The Tao of Linden

Linden Lab has a different and better way of doing work. It relies on the idea that if the level of transparency (everyone can see what everyone else is doing) can be made high enough, you can stop managing people by explicit authority or delegation. Instead of being told what to do, you choose your own work by listening to your peers, making good strategic judgements, taking risks, and surfing a huge amount of information.

As one of a very few pioneers in doing things this way, there is still a lot to learn. We make mistakes. But the things we have gotten right are impressive: Linden Lab has, in 6 years, had almost zero employee turnover, and our productivity, in comparison to other similar sized teams, is off the charts.

Here is the first page of our internal handbook, designed to serve as an introduction to new team members:



To expand the human experience by building an online world allowing
people to interact, communicate, and collaborate in a revolutionary way.

Company Principles

Work together! The problems we have faced and will face in
creating Second Life are generally larger than one person can solve,
and solving them is one of the defensible strengths we have as a
company. We will succeed only if we collaborate with each other
extensively and well. This means helping others reach their goals,
joining teams, and being easy to work with.

Choose your Own Work. Given how dynamic the
challenges are we face, and the opportunity for increased job
satisfaction and productivity, Linden Lab places a high premium on
choosing your own work, rather than being told by anyone what to do. By
choosing your own work, you are more likely to have more fun at work
and add more value to Second Life. By setting your own goals, you are
more likely to meet them. When you commit to a team project, be
prepared to be directed by the team lead, but when deciding what
project you will take on next, rely first on your own best intuition
and the counsel of peers.

Be Transparent and Open There are many ways to
emphasize responsibility, accountability, communication and trust. We
believe that the one key principle that best supports all of these
values is transparency. As much as possible, tell everyone what you are
doing. This transparency makes us responsible to our peers, makes us
accountable to our own statements, and replaces the need for management
with individual responsibility. Over time, it creates and reinforces
trust. Be willing to share ideas before you feel they are ‘baked’.
Report on your own progress frequently and to everyone.

Make Weekly Progress We believe that every person
should make specific, visible individual contributions that moves the
company forward every week. Projects must be broken down into
measurable tasks so that making weekly progress is possible. This is a
principle that almost no one believes is true when they first hear it,
yet everyone who keeps to this principle over the course of several
months is stunned by the amount of progress made during that time. Set
weekly goals and report progress to everyone.

No Politics! Never act to advance your own interests
at the expense of the interests of the company. This is the one
principle, outside of violations of law, for which violation will
likely result in immediate termination.

Might Makes Right Just kidding – wanted to make sure
you’re still paying attention. Lots of things could be said here: Have
a sense of humor. Have a sense of humility. Have fun. Call out
inconsistency in principles when you see it. Don’t let a staid form and
function become routine and boilerplate. Which leads to our last
principle . . .

Do It With Style It’s not enough that we want to
change the world. It’s not enough that our product is incredibly
complex and our vision is vast and shifting. We’re not just going to
win, we’re going to do it with style. That means a lot of different
things, and a lot of what it means can’t be captured in a handbook.
Find out by talking to your colleagues, by living the principles above,
by exploring Second Life.

Welcome to Linden Lab.

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52 Responses to The Tao of Linden

  1. If anyone would like to come visit my workplace, you are most welcome. Recently the CEO threw a huge phone directory at our IT guy. He then flipped the Controller the bird. It was all very charming.

    And unlike LL, we don’t get a morning visit from the bagel man, even though we probably have better bagles in Montreal.

  2. Michi Lumin says:

    Yes, Philip – and oh, the many of us who wish we could work there…

    Kind of a throwback to the ‘dotcom days’, at some of the places I worked at from 1998-2001, I got to see and actually experience dev and business environments like this. In some ways they were unnerving, in others, they allowed for things to happen that normally wouldn’t.

    Though, soon after the dotcom crash, the old ways took over, and now in most places outside of the Bay Area, micromanagement, threats, and extreme high pressure along with “productivity metrics” are in full force once again.

    I’m sure this post won’t “help” your already-continuous barrage of Resident Applicants, Philip.

    Which method is more effective for development? I don’t know. It probably isn’t the method, as much as it is prioritization.

    To say that SL is problem-free would be a folly, in the least.

    However, I’ve been in dev houses with rigid structure and rules (Government software dev, anyone?) and the productivity was an absolute joke.

  3. Caliandris says:

    I am astonished that you think this is an appropriate time to tell the customers how happy all the Lindens are. I’m NOT happy, and the reason is that I am having to deal with a lot of bugs which were introduced with the latest build. Seems like you don’t care about that as long as things are peaceful in the office.

    I know you are all used to people banging on in the forums about the changes and bugs after an update, and so maybe you have become immune over the months, but the level of difficulty which has been introduced far outstrips anything I have experienced before in SL. Texturing is infuriating, painful and frustrating, and I for one don’t propose to do any more until you fix the texturing tools.

    Seems to me that the “choose your work” ethos works just fine if people are choosing to do the things that need doing. But from the customer’s point of view those things don’t look like they are happening in an organised manner. As I blogged in SLI this morning:

    Thus people who are in world and trying their best to build, are dealing with known issues, bugs which can be exploited and so are kept secret, bugs which are known about but haven’t been put on the list, intended changes which haven’t been documented, intended changes which are deliberately kept secret, unintended changes which just sort of … happened. Some things, it is obvious how they are meant to work now, but they don’t. For example, the changes to the way the mini map choices work. There is a search function for landmarks, instead of the alphabetical list. Except the search doesn’t work. Hmmm. Well done.

    I’m glad you’re happy, glad the Lindens are happy. People are telling you in words of one syllable that your customers are NOT happy. Do something about it, please, don’t post about how great things are for you.

  4. While I often cringe a bit here and there at some of the things that go un-fixed due to this Haight/Ashbury model of business, I remind myself just how far SL has come in the three years I’ve been around. While I think that SL might be a little more stable with a more traditional business model, I think we’d have the feature set of about v1.2 right now if LL wasn’t constantly plowing forward. The only complaint I have is that there are times Linden Lab makes the wrong decision, but for some reason, refuses to correct their course (IE: lack of registration verification) until the proper time makes it the right decision.

