Disclaimer: When I post about negative experiences, it is rarely if ever out of any smug satisfaction. There are no winners. It is a "buyer beware" as I stumble through the metaverse. This post definitely serves this purpose. You have an opportunity to learn from any mistakes I've made and spot warning signs in advance. Those who find me relating a story involving people you know: take it for what it is; there's no glory in it for me. I am sure to lose several from my contact list. I always blog with the expectation that someone is going to find out, whether there are tattlers or not. This is The Internet. Just keep in mind that my opinions may not be that of my friends or team mates from ACTS, and that taking anything out on the team or creating difficulties getting the team resources, omitting them from services or preventing them from representation or fundraising, is an attack on innocent people - both from the team and The American Cancer Society. They have nothing to do with this post.
As an addendum to my disclaimer, I'd like to state the obvious that I work hard to provide what I can to back up what I say. For example, for my previous post about RFLofSL's shabby treatment of Giant Snail Relay I acquired images AND video references of past involvement to show just how conditions had progressively declined. There was no ambiguity but there was much to answer for. The big question of course is whether 2018 will mark an improvement for RacerX Gullwing's team? btw for Relay Weekend their co-captain Tindallia Soothsayer is their team's designer and builder. Ask her what they need.
As for this post, it took some time to get ahold of logs and links to back things up. I already had a great deal of snapshots and screen captures, and perhaps between the notes and images it was just so overwhelming. I gave up my own team because RL had its own plans for me, so putting this together had to take a back seat, even if it is posted in chronological context (this draft had been under way from July 2017 into spring 2018). Thank you for your patience.
|Me and friend Tindy taking a break while touring the Relay sims.|
Looking back on Relay Weekend 2016 as the nicest and least lagged in Relay For Life of Second Life's history and the committee stumbling along following volunteer backlash, we hoped that this trend of struggling to improve their empathic skills would continue into the following year. There were some interesting changes under new lead and T1 Radio head Nuala Maracas, but what worked and what didn't by Relay Weekend?
The first thing about any sort of leadership is that putting someone with an easy disposition to the forefront does not necessarily mean they're right for the job. Nuala stepped in for Events coordination in the past, but with so many egos at play a personality with a balance of nice and tough was necessary to reign them in as RFLofSL Chair. I did not see this. And if I didn't then others didn't. I happen to like Nuala and felt she was in the wrong role for perhaps the wrong reasons.
Regarding management upstream: Our American Cancer Society liaison Stingray Raymaker largely ignored us in 2017 after so many no-shows in 2016 and delegated another ACS employee with little experience in cyberculture and no first-hand knowledge of RFLofSL's past to pay attention to Second Life. More on that in a future blog post.
Fall From Grace: The Phantom Inquisition
|Phantom track meant MORE lag user side as we slagged thru the uneven terrain beneath|
Last year most of us embraced estate owner Sue Peregrine's advice and wisely set phantom where possible, which basically meant non-walking/standing surfaces and whatever portions of a campsite didn't rely on solid surfaces to get an effect across. There was also the curious matter of linking to the sim Navmesh which escaped most participants, myself included. I emulated those campsites after gauging the depth of their core prims (Sue read last year's post and IMed me about it since I mentioned I couldn't find documentation on it beyond Navmesh's role in automation. We had a good conversation and she cleared a lot up. Sue's very nice, and her eagerness to enlighten and generosity in loaning out sims for RFL fundraisers over the years speaks volumes. Thanks to her the track in 2016 was the least lagged Relay Weekend ever).
But that was then.
I want to state what should be obvious: With the notoriety and loss of support covered in blog posts these three years (not just in mine) that all eyes are continuously on RFLofSL's behavior. That said, any time an essential member of their ranks and a respected fixture of Relaydom or Second Life abruptly moves on, you have to wonder. Two fingers from our eyes to yours. Her departure, regardless of the reason, sent up a red flag.
As you know there's been an ongoing issue with forced landing points since last year when Relay For Life became a quadrant of the Activity Sims. This was applied to American Cancer Society as well. The excuse for these were rubbish; they only served to inconvenience Relayers and visitors looking to return directly to locations for help and support. I guarantee you their number over alleged undesirables was substantial. The Relay committee 's antipathetic reputation extended to impact that of the American Cancer Society themselves, but these people remained oblivious to their impact in Second Life on the brand they served.
Purposeful / Functional application went out the window this year with frantic directives to make everything at the track phantom.
|Actual Notice. Remember you can click to view blog images full size.|
|Interiors & exteriors by designers who complied with the above notice.|
Even then the worst offender may have been the committee themselves. Disrespecting the diversity of Relayers in a virtual world by causing small animals, children, and fae folk to run face deep through large portions of the track.
|A Dinkie cat trying to traverse the track.|
Is this respectful of cancer survivors and caregivers?
