Should group chat be opt-in?

The next Second Life Viewer release is around the corner which is 1.19.0. If everything goes right it seems to be due end of this month. This also will be a mandatory release, getting everybody up on track again with a decent codebase (remember that nobody ever said that no mandatory updates at all need to happen anymore). This was revealed by Joshua Linden on the SLDev mailing list.

The biggest change is probably under the hood as it is about login and mostly is relevant to e.g. OpenSim developers as without any change it won’t be possible to login to an OpenSim simulator with the regular client. This is already the case with the recent Windlight and RC builds. This problem is most probably addressed by Linden Lab and a discussion about this was happening yesterday already between OpenSim devs and Tess and Periapse Linden.

Other changes involve an update to the voice system which then along with group text chat will have moderator control for group officers and owners.

The biggest change for normal resident will be the change the opting in to group IMs instead of opting out. What does that mean?

The new handling of Group Chat

Right now when you login to Second Life you are automatically participating in every group chat which comes up in your groups. You can only opt out by closing the IM tab. Many people have been complaining about this Group IM spam as it sometimes can be annoying. Another issue is database load at Linden Lab as the amount of IMs is enourmous. This is probably also the reason why group that is that unreliable at the moment.

With 1.19.0 Linden Lab now wants to change that behaviour. With this release you won’t be participating in any group IM chat from that start. You actively have to switch the group chat on for every group you want to be chatting in. And you will have to do that again after every login (there is a auto-join switch planned though for a later release in which you can configure which groups to join automatically).

Now groups are used for a wide variety of things. How do you think will this affect your SL experience. There has been some discussion about this on the sldev mailing list and some hinted to wait for the auto-join feature before deploying it. What would your proposals to that problem?

My problems with group chat

Of course I know the problem, both the group IM lag and group spam is sometimes annoying. To me though it is mostly annoying to see group chat also in the chat overlay if the IM window is closed. I’d rather would like to have an option to switch off this overlay function for IMs and maybe just get a hint that some new IM is waiting for me in some IM tab. Normal chat should still be in the overlay. This would make following a discussion far easier while still being able to follow that group chat when I have time for it.

In general of course it might make sense to opt-in to the very busy group chats. I now left the groups which had a lot of talk because it was a bit distracting. Having them still available when I feel like it would be a good thing. Thus opt-in makes sense.

For some groups though it would make sense to have them always joined, mostly those which have just announcements here and there or simply are important not to miss (somebody mentioned land management groups for getting notified about griefer attacks etc.).

So I would second that proposal to get auto-join in there first and also to maybe put out some beta version first (e.g. as RC) to test this feature. I am not sure right now what would be how annoying. Testing would be great because it might affect simply everybody.

Update: Because of the feedback on sldev Linden Lab is now reconsidering their plans and will report back with an updated version once they have it.

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