Once again, the Lindens and their fanboyz have proved what I've always said: open source=closed society.
My first thought when I heard about the JIRA essentially being killed as we know it, was to immediately protest that the Lindens had killed democracy at the survey link.
But then about 10 minutes later I couldn't help thinking it was all like that old joke about the man who told his friends with relief that he had lost 200 pounds of ugly fat.
"What do you mean?" his friends asked in surprise. He looked the same. "I've divorced my wife," he explained.
Yes, the Lindens finished killing off the democracy -- such as it was, what was left -- implicit in the JIRA, but they also have now killed off those totalitarians who ran this democratic centralism like the Central Committee and Politburo -- the few scores of rigidly-sectarian and obsessed geeks who populated the JIRA with their snarky comments, harassed other people who disagreed with them with nasty comments or closure with prejudice, and helped the Lindens do their dirty work. Even the Lindens grew tired of them.
Now my third thought about this is: "Welcome to My World." I haven't been able to see the JIRA for some years. It's not visible to me or my alts -- if I try to log in to look at it, or follow a link, the log-in page keeps bouncing me back to an empty square. In order to find out what's on there, I have to ask other people. And I have to say, I don't miss it. It's always been wonky and arcane and frustrating.
Tateru has come out of what seemed like semi-retirement to blog about this, and you can find other links in her blog, some of them really angry-crazy. Crap Mariner, who is doing some weird attention-getting stunt pretending to be unemployed when in fact he's starting a new job, has a list of the main rants and must have put his doomsday clock now to 2:17 am.
I was banned for reporting the truth about a bug that was not a feature request -- the "share" bug involving the ability to return group-set items in "share" even if in that group, you have not been granted the "return group-set prims" power. Soft Linden thought that returning shared items was a great group builder's boon -- but of course, like all collectivizations, it involved having one strong-willed person in the collective be able to assert his will over others in defiance of the group rules. Soft didn't care. When he's not busy praising Ayn Rand, he's busy praising Lenin, thought never by name. He refused to listen to reason about this, other nasties and under-the-radar griefers (like Dale Innis) got into the act, and it was declared "not doable". I was banned merely for reopening it and persisting in making the case -- which others did, too, who weren't banned (if they were in the coder class).
So just as everyone got to feel what it was like to be banned from the forums when General and Political Science were closed, never to return as they once were, so now everyone is Prokofy. You should have cared what happened to me -- it was going to happen to you in three years' time...
Remember the history to this -- first the Feature Voter System which was simpler and better in a number of ways was taken behind the woodshed and shot by Torley Linden early one morning because we (at that time) were being given the JIRA, which was Better.
There were long and lusty fights on the JIRA, notably about Web-382, which was my great contribution -- I made the feature proposal for the JIRA itself that people not be allowed to shut down others' JIRAs. I thought this would be an important curb against that totalitarian bunch that the Lindens now gotten divorced from who would close anything they didn't like, or decide it was a "duplicate" when it wasn't, or just because they hated somebody for ideological reasons (me). The way to curb abuse, I said, was to enable entries to remain at least 30 days after someone proposed a closure, which wouldn't effect voting, to enable the original filer to defend his proposal.
Then, the Lindens removed voting, not after Rodney Humble came in as CEO. I do believe it was his idea. It probably horrified him, coming from EA, that the customers were voting on things. Games are not democracies; game-gods aren't elected. And so on. So that was disabled in favour of some "watch" system that was hard to interpret as "like" or "dislike".
Hovering over the entire JIRA nonsense was this idea that these goofy geeks were "triaging" bugs. That was a vast fiction. You can only triage things if you agree about what's important. In a hospital, you can say that the gunshot victim goes before the sprained ankle. In Second Life, somebody thinks avatar foot shadows are more important than classified ads not saving correctly -- what can you do? For a hardy core, including Lindens, aesthetics or insider code-for-code's sake is more important than business, which they hate.
But even among normal people, there can be disagreements about triage because they use SL for such vastly different purposes. The failure to display search ads as checked off was a huge annoyance to businesses accepting payments from clients or tenants for search ads on land because they were then doubted, especially with search taking 72 hours or more to show up even a direct name call. But to Lindens and the nerds on the JIRA, it mattered not one whit because they weren't in business related to land or malls or anything. So they focused on how the font displayed on a tab before they'd do the search ads, because it irritated somebody on the spectrum. Finally years later, they got around to the search ads...
