Sunday, February 26, 2012

Linden Lab Changes Third Party Viewer Policy

On Friday, Linden Lab announced some changes to their Third-Party Viewer policy. The reason given, the Lab stated there were concerns about privacy issues, and they wanted " to be clearer about the sorts of innovations that developers should work on for their particular Viewers" saying they didn't want users of other viewers to have different experiences than those using the official ones.

Here are the new sections of the policy:

2.a.iii : You must not provide any feature that circumvents any privacy protection option made available through a Linden Lab viewer or any Second Life service.

2.i : You must not display any information regarding the computer system, software, or network connection of any other Second Life user.

2.j : You must not include any information regarding the computer system, software, or network connection of the user in any messages sent to other viewers, except when explicitly elected by the user of your viewer.

2.k : You must not provide any feature that alters the shared experience of the virtual world in any way not provided by or accessible to users of the latest released Linden Lab viewer.

Linden Lab stated they still want the Third-Party teams to innovate improvements with viewers, but in partnership with them.

The Linden Lab forum post can be read in entirety Here.

Following the official post, naturally there were replies on the forum from the residents. While some were accepting, one resident saying this was to "preserve individual privacy, and ... begin to standardize viewers to a common visual experience." "The differences of experiences at the moment are way too big due to too many different features per 3rd party viewers compared to LL's program. It distroys homogenenity and the differences are so big that it can come to very serious misunderstandings between residents." Others were skeptical, "The SL default viewer is a sub-par experience, poorly programmed and tremendously laggy and cumbersome. By hindering third party viewers, LL is ensuring that they will alienate a large number of users." "Just as I was starting to have a little faith in Rodvik and LL, you have to go and pull this."

On the Phoenix website, Jessica Lyon stated those features in the Phoenix and Firestorm viewers that are now policy violations will be removed in the next updates. She stated she would discuss in depth what these policy changes mean for Phoenix and Firestorm Tuesday February 28th at 2PM.

One can also check out the SL Universe forum for the comments there.

Others have also commented. Tateru Nino called Linden Lab's policy change "the power of veto. ... If Linden Lab likes your feature, but hasn’t yet gotten around to releasing it in a non-beta viewer, well, people still aren’t allowed to use your viewer to connect to Second Life until Linden Lab gets through the process." In Prim Perfect, "one of the features that users of the TPVs love is their ability to respond and develop with flexibility. Long term residents have voted with their feet, and headed for new viewers, partly because the universal dislike there was for the original Viewer 2, which gave a massive impetus to the development of TPVs." Inara Pey wrote, "There is a very real risk that this policy change will completely stifle Viewer innovation – or even drive it away from Second Life entirely. " Daniel Voyager had a list of these and other commentators, including Tonya Souther, the lead Mac developer of Team Phoenix, who felt Linden Lab's message to Third-Party developers was "screw you!"

With their announcement, Linden Lab has created quite a stir, and made a number of people worried. Like so many of their previous announcements, time will tell what their intentions are.

Bixyl Shuftan


  1. This could potentially backfire for the Lab in a number of ways. What if someone paying for virtual land needs a new computer because of what the Lindens are asking? People may have to stop paying them in order to pay for new equipment, that is, if they're still inclined to continue going to the Grid.

  2. excellent article Bixyl. A Big Thank You!!

    1. I have to agree, very valuable article ;)

  3. This would backfire for sure. Many, like me may stop using SL completely because we find the LL based viewers to be crap.