Archive for the ‘Pete Linden’ Tag

New Welcome and Discovery Islands Missing Important Things for New Avatars

I’m one of several Residents that went exploring yesterday.  After reading Ham Au’s article on his visit to the new Welcome and Discovery Islands for new avatars, I went ahead and created an alt account to investigate on my own.  (You can see pictures of some of the six areas at New World Notes.)

The whole idea of revamping the welcome regions is to give the newcomer training and tools to get going in Second Life, and to retain them — the great problem.  It goes hand in hand with the reworking of the viewer to version 2, another move to get and hold new accounts.  And, to a certain degree, the job gets done, especially when the new experience is compared to the jungle and game settings on some of the old Orientation Islands.  (I came in through a Scholar’s Island myself, and so didn’t have all those distractions.)  With a little practice, you can pick up the basic functions of movement, flying, chatting and camera control — all the main things that a newcomer needs to know to function in avatar society.  And apparently, according to Pete Linden (in Ham’s article), retention rates improved during testing.

But I also went into my mentoring shtick without announcing who I am — not that I’m exactly an SL celebrity, or would want to be; and, of course, these newbies wouldn’t know jack about me or this blog.  And I discovered, as Marianne McCann had noted in her comment to Ham’s article, that there was no visible mention of how to build content.  I also found no notes of how to change appearance and clothes or wear attachments, and no explanation of the Linden dollar economy.  Ham says that there are videos with tutorials about the Discovery Islands, but they did not seem very obvious as things that played, and I never got one going.  (In the Lab’s defense there, I think I need to update QuickTime on my computer.)  I didn’t even find a mention about sandboxes; and you cannot rezz up anything on the ground there — not even packaged gifts from the Lindens themselves.  And I found just as many questions from newcomers as I ever have seen.

I’m not sure that this new welcome system works.  Yeah, the old official welcome islands had descended into hell on wheels with griefers and spammers thick on the ground.  But my first impression (and probably my only, depending on a chance for return) is that a newbie gets less information here than they did before.  I’d rather direct them to jump in at someplace like the Trinity College orientation ground in Dublin region, at least at the moment.  That, plus maybe a corps of greeters who can answer newbie questions consistently and in a friendly manner.  I think this would do a lot more for retention in the long run.  I plan on dropping in again, if I can teleport onto one of the islands as a “well-aged” avatar, and see what happens then.

Time, of course, and apparently increased concurrency, as well as a growing Grid economy, will tell the final tale of whether this new system works well.  In the meantime, I’m getting ready to answer a lot of newcomer questions….

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