LL calls on bloggers, bloggers call out LL

Updated 8th Feb: I’ve added the full text of the job advert forum post, lest the mists of time swallow it whole.

I almost missed this one – thank you, Chestnut Rau!

Yesterday, LL put out a call to bloggers, inviting them to submit articles for publication on the SL website. It reads in part full:

Are you a passionate Second Life resident who loves to write about your Second Life experience?  If so, you might want to submit your blog posts to us and they could end up being featured in the Second Life Community blogs.

As the movers, shakers, and experts on everything Second Life, we’d like to invite you to submit your original blog articles to us at blog-call@lindenlab.com with the Subject Line: Guest Blog Submission.  Selected submissions will be posted to the Blog section of the Community as a featured guest post!

Here are some popular Second Life topics to consider: Fashion, Home Decor, Mesh, Relationships, Spirituality, Education and Music.

GUIDELINESIf you would like to submit a guest post for the Second Life Blog, please consider these guidelines. Only submissions that meet these criteria will be considered for publishing.

  • All selected posts must adhere to our Community Participation Guidelines.
  • All selected posts should support the inclusiveness of the Second Life community.
  • Selected posts must not include marketing-related links and must not be entirely self-promotional.
  • The post may include links to your website and blog in a brief author’s bio (approximately 3 sentences), which will be published at the end of the guest post.
  • Please limit the number of images included in your submission to 4 or less.
  • We reserve the right to review and edit. We regularly edit posts by our contributors and guest bloggers.
  • Guest posts must be original and may not have been published elsewhere online already.  

The blog call is on!  Read the guidelines, then submit your posts to blog-call@lindenlab.com

Well, yes I am passionate and I do write a lot about SL – some might say at times, obsessively so. I do take pride in the fact that this blog is read by those within Battery Street as well as those outside. I’m far from alone in being a blogger that has this privilege, but it is worth mentioning because the very fact that LL does take time out to read external blogs is a sign that they are attempting to keep a finger on the pulse of things across the broader community, and that’s a good thing.

However….

As Chestnut points out, what is being asked for here is pretty much involvement in LL’s marketing and promotional efforts both within the community, and to the wider world as a whole.

OK, then; that’s fair enough. So what are the pay rates? Will they be per article, with a word ceiling, or per word? How about offering commission rates based on required monthly subject matter?

No, I’m not being facetious here. It’s not unreasonable for bloggers to be paid for their time and effort; rather the reverse – it’s actually common practice. Indeed, you’ve paid for at least one writer in the past yourselves, LL (take a bow, Hamlet! :) ). I’m also not alone in feeling this – as a glance through the comments on Chestnut’s post and following the LL forum post demonstrate. Fair is fair, after all.

So, LL, I’ll gladly write for you – and within your guidelines (after all, your blog, your rules). I’ll even Op-Ed (if you’d dare go in that direction ;-) ). But let’s be reasonable here – what’s in it for me? I’m taking time-out to give you copy – how much are you willing to pay for said time, effort and IP?

With thanks to Chestnut Rau

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33 thoughts on “LL calls on bloggers, bloggers call out LL

    1. Inara Pey Post author

      I *so* want to reprint your guidelines as posted to the forum article – those had me crying with laughter and simply *are* pure gold!

      Reply
  1. primperfect

    It’s absurd. I pay people to write for Prim Perfect, for heaven’s sake. Not very much, but then we’re operating on a small budget.
    I fail to see why Linden Lab can’t make a similar arrangement.

    Reply
  2. deepsemaphore

    Hmm… Don’t expect a cent from Linden Lab. Period. A few years back, when I close to abandoning an island, one Linden asked me for a meeting about the contents I had on it. I thought that may be they wanted to buy my content to showcase an emergency preparedness effort … but I was dreaming. The Linden wanted it for free.

    Reply
    1. Siana Gearz

      Who pays Snowstorm contributors? Who pays TPV developers? Who pays resident help groups? I would appreciate being paid too. Why should bloggers feel so special? I would pay a blogger if i hired him/her for a commercial enterprise enterprise, but i feel my work is very pay-worthy too, yet it’s not being paid for.

