It’s been a few days since Philip Linden’s August 14th announcement during his address to the SLCC convention in Boston in which he stated that that the Teen Grid would be closing, and the residents there 16 and 17 years of age being moved to the main Grid in Second Life. Philip Linden obviously knew this would run into a great deal of resistance, calling it “probably the most contentious thing” in his speech. And from the SL forums to resident blogs to Twitter to chats with residents themselves, there has been no shortage of comments.
In his keynote address, Philip began talking about the issue 36 minutes into this video. He stated Linden Labs’ “long term goal is to unify activities on the main grid.” Of launching the Teen Grid, Philip Linden felt “we made a mistake,” commenting on how the two grids were completely separate, unable to share content. With two separate grids, Philip remarked Linden Labs was in a position in which it “could never win.” He also mentioned the educational activities in the main grid, currently unavailable to those on the teengrid.
“In the coming months,” Philip stated, those residents sixteen and seventeen years old in the Teen Grid would be “given notice” and “allowed to transfer” to the Main Grid. He talked about working with educators on the transition for these users, “we’re going to be careful.” Philip was fairly confident about their plans, saying “the content filtering and protections are adequate” saying the 16 and 17 year olds should be able to handle the main grid.
A couple issues are still a guess in how Linden Lab will act. Will those under 18 be limited to G-rated (General) sims? The Wiki’s Maturity Ratings page states a club with "burlesque acts," aka topless dancers, can fall in Mature (Moderate) sims. The thought that 16 year olds can slip into such clubs is enough to chill those who run them, one club manager I talked to saying, “this is gonna to screw ******* and any other club!”
Of those younger than 16, Philip told, “the younger part of the grid we are basically going to turn off.” What happens to them? Will their accounts be dormant, or will they be erased. Being thrown means that whatever Lindens put into those accounts will essentially be thrown out for no fault of the youngster’s own.
Overall, the comments I’ve noticed are mostly negative. In a sense, Linden Labs has managed to offend all parties concerned, the adults whom wonder if they will no longer be able to have the fun they used to, the younger teens whom at best are suspended from any Second Life experience for a while and at worst facing their deletion, and the older teens whose old home will be gone and their status in their new one uncertain.
Not all the comments have been negative. A few of the adults felt it was simply not fair that the younger teens would be thrown out of Second Life for a while. And a few others felt Linden Labs was simply taking off the veil of the misconception that the Main Grid was completely free of adolescents. Aeonix Aeon of Pixel Labs commented, “I don't think it's gonna really change much of anything. Teens were always on the main grid to begin with. They're just acknowledging it and stopping trying to fight it. Probably a major resource drain. ... that’s what a combination of parenting and ratings are for. Just like the Internet itself. There isn't a separate internet just for kids. Instead it relies on ratings, and parental control. But that doesn't stop kids from checking out porn sites. Most parents are lazy when it comes to that. All shutting down the teen grid means is that LL is no longer wasting tons of resources to babysit kids when its really the parent's responsibility.”
As logical as this argument is, it’s doubtful it’ll hold up to the court of public opinion should then teens manage to sneak into a clearly adult area. As Tatero Nino put it, this is “a whole PR mess waiting to happen. And even with the most zealous enforcement, it probably will.”
I can’t help but ask why couldn’t this be done better, maybe simply halt new memberships to the Teen Grid and let attrition take care of the problem, at least that of the younger teenagers. I also recall my old guild in World of Warcraft. Even though teenagers could play the game, my guild didn’t like bringing them in. If someone under 18 wanted in our guild, one of us would have to vouch for his/her good behavior.
Could something like this be done here? For a teenager to be allowed into the main grid, someone here having to confirm he or she will behave? Hardly perfect, but it can only help.
In any event, Philip did state, “in the coming months.” So for now, we have time to debate the issue, and perhaps get Linden Lab to change it's plans.
Tatero Nino’s "Dwell on It" post
Linden Lab Community forums, with threads such as “Grid Merger, Opinions” and “What Philip Actually Said About The Teen Grid Closure“
5 hours ago