    Quoting from this thread:

    extensive library of stock content
    help island
    greeter program
    private islands with extended estate controls
    custom animations
    added tube prim
    added ring prim
    light prim
    full bright
    added dozens of plants
    improved water rendering
    improved sim performance
    virtually eliminated ghosting bug
    L$=USD insentive
    eliminated land tax
    eliminated prim tax (imagine needing 2000L$ in the bank just to rez an av attachment?!)
    more primtorture controls
    eliminated scarcity from the land market.
    p2p teleport is back and this time it’s free
    music streaming
    movie streaming
    animated attachments
    new land textures,
    new avatar mesh,
    preview for taking pictures AND importing them into world
    visual preview for importing clothes,
    email via script,
    sit targets on prims,
    (even if it is only half finished) XML-RPC,
    spacial improvements to sound,
    private islands,
    ban/access lists on parcels,
    join and subdivide plots, was always available
    improved find tools,
    MUCH improved tporting,
    “my picks”
    new welcome area
    improved map
    land for sale info in map
    snap to grid
    local and reference grids
    New terraform tools!
    Animated hair/clothes!
    Bump mapping!
    Removing recall!
    Prim count per land owned in sim! (Bye bye, prim hogs!)
    Inventory search!
    Multiple inventory windows!
    Multiple select!
    Snapshot / postcard preview!
    Group land ownership!
    Freeze / eject!
    IRC style chat emotes! (/me does something)
    Revamped find directory!
    Email to IM!
    Localized sound!
    Mute without restart!
    Custom gestures in inventory!
    Separate library for common items!
    1 degree rotation increments!
    Rotation snap!
    Snap to grid!
    Event notifications!
    Land for the landless!
    llGetNotecardLine – notecard reading
    llSetPrimitiveParams – fine prim manipulation
    dataserver event – lots of world data
    hexidecimal integer input – YAY for self-documenting code
    llOwnerSay – less spammy attachments and debug
    llParticleSystem – PARTICLES
    llLog – Faster math
    working email event – objectwww communication, allows for GOM
    XML-RPC – more communication
    llSetParcelMusicURL – Streaming music
    llParcelMediaCommandList – Streaming VIDEO!
    llGetFreeMemory – Less crashy scripts
    llRezAtRoot – More accurate object rezzing
    llSitTarget – Precise sit position
    llAvatarOnSitTarget – everything that tells you to sit on it relies on this
    llSetSitText – eye candy
    llSetCameraEyeOffset – Camera control functions!
    llUnSit – Dont steal my car!
    llGetAgentSize – Psuedo-accurate avatar height correction algorythims for animations.
    llGetObjectMass – Accurate object-object physics calculations
    llRequestAgentData – Names from keys, online status, & more
    llRequestSimulatorData – Sim corner from name, current status, & more
    llGetRegionName – w00t, finally
    llEjectFromLand – Ban avatars without pushing them cross the sim.
    llDialog – Easier user interface
    llSameGroup – Group-specific scripts.
    llGetAnimationList – Animation overriders!

    …and that list is far from complete. 🙂

  5. Caliandris says:

    Are you building anything at the moment, Flipper? Are you talking to people who are trying? Isn’t the fact that every folder in the texture picker is open when making clothes driving your partner crazy?

    I love SL, and I spend a lot of time on it. I haven’t complained every time there was an update. Something needs to happen. You can tell me the sun shines out of Linden Lab from now until Christmas, and what a wonderful platform it is, it won’t help unless the stuff that’s borked gets fixed.

    We have been promised for months that bugs will be fixed before features are introduced, and it seems to me that it has been untrue. The feature voting system showed that people wanted Linden Labs to stop adding features until the bugs were corrected and they removed that from the list because it was going to happen, but it certainly doesn’t seem to me that it is.

    I am still seeing bugs which I reported months ago. PLUS all the new ones.

    Even if they are the best damn company in the world to work for it STILL doesn’t excuse what’s happening at the moment.

  6. Siggy says:

    As with a lot of things in SL – there is often an either/or sort of approach by both users and developers (eg: you must fix bugs-OR-add features… we will Teleport Direct OR use telehubs), when in a lot of cases there is room for both.

    There have been several updates when there has been a pleasant ratio of new features to bug fixes, and in those releases it seems that those few new features have been implimented fairly well and painlessly.

    Alas we have had more releases overpacked with shiney new features (some that actually take a giant leap backward in useablility) and bugs galore – with all the comfort of a dog shitting razor blades.

    The problem with choosing your own work is that a lot of people will choose the ‘glory work’ – the flash new feature that will wow their peers. Once the wow is gone its shelved… sometimes unresolved, and implimented half arsed and unfinished.. theres no fun and glory in doing the grunt work.

    But I think there is room for BOTH – do the grunt and get rewarded, and SL will be a better place for it.

    Since I’ve joined in 1.0 I’ve seen the interactive benefits of having your AV rotated to an point to an arbitary location or rotation – there was a LSL call for it too… it never worked and was labled as never working.. I think its been removed now – something as simple as moving then turning to face an object or person cannot be automated.

    Since 1.4 with the advent of custom animations we’ve relied on animation overriders to replace our own default animations. You’ll find them as attaches, HUD’s, accessories, as features, or required scripts for some custom avatars – they are less than optimally written, and yet a very large portion of SL has at least one in some incarnation running at any given time.
    We are incapable of overriding them via the UI – something that you would think would be a very integral part of the implimentation.

    Camera Control – I can’t rotate the camera and moving it to simulate a crane to to film myself (a la machinima – one of touted uses)… my expermients have shown I’m better off with a second person just looking at me.

    We have this great tool – the voting tool – so developers can look and see what the people using the system (and in this case much more – making your world) think is important…

    I see a lot of lovely shiney things going in – but not many that you’ll actually find on the voting system at all… I highly doubt it’s even looked at.

    I think thats why some folks feel frustrated – I can’t blame folks for thinking that they are ignored, because for all the press – joe average pretty much sees it as a ‘FU we’ll work on what we damn well please’… and for that, I can’t fault their frustration.

    In the past there has a been several releases with a nice balance between new features/old issues/bug fixes. They are few, but I think thats a goal worth striving for.

    Theres less glory in the grunt work, but there is a lot more appreciation.

  7. Human nature says that when a bunch of people get together, they start to complain. History tells us that when making history, mistakes are made. I suppose it is a good thing that Thomas Edison didn’t have an audience questioning his every move, perhaps he would never have completed the world changing inventions that did indeed changed the world. Personally, this is where I see Linden Labs. Making history. If not world changing history, then close to it.