      Reply
      1. Inara Pey Post author

        The key part of your comment is “I would pay a blogger if i hired him/her for a commercial enterprise” – that’s essentially what LL are doing in putting out this call.

        Reply
        1. Siana Gearz

          Where do you draw a line between commercial and non-commercial? Snowstorm contributions to Linden viewer are done by residents, by resident propositions, but by the specification and under full corrective power of Linden Lab, and have a goal, from the point of view of Linden Lab, to improve their commercial product.

          And consider that in this case of inviting bloggers, Linden Lab isn’t even giving you any specific topic to write about. I can’t see a hard difference. It’s not classic work-to-order.

          Reply
          1. Inara Pey Post author

            LL are essentially asking bloggers to take out time to effectively market and promote SL to the community and world as a whole – in other words, work on behalf of the Lab. that’s vastly different to me writing this blog out of my enthusiasm for SL or you writing code for the Viewer because you opt to do so. Of course, I have the choice of either accepting or refusing the assignment – but assignment it is, regardless of how broad the work order; in the publishing world, assignments are generally paid for. Just as LL used to pay a contract writer for doing this very task in the past.

            Reply
        2. Siana Gearz

          See, this is the thing. You consider yourself special because you’re a blogger, i.e. a person who has acquired some popularity by publishing her thoughts, and out of a sudden you’re to be treated special. Are you trying to tell me, that in software development world, assignments, no matter how broad, are NOT generally paid for? Hey LL pays their own developers, who are not only paid to fulfill tasks decided by on the very top, but to experiment and to implement various improvements they could come up with, don’t they. And right now i’m not talking about myself and what i do, because i have freedom, Snowstorm contributing Residents do not, they do assignments.

          You know, a couple of entries below me is Qarl who was lucky to be paid by Residents to write code for Linden Lab. You could do the same. You could collect money from Residents who’d like their accomplishments presented on the Linden blog. ;)

          Reply
          1. Inara Pey Post author

            Actually, I pass no consideration as to anyone’s “specialness” – you or I, blogger or coder. I’m also not suggesting better mechanisms shouldn’t be in place beyond this one issue. Finally, I’m not trying to “tell” you anything; I’m commenting upon how matters relating to writing are generally handled and how LL has handled them in the past.

            As to Qarl (welcome, Qarl!), and without wishing to put words in his mouth, I doubt he seeing working on the deformer as being paid “to write code for Linden Lab”. Sure, he’s opted to submit his code to Linden Lab, but the project itself is of direct benefit to the community as a whole, both within SL and in OpenSim, in that it is there to be adopted by any Viewer that wishes to make use of it, regardless of LL’s invovlement. As to him being paid – all I can say is kudos to him for making himself available and kudos to the broader community for showing a willingness to offer-up payment.

            Reply
      2. Deoridhe

        See, here’s the thing – TPV developers, resident help groups, etc… all have reasons for what they do, control over how and when they do it, and the final rights to their work.

        Linden Labs is asking for ad copy for Linden Labs, that will not advertize in-world products or companies (which is where a lot of the benefit might come from – if I were a store owner, I would jump on this if they allowed for advertizing), which they have exclusive rights to even if they chose not to publish it or publish it heavily edited. This is distinct from TPV writing, where the programmers get the use of what they have programmed, and resident help groups, where there is social benefits and recognition for work.

        If TPV developers were being told they had to work on their TPVs for 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, without remuneration, or Resident help Groups were being told they had to use a special account which could link to their actual identity in the profile but which would have a profile controlled by the people who run the group,, then your examples might be similar to what Linden Labs is asking for when they want exclusive rights to a blogger’s copy with the blogger maybe getting to link to their blog at the end and hope people click through.

        Reply
        1. Siana Gearz

          Yes, this is the case for TPV developers and for resident help groups, as you say. This isn’t the case for Snowstorm community contributors – the work voluntarily and on their own schedule – but they don’t have any rights to their contribution to the official viewer, it’s copyright-assigned to Linden Lab. Furthermore LL retains full creative control, and it ends up, Snowstorm contributing residents work within very narrow confines of what LL want to be done, and how they want it to be done. Only bug fixes are accepted without forcing the contributor to rework his submission. This is why i only ever contribute bug fixes, but i often feel i shouldn’t even be doing that.

