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Town Hall 1/14/05

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Town Hall with Robin Linden
1/14/05
Topic: Upcoming Changes and Such

You = Haney Linden

Robin Linden: Philip held a meeting last night and answered a lot of questions.
Robin Linden: You may have more and I'll do my best to answer them
Robin Linden: Please just IM your questions to Haney and he'll post them so those with repeaters can hear them
Robin Linden: then I'll answer

You: YasmineTara Fatale: In light of what has occured with There.com, does LL not see what an advirse effect these changes will make? And what are club owners like myself suppose to do? Sit back and watch our dreams fall to pieces? I just dont understand, learn from There.com..
Robin Linden: OK - I'm not sure what relationship there is to what we're doing and There
Robin Linden: I believe there was a reduction in support by developers
Robin Linden: That's not what we're doing. We reducing the amount of money that goes into the system in an effort to keep the economy stable
Robin Linden: Without going into a discussion about There, I don't think that any problems they may be having
Robin Linden: resulted from changes in how they supported events.
Robin Linden: They made a change in business priority
Robin Linden: More likely that's why events were no longer supported, not the other way around

You: Vehn Suavage: I have a couple: First, with the change in the rating fee but no changes to current rating numbers, how does LL see that as really being effective? I mean, to be completely reformative, don't you need to change the currently existing #'s as well?
Robin Linden: In the long run we'd like to get rid of the rating system altogether and replace it with two separate, but related systems
Robin Linden: First one that supports the vendors and merchants in SL, much like the review system on eBay or Amazon
Robin Linden: Second a reputation system that is based more on how people relate to each other.
Robin Linden: More behaviorally based.
Robin Linden: For now we wanted to increase the cost to rate as a step toward
Robin Linden: minimizing the gaming of the rating system
Robin Linden: We've had several people ask about wiping the current ratings and there is a debate going on about that on the forum
Robin Linden: I encourage you to join the debate or else email us your thoughts about the best way to do that

You: Theremes Langdon: How is this going to improve the economy? If people are making less money then less will be spent so club owners, designers everyone is going to loose.
Robin Linden: There are several ways that money goes into the system.
Robin Linden: Event support is one source, and it's actually a small source - about 5%
Robin Linden: There will still be a lot of L$ in circulation.
Robin Linden: By slightly reducing the total supply however, the remaining L$ have more value.
Robin Linden: Alucard - I expect you'll find there are other ways to make money

Robin Linden: Nuit - over the last several months there has been a steady trend down in the exchange rate of the L$, as measured by the trades on GOM
Robin Linden: At the same time a lot of new money was going into the system with the influx of new players.
Robin Linden: We felt we needed to reduce the amount of money going into the system

You: Craig Altman: Hi, am I to understand all support for events(other than educational) is being stopped completely, host fees and prize mony?
Robin Linden: Yes.

You: YasmineTara Fatale: And what about those of us who own land, LL is dropping everything else why not make our land fees lesser? Oh wait then LL would lose money not make it silly question
Robin Linden: the goal is to have fewer L$ in circulation.
Robin Linden: Changing your land fees wouldn't impact that

You: Elle Pollack: Q: Remind me what happens to money that comes from "sinks" (ratings, texture uploads, etc)...is it burned or recycled?
Robin Linden: I guess in effect it's 'burned'
Robin Linden: It comes out of circulation

You: Craig Altman: If event fees are not a huge part of money going into the system why not just reduce them?
Robin Linden: Because it wouldn't make enough difference to the economy.
Robin Linden: The money sources are these:
Robin Linden: 1. event support
Robin Linden: 2. rating bonus
Robin Linden: 3. weekly stipend
Robin Linden: 4. dwell
Robin Linden: We have to choose from one of these sources to reduce the money

You: Alucard Otis: I was gonna get a sim with friends, start a club, and other stuff on the sim, but due to a lot of changes we cant... how does it actually help SL?
Robin Linden: I'm not sure how reducing event support will get in the way of your plans

You: Pupuce Blanc: could you go in to more detail of the new rating system that you are thinking of putting in place....
Robin Linden: We don't have a final design yet. On the forums there's a *really* long thread where we've been discussing a changed rating system for several months
Robin Linden: We're getting a lot of ideas from there, as well as from what we can learn more generally about how reputation systems work
Robin Linden: And as I said, we also want to have a way that people can comment on their experiences with merchants in SL

You: Dominik Bauer: why did the changes come with such short notice? people could have adjusted a bit better if there was a form of early "warning"? or is that a part of the experiment?
Robin Linden: We gave a week notice. How much notice do you think would have been preferable?
Dominik Bauer: a month
Robin Linden: Well a month might be better, but it would also allow the economic trend downward to continue that much longer.
Robin Linden: And the value of the L$ to decline which hurts the entire community in the long run.

