge. 

Chances are when people are joining SL it's because they've seen something that piqued their interest. Imagine if when they very first started, they were brought into something that is interesting instead of being forced to run the gauntlet and then dropped in the middle of a puzzle.

What do people really want to know when they first log in? Not what they need to know, but what they want to know? Base the new user experience from that starting point.

And when I left Social Island, that freaking HUD wouldn't detach for anything. I've been attaching and detaching HUDs for 13 years and nothing worked. Since other people aren't complaining, it was probably just a glitch, but if I were brand new, I wouldn't know that. Had I been an actual new user, I don't know that I'd have come back for a second try. 

I think the entire new user experience needs to be tossed out the door and rebuilt from an entirely new perspective, and one that doesn't assume that the new resident isn't computer literate. Most people are these days and I don't think they need the basics. Provide the tools to learn those, yes, if needed, but not forced on everyone.  Getting started in SL is still an utterly exasperating experience.

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The non-detaching HUD has annoyed me, too!  It usually detaches without argument, but I have had it stick to my screen until I re-logged.

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On 9/10/2019 at 6:56 PM, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Oh, don't be! I was merely a little disappointed I didn't get the chance to say hi!

Although Laskya may be less understanding, of course.

I have absolutely no reason to believe that anyone who'd voluntarily undertake this kind of thankless work for free is anything other than genuine, friendly, helpful, and philanthropic.

BUT . . . I can already hear the complaints about favouritism, cronyism, corruption, venality, etc. Are they doing anything to, I don't know, make this more transparent, so as to forestall those kinds of complaints?

I have to say that I think this is an excellent idea. I've never really understood why LL disbanded its own mentors program.

Yes, it's a terrible idea to have newbie orientation in the hands of an insiders' resident group. It should not be done. As I've said a million times, the Lindens need to run the initial orientation where the newbies are at first sequestered so they are not prey to griefers and scammers. But I really do think that after that, by having resident-paid billboards regulated by LL, newbies should pick the themes or places they want. It really should be done, just as it is in real life. In real life, you don't land as a tourist in New York City and only a few close friends of the mayor's are assigned to show you around. You look at signs and flyers and "Time Out" and pick where you want to go. The allergy to commerce and fear of exploitation are misplaced, as people who are willing to pay for ads are also willing to be genuine help to newbies. That's how you sort it out.

There should also be a Help Island sort of place where you can get back to, and to which anyone can come.

Recently, I have seen some newbies landing at the Moth Temple where we have a build with orientation and freebies. Some of them don't know how they got there; others believe they were sent there. This led me to think the Lindens may have instituted the random placement at infohubs again, which is something they did for awhile. The bewilderment level is as high as ever. 

I had one newbie who wanted to learn to build, not something they all want to do, nor I think they should do, as it is too frustrating at first. So I ended up sending this guy to the Ivory Tower of Prims as he had a lot of detailed questions. But there, he got frustrated and I had to come and lead him into the first few stations. And he was still frustrated. Why? Because he thought he was flying into a 3D version of Google Sketch-up or Deviant Art or something where he would just grab a lot of stuff, components or fully-made homes or furniture, and then just place them around. And truly, it's a shame that there isn't such a thing. Yes, there are a lot of freebie places. But the free stuff is in boxes you have to learn to take out, and then placing them especially with the mesh bouncing problem is difficult.

Another newbie completely baffled *me*. He was dressed like a little boy. I wondered if this was a system avatar, but it wasn't (it sort of looked like one from a few series ago). He said someone gave it to him and told him to put it on, but now he didn't like it and wanted it off. He also wanted to change his name, and couldn't of course. I told him to delete and re-spawn. But he had enough freebies by then to feel that he shouldn't do that. Making profile pictures is easier now, because you are not charged for it. And you can make display names. But after walking him through the display name stuff, he rejected it, it was too many steps. 