  8. Siggy says:

    Well keep in mind that when Edisons bulb didn’t work properly – he fixed it (with help) – before he went on to put together the generators to light the street.

    And when they didn’t work together – he fixed them so they did before continuing.

  9. Alpha Zaius says:

    That is how a business should be run! Creativity and Productivity is at its peak when everyone is relaxed and has fun. I hope that I get to work at a company that runs of similar standards, would be a blast!

  10. katykiwi Moonflower says:

    No one will argue against the benefits of having a happy work environment but things can get so loose that the business endeavor and its users suffer.

    While autonomy related to choice of assignment or project makes for a happy worker who can avoid that which he dislikes, that system results in bugs and problems that go unresolved. There is no joy or glory in attending to tedious, unglorified details and it’s much more pleasant to introduce fancy graphics that all will notice. The result is flashing pie charts while the inventory remains unmanageable because of the scroll to the top problem.

    Several problems exist. First is the development of features that will actually benefit regular users and that will improve upon what is already in existence. This means the developers must have some meaningful involvement with actually using features they introduce, and/or meaningful communication with a statistically valid segment of the membership.

    Second is careful testing of features to make sure what is introduced does not unexpectedly break or negatively affect what currently exists. This means careful testing and research by those who are trained for development carries greater weight than meeting self imposed frequent deadlines for update releases.

    Third is the correction of bugs, errors, and things broken by past updates. Again, this runs the risk of neglect of attention in a total autonomy choice of project environment.

    Requiring employees to make weekly “visible” progress that moves the company forward results in flashing pie charts rather than repair of less obvious problems that may each be small in comparison to the whole, but when added up result in significant frustration and inconvenience to the membership who are left to deal with them.

    You stated, “Call out inconsistency in principles when you see it. Don’t let a staid form and function become routine and boilerplate.” and I strongly agree with this as my vocalization on the forums has demonstrated. In this spirit, I raise the question whether LL at this point requires more structure for the priority and assignment of projects since the loose management style seems inconsistent with the solving problems that seem to result for the membership.

    To resolve some of the problems that exist, I suggest the following guidelines for your consideration:

    1) A system of prioritization for the repaid of bugs and errors to take precendence in selection of a project before new features are developed.

    2) The responsibility to repair any bugs, errors or breaks that result from a feature developed and introduced by a developer before that same developer can take on a new assignment.

    With these rules set into place the developer can still enjoy the autonomy of project selection while at the same time adding additional assurance that the membership will not suffer the problems that seem to be adding up.

  11. Caliandris says:

    Thanks for your list Flipper. I thought you were scraping the barrel a bit with some of the things you included, and some were on the list two or three times over.

    I have a list of my own. None of these things were a problem before the most recent updates.

    Can’t move in some sims, and have to TP out after 2 minutes. Have been with other people on different machines and we have all had the same problems in the same places.

    Crashing out without warning, frequently. Sometimes in groups of three or four.

    Textures download after five or ten minutes, I still have textures which are grey. If I move away from and area and return the downloading of textures seems to start from scratch.

    Can’t control my avatar in many places.

    Text is delayed and sometimes messages arrive in the wrong order.

    Many friends appear online when they are offline.

    I have to reset my preferences every time I log in because black on black default text is unreadable.

    Pictures which were easy to take and upload are now complicated, and poorer quality unless you know what you are doing re aspect ratio and sizing.

    Texturing clothing is a pain as all the folders are open in the texture window.

    Texturing objects is a pain because the current texture doesn’t stay selected in the list, a bug which wasn’t in the known issues list despite multiple reports.

    Building is difficult, because things jump around.

    Starax’s wand broken: undocumented change to temp on rez.

    Moopf’s offline notifier broken: undocumented change to email.

    Falk’s book broken:
    undocumented change to mouselook.

    Land textures still missing after 3 hours in a sim, unless light falls on them, in which case that patch appears.

    Should I go on? Really?

    SL is great … if it worked properly it would be better.

  12. says:

    it’s a great way to work, but I think you need to get better feedback from residents on what are priorities.

    also, quality control needs to be better managed.

  13. jamma says:

    Philip, if you won’t act like the manager of a company that’s interested in keeping its customers happy with the product, at least act like the political leader of a community that you fancy yourself to be and find out for yourself what concerns your constituents most. Don’t just party on the hill, pat each other on the back and vote yourself new raises.

    This post is incredibly ill-timed, coming as it does after a horrid run of days with bad updates, faulty patches, unprecedented downtime, incredibly poorly tested and sometimes plainly unwanted new features, and the loss or malfunction of many regularly used features.

    You need to talk to us about what you’re doing to fix all this before adding new shiny. You need to make sure we see you talking about this in all sorts of forums and online publications, not just here on your own blog. And you need to expand that level of transparency down low enough for us to see what’s happening on an ongoing basis. Convince us, the customer, to believe in your dream again.

    Second Life Views sounds like a great little idea, but I challenge you to really spend time in the forums, sift through the static, and see that things really are not going well for us. Talk to the little avatar, shake some hands and kiss some babies, and make sure the rest of us see you doing it.

    Don’t depend on others to feed you the information – get it yourself. Walk with us, build with us (hah! not very easy this week, is it?) talk with us and read what we say about our experiences inworld. Get some visibility and win our hearts, and not just at the chat chaos that is our regular town hall meetings.

    Don’t drive the content creators away with a broken interface. Without them, it would be a pretty empty world. I believe SL is a part of the future, but it’s not the only possible future. It’s only a matter of time before competition comes along with Havok 4 already fully implemented and providing similar or better building tools.

    Other online worlds have flourished and fallen, and SL is neither immortal nor immune to the same fate. When that competition does arise, do you want us happy and loyal, dedicated to that dream of yours and the world we’ve built for you, or do you want us disgruntled and ready to jump ship at the drop of a broken prim?

    Remember, we can’t vote you out of office. but we can vote with our feet.

  14. Prokofy Neva says:


    1. You mention that you are one of only a “very few pioneers” of this “newfangled” way of running an office and a business. Who invented this method? And why are there so few pioneers?

    2. You mention that employees can’t “advance their own interests at the expense of the company” and that people are to make weekly reports of their progress, as defined by them against their own chosen goal. Who defines the company interest, and how? What is that process, where does it play out, and what is the role of the board and/or venture capitaliss in this role of defining mission? In other words, you call on people to make “good strategic judgements,” but how was the original strategy formulated?

