Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What Does the Silent Majority of Second Life Think?

The Silent Majority

Second Life has about about a million active residents of which maybe a few thousand routinely follow the blogs and social networks that discuss issues related to Second Life.

I wonder about the silent majority of avatars who don't immerse themselves in the social network stylings of the Second Life Elite or the profound pontification of the Top Second Life Blogs . . . those who don't know Crap from Prokofy, Gwyneth from Grace or Dusan from Dale.

What are they thinking, feeling and doing about the current and future state of Second Life?  Are they oblivious to the story lines of the soap opera that endlessly plays across our blogs and avatarian social networking circles? 

What does the silent majority think? I have no freaking clue. 

43 comments:

Tho said...

I sometimes wonder if that uninformed majority enjoy their Second Life more than those of us cursed with insatiable curiosity. As Dorothy Parker said, "the only cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."

Still, I think I'd rather be curious than dull.

Imnotgoing Sideways said...

I know quite a few people who are totally unaware of the SL blog culture. They'll often know nothing of events such as Burning Life. They think Mentors still exist and spend their whole day on the Orientation Islands that the also assume still exist. (^_^)

Second Life is a lot of things to a lot of people. I'd tend to believe that the silent majority is more diverse than simply people who are unaware of blogs, bloggers, and otherwise. At the same time, it may simply be that they're housed in their own inworld communities well enough to believe that theirs is the in-crowd of SL. (^_^)

It's quite often I hear from oldbies, forum dwellers, and bloggers that they'll rarely if not never exit their comfort zone... Be it their own land, their one hangout, or simply log in long enough to place new products in their store. Who's to say there isn't a silent majority doing that as well? Surely, SL is no one community. (^_^)y

CronoCloud said...

Of course they're oblivious, they simply don't know about what Gwyn calls the "100000". They're more interested in doing whatever they want to do in SL. They may have opinions about things, but since they're not Prokofy/Gwyn/Crap/Dusan/Hamlet/etc, no one asks them.

Tateru said...

Interestingly, hardly anyone in my SL social circle reads SL forums or SL blogs – including my own. There are a very few who do, but it’s very much a statistically insignificant minority. They get their news by word-of-mouth, pretty much.

As for their overall state, it’s very much each according to her nature. It ranges from content and complacent to distressed and alarmed. It’s very dependent on the individual and what, if anything, they’ve heard, and what they think about what they’ve heard.

Michele Hyacinth said...

As Imnotgoing said, there's no "one" community in SL. Although for a long period it did feel like arguments were being made for one community over others ("ban furries, ban blingers, ban fantasy, ban this fashion, ban that fashion, ban everything else but what I do"). I get the real sense that in what seemed to be an unspoken need to shout for a certain aesthetic over others, that maybe we've come full circle again. And realize just how vital diversity is. Would be interesting to know about the many unvoiced communities and cultures in the vast majority...what they believe, what they value, what SL means to them. If the silent majority turns out to be made up of a lot of silent minorities (like the vocal minority), then the most committed win.

Brings to mind something said by Margaret Mead (renowned anthropologist): "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

sitearm said...

My "swag:"

Relevance of SL blog culture to SL residents:
1% - create SL blog culture
2% - follow SL blog culture
97% - care about something else

Relevance of SL to RL residents:
99.99999999% - care about something else

The world is bigger than we can imagine. We have to live in our pockets of shared interest.

Scarp Godenot said...

Here is what they think? 1) When and where is the Shoe Fair 2) When and where is the Hair Fair 3) Which hunts are we doing this week 4) Who is playing at my favorite club? 5) When is my lover going to log in. 6) Hey dude, which nude beach to you go to? 7) "Gawd, did you hear what Jenny said to Tricia yesterday, who does she think she is?"

SecondLie said...

They think what I tell them to think!

Clovis Luik said...

First, I think I actually like the new Viewer 2.2. Never thought I would find myself saying that. But it has some decent features.

Secondly, My avatar told my organic identity that as long as he keeps working and bringing in the money to pay tier and buy some of the nicer things in Secondlife there wont be any further demands on his identity.

