On growth and camping

Recent clarifications from Linden Research involve saying that camping is also a form of cheating on traffic, and is likewise prohibited. While it still remains to be seen that the biggest bot farms are dismantled, and I don’t honestly believe this policy will be enforced seriously1 there’s a debate on whether camping is ‘beneficial for the newbies’ which I’d like to drop my two pence into.

Now, let us consider… Discounting the points about charity spirit,2 and that in a normal camping setup, the fact that you pay campers for the use of their bodies to inflate traffic, why exactly is it economically beneficial to give newbies money?

It is commonly argued that newbies cannot get money in other ways, which is, in many cases, perfectly true. Even though purchasing L$ is easy, it requires a card,3 and often costs more money than many people are willing to spend on what they think is a game in this global economic downturn. So it’s no question that in at least some cases, the necessity to acquire money inworld is unavoidable for a new resident, and the opportunity to do so is generally desirable.

However, where is that necessity to give them money for nothing?4 Naturally, it is in the interest of established residents that new economic agents appear and increase the value supply. However, ‘increase the value supply’ is a key point here. This is a notion both economic and cultural, because a person can contribute value to an economically driven culture of Second Life in many ways — by increasing money supply, by creating things, by performing useful work, or even just by being a good conversationalist.

Camping clearly doesn’t empower new residents for anything of the sort, because it just rotates the money endlessly in the system, and takes away time better spent doing other, more productive things. It’s only practical benefit is artificially inflating traffic, which is now forbidden.

The real question is, what can we replace it with? Just what exactly can we pay money for to people who do not yet have significant skills in Second Life5 and need to acquire them? Modeling? That’s no less boring than camping and it’s a job actually best left to bots.

So, any ideas?


  

  1. They just don’t have the resources, they’d have to outsource that too.
  2. I don’t believe in blanket charity. Blanket charity is for when you can’t be bothered to actually help.
  3. Cards, debit or credit are not at all common in some parts of the world — for example, in Russia, everyone pays cash, and ordering something on the net normally results in a courier which takes cash on delivery after you have been given a chance to test if the merchandise is delivered. Cards aren’t very trusted or desired. And PayPal doesn’t consider Russia a valid country and won’t send money to accounts registered or logging in from Russia. I imagine there are lots of other countries like that.
  4. Please don’t confuse that with freebies. As I have already described multiple times, freebies are potential profit traded for exposure, and as such have a very different rationale behind them.
  5. With the learning curve and almost complete absence of documentation, replaced by dumb tutorials, it’s a wonder anyone knows anything at all. Second Life has no knowledge, it has lore.
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4 thoughts on “On growth and camping

  1. I just read this article by Peter Stindberg, which has a good idea, I think: LL should give each new resident “a fishing rod and a shotgun, fill the Linden seas with fish and the forests with deer, reward each trophy with 1 L$ or status points or gadgets, and the crucial first days and weeks pass easier.” (http://stindberg.blogspot.com/2008/11/its-mans-world-not.html)

    I used to play on a MUSH, where players would randomly find small amounts of money as they wandered around the game space. Could that be implemented as a way for newbies to get some lindens while exploring the world?

  2. But what value would that add to the community? That would be essentially no different from giving money to new accounts outright, which would result in horrible inflation as new accounts would get created all the time, very fast. At least, with camping, you pay for an edge over competition that the campers provide.

    Charity to random new people isn’t really in the interest of established residents, making them valuable members of the community — customers and competitors and simply potential friends — is. 🙂 Charity is definitely not the optimal way to achieve that.

  3. I basically wasted me first three months in SL with camping. While others started to create content or explore or become fashionistas or laid the foundations to become community figures, I sat in camping chairs. Until I realized it gets me nowhere, and I bought the equivalent of 15 Eur in L$. Never camped anymore afterwards.

  4. I used to play on a MUSH, where players would randomly find small amounts of money as they wandered around the game space. Could that be implemented as a way for newbies to get some lindens while exploring the world?

    That actually sounds a lot like Money Trees. I’ve also seen the occasional trivia or word-scramble game that pays out 1L here and there to people who give correct answers. So at least there’s some brain power involved in that; there’s reward for more than just sitting still and doing nothing.

    And I think Peter makes a good point about using time that could be spent learing to build, create, or otherwise learn a trade, for camping. I had a friend who also spent months and months camping, until the day came that I loaned him the use of my stream and let him DJ a St. Patrick’s Day party. The tips he brought in for a 2-hour set were more than he’d made in a month of compulsive camping. He hasn’t looked back either.

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