We've had these conversations a million times. What the Lindens are doing now is merely a version of what they have tried in the past, unsuccessfully. They tried the method I suggested (although without ad boards), sending people to Cubey's airplanes or whatever. It didn't work. I think they didn't give it enough time. They tend to need A/B results within 30 days or 60 days. I think 6 months would not be long enough. And mind you, they did once have ad boards at the old telehubs, and the regulars there were things like Riverwalk, which had fireworks and art shows and such (and still does). Then there were games and shops and whatnot -- it was not the horror of low-class commercial taste or oversexualization that everyone fears, because, as I said, the Lindens regulated it. And that's how it should be done. It would help.

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Just drop them in the grease. They won't learn anything till they have to do it themselves anyway.

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12 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

There should also be a Help Island sort of place where you can get back to, and to which anyone can come.

Recently, I have seen some newbies landing at the Moth Temple where we have a build with orientation and freebies. Some of them don't know how they got there; others believe they were sent there. This led me to think the Lindens may have instituted the random placement at infohubs again, which is something they did for awhile. The bewilderment level is as high as ever.

1.  There is.  In fact, there are many.  The first is Social Island itself.  At the Portal Plaza exit, there are numerous signs encouraging residents to create a landmark so they can return easily.  (Of course, nobody ever reads signs.)  There are also the resident run help areas...Caledon Oxbridge, NCI, New Resident Island, Firestorm Help Island, Ajuda SL Brasil, and others.  Many of these are in the Destinations Guide, accessible with a button on the user interface.

2.  Is the Moth Temple in Destinations?  The Social Island exit portals have a category for newbie friendly places, and people who go through that portal get sent to a random destination in that category.

LL is never, ever going to hire the personnel necessary to have a permanent cadre of official LL in-world helpers.  So there's no use in beating that dead horse.  We have to make do with what we have, and what we have is pretty good...a lot of residents who love SL and want to share it with others enough that they volunteer their time to do so.

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34 minutes ago, Lindal Kidd said:

LL is never, ever going to hire the personnel necessary to have a permanent cadre of official LL in-world helpers.

Once upon a time that is precisely what LL had done. Then they flushed it, clogged it and fired the plumber. 

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41 minutes ago, Selene Gregoire said:

Once upon a time that is precisely what LL had done. Then they flushed it, clogged it and fired the plumber. 

If you are referring to the Mentors program, that's not what I meant.  The Mentors were resident volunteers, but with supervision at the top level by an LL employee.  What LL won't do is actually set LL employees to the mentoring job.  It's not cost effective, especially since a Bay Area Transit janitor in San Francisco makes over $250,000 per year!

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1 hour ago, Lindal Kidd said:

If you are referring to the Mentors program, that's not what I meant.  The Mentors were resident volunteers, but with supervision at the top level by an LL employee.  What LL won't do is actually set LL employees to the mentoring job.  It's not cost effective, especially since a Bay Area Transit janitor in San Francisco makes over $250,000 per year!

They could easily be part-time Mentor-Moles working remotely from anywhere in the world. 

I'm not necessarily supportive of the mentor thing, though, unless it's done on ask for basis rather than having a bunch of cheery people greeting me as soon as I have my noob pixel legs underneath me. Instead of posters and signs, new users should be given notecards that they can read once they realize they aren't going to figure things out on their own, and one could be about how to find a mentor. 

People learn in all different sorts of ways, and any one way shouldn't be forced on people, and the current new user experience feels extremely forced to me. For some that would work great, for others, though, not so much. 

One thing I do know is that it would be a terribly tacky mistake to have advertising vomiting all over the new user experience. 

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2 hours ago, Lindal Kidd said:

If you are referring to the Mentors program, that's not what I meant.  The Mentors were resident volunteers, but with supervision at the top level by an LL employee.  What LL won't do is actually set LL employees to the mentoring job.  It's not cost effective, especially since a Bay Area Transit janitor in San Francisco makes over $250,000 per year!