    3. You say, “if the level of transparency (everyone can see what everyone else is doing) can be made high enough, you can stop managing people by explicit authority or delegation.”

    Then why can’t you publish the rest of the handbook? Don’t we work here *too*?

  15. Elde Eponym says:

    The fascinating – and disheartening – thing about this post: Utterly no mention of the people who pay the paychecks – your customers, the residents of the Grid.

  16. Prokofy Neva says:

    Well, Elde, while we work here, as I put it, we really do not pay the paychecks. Like all major media, subscriptions alone never pay for the cost. Advertising does. So as with old media, new media like SL will have to have big companies, whether businesses, or universities, or government, “pay for the advertising” i.e. buy lots of private islands and consulting services. The rank and file subscription, whether $9.95 or $195 or 1995, can’t begin to cover costs.

  17. Boliver Oddfellow says:

    Philip can you please come and lead motivational classes at IVM? we dopnt really need them or anything but Jeanette thinks your kinda cute and I’m way to much of benign dictator to ever get the concept, and Shukran needs to spend time with Boop so we need eye candy and well ……oh never mind well just come motivate us, its worked for all the happy LL crew we devlopers need granol and smoothies and stuff too

  18. Eloise Pasteur says:

    It’s an issue I’ve raised before. Cali’s raising it implicitly too in her posts. But it’s worth saying it again. Internally you see the value of transparency. So why not Lindens to Residents too.

    It would be nice to have everything transparent but that’s just not reasonable, there are internal decisions you need to take. But sometimes you have good discussions about changes you’re considering, sometimes you have nothing for decisions that appear to us to be purely internal. We know you have a big list, well why not print it somewhere so we can see what’s being worked on, what’s on the list to hope for, what’s nowhere near being considered? I’m not suggesting there’s completion dates and things on there (although that would be nice too), but I remember you saying you’ve seen thousands, tens of thousands of advances with SL, but you’re LOUSY at telling us about them. One of the things having a public BLOTTD might do is also let you invite comment when a project enters the list for consideration – you could publish the specs so that silly issues like the mess with the new land buy (which we were told met the design criteria, but failed to meet user needs) when that was rolled out. Similarly we can input about changes to the various stages of the design process so that the changes to the texturing could have been discussed and only rolled out when stable and usable (as opposed to stable and completely unusable. Whoever decided to have enter on an empty chat bar shut the chat window DESPITE the chat preferences could have had people complain BEFORE it happened.

    Your advertising says it’s our world, our imagination, not yours. Why not harness our imagination AND the considerable amount of good will and resident experience you’ve got and talk to us about WTF you’re doing to our world so it can advance with LESS of the “WTF do you do this for?!” with each update.

    There are a small number of Lindens that seem to do this. Runtai about the changes to ripple water, Andrew about quite a few things, changes to temp_on_rez, grey goo fences etc. It’s always post hoc so far, but it’s nice to see and makes us all feel happier (I’m not sure what it does for them) changing so it’s the expectation rather than the exception, and so it’s up front whenever possible but surely it’s just keeping your principles consistent across the whole range of things.

    Bug exploits… well not discussing them makes sense. It doesn’t have to be 100%, but it should also help with the documentation which is getting worse and worse with these roll outs.

  19. Huns says:

    It sounds like LL works sort of like a self-organizing neural network. Groups of individuals arrange themselves to perform specific tasks, and then they tear down and rearrange themselves with other individuals to perform other tasks, and there are point-to-point and point-to-area reentrant connections between functional groups. As in the brain, there is no “supervisory” structure to speak of, and the associations that survive are the ones that seem to be the most useful.

    But… as wonderful as it is, a neural network will frequently arrive at sub-optimal decisions. For example: “I don’t particularly feel like fixing this bug that has been sitting around for two years, because it is more fun to add a new feature that occurred to me in the shower the other day. There is no pressure on me to fix this old bug, so I will take the path of least resistance and work on my idea instead. I’ll still be making measurable progress, so I’ll even be meeting the stated requirements of the organization.” How do you handle this? I ask because there are certain long-standing bugs that never seem to have any progress made against them, at least none measurable by the users – while we get plenty of new features, some of which don’t appear to have been asked for by the users.

    It’s not that I don’t like new features, but it would be nice if a bit more emphasis was placed on fixing ancient bugs. Maybe you can get a few neurons to start firing at each other to do something about (for example) the painful volume bursts and other irritating bugs in the sound system. This is stuff I bug reported two years ago, and it’s still broken.

  20. Brace says:

    Oh stuffit Flipper geez

    You know good and well there’s broken stuff that’s been sitting around since 2003 that nobody wants to bother fixing.

    The last update – most of the “bug fixes” were stuff that were fixes to things that were newly implemented that broke down.

    your hysterical flag waving anytime someone has issues smells like a methinks he doth protest to much situation to me.

    We ALL know whats RIGHT and WORKING about SL – too bad philly and his work on whatcha like ethic don’t seem to know whats WRONG and NOT WORKING.

    So shove yer list – and if you want mine – you got my email addy – ask for it and I’ll send it to ya

    if everything was so fine and dandy you’d think folks like Starax would be sticking around, yah?

  21. Kathmandu Gilman says:

    I get this image of this commercial that was on a while back of a guy skateboarding slowly through a building and the people around him were doing odd things like dancing, painting, yoga etc and there was this sound of a phone ringing. This goes on for a while and the phone keeps ringing. Suddenly there is this stogie old man in a different office grumbling then slams the phone down and says they may be one of the most creative companies in the world but they can’t answer the darn phone.

    Don’t forget to answer the damned phone.

  22. Jake Reitveld says:

    Havok 2?

  23. Marzipan Maladay says:

    I can’t be quiet on this issue any longer, my SL experience has deteriorated to a point where it has become more difficult than my FL. I’m tired of being treated like crap by live help, I’m tired of filing abuse reports that NEVER get addressed, I’m tired of a police blotter that clearly indicates LL is more interested in policing it’s own property and interests than they are in helping me to preserve an environment that I pay for and I maintain.

