Day seven

It’s now the seventh day of the disruption of Second Life traffic statistics. I’m going to use this particular issue to talk about feedback and communication, because today is the first day that Linden Lab has produced any on the issue.

The issue was reported on Thursday the 17th in JIRA issue SVC-7459. After prompting the Lab’s PR department over the weekend, the first communications on the topic by the Lab were made today. Respectively, those are a statement from Lab PR:

“We are aware of the issue and are currently working on resolving it. The JIRA and Grid Status page have been updated to let users know the status, and when the issue is resolved, we’ll post additional updates.”

and a comment on the JIRA issue from Charlene Linden with a matching note on the status blog:

Hi Everyone – We have been looking into this all weekend. No one is ignoring the issue, I promise.

It looked as though it was resolved at one point yesterday but then things started getting a little strange again. We will continue investigating today and we just updated our status blog with this information: [POSTED 10:15AM 21 November 2011] We are aware of an issue with parcel traffic reporting and are currently working on resolving this issue. We will update this blog with more information as it becomes available. http://status.secondlifegrid.net/2011/11/21/post1483/

Of course if you were looking at the status of the JIRA issue itself, there’s been no sign that the issue has been assigned or has been worked on at all since it was reported. Unless you saw the comment from Charlene Linden, anyways. The job status did not and does not reflect that anyone has actually even seen it, let alone started work on it – and up until today, it was assumed that… well, it had not been seen or worked on by the Lab. There were simply no indications to suggest that the Lab had even noticed.

“No one is ignoring the issue, I promise,” wrote Charlene Linden in her comment, yet that was exactly what it looked like Linden Lab had been doing by not communicating anything.

Really, it’s only today that it has become certain that it was actually a bug and not part of some intentional revamp or rework of the system.

Second Life users still don’t actually know whether the problem is an evenly-distributed one (where relative traffic rankings are preserved across the board, despite reduced totals) or whether the problem is uneven (effectively changing traffic rankings in unpredictable ways). That’s an important question for many.

You might think that people should not be so focused on traffic (or even that it should be done away with entirely), but the fact is that people are. It’s rather like share-prices in a way. People base business decisions on these figures (whether or not they actually reasonably should), which makes miscalculation or misreporting of the figures a serious issue for those who rely on them.

Maybe Linden Lab noticed the issue in the three days before it became obvious enough to Second Life users to report it. If so, the Lab didn’t give customers the courtesy of communicating that fact. Maybe Linden Lab noticed the reported issue and worked on it in the two days before the weekend. If so, the Lab didn’t give customers the courtesy of communicating that either.

Moods of Second Life customers affected by the issue started to amp up towards ‘frantic’ over the weekend, yet it still took a push to generate communications on Monday (today), now the seventh day of the problem.

Until the seventh day, essentially, there was no sign that the Lab even knew about the issue, let alone had done any work on it.

That’s not poor communication. For six out of seven days that’s just not communication at all.

Update (Day 8): The Lab says that different parcels are affected by different amounts, so relative traffic rankings are not preserved. Some parcels will be hit harder than others, so traffic would seem to be largely random numbers for the moment.

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