Nope. Before the mentors existed. Back when LL employees freely walked the grid as Lindens. 

I'm in the wrong town and the wrong business. lol That's 10 times what I can earn anywhere in the US.

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UPDATE:  Apparently, LL has now restricted access to ALL the Social Islands.  Only actual newbies, and members of the designated helper group, can go there.  They've also reduced the number of Social Islands...understandable, because now their population doesn't include the um...Usual Suspects.

If you are a helper-type person who likes to assist newcomers on Social Island and want to continue, you have a couple of choices.  You can make an alt, and leave her parked on one of the islands.  Or you can contact Treacle Darlandes, ask to join the White Tiger Mentors, then take the orientation and get an invitation to White Tiger Guides.

This is pretty much the same situation as we had some years back, with the Help Islands and the SL Mentors...so we've come full circle.

(Please don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger.)

(Also...in case some of you are thinking, "wow, LL is sure showing favoritism!"...Perhaps.  But, I have found White Tiger Mentors to be an outstanding group, and Treacle herself is a wonderful person.  There are other, equally good, helper groups, and I don't know how or why LL picked WTM for this, but it's not a bad choice.)

Edited by Lindal Kidd
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In all honesty I see no point in this experiment. Social Islands don't get as many newcomers as people may think for a platform like Second Life, instead of flooding with new users we saw many times more than half of the users at any Social Island were "old" accounts(from all social islands it was rare to see at least 2 with more than 10-15 users around, it was always dead). And now you may ask why do people go to social island, a newbie place on old accounts? Well because SL is decaying extremely in actively social and optimized spaces for people to gather in. 

Griefers are usually new accounts, so these are reported not by the other guy who just joined this platform but those who are older and hanging there, you never find one without a white knight. Also with such a lack of new users getting in I don't see a demand for this experiment. And all this mentor idea of a selected group of high skilled socialites, doesn't sound like the kind of experience me as a new user want to face on the way in. I want to get in and see diversity, not a closed bubble with people talking to me over a protocol they were forced to learn and barely anyone around, it just tells me right away "wow this platform is dead what i am doing here".

I believe SL has many other places needing of experiments and improvment. Social Island wasn't one.

Edited by AlexMorphine

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I’m pretty sure, somewhere in SL there are new users logging in. I mean....everybody that logs in asking for help isn’t a troll or being annoying for lulz, right? If that’s the case then blow up the Avatar and Fashion section right now on the forum.

The new user experience makes or breaks whether someone is going to use a product or stick with a “game”. It is important to get on boarding right and continue to improve it.

Also, how would you know how many new users SL gets per day, month or year? I thought only LL had access to that information.

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UPDATE:

Well, it seems that LL has made a LOT of changes to the new user experience.  I'm just beginning to find out how many!  Last night, I made a new alt to see what's been happening at Learning Island.  There have been so many changes there since the last time I visited that I'm going to do a comprehensive blog post.  And I am not sure if these changes are on ALL the Learning Islands, or just the one I happened to be assigned.  But, in brief...

  • I didn't get to pick my exact avatar, only the gender.  But they're now giving the choice of male, female, or gender-neutral.
  • Learning Island has more tutorials than before, and includes a small freebie store area
  • The tutorial signs are doubled up, with dual signs side by side for Firestorm and the LL viewer.  (Even as a Firestorm user, I thought this was confusing, since they never explained what a "Firestorm" was.)
  • At the end of the tutorial, I found a cave with a huge Firestorm Phoenix perched above the entrance.  It said, "enter the cave to go to Second Life."  I did so, and wound up on Firestorm Social Island.  I have no idea if this was random, and if I might've gone to one of the "regular" Social Islands, or if the Phoenix Cave exit always goes to FS Social Island, or if other Learning Islands have exits that go to LL Social Islands.  I certainly did not see any OTHER exits from the Learning Island I was on, but maybe I missed something.

