“It is evident that LL is only interested in providing services that are inexpensively scalable – witness the ResMods, Greeters, Mentors, etc. Nothing is cheaper than free. But what are their long term goals?”
I recently saw this statement on the forums and as an advocate of volunteerism I think it deserves some discussion.
In my thinking the answer to this question lies in one’s view of responsibility. For me, with responsibilities toward helping Linden Lab become a viable and profitable company, scalability is in fact an on-going challenge. Whether it’s moderating the forums or helping new residents get acclimated I have to strike a balance between providing a useful service and getting trapped in an ever-growing cost for that service.
Let’s look at the forums, as an example.
I want to provide community services such as forums, but the cost to hire staff to moderate those forums as they grow is prohibitive in the long term. So I have a few options — I can hand the forums off to another organization to manage, I can close them, or I can see if the people who are part of the community are interested in helping to support them.
To me, handing the forums off to a 3rd party for moderating means losing a connection that I think is an important one. We have disagreements about how things should be handled, but those disagreements are a dialog between the residents and Linden Lab, not between people with no stake in the game and Linden Lab, leaving the community members out entirely.
Closing the forums or scaling them back to be purely informational is an equally unattractive choice. The discussion forums provide us with good feedback and insights into problems that would be difficult to achieve in other ways. And the regular participants have also become a unique force within the larger Second Life community which I would hate to lose.
So why not ask the people who are part of the community to help support it?
I see volunteer groups as an opportunity for all of us to to take responsibility for leadership within Second Life, helping to shape the direction the world and the community take. It’s not about taking advantage of people or trying to get something for nothing, but an issue of shared responsibility.
My long term goal? To continue to find ways for Second Life residents to participate in defining the direction and values of their community. I’m open to any ideas for how to do that, but I think volunteerism is a great place to start.