Friday, 17 September 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

I had a rather uncomfortable experience yesterday, I let someone down.

The issue is the new user experience and the title taken from a comment by Yordie Sands on Botgirl's post, a second posting on the issue mentioned above.

It started a couple of days ago with Nightflower (aka Nightfire...:))) posting a blog on NWN about making new users belong by joining them to a group or clan like other games do.

Botgirl made a video showing her 'new user'

My experience happened last night at my IBM build where I was sitting playing Hostess With The Mostest as the visitors popped in, spurred mainly by Wizzy cracking the Destination Guide forms and getting me listed.
So, someone said, "where is the quest?"
Other: yes
Me: which quest is that then?
Other: The Quest.
By now the mythical nature of this convo got me to check out their profile, leaving my other IM's flashing. It was a fresh, very fresh noob.
Me: Ah, you have just arrived?
Noob: Yes, how do I get back to where I started?
Me: What was it called?
Noob: It was a big building with lots of windows.
Pause ... as I am actually stumped for what to say, brain in overdrive (it is probably over a year since I 'mentored' a totally fresh noob.
Noob: Never mind I have to go, thanks for talking to me.. [noob poofs]

Now, it is due to the Kindness of Strangers that I and many others are here.... and here I let someone down, quite simply because I was totally unprepared and didn't think on my feet fast enough.

Yesterday is a good example of how good people are generally, both Gianna Borgnine and Indigo Mertel taking the time to teach the slow girl at the back of the room (and benefitting the other 150 people in class) for no other reason than the desire to help people understand. So it has always been, and always will be, I think.

Anyway, now that the Mentors have gone, and you and I can be called upon at any time to fill that role, I was wondering what is the first thing I would say to a Noob. Bearing in mind they may not have mastered Chat even, should I give a Notecard?

I decided that the first thing I should have done was to offer friendship and then teach them to take a landmark (Could I do that, not having used Viewer 2.0?), so that even if they got lost they could speak to someone and find their way back to somewhere they had been.

But I figured that, maybe we could get a few ideas together....

What do you/would you do?

..and how can we get the Mentors back?

Can anyone get a Linden's ear?

Are all lines of communication with the Lindens now cut in their new One-Way transparency drive?




  1. A big challenge of a mentoring-based solution for a Virtual World is that it's unlikely that a noob will find a mentor rezzed within shouting distance when they need help. A possible solution would be something like Aardvark which uses GTalk to match questions with experts.

  2. In Viewer 2, the Back button would probably have got them back to where they'd come from if they'd arrived to your sim by TP.

  3. Upon a very long consideration (which is never possible in-world) I might have pointed out Chat History and the teleport links that would take him back, back, back to wherever he was.

    Otherwise, there's just time for a chorus of Hello, I Must Be Going and a heartfelt "Bon chance, mon ami!"

    I think it is fairly common to run into a new user who asks a complex question and lacks the patience or time to engage in an extended conversation to get an answer.

  4. In answers to the question "what is the quest" how about:

    * This is a world where you can create your own quest. For example, starting a successful in-world business. Or becoming a famous fashion designer. Or forming a group of like-minded people around a hobby or interest.


    * If you're looking for quests, why don't you check out one of SL's many role-playing areas? Are you interested in fantasy, sci fi, steampunk, vampires...?


    * Yes, I am the quest giver. And I have a quest for you! Bwa ha ha ha! You must pull up Word and transcribe these 20 pages of interviews for me...

  5. You know, given the nature of SL and the fact that bonding with the right people makes all the difference... and that LL continues to try to "ease the user experience" and all that (a problem solved by coding a borked viewer, apparently)...

    ...the dissolution of the mentors continues to be the thing that qualifies as the most "probably incredibly well rationalized internally, yet hugely bad institutional error" I've seen in quite some time. Sigh.

  6. @ Botgirl, that looks like a very sensible solution.

    @Nat, thanks I didn't know that, I now do.

    @ Corcosman, I had a noob once who just just walk away from her computer while I was explaining something and do the washing up or something, only to return 10 minutes later...:)))

    @ Maria, I could have played more, yes.

    @ Raven, well, as WOSL there are so many competing blunders, its hard to choose....

  7. Well... Viewer 2 was designed on a web browser paradigm... Press the BACK button at the top left of your address bar. :)

    BUT, Viewer 2 is the horrible evil incarnate according to all the stuck-up SL elitests, right?

    As for your post: good points.

  8. Well, the Annoyance viewer will be more accepted when things work properly.

  9. I have to agree that for the most part, despite community resistance to change, Viewer 2 is more intuitive to new users once they understand it functions much like a web browser.

    I agree that in theory it doesn't make sense that Linden Lab dissolved the mentors, but unfortunately I would have to argue that overall the mentor program was not very helpful or effective. However, replacing it with nothing is even worse. I think something more like Botgirl suggested is absolutely needed in order to connect those that need help to those that can help.

  10. New Citizens group still functions, as does New Citizens International. Great sources of support and information for noobs. There's usually someone on-line who'll answer a question or tp to where the problem is, and there's usually at least one person at their place in Khula(?) who will lend an ear.
    Maybe we should all volunteer a bit of time to this group.
    As one of the SL elitists, I don't use V2, but it's not just V2 that creates a problem. There's other viewers, and we just can't answer all questions about all viewers. The questions from noobs in group chats are often about the idiosyncracies of various viewers - they are using them because their friend suggested it was best, but it means noone can help them except that friend.
    I can't help wondering why, if V2 is so 'intuitive', why this person didn't just hit the back button?

  11. Yes, I am underwealmed by the current "knowledge base" its heavy and difficult to search, this suggestion by Botgirl seems far more user- friendly.

  12. ahh, Juanita, thats a name I should have written down then ... yes, viewers seem to have taken over all the builders conversations too....

  13. It's saddening to see how many newbies still turn up expecting SL to be a linear goal-driven game like World of Warcraft. The Lindens are clearly still not giving the right messages to the journalists.

    Mentors are an answer, but Botgirl is right about the improbability of rezzing near one -- unless they are allowed access to the "birthing areas."
    I used to hang out on the newbs-only Help Islands for exactly that reason. I hope that I did some good; I certainly know that many people I spoke to are still in SL now. God knows why the Lindens thought getting rid of us would be an improvement.

  14. I figured out some time ago I had likely "dressed" around 1000 nooblets.
    Like @Wol I used to spend a lot of time on the was a lot easier to help then because we all had the same UI, and if you pay attention you can see the nooblet turn their head to where they are looking on their screen.

    Today I commonly start out with, "Hi!. I see you are new, Secondlife can be a little confusing at first, is there anyway I could help?"
    As I'm sure Wol can doesn't take long to figure out which noob is really interested and is teachable. If they are interested at that point I give them a notecard that has the SL website and explain that many of us use a different viewer and if they will return to the website and download the 1.23.5 viewer it will make their learning curve much easier. I explain that it will only take about 2 minutes... it won't remove their current viewer and I will be right 'here' when they return.
    (Common response when they reappear? "Wow this does look easier.")

    {Sorry Linden Lab...I've so far, never seen one return to viewer 2.ought oh}

    I understand that one on one mentoring really won't scale from a business point of view... it's up to each of us to try and remember how we felt those first hours and to help.

    Disbanding the Secondlife Mentors was a mistake IMO...restructure,sure. Make spending time in the "birthing areas" mandatory,sure.

    Again I will beat the same drum.
    Secondlife is not easy.
    Secondlife will never be easy.
    But it is one of the best 3 or 4 things that ever happened to me...and over three years later I thank the one that kinda held my pixel hand those first days.