[opensource-dev] Retaining Newbies (Was: The Plan for Snowglobe)

Bunny Halberd bunny at bunnynet.org
Sat Sep 11 09:26:27 PDT 2010

On Sat, Sep 11, 2010 at 7:03 AM, Tateru Nino <tateru.nino at gmail.com> wrote:

> When you read various responses to "Hey, have any of you tried this
> Second Life thing?" there's usually quite a number of responses from
> people who did and gave up. Hardly any of them mention the UI as the
> problem that they had with it.

I've been in SL since late 2006. I have spent most of that time
helping to run a community that's extremely newbie friendly. (First as
a member, and eventually one of the lead admins.) We fall over
ourselves to help newbies feel welcome into Second Life... it's in our
blood. That's what we do.

I am fairly convinced that if a newbie can get past whatever the
Newbie Island thing of the month is, make it pass the first folks they
see (that are sometimes there to prey on newbies) and get to a
community like ours, the chance of them staying goes *WAY* up. I'm not
going to venture a guess, but it's WAY better than the general

When I talk to newbies about Second Life, and I do this constantly, I
hear two general complaints:

1.) My computer can't handle it. (This is, by far, the #1 reason
people leave SL after trying it, I'm convinced. Maybe as high as 90%!)

2.) There's nothing to do / I can't find anything to do.

Our community helps with item #2. We give them something to do -
friendly folks to chat with, events to do, people that are friendly
(instead of hostile) to newbies, and the freedom to go explore and ask
all the questions they want.

Here's the weird thing - if you can meet criteria #2, they are MUCH
more likely to put up with #1. We have folks that will turn off
drawing avatars (thus turning SL into a glorified chat room with
shared music) when things get busy just so they can be there. (And
yes, we tell them how to do that if they need to.)

Once folks get familiar with SL and its ways, they start finding all
kinds of other things to do and eventually leave our community, but
I've yet to meet anyone that doesn't look back at us fondly. It makes
me smile when folks come back a year later with friends in tow and say
"this is where I grew up". :)

This group can help with item #1. I really think there needs to be a
HUGE effort to make the SL viewer "degrade gracefully." I, as a
community leader, have a computer I keep upgraded just so I can run SL
really well. I have to - it's part of my job. But your average newbie,
with a several year old machine, isn't going to have that.

Sure, they're not going to see the same thing *I* see, but at least
they'd be there... computers are upgradeable if the person really
wants to stay, and have things look better, but if it's not usable at
all on their machine, they aren't gonna be there in the first place.

I think a lot of headway could be made if the open source community
and LL worked together to do two things:

 - Give newbies a fighting chance with a viewer that degrades gracefully.
 - Provide an easy pathway for newbies to find groups like ours as
soon as they're first rezzed in. Give them something to do as soon as
they rezz in. Show them how wonderful the SL *PEOPLE* are, not some
cold, sterile orientation program.

- Bunny

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