          You can’t tell me that a call for (voluntary) submissions to the blog which may or may not be accepted is any way comparable to 8-hours-a-day-40-hours-a-week-work. You still do this on your own schedule, you can write all you want, or not write at all, you aren’t getting yourself into any responsibility whatsoever.

          My point isn’t about arguing details. Point is, money flows another way, Resident -> Linden Lab, always, never the other way around. There are always a lot of people who say, well, i would do this and that for LL, but only for money! Or hey, what do they allow themselves, they want something done for free which they should, by all rules, be paying for! Well, not gonna happen. Stand in the line, a very long line. Why can they get away with this? Because enough other people will be found who will do this for free.

          Reply
  3. Bear Silvershade

    Aye, it’s funny enough, and LL is taking a well-deserved drubbing for it, but it’s also so incredibly sad. Sad in that LL actually thinks they are offering something to bloggers, and sad that they still don’t seem to have anyone on staff that understands the value and uses of communication, social media. They don’t even seem to have anyone with enough marketing savvy to be able to reinforce the brand with existing users.

    But it’s also sad that the work of content producers is so undervalued, everywhere. It isn’t unique to LL.

    Reply
    1. Inara Pey Post author

      There is a serious side to this – and one I’m actually writing-up as your comment arrived, Bear. I opted to keep things separate, simply because the broader message does risk getting swamped by the reaction to the job advert as posted (sorry, I really cannot view it as anything but).

      In respect of the wider elements, you’re spot on, and it does circle back to a running theme that has been prevalent in SL-related blogs everywhere – LL’s seemingly overwhelming inability to directly and properly communicate with users or market. And that is to be lamented.

      Reply
  4. Gwyneth Llewelyn

    Mmh. Thanks for fishing this out of the SL forums for me; I utterly and completely missed it.

    My only comment is that this is “nothing new”, really. DreamHost (“the company who used to be across the street to Linden Lab”) did something quite similar back in October, which was featured on their newsletter. The principle is the same: get exposure in return for hard work writing for us. Their terms, however, are much less serious than LL’s own:

    Guest Blogger Program
    Can you write interesting things?

    If the answer is no, keep at it, Champ. You’ll get it some day.

    If the answer is yes, that’s great! Keep reading.

    We’d like to start featuring YOU on the DreamHost Blog! And by YOU I mean the best part of you – your IDEAS! Your wisdom!

    The DreamHost Blog

    We’re looking for a few guest bloggers to share content that might be of interest to readers of the DreamHost Blog. Share a tip, offend a few key groups of people, punctuate your text with wildly inappropriate photos – you know, the usual. Feel free to toss in a plug for your site, your blog, or whatever it is you’re selling.

    What’s the catch?

    First off, it would help if you were a current customer. We’re hoping you’ll pry open your skullcap and scoop out some knowledge that would be of some benefit to other *DreamHost* customers.

    Maybe it’s advice on how to use some aspect of our web panel more effectively.

    Maybe you’re a developer making clever use of the DreamHost API and want to show other people how to do the same.

    Maybe you feel like you’d do an awesome job explaining the difference between running PHP as a CGI application vs an Apache module you crazy, crazy person.

    All of these are good ideas. You know what are not good ideas?

    • Writing about how to optimize a Microsoft SQL database.
    • Investing in time-shares
    • Putting cilantro in anything
    • Getting mixed up in some work-from-home MLM scheme
    • White chocolate
    • Smoking

    I’m getting a little off track here but I think you get the point.

    If you’d like to participate, or if you’ve got questions, write us at blog@dreamhost.com and we’ll hook you up!

    I immediately proposed a topic for being featured on DreamHost’s blog, but, so far, the response seems to have been so overwhelming that DreamHost didn’t contact me back yet (except for a nice email acknowledging my proposal for a topic, and asking me to wait).

