MOO-cows Mailing List Archive


Re: Talker-ization of MOOs

    From: <>
    Date: Mon, 15 May 1995 11:00 EDT

    The subject line says it all <g>: how do you keep your MOO from
    turning into a talker ?

    The symptom of talkerization is: about 60% of the logged on users
    simply stay in room, usually the default .home . No matter
    how many areas you design, they just stay there.

If you're getting 40% using your MOO for what you intended, I bet you're
doing better than many...

    So, do you have similar problems ? And, how do you solve them ?

I think you need to make it clear to your users that either you are there
to please them or they are there to please you.  If you are there to
please them, then what you describe is not a problem.  If they are there
to please you, then you should tell them to either get their act in gear
or you will dump them all and find a new crop of people who don't waste
the facilities.

Well, ok, so maybe it's not as black-and-white as that.  But it's useful
to think in those terms because when you make an organization that admits
free will, you have to ask the question, who is responsible to whom?

You sound like a parent who has raised a kid who has turned out not to be
what was intended, and who rather than accepting the kid wants to change
it.  People come to MOOs thinking they are places to settle and do as they
please--if you don't do something to disabuse them of this notion, and to
help them see that it's you, not them, that must be pleased, you shouldn't
be surprised by the default.

If you have advertised your place as one where people can come do as they
please, and they have done so but you don't like it, then maybe you've
just plain misled people (and/or yourself) and it's time to confront that.

If you have advertised your place as having a specific charter, then
either your charter is or is not being met--if it is, and people are also
getting in some fun on the side, then what does it matter?

If your charter isn't being met, then it's time to talk to your population
about how it's going to go away if things don't change.  (If the charter
isn't being met and the system isn't going to go away as a result, then I
suggest you reexamine your concept of charter because it doesn't sound
consistent with reality.  I'm suspicious of stated minimums which when
reach reveal that things could really get worse.)

I think there is an extraordinary lot of interesting stuff you can learn
from people who have advanced technology but don't want to use it.  I
don't think these people are bad data--I think computer science is often
confused about what it should be striving for.  If technology is not used
for the purpose of making people happy, then what IS it for?  If you offer
people certain technology, and they say their life is happier without it,
then why no try to learn from that what it is that makes them happy and
why, rather than assuming it's them that's misusing what you've offered.
If someone gave you a car with square wheels and told you about how
smoothly it would glide down the road, would you buy it because it was
"new technology" or would you critically examine it in light of your
personal needs?  Would you be broken or the person who had made the
technology.  Would the right thing for him be to reexamine the product or
to figure out how to send you to retraining.

The universally compelling thing about MOOs for their users is that they
permit communication.  But the nature of the communication varies a lot.
People like things that help them communicate better.  If they are
performing plays or games, varied rooms may help.  If they are having sex,
the room may not matter, but appropriate `toys' may.  If they are
discussing a chemistry experiment, chart and graph technology or
interactive modeling may help.  If they are politicking, vote counting and
statistical analysis tools might be good.  My guess, sight unseen, is that
you have a mismatch. e.g., you have provided chart and graph technology
for people having sex, or that you have provided sex toys for chemists, or
that you have not really done an in depth analysis of what your users need
and you are hoping to just come out with things you want to build and find
people to like them.

In MOO, as in life, everything comes down to marketing.  And you can
either be market-driven (figure out what the market wants and provide it)
or missionary-oriented (figure out what you want to sell, and evangelize).
Market-driven is traditionally easier to sell, but not always as satisfying
to build.  Missionary-oriented technology is more satisfying to build, but
discouraging to sell.  Being in a virtual reality instead of real reality
doesn't change the nature of these truths.

Disclaimer: This is all just my personal opinion.

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