At one level, you can see this decision as merely part of the trajectory of removing user democracy or -- let's call it "interactivity" or something shy of real democracy -- in keeping with the game-like turn of SL under Rodvik. At another, it could be about embarrassment that there are "too many bugs" in SL and the discussion about them is too rowdy.
But a number of other bloggers have hypothesized that this is about the move to Steam. Now, we don't know what that's going to be all about. Did they sell Second Life? Or on the contrary, are they having to pay Steam to get listed and get more customers? Did Steam look them over and give them a list of things to meet due diligence to qualify as a game on Steam? Or any type of software? Was having a wacky incestuous bug-fest drama perhaps not on the list? Or stood out too much compared to Steam's system? Which I don't know about, but if it's like any other game, it consists of merely commenting somewhere or sending an email, not interacting.
I had to wonder why the angst about this was so great. The JIRA? Really people? You're crying over the JIRA? Some predicted that this meant the Lindens were ceasing the development of Second Life -- by ceasing the open chatter about it.
But there's some great insight into why this was done -- that actually sounds more like what I was hypothesizing about the Lindens wanting to kill off their own uber-annoying fanboi class of nerds -- in this transcript referenced on Sluniverse of a meeting with Alexa Linden and Oz Linden.
In a transcript helpfully supplied by Qie, Oz makes a telling comment in response to residents' concerns about the new one-way system leading to a deluge of dupes:
[2012/09/06 13:10] Oz Linden: We'll find out if it causes more problems with duplicates than it solves with irrelevant noise
[2012/09/06 13:11] Tiberious Neruda: define 'irrelevant noise'?
[2012/09/06 13:11] Oz Linden: Unhelpful distracting and unrelated comments added to issues
I had to wonder: what was the controversial JIRA debate that put Oz over the edge? Anybody? Something about mesh?
But then I read the rest of the transcript, and I had to conclude that neither Oz nor Alexa were behind this decision. It seems clear even with their careful observance of the Linden Lab omerta you can tell this as they ask for user feedback, and Oz says, in a fascinating statement that may be an admission of his own possible embarrassment:
[2012/09/06 13:29] Oz Linden: Someone will have to do some more work to
make them better, which probably will be a good thing in any event
[2012/09/06 13:29] Tiberious Neruda: there's also the issue of image to take into consideration
[2012/09/06 13:29] Oz Linden: I've never thought that a list of links was a very friendly way to do those
[2012/09/06 13:30] Alexa Linden: /me agrees
[2012/09/06 13:30] Oz Linden: Why, do you think our image is salvagable, Tiberious?
Image? Salvageable? Doesn't that sound Shakespearean?
"Do you think our image is slavageable, Tiberious?"
"No, the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings." Exeunt.
Oz also points out -- ever the literalist! -- that technically, voting wasn't disabled, as many of us noticed -- when they tried to remove it, JIRA broke he said.
But of course, they essentially politically removed it, because they told everyone it didn't count, they didn't pay attention to it, it wouldn't affect anything, etc. etc. So people stopped voting. Asking for information or doing other actions also stopped the votes -- it was my purpose with Web 200 to prevent the stoppage of votes.
It's typical that this insular and self-referential bunch are bitching about the loss of links in release liner notes or other non-essentials and not referencing the fundamental mechanism for democracy destroyed. Except...it wasn't for democracy, if people could be banned for legitimate reports and comments, if others could scheme to get them removed or remove their entries, and if "triage" among fanboyz in inworld office meetings would decide things, instead of the customer requirements of those paying the bills.
JIRA democracy is of course a window into the kind of horror we will have in society if "direct democracy" by coders is allowed to hold sway instead of representative democracy and influence by stakeholders.
The blog posts from JIRA die-hards are nasty and mean -- they predict the end of Second Life; they blame Rod and urge that he be fired and mourn his supposed lack of understanding of "the culture" or "the community"; they call for people to go to open sim.
