Friday, September 11, 2009

The cardinal sin of community management

Once you have a product launched, you will the face the joys – and the despair – of a community that grows up around it. I won’t sugar-coat this: it is one of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of building a company online.

There are many articles by many experts (myself included) extolling the virtues of listening to customers. In fact, there are so many of these propaganda pieces that this question might naturally cross your mind: if listening to customers is so great, why do we need so much propaganda? I’ll tell you the honest truth: listening to customers is gruesome, uncomfortable, and painful work. Sure it has its moments, but then so does getting stranded on a desert island.

Yet few products these days can succeed without their online community, and the insight you can gain from interacting with that community is unparalleled, despite the pain. But to take advantage of that learning, you have to avoid the absolutely one and only cardinal sin of community management: not listening.

This probably sounds illogical. Communities care about lots of things, like how good your product is, how much information you give them, how you defend them from trolls, right? And when you’re being pilloried by community members over the latest mistake your company made, it can doubly confusing. After all, people rarely say they are mad because they are not being heard. But just because they don’t say it doesn’t mean that it’s not true.

Let me give an especially painful example. At a certain point in IMVU’s development, we faced a difficult choice. Some of our most passionate early adopters were using IMVU’s user-generated content capabilities to create illicit content. As you can imagine, this was a lucrative customer segment. But it became clear that if IMVU was ever going to become a mainstream business, we had to effectively fire these early customers. The reasons were many and complex, so I won’t rehash them all here. Suffice to say that our partners, vendors, and most importantly regular mainstream customers all found the idea disturbing. So we had to start enforcing new content policies that restricted what kinds of virtual goods could be bought and sold on IMVU.

We did not take this step lightly. We did a lot of analysis to make sure that we were minimizing the number of customers affected. For example, we spent some time researching the usage of virtual goods that would be disallowed under the new policy and were relieved to discover that they accounted for less than 0.1% of all usage. So we felt confident that removing them wouldn’t have too big an impact. We couldn’t have been more wrong.

This single decision wound up costing the company significant revenue and over the course of several months sent its customer growth into decline. We were totally unprepared for the magnitude of what happened. In the end, we managed to repair the damage, but only after losing a lot of time and at significant opportunity cost. This was one of those catastrophes that shouldn’t have happened. We carefully rolled out the change in stages. We did our best to actively communicate why we were making the change, and we tried to put in place policies that treated affected customers fairly.

Yet none of that mattered, because we violated the cardinal rule. We didn’t listen. More accurately, we made our customers feel like we weren’t listening. And until we could make that right, we kept on hemorrhaging business.

The problem was that although very few customers were affected by the changes in policy, many more were anxious about those changes. We tried to be low-key about the roll-out of these changes, so as not to call attention to it, but our silence on the subject simply served to make room for conspiracy theories about what was really going on. And, because the people complaining were yelling and screaming, we thought the right response was to ignore them and wait for them to leave. After all, someone who is writing ten-page posts about how they are going to abandon your product is presumably going to go away, right? That’s why one of the most important maxims in online communities is “don’t feed the trolls.” People who thrive on creating controversy through volume, repetition and hyperbole don’t really want to be heard. They just want attention, and giving it to them just encourages more reckless behavior.

But silence was the worst possible strategy. For months, we made constant product and policy changes, trying to end the controversy without simply undoing our original decision and abandoning the mainstream market. Nothing worked, until we finally had one of our community managers start talking to real customers on the phone. Then the reality of our problem hit us.

Most normal customers – even among early adopters - do not pay attention to the trolls. They don’t participate heavily in the forums, and they don’t send email when they are dissatisfied. They are largely invisible in the normal channels where customer service and community management pays attention. But that doesn’t mean they are not aware of what’s going on, or that they don’t care deeply about it. It turned out that our customers had gotten a clear message, one that we had never intended to send: that IMVU was becoming a teen-only site. We were totally shocked. Adults, even those that aren’t at all interested in racy content, were our best customers. We had built numerous features specifically for them, and often had to contend with charges from teenagers that we were too adult-friendly (these two segments don’t really like hanging out with each other as a rule).

When we actually started listening, things changed fast. First of all, we discovered what was really upsetting our customers. They had come to rely on the fact that IMVU was one of the very few online communications platforms where verified adults could meet one another. This was an unintended side-effect of our earlier content policies, that required age verification before you could buy unrated content from our catalog. It turns out many of our best customers were becoming age verified and then not buying any “adult” content. They enjoyed being treated like adults and having a way to chat online with other adults. Again, this was not about prurient content. Avatars make it possible to meet other people as they would like to be perceived. Mostly, that’s a good thing – many people believe their avatar is a more authentic representation of their true self than their physical appearance. But it also has some drawbacks. In the middle of a serious conversation on the joys of motherhood or the stress of a career you might realize that the person you’re talking to is only 15. That can be a jarring juxtaposition of physical reality that breaks the suspension of disbelief.

It took me a long time to understand that benefit of our product. Most customers couldn’t articulate it; they just knew they were angry that we had ruined it. Except that, from a literal point of view, we hadn’t ruined it. All of the features that enabled that experience were still there. What we had done to ruin it was make our customers feel like they were not welcome anymore. We kept denying that we had done anything wrong, that the features still worked as advertised, and justifying our decisions instead of apologizing. When we finally understood the problem, fixing it was relatively easy. We made a series of very public declarations that IMVU would always support adults, that we appreciated their unique contribution, and that we would always protect the key features that meant the most to them. The fact that pornography was not one of these key features was besides the point. We had summarily turned off one of their features without consulting them and without remorse. Who knew what feature might be next?

So real listening can head off a crisis in progress. But it also has other powers. For example, consider a common case of a minimum viable product. Since this product is necessarily missing a lot of features, those of us who ship them often want to duck the feedback. After all, it’s likely to be something we already know. In fact, I used to have the urge to argue with customers who gave feedback like “hey, idiot, you’re missing feature X.” I used to respond with something like, “I know, but it’s on our road map and we’re already working on it and we don’t really want feedback about that right now and so please get off my back.” You can imagine the field day the trolls had with that.

Eventually, we learned a better way. Feedback that tells you something you already know is still quite valuable. It gives you a hint that you are on the right track, but it also tells you quite a lot about the person giving you the feedback – that they believe in the path that you are on. For an early adopter, having this insight acknowledged and validated is a powerful experience. So we learned to take the time to say “thank you for your suggestion. Thanks to you, we’re going to prioritize feature X.” Then, when feature X finally did come out, every early adopter who suggested it feels an earned sense of ownership over it. Here’s the best part. They will also defend you against future attackers and trolls.

Collectively, an online community has an unlimited amount of time to spend. Even if you and your community managers are a hundred times smarter and more productive than the members of your community, there is absolutely no way that you can keep up with its sheer volume of energy. So you can’t fight an online community and hope to win the argument. The only way to have your point of view prevail is to have members of the community invest their unlimited time and energy in evangelizing it. And that’s what really, truly, actively listening does. It sends a signal to passionate customers that you care, that you want them on your side, and that they are part owners of your vision. In fact, I am convinced that if you could find some of IMVU’s earliest adopters, they would say something like this: “sure, those guys at IMVU HQ were helpful in writing code and stuff, but in the end they were just the hired help. It was really the community who built that product.” Imagine what happens when a troll shows up and starts bad-mouthing you. Those earlyvangelists (to borrow Steve Blank’s phrase) will defend you.

I have seen this dynamic time and again. As a creator of products (and now an author, too), it’s one of the things that keeps me going. When your customers become your allies, there’s almost nothing you can’t accomplish together.

There’s only one catch. You can’t stop listening. If you do, as IMVU found out to our peril, you break the implicit bargain that made you allies in the first place. And when your defenders join forces with your trolls, there’s no way to have your message heard.

That’s why not listening is the cardinal sin of community management. Any other mistake can be overcome: shipping bad product, removing key features, erroneously banning community members, even kicking out a whole segment of customers. And when those allies feel unheard, you simply can’t do anything right. Every little thing becomes a crisis. Choose wisely.


  1. Thanks for sharing that Eric. It's a great illustration about how policy changes can have unintended conequences amongst different user segments - and how easily their views can slip through the cracks.

    I definitely subscribe to the idea of "it's on our roadmap, but we'll move it up in priority thanks to you". I even make a note of specific people who've requested a feature or reported a bug, and then personally let them know when it's been implemented or resolved.

  2. I think this is one of your better posts this year, because you are addressing a risk that you face AFTER some early success, when your guard is down and you are more inclined to believe that you know what you are doing and therefore do not need to be as diligent at framing your hypotheses and how you plan to verify them.

    I think LinkedIn is violating this rule now, making a number of unilateral changes to group functionality that have deleted features and made the entire concept much less useful. But to your point, you can't even have a conversation with them, they have made their decisions and moved on.

  3. Thanks for sharing this lesson learned, Eric. It's a very articulate arguement.

  4. Thank you for this insightful analysis, Eric.

  5. Eric, this post has been enlightening to me. Thanks a lot for it.

  6. Great post Eric. One quibble, I think we have to be careful not to think about the community as a homogeneous group. Usually there are different segments that are loyal for different, even competing, reasons.

    I saw the post by the Second Life resident about this post and would have to say that Linden Lab is in a no-win situation. No matter what Linden Lab does, they will impact a loyal community, that depends on certain policies to thrive and make money.

    There's no way for Linden Lab to listen to their community, because there are many communities telling them different things. In cases like this, the best thing a company can do is be open and communicate their rationale for product/policy decisions. It's up to the communities to either accept or reject these changes.

  7. Joel: You're making the common mistake of equating "listening to" with "agreeing with".

    You can ALWAYS listen to the community (or the various factions of the community) and acknowledge what they're saying. That doesn't mean you are going to do what they are asking for.