Yes, you heard right: The path itself was phantom! Every bump and dip and stumble contributed to the burden and lag experienced by each of us. Depriving us of a smooth surface defeated the purpose of applying phantom in the first place.
I didn't know about collision's effect on lag until last year. I have Sue Peregrine and the Lindens to thank for it. Relay For Life of InWorldz will never hear the end of it from me. But god help me if I ever descend to the depths of pointless directives for their own sake or to sound important.
Fall From Grace II: The Great Hunt Hipocracy
As one would expect from an egomaniac who did not anticipate the consequences of driving a beloved and valuable member of the community out, Grace Loudon had a different set of standards for her own builds throughout the Relay sims.
A track hunt was in play this year. As we explored the regions after the weekend and decided to participate, it became evident that she didn't need to check her own content for collision objects or excessive scripts.
These were builds set in out-of-the-way places in the designer sims. They all had pointless animated textures of an avatar speaking (the mouth was a tiny portion of the whole build). Some were not phantom. Many were opressively heavy builds...
Above: over 40 LI. · Below: Over 200 LI
Both: animated texture scripts just to have the mouth move.
Would it have been too much to expect Grace to follow her own guidelines and do the right thing? Either she didn't truly feel the rules she imposed on other builders applied to her, or they weren't valid as decreed and she just wanted to exercise power to satisfy some urge. Or both.
Such a talented designer but what a hot mess at the cost of Relayers' comfort and mobility. Shame on her and her team.
What Became of Media Row?
Media Row was changed to optional overpasses along the track. For those entities who sponsored to have one: Bravo!
|Music To Fly By overpass complete with mixing console.|
Gorean WHIP had interview seating.
Thing is, unlike other stations affiliated with teams and mega events, T1 Radio is RFLofSL's official stream and host full coverage during Relay Weekend. This means that while the track is heavily attended they feature DJs from a variety of orgs, each with their own following or entourage, who will congregate on the campsite. Despite policy regarding DJs inviting followers, there are dance machines left out to encourage participation.
|Relay Rockers impromptu gathering at T1 Radio Campsite fills the sim and |
blocks Relayers from entering. Pic taken on Sat 13 Jul 2013 12:37pm SLT
We et al shared sims with their RR campsite in 2015 and couldn't enter it before the Honor Lap.
The fact is T1 Radio is an essential part of the Relay Experience in Second Life. They introduce relevent contacts and fellow Volunteers in a way that brings humanity to what are otherwise names in text chat. They offer up a world of inspiration and fundraising ideas and make announcements. They inform us of events and projects we might otherwise have missed. That said, there is a need for their presence.
I have a solution for T1 Radio, and it's something I've said before: The Activity sims are along the track and over the border, with locations each separated by an abundance of space. Why not place T1's Campsite right at a corner? They will be accessible from and won't negatively impact the track. Think of it: they can maintain a small listening party on site. They attend the big ceremonies themselves so there won't be any internal conflicts during those times when there is heavy population there.
Along this principle was this year's Fight Back Ceremony. It was done in just that way: held over the sim border while still trackside. It was perfect.
|Of course that doesn't mean some of us won't temp-derender most attendees to stay connected; a lot more were present. The Fight Back ceremony was held just over the border from the track in view of Relayers|
Mirror Mirror On The Wall: Who Congested The Track Most Of All?
Aether Chrononauts Tiny Steps was humbled when their campsite sim ran into frequent bouts of congestion. Second Place were repeat offenders Relay Rockers elsewhere on the track.
But a closer look exonerates ACTS, and here's why:
A track sim typically consists of four large team campsites. Sometimes there are 5 as one side will have one large plus two narrow half-sites. Congestion may occur when a team has an enthusiastic roster and high attendance all weekend. ACTS certainly falls into this category as we are a conglomerate of communities, cultures and former teams.
|The Caledon portion of the ACTS campsite.|
So who planned for there to be three aggressive teams in one sim? The blame would fall on someone in the committee for that.
If it didn't get even better, and it did...
Take a look at this map for the track for 2017 and our sim (we took the NE quadrant):
To the west of ACTS was Fantasy Faire. To the south was Purple Tears. Now, take a look at the SW quadrant of the sim. Here below is a closer look so you can see that U shape in the road instead of running straight across:
|RFL Hero not long after Relay Weekend|
Let me bring up something mentioned last year: Remember how originally those who would reach the new Rising Star milestone of US$100 but fell short of Bronze would get a spot on a designated designer sim for their team? Feedback over active teams who fell short of those new and demanding milestone parameters (originally Bronze was US$40 and Silver US$300) caused the committee to backpeddle over awarding campsites. They abandoned the idea of a dedicated sim of small spots altogether.