If this is typical of all the Learning Islands, they're in need of a little fine tuning.  For example, the first notecard I got from a vendor at the arrival point mentioned Firestorm...but NOT the standard viewer...which I was using at the time!  Plus, since some of the tutorials there duplicate things you'd learn on the LL Social Islands, those will need a lot of updating as well.

It seems that LL is making a lot of use of the Residents' efforts...both the most popular viewer, and the resident helper services.  I applaud that, but it does look like some more coordination needs to be done to get the details right.

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So...do all the Learning Islands have this, and is it the only exit?  If so, how are newcomers still showing up at the LL Social Islands?

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6 minutes ago, Lindal Kidd said:

So...do all the Learning Islands have this, and is it the only exit?  If so, how are newcomers still showing up at the LL Social Islands?

I'm pretty sure it isn't the only exit.

https://wiki.firestormviewer.org/start?s[]=social&s[]=island

 

oops Didn't mean to post that link. That's for those who want to join the FS Social Island team.

 

ETA: the link is still active and if you go to that page there ia a link for the FS Social Island at the top between Downloads and Developers.

Edited by Selene Gregoire

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4 hours ago, Lindal Kidd said:

I didn't get to pick my exact avatar, only the gender.  But they're now giving the choice of male, female, or gender-neutral.

Wow. That's kind of amazing, actually.

/me applauds enthusiastically

Really interesting, Lindal! Thanks! I'll read your blog post when it's done.

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22 hours ago, Lindal Kidd said:

UPDATE:

Well, it seems that LL has made a LOT of changes to the new user experience.  I'm just beginning to find out how many!  Last night, I made a new alt to see what's been happening at Learning Island.  There have been so many changes there since the last time I visited that I'm going to do a comprehensive blog post.  And I am not sure if these changes are on ALL the Learning Islands, or just the one I happened to be assigned.  But, in brief...

  • I didn't get to pick my exact avatar, only the gender.  But they're now giving the choice of male, female, or gender-neutral.
  • Learning Island has more tutorials than before, and includes a small freebie store area
  • The tutorial signs are doubled up, with dual signs side by side for Firestorm and the LL viewer.  (Even as a Firestorm user, I thought this was confusing, since they never explained what a "Firestorm" was.)
  • At the end of the tutorial, I found a cave with a huge Firestorm Phoenix perched above the entrance.  It said, "enter the cave to go to Second Life."  I did so, and wound up on Firestorm Social Island.  I have no idea if this was random, and if I might've gone to one of the "regular" Social Islands, or if the Phoenix Cave exit always goes to FS Social Island, or if other Learning Islands have exits that go to LL Social Islands.  I certainly did not see any OTHER exits from the Learning Island I was on, but maybe I missed something.

If this is typical of all the Learning Islands, they're in need of a little fine tuning.  For example, the first notecard I got from a vendor at the arrival point mentioned Firestorm...but NOT the standard viewer...which I was using at the time!  Plus, since some of the tutorials there duplicate things you'd learn on the LL Social Islands, those will need a lot of updating as well.

It seems that LL is making a lot of use of the Residents' efforts...both the most popular viewer, and the resident helper services.  I applaud that, but it does look like some more coordination needs to be done to get the details right.

You arrived at the Firestorm Gateway regions for your orientation.
LL send a certain percentage of new accounts to one of the Resident run Community Gateway orientation regions.

Edited by Whirly Fizzle
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48 minutes ago, Whirly Fizzle said:

You arrived at the Firestorm Gateway regions for your orientation.
LL send a certain percentage of new accounts to one of the Resident run Community Gateway orientation regions.

AHA!

Sooo....just how many different Community Gateway orientation regions are there?  Will I have to play Create-an-Alt Gacha to experience them all?  Which ones are the Rares?

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Another update...It looks like access to some of the Social Islands has been re-opened to residents.

I can't keep track of all this stuff, LL!  Sheesh.

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