    I've spent a lot of time answering forum posts with some variation of "We understand that you'd like to see features X and Y, for the following reasons. Unfortunately, we have decided not to prioritize them, and here's why..."

    Are customers happy to hear that? Not really. Of course they'd rather have it their way! But the fact that we respected them enough to respond, and to do so thoughtfully, earned their grudging respect.

  8. This post would be more coherent if we were able to understand in more detail what the platform features were that were changed, especially as in the SL context, "adult verification" produced a whopping 4,400 votes against it on the P-JIRA features proposal device, and numerous protest groups, actions, blogs, boycotts, etc.

    So it takes some imagination to figure out how "adult verification" in a world where porn is barred would be desirable, but I can see it. The reality is, the Sims Online became a very nice user-friendly platform for adults who wanted to be adults but not access sex and porn, even with the 9 year olds able to access it, because it let people manage their own parcels with bans and develop a kind of community watch for people who were creepy. But then crackdown down on some of the forums and third-party sites that managed the ability of the community police itself against bad actors by saying no one could disparage another individual or group on the forums. That's the sort of clamp down on free speech that serves absolutely no good purpose other than to keep disputes out of the corporate sanitized space, but ultimately it harms the ability of people to manage themselves under a set of rules.

    And those rules simply have to include First Amendment freedoms under the U.S Constitution.

    When game and virtual world companies like yours learn to stop calling your paying customers "trolls," and learn that "troll" is a discredited term that geeks use to marginalize and undermine legitimate criticize of platforms like yours and your arrogant and non-democratic decision-making progress, then, maybe you will grow up and join other businesses in America outside the Silicon Valley magic circle that think coders can do no wrong and never have to listen.

    A person making a persistent loud complaint isn't a "troll," they're a person making a persistent, loud, complaint. To imagine that this person does so only to get attention, or only to harass others, or only to harass you are to play into the hands of this geek autocracy on the Internet that just isn't viable anymore.

    In order to tackle the tiny percentage of loud, persistent complaints that *are* made in bad faith, with a manipulative agenda, you have been whacking at 95 percent of the legitimate loud, persistent complainers who can tell you something you need to hear. It doesn't matter if they are the 2 percent who post out of the community; they are the antennae of the race.

    Prokofy Neva

  9. Thanks for all the kind words, and welcome to the Second Life residents who've come across this post from Your2ndPlace:

    It sounds from the comments both here and there that Second Life is in the midst of this very problem. It must be very frustrating for both parties. As Cindy mentioned, part of the issue is conflating listening with obeying. There are ways to make people feel heard without necessarily doing everything they say. In fact, conversations like that that sometimes lead to unexpectedly interesting new products - as we found out at IMVU many times. The key is to not get locked into an either-or all-or-nothing mindset.

    SecondThoughts, I'd invite you to re-read the post. I think you'll find that I was careful to explain the difference between trolls and legitimate concerns - and that I had to learn the hard way not to label all criticism as trolling.



  10. Part 2

    I think you also have to throw out this idea of "community management" with the strict top-down company-town notion you have of it. Who needs *you* to manage an online community? Twitter has a TOS that says "we're not responsible for users' content" and bars only pornography and incitement to imminent violence, like RL law does. Everything else is overreach, like chasing "ad hominem attacks" that are often legitimate criticism and often responses to even nastier attacks from your favoured customers who shouldn't be favoured in the way you've feted them anyway.

    I agree with Joel that Linden Lab cannot be faulted for not listening, but they can be faulted for favouring certain segments of their user base, often for ideological reasons, not for even their own financial bottom-line reasons, i.e. their feting of opensource extremists, burners, anarchists, etc. or their privileging of only certain designers featured in Showcase and promos.

    Running a platform is a public trust and a publicly-accountable act. It took hundreds of years for newspapers to learn to behave as worthy holders of this public trust and cover the news without fear or favour, and create a firewall between news and views and the ad-sales side of the operation.

    Game and world platformers don't even think about these issues, let along implement the best practices of fairness and firewalls. Just because you need to sell to some lucrative part of your market doesn't mean you have to create unfair practices across the board for everyone and silence critical comments about yourself or other companies.

    Prokofy Neva

  11. Eric,

    No. I read the post three times. And I hear you that you feel you had an epiphany and realize there might be something to having to pay attention to "trolls".

    *Yet you still use the term 'trolls' and you still think there's something to it. You still think they are marginals and loud malcontents that you are only *forced* to listen to when your bottom line is hemorrhaging -- and only temporarily.

    And that lets me know that you still haven't grasped that there is no such thing as "trolls". They are a creation of the geek cabal that created the Internet and brooked no dissent. It is a hangover of other days, of thin-skinned geeks who cannot still be heeded on the big, wide web. It is a stage that must be outgrown.

    No other industry in America says that customers complaining are "trolls" -- it's only those with digital wears using these old geek memes that are so marginalizing and destructive. If my vacuum cleaner doesn't work, I'm not told to shut up, and other people favoured by that company for some weird reason with early alerts about new vacuum cleaner features (there's no such thing) aren't enabled to tell me to shut up or say I shouldn't be "fed". Instead, the vacuum cleaner dealer says "How can I help?" and tries to fix the problem.

    I'm challenging you to go further, and yet, you're behaving *just like those geeks always do, once again*. You're marginalizing me, literalizing me to death and imaging I "haven't read" your post, as if this is a "reading comprehension" problem on *my* part *and not on yours*.

    I think you'll need a lot more bottom-line hemorrhaging to start seeing yourselves as less than the privileged class that continue to see yourself as.

    I was very enthusiastic about IMVU, and loved their tutorials, and praised them on my blog, etc. etc. until I couldn't seem to find a way from getting away from all these nasty, vulgar teens (or people pretending to be teens) demanding explicit sex every time I went there. So I gave up.

  12. Linden labs works with, and treats their customer base better than IMVu ever did> I KNOW> i was a member of the now defunct APC. needless to say< WE WERE NOT listened to. NO ON cared what we said. How things could be changed for the better or ANYTHING> AND LL doesn't go about RAPING peoples inventories and not refunding them for money spent. Your credits and dev tokens are worthless. I lost over 200 USD in content, and NEVER got retribution for it. Eric, you can lie all you want about caring, but really, you never paid attention to what your OWN community managers and moderators were doing to people. Especially Cliff(devinoch). if you REALLY cared, WHY did you never get with the APC, that, WAS mainly used as a scapegoat for the changes you were making? Your mods and community manager made it clear to the COMMUNITY that the APC were working on laying out the guidelines, when we weren't able to do ANYTHING at ALl except deal with messages saying, "why did you let this happen?" The proof is in the transcripts of the APC forum. which many people saved, right before it was ceremoniously dumped by IMVU.

  13. SecondThoughts, I'm sorry if my previous comment offended you. I appreciate your passion for making sure that people are treated fairly and not marginalized, which (believe it or not) I share.

    Let me make sure I understand what you're saying. Here's what I'm hearing from you:

    - the word "troll" is offensive, because it's often used indiscriminately to describe legitimate customer complaints
    - troll is sometimes used as an excuse to ignore legit customer complaints
    - you've been mislabeled a troll in the past, which was hurtful
    - you perceive me in the same category as other virtual world and platform designers; you think we behave as a privileged class and don't take our customers' concerns seriously
    - IMVU sounds like a good concept, but you found the hassle of teens unavoidable

    Did I read your comments correctly?

    I can't do anything for the hurt you experienced in the past, other than to apologize on behalf of all platform designers out there. For what it's worth, I believe there _are_ trolls out there, but I think we agree about the definition. A customer with a legitimate grievance is not a troll, and should not be treated that way. In my original post, I tried very hard to explain this distinction.

    As for IMVU, I hope you'll give them another try. It's true that the problem you described used to be endemic - and it took us quite a long time to figure out just what a pain it is. If you're willing, give IMVU's age verification product a try, and let me know if that changes how you see it.

    It may be late, but IMVU did eventually figure out that customers like you are the lifeblood of its business. I expect if you try it now, you'll be treated that way.

    Thanks for stopping by,


  14. Dlblue, you're quite right. That whole episode (as I tried to describe in my original post) was handled really badly by IMVU. I was there, I saw it go down, and I apologize. We really didn't understand what we were doing back then.

    If you wanted to give IMVU another try, I'm confident you'd find its listening skills significantly improved. But I also understand if you were burned by that previous episode and weren't willing.

    Either way, thanks for sharing your comments.


  15. "SecondThoughts, I'd invite you to re-read the post. I think you'll find that I was careful to explain the difference between trolls and legitimate concerns - and that I had to learn the hard way not to label all criticism as trolling."

    I don't see this in your article, really. It seems like you are saying that those who write long diatribes, and/or repeat posters of negative opinions, are "trolls", "don't really want to be heard", and you oblige them in that sense.

    I would submit that the vast majority of your so-called "trolls" are actually your own creation from exactly this same problem of not listening. When you don't listen to someone who is trying to tell you something they think is important, they can respond any number of ways; from throwing up their hands and walking away, to pulling out a flamethrower and giving you a thorough hosedown. "There! Did I get your attention now?". Thus, when you ignore people, some will choose that tact because it seems, to them, to be an appropriate response to the indignity of being repeatedly ignored.

    Many trolls don't start out being trolls. Often, they have an issue or a complaint about a relatively minor issue or annoyance with your service. They are often almost afraid of "rocking the boat". However, after exposed to numerous examples of indignance and incompetent communication/handling of themselves and their issues by your staff, they feel they have no choice but to return the favor to get anything done. It's the "When in Rome..." syndrome, applied to community involvement. The more people they see mishandled around them, and the more indignance you demonstrate, the more it emboldens them to take the tact of using the flamethrower on you.

