I have read this blog with interest and it has prompted me to make my first ever post. (so please be gentle with 1668 day old virgin).
I agree with many of the things said and confess to not fully understanding others but thought I would add my observations as to why so many 'come & go.'
Firstly I would mention that I tend to frequent the more 'seedy' side of SL so can only speak from that perspective but have tried to remember back to those days when I first landed in this new world. I was lucky as I had good friends from another chat program who steered me right with many things, but a lot don't have that advantage as they step into the new world.
So lets look at a typical noob. They land and after the intial, move here, look here at the rez point they want to look good and feel good and get used to their surroundings before very often seeking out the side of SL in which I live aka "bring on the naked people."
Like anywhere new they are bombarded with input and are not sure which way to turn. They quickly realise that although the basic skin and clothes are OK people still know them as a 'noob', when they see themselves walking like a duck and realise that's why.
Now we all know that there are some pretty good AOs out there. Many, like me, have built their own but that takes time before you can understand how to do it. Alternatively you buy off the shelf but you then have to make that decision in your head that says "I am prepared to invest my cash into this world."
So they seek out the freebie markets and then they are lost as potential customers forever.
First suggestion - Put a decent free AO into the starter pack/body shape
OK now they feel good it's time to 'party on' so it's off to a sim and start chatting to people. You can almost hear the words "Hey they are here for the same thing as me so this must be easy". They get rebuffed and their ego hits the ground. You can almost hear the thought now "what's the point no-one likes me I might as well leave now".
Next relates to knowledge and like when we were at school knowledge was 'rammed down our throats" whether we liked it or not. Once we got the thirst for knowledge and understood the value of it we started to learn for ourselves. The forum and knowledge base is a classic example. Many I talk to don't even know it exsists!
Now I know that many will think that it should be self evident but how many of us have had the univited IMs with suggestions phrased in a way that would make a docker blush. Yes I have read the TOS but lets face put yourself in their head on joining ....."it's a new world, lots of things to see and do and you want me to read lots of boring rules.........yeah right ...... bring on the naked people".
Second suggestion - Force people to join the forum/knowledge base on joining SL, put a big button on saying 'Noobs read this' and in there put 'How to conduct yourself in SL aka this is how you RP' and they can't get through until they have read it.
Now once people start to feel good when they stop the 'head bobbing, duck walking' style, learn a bit of class and start to enjoy whatever RP rocks their boat and decide to stay a little while. Relationships build, areas of interest develop and then they start to think "I want to look even better" and so the ecomony is stimulated at ground level as they buy clothes and errrrrrrrrrr other things.
Eventually they reach the point where they decide they want to put something back into the world, be it a sim for people to have fun or just buy a little place they can call 'home'. Then they look at the cost and that feeling starts of your chest tightening and your breath getting short when you look at the price.
The only way to make a sim viable is to overload with shops, charge rents that retailers can't really afford and take a huge risk as you set it up. Trouble is you now have a laggy sim and can lose a lot of prim space that you would like to use for decoration. People land, die in the lag and eventually give up.
Third suggestion - Give a rebate on land costs, if you want to stimulate an ecomony then you need businesses to invest, however this 'rebate' would only be for public access sims which had areas outside of pure shops.
So that's my post (rant) over and the virtuous circle closes as good looking 'noobs' with class flock to the sims with 'happening' things in them that have some shops and they buy things so making shop owners happy to pay the rent to the sim owners.
Or maybe on reading back...............I should stop dreaming.