To which I can only say -- hey, go. I truly don't understand the anger and infantile foot-stamping over this. The obvious thing to do is to make a shadow JIRA -- even renting the actual JIRA software to do it, or just making some third-party forums somewhere, or some kind of rudimentary reporting form on Google Docs or whatever. If you really care about communicating about bugs, then make civil society yourself, don't let the Lindens hold your hand on everything and be so dependent on them. That people would urge leaving and going on even more buggy open sims instead of making a shadow JIRA or alternative JIRa astounds me.
It's funny that literally minutes before I got this news from a scripter who is a tenant, I was just about to deep-six my JIRA Lodge. I realized I hadn't been using it even for meetings or just hanging out and answering IMs or anything, and I didn't use it at all anymore for putting up JIRA information. I was literally going to erase it all and put it over to rentals, and move the JIRA mirror I always wanted to create, that would allow unmoderated commenting and the tabulations of both yes and no votes to the tower in Ross.
But I didn't have the heart to break up my project, even dormant, even wasting tier.
Now I do, because I realize that what the real problem is, is that I have no one normal to do this with, or least, not enough people.
Darien Caldwell spoke of making a shadow JIRA, and she's normal enough and perhaps I might follow that, but good Lord, all those creepy BDSM furries like Tony Souther or Warhammer Kirby or whatever their names were -- who needs them? And that snide authoritarian in training Strife Onizuka, remember him? Honestly, do you want to create a society with people like that? Why? If you don't have to? It's supposed to be a Better World, or at least fun.
If people want to play JIRA, they can go to open sims and play there. Most people are said to log on to Second Life with third-party viewers. What do they need SL's JIRA for? Oh, they are trying to get bugs they fixed to be accepted by the Lindens so they can develop parallel to them, or they are trying to see what is being done to fix existing bugs.
But after being so arbitrarily jerked around on so many occasions on so many issues, like the deprecation of 1.23 and the secret nature of 2.x development and all the rest, why do these open sourceniks stay tethered to these abusive Lindens? Why don't they just go work on open sim or Unity or Cloud Party or some other thing?
People unhappy with this destruction of the pseudo-democracy enjoyed by the scriping FIC are invited to send notecards to Alexa, who is Old School, and email to Oz, who is a control freak. I can't really think of anything I'd write. I don't want them running the JIRA or anything remotely like that. If there were an election, they wouldn't be elected. If there were a normal set of circumstances where stakeholders at least built a consensus about how they'd run things, people like those clutchy coders would not be invited to interfere. You have other ways to vote, like whether you pay tier.
Really, to the extent that you can control your experience, you can enjoy a virtual world. And one way to control your experience is to create ties with other people outside the technology to run that technology, and not be hobbled by the technology in doing so. So over Skype or Yahoo or Facebook, you could figure out how to keep track of bugs that mutually interest you or lobby for features in other ways.
Among the discussions of this story you can find this gem of a quote from Oz Linden, supposedly said at the 2010 SLCC. I was there, and I remember Oz being pretty awful, but I don't remember this line: "It's our JIRA. You lose." Good day, sir! Oz turns in another memorable quotable quote at this office hour which I've now got on my profile:
Oz Linden: Sorry.... "why" is not one of the questions we're usually allowed to answer.
I've never been persuaded that the open-source cult really works. I don't think a thousand eyes a problem do anything but create more squabbles. There's something mass-Soviet about it all that I find completely unpersuasive. People of wildly different abilities and levels get mixed up in these things and drive each other crazy. The smart people would no doubt like to wall themselves off and get on with business, but they're welded to their cult of "openness," and there is enough scut-work they parcel out, that they persuade themselves it's worth it.
At this point, if it's true that the TPVs are much better than the standard viewer (and I'm never persuaded that they are and won't use them anyway), then those people have to ask why they want to work in a black box like this, and peel off to other virtual worlds. I don't believe in open source, but even at SLCC 2010, I had to point out that even things I don't like, like Restrained Life, were being treated in un-open-source fashion against its purported principles. "Open" should mean "open". It doesn't. But again, I've never been persuaded that open source is viable, I don't care how many blogs depend on it and "The Whole Internet" is run on it -- and all this sort of thing does is persuade me more how contrary to its principles and the real principles of openness in fact it is.