    You can't use the defense "well, if they wouldn't use the flamethrower on me, I'd listen, and then they wouldn't need to use the flamethrower", either. The most responsible party in customer/service-provider relations is the service provider. At some point, you as the service provider have to break the vicious cycle which resulted originally from your error in not listening/handling the customer(s) properly.

    "Don't feed the trolls", you say. I will bet if you actually listened to them and engaged them, you'd find the majority of them who were simply posting as "trolls" precisely because you weren't listening would actually quiet down and be more willing to get behind you on a controversial issue. Yes, there will be a few who are truly just trolls for the sake of trolling, but your article gives me the impression that you lump a whole lot of "negative" feedback into the "troll" category.

    Given all this, I would submit that you still have more to learn in the community and communication department. Maybe a future blog post? :)


  16. I stuck with IMVU following that particular crisis.

    At the time, I understood IMVU's rationale for making the decisions it did over certain content and was not massively upset that it was removed.

    Most of the items had been bought for the novelty value, anyway.

    What annoyed me at the time and, incredibly, still does as I type this response, was the way the situation was handled.

    I wonder if you fully appreciate the longevity of the damage caused at that time, though, Eric?

    Overnight, the perception of IMVU changed for huge swathes of the community and, sadly, the confidence has never returned amongst many users who recall the incident and the way in which it was handled.

    I would say, in support of your comments, however, that certain members of the community, whilst they had, in my opinion, a legitimate grievance, carried the opposition too far and did, in fact become 'trolls'.

    As a result of their behaviour, I, and many other users stopped visiting the forums, or stopped commenting on them.

    When IMVU instigated a policy of banning users from voicing their thoughts, however, even more damage was done to the company's reputation in the eyes of many.

    People felt themselves to be subject to censorship, a perception that continues to this day.

    As you are doubtless aware, by denying the 'trolls' a forum within the community in which to express their concerns, the very vocal opponents to the changes found other places in which to express their dissatisfaction.

    The destructive behaviour spread far outside the IMVU forums with certain groups attempting to discredit the company in any way they could, including several distinct attempts to discredit IMVU as a whole and, indeed, attempts to cause IMVU to be investigated by law enforcement and child protection agencies.

    This went far beyond the pale, something most reasonable people realised and which, ultimately, discredited the validity of the complainants' original message.

    The perception amongst longer term users regarding IMVU's disinclination to listen to the community has not diminished.

    Whist I understand that forum posts are made by a tiny minority of users, there is no doubt in my mind that the views expressed within the forums are representative of the vast silent majority, many of whom simply cannot be bothered to express themselves within the forum context.

    There remains a perception that IMVU simply does not listen to the community and I cannot see that perception changing in the forseeable future.

    Even today, the most cursory glance at the forums will furnish you with a good indication that people still feel they are being ignored.

    I've bothered to reply to your blog post because I am still a firm supporter of IMVU and its chat client in spite of the way I am made to feel neglected at times.

    I enjoy reading your blog as it helps me to keep a sense of perspective about the reasoning behind some of the goings on within the IMVU community.

    Thank you for writing it.


  17. Miranda, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I especially felt a pang at this: "What annoyed me at the time and, incredibly, still does as I type this response, was the way the situation was handled."

    I couldn't agree more. As a founder of a company, there is nothing more painful than to see your most loyal and devoted customers suffering. I know that there's no way to undo the mistakes that were made back then. In fact, I am really moved that you're still a believer in IMVU and that you're sticking with it. Thank you so much.

    You should know that there are thousands of entrepreneurs who read this blog, some of whom are working on new platforms that will see the light of day someday. By participating, you've helped the next generation of entrepreneurs avoid the mistakes we made at IMVU. So I thank you for that as well.


  18. @Cindy

    My point was that the community cannot be listened to as a monolith. I agree that listening and communicating is a key to success, but customer development can only do so much.... at a certain point decisions need to be made on where growth opportunities lie beyond the existing user base.

  19. Eric,
    I'm a troll, and I willingly admit that as solid fact. In truth, I'm so much of a troll that I was perma-banned from the IMVU Forums. It's a badge I wear with pride and honor. I was a troll who stood on the front lines of the " Great Castration " and didn't pull punches, and spoke my mind without pause or fail. I spoke out fear, without remorse, and without fail against the removal of adult rights, abuse, tyranny, corruption, sock-puppets, jackboots, and censorship. I spoke out against things that should never become an issue on the Internet - let alone in a 2D Chat System ( I honestly cannot any longer call IMVU a 3D system without falling into a fit of chuckles.. I apologize ). In fact, I spoke out on so many issues that you might even wonder if I ever shut up long enough to listen... and indeed I did. I almost came close to believing in what I was told - until the reality came crashing down. Regardless, I proudly and arrogantly claim that there are none other in the IMVU Community that can make even half of the claims that I have and will. I made every attempt possible to bring IMVU and its community together, for an entire year I did my job. Alas, I am a troll.
    I'm not just any troll... no, I could never just be a run of the mill mouthy troll that spends his time baiting and hijacking. No, I am the troll who who stood proudly on the APC until a man who was nothing more than an egotistical and maniacal bully named Clifford Hicks proved once and for all that IMVU only cared about IMVU - and not its community. Perhaps it was merely Clifford Hicks that cared about... Clifford Hicks? It truly doesn't matter, because IMVU made a choice to let this deranged bulldog rule its forum community with such a tyrannical fist that even speaking out against in any negative manner was enough to get you banned from the IMVU Forums. If every unspeakable evil IMVU had perpetrated for a yea wasn't enough - to allow this unstable man to reign and punish community members over the smallest slights sealed the deal for some of us.
    You say you've learned? Has anything changed? Does IMVU listen and pay attention? Does it stop to think fully about consequences that may befall itself and its community before it sets a plan in motion? I'd be foolish to believe so... my Developer Tokens already answer the question for me. IMVU holds nothing for me anymore, but it taught me a few valuable lessons and perhaps it learned a few things from me as well - if not, I shall not lose any sleep. For the record, I'm not bitter, I'm not angry, and I'm truly not a troll. If anyone believes so - then let them tell themselves whatever they need to tell themselves to sleep at night, as before - I shall sleep snuggled and content.


  20. I'd like to thank Eric for bringing this subject up and point out the irony of the argument that is going on here. Apparently we should be arguing weather the use of the word troll is appropriate over the very clear and IMPORTANT message that communities are your backbone. I find it appalling and almost frightening that secondlife seams to be preparing to fully open a grid financially supported by mostly over 30's who have money and spend it, to teens who have NO money and such plans are creating restrictive traffic flows in an already problematic search function.

    If people were to truly understand what drives the secondlife community and hear their customers, a large percentage of people are drawn to it because it is a ADULT grid, an interactive dating site where you can play dollies.

    As a content creator creating in secondlife for over 3 years I have seen community members comments ignored, arrogant responses by lindens to legitimate concerns, lack of attention to the core component of their business which is community. Functionality FIXED where it was NOT broken while more important issues seam to be totally ignored.

    Eric is totally right listening does not have to equate to agreement however responding is essential. Community members are the people in the environment every day using its functionality and ultimately paying the virtual land fees that drive the virtual economy.

    Ignore them and one day they just get up and leave you don’t get a second chance there is no second life for arrogance.

  21. Nice article Eric, I enjoyed it very much. I agree with Joel that the community cannot be treated as a monolith, be it IMVU, Second Life or any large scale virtual world, that would be an impossible dream.

    I also agree with those saying that listening does not have to equate to agreement, but when there is strong community feedback, largely from people who are on the ground, rather than sitting in the office looking at statistics, it seems churlish to ignore their feedback. Which is what we sometimes see, maybe the people managing the business disagree with the feedback, maybe they have a bigger policy going on that is still evolving, but silence on the big issues sends the message that they are not listening.

    Virtual worlds are going to evolve, changes are going to happen that upset people, but you keep people onboard by communicating why it's happening and showing them that the future will be bright. No gain without pain. However silence does not convey that message and never will.

  22. I cannot sink any more money into a program that is still having community problems. peer review is NOT working. You NEED to find people who will ALL BE ON THE SAME PAGE about what content it what, and NOT rely on your customers to rate items for you. Much less, give points, minus and plus for rating. Even if a person does a correct rating on content, the points will be negative because 9 other people passed a bad product. Gaming of the system is rampant. Using the customer base to try and keep content OFF your site, that you don't want there, is either truly naive, or truly stupid. I don't know which> I would HOPE that it's the former and not the latter. The IMVU community at large, is, teenagers, and adults a lot, of whom want things that you don't in the catalog, so they pass them. OR they are so confused about the guidelines that they don't know and just pass them regardless of what it is.
    Dev tokens. before they were implemented, the community said, we DON'T want them< You stuck the developers with them anyway> REFUNDS. of IMVU credits, for people who want out of the game, are worthless. The IMVU credit is so devalued, that NO ONE can make back the value they spent for the credits in the first place. So, when you raped peoples inventories, then refused to repay some, Like me, Yes, it pissed many people off. Wouldn't you be pissed if you bought something, and could only return it for store credit where you don't want to shop anymore? Of course people left IMVU and went to other worlds, where their inventories won't be raped. They can make items without the need of s 3K usd program to develop with, and where, yes, even though there are naysayers to the contrary, staff listens and tries to help. Do they always get it right? No of course not. Do they try to listen, I believe they do. They could pull what you did, and rape peoples inventories of items, but they don't. And that, is what matters to me. I refuse to be with a company that states, at any time, for any reason, or NO REASON AT ALL, IMVU can delete your account. My dev status was revoked without ANY warning to me, by devinoch himself. Causing me massive problems. I still have not unhidden over half of my items, And you refuse to allow anyone to delete their listings. We can just HIDE them, which, at any time after I am banned, you can reinstate the items and collect the credits yourself.
    You have so much to work on, and there are people in the community who have tried to get it through your thick skulls what can be done to fix the situation, but you still refuse to listen. And your mods still ban people for saying anything wrong. In fact, one of your own mods, told another customer to literally go f themselves. but she was never punished, and kept her mod status. Yeah, that's caring for your community.

