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  Linden Lab Considering Customer-Service Charges  
Posted 2006-10-27 by Tony Walsh
Second Life-maker Linden Lab is considering "expanding" customer service options by charging a fee for support. This has so far largely been met with derision from the community, and for good reason: Historically, many users have complained that the company's current customer service is sub-par. What I find ironic is that Linden Lab actually gives its users the ability to deliberately or accidentally crash the entire world of Second Life, resulting in crippling denial of service incidents. The same company that's made a house of cards is considering charging users to clean up the mess when someone knocks it all down.

It was only last year that Second Life hit the 100,000-user registration mark. At the time, I inaccurately predicted that due to "numerous software patches, global denial-of-service attacks, and poor performance," Linden Lab wouldn't reach its stated goal of one million registrants in 2006. While that number has been exceeded this year, the same problems still exist, and appear to be scaling in magnitude in relation to the number of active users. Establishing a paid customer service system isn't going to solve those problems--at best, Linden Lab will be able to respond more effectively to those willing or able to pay.

Earlier this year, Linden Lab stratified its user-base through a labeling scheme based on one's willingness or ability to provide payment or identification information to the company. This month, the company announced it is considering adding another label to users based on a definition of "trustworthiness." With a paid customer service plan, Second Life's community will be further fragmented into those who can afford or are willing to pay for a superior level of support. The gap between Second Life's "haves" and "have nots" may yet increase. In other words, Second Life is becoming more like real life.
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Comment posted by csven
October 27, 2006 @ 11:55 am
Why does it feel like LL is trying anything and everything? And why does it feel to me as if there is no overall plan in place? For example, I didn't think they'd hit a million either, but then neither of us were aware that they'd make wholesale changes to registration to accelerate user growth. Early in the year they weren't on track to meet that number iirc, so they were behind the curve. Then they open the floodgates and are now seemingly overwhelmed.

This thing seems to be oscillating all over the place. And their actions seem reactionary to me. How can that be a good thing?
Comment posted by rikomatic
October 27, 2006 @ 1:28 pm
I don't in principle have a problem with paid customer support, if it subsidizes better free customer support. In general, people who pay for tier or who have a regular paid account should get a superior level of service to a free account. That's normal for any business.

But there does have to be some sustainable and consistent level of support for all users of their platform when it comes to the stability of the world and basic functioning of commerce and tech issues. If some paid customer service can help make that possible, then fine.
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