    Philip, I think it’s great that you have time to play a few rounds of golf inworld because I don’t have time, I’m too busy trying to overcome the overwhelming obstacles put in my way by one crappy update after another. I’m tired of being told 10 different things by 10 different Lindens and in the end being told that none of the information is correct. One Linden tells me to file this form, the next tells me to file the form and then call, the next tells me not to call or fill out THAT form but fill out THIS form instead. All this culminates in my giving up on the things that I thought we agreed were important; the TOS, standards of conduct, support of the arts and the artists, and all of the wonderful things that SL USED to be. Regardless of the issue, dealing with LL has become impossible because everyone is busy doing what they think is fun and apparently the buck stops nowhere.

    I am a person living with early onset Parkinson Disease and double vision, the only world I can be a part of now is the one I have in SL. I just want to be listened to, respected as a customer and a person and an artist. None of that is happening for me anymore and it hurts me to my soul. I don’t care about the money, but I do care about being treated like I’m part of the company too because I am and I pay you for priviledge. I think that entitles me to a modicum of respect from LL.

    Being a pioneer is great and my hat is certainly off to you for innovative work-force mangement. I think you could take a lesson from Tom Peters who did a little thing called MBWA, Managing by Wandering Around. How about coming inworld and working with the other part of your staff, the people who live and work inworld on a daily basis and create the content which makes SL what it is? We don’t leave at 5pm and we do work weekends so feel free come any time.

  24. Prokofy Neva says:

    It strikes me, upon reflection, re: this “transparency” built into this system (btw, you can read more about the software used for it here, including a Q& A with Philip Linden:

    that sometimes, transparency is fake. That is, when there’s lots of transparency and everybody is forced to report all the time, they might reach for various elaborate lies, the way, in the Soviet system, for example, people made up their work production figures and lied about reaching their targets to prevent pressure from the center. Consumers learned never to buy anything with the date-stamp on the product toward the end of the month (and the excessive amount of information in the USSR had information like that on products). If they did, they knew that people were rushing to make targets so that they could look good on their reports, and were doing a shoddy job and cutting corners.

    I’m thinking with the noise of everybody being “all about transparency,” nobody is there to hear. That is, without a top-down management that has people answerable to higher powers above them – the kind of transparency that just has one person listening to just one other person instead of an entire bee-hive of busy-ness — that nobody might notice that somebody is eagerly working away, reporting up a storm, but in fact doing a crappy job. The signal-to-noise problem just got a whole lot bigger.

    Gwyn’s comment somehow got erased here, curiously, that if you have a system where everybody picks what they want, nobody ever picks the dirty work. Sure works that way around my house or office, how could it be different even with the new JIRA revolutionary systems of LL? That’s why you need things like kids’ chore rosters and routines that people have to share in offices to get boring jobs done that need doing.

    The idea that you’re going to reach an ecstatic state of hyper-awareness and accelerated ability through free will and selection sounds like something coming from an LSD trip.

    Reading the effects of this approach on our world, which I more than endorse, like in Marzipan Maladay’s poignant post, I can only urge others to join me in at least one small effort, to try to document and observe how the abuse reporting/police blotter system works and whether it deters or enables griefing started here:

    Sometimes the transparency the Lindens need can’t come from their own ranks; it has to come from the ranks of the people who eat the dogfood and live in their world reflecting back what they see.

  25. ang3l says:

    great place peoples

  26. JayR Cela says:

    After reading through the above posted comments, I would like to say that SL being as innovative as it is, and primarely built by its resident’s. Trying to stay on top of certain complex issues, is a normal part of the bussiness model. A product as diverse and free form as SL is, will allways be full of unexpected curves in the road ahead. The real world is far from being a perfect place, as is SL.
    Being partialy dissabled after suffering a stroke last year, SL has alllowed myself and my SL partner of 11 months, and whom lives thousands of miles away, to experience certain things in world that I am no longer capable of doing in RL. The simple joys of being able to imagine I am rideing a Jet-Ski, going Sky-Diveing, driveing a Motor-Cycle, takeing a walk in the park, shopping for clothes, holding a person I love and caressing them again. To me is far more important, and rewarding to me when I am able to overcome, the obsticales and challanges, presented in world. If not for myself being introduced to the SL platform and my chosen SL partner last year. I beleave that my RL would be much more difficult mentally for me to to deal with. And I may have never met my closest and dearest best friend.
    In closeing I would like to say it beats the heck out of watching television, and is wonderfull thearpy. Many dissabled people are home bound. This is my world, as it is to all other residents.
    Thank you all, who have contributed and worked so hard to make this possible to myself and many others.
    Bigg Bigg Hugs to the SL crew at Linden Labs and all the volunteers. 🙂

  27. Oliver Primeau says:

    Beautiful comment, JayR – at least a couple commenters here are appreciative.

    Reading most of your comments, all I can say is that there’s nothing which is more of a headache than a recalcitrant child. It’s important to be gracious to those who are giving you a gift. SecondLife is an incredible experience to be given. Admittedly, I’m new to SecondLife… I’m still playing and learning… but I am impressed with their platform, and I’m impressed with the kind of precedents they are setting for the future of internet communication.

    As to your business model, Philip, I too would adore working for an organization like yours… and if I ever get a chance, I’d like to study more in depth how it works… Have you ever thought of creating a documentary film about it? And do you accept interns?

    It’s interesting that you have such a clearly defined aversion for politics. That tells a lot about how deeply you think. Most people are too engrossed in the social games of the world day to day to realize that truism which you have. Politics and transparent, effective action are two opposite ends of the spectrum.

    I see the quality of what you all have created with the SecondLife software and I’m beginning to get a glimpse of why that occurred. It’s true as you say – if people choose their work, they will end up focusing on the things where they have the most insight and inspiration.

    The transparency idea… I have seen infuses the entirety of secondlife… It’s vitally important. Again, here is another place where you understand what many people have missed. Governments don’t run a society. People run a society. Peers and neighbors are the ones who keep us to social standards.

    In another internet forum, I met someone who said she was an old acquaintance of yours recently – an Aine MacDermot. She was a very enchanting woman. I pointed her over to one of your recent interviews at secondcast.

    I enjoyed listening to that interview, so much. I can tell that you are a person of my generation… the way you and your friends talk is how my peers have always talked with eachother. It’s inspiring to see what my generation is doing to change the world.

    Thanks guy 🙂

  28. chuck says:

    Just heard about the security breach, too bad. It probably wouldn’t have happened if someone quit complaining about bug fixes; throwing phone books and flipping birds; then decided to understand what the vulnerabilities of the software they are running are. I mean TikiWiki, damn, that’s an open source program with known vulnerabilities. Wake up and read an IT advisory sometimes.