  23. Eric,
    When I came to IMVU back in 2007, I had really enjoyed the actual product (the chat client) and getting to know the regulars on the forum. I wouldn't call the people who complained to you guys "trolls" as its derogative and a rather nasty term, call them passionate instead, passionate about helping you guys succeed so that you would be the best messenger choice out there. Compared to 2007, the chat client runs whole lot smoother (well, right before 2.0 anyways).

    I know you cannot listen to every and anybody on requests, but the people you should have been listening to on a serious basis were you councils, including the moderator team. The CAB, DC (aka the C3) and the APC fought hard to help you guys please the general audience, and at many times, the moderators as well, heck there were forum mods on the councils. When I was a moderator and member of the CAB, I was going out of my way to visit groups, and the chat client (along with the forums) to help collect data on what issues customers were having, and suggestions they had.

    One of the primary issues was the groups alpha group, staff left that place high and dry, so I would try to visit weekly or bi-weekly to collect data to feed to the CAB/staff. Never seen staff visit to the group or act on the data supplied. Another group I used to belong to was the Public Rooms Elite Testers group, we had made some simple suggestions on how to improve public rooms, and within three to four months of the group's creation, staff abandoned it. Ironically, the stuff we suggested in the group is being suggested in Suggestions forum.

    You, along with IMVU state that you learned a lesson from dismantling the APC, so why the heck did you guys dismntle the CAB along with the C3?

    Oddly, after the massive volunteering I did for IMVU, I stayed, I had even stayed dedicated to the product. Frankly though, after seeing so much ignorance from staff over the past two years, I did become what you call deem a "troll," along with some of the older members of the community.

    Your customer support is terrible right now, and it burns me that if I want a faster response, that I have to purchase the VIP. There are major safety concerns that pop up in Miscellany, bugs and suggestions (on the forums) about being hacked, etc, posted by people frustrated by long waits. There are also general concerns too, about wondering when help tickets will be answered. Many people wonder why IMVU isn't hiring more man power in the CS department when its truly needed; of course IMVU cannot answer to 80k people a day, but if they hired more CS agents, then at least a better percentage of tickets could be answered.

    My last real concern is with the new 2.0 chat client, pet mode I've tried out, and for the typical beginner user, its cute, I'll give it that. Movies mode, frankly its just wearing down the client; flash videos are extremely heavy on home pages as it is, and from someone who only has 1.25GB of RAM in his hard drive, I noticed a significant difference in loading time on the home page of the chat client when you installed movies mode, it takes me up to 3 minutes for the avatar to just load, compared to originally 45 seconds before movie mode was released. I just think movies mode shouldn't be within the client but on the site itself.

    Like others, I have moved on to greener pastures (SL), but I remain on IMVU, not to primarily express my concerns/suggestions to IMVU, far from it, I stay on because I have many friends there. Read your forums, many "trolls" that were "fired" remain due to the friendships they bonded with people, not because they want to cause you hell personally. Of course, if we see a new user in peril, we help them out to the best we can, as we have the experience to do so, and just so that these new users will hopefully enjoy IMVU. No matter how bitter someone seems about IMVU, or how much they complain, there's usually more than one reason for hanging around.

  24. On a final note too, (if my original post got submitted), the 3D catalog needs its policing policies changed. Having consumers police the catalog is not working, UFI items are being passed day in/day out, and people are buying them. Same goes for the AP products that the General Audience consumers (whicn includes teens) get their hands on. I think its time to hire either a group of staff members to handle the policing of the catalog, or hire "catalog moderators" to do the work of keeping the catalog cleaned. The catalog is no longer a customer support "rating" issue but a safety issue, because many and I do mean many teens on the site think its all right to be purchasing nude suits along with genetalia with actions that were supposedly banned along with other items deemed UFI in the great castration.

    More CS agents, better policing of the catalog and perhaps maybe, you can save a really great product.


  25. You know, it's easy to dismiss persistently vocal critics as "trolls". True trolls are rare and don't last very long. Unless you've actually seen a real one, it's easy to dismiss someone who is persistently negative and overtly critical as "just a troll". If the latter is your definition then I almost certainly qualify as one -- forum moderator status aside.

    The IMVU forums exist in a limbo of increasingly hopeless negativity. People arrive on the forums because they've tried going through the "proper channels" to no avail. Needless to say, they do not arrive happy cheerful people. They scream, yell and swear on the forums -- first of all out of frustration and secondly because, unlike the help tickets, emails and phone calls, that actually works. A mod or other community advocate will see the post and put it in front of staff and the situation gets looked into and, where possible, resolved generally relatively quickly. Recent decisions to force such complaints off the forums and back to help tickets have done nothing but engender a feeling of being stifled and the removal of a paying customer's last recourse at resolution. This is a bad decision and it will come back to bite you right in your bottom line. In fact, it is doing so already.

    Rather than dismissing such critics as trolls, perhaps you should look more into what causes them to be and thus how you can prevent even more from being created. As you have already seen from experience, once made, these so-called trolls don't simply go away. They stay around and continue to speak out vocally at every opportunity.

  26. Eric, thank you for that post! It's nice to "see" that human beings are actually behind a name. I can probably sit here and pick out things from everyones posts, but I won't.

    As a member of your community, and a former member of the 3C, that I was very proud to be a part of, and as someone who posted in the forums frequently, trying to be unbiased in my views and opinions, it WAS that fact of not listening and the fear of not being able to voice my opinion, but to have to walk on eggshells when posting, that made me also "ignore" what is going on in those forums. I just threw my hands up, and brought my voice to groups instead.

    I am a big girl, and I know the difference between a true Troll, and someone who is posting because they are passionate about a subject. I'm not sure why others who are posting are admitting to being trolls, when they are not trolls. My point is though, that we are humans behind these avatar names, and we are VERY passionate because we love what we do, not because we hate it.

    I have gone through a lot of changes with IMVU. Not as many changes as some older accounts, but enough to have watched it go from awesome to gruesome. But....I am still there! Why? Because I was waiting for the day that someone would write the post you did! It's called faith (or wishful thinking, whichever judgmental people prefer! ;) ) SOMEONE had to be listening!

    Eric, I am not only a member of the IMVU community, but I am your business partner. I take pride in my work, and want IMVU to as well. If you don't succeed, I don't succeed. I adhere to the rules, whether I like them or not. If I see a ship is sinking though, I'll jump on the life raft. So far, I'm still on deck.

    I hope this "revelation" you have had will flow into the business and show once again that IMVU can go back into positive mode, because the negative mode is getting more and more difficult (and sad) to deal with on a daily basis.

    I know IMVU is your life. It is mine to. We can work as a team. We both want success. Let's make it work together.

    Proudly, and respectfully signed,
    OracleGoddess / Mary Bash

  27. OracleGoddess, I want to say a special thank-you to you for your very thoughtful post. I was especially moved by this:

    "I am not only a member of the IMVU community, but I am your business partner. I take pride in my work, and want IMVU to as well. If you don't succeed, I don't succeed ... If I see a ship is sinking though, I'll jump on the life raft. So far, I'm still on deck."

    Thank you for sticking with IMVU all these years. I don't personally have the power to fix all the problems you've raised. Like you, I have faith that things will get better.

    As for the rest of the comments that have generally been blasting me for my use of the word troll, let me say the following:

    1) I hear you. I'll be much more careful about the use of the word troll in the future
    2) For the record, I don't think anyone who's championing a cause they feel passionately about is a troll
    3) My intention in the original post was to make a distinction to specifically say that the IMVU adult users were not trolls
    4) My advice to startups out there (which I think is consistent with what I wrote above) is: don't dismiss your critics as trolls. Get to know them, and find out what they are _really_ thinking and feeling.

    As always, I am continually amazed by the passion of the IMVU community. Thank you so much for stopping by to demonstrate it!


  28. Eric,

    I agree with everyone above about referring to people who loudly voice their opinions as trolls. There are a few true trolls (people who are causing problems with their disruption purely for attention), but most of them are just truly dissatisfied customers who feel continually betrayed and not taken seriously. Anyone who is treated like this for months (or over a year) is going to get progressively nastier until they are so fed up they snap or leave.

    IMVU is still not listening to their customers. Over and over, we tell you TALK TO US, TELL US WHAT YOU'RE DOING BEFORE YOU DO IT. Not for approval. But so we know. Then you won't have thread after thread screaming about changes we didn't know about and can get actual feedback about the change. Until this happens consistently, I refuse to believe IMVU staff is listening. Any change, no matter how small you think it is or how many months ago it was announced, it needs to be said again. Spam our homepages, put it in the blue bar. You cannot over notify us. I assure you.

    Since this about communication, I'll leave off on my laundry list of complaints. Truly, the lack of communication on IMVU's end gets fixed, it will help a lot with the dissatisfied customer issue.

  29. I had a very long diatribe written as there is just so much to vent about what has not been heard over the years. I have been with IMVU for about 4 years now, a developer for almost that long and I have seen so much go wrong with the program I wanted to run screaming a few times. In fact, I have. I only come back because in all honesty, it is a source of income, when I can get it to work and not have to keep hiding, altering and changing my listings to accommodate the newest changes to the TOS.

