Saturday, September 27, 2008

A rarity at Linden Lab

Well, everyone I'm sure is pretty darn clear on how I feel about Linden Lab in general, but every once in a while, there seems to be the exception to the rule.

Today I found this rarity and wanted to share it with everyone. The only trouble is the identity of this person is not known, so let's just call him/her Customer Support Super-Hero (CSSH for short).

Anyway, the problem I have been experiencing was a strange one indeed. The issue began just after our Linden Lab GridMonkey's put a new version of the Simulator on Kissling, without notifying anyone. We noticed this because whenever you would fly into Kissing, it would say "There is a different version of the Simulator here" or something like that. It was then I noticed that my main Store in Kissling was no longer showing up in the search, and the option to make that happen wasn't checked. When I asked the Land Owners, on two seperate occasions, to turn on the option for me, they did, but it never had an effect. It was at this time, I got online with the Live Chat team and after explaining my problem at length, and getting frustrated in the process, the Live Chat operator came to the area, and said, "The option isn't checked". Well, he/she finally checked the option and then restarted the SIM. Of course, it took two tries to restart the SIM, but it finally occured. Anyway, a long story is involved which I won't go into, but the next morning I noticed someone closed the Ticket I had filed, saying the problem was no more and my main Store in Kissling was now showing in the Search. Of course, I went into Second Life to check, and for sure, it was there.

You all know me and my distrust for Linden Lab, so I went back into the Ticket and opened and asked for an explanation for what the problem was. Today I got this reply from the CSSH at Linden Lab:


At no point did I ever say you were wrong and I was right. What I did do was visit your location to see if I could reproduce the issue. Since I was not able to do this, I provided you with the exact steps I see took that resulted in a successful search. Nothing was done to fix this, when I visited your location it was already working. Why it was not working for you, I do not know. It may have been a simple oversight of an option or a temporary issue with Second Life. There is no way for me to find out. I understand this may not be an idea answer and for this I apologize."

As you can see, this employee knows how to speak to the CUSTOMER, which certainly is a rarity at Linden Lab, IF they ever speak at all. While CSSH does say he has no idea why things just started working, he does it in a way that is non-confrontational and apologetic. Which is how ALL support should be. See my last post for how things usually are at Linden Lab. But for now, this CSSH should be congratulated for a job well done.

Congratulations CSSH, you did your job, and you did it professionaly.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What's wrong at Linden Lab?

Last night I had the unfortunate experience of having to deal with a Live Chat Operator.

When asked what the problem was, I explained it to him in detail, and he of course, wasn't paying attention and asking questions that I answered in the first message I sent to him.

I was experiencing a problem on the Land where my Main Store is (Builders Choice Premier Textures) in Kissling. The Live Chat Operator FINALLY came into the world to "inspect" my problem. Then he told me what I had told him just seconds before. This of course, led to my frustration and I, in no uncertain terms, let the Live Operator know I wasn't impressed with his work.

Eventually the Live Chat Operator asked me to file a Bug Report.

So, let's look at what occured here and see where Linden Lab can improve upon their service.

  1. Linden Lab should train their employee's better, and give them a course in Customer Appreciation. When you include all the necessary information in the first message to the Operator, you shouldn't be asked 20 questions about what you already included in the First Message.
  2. Live Chat Operators apparently don't spend a lot of time in-world during work or their time off. My Live Chat Operator didn't even know HOW the Land Payment for "Show in Search" was handled. He actually asked me to pay it so it would fix the problem.
  3. Linden Lab doesn't pay their Residents to File Bug Reports, but expects them to file a Bug Report to get anything fixed. This seems to be a counter-productive process. Why can't the Live Chat Operator file the Bug Report and let the Resident get back to what they want to be doing in-world. To say "if you don't file a bug report, nothings going to happen", just shows how out of touch Linden Lab is with their Customer Base. The Residents in world, for the most part, aren't those that were here 5 years ago and were in BETA and didn't mind filing Bug Reports. The Community today is different, but Linden Lab thinks they are the same. Linden Lab employee's who are told about a Bug, SHOULD BE the people to file the Bug Report. Most Users don't want to be bothered with this process, and quite frankly they shouldn't have to be. It tells us a lot about Linden Lab and their policies, and the most grievous tell is that Linden Lab Employee's are woefully lazy.
Linden Lab customer support/service is lacking the right attitude and motivation. Will this ever get fixed is the real question. The answer to that is probably not, since the management team takes the same Lazy position as their employee's do.

This is where Linden Lab has failed and has drug every department into a non-customer based attitude. For example, have you looked at some of the Linden Lab employee's profiles? Most of these say that if you have a problem, contact support. Well, this would be alright, if Support wasn't so lazy, so many people just don't do anything when they find a problem. In order for the Customer Support/Service to change, it will take someone who understands how to treat customers, someone who has been trained in Customer Support and knows that the Customer is the most important commodity in Linden Lab.

