First of all it’s a bit surprising to me that many of the discussions here reflect a lot of conservatism and people seem mostly to be against any changes. A la “What was good since now must be good for all future”. Most interestingly also developers and other creative people have been among the recent protestors. People from which I would expect that they applaude to changes. And as the whole concept of virtual worlds is a rather new one it also seems natural to me that everything is a huge experiment in which various methods need to be tried out.
But anyway, Linden Lab now told us that the registration scheme will not be reverted back but instead we will get some tools to handle the situation. What follows now is a discussion about these tools and how they might create a two class system inside Second Life. I am reflecting posts here by 3pointd and Clickable Culture which both discuss the (more or less) recent post on Robin Harper’s blog. So she proposes there to add a field to the profile which shows if a person is verified or not which basically means if that person has paid money to Linden Lab, e.g. has a premium account.
This indeed would be of use for people who e.g. are afraid now to have unknowingly virtual sex with a kid and might get sued in the process or maybe in general for people who are selling mature content. They might think twice before selling it to an unverified person. So the fear is here that a two class society will emerge from that. The upper class with people who have a CC and the means to pay LL and the rest who are not willing or able to pay.
Now before that we actually had the situation that people without credit card or a mobile phone could not even get into Second Life and I am wondering if the current situation is not at least a progress compared to the old one. Before we had something which we might call a virtual divide 😉
Of course it now depends on paying and not only on showing the credit card information. So this of course is more strict than it maybe needs to be. Maybe this tool can be enhanced to add other means of verification? IMHO that would serve SL in creating more verified accounts.
I also don’t think that being verified is that much about commitment. Of course one can say that people who pay are more committed than others but you cannot necessarly say it the other way round. If I e.g. look at flickr where pro accounts are shown as such I don’t think of people without as second class people or not committed to flickr. I know the system and know how great it is and cannot even imagine not to be committed 😉
(also I wonder what it means to be committed. I usually will quite quickly know when talking to somebody if he/she’s committed or not).
So in any case I will first see what happens after the recent changes before doing any sort of judgement. I hope that LL will do the same and adjust tools as necessary. I am after all for the more open registration process in order to make Second Life more open to everybody. Of course this also should mean that LL works more on scalability (and I am speaking esp. of the login which always behaves ba after a crash e.g. when the load is high).
And please don’t get me wrong. I am pro discussion but somehow I am missing some constructive proposals here in how to make it better (and fulfill all requirements).
Update June 27, 06:00 : made some points clearer and fixed some typos.