    I can appreciate fully that you had an epiphany, however, after so many years of mistreatment it will be a 'wait and see how long this one lasts' moment until you can prove to me, and others, what you are saying is indeed what you mean.

    You say you are listening to your user base now but how are you showing that?

    Are you posting emails to everyone about any upcoming changes with a forum for those that wish to voice their opinions openly and honestly?

    When you do get responses if the majority are not in agreement will you give a full explanation as to why it must be done or give their comments some consideration before you move ahead with the idea?

    Are you going to fix past issues that people have been requesting for years now or continue to blow off those issues and just move ahead with the new toys in hopes we continue to be blind sided with the new shinies and forget about the current issues?

    Your adult community is quite tired of being treated like 3 year olds that can be distracted easily with new toys. Show us some respect and you may find that you get that respect returned to you.


  30. Quoted from the internet: An "Internet troll" or "Forum Troll" or "Message Board Troll" is a person who posts outrageous message to bait people to answer. Forum Troll delights in sowing discord on the forums. A troll is someone who inspires flaming rhetoric, someone who is purposely provoking and pulling people into flaming discussion. Flaming discussions usually end with name calling and a flame war.

    Eric - we know you didn't mean troll.

    I don't see this blog as a place for people to get on a soapbox and scream their disdain for decisions made by IMVU staff.

    However, you have opened yourself onto the internet with some really great points that are so wonderful to see written. It's honest.

    A lot of us within the IMVU community of Users feel as though we have wasted a lot of time and energy in effort to assist in making the place more successful. We shake our heads a lot because it just seems to get worse with each product release.

    I find that the communications I have been involved with most recent were manipulative at best. Staff were not connecting with me to hear my concerns but to attempt to brainwash me into publicly stating what the message they wanted delivered.

    I have been told more than once that people listen to what I have to say because I am somewhat "known" in the community. In the same respect that staff have muffled and stifled our communication with their ridiculous constraints through rules, they have made it nearly impossible for anyone to speak the truth or to even voice their real opinion.

    I know where a lot of this came from, and I can refrain from typing the names of those I feel have caused the most damage....
    But why doesn't anyone open their eyes and learn from the failures?

    Communication is failing, so instead of working harder on communicating on a small, personal level they do away with the volunteer committees who were indeed offering tons of assistance. Why? because it hurt their feelings to hear the truth.

    Customers are not paid to blow happy sunshine up any companies rear end. And when you have employees who really believe they are deserving of such, you are building a bad product.

    I have wasted hours upon hours helping with different product testing, giving input on what is right and wrong in the community, and as you know even visiting the offices of IMVU.

    What I find very interesting is many of the things I have been involved with, rolled out when I gave a big thumbs down. And it isn't me being over critical. I am a User. Staff do not "use" the product in the same manner. There are very few who actually know how it all works together.

    And there are the things that never happen over those that never should. Priorities seem to not exist.

    I have stuck around through some pretty ridiculous situations in IMVU. But I am still here because of the community and those I have become very close to. What is sad is what binds us. People tend to come together and support each other through disasters. IMVU is one great tornado.

    As usual, I am always available for a phone call to discuss my thoughts in personal conversation as writing tends to lose the intent. did good here. I like how you expressed the truth.

    and all of those other accounts I hold...

    as well as myself,

  31. "We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees." (Switching supervisor, AT&T Long Lines Division)

  32. Dear Eric,

    I'm not an old user of IMVU; I am a relatively newish user whose first IMVU anniversary approaches this coming November.

    I came into IMVU after years of hearing about the product and website and so without much influence - positive or negative - from anyone, I stepped in and I've been with you all ever since.

    I was very well familiar with Second Life before I started with IMVU (I had an account and then abandoned it for various reasons) and comparatively, I saw IMVU has having more potential for growth and development than SL and so once I learned what IMVU had to offer to its userbase, I became very excited about the possibilities that might come.

    Perhaps I have been one of the lucky ones whose own excursions into IMVU customer support has been successful and fruitful and whose account has never been in 'danger's' way, but over time, I have seen others be not so lucky and I have seen specific issues crop up over and over and over again... and seemingly without any sort of response from the IMVU support/community team.

    I say seemingly because I in no way want to be judgmental and assume wrongly about things.

    A few incidents that I can name off the top of my head:

    - Seemingly Random Disabling of Accounts due to Improper PRing (early Spring 2009)

    - Changes in Derive Fees/Other Fees

    - Changes in General Policy

    - Peer Review/PR Issues

    - DOC/Daily Outfit Challenge Issues

    - Price hike issues

    - Seeming trend towards a more teen and kid-friendly site

    You will never be able to please everyone; it's impossible. You, as a company, also need to be profitable to remain as a business.

    We, your supportive and reasonable customer base, understand both of these points.

    We can also listen to your reasons and even though we may not like them, we can be adults and sit back and watch the changes roll in and either adjust or leave.


  33. The BIGGEST problem still is the fact that it feels like IMVU is NOT connecting with its userbase.

    We don't have to be pleased in the sense of you doing something - make a change to a policy to please us for example - but we DO need communication from you.


    Have you personally visited the Content Creator forums and read through the PR thread? Or have you read through the thread that was talking about the potential fee for sending HP messages that cropped out half a year ago?

    Eric, people were PANICKING.

    When people were randomly disabled - people who nobody would have thought (much less the person themself) would ever be disabled because of their seemingly good reputation - people were PANICKING.

    When new changes roll out that aren't anticipated or expected - like the whole PR deal that became a PR mess - people PANIC.

    And why?

    Because of a consistent lack of communication from you, the crew of IMVU.

    Even just TELLING us, "Hey, we have found a need for ABC change for XYZ reason" would be enough to give us all something to chew on while the changes are being rolled out or in.

    Lack of communication makes IMVU seem like a very cold place to be and when things break or things go wrong or changes are rolled out that nobody is alerted to and panic sets in, it feels like we're being ABANDONED and that we're DROWNING.

    We are afraid that the next disabling is going to happen to us even though we know we have done nothing to deserve it.

    We are afraid that adults will be shunned in place of the teens. (If you ask around, you'll find that it still feels that way, by the way, and not just because of the whole APC incident.)

    We are afraid that everything is going to be sanitized into a virtual Disneyland. (I'm not kidding.)

    We are afraid that WE as a consumer base, are losing our ability to speak out about issues that need to be talked about and aired.


  34. Jami's addition to the community management team has been great and I have appreciated her contributions so much, but I sincerely think IMVU needs to do more.

    Just TALK to us.


    You have the IMVU Community Council.

    You have had other councils.

    PLEASE use us.

    PLEASE just drop a message into all of our HPs or even just an announcement into the forums to alert us to possible changes or problems or even concerns.

    PLEASE reassure us that the staff of IMVU is still watching over us and still helping us and still listening to us.

    We CAN be reasonable, I promise.

    Heck, I would even work for you all as a Customer Support Representative; I believe - and want to believe - in IMVU -that- much.

    This post took a lot of guts in my opinion to be made public; thank you for coming forward with your thoughts and explanations and apologies.

    But like some other users have said, a LOT of damage has been done and a LOT of confidence has been lost.

    It isn't the trolls that are the people you need to worry about.

    It is people like me who have staunchly supported IMVU and who have dropped money into your products and services that you need to worry about losing.

    It seems like a trollish thing to say, but the most loyal are also the most hurt when it comes time to leave.


    Because it hurts to leave a place where they have invested so much of their time, energy, effort, and care.

    Because it hurts to be disappointed.

    And the reason it hurts is because ONCE UPON A TIME, we believed so much in you and had so much hope in you.

    And more likely than not, we have gritted our teeth and bit the bullets and have tried our best to weather through the growing pains alongside with you.

    It hurts because we are invested (not just monetarily) in you.

    Because we care.

    Because we believed that YOU also cared about US.

    After doing freelance consulting for the last several years, I can say without a doubt that in my experience, the single most important thing to remember in regards to dealing with clients and userbases is COMMUNICATION.

    No need for confessionals like what I am writing right now.

    Even if it's just to say, "We are having troubles," those few words can have a hell of a lot of impact and it can be the one thing that will either make or break userbase loyalty and userbase confidence.

    Not everyone will like the changes and some may leave, but their impression and CONFIDENCE about the company as a whole will have a chance to remain positive.

    Killing the communication kills the confidence and without the confidence, it is of my opinion that the death of a community is then imminent and only a short matter of time.

    Your userbase confidence has been shot and shot again.

    We're still holding on, but you need to hold on to US, and hold on tight and reassure us - sincerely reassure us - and communicate with us about what in the world is going on.

    Like Laele said, there is NO way to over-communicate with us.

    The reasonable people will appreciate it and will simply delete any duplicates and will be reassured and the unreasonable people will simply complain and troll and flame.

    I'll use my IMVU avatar name to sign off on this post in an effort to give you an avenue through which to communicate and to show you that I am, indeed, a very real IMVU user who cares and who would love to help out.

    Thank you for posting, thank you for reading, and I leave my message box (both HP and forum) open for messages.


  35. It's not simply just a question of "not listening", it's a deeper issue of a 'sacred trust' that's been broken.

    This is the reason IMVU has such a hard time now trying to win back its evangelical users, that sort of 'emotional bond' isn't fixed with platitudes and the appearance of listening... the collective user base can see right through that and is far more intelligent than appears to be acknowledged.

    So saying "we told you so" doesn't quite do justice to the whole story here, but people still hold on, despite their better judgement in some instances, because they can still see the potential available.

