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A few words on Linden Homes

I thought that I might offer a few thoughts regarding Mr Jack Linden's announcement of the latest fabulous Laboratory Movement - that of "Linden Homes".

Once upon a time we offered affordable parcels of land to Premium members — a program we called 'First Land'. The First Land program made land available to first-time land owners at a reduced price. First Land buyers learned about land ownership and often moved onto larger parcels.

True enough at the time, and owning a Linden Home now will also give experience of land ownership. Nobody, these days, moves onto buying larger mainland parcels, though; they rent from landowners on islands. They are also I propose even less likely to do it from a Linden Home, a matter I will deal with at a later point.

But the program was flawed in several ways. For example, not everyone can build well enough to craft their dream home and when you're new, even placing a pre-made home is tricky at best.

Yes and no (and mostly yes). Many people clearly had no idea what to put on their first land, and would assume that they would have to build something, put up a big plywood box and then leave, never to return. The plot would then sit there with a big plywood box on it indefinitely. However, nobody who wanted to had any trouble placing prefabs; it is not that hard. They might not have been aware of the existence of prefabs, beyond poor-quality free ones, of course.

Those First Land areas quickly became chaotic and the parcels were often bought by land dealers instead of genuine first-time buyers.

The two issues are not I would say related. First land areas quickly became chaotic, certainly, and some were sold to land barons and parcel spammers as people left, but in many cases they were sold to those with neighbouring plots as well (this was how I managed to expand my First Land parcel in Theretra). The mass purchase by land dealers came when the land market reached a level where it was profitable to start a new account, pay the premium fees and then sell one's First Land.

This new addition to the Premium membership will be called a 'Linden Home'. This is not the same as First Land, not least because it is about providing a home rather than just land, but it does share the same goals.

Yes, it is not the same as First Land - dealt with at more length below. It is not, though, to my mind, about providing a home rather than just land - it is about providing a home rather than land. As to whether the goals are the same, well, I cannot speak for other people's goals, but if they are the same this is not a very good way of achieving them.

During beta, a limited number of randomly selected existing Premium subscribers will be offered the chance to apply for a Linden Home...

This is the part that baffles me the most. What is the point of offering Linden Homes to existing Premiums? The number of people who have signed up for Premium but who have no idea where to live is zero to the nearest significant figure. Who would do that? Why on earth would somebody pay money for a premium account now without already knowing, at least vaguely, what they want to do in Second Life?

A far better idea would be to offer it to a randomly selected number of new residents who were not Premium.

Therefore these parcels will be unlike normal land in that they will be restricted in various ways; the house cannot be removed and the parcels cannot be sold, joined, terraformed or divided. Events and classifieds cannot be created for these parcels; only Premium Members can own them, and only one per account.

Here we reach the major difference between this proposal and the old First Land system, and it is at this point that any old folk who might have been saying "ah, First Land gave me the start that I needed, young people today need that sort of thing" should really be quiet.

First Land as was was basically the same as any other land, only cheaper and connected to having a new account. One could run a shop from First Land, and certainly I did; sell it to a neighbour so that they could expand their holdings (and, yes, to a land spammer also, but the problem there was never the sale, but the spam). One certainly had an entirely free choice as to what ended up on the plot.

A Linden Home cannot be moved. A Linden Home cannot be sold. A Linden Home cannot be advertised. Publicised events cannot be held on a Linden Home. Do not taunt Linden Home.

In fact the word "Home" is somewhat deceptive to my mind - it implies a certain level of permanence and flexibility, but there is no hope of modifying one's Linden Home (beyond filling the prefab with consumer goods), or expanding it, or changing its purpose. A Linden Home is a hotel room: a comfortable and inexpensive place to stay for a bit when visiting a foreign land, but if one plans to remain there and do anything worth doing, one moves on.

And to where would one move on? If one's experience of living upon the Grid was in a heavily managed area such as that in which Linden Homes appear, one will no doubt wish to move on to another heavily managed area, which means renting on an island, in practice. Certainly it does not mean purchasing mainland. Only strange old people purchase mainland these days.

Linden Homes are not First Land, and they are I would say almost the opposite. First Land provided an empty space upon which one could build and do anything that any other landowner could, with many people being confused by this and not building anything at all apart from a ten-metre plywood box, which then sat there until Doomsday. A Linden Home provides an area upon which one cannot build or do anything apart from rez furniture. (Technically I think one could sell items from a Linden Home, but without classifieds that is not likely to be very handy.)

First Land provided a starting point for land ownership and building something for oneself. A Linden Home provides a starting point for renting another prefab.


Now, it must be said that an awful lot of people have no interest in doing anything much with land apart from changing their clothes on it and inviting their assorted friends over to partake of a glass of champagne and some stimulating intellectual conversation. And why should they? Assuming a high quality of Linden Home prefabs and environments, I am sure that they will be quite happy with the situation, at least until they chafe at the limits and move on to a paid rental on an island.