There are other failures at Linden Lab too. The Bug Squashing Dept., has policies made to NOT get many bug reports or have to view the ones that do come in. In an Open Office Hour, Benjamin Linden said, "we won't even look at a bug report if it doesn't have re-producable steps with it". At first glance you might say, "Well gee that doesn't sound too bad", but think back to when you had a bug, could you reproduce it? If not, then it won't even get looked at by the Bug Squashers. Then we have another policy that states, "we work on the bug reports that get the most votes". In other words, Linden Lab Bug Squashers will work on the easiest problems first, and those critical bugs won't ever get fixed. Just think back to when the Asset Server began having problems, well over a Year and a Half now, and it still is having problems. I guess there's not enough VOTES to get it fixed. These two policies in the Bug Squashing Dept., shows the lack of initiative and purpose in their employee's and their managers.

Who's to blame for this lackadasical attitude and posture by Linden Lab. Well, I think we can directly follow that back to Linden Lab former CEO and current Chairman of the Board, Philip Rosedale. In a TownHall meeting, Mr. Rosedale let it slip that the employee's choose what they want to work on, instead of having a manager assign their case load to important items might get fixed first. Mr. Rosedale also let it slip in a KEYNOTE address, that Linden Lab won't slow down to fix bugs, they will continue to inovate in the industry. Now I have no problem with the idea of staying invovated, but what happens when what you are innovating doesn't actually work? By announcing this Policy in his KEYNOTE speech, it shows that Mr. Rosedale is the problem, and nothing will get fixed until Mr. Rosedale either changes his ways, or just leaves Linden Lab. With Mr. Rosedale as the Chairman of the Board for Linden Lab, one must question just how much input he has on the day to day operation and if he isn't pulling the strings still from behind the scenes.

The problem with Linden Lab today can be summed up in one simple word: LAZY. The employee's are too LAZY to file Bug Reports. The Bug Squashers, Coders, and Grid Monkeys are too LAZY to choose the hard jobs. Management is too LAZY to actually Manage their own people.

It all comes down to that simple little word, LAZY. Until Linden Lab Management understands this, I fear nothing will change, and we will continue down this path until the Residents either get mad and demand change, or just leave in disgust.

For my money, I would like it if everyone would rise up and demand fixes to the whole of Linden Lab, the alternate will only close down Second Life, and that's the real innocent victim here. Our world will cease to exist unless Linden Lab Management will wake-up and smell the stink coming from their own creation.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Beat Goes On.....he lied....and you expected?

Today, an interview with the new CEO of Linden Lab was published. As you would expect, most of the Q&A was simple softballs with the requisite answer.

Apparently though, someone tossed a curveball at the end of the interview, and I quote:

"VB: Does the recession have any impact on the virtual world industry?
We’re not seeing it. It might affect the startup world.

For all you business owners in Second Life, perhaps now would be a great time to help our new CEO understand that he's full of SHIT.

I really don't mind so much that the Q&A was filled with softballs and the usual junk answers, but how can a CEO who's been on the job for more then 3 months be so out of touch with his own user-base, when he himself says he comes from a user intense experience at Organic?

Seems to me MK, that you just dropped the ball, of course, you can do like your predecessor and ignore it, which we all expect, or you could re-state your answer and clarify it a bit more, cuz if you think Second Life isn't in a recession, then sir, you need to quit, because you have failed miserably, and in only 3 months!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Death to Freedom!

Today Jack Linden, an employee of Linden Lab, announced that AdFarms are no longer allowed on mainland land, even though they have purchased that land. There is an exception of course, if the AdFarmer gets a "license" to put up their AdFarms.

It used to be the motto of Linden Lab that a person must follow the rules of the land they live in in Real Life. I'm certainly not an International Lawyer, but I doubt that any of the countries represented by Residents in Second Life have any kind of laws concerning "AdFarms".

This is a very scary announcement from Linden Lab as it sets a precedence of handling Land on the Mainland. What will Linden Lab do next? Perhaps they will set a Maximum land price for Mainland Land?

This shows all of us that Linden Lab is truly what I've been saying, "The Laziest and most Incompetent Corporate Culture ever seen." Linden Lab is choosing to make decisions based on the group of people that can make the most noise, instead of seeing what is right and what is wrong and basing their decisions on that.

I understand that Linden Lab is currently trying to repair their image, but I don't understand how they plan on doing that by taking away the rights of a group of land owners, because another group of Land Owners yelled louder about it.

Congratulations Jack and Linden Lab, you have taken the first steps down a very Slipperily Slope. What other rights are you willing to take away from your Customers when others yell loudly about it?

Death to Ad Farms, Death to Freedom, Death to ......, fill in the blank and get a group of people to yell loudly about it, and watch it go away.