  36. Eric, today in reading your blog, I breathed a great sigh. Like OracleGoddess, and some of my other IMVU forum friends that i see here, I see your success as my success, and your failure as my own. I often am brought to tears when I see someone post for help at the forum, and they are referred to the help ticket system. I cannot help but feel disrespect for myself and my peers at the forum as our threads are moved or locked. Out of respect I ask that our threads be allowed to die their own death from lack of interest, that our customers in distress be taken care of in a quick and efficient manner, and that you hire some staff to police the REALLY NEEDS it IMHO. I also ask that you please try to view the 5 percent who read the forums as those who care the most, and make a point of taking the time to keep themselves informed and involved. I know you cannot speak for the entire IMVU staff, but it gives me hope to know this blog has been written

  37. I have Read the post here and as most have it takes guts to put it in writing. The "trolls" I have run into seem just to be wanting to complain about any and everything. I am a small time developer who enjoys the challenge of getting it right. I have made suggestions, comments and in my own small way contributions to the IMVU system.
    Yes we have had complaints about how things are not done here. Some because it seems the "Higher ups" don't want to listen. Others because of problems we encountered while trying to work with the tools we have available.
    Not all things work, and with the changes I have seen in the 2+ years I have been on IMVU amone Still need to be fixed.

    Please, the one thing everyone wants is communication between the staff, and the developers. They are your heart and soul.
    As several have said, "I was not told about this until after it happened". Bombard us with the Blue Banners about changes. You have the capability to do it as you know who the Developers are. Let us know.
    Thanks for the opportunity to be a part of the solution not just just a stander by.

  38. All I have to say is that as a member of IMVU for a long time I'm still there only cause it is a major source of my income, but I will never respect a company or management team that during a conference call with the CEO and Management staff was told to "shut up" I also sat on the DC and C3 and the day I was told on a conference call in front of my peers to "shut up" was the day IMVU became a tool, something to use and throw away when it breaks.
    I don't run my business with that lack of respect for my customers that IMVU does.

    Sorry but IMVU has not changed it ways, it does not listen. It has channels to speak to but they continue to be closed and frankly rather rude. The forums have been so clamped down on that IMVU has listed the threats they intend to use when a user breaks the rules. People can only post in certain forums certain things. Resellers have been relegated to Misc. The AP forums are a ghost town. People are afraid to post plain and simple.

    Support is a disaster, weeks to answer an email. PR is even worse - last week I did 200 or so and found 10 UFI and AP items available to minors. ALL of them passed and were available till I turned them in. Had I not turned them in.....

    IMVU has major hurdles to overcome and it high time they came to the customers table and sat down for a real conversation and not continued its, as you call it "propoganda".

  39. Makes me glad I posted this in the forums. it makes me not seem so much as a troll anymore. I was deeply concerned about the community in IMVU when I was on the apc. I still am, but seeing the same thing happen over and over and over again, a ticket system that is backlogged, some say up to a year! No one should have to wait for an answer to their problem for a year. I juped ship a while ago, I stopped developing. The dev tokens sit unused and my products are collecting dust, BUT I am still in the forums. I still do PM's wioth people trying to help them, i still watch, and I still care about the CUSTOMERS. Staff on the other hand, untill they can get themselves together, well,, what can I say, but Oh well, YOU did this, NOT the customers, YOU broke the trust that every dev and every user signed up with in the first place, and you want the USERS to just sit back, and be told that the forum people don't count because it's such a small percentage of users. THIS IS YOUR CARDINAL SIN.
    IF you would have listened to the forum poster, and SL is accused right along with you there, you would see so much more positive things for your site, and so much less negativity. When a company dismisses a set of users, just because it's a small percent of the total, THAT is where the problems come in. The forum users USE the forums for a reason> THEY CARE, THEY WILLT ELL YOU WHEN YOU ARE SCREWING UP. But, if you refuse to listen, WHO is to blame? YOU and ONLY YOU.
    Since LL took over xstreet, they have seen a 34% DROP in users and sales, why? because they didn't LISTEN to people on the forums. Because, and I quote, the top 10 developers never posted there. Well, that's wonderful isn't it? just make 99% of the userbase feel like crap because the top 10 didn't voice an opinion. And why didn't they> because they a\were makinmg enough money that they don't care what the rest of the customers do or say. it' the ones who SPEAK OUT who you need to listen to. And until that happens, you will continually have to keep borrowing money time and time again.
    This last 10MIL you borrowed, could have been used to train your employees in better customer relations, could have been used to hire on people for peer review, BUT what happend? OOH shiny new toys to play with. And an ever broken system of communications failure and a userbase who is told that they can game the system with peer review, instead of having trained people police the catalog.

  40. Many many of my thoughts have been reiterated in the above posts. I wont attempt to go into detail, as sadly i still feel it is a bit pointless, even after your blog entry. I agree wholeheartedly about a few of the noisy ones reflecting the views of the silent users. To be honest, i just cant be bothered complaining anymore. I know that the things i'm having issues with have been put forward time and time again (by people far more eloquent than i am) and to no avail. Ive been on imvu for three years now, and im widely involved with both community projects and resellers. Recently, a team of really decent and respectble developers started a project that we believed was for the benefit of the dev community, and even when we approached you to be involved with it, we were told that you wanted no part in it. It wasnt allowed to continue to run as a seperate project over technicalities either. To be honest, if it werent for the fact that i cant bear to walk away from the commitments ive made to other users, i would have left a long time ago. I still consider it sometimes.
    Im greatful for your post -i really am. It definitly shows a move in the right direction. I just hope that its soon enough to restore the trust of all those who have had a worse run than i have. Right now im fence sitting.
    Please give me a damn good reason to stay.

  41. *steps on podium, hits the imaginary mic*
    testing.. ahem

    There is still one and only ongoing problem.

    While clothing companies had all been contacted in the past and does absolutely nothing to protect their assets.. IMVU teenagers and SOME dumb adults alike still believe selling trademarked goods and earning profits that wasn't created by themselves is legal O.o Hollister, South Pole, Ecko, etc.. and this is mostly the reason why ALOT of the teen devs has been turned into PRO devs. Because teens LIKES to wear something they wear irl. I know many people tell me to ignore their catalog. Ignore their products. They're not important. But..

    I am a strong advocate of this issue since who knows how long. People I know gifts me stuff like that.. I just never use them. It just.. urks me. It might not urk others, but I know a huge amount of people who gets urked. And I certainly know a huge amount of people who moved on about this issue cause IMVU doesn't listen or that IMVU closes our threads.. or deletes them about it.

    Yes, there ARE originality out there by the GOOD and AMAZING PRO developers who actually create stuff outta their own hands.. I just.. for once.. would like to see somebody else who submits their whole catalog out of Hollister or whatever else they copy off of with something of their own thing. Their only reason they can't do shit.. is cause either they "suck" at it. Or they don't even try at all.

    That is all.
    *steps off podium*

  42. It seems to me you still don't listen or care for your customers, you release a client that had the old UI summarily disabled with no thoughts on how the new one would function solo. Being told to its the Dev's fault for things going wrong with your client is ludicrous. I'm one of the older users not in age but time on IMVU, May 2006 join date. So when I'm told straight up lies about things, I tend to not believe you or IMVU learned anything. And you will not be remembered for the good things you do, but the things you failed to correct, and that was listening to your customers, which you still don't do. Your setting yourself up as a business for failure ....again.

  43. While on the surface a communication from the IMVU top that a corporate epiphany brought the need to listen to customers into clear focus sounds, the slightest glance beneath the surface begs the question, how is this particular epiphany any different in effect than the last one where IMVU wrote the great apology for not listening thread right after seizing purchased products from customer's inventories without refunding the paid price?

    How is this new epiphany effecting the current state of IMVU/customer communications? I can think of quite a few major areas of user concern where it is having no apparent effect at all:

    Peer Review -

    A lack of effective listening led IMVU decision makers to believe that customers asked to participate in an all product submission "peer" review process when in fact customers volunteered to help review flagged products only.

    Equally ineffective listening led IMVU to conclude that users were asking that developers performing peer review be punished by removal of their developer status if they made review mistakes. In fact, users asked that IMVU make a determination as to who was deliberately passing Unfit for IMVU products into the catalog and stop them from performing peer review on either their main accounts or their alts. Users also asked that IMVU identify and aggressively act to eliminate the source of such products up to and including IP bans.

    Punishing developers by removing their ability to create products for making peer review rating errors in an environment where there are inadequate tools to properly perform review on pose furniture, room nodes and hidden triggers attached to innocuous products was totally counter productive. Even in an environment of great peer review tools, if developers provide free labor to perform this work and their review quality is lacking a more rational response might be to decline the continued use of their volunteer review services rather than punish them by removing their ability to create content while, most ridiculously, leaving them able to continue performing unacceptable quality reviews. There was also a litany of errors made in determining which developers had in fact passed UFI products into the catalog warranting their punishment.

    Somehow, despite this greater focus on listening to customers, IMVU continues to either not hear, or not regard that the vast majority of users do not want to police the catalog for IMVU. They continue to attempt doing so in what is perceived to be a product hostage situation. IMVU charges a fee for submission of products to be advertised for sale in its catalog. However, if enough users do not "voluntarily" perform free peer review services, those submitted products will never see the light of day and submission fees are never refunded.

  44. I genuinely wish that IMVU decision makers would actually listen to the hordes of users informing them what they must also see themselves, that peer review is not working. It's not working for a number of different reasons:

    1. Inadequate tools

    2. Varied user motivations for particiating (including motivations to pass improperly rated products)

    3. Unclear rating guidelines

    4. Varied levels of user knowledge and understanding of clear rating guidelines.

    5. Insufficient numbers of users willing to continue indefinite provision of free time and labor.

    6. Fear of punishment for review errors.

    7. Lack of active and visible staff engagement and interaction with participants in effectively managing the peer review process and its associated review tools.