And everyone will be happy, apart of course from anyone selling or renting mainland, but then they are not happy generally, and they are not meant to be. Also, those currently renting plots to new residents either on islands or mainland will I assume be up in arms, or at least they should be, because this directly attacks their business; there is very little that they could do to compete with a free plot and a free house.

It is not First Land though. Those days are behind us. Now, residents are Content Creators or Content Consumers, and the assumption is that they are Content Consumers from Day One and will not move from that position.

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Lalo Telling's picture
06 Dec200904:14
Lalo Telling (not verified)

Well said!

Barney Boomslang's picture
06 Dec200910:28
Barney Boomslang (not verified)

Another thing that really bothers me: it's another step towards disneyfication of SL. Before, with first land, people could put up whatever they fancied - and yes, that meant an ugly purple monstrosity, too (I had a neighbour in my first land plot in Noonkkot that even named his home "purple monstrosity" and damn, it was!). Or flying homes. Castles. Just some trees. Or crazy prims in crazy colors. Nobody was tied to a theme, nobody was tied to RL-copying.

But Linden Homes are just that - houses on land. It's as much tied to RL concepts as possible. That's crazy. It's a world where you can fly and teleport and you are encouraged to stick to simple ground based homes with windows and doors? Why?

Kara Spengler's picture
06 Dec200914:41
Kara Spengler (not verified)

Unless you RP, how often do most people sleep and such in SL? My SL homes Why would anyone want a house anyway?

to date:

A huge open area (w small enclosed space for changing) with transparent walls, a grass ceiling, and no floor. Oh, and trees and rocks on the roof. Many people assumed it was a park until they stepped on the skylight and saw a tree below them.

A treehouse leading to a cavern. Eventually I walled in the area below the treehouse with semi-transparent walls but it was more an a playground for architectural ideas than anything else. Hidden doors and such. I think I spent more time in the underground tunnels than in the house part.

Yet another treehouse. As opposed to the last, I plan on keeping it that way and spend most of my time tweaking the area's look next door.

Kara Spengler's picture
06 Dec200915:10
Kara Spengler (not verified)

Grr .... somehow "My SL homes" got moved a sentence back and no way to edit my post!

Jacek Antonelli's picture
06 Dec200921:48
Jacek Antonelli (not verified)

I do not understand how you (and others) can make all of the following claims simultaneously:

  1. Linden Homes are restrictive, inflexible, and undesirable.
  2. After experiencing Linden Homes, people will want to move on to something similar.
  3. Linden Homes are unfair competition to land rental agencies and/or estate owners.

Do these not contradict each other?

If people find Linden Homes so restrictive, surely that would make them want to move somewhere less restrictive, such as owning or renting land on the mainland or an estate?

Granted, some might wrongly assume that everywhere else is just as restrictive as Linden Homes, but even that provides land rentals and estate owners a powerful marketing hook: "Have more freedom in SL, rent from us!"

If point #1 were reversed, so that you were arguing that Linden Homes will be popular because most people would prefer a managed experience, then at least it would be consistent with point #2. But even then, surely land rentals and estate owners could offer a better managed experience than Linden Lab.

Ordinal Malaprop's picture
06 Dec200922:27
Ordinal Malaprop

No, I do not think there is any contradiction in the position I have taken. Firstly, Linden Homes are rather by definition restrictive and inflexible compared to standard rental or purchased property; that is just stating facts. I do not believe that I said that they were _undesirable_ though. I am sure that many new residents will be perfectly happy with them for a period (assuming that they are properly designed and the regions are set up nicely and so on) as they are now in other communities providing a basic house in a themed community.

I suspect that people who have been introduced to Second Life via an initial system of heavily managed land would be more likely to then assume that that is what Second Life is about, certainly, and look for more of that but with more space and more prims or a different theme or whatever it is they wish to do. At the very least they will not be _less_ likely to, I think everyone would agree. This is good for those providing that sort of experience, who are almost all on islands (mainland being much harder to theme or manage), but bad for those selling or renting more open-ended properties.

I would also say that this scheme must surely constitute competition to people already selling or renting out parcels to new residents, just like any subsidised and Linden-advertised system aimed at new residents would. The issue of whether this is _unfair_ or overall beneficial to the community I am not quite sure about, but I were in that business I would likely be rather cross about it all.

Those are not my objections here though - perhaps the second, a little. My objection is that the project seems designed, consciously or unconsciously, to instill from the start a perception of Second Life as a place in which one consumes rather than creates. From the start the message will be that one comes in to experience a structured environment created by somebody else. And apart from my own bias towards encouraging people to create for themselves, the thing is that it just will not work anyway. Second Life is _not_ a structured experience as other virtual worlds often are, and trying to pretend that it is simply delays the point where people say "so what do I do now?"