Indigo Mertel said...

I am glad you raised this matter, BotGirl. I was playing with the idea of doing a blog post on the same topic myself. I should be less shy about blogging... :)

When I read some analysis or some apocalyptic views of what the SL community at large will do as a consequence of the latest LL's blunder, I often think if these people are aware that they represent the opinion of probably a few thousand people, while the vast majority of the SL users have no clue of what they are talking about.

A lot of people couldn't care less about migrating to an alternative grid, whether erasing non-profit discounts was a major mistake or if everyone hates V2 (because many use it and more will). They just care about whatever SL means to them.

Is this Silent Majority the reason why LL mgmt can still claim that SL is growing, despite everything, like Philip did with a recent tweet? Likely.

Chrome said...

If I weren't a member of the silent majority, Bot, I'd tell you exactly what I think. :)

Miso Susanowa said...

Seems like the same ratio of people that read newspapers or listen more than tokenly to TV or to NPR in the physical world.

Most people... really don't want to be "informed" I have found, sadly. It's a lot of work, and they'd rather just enjoy the experience without analysing or projecting on it.

Prokofy said...

Spoken like a typical socialist elitist, out of touch with the masses, even the liberal masses, and of course, completely estranged from the conservative masses -- which are in SL, too.

I don't suffer from that problem because I have *customers*. Do you? I have constant interactions with hundreds of people all month, constantly changing and constantly refreshing my view. These people constantly IM me and say they like my blog; they tip me; they send me hugs.

Not all of my customers in fact read my blog or even know I have a blog, but a surprising number do, and your theory that "nobody knows Prokofy" is more wishful thinking on your part than reality.

When I look at the IP addresses of the referrers coming to my blog from thousands of visitors every day, I see most of them come from fashion blogs. Imagine that. Fashion blogs. And I don't even discuss fashion hardly at all.

Quite a few are plurk accounts -- but guess what, not the plurk accounts of the main Plurk Jerkers like you.

Most people could care less that the educators were "shafted" -- they feel *they* are the ones shafted when they pay a lot, or work hard in their little businesses, but get no breaks, and the educators, who only come on and spread socialism, copyleftism, and collectivist anti-commerce ideas, get a whopping 50 percent off -- or did. Now it's over. Good!

Every day, hundreds of people click on my inworld newsletter. People who aren't even my customers, never post on the forums, and don't post on blogs. Sometimes they IM me with a comment or help. I have way more visitors to my blog than ever comment.

"Blog culture" in SL thinks I'm crazy or "hateful" merely because I push back against the sectarians that themselves are malicious. You imagine that the elitist leftists and Sluniverse Sharia Court judges are "what's right" and "politically correct".

But the vast majority of people don't think that way.

The silent majority fills up the rentals, enjoys SL to the max, until they get bored and leave, even leaving to play a Facebook game, or starts a small business and works it, until it becomes too much work, or goes back to real life after a bad romance. But many stay and tend their gardens, shop, socialize, go to live music. They don't care about mesh. They don't whine because some tab is out of place on some menu and some JIRA didn't get voted for. They just have a good time.

For an amazing number of people, Second Life is about finding an absolutely perfect or at least very enjoyable mate, an experience many haven't had in real life. A mate who isn't lying about their gender.

Burning Life, open source scrums, Lindens pulling funding of the arts -- absolutely none of this matters to them. Changes to the Marketplace matter more than anything else because they shop their on their lunch hours especially.

It's precisely because I'm very much in touch with these "masses" that you fear and loathe that I write as critically and sharply as I do of elites like you. Move over, botgirl. Here Comes Everybody.

Prokofy said...

Spoken like a typical socialist elitist, out of touch with the masses, even the liberal masses, and of course, completely estranged from the conservative masses -- which are in SL, too.

I don't suffer from that problem because I have *customers*. Do you? I have constant interactions with hundreds of people all month, constantly changing and constantly refreshing my view. These people constantly IM me and say they like my blog; they tip me; they send me hugs.

Not all of my customers in fact read my blog or even know I have a blog, but a surprising number do, and your theory that "nobody knows Prokofy" is more wishful thinking on your part than reality.

