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  Elite ‘Stakeholder’ Resident Group Meets Lindens Quietly, Press Barred  
Posted 2005-09-01 by Tony Walsh
Only two month ago, details of a shadowy Second Life resident group emerged, showing that the so-called "Feted Inner Core" colluded with Linden Lab against a known agitator.

Now, a new elite resident group has surfaced, according to Editorial Hare and other Second Life members. Hare, who is not affiliated with any press outlet or organization, has revealed disturbing information s/he alleges is from public chat log. Hare says that a group calling itself the "Metaverse Justice Watch" (MJW) held a very recent in-world meeting with Linden Lab's CEO Philip Rosedale and Senior VP of Community and Support Robin Harper. The meeting was not announced publicly, says Hare, noting that " their organizational meeting [the Metaverse Justice Watch] specifically said they wanted to keep certain 'types' out of the group. They also wanted to request the Lindens remove all 'press' from this meeting."

The meeting was apparently lead by one of Second Life's richest and most-often-touted virtual land barons (let's call this person "Banshee"), supported by Second Life's most controversial agitator and other residents-- real names will be witheld until I am given permission to publish them. According to Editorial Hare's chat logs, the Metaverse Justice Watch seems to feel a level of ownership in Second Life that other residents are not entitled to.

Excerpts from Editorial Hare's alleged chat log follow:

Banshee: Most of us here have invested considerable time, emotional capital, social capital and financial capital in this country
Banshee: This is what we feel makes us stakeholders. More like you [Lindens] and in contrast to e.g. merely tourists, users, consumers, players etc.
Banshee: But this place is growing and we know how busy one can get. In Russia Gorbatchew was one great leader, but to the normal people the system, the rules, the bureacrazy [sic] mattered even more
Philip Linden: indeed
Banshee: This is why we are here to enter in a dialogue with you: to help you with your goal to make Second Life the best online world to live socially, invest, work - not only in technical terms but also in terms of justice, security etc
Banshee: Whereas need to note that we are very much based on people who consider themselves stakeholder in SL
Banshee: So we are less representative of the "casual player" which of course we also meet in this world

If Hare's transcript is accurate, Banshee seems to be setting up the Metaverse Justice Watch as an established upper class between the Lindens and Second Life's proletariats. Worse still, the Lindens seemed to be receptive to the idea:

Philip Linden: I think that would make sense.
Philip Linden: Because you as the community would be choosing the issues, and the specific proposals,
Philip Linden: and we would meet in this sort of public forum to give our feedback, and to debate a final decision where appropriate.
Philip Linden: I think the thing that would be really helpful and revolutionary,
Philip Linden: is for you to decide the topics, not us.

Resident reaction to the Editorial Hare's revelation has largely been against the idea of an unelected elite resident group speaking for the community. I find it hilarious not only that Linden Lab would (allegedly) attend a meeting with an established group of self-styled elites, but under (allegedly) shadowy circumstances--corporate suicide, anyone? And who thought barring the press would be a good idea? I don't see Second Life's most noted agitator complaining about an affront to freedom of the press in the supposed chat logs. Perhaps that part was left out.
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Comment posted by csven
September 1, 2005 @ 11:18 am
Having read 90% of the long thread that started with Editorial Hare's revelation, this has the appearance of a group of landowners fearing for their livelihoods (especially since "content creators" were apparently among those whom some in this group wished to exclude; this according to someone who happened across the unpublicized meeting and overheard comments to that affect). The recently announced imminent change to the currency exchange system has made it all too clear that businesses primarily based on services (currency exchange, sales listings, aso) are especially vulnerable to "improvements" to the Second Life application made by Linden Lab.

Additionally, the just-announced changes to ratings stipends suggests that LL is effectively pushing "consumer" players who depend on stipends to use the new LL GUI currency syste (LL is on record as wanting to spur new, compelling content creation to bring in new subscribers and seems to believe this will have that effect; I'm not sure this will happen tbh).