Lelani Carver's picture
07 Dec200904:26
Lelani Carver (not verified)

As a new builder, but fairly strange old person who only recently bought Mainland parcels for the first time, I'm in the "make it easier for new residents to find and manage a home" camp, but I'm not sure I care for this new development (smile) with Linden Homes. Perhaps I would have qualified for one even as an oldbie who'd never bought a parcel in more than 2 years, but I don't think I would have gone through the recent experiences I had when "build flu" and "land fever" finally struck.

I was inspired by the news that a family member is very seriously ill; that may not seem very inspiring, but in my mind it was coupled with the thought of other people I have lost, and also with items I associate with them that have either been lost or passed on to other people over the years. While waiting for news and results, my rudimentary attempts to make things like pots and bowls and silly drinks distracted me from worrying. Then one day a few weeks ago, I realized that I could try to replicate some of those things I've lost, and display or use them in a virtual home that represented a childhood home I haven't seen since I was a toddler.

I'm not sure that I would have made the Great Leap from consumer to creator if I'd been living in a generic home on a generic lot, because part of the process was the search for a parcel with the right possibilities for the price. It was not easy, and I lost a lot of sleep designing and re-designing my home in my head. If I simply had to accept something decent-ish for very little outlay, I don't think I would have gone through the process of conversion even now.

Still, I think it's a good idea for newer residents to have an easier entry into the lower reaches of the landed gentry - just not in such a spoon-fed fashion.

And I still might be in the market for more land... so I am wondering what will happen to land prices in the next few months.

Kara Spengler's picture
07 Dec200912:48
Kara Spengler (not verified)

I will make you a deal ... I will tell you what the SL land prices will be in a few months and you can tell me what RL stocks will do best in the next few months, okay? :) Believe me, you have the easier part of the foretelling: land prices fluctuate wildly, do not follow a set pattern of doing so, and can vary hugely from one seller to another within the same sim.

Right now people are literally giving land away. To give you an idea: I sold some land that a bought picked up for 7.5 lindens/m2 (which ppl regarded as a steal for that area). Later I re-bought it and eventually resold a piece of it before moving (both myself and the person I 'bought' from gave away most of our land to friends/neighbors). A bot did not buy my land until it went below 1 linden/m2. A of of land people just are abandoning now because they do not want to gamble a month's tier fee on someone *maybe* buying it for a pittance.

Kara Spengler's picture
07 Dec200912:50
Kara Spengler (not verified)

Grr ... yet another typo due to my spellchecker that I can not fix. The phrase 'bought picked up' should be 'bot picked up'.

Opensource Obscure's picture
10 Dec200915:36
Opensource Obscure (not verified)

What is the point of offering Linden Homes to existing Premiums?

It looks to me they will give this opportunity to all existing Premiums. The point is to prevent existing Premium Accounts from crying "we want that too, we're entitled to it, LL hates us, we won't renew".

LL are losing Premium users - first way to stop it is: keep existing Premiums. So, please them.

The number of people who have signed up for Premium but who have no idea where to live is zero to the nearest significant figure. Who would do that? Why on earth would somebody pay money for a premium account now without already knowing, at least vaguely, what they want to do in Second Life?

I don't agree. Personally I know at least a couple of users that signed up for Premium while only vaguely know what Second Life is about.

I think there definitively is a market (if small) for users without money worries that just want a smooth experience, and are willing to pay some bucks to avoid problems as "who should I trust?" or "what and where should I buy?"

A far better idea would be to offer it to a randomly selected number of new residents who were not Premium.

That would be cool for those users, but I don't see how could it help, since not-paying users are not going to get free land + free house.

Stimulating and thoughtful post, Ordinal, thanks!

Christoper Auer's picture
14 Dec200909:47
Christoper Auer (not verified)

Well said, Miss Malaprop.

I think people should be given the choice between a Linden Home (consume, consume, consume) or first land (create, create, create). But who am I to tell the Linden family? I do not even happen to be a premium member, a paying customer yet so my word seems to mean very little. But I want to be able to create my own home, store or other place and not be forced into a shoebox looking exactly the same as the one next door.

Are creativity and individuality considered bad now, Ladies and Gentlemen?

To be completely honest, I have an existance in another place where I had been given a home from the beginning. But even there I could (for a small fee within the realm of said world, I have to admit) exchange it for land, free to decide myself what my homestead should look like (restrictions may and do apply).

I apologize for any mistreatment I have given the english language in advance as it is not my native language.

Martien Pontecorvo's picture
16 Jan201003:54
Martien Pontecorvo (not verified)

I agree that offering the Linden Home to existing Premium customers is nonsensical; I myself did not elevate myself to Premium status until I had decided on a slice of land -- and only then because I had to do so in order to purchase the damn section!