It seems that for the last 2 years many in the SL community have been discussing and debating user retention. One of the first discussions that *I* remember was back in, I think, the fall of 2008, or maybe it was early 2009. Gwyneth Llewelyn , one of my favorite bloggers (who seems to have been very quiet lately), talked about the SL experience in terms of tourists and emigres. Then came Mark Kingdon and Viewer 2 and the discussion roared into high gear – How to ‘make’ users survive the first hour experience. Then Kingdon left and Rod Humble, known to the SL Twitter community as Rodvik, arrived. Rodvik has been (surprisingly) communicative with SLers via Twitter and many folk have taken to tweeting him suggestions for user retention. Skate Foss in particular has been tweeting suggestions for making the first SL experience more useful, pleasant and appealing. Crap Mariner has spoken out on this. Botgirl Questi has blogged her thoughts. Tateru Nino has blogged numerous times(actually, I even commented on one of them). Lately the conversation has focused in particular on Orientation Island, Help Islands and the horrible experiences at Ahern (one of the Welcome Areas) and the abolishment of SL mentors. The most recent discussion I’ve seen was on Lalo Telling’s blog.
I believe that, come the revolution, everyone will have an avatar in one or more virtual worlds. But I don’t think that this current version of SL is that be all and end all. I find that more and more I consider the first hour/first day experience to be a natural selection process. Those of us who belong there stay despite the griefers and idiots and hardware issues. Those who don’t aren’t going to stay even if they come thru NCI, which was wonderful. Melissa rezzed into SL for the first time within 24 hours of my rezzing. She is the one who found NCI. She was an experienced chat room user and grasped the basics much faster than I. Yet – I stayed and she didn’t. It wasn’t the viewer. It wasn’t the welcome area. It wasn’t the lack of knowing about things – the NCI folk educated us both. It sure as heck wasn’t because my computer had sufficient hardware to run SL. Natural Selection. *I* belong in SL. Apparently she doesn’t.