    Of course, SL residents are different, and LL ought to have noticed that by now, after a decade of being in touch with us :)

    For all that’s worth, I have no problem in aiding LL’s marketing strategy for free. There are plenty of reasons for that, most emotional, a few rational. Among the rational reasons are:

    The more LL gets an exposure, the more potentially interested users they get (by that I mean residents that actually stay in SL after the first 5 minutes, and contribute to its community and economy
    More interested residents means a more vibrant community and economy
    Free exposure means more traffic to my own blog, and more ad sales that way. Yes, by promoting LL I promote myself too, and it’s hard to see who “wins” more from that.
    Ego-boosting is always nice
    Working closer with LL means they will respect more one’s own opinion. Well, not really, but it’s nice to believe in that illusion :)
    I don’t depend on my writing for a living (not even as a secondary job), so as an amateur, I’m used to give away my “hobby time” for free.

    So, for me, there is a combination of factors that makes “working for free for LL” a valid proposition, for some more rational reasons (“the good of the community” is more important that my personal benefit), others more opportunistic (more exposure means more ads viewed on my own blog), others absolutely egotistical and emotional (I like ego-boosting!).

    Reply
    1. Inara Pey Post author

      Don’t thank me – thank Chestnut Rau :).

      Not sure I agree with all of the benefits you list. Exclusivity of posts remains a particular element here, and can end up workings against someone with an established track-record when paired with the LL-slanted editorialism.

      In fairness to LL, I think they respect valid opinions anyway – and they do get bashed far too often on that score (as in people stating they *don’t*).

      I’m perfectly happy to admit I’m less alturistic than you. I’ve worked hard to build up this blog, and am frankly flattered that it is so widely-read; as such, time writing exlcusive articles for LL *is* time away from this blog, and detrimental to myself and my readership – and the same is true for anyone else who has put hours of effort into their blogs. As LL have previously paid people for doing so in the past, I see no reasons they shouldn’t resume that trend.

      In fact, offering a reasonable commission might actually work in LL’s favour and encourage a far wider range of submissions from *anyone* willing to put fingers to keyboard and submit articles for consideration. This in turn could lead to a far more vibrant and diverse blog that supports LL’s own corporate efforts to communicate.

      Reply
      1. Gwyneth Llewelyn

        I certainly agree that Linden Lab ought to do something completely different — say, an e-zine called “News from the Second Life” which would be a regular newsletter, and, as such, pay bloggers and journalists for adding content there. That would certainly be far better than the current model (although it’s a bit unconventional model… nobody seems to be doing things like that out there).

        Wait… that was what “New World Notes” was supposed to be :)

        Reply
        1. Inara Pey Post author

          Well, leave us not forget Hamlet was once Hamlet Linden, and paid to write about SL in this very manner…

          It’s not really just corporate-level communictions with the user communication, really, although that’s the focus here. It’s the whole aspect of promotion, marketing and communications. As you say, the company as a whole has a habit of strangling itself quite thoroughly on all three.

          Reply
    2. Ciaran Laval

      There is a value tradeoff here of extending reach for a blogger or the project they’re blogging for, be it an inworld business, education sim yadda yadda yadda.

      I’m personally not interested, although that’s nothing to do with it being unpaid and more to do with how LL respond to situations. However where I think LL have gone horribly wrong here is with regards to their exclusive content deal, that really makes it more of an LL promotion rather than the blogger submitting an article, they should not be demanding exclusive rights and basically ownership[ of submissions.

      Reply
      1. Inara Pey Post author

        “Selected posts must not include marketing-related links and must not be entirely self-promotional.”

        Tends to rule-out business-related posts. Linkage to external blogs is also limited. Also, where does one draw the line at “self-promotional” – LL’s own guidelines seem to be somewhat arbitrary on this point, given how certain forum posts from users are handled…

        I agree on the exclusivity element; I see that as part and parcel as the overall issue. There *are* far better ways of handling this, and LL have fairly well missed the ball with this kick.

        Reply
        1. Gwyneth Llewelyn

          Well, to be honest, LL’s own terms for accepting submissions are really not different from similar initiatives from other companies/groups who accept third-party content for publication. They’re not interested in “reprinting” existing material (although something like a “Reader’s Digest”, republishing existing content and giving it some prominence through their own blog, would also have been a nice idea — perhaps even a nicer idea!).