When I look at the IP addresses of the referrers coming to my blog from thousands of visitors every day, I see most of them come from fashion blogs. Imagine that. Fashion blogs. And I don't even discuss fashion hardly at all.

Quite a few are plurk accounts -- but guess what, not the plurk accounts of the main Plurk Jerkers like you.

Most people could care less that the educators were "shafted" -- they feel *they* are the ones shafted when they pay a lot, or work hard in their little businesses, but get no breaks, and the educators, who only come on and spread socialism, copyleftism, and collectivist anti-commerce ideas, get a whopping 50 percent off -- or did. Now it's over. Good!

Every day, hundreds of people click on my inworld newsletter. People who aren't even my customers, never post on the forums, and don't post on blogs. Sometimes they IM me with a comment or help. I have way more visitors to my blog than ever comment.

"Blog culture" in SL thinks I'm crazy or "hateful" merely because I push back against the sectarians that themselves are malicious. You imagine that the elitist leftists and Sluniverse Sharia Court judges are "what's right" and "politically correct".

But the vast majority of people don't think that way.

The silent majority fills up the rentals, enjoys SL to the max, until they get bored and leave, even leaving to play a Facebook game, or starts a small business and works it, until it becomes too much work, or goes back to real life after a bad romance. But many stay and tend their gardens, shop, socialize, go to live music. They don't care about mesh. They don't whine because some tab is out of place on some menu and some JIRA didn't get voted for. They just have a good time.

For an amazing number of people, Second Life is about finding an absolutely perfect or at least very enjoyable mate, an experience many haven't had in real life. A mate who isn't lying about their gender.

Burning Life, open source scrums, Lindens pulling funding of the arts -- absolutely none of this matters to them. Changes to the Marketplace matter more than anything else because they shop their on their lunch hours especially.

It's precisely because I'm very much in touch with these "masses" that you fear and loathe that I write as critically and sharply as I do of elites like you. Move over, botgirl. Here Comes Everybody.

sitearm said...

"For an amazing number of people, Second Life is about finding an absolutely perfect or at least very enjoyable mate, an experience many haven't had in real life. A mate who isn't lying about their gender."

To this I would add, "A mate who isn't lying about their committment." or "A like-minded partner." The rest of that comment was not relevant to me so I didn't quite get *ignored* it ;)

Botgirl Questi said...

Tho: It seems to me that the difference is probably more where curiosity is focused rather than on a lack of curiosity itself. And don't forget about what happened to the cat. ;)

Ms. Sideways: I totally agree that the people I referred to who don't participate in blogging/SocNet culture includes a diverse subset of people and subcultures who likely have a ride range of opinions and interests in various SL issues.

CronoCloud: I don't think anyone asks us, we just keep pontificating. :)

Tateru and Michele: Maybe a more discernable question would be "What issues are important to major Second Life communities?"

Botgirl Questi said...
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Botgirl Questi said...

sitearm: I agree. Since we all have limited time and energy, we can directly know and/or participate in a small subset of the world. Blogs from people in various Second Life subcultures are one way to have some sense of what's going on.

Scarp: Are you channeling @evilbotgirl?

SecondLie: Perhaps your upcoming chain of churches will bring the silent majority into the fold.

Clovis: Thanks for sharing! ;)

Indigo: Good question. Although we create a lot of noise, experience shows we don't produce much heat.

Chrome: Damn. I've painted myself into a corner. If you speak, you're no longer in that group. Foiled again!

Botgirl Questi said...

Miso: Good point. But I wonder whether much (if not most) of our communication is less about real news than passionate gossip and speculation.

Prokofy: As a good card-carrying socialist, I have no paying customers. But I do have many hundreds of non-paying customers via my blog and social networking presence. But since I'm not an Elitest, I don't think I'm better than people in Second Life who don't an active extra-world presence. That's why I pointed out that although it seems like those who actively participate in blogging and social networks represent the center of the world, we are in fact, a very small slice of the pie.

Mr. Crap Mariner said...

Yes, you showed the social network folks at a tiny wedge of the pie... but at the very tippy-top of the pie!

