Monday, March 06, 2006

Community Team Roundtable - March 2006

First off, this roundtable wasn't publicly announced. Only place where the time and date where mentioned was in the mailing list. This is done because of the chaos of at the roundtables in the past, where people talked through each other and often addressed issues that aren't suitable for the round table, and of course lag.

This a double edged blade, because now people interested and capable of discussion will have to sign up to a mailing list that won't hide their email address or name. Of course email accounts are free and easy to set up, but one extra hurdle. This was evident at the low amount of people that was present, at max there where about 30 avatars, for a place that can hold 120.

I think the idea is that we regulate ourselves and invite the people we think will be able to contribute to the discussion. We will have to see how this works out.
Distributed messaging
There where 2 main topics and some other interesting things mentioned here and there.
We started with Phoenix Linden who was invited to come and answer questions about distributed messaging in the 1.9 preview and the impact of that on email and XML-RPC.
“ Phoenix Linden: It's been my personal project for about 9 months (off & on) and has picked up steam, and other developers for the last 4 months. We are trying to peg a ship date right now.

Cutter Rubio: What was the impetus for the change?

Phoenix Linden: The reason has a few impacts:
1) reduced central services load
2) increased resiliency under bad grid conditions
3) more simultaneous users & sims

We were starting to bump up against the limits of the 'user server' which will fall over around 10,000 or so concurrent users ”
Gwyneth Llewelyn asked about what the impact of this would be on things like llEmail and XML-RPC across sims. And if we could get a change to test it on the preview grid, since that is not possible now. Phoenix explained that most changes are under the hood and won't be visible, and that llEmail is something separate, but that they did rewrite email->task and email->im which would will consume fewer central resources, and work more reliably. Robin Linden promised to talk to Karen Linden to get a test scheduled.

Of course there aren't only positive effects, Phoenix also mentioned some side effects.
“Phoenix Linden: There are some cons.
Heavily loaded sims will have a slightly longer region-crossing time.
Expect times to move from about .2 seconds to upwards of .8 seconds
Attachment save frequency has been reduced.”
And then there was a question that got a answer that was quite puzzling.

Vehicle Region Crossing
“Tateru Nino: I assume that will shake up vehicle crossings some.

Phoenix Linden: Actually, vehicles are exactly the same.
Which, as I discovered last week, is slightly broken.
For example, the UniBike dives into the ground on every region cross.
We are using ballistic interpolation for vehicles, which is just not the right thing during region cross.
someone will look into that soon.”
Let's rephrase, Phoenix just discovered last week that region crossings in vehicles are broken? To be honest, I had a WTF?! moment of Zen.
Diving into the ground during a region cross has been my experience since my first days in SL. It is so common that most people just accept it as a part of vehicles in SL.
I suppose we should be happy because someone will be looking at it “soon”, but still, i just keep thinking WTF?!

Flipper's Privacy Proposal
This a proposal Flipper made here and on the forums and got a pretty good response. It basically suggests that the whole friends list/calling card system gets completely revamped and gives us much more different levels of accessibility, depending on how much privacy we want. In all a better way to manage your Social Life.

Before Phoenix left she shared some thoughts on the technical aspects of this proposal.
“Phoenix Linden: I don't know what our final IM plan will involve. However, it will almost certainly move data over TCP, which has been added to the grid with this release.
Currently, _ALL_ traffic is over a low latency UDP message system, which causes many problems.
We will undoubtedly add more IM controls and widgets, and probably pick a solution with better global integration, ...before we add privacy but, I don't make all of those decisions, so we may prioritize more controls over a better overall IM client.”

Robin continued and explained that a project was in the queue to improve the mute function beyond sound, to include objects and possibly even visibility. But she is rethinking the project that instead of first improving mute and then redoing IM, that there maybe is a solution that starts from a completely different place, and that place might be Flip's proposal.

It was obvious from the start of the discussion that there definitely is more need for the ability to hide from your friends, but the big subject was how much hiding should be allowed.
One of Flip's suggestions is a mode where you appear offline in find and remove your green dot from the map. It was suggested that this in combination with a invisiprim could make you the ultimate stalker. No way to know if the obnoxious jealous ex lover is online or nearby.
Flip's blacklist could help here, the blacklist is a simple list of names who will never see that you are online. This would help, because the stalker wouldn't know if you are online. But that means you will have to know who is stalking you.
One way to counteract that, in my opinion, would be to at least keep showing the green dots on the mini map, and maybe a avatar count on the mini map so you could easily see how many people there are in the sim.

A other good point made, was that removing your online status from find would make it hard to avoid certain persons you rather not run in to. If there is some really public event in which it is likely the other person would show up, it is nice that you can look at the find and at least know if the person is offline or not. That way you could decide to go or not, or at least be prepared.
Taco Rubio made a very good suggestion that we should get a popup when a muted person is in the same sim as you. I think that is a good idea and should be extended to the blacklist as well. I'm not sure if this is enough to remove the online status from find, but it would definitely be a good improvement.