          The fine line between promotional/non-promotional is also relatively usual. Of course, when content is paid for, promotional material is not accepted — which is perfectly understandable. Non-paid content often allows a little more “promoting” because that’s a way for the author to get something out from their free work. But if the whole idea is to writing a fully promotional article, even though it fits the remaining guidelines, then it’s another story: authors ought to pay the site owner to publish there!

          I’m not “inventing” this out of thin air; to my utter surprise, for the past year, I have been receiving proposals from authors willing to write a promotional piece on my own blog and offering me to pay for that privilege. I usually decline, because these articles have invariably little to do with Second Life, virtual worlds, or online communities — so it’s an editorial question. But the point is that publishing articles on a high-profile blog (well, one measured by Google PageRank as being “high”) is worth money, and people are willing to pay for that privilege.

          LL’s blog has a Google PageRank of 7/10. According to some sites I’ve seen (notice that this wasn’t a thorough market research, I haven’t got the time to do that!! It’s just a short example to give you an idea), paying to get articles published on a high-ranking blog like LL’s will cost something like $39 to $997 monthly plus the cost of hiring someone to write the article. Of course, if you write your own article, that’s the only thing you have to pay. While naturally these figures vary a lot, you can imagine that they relate to how much you would have to actually pay LL if you wanted them to feature an article of yours per month, to promote yourself and your own blog.

          I know this is all artificial. And I’m not saying that LL couldn’t do a better job — they most certainly could! I’m just saying that LL’s is not exactly “abusing” bloggers — professional or amateurs — by “demanding” them to submit content for free. They are, indeed, giving some value in return. However, I also agree that this “value” is very subjective and hard to calculate, and even from the point of view of an amateur blogger, it might not be worth the effort at all — after all, one extra link, even on a high-ranking website, will not make your own website/blog jump high on Google PageRank. Still, there is some residual value in “working for free” for Linden Lab. If LL is aware of that or not remains an open question — my guess is that they have no clue of how valuable their own website actually is, or else they’d be exploiting ads on it much better :-)

          Reply
          1. Inara Pey Post author

            I’ve yet to be invited to write elsewhere on the basis of exclusivity without remuneration being discussed – and I’ve been pretty well-published on-line in other circles over the years, both by other individuals running websites and various wider organisations. Even where exlcusivity isn’t part of the deal, remuneration (even of a modest kind) has generally been offered, (whether accepted or not). I’ve also worked for a publishing house that would request submissions from employees and pay a (modest) commission on the basis of articles selected from the pot for monthly publication within the staff newsletter / on the company’s Intranet. So, really, examples of the medium and how it is handled go both ways.

            I don’t buy into the Google ranking argument at all, for a number of reasons – the core being, and with the greatest respect to LL, I doubt the blog features to any great degree in generating their ranking or features high in terms of overall readership. Ranking is more likely to be geared as a result of people searching “Second Life” in general in terms of hitting the sign-up pages and / or the forums. Similarly, it is more likely that the forums are going to be the destination of choice for established users seeking answers to questions, wishing to engage (as far as is possible) in discussion, and so on and so forth. Where the blog is concerned, it’s going to take a more concerted effort than the work of a few “guest bloggers” to reverse the lack of interest LL have themselves created through lack of attention (time / manpower clearly isn’t a factor here – there has been much published through the forums in the last twelve months that clearly could have been published through the blog sections).

            Let’s face it, it would appear that since the initial re-vamp of the website and the arrival of JIVE, LL have pretty much made a rod for their own back where community communications are concerned – up to and including Amanda’s highly-unfortunate blog of last year in which she both announced the “new” Community Communications Platform and almost in the same breath told users that if they really want to get ahead with SL-related news they should effectively – go elsewhere (Facebook, Twitter, et al). As Tateru noted last year, they had, to all intents and purposes ceded control of the message about SL to third parties – be they major publishing organs, or the humble blogger. Ergo, while I have every sympathy with them in trying to regain a measure of control of that message, I still cannot escape looking upon this “opportunity” as being 2 parts genuine, 3 parts cynical on LL’s part, and at best a half-considered response to a gaping, and growing need.