-ls/cm

Botgirl Questi said...

Crap: Damn. You caught me again. :)

Jim said...

Prok: "It's precisely because I'm very much in touch with these "masses" that you fear and loathe that I write as critically and sharply as I do of elites like you. Move over, botgirl. Here Comes Everybody."

Well I'm glad to know that you speak for the masses. At least the other 99% get to be heard now, since you have cornered the market on the Vulcan mind-meld with the common people. Until now, I had no idea that the other 99% were hateful, spiteful creators of fiction passed off as informed commentary. ;)

dave said...

I think I can safely say that I'm on the periphery of the sl blogverse; curious as to how and if anything will effect me personally, but with nothing to add that hasn't been said already. Kinda like the way I follow my local and r world politics. I think that if democracy ever came to sl, you'd get a 10% voter turn out rate or lower, just like many of the world's democracies.

Prokofy said...

Um, no, Jim, nice try at a hate-fest, but no sale.

I didn't say I *speak for* the masses. I just said I had *customers* in SL. Lots of ordinary people. People who aren't geeks and designers and lefty edu punks. Normal people. Ordinary people. That's all.

I realize that drives you into a frenzy.

Tho said...

I should clarify that I did not mean to imply at all that those who do not follow blogs are necessarily dull. My experience parallels Tateru's in that that; most of my friends and acquaintances do not follow them, and I do not consider them dull. They've just not fallen into the same honey trap of blog reading that I have.

Botgirl, maybe that's what happened to my cat ...

Carrie Lexington said...

most of my circle of friends don't follow the SL blogs and get their info by word of mouth, seeking out info in google when they want more. when i asked some of them how they would feel if SL were to ever 'go down' or disappear, the answers i got were varied but all boiled down to - "i'll just start over at another virtual world". mind you, i have several friends who came over from There.com, so starting over is not something they feel is a big deal, i guess.

for myself, i'm happy to have these friends who kind of keep me "grounded" when I get caught up in all the news of the blogosphere. Still, I like to keep up with the blogs and be informed of what's going on, but when i feel myself getting worked up about stuff, I have my circle to turn to, who always remind me that the things created in SL that really matter to me, will not go vanishing, even if SL were to sink ship and vanish itself.

Lixena Lamourfou said...

Botgirl??? your post is a bogus attempt at social concern. I took from it that you wanted mostly from this post is to make the statement that you believe you and your circle of fellow bloggers to be the "SL Elite." You really don't want to know what SL'ers really think. The silent majority don't really care about the SL blog culture and/or its participants.

Also the lists that you reference were jokes. Your endorsement of the "Top SL Blogs" as profound pontificators was laughable as well. I mean what exactly are you basing your assessment of that list on. It is almost two years old and most of the blogs referenced do not contain content that pontificates let alone profoundly pontificates.

The #1 blog is only remotely concerned with SL. #2 is the Official SL Blog (nothing profound coming from there). #3 is a fashion blog.

Botgirl Questi said...

Lixens: Umm. Assuming you're serious . . .

I was trying to be blatantly sarcastic. Hence the use of phrases describing our activities as "social network stylings", "profound pontification" and "soap opera that endlessly plays across our blogs".

My point was that we DON'T represent the thinking of the overwhelming majority of those who use Second Life and that any perception that we are the center of the virtual world is mistaken.

Botgirl Questi said...

Oops. Typo. That last comment was for Lixena.

jimrantsnraves said...

Prok: "Um, no, Jim, nice try at a hate-fest, but no sale."
Now that's my Chuckle of the Day, Prok calling me hateful. :p

"I didn't say I *speak for* the masses."
Yawn. Sorry I snoozed off. I think you must have totally missed Botgirl's point too. My read of it was this was her whole point. None of us speak for the masses, who are oblivious to all of it. They might be aware of Linden bunnies now. Glad to see you agree for a change.

"I realize that drives you into a frenzy."
I think you overvalue my opinion of yours, by several orders of magnitude.

annotoole said...

The spenders are not reading. They are shopping and having fun.