  29. Kath McGill says:

    I’m on dial up, yes dial up with an older computer (2004)- and I’d like to interject that while the majority of you are saying things are slow, have problems with bugs and things never seem to work out, etc, you really should try it from where I am sitting. I can usually tell when there is a problem with the grid before you guys are aware of it, and I can tell when things are going to crash before you have a chance to swallow your coffee. Movement begins to lag, chat disappears, and when you click on something (ie touch) nothing happens. You try to walk and your dragged through the ground and can’t stop your direction Chat take a half an hour for me to see what someone else has said. Your bi weekly down load take about 3 hours for me, and quite frankly, I don’t see much of a change in anything that has been done.

    Meeps work better than teleporting directly, though, most often I get to sit in the far corner of a sim for a while before I see what’s going on. This corner sitting happens when the SIT option is chosen- (gives new meaning to sitting in the corner.) IM’s work better than chat, though it’s not a perfect system, my friends understand.

    Yes, textures take a while. Yes, the sim crashes. In all of this though I’ve learned something (actually a lot, so pay attention here!)

    Why it takes so long to rez in. Hint…

    There is allot of scripts and textures to load into the computer. The more scripts you have going, the longer it will take. If there are tons of prims that are needed to make a single object (a chair with 22 prims for example) that all takes time to upload. I know that sounds over simplistic, but its true. When you are in an area that you have a problem in, try checking where the scripts are, and how many are there, as well as an average prim count. Take notes!!

    Clean up your disk drive prior to logging on. Really. it helps.

    Close other programs your running. That’s one of the most simplistic answers besides defragging your computer. Oh, and check to see if someone left behind a trap or two. or a land flattener some where- or a aussie hissing cockroach that has invited her friends over for lunch.

    I’ve tied a single prim into a knot. While I’ve had some help in angles and alignment (off by .007 from visual) I’ve been able to build and bend and twist things that I’ve not seen on any of the other islands I’ve been on. I’ve seen a single prim turned into a 20m disk. I’ve learned more about *fussy math* in two months than I have in the years spent at college.

    I rather like SL, and the island of Eragon where I’ve been able to make my home with some other friends. It’s peaceful. The first thing that was created on that island was a large rock that was used to sit on while we watched the sun set. While more grand things have been created, and the rock recycled into something else, we still gather, and watch the sun rise and set whenever we can. We laugh, and celebrate, and build friendships. We support each other, if it’s with getting things straight, or teaching new comers to the island how to build.

    If anything, of my time with SL has shown, is that nothing is impossible. No one told me prior to my arrival (Briefly glancing at system requirements that yes I have xp) that I *couldn’t* be at SL. No one told me ether that its impossible to make a single prim into a knot. But I’ve managed to do both.

    It just took time, and patience. If anyone is really unhappy with how things are, or how they are run, or the time that it takes to fix things, I will trade my dial up, and my low end computer for theirs. Because, if I can have the patience to wait…what’s the big deal? it’s only virtual particles!

    Kath McGill

  30. Wolfie Rankin says:

    Firstly, I live next door to Kath [above], but I have the luxury of DSL.

    Whine, Whine, Whine!

    This doesn’t work, that doesn’t work.

    Look, Videogames have come a long way since Pong and Space Invaders, to the point where
    we no longer need to live in an “eight bit mindset” and shoot stuff, we can actually sit around
    with one person in Australia, another in Canada and another in Japan or somewhere and see
    them and just joke around while we have a coffee or something.

    Doesn’t this strike people as rather extraordinary?

    My first computer was an Amstrad CPC 6128, an eight bitter with 128megs of RAM.
    and I would play lovely games like sorcery+ [still a classic] and a much older Rocky Horror
    game which had two colours… Yellow and black.

    I used to buy magazines for that system, and have either done that or used the internet
    to help me with every new system… guess what has been consistent?

    The whining!

    In the year 3050, some cyberpunk will be whining about their glass computer running out
    of energy too fast, and “damnit, my link to mars is too slow” and “I wish the people in
    my holodeck didn’t pick their noses so much”.

    Look, it’s never going to be perfect, and somewhere along the line, the lindens will probably have a serious problem on their hands which will screw up something terrible and annoy a lot or all
    of the residents… But I’d like to sit and ride it out… this is an experience, people haven’t
    really done this before, of course there will be problems.

    I’d like to see a bit more support of the Lindens, instead of all the the bitching…
    SL must be a real cow at times and I’d hate to be in charge, I can tell you.

  31. Lavanya Hartnell says:

    Wow. So much negative response to this intriguing post. I’m glad LL posted it, though. It’s an interesting reflection of a novel ideal in management. Here are some thoughts on it and some of the responses to it.

    First, I really get sick of people thinking LL is a political party that is supposed to do whatever its noisier patrons request. LL is a business and, while making customers happy is an essential goal, doing what customers flippantly ask is rarely a good business strategy. There is always a careful balancing act among factors to provide what customers really, writ large, will buy into. Is SL not surviving and thriving so far? Do you really think its most direct competitors — some of which have several years’ head start — are really overtaking LL any time soon? LL must be doing something right.

    Second, if all LL does is fix bugs, SL will stagnate. Residents will not long suffer a static world that has fewer and fewer bugs. Other competitors will provide something better and, no matter how much buggier it is, we will accept it and leave SL. Features do matter and bugs, to some degree, are tolerable. Yes, bugs need fixing, but features also need adding.

    Next, in the year I’ve been in SL, I’ve realized something that is really important and somewhat surprising. Most innovations in SL come from residents, not LL. Skins are better now not because LL did anything in that time, but because designers keep innovating their wares. Avatars look more engaging because AOs and auto-emotes take better advantage of what was there the whole time. More people have access to and control over land mostly because of growing standards and technologies that make it possible. That progress is strong and rapid among residents is a testament to how well LL’s model seems to be working. They say over and over again that they are providing the space and not the content. SL’s greatest innovations seem to have happened before they even got to version 1.0. Hooray for a million residents contributing to a better grid. Welcome to the beginning of the world; it’s just going to get better.