You: Jeri Zuma: if you didn't take these corrective steps, what would be the impact, if the Linden was allowed to fall against the dollar even more? What's the worst case scenario, if things were left as they were?
Robin Linden: That's a tough one to predict
Robin Linden: It's like the real economy - you have to watch it daily and course-correct when it seems advisable
Robin Linden: You'll continue to see us make this type of change.
Robin Linden: Adding to or reducing the amount of money in circulation is necessary to have a healthy economy

You: Zonax Delorean: how much inflation is in SL? with a yearly period? or maybe a 3 month period?
Robin Linden: We've seen very little inflation until recently.

You: Ravenelle Zugzwang: How is the economy effecting the population of SL, are people leaving because of it?
Robin Linden: I haven't seen a significant change in membership. Over the long term it has grown fairly steadily
Robin Linden: Sometimes as much as 20% in a month, sometimes a little less, but always up
Robin Linden: Over the last week the numbers have been fairly consistent with the past trends

You: Vehn Suavage: When will the guidelines for what's LL sponsored, event wise, going to be posted and where?
Robin Linden: They should go up today
Robin Linden: Ahh - I'm told it's already posted in the announcements section of the forum
YasmineTara Fatale: thats due to us, the members tho...so b/c we are enabling growth don’t you think we should have some say as to what happens with our money, our community and our SL?
Robin Linden: Yasmine - I absolutely do
Robin Linden: We try to stay open to feedback from the users as much as we can
Robin Linden: through the forums, email, IMs, you name it
Robin Linden: but sometimes we have to make unpopular decisions for the long term benefit of the community
Robin Linden: IRC.. yes!

You: Theremes Langdon: How exactly is the economy falling? When I joined in October L$ at GOM was going for $1.25 now it is up to $4.00 correct me if I am wrong but that seems a rise to me!.
Robin Linden: A couple of months ago GOM changed the way the sell, so the started selling in blocks of 1000 L$ instead of 250. That essentially changed the base of calculation
Robin Linden: So instead of 1.25 it was 1.00

You: Ava Eldritch: Does it occur to anyone that newer residents with limited access to lindens may become discouraged and simply leave? What is the incentive to stay? With no hope of success. The ratings stipend was a cushion and encouraged growth and creativity
Robin Linden: hang on I'm losing track of the questions
Robin Linden: OK - Ava - every new player that comes into SL approaches things differently
Robin Linden: some make money, buy land, build huge projects
Robin Linden: some party and never spend a dime
Robin Linden: some hire others to help them out
Robin Linden: some find jobs
Robin Linden: the fact is that there is no single way to be in SL, and that's what makes it special
Robin Linden: but if you're looking for a steady path up to some sort of goal that is preset, you may be in the wrong place

You: Catfart Grayson: Question for Robin, Would you consider allowing the commercial sponsorship of events?
Robin Linden: if someone wants to hold an event, and someone else wants to sponsor it, then sure

You: Theremes Langdon: So what about the people whose jobs were to host events? They are now unemployed....some of us don't know anything about educational stuff.
Robin Linden: I'm not sure why you assume that the event hosting jobs are gone
Robin Linden: Club owners will still want to have people in their clubs
Robin Linden: They'll still get dwell for that traffic
Robin Linden: The difference is their margins will change because they're not relying on Linden to pay you

You: Tad Moseley: does sl have any plans to bring in new or better alternative way to make money in the future
Robin Linden: We're always looking at ways to improve the economy and to make SL more fun
Robin Linden: I would guess that more jobs will show up as more people try new ideas and new ways of doing things
Robin Linden: the jobs are generally user created, not created by Linden

You: Ravenelle Zugzwang: What will be the "definition" of an educational event? is it limited to Linden approved definition? for example, Hooking 101, would that be supported?
Robin Linden: I don't think Hooking 101 will get Linden support. Sorry.
Robin Linden: The definition is posted on the forums. I'll try to get a notecard by the end of the Town Hall so we can get it to you here.

You: Zalandria Zaius: Are SL based classes going to be the only ones sponsored, or can we teach stuff like C#, C++, Pearl Scripting?
Robin Linden: Ooh, that's a cool idea. I'd love to see that.