    8. Inadequate user incentives.

    9. Add your own here.

  45. And what about "profit based pricing"? I was banned for posting factual and valuable information in an effort to illuminate the difference between the actual process of "profit based pricing" and the process that IMVU has decided to implement.

    I am not a forum troll. I am a committed and site loyal content creator. I am well aware of the fact that my success as an IMVU content creator is directly and irrevocably connected to IMVU's success as a viably desirable 3D Chat site choice. Any input that I offer is always towards that end.

    I am not loyal to individual staff member decisions regardless of the quality and/or adverse impact of those decisions. To be so would be, in my opinion, disloyal to IMVU.

    I offered an educated opinion about the travesty called "profit based pricing" that the former "community manager" actually fabricated documents as the basis to forum ban me and threatened to permanently ban me as a means to censor the information I sought to share. I hold the same educated views on this subject of profit based pricing and would greatly appreciate an opportunity to be heard.

    The staff member felt compelled to fabricate a basis to forum ban me because I am not a forum troll and there was therefore no real basis.

    It is truly unfortunate in a process where a company considers it critical to listen to its users, that the person who reviews a users forum banishment appeal is the person who effected the banishment.

  46. What exactly is the intent of "community management"? To manage users? To manage a process? To manage the delivery of services to a community? From an IMVU perspective, what is it?

    I ask the question because it is my perception that IMVU community managers consider their responsibility to include managing the people in the community. Adult users are chastised by community managers for voicing their opinions as though the community managers believe themselves to be disciplining their recalcitrant children. I, and other adults I'm sure, greatly resent such experiences.

    It is very difficult, if not impossible, to respect an adult who does not interact with you on an adult to adult basis, thus demonstrating a lack of respect offered. Respect is indeed a mutual exchange.

    A great beginning towards a posture of actually listening to AND respecting users would be a demonstration of genuine respect for a user's right to hold and express an uncensored opinion, whether the community manager agrees with it or not. An example of such demonstration would be to discontinue the practice of locking forum threads where users express unpopular opinions.

    In closing I would like to address your observation about the need to fire passionate early adopters who were creating illicent content.

    That is a most disturbing observation. In fact, it is frightening. IMVU invited users to create whatever content their imaginations led them to create "without censorship by IMVU". IMVU introduced what is now considered to be illicit content with its adult avatar actions which have since been disabled. It's one thing to make a decision to change your corporate image and therefore change the type of content you wish to have created by users, and another altogether to suggest that users who created content which was acceptable at the time they created it should now be labled "users who create illicit content". I have no issue with a decision to change direction though I do not agree with the manner of change. I have no issue with action to address users who continue to submit content which the new rules prohibit. However, I take serious issue with what I perceive to be a posture of luridly labeling users who created or used adult content which was appropriate and in fact, encouraged by IMVU, under the old rules.

  47. Without belaboring the accurate definition of the term "forum troll", you wonder why previously loyal users have now joined the ranks of the discontent? Well..there is listening, and then there is active listening.

    Eric you, Matt and Nat and others were once very active on the IMVU forums interacting with and genuinely listening to users. Users felt themselves to be valued partners because you made them feel that way. You earned their loyalty.

    Loyalty is not something that people distribute to all and any that they come into contact with regardless of warrant. Users were loyal to the company and to you as positive, engaged, passionate and approachable representatives of the company.

    Maybe as the company has grown you feel the pinch of time and no longer have the ability to continue such a hands on approach to site development. However, that value that you brought to the user experience has not been continued by any who has since come to fill your absent roles in the community.

    User loyalty is no longer being earned by representatives of the company. Instead of feeling as valued partners, early adopters, as you call them, are now feeling cast aside, disenfranchised, devalued and ignored.

    Users still have much to contribute to an open and receptive communications exchange. It would be a wondrous day when IMVU staff comes to recognize that many adult users have educational and professional experiences, knowledge, skills and abilities which equal or exceed theirs and are deserving of professional respect as well as adult respect in communication exchanges. Listen with an open and receptive mind to the value of what users have to offer. Mine for gold.

    In closing, let's work together.

  48. Hmmmm, perhaps I wrote too much, but I would like to see all that I wrote preceding the post shared also posted for possible comment.

  49. Eric, if you want to see a real-time panic set in at IMVU and want to see your userbase go crazy because of a press release that seems to only confirm people's fears about IMVU's direction:

  50. I will let you in on a little secret, there was a diamond given to you amoung these comments. Hope you read it and realize its value ......

    It was one word: Partners

    In a nutshell, that is the mindset of your userbase, especially Content Creators. The ones complaining and not being listened to, the ones panicking. We believe that we are partners with IMVU. That is why we put our cash into the business, our business. That is why we voice opinions and have a fit when it is ignored, especially when it effects OUR bottom line. That is what company founders and staff do not get.

    We WORK, not just play, on IMVU. We are not customers dissatisfied with a shirt we bought and are trying to return it. We are partners.

    So you are shocked that having "god-like" power over our ability to pay our mortgage makes us active? It is a scary enough thought without the adding that the god is a frightenly stupid one. IMVU is special, you can chat anywhere, but IMVU gives people the power to fullfill the creative or montary urge and that is powerful.

    It all comes down to your CORE cash users and they think of themselves as partners. The sooner IMVU gets this, listens, courts, wines and dines them, the sooner IMVU will have these adults talking about what a great place IMVU is, not just for OMG chatting with friends, but working there for years and getting their kids on as well.

    It takes more than "yes dear, we are listening" especially when you just turn around and keep on doing what you are doing. It is dismissive and condecending to say the least. The bottom line is that ACTION is what indicates that you understand it is a Partnership, and showing it the respect it deserves. When you do that, hell, listening becomes as natural as smoozing anyone that you want their money.

    You spend thousands on research? I just gave you the answer for free and I am not the first one.

    Princess of Erised

  51. Well Eric...
    A cat took Your tongue..??

    What You have seen here is just a tip of the iceberg of those intelligent, caring and dedicated and highly respected users of IMVU, who really care how things have been turned out in there.

    So You get the feedback..
    I bet You had NO idea how serious it is..

    ( I deleted long list of things what bothers me, because it would be only echoing what has written by my fellow IMVU users here..)


    There's one point which is missing.
    Basic human rights..

    A grown up people who fought their basic rights, can't stay aside, or be silent, when they see those rights are stomped down..
    It's not all about communicating. It's all about respect..

    In a history of totalitarian governments, there's one common thing..
    Respected people are suddenly vanished..

    Just like in IMVU...
    No wonder why people are panicing...

    user: georgiejo aka Georgie

  52. Bottom line Eric - you and others within the ivory walls of IMVU have not learned your lessons - maybe you need to re-learn the basic lesson of business - THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT - and another little tidbit you need to really learn - NEGATIVE FEEDBACK IS JUST AS HELPFUL AS POSITIVE FEEDBACK - and maybe one more little thing you need to learn - ADULTS HAVE THE MONEY NOT THE CHILDREN YOU SEEM TO BE PANDERING TO. Bad (or negative) word of mouth reaches more than good word of mouth - trust me - this is a truism - I know as I've been involved in both situations as an employee of companies - the bad word of mouth about one particular company has taken away tons of their business and they are now floundering trying to recoup what they lost - which they will never do - and they continually try to shut down negative press to no avail. They'll shut down 1 website and 5 more will open up to show customers and the public at large just what kind of shady dealings this company is involved in. Maybe you'd be wise to cater to those who are the ones who are dissatisfied but choose not to post openly in the forums as they either fear ridicule in a public forum or else they just know their writings will be ignored. Many of us have tried to remain at IMVU (I've been with IMVU almost 3 years) but we continually hit the brick wall of "shut up, we don't want to hear it" threats of their accounts being disabled if they don't tow the "rah rah" line. LISTENING SKILLS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN WRITING SKILLS MANY TIMES - YOU CAN WRITE ALL YOU WANT - BUT MOST OF US WILL NEVER BELIEVE YOU UNTIL YOU PROVE US WRONG BY ACTUALLY LISTENING TO US.

  53. Very good article, Mr. Reis!

    Having witnessed this exact same pattern occurring in another browser game, I have no other choice but to agree with everything you have said. There's indeed a symbiosis between the users and the company running the site, and just like in real symbiosis, the balance has to be maintained.

    I'd like to ask you to provide more information on a certain subjects concerning this matter, if you can find the time. It would be much appreciated

    Has it ever been calculated how much the company saves money by not focusing on customer service and (somewhat) ignoring the users thus saving work hours, and how much it loses or gains money by showing genuine or faked interest towards the users? What is the correlation between these two approaches, or can it even be measured in some way? Can it be assumed that being interested in the users doesn't actually cost more time and money than ignoring them? In other words, will the (paying) users stop being customers if the management of the site does not "nurture their feelings", or is it mainly the unpaying users that feel neglected and leave, thus not having a real impact on the income of the company?

    I am also interested in the part about most users not being active enough to comment on hot topics on the forum. If this is the case (and naturally it is), then it's fair to assume that they also don't contribute in the development of the site/game as they aren't active enough to know how it works, correct?

    The question I have concerning this is, who should the managers of the site listen to when determining the public opinion - the matured users that have spent the most time in the site/game and are the loudest but who are also the minority, or the infinite masses of younger players that may or may not know what they want, but who are the majority user group?

    In short, who's needs should the management team aspire to meet, and is it possible to find a middle ground that pleases all the different users and the company itself or is that just utopia?

    Again, congratulations for your enlightening article and thank you for any answers you might provide!

  54. it took this many years to learn something that seems so obviouse. even back when i joined i quickly saw how imvu and its community was growing, clashing and getting closer, how the company needed to read between the lines of wants and work out what they need. Tho both are still very yung they are both growing, who knows what its all going to be like in another 5 years, as the more one learns the faster they learn

  55. ERIC 2 things you stated and I quote both

    1.)"This single decision wound up costing the company significant revenue and over the course of several months sent its customer growth into decline."