    Regarding choose-your-own-adventure project work, I have to say that the idea is very appealing, but not entirely realistic. Like most people, I imagine I’d work well with this approach; the work micromanagers give to me is rarely what I think is the best use of my time. But then, the unglamorous work is often the most basic and important. I sincerely doubt LL is actually doing what this manifesto says in this regard. Surely there are specific, boring tasks that are generated and at least tacitly assigned. As in, “if this texture rezing problem doesn’t get fixed by someone (*cough* Bob *cough*), people are not going to be happy. No pressure. * bulging eyeballs* ” I’d like to think the more likely scene in LL is of Lindens who are gently cajoled into doing work that is important, but that they have the kind of flexibility of deadlines that is rarely found in an IT world rife with micromanagers demanding six month plans with milestones down to the day. This flexibility is required for dealing with constantly changing requirements and exigencies.

    If this is not already the case, may I suggest that LL developers be given incentives to do the boring but important work? Here’s a challenge. Add a “bribe” mechanism to the feature voting system. That is, let vocal minorities like me who post their opinions on what they want implemented choose to escrow money into their feature votes and, when they are implemented, give that money to the developers who were most instrumental in implementing them. I know it’s more complicated than it sounds. Someone has to arbitrate over when a feature has been implemented properly and someone needs to determine how much of a cut each person who worked on it deserves. And it again starts sounding like direct democracy, too. And maybe it would just be that rich residents push for even more features and nobody bribes for bug fixing; and maybe they are features that are disruptive of SL culture or the grid’s integrity. Still, the idea of this being another incentive for developers to consider is intriguing.

    Transparency is an interesting idea. At some places I’ve worked, I went out of my way to set up basic intranets for everyone to use in collaboration, but I also tend to create my own project sites so people can see what my own milestones and goals and progress are. Does LL do this so anyone in the company can observe each other and provide constructive feedback? That would be great. Regarding residents, while I would personally love to have access to such an intranet site, I think it makes perfect sense to keep a clear level of separation so residents don’t see that stuff. Employees would not feel free to speak openly with their peers, generally, which they really need. And many would also not have the savvy to know when to avoid giving a knee-jerk reaction in public to something in-house that would send waves of panic or anger among residents. Further, that kind of openness would be the quickest route to employees getting steeped in internal politics, as each vies to gain influence within teams by gaining popular support for their positions. “Politics” is the bugaboo nobody wants.

    Honestly, I think LL is doing a fine job, overall, of keeping the grid able to scale up, be more secure, and distribute more control of property to residents. These are the development foundation for its growth. Honestly, though, my opinion is that SL was basically done a couple of years ago and almost everything else going on now in LL is maintenance. If you are waiting for SL to become the world of the future, it already is and it probably never will be. I suspect that the future of SL is actually a brand new world with no genuine import of the current grid. I sincerely hope LL is at least talking about it and maybe gathering a wish list. While telling us they are doing so may give some residents the feeling they are in a dead end game that they don’t want to invest in, I suspect it’s probably worthwhile to tell us about it any way to give us all hope for an even brighter future, not to mention a chance to give our ideas of what features we’d like to see or what new technologies might have potential. And if LL announced that one year from today, there would be a new grid, I would personally continue chugging away with my own investments; there’s tons of money to be made, friendships to be enjoyed, and opportunities to be creative to tide me over until SL 2.0 comes around.

    Any way, in short, this is a cool manifesto. If LL really does adhere it to, kudos to them. Keep it up. Hooray for experiments in better management through increased individual flexibility and responsibility. And boo for micromanagement and mindless paper processes.

  32. xhyra says:

    And maybe, they are trying to attract some more talent to help with all the ‘problems’…just maybe.

  33. Phillip,

    Would you be interested in speaking at an Architectural congress in New Zealand in July of 2007?

    We would like to hear your theories on management as well as where you think Second Life fits in the realm of Architecture now and in the future.


    Kurt D Rehder

  34. I think many of these postings are useful and may be of great help to the developers to focus on fixing some of the bugs within. I also believe that Phillips audience for his posting of July 25th is targeted as a recruiting tool as much as it is a statement of how Linden Labs works. I think the process is almost an imperative when developing complex and new environments such as SL. As many of you benefit from the experience provided by the developers it seems odd that you find it fruitful to trash the process by which they have developed such a unique and interesting new paradigm for the way the web works. I’ve worked in development teams and no one likes bugs and most developers will spend countless hours trying to clean up a bug just for the personal satisfaction of knowing that they have beaten the beast. It is similar to how much effort you put in to get some textures working the way you want etc. you don’t just settle and give up and I am certain that the Linden developers don’t either. I hope they find the specific complaints helpful and the dream continues to grow.

  35. angi says:

    hola me gustaria ingresar en vuestras aventuras un beso grande

  36. senpo zauberflote says:

    I noticed Philip Rosedale’s avatar as pictured in FORTUNE magazine has his Chinese tattoos on BACKWARDS. Either Fortune stupidly reversed a pic of Rosedal or the tattoos are wrongly positioned. Any Chinese would feel pained at such a obvious mistake. And since there are 1.3billion CHinese people in the world, oits abig market SL should be welcoming!!! The character is in question is yong, meaning eternal, on his left arm in the pic. Its like writing English backwards…..

  37. Ron Pontiff says:

    Read your piece in Inc., Feb 2007. Very interesting concept. I am a 39 year old inventor and risk taker. How about email me after you sell Second Life to Google for a billion and let’s talk.

    Ron Pontiff

  38. Kat Sullivan says:

    i would like to work at Linden labs. I dont know what as but seriously i would consider even moving to san fran cheesy. I have lots of qualifications (though not a degree, unfortunatly i couldnt afford to go to Uni) a huge administration background and personal assistant background. if anyone has heard of loveable UK classic tv character, “Yosser Hughes”. and being a scouser myself you will all understand when i say “i can do that… gis a job”

    you have my e-mail if you want me LL

  39. madbo says:

    I see a lot of lovely shiney things going in – but not many that you’ll actually find on the voting system at all… I highly doubt it’s even looked at.

  40. Eva says:

    Hi Philipp,
    sounds interesting. By the way who is doing the PR for you in Germany. This is one of the big markets…..if you need help let me know.

  41. R u looking for someone in the stinky cheese’s country in order to convince company to open a place n SL ? I’m looking for a part time job. To know who i am, a communication teacher and a jewelry designer, visit my blog. By the way, have a good decade – a day in not enough – for all the readers.