Since this also a social life problem, Gwyneth Llewelyn suggested that there is also a job for the community to teach new and old Resis, Sl Etiquette, and not rush LL in rewriting the current im/friends list system if they are going to do that anyway later when they start to implement Jabber.
While Gwyneth pointed out that the current system is being used for 3 years and we can wait a bit longer, it is also true that in those 3 years no SL Etiquette classes have worked if they have even existed. Else we wouldn't be discussing this issue. I personally don't have much hope for such classes to make a difference.

All in all, i really got the feeling from LL that they where listening and understood the issues and wanted to find a way fix it in a robust manner. And i agree that LL shouldn't rush this, but find a way to make one overarching system that incorporates mute, IM and better privacy.

More Groups!
Just after the roundtable was closed one last question was asked.
“Gus Plisskin: Anybody know the status of the added number of groups?
Robin Linden: Soon....soon....
Looks like it will be in one of the early 1.9 patches.”
We will get more groups, good news if you ask me. :)

  • Distributed messaging will reduce central server load and prepares SL for 10,000 or so concurrent users with very little side effects. Only heavily loaded sims will experience slower region crossings.
  • Some time to test llEmail and XML-RPC on the preview grid will be scheduled.
  • Vehicle Regions Crossing will be looked at and we might see some improvement on that.
  • Better Privacy controls and mute options are considered and LL is open for suggestions but no decisions are made yet.
  • More groups, soon after 1.9.
After the meeting ended chaos ensued, when the Lindens opened fire on the audience.


  1. Delightful read! I reckon this is my first comment to SLOG, so it shall be well-placed. (Glad these are turned on now, hehe... thanx for the headsup For.) I hope it doesn't get deleted either... MUHAHAHA.

    First, if anyone wants a free Gmail account, email me... and I will send you one privately. I only ask it helps further your productive discussions on the list.

    I am hoping all this newfangled 1.9 under-the-hood tech puts an end to that problem where if you have so much as 1 Pending Upload on a region, it breaks TPs. I just had that yesterday. Concurrency is now regularly at over 5,000 Resis at once *wipes eye* and given past historical problems, it's great this will be locked in place.

    I have been busy on Preview sending bug reports and doing misc. testing. Each dot release of SL has had a different "feel" to me, like poetry. I think 1.9, if anything, has felt significantly smoother, altho I haven't been in a crowded club with avatars yet. That will surely be a "real world" conditional load which no dry theory can replicate, because people do crazy things--and I love that.

    Francis Chung put this kickass code in her Dominus Shadow so instead of rubberbanding you over a region crossing, it halts you until it can proceed smoothly over. I thot this was a new 1.9 feature at first, but since it isn't, maybe similar things should be put in more vehicles. I also swear I have heard Phoenix brought up that "common experience" LONG ago, but Frans, if you had a picture to go with your "WTF?! moment of Zen", that'd be priceless.

    I of course will be rangin' and bangin' about better privacy controls as I know all too well what it's like. Flip did a really admirable thing in making neat what was previously sloppy. It was easy to digest and understand!

    SLEtiquette classes? What a novel (and yet, at the same time, amazingly obvious) idea. I'd be all for sitting in on some of those, and helping out. We can build rockets to take us to the moon, but manners still count for a lot in 2006 AD! I see too many cases of miscommunication where one peep thinks, "That dude is creepy and trying to stalk me!" but it actually ends up having to do with someone who had technical difficulties and ended up not being able to communicate well. Connected to this are better controls to express oneself through the avatar. An obsession of mine.

    I do not want any common thoughtlines missed, so be assured I will be picking up on everything I can and reporting it back to the Community Team. With so much going on, it's essential we nail the key points and sing the high notes.

    P.S. Those tanks were fun!

    P.P.S. The comment Preview window cuts off long comments like this!

  2. A closed, unannounced "community" meeeting??? This is a horrible, horrible development -- formalizing and finalizing the FIC/SIC exclusive consultative process so that people who aren't on this mailing list and cannot get on it (like me) or haven't heard about it (like many other people, especially those new, or busy) are excluded from the "community" meetings.

    The past meetings weren't "chaos" because of residents; they were chaos because Lindens didn't seize firm control over them at the start and take a consistent, fair approach to recognizing speakers under Robert's Rules. One of them was sophisticately griefed by a determined group -- it wasn't just random expression -- yet the Lindens couldn't insist on simple rules to chair a meeting and recognize speakers -- they sat there and let people type away. This is VERY wrong to set up a choir that the Lindens both preach to, and get an amen chorus from without any thinking outside the magic circle.

    I'm sure neither Phoenix nor Gwyn thought of it, but one of the things hugely and severely affected by the messaging issue is of course rentomatics that send expiration notices. Already the last 2 patches or so broke some versions of one of the main scripts I used on the timing/messaging issue. What more is in store, hundreds of angry customers thinking they are being ripped off after paying 30 days, then getting notified that they only have 2 left?

    And Flipper's idea of the blacklist is extraordinarily divisive. It's only a matter of time before residents, or Lindens, or both, merge all these lists and create master shit lists, and exclusive hierarchies filtering out all the people they don't like.

    Oh, wait. They already did that.Prok