So in effect, there appears to be a subtle change in the System: shifting in favor of Content Creators... which is entirely intentional based on LL's past Town Hall statements. I guess this isn't sitting well with those who prefer some measure of control.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 1, 2005 @ 1:43 pm
Thanks for the post, csven. I'm not opposed to resident lobby groups, but I think it was a terrible mistake for Linden Lab to meet with this so-called Metaverse Justice Watch on their terms. This is exemplified in a post on Prokofy Neva's blog, which I will dig up in a future blog post.
Comment posted by csven
September 1, 2005 @ 2:59 pm
I agree. The developer shouldn't be meeting with residents or groups. If there are issues to be raised, the Town Hall serves that function pretty well imo. I'd rather they scheduled more of them. Heck, I'd rather they shut down the main forums and force people into community areas as well.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 1, 2005 @ 3:02 pm
Regarding meetings, I'd add the caveat that I don't mind if Linden Lab is meeting with resident groups if the meeting is open for all, or at least posted and restricted to group members. Also it's important for Linden Lab to admit their involvement with resident groups instead of deny that such things as FIC exist.

I think they need better group discussion tools that the Town Halls. Perhaps, as you've suggested, they should hold more frequent but less formal discussions.
Comment posted by csven
September 1, 2005 @ 7:36 pm
Well, I'm of the opinion - based largely on the incredible number of boners I've seen in my short time in SL - that meetings with SL Groups (whether official or unofficial) will most likely create the kind of internal friction that hinders community development and drives away people. Linden Lab desperately needs to at least appear as an impartial party as far as I'm concerned. That isn't likely to happen if they open up the door to meetings with those individuals who have their own agendas.

The problem with the "Open for All" meeting is exactly the example we have here. This meeting was "publicized" by announcing it in the Town Hall forum sim. I had a repeater and submitted two questions (so everyone knows I was in remote attendance), but that announcement was not relayed to me. I knew nothing of this. However, members of the group are arguing that it was "Open for All" and it was publicized - and appear to have mostly stuck to that line even though the problems with this logic have been pointed out by a number of individuals.

As for posting the meeting, that's one that can be circumvented. Will only Chat be used? or will some comments be made via an IM? And what happens when a group can make a presentation via HTML? How will that be documented? And when a Linden says "I like Proposal #6", exactly who is going to ensure it's explained to those not in attendence? Can we depend on a Linden to screen this? I wouldn't. Especially not after the last Town Hall meeting notes where some comments were automatically stripped.

This is a can of worms imo. And I fully expect LL will mindlessly open it up without giving it due consideration.
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
October 15, 2006 @ 10:37 pm
I'm not sure how I failed to miss these posts of a year ago. There was nothing shadowy about this group; all of its members were visible in the openly-visible group in the GROUPS list in Second Life.

The group held a public meeting after this meeting with the Lindens precisely to have an open discussion about the issues. The documents they had presented to the Lindens were distributed there.

Other groups also met with the Lindens but escaped your wrath possibly because they weren't "evil land owners".

People meet with the developers constantly -- formally and informally, and never experienced your critique. It wasn't until I came along and captured this phenom with the term "FIC" -- which is now a household word -- that people really began to discuss it heavily -- and they still do, more than ever.

You've also given a pass to this so-called "Editorial Hare" -- he is an anonymous, collective avatar, who posted that that he/they was just such an entity on the forums, and that in itself would violate the TOS if various people could log on one account and thus share a password, which isn't allowed (except with written authorization, so that means the Lindens were in on this quite possibly -- in fact some are convinced that Editorial Hare *is* made up of some Linden and oldbie factions who resent the new land baron class).

I don't believe that every single meeting with the Lindens has to be open to every single resident. The world is too big for that now anyway. They should have public meetings; and they should have private meetings where appropriate.

You had nothing to say about the sorts of meetings that were REALLY over the top -- SL Views, of which 2-3 sessions were already held. In this system, which you can read about on Robin Linden's blog, she and others on the community team hand-pick a select group of people to get an all-expense paid trip to SF -- they included oldbies, programmers, designers, and their favourite island developers -- i.e. NOT Anshe Chung who was in this meeting that you denounce so rabidly (and her involvement and that of the rest of us wasn't any secret).

The hate-fest we endured from the forums gang-bangers was outrageous. You would think that such a group had influence. It did not. It didn't use this meeting sept. 1 to lobby for compensation about the telehubs. That came in another meeting much later. The Lindens went forward with p2p and didn't heed a thing anybody with land near a telehub had to say -- citing "the community's wishes" along with its own. The idea that some small group could throw the Lindens over is absurd; it can't. Yet when there are small groups with strategic plans and desires that can find itself in concert with Lindens, they can and do have tremendous influence, often to the detriment of the rest of us, who don't even get a hearing.
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