The less I read the better I feel.

Botgirl Questi said...

Ann: I really liked your "The less I read the better I feel" comment. I think many of us (me included) would be better off if we focused on communicating our own experience rather than speculating about the thoughts, motivations, actions and intent of other people.

Jim said...

Botgirl, I think that last comment of yours is dead-on. In fact that was more or less the topic of my blog entry yesterday. Although I must admit, it's sometimes fun to form theories and make predictions, if we can somehow do so without it being at the expense of others, especially if it is speculation.

Dividni Shostakovich said...

I only read blogs. What's Second Life? :-D

There are really three groups: people who don't read blogs, people who do but don't make comments, and people who comment on others' blogs. The last group certainly isn't silent, the first group is silent (in the sense you're using the word), but I'm not sure about the middle one.

Some SL blogs actually have a huge readership, like the ones for freebies. Are those readers part of the silent majority, or no?

Why is Prok spending time commenting on blogs he despises? Is he lonely?

Can I have some free hair now?

Botgirl Questi said...

Jim: Don't be shy about posting a link to a related post of yours in comments. I know that some people don't like that, but it's fine here.

Dividni: I think Prok has a secret crush on me. Like the little boy in school who pulls on the ponytail of the one he really likes. Or maybe I got that backwards. ;)

Miso Susanowa said...

oooo dis why i reads blogs:

"you have cornered the market on the Vulcan mind-meld"

"Um, no, Jim, nice try at a hate-fest, but no sale."

ps- awww Botgirl! *^_^* you should try pulling Prok's ponytail! Oh, wait... somehow, you already did...

*headspin*

Botgirl Questi said...

I posted a blog here extending the original article.

Kranfel aka Kling said...

great post. Interesting comments. I guess I dont belong to the silent majority. The reason is just that I have loved to write "stories" since I was a child. And read and debate different issues.

We are in Virtual worlds for different reasons. Without the blog sphere i dont know if i would have stayed...happy I found you all weirdoes =)

Hamlet Au said...

Botgirl, your basic point is valid though I think some of the numerical assumptions are a bit off. For example, New World Notes (which is still about 75% on SL) averages roughly 50,000 regular unique visitors, and probably 150K total this year, due to some heavy Boing Boing/StumbleUpon/Kotaku etc. link love. Also, while about a million people log into SL monthly, based on stats T Linden announced last year, only about 350K are logged in for more than a few hours. I'd say that's the number that have a real engagement and investment in Second Life. I'd estimate about a third of that segment read *some* kind of Second Life blog, even if it's just fashion.

sitearm said...

@Hamlet; Botgirl's discussion continues here:
http://botgirl.blogspot.com/2010/10/more-on-so-called-silent-majority-and.html

Botgirl Questi said...

Hamlet: Thanks for sharing your stats. It seems my estimate may have been low. But perhaps not as low as your raw numbers may indicate at first thought.
Would you mind sharing how many visitors hit your site more than once a month . . . or at least once a week?

About 20% of my unique visitors over the last year have returned more than 14 times. It's likely that most of them have hit the site from more than a single IP address (work/home/phone/etc.) so I bet my actual unique "people" is closer to 10%. If your stats are similar, that would make your 50,000 total uniques = 5,000 regular visitors. But maybe your retention is way higher than mine!

Over the course of this comment thread and a couple related discussions, we've brought up the idea that there is also a difference between reading about Second Life and participating in internet-searchable discussions. So another interesting statistic would be how many unique people have commented on a post in the last year, and perhaps how many have commented more than a couple of times.

Botgirl Questi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Botgirl Questi said...

Another question Hamlet's comment brings to mind is how the "million avatars" relates to active members of some Second Life community. If only 1/3 logged in for a "few hours" I wonder how many were logged in for at least a few hours every week.

I agree that there is likely a very strong correlation between how involved one is in some Second Life community (even if it's a community of just a few people) and how likely one is to regularly follow news and discussion about Second LIfe via the internet and social networks.

Whatever all of these numbers boil down, the question remains about whether the people who are active in Second LIfe internet discussions reflect the viewpoints of those who are not.