Then imposed this in OUR sim RFL Hero this year. That and I guess some teams just didn't want the burden of having to design a quarter or eighth of a sim.
So to review: A region consisting of THREE LARGE ACTIVE CAMPSITES with team members always present had AN ADDITIONAL EIGHT PARCELS, many also with team members always present. In the end our sim served as home base for TWELVE TEAMS. Yes, you saw that correctly. Two teams merged their campsites together and made #8 on the map. One sim, 11 campsites. One sim, 12 teams. That was us.
And you don't think the organizers are bonkers? If this wasn't their crowning WTF moment of 2017, it came a close second after that phantom track bullshit.
Anyway: Exonerated. Relay Rockers? Still not off the hook for congesting their sim each year :)
Another Good Thing Though: Awards!
It was awesome. Throughout the course of the weekend committee placed fundraising awards beside campsite markers. Members could take copies for themselves. This was a vast improvement from the previous year, when most teams didn't even receive their awards.
Only one thing: you could take a copy of everyone else's awards too. For some, RFLofSL award levels are a goalpost, while for others they're a status symbol to permit them to look down at others. I just liked collecting them. They are an apt memento from this year's theme of passports and travel stickers. And thank you for finally making the awards phantom.
The Relay Track Hall of Shame
And by that I mean teams who pick their campsites up early. Yes, for a change this is about some team leads and not the committee.
Most Relayers don't have access to the track before Saturday morning, then spend much of their time in Low Graphics mode so they can minimize crashes. There is no time for them to "cache the track" and their draw distance is set below 50s. Yet designers often make HUGE objects or set their presentations within massive environments.
The only chance anyone gets to really see the track and all the hard work put into campsites and builds are after Relay. This way one can crank up the settings and give credit where due while appreciating it all.
|Enjoying a designer sim after Relay Weekend.|
That is also the time their photogs and videographers record the year's offerings for posterity.
Except there are some people who choose to pick up, sometimes while people are still walking the final Victory Lap (aka the "See you next year!" Lap).
Here are 2017's Relay Weekend Hall of Shame winners:
|Guardians of the Grid and Guardian Charities. Fuck you.|
|Morningwood Valley. Fuck you.|
|RadioActive Air (in fairness someone told them to remove it right away)|
Number 11 on the map posted previously: Purple Tears. They vacated Sunday. Fuck you too.
Thanks to everybody else who kept their stuff out for a few days so it could be looked at by masses of grateful Relayers.
|Eclair Martinek's designer sim pick-i-nick at RFL Remission.|
Can Relay Weekend Be Redeemed?
It's hard to say. The committee has fallen so far into the pit and cannot seem to extricate themselves. New generations of RFL participants don't know what it was like back when We Believed, when we ALL cried at ceremonies rather than the committee cherrypicking speakers for pathos potential.
I want to relate something from the 2011 closing ceremonies. It is a portion of Stingray Raymaker's speech after everyone else had their say and some rewards were announced. It was a year when I participated with two teams and spent the weekend with Giant Snail Relay. It was my first time at the track proper, and my first any ceremony. Special "thank you" to IshtarAngel Micheline, who recorded that year's ceremonies on audio. (please bear with me as I'm not experienced with formatting transcriptions)
...And I have one more "thank you" that I did save for last and I wanted it to be a surprise.
To Mama and Dwen [aka MamaP Beerbaum and Dwen Dooley],
You have both thanked everyone. You spent the ... entire year making sure that the spotlight is on everyone but yourselves. None of us - myself included - would have been able to accomplish anything we have if it weren't for your inspirational, steadfast, dedicated leadership.
Your commitment to excellence in all areas and your refusal to accept the status quo have reignited a passion across the entire grid.
We've spent so much time over the last year together discussing and debating just about every single detail of the whole [Relay Weekend] event. We didnt always agree on every point, but your ability to not allow things to get personal and your dedication to the success of the event is the reason why we were able to get to this point today.
Many of you don't realize - and I swear this is not some cliché speech tactic but seriously - at the root of every decision, every discussion or conversation that we had - and we had conversations daily about what to do, about this or that - the consideration was always: "How was this going to affect the teams? How was this going to affect our volunteers' decisions? If we do this, have we considered all options and all implications?"
It was never about Mama and Dwen. It was always about The Relayers.
You were The Doctor and Rose, the Jeff and Jordan of my Relay experience this year.
So for once I think it would be okay for the two of you to step into the spotlight - I think everybody would be okay with it - and take a bow.
But not for too long 'cause we gotta get started on next year pretty soon. The nuthouse