Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Trust is the foundation of any community...

Trust, a word that can evoke emotions, arguments, fights, and even love. What is "trust" though? According to trust can be the following:

  1. reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
  2. confident expectation of something; hope.
  3. confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit: to sell merchandise on trust.
  4. a person on whom or thing on which one relies: God is my trust.
  5. the condition of one to whom something has been entrusted.
  6. the obligation or responsibility imposed on a person in whom confidence or authority is placed: a position of trust.
  7. charge, custody, or care: to leave valuables in someone's trust.
  8. something committed or entrusted to one's care for use or safekeeping, as an office, duty, or the like; responsibility; charge.
Linden Lab, in today's announcement of "Identity Verification Comes to Second Life", is asking the Second Life community to TRUST Linden Lab, that the Second Life community should "understand" or "hope in" that Linden Lab is doing the "right thing" when it comes to verifying the Identity of every Second Life Resident.

Before I dwell upon what Linden Lab is asking us, the Second Life Residents, to do, let's first take a closer look at this word; TRUST.

Linden Lab wants the Residents of Second Life to trust them. While the Residents have no choice to have some level of Trust in Linden Lab, because we are forced to entrust Second Life to them, Linden Lab wants more then just to be "trusted" with Second Life, they want the Residents to really rely on Linden Lab to do the "right thing", to hope in Linden Lab ability to do the "right thing", to be confident in Linden Lab. When I was growing up, my Father taught me that Trust is something that is earned, not just given because someone wants it. As a child there were many times that my Father announced that he couldn't "trust" me to do this or that, because I showed myself to be untrustworthy. This hurt, and instead of just crying or mopping about, I would do whatever it took to earn back my Father's trust. I learned from those experiences that Trust is something we should value, like Love. It's not something we should be cavalier in throwing about in conversation, like we have a habit of doing with Love and Hate. Trust is something that should be guarded, protected, worked on constantly, to show the person who's placed that Trust in you, that it's well placed and deserved, safe.

Can the Residents of Second Life say that they Trust Linden Lab though? Let's look back and see what we can learn. A few months back, Cristiano Midnight started a petition, the Project Open Letter, in which the undersigned were saying that they wanted the Bug Fixes and World Stablization to happen before ANYTHING else. In response, Cory Linden posted this in his
Cory Linden Town Hall Post on May 22, 2207:

First, thank you for the effort you put into Project Open Letter. We are working hard to maintain effective channels for communication and from a developer’s perspective, a clear listing of specific problems passed along so politely is much appreciated.

Second, I am sorry for the problems you are experiencing. I understand the time and energy you are putting into Second Life and am making every effort to ensure that Second Life is what you need it to be.

Notice that Cory states that Linden Lab is "making every effort to ensure that Second Life is what YOU need it to be. YOU being the operative word here, YOU refers to us, the Second Life Residents. While we have continued to ask for BUG FIXES and a STABLE WORLD and GRID above all else, what has Linden Lab done? Linden Lab, instead of focusing the majority of their resources on what the Residents wanted, no matter what Cory said they would do, instead delivered to the world, WINDLIGHT (which failed miserably as soon as it was installed) and then VOICE, which dragged the world to a halt for nearly 48 hours. Is this how TRUST is gained or maintained? By saying one thing and then doing another?

Following this, on June 22, 2007, I posted this Blog Post that there seemed to be Positive Movement. Linden Lab was announcing Bug Fixes on a Monday, and had re-opened all the comments on the Blog. This was after some behind-the-scenes emailing between myself, Philip Rosedale, and Robin Harper. During this time, I was ensured by Philip that the Blog Comments would remain open, and a new concerted effort would begin on Bug Fixing and Stabilization of the World and Grid. What happened after this though?

On July 10, 2007 in the first UI Bug Triage Meeting, it was announced that Bug Reports, which Second Life Residents are supposed to research and be responsible for, that don't have re-produceable steps included with them aren't looked at, they are ignored, further, it was then announced that whichever Bugs was voted on MOST by Second Life Residents would receive priority in getting fixed. Now, this isn't exactly what I call earning my Trust. This is more like BUYING my Trust, by choosing to do what I want, no matter just how relevant of urgent other Bug Fixes might be. Trust is EARNED, not bought.

It seems to me, that Linden Lab talks a good game, but when it comes to delivering on what they have "promised" they fall flat. They ask for our Trust, and yet, can't seem to do anything to earn that Trust.

Now, let's chat about Identity Verification. To be honest, this isn't something that is new to me in dealing with Linden Lab. As one of the earliest Mentors, we were asked to PROVE our age before being allowed into the Mentor Group. I simple emailed a copy of my Driver License to Linden Lab and that was sufficient. Quite honestly, I had no problem with this, since this was a pre-requisite of working as a Mentor. Now Linden Lab is asking that we "prove" who we are, not just age, but gender too. Why Linden Lab needs to know if I'm Male, Female, or IT, doesn't exactly make sense to me. Are there now going to be areas in Second Life that will be off-limits based upon one's Gender?

Linden Lab's current reasoning of Identity Verification is so that they can "close off" or restrict those area with PORNOGRAPHY in them. When you think hard about this reason, something comes up short. IF Second Life, Main Grid, is supposed to be for people 18 or over, then what does it matter if these people "stumble" upon Porn or don't? It wouldn't be illegal for them to look at it, participate in it, or do whatever else they wanted to do with it. So, I'm forced to ask, "What's the real reason for this Identity Verification?" This is another example of how Linden Lab wants you and I to Trust them, yet, when you get down to the nitty-gritty you see they are lying about their reasons, and yet, asking for our Trust. Can Linden Lab really expect me to Trust them, knowing that they are lying to me, to you?

Trust IS the Foundation of any Community, I whole heartedly agree. It's too bad that Linden Lab wants my Trust, while at the same time they continue to lie to me. Sorry Uncle Philip and Aunty Robin, like my Father said to me, I can't Trust you, you haven't given me a reason to, actually, you've given me MORE then enough reasons NOT to Trust you.

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