  42. Stephania says:

    I am a very talented Executive Assistant in New York City and think that Second Life should also have headquarter here in this BIG city!!! If you happen to make that move I would love to come and work for your organization. I think it is on the cusp of a HUGE wave. Bring SL offices to New York and I will help keep everything in order and get you whatever it is your Pres. of a New York Office needs without question.

    Just a suggestion.


  43. Tid Kidd says:

    I have suggestions about what could improve SL, and what is missing, several times a day, but for now, I would like to start with the biggest idea I have had so far.

    We all know we can have homes in Second Life, but frankly I don’t want to build one, and I don’t want to rent one. I have the soul of a gypsy, and I would like to travel around SL, stopping and staying for a while at cool new places, then moving on. To do this requires (1) that I use a “mobile home” (I’m sure these can easly be created in SL) and (2) a place where I can park it up and pay rent while I am staying somewhere.

    So how about this, Lindens? The means for a mobile community to exist within SL, and the necessary support structure for their Winnebagos. There must be plenty of land that is free for this purpose.

  44. Rob A says:

    That’s a great theory to run a business by. How well does it work? As Flipper(near the top of the comments) said, it must be working as we watch LL plow through new features, viewer updates, etc.

  45. Nibru Arai says:

    Well, Iam brand new to SL and while I am not a computer whiz of any sort I have had a lot of experience in dealing with people ( 20 years of being a Counselor/Therapist/ employee job correction and debug) and producing movies / specail effects and commercials for TV and video. I have to say that SL is a wonderful place in its concept and like the real world has its quirks. Having read this entire blog I can see that SL suffers from the same things any business does. As for the development of the platform, while bug fixing may not be galmorous or even fun failure to do so will only eventually create problems exponentially throughout. Fundamental bugs in particular that need attention and are ignored make the end user experience less than a pleasure and will only drive your customers away. Trying to drive a race car that has an intermitant steering wheel function can only result in one thing. I joined SL in order to learn how to create animated objects and Art on the computer and interact with others doing or using the same. Having only been here a week the following has been my experience: almost everyone here is very helpful, my computer has locked up or crashed at least 10 times, my avatar was attacked, shot and set on fire, when all I was tyring to do was ask someone a question about where I was in the world. While I found this amusing, one can easily see that if someone is not held responsible and fundamental organizational structure is not in place deterioration and Anarchy will rein.

  46. Bud Noel says:

    If a ship tried to sail without a captain it would not be a very good ride. It could go out in the ocean and meander around without hitting a rock but it would not get anywhere. I wish that someone would take the helm of SecondLife and provide some decisive leadership before it crashes and sinks. Take care of the paying customers. I pay over $80 per month and I am looking (thru a second acct) at my principle avatar stuck hovering in 3D space, not logged in, just stuck in never never land. Since Feb, I have suffered through a steady procession of faulty updates and reliability problems. I’m glad the Lindens are so happy and there is so little turnover in the company employees. Sift thru the comments in the last three months of Blogs and compile two lists, satisfied and dissatisfied customers. One list, you can count the number of people on the fingers of your two hands, the other list, well they keep turning off comments because the dissatisfied just go on and on and on. I love SL and pray that someone in a position of power hears our voices crying in pain and takes command of the vessel. Otherwise, the Lindens won’t be so happy when the first viable competitor delivers a working product.

  47. Stanley says:

    Great idea actually. Where can I see the main activities and processes of this company?

  48. Dorrie says:

    Well, I have just read through most of the above, and it seems that us customers are not happy for the most part. I figure this is a good place for me to mention that the ‘customer service’ department may need some ‘telling what to do’.

    I am what would be considered a ‘newbie’. I was enjoying myself, and learning my way around. I found that I needed more Lindens to do what I wanted to do.

    Having been buying and selling on Ebay for over 8 years, while maintaining a 100% feedback rating. No small feat these days. Well, I purchased myself 30,000 L from a seller with 100% f/b, all was good. The Lindens were in my account and I started shopping! My avatar now looks fantastic!

    A couple of weeks later, I receive an email from Linden Labs advising that my account was under investigation for possible fraudulent activity, yet it had been determined that I was unaware of any fraudulent activity. That was certainly true. I was involved, in what I thought, was an honest transaction. At least it was on my part.

    While I understand the need to lock my account during the investigation, I fail to understand why I was not given one iota of information. After all was said and done, I was found to be innocent of any wrong doing, no surprise there, and I was advised to seek my money back from the person I purchased the Linden’s from. Fair enough. However, I cannot seem to get any of the information that I need. To make matters worse, many of the questions I have asked over and over have gone unanswered or I am quoted some part of company policy.

    At this point, the person I purchased from is denying any wrong doing on his end and I am left no option but to purse this through the courts.

    I have submitted a request to SL asking for the information that I need to purse this through the courts. I am hoping that I will get the answers I need. If not, I have no recourse and will be out 30,000 Lindens, and my US money that I paid for the Lindens.

    Needless to say, my experience has been soured. I am trying to get back that crazy good feeling I first had upon joining SL, but so far it has eluded me.

    Perhaps while the Lindens are deciding what job they want to do on a given day, one of those Lindens will decide that today is the day they surprise Dorrie with the information she desperately needs to pursue the person that defrauded her.

    Had I known that I would at some point be seeking help from Big Brother, I would not have purchased a year membership. It seems that Big Brother is alive and well in Linden Labs.

  49. big says:

    Tova e neshto mnogo slojno!

  50. Linden Lab is wonderful and we greatly admire Philip’s creation, vision, and the superb work of the company’s supporters.

    Thank you for creating this world!

  51. Richard says:

    I think there needs to be a blog website page of all the people that the lindens have screwed and got away with it. Then possibly a class action law suit can be filed and own part of this great virtual world. Anyone interested in this contact me here.

  52. Edde Edman says:

    I think the new search will destroy the sl.

    The reason? Is very simple…Because to pay for ads change nothing now. I mean before in search engine my shop was in top 10-20-30-40 of searchlists for most of my keywords. And now noone can find it except if they know the name of the shop.

    What I see in that new search system is people who are the richest will become more rich and all the others will have to make more ads everywhere even if they don’t have the money for that… I find that stupid ( sorry for the words). The old search engine was more logic.. The old search was giving same chance to everyone…
    If I write that today it’s cause I talked of that with lot of people in SL, owners of shops or not, and they all think the same.

    The new search will destroy the small business in SL.

    I hope the linden labs care about this.

    Edde Edman

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