            As to your last paragraph – that’s why I wrote a follow-up article that offers up a couple of practical suggestions focused directly on the blog itself. There is much that LL can do, and it needn’t cost the earth. They’ve certainly done it before (employed a professional writer), and if they was to have a vibrant, controlled blogging environment, then what better way to get people writing – not just bloggers, who knows what untapped writing potential there is within the community – is to offer a modest commission for accepted articles? Thie immediately becomes a win / win situation: more are encouraged to write, LL get to pick the cream of the crop, and those that are accepted know that they are accepted recompense for their words being editorialised as and where required. There is absolutely no reason why the payment cannot be in Linden Dollars, either.

            Reply
  5. Pingback: LL Receive Short Shrift From Bloggers » Ciaran Laval

  6. Gwyneth Llewelyn

    Ok, so if I understand you correctly, the biggest arguments against this are:

    - Linden Lab has consistently failed to adopt a good communication strategy in the past decade or so, and they’re still making mistakes; so while they continue to persist in making mistakes, we ought not to “help” them;
    - measurement tools on the Internet are unreliable, and so we cannot estimate the “value proposition” of Linden Lab’s offers; thus, we should ignore them and require proper payment of our “contributed work”;
    - thus, even though the content publishing industry uses both models (“free for implicit value” vs. “modest payment”) and none prevail, we, as SL bloggers, ought to opt for the “modest payment” option (even if it’s in L$, which LL is free to “mint” as they please);
    - LL has for all purposes “given up” on doing professional communication and just relied on others to do so (who already do LL’s work for free in different media, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Plurk, their own blogs, etc.) so launching a new strategy should be viewed with cynism (if not outright “abuse”).

    Well, I can understand those to be valid arguments, specially the second one, which is not refutable.

    I guess I’m just naive, then. Obviously I’m at a loss to rationally explain why I should feel that LL, even though they pile up mistake after mistake, and keeping turning out a small profit in spite of all those stupid attitudes, still deserves some amount of help (even for free), if it’s in my powers to do so. Thinking a bit more rationally about it, I guess this is the same reason why Apple fanboyz and fangirlz help to promote Apple, even if they don’t get anything in return, and Apple is hardly a “nice” company. Or why I like to support (even financially) the Iron Sky movie project, even though it’s clear from their website that most of the money they raised was from private investors who will get a return on their investment from ticket sales, while I will get nothing — not even some credit, just a nice “thank you” email, which is worthless.

    I’m afraid I got a bit over-enthusiastic and failed to realise that my own reaction to LL’s ideas was purely emotional and irrational, and perhaps I just raised some crazy arguments trying very hard to justify to myself why I still believe it’s worth helping LL out, even if, from a rational point of view, they do not deserve to be helped at all and are just abusing our good intentions to their own profit. Unfortunately for my irrational mind, that’s not how I see things: I still have this naive idea that Second Life, the virtual world, is something we build together with Linden Lab, and even though it’s always been tough for LL themselves to understand that, that doesn’t mean that I have to give up on promoting SL under whatever means I can, just because I dislike or disagree with LL’s overall attitude.

    But I understand now that this is a very personal opinion, and one that is not sustainable with logical or rational argumentation. Oh well. I’m an Apple fangirl too, and I cannot explain that rationally, either, so I suppose I’m just one of those persons that falls very easily for those marketing tricks…

    Reply
    1. Inara Pey Post author

      I’m most certainly not against supporting / assisting LL.

      Fact is, I’d like to think I am supporting LL / SL simply through these pages both by promoting SL as a whole, and by “sticking-up” for LL when I think they are being unfairly bashed about the head (and I do try to offer-up alternatives whenever I may appear to be the one with the stick, as is the case in this matter :) ). So don’t think I’m against the wider view of supporting SL as an environment, or enabling LL themselves. On this issue, I simply believe there are better ways in which they could – and perhaps should – handle matters.

      I’m sorry you feel I’m abusing LL – that’s not my intent at all, although I suspect you misinterpret my use of the word cynical – I was not referring to the way in which *I* view the offer so much as in the manner in which the offers appears to have been made.

      Don’t take heathy discussion so to heart! We’re all entitled to our views and positions – that includes your own as well as mine. That we disagree is more a sign that we’re individuals, not of any deeper malaise.

      Reply
  7. Pingback: “Loser” generated content – and LL | Mariis' explorations of 3D remediation

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