    Is this why IMVU allows Mass Fake/ Mule account to be made and used and does nothing about it... Is it because IMVU needs their member count to rise so they get more backers????

    2.)"Yet none of that mattered, because we violated the cardinal rule. We didn’t listen. More accurately, we made our customers feel like we weren’t listening".
    **and after you stated**"Then you stated When we actually started listening, things changed fast."


    I quote PART of a complaint made
    1.) "Failure to address an issue with a group that imvu promotes in their daily outfit challenge. Imvu lets young children into the group that not only has people roll playing (an in an adult way) the group has attacked people and banned them.Without retribution.It also has a man who's profiles depict a young girl with a girls name when in real life he is a 40 something male. Imvu has had numerous complaints but still allows this group not only to stay but imvu promotes it."

    And IMVU Response to the complaint was...

    IMVU response "As I mentioned previously, we respond to safety complaints very quickly, usually within a day. And our abuse flags usually get a review within 1-2 days. I researched the account of xxxxxx and found nothing out of order with her account with us. There were certainly no complaints of child endangerment."

    Looking at the complaint and then the response you can could easily say "well IMVU did look into it"... BUT 2 little words how IMVU didnt do anything except TYPE an answer.... ... The two words i am talking about are HIS and HERS.. the complaint was about a man posing as a female/girl (HIS) and IMVU didnt find any fault in HER profile... BUT its a HIS profile ERIC what about that??? SO you can post all you want. Right there shows IMVU doesn't listen at all.

  56. I JUST WANT TO SAY! nvm.

  57. Whoa!! A real live person who actually SAW part of the problem!!

    I've taken, and received, my Master's in Business Administration. I actually saw that the biggest problem IMVU faced was being a small company that boomed and has since struggled to keep up with that boom. I even used IMVU as an example for a paper I wrote. I still see it, even after 3 years.

    There are small steps I see being taken that are helping. I still think though, IMVU is having issues listening. There are people who have filed help tickets, like myself, who have not gotten answers in months!!

    I do my part, read the TOS, frequent the forums, check out groups, look out for fraudulent resellers, etc. I report when it is absolutely a violation of the ToS or other policies set by IMVU. BUT, when a system that is set up to HELP ease the company and users to get a situation resolved isn't working, means there are still a lot of things needing tweaking.

    This article isn't about peer review. It's about learning what is most important, which is listening. One thing we "screamers" have been saying for years, and I know a lot on here know this is true, is that you do need to listen. AND if you are listening, AKNOWLEDGE that you are. A simple comment, like "I've read up to this point, I'll get back to you guys shortly.", then coming back to state what you are hearing, goes a long way.

    I hate to say it, but there was only ONE person I ever saw, frequenting the forums, who actually was listening and paying attention. Unfortunately, this person is no longer with IMVU. There hasn't been consistant communications from IMVU staff since.

    I have also noticed, a lot of the staff still tend to lock threads or delete them without fully understanding WHAT we are trying to get across. There is one major thing I learned while taking my classes: If you don't understand what is being said, ASK!! I can't stress that enough! Yes, there are things people will misinterpurt and they will go off in a huff, but when it comes to being online, there are always better ways to handle a situation than ignoring it or letting it go on.

    I do HOPE IMVU is going to do SOMETHING to better teach all it's employees so they know how to effectively communicate not just with each other, but with the rest of the online community. After all, devs are the majority part of your customers.

    (Pardon the spelling, it doesn't show errors in here!!)

  58. nadinastarr

    > I've taken, and received, my Master's in Business
    > Administration. I actually saw that the biggest
    > problem IMVU faced was being a small company that
    > boomed and has since struggled to keep up with
    > that boom. I even used IMVU as an example for a
    > paper I wrote. I still see it, even after 3 years.

    Thanks for your especially thoughtful comment. I'm doing my best to keep up with the discussion, but - just as I experienced when I was at IMVU - the volume and passion are turned to 11 out of 10!

    I think your diagnosis is right on the money. IMVU has grown so fast, and become so successful, that it's very hard to process all that feedback. For every opinion expressed, there are 10 different countervailing opinions. I can't speak to the company's current structure, but I certainly found it overwhelming when I was there.

    Thanks to everyone who's commented. I will do some more listening and thinking of ways that I can still be helpful. Your intense passion for IMVU always moves me. Thank you all,


  59. Thanks Eric for showing how much you listen by not posting my previous posting - I didn't expect it would be posted here as you, my dear sir, along with all of IMVU staff, are nothing more than a bunch of liars - you have learned NOTHING.

  60. Eric,
    I have written up 32 responses to random statements that you have made here... none of which I'm going to post - beyond verbosity it'd merely come off as defamatory (though true ) and insulting.. though it certainly makes for an entertaining read. If you're interested, feel free to contact me and I'll be happy to share it all with you - and then some. Instead, I'm merely going to say the following:

    You claim that IMVU listens, and that its doing what it can to make things better. I won't be the first nor the last to call bullsh*t on that, but I will tell you to go look at my IMVU profile. You can read a " letter " that I wrote and left on my profile after I was censored and perma-banned for speaking out against unethical behavior and fascist behavior on the part of your IMVU Community Moderators and Clifford Hicks. If you're so inclined, read it and perhaps you'll get a little insight to how some ( Myself obviously included ) felt about the treatment we received from IMVU. You claim that IMVU listens? Some of the issues I addressed in that " Dear John " still remain...


    ( LordSoulFire @ IMVU )

  61. Interesting post. I've been on IMVU for going on 3 yrs run two accounts. Problems that face developers go unanswered, CS is clueless half the time. People complain about the copyright on a daily basis, thats second on my list of complaints. My biggest complain The amount of people that openly and in groups that admit to pirating software, yet you can flag the messages, flag the groups and nothing ever becomes of it, You might be shocked as to some of the big name user that are software pirates, and those are the ones that are usually in CCG complaining that the something is broken... It makes me wonder if IMVU only concern is their bottom line or a harmonious relationship with there members that supply content.... You can say you listen, but do you actually hear us?

  62. Eric, I am so happy to know IMVU has seen this "light".
    There is this issue that has been begging for proper attention since February... it's nice to know someone will finally into this! I'm not sure if I can link here, it's in the suggestions forum "GIVE ME THE RIGHT TO DELETE BADGES". It holds 21 pages, it's been active for over 6 months now.
    There are masses of neglected threads like this, did you know that? About PR; DevTokens; inventory trouble, harrassment; etc etc etc.... It will be a huge relief and a happy day when we find IMVU actually listening to all of the issues we encounter!
    Thanks for your attention.

  63. I wanted to add something that I think many of you do not realize.

    IMVU has not seen the light. Eric is discussing what he learned while he worked at IMVU. He is not actively working for them now. (At least from what we have been told)

    Eric - for me - it appears that those employees who did criticize IMVU were let go for doing so. The Users have no one to turn to now who are willing to speak out.

    The perceptions relayed by some of the posts here are somewhat sad. People assuming they know more than what is fact.

    Nonetheless, you are seeing the angst of the passionate User who just wants their money's worth as a customer.

    IMVU does not treat us as customers but as crack addicts who need a fix.

    They fail. Miserably.

    I miss the likes of you there.

  64. If you claim you are going to start listening, dose this include listing to all the people saying they hate the new ui and want to keep the friends list window?

  65. I heard that Eric is not active in IMVU anymore.
    That makes our ( those passionate IMVU users ) messages somehow irrelevant here.

    This is Erics private Blog, and He talks about how NOT to do, if you want to run a business in internet...

    All and all... there's something positive in this.
    Eric can use these messages for a classical example what users do, when the management make things like He did describe in this blog.
    And good reference how after years of problems exposed, nothing or very little has IMVU done.
    And we, passionate users, who just LOVE this concept, vote with our wallets.
    Others leave for good, most suffer in silence, and most of us just don't spend anymore.

    It's universal for any business, and here is good reference for a future use.
    Eric, You have my permission for that. :)

    I rest my case..


  66. Eric, did you move over to SL? if so, well, that explains a LOT of bad changes that have been dopne there recently. Please leave. Go bacvk to a platform that is failing already, and don't make a thriving one fail> IMVU still needs to borrow massive amounts of money to keep itse;f afloat after 6 years in beta. Sl, has been self sustaining for quite a while now, but the changes being made are causing drops. it's not fair, and if you have anything to do with it, you just really need to go away.

  67. I was an IMVU customer at the time these changes were being made and it appeared to me that anyone who disagreed with IMVU or asked for a more indepth explaination as to why the changes were being made, was labled a "troll" and was banned from the forums. some of the "trolls" even had their paid accounts disabled merely for being a vocal member of the community who just happened to be asking the tough questions that IMVU didnt want to answer.

    I think the real lesson to be learned is this, don`t always think that you need to reinvent the wheel, listening to your customers has always been a basic cornerstone of any business be it internet or brick and mortar.

  68. What an amazing article! This was really very enlightening. And the frosting on the cake was seeing the rant from one of SL's most loud and prolific trolls chastising you for using the term :)
    If you look up Troll in the dictionary these days you will find a photo and a link to Second Thoughts...


  69. I am currently obtaining my Master's degree and you were my company I decided to focus on and this article was one that was a shock to me but at the same time I do appreciate your words. I have been a member, developer and user of IMVU for over 4 years. Please don't ask me how much money I have spent with your company or I will feel really guilty. I am glad that at least you can self-reflect which most just don't have that ability to do themselves. All you can do now is go forward and obviously you have succeeded in that. I wish you the very best. Christine Baker