You: Dominik Bauer: now Linden labs supports only educational events. why not cut all event support if the economy is in such a bad state?
Robin Linden: First of all the economy isn't in a bad state. This is a small adjustment to the economy. I know for individuals it seems large, but overall it's relatively small.
Robin Linden: We'd like to make sure there are events that help people learn how to do more in SL.
Robin Linden: For those who think they aren't creative, for example. A class might teach them something new they never thought they could do before.
Robin Linden: I've heard so many people say, wow I never thought I was creative, and look what I did! It's actually quite exciting

You: Ava Eldritch: So what you’re saying to me is that its too much to ask that there is a safeguard for new players. You are on your own and out of luck. Is that what you’re saying? I don’t want employment as a dancer. Will you give me employment?
Robin Linden: Ava - I'm not sure what you mean by a safeguard. There is a weekly stipend. You'll still get a rating bonus, although it will be smaller (and the ratings will be harder to get, but I hope more meaningful).
Robin Linden: There are other ways to earn money. I would guess that there will still be casino games and lotteries, if you're willing to take the risk.

You: Theremes Langdon: To be creative...such as to compete with fantastic clothing designers you have to have photoshop and such...do you really think everyone has the money to buy that kind of program so they can make money in a GAME?
Robin Linden: There's a program called GIMP that can be used, which is free I believe.
Robin Linden: It takes time to learn how to design clothing.
Robin Linden: But taking the time to learn that, or something else might be very rewarding.
Robin Linden: And if you earn money doing it, you can offset your other costs.
You: Nuit Divine: Ratings are a social aspect of SL, not just for stipend bloat - making them so expensive removes a useful channel of communication. Did LL consider this aspect?
Robin Linden: Yes - very much. Too frequently the rating system has been gamed. A higher cost to rate makes them more meaningful I think.
Robin Linden: So you may have fewer, but there will be some genuine thought behind them.

You: Araiya Bomazi: Why the jump to L$25 for ratings? Why not a slightly smaller amount, such as L$10 or L$15?
Robin Linden: Recently we started charging L$ for the partner program. L$10 to set up a partnership.
Robin Linden: The reaction was that was not very much.
Robin Linden: So L$25 didn't seem like a huge amount.
Robin Linden: But one suggestion that has come up is to use a sliding scale for rating
Robin Linden: so the first one is maybe L$10, the second one is L$25 and so on.
Robin Linden: Maybe that would address the problem in a different way.
Robin Linden: We'll keep looking at the cost, and at the overall system.

You: Mihai Caldera: A solution for LL to remove some of the currency from the game would be to develop objects / animations / scripts that could sell in the world and so part of the currency will return to LL ...are there any plans to have this kind of solution applied?
Robin Linden: Mihai - I'm not sure what you mean. Develop objects and such that would sell what?
Mihai Caldera: animations ... I've got rich from them ... LL could do the same ... though return some of the currency from the game
Robin Linden: We're not trying to earn L$. But we could certainly look for other sinks.
Mihai, it would definitely be a new sink. I'm not sure though, that we want to go into competition with the users

You: Anthea Thereian: Are they going to wipe existing ratings.. and if so will everyone be credited the monies they have already spent on ratings?
Robin Linden: Anthea - we're discussing whether or not to wipe ratings. I don't think there would be a credit though.

You: Govindira Galatea: all of the current measures are source affects. What is being done to affect the sinks (demand side)?
Robin Linden: No price changes at the moment Govindira. Robin Linden: Soren Romulus is offline
You: Elle Pollack: Can you clarify the use of the words "dwell" and "traffic"? I initially thought that traffic would replace "dwell" completely but now it seems that "traffic" is the point system and "dwell" is the L$ received from it.
Robin Linden: Dwell is what you get when people spend time on your land. It's a complicated calculation, and we were trying to come up with a way to talk about it that might make more sense....
Robin Linden: So we thought about visitors, but it measures more than unique visitors
Robin Linden: So we decided on traffic, which suggests to most people a measure of how many people came by.
Robin Linden: There's no change to the calculation though, or to the amount of L$ allocated to dwell payments

You: Tad Moseley: now i have been on linden side of stick so i understand where they are coming and it wasn’t a wake up one morning decision but why did they feel it was crucial to implement these changes in one big batch instead of one at a time to see how
each would benefit the economy individually.....
Robin Linden: It might have been better that way. We were concerned that if we made the changes sequentially, though, it would feel like a steady stream of hits.
Robin Linden: The net of the changes - eliminating event payments and reducing rate bonuses is about a 20% changed to the amount of L$ going into the system each month. Offset by the addition of new users.

You: Ok, thank you all, we need to go.
You: Thanks especially to those doing repeater events

Robin Linden: Thanks everyone for listening. Please feel free to contact me or other Lindens if you have more questions
Robin Linden: Try to understand the long term view
Robin Linden: it's world building, not just gaming

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