April 02, 2009

Peter SoNotALinden - Analysis of an April's Fool Joke


Yesterday I announced that I will be joining Linden Lab as Peter Linden, responsible for the multilingual efforts at Linden Lab. Of course this was an April's Fool joke. The joke occurred to me spontaneously - I did not plan it in advance. I tested it in the Ch'know groupchat where Nikki and Callaigh promptly fell for it, so I decided to beef it up a bit and post it to the blog. I expected a few people to fall for it - but I was surprised how many people actually bought the story, or at least saw it as rather probable.

Clues that the story was not true:
  1. Resident accounts who become a Linden do neither get cancelled or frozen - the person is free to continue to use their account.
  2. Usually Linden Lab employees are rather discreet about the name of their non-Linden-account, and there are also very few reports of publicly announced resident-to-Linden promotions.
  3. As Katharine pointed out, someone going to work at the Lab would not disqualify the work done by using phrases like "proper localization of the viewer" - though it is an open secret that certain viewer translations are abysmal.
  4. Also it is highly improbable that a person whose position is more marketing-related will work on any changes to the LSL language.
  5. One of the deliberately included clues which - from my perspective made the joke quite obvious - was the bit about analyzing the language used in Instant Messages. Nobody commented on that part, everybody seemed to accept that the content of IM's is accessible to the Lab. And most likely it is - but in that case it will surely not get publicly announced.
So I'm not a Linden after all - you need to stick with Peter Stindberg for a while. But why did so many people believe it, or at least did not outright rule it out? I was surprised at that for a bit, until it occurred to me that the core of my joke is highly probable.
  1. There are about 40% of native English speakers in SL. and while it is true that a lot of the other users (like myself) manage English fairly well, localized content for them might be appealing.
  2. It is definitely a good idea to become less US-centric and focus on other countries too. The Lab has made many steps into that direction, has a European office, made a lot of multilingual activities already.
  3. Appointing a person who is familiar with the languages in SL and with the communities is definitely a good idea. On occasion I wondered how few Linden Lab employees actually seem to have a second life of their own.
So basically my joke had a core believable enough for many. I hope nobody is annoyed or angry now, or feels deceived. Thank you for all the comments - I hope you can laugh with me. and remember: it's not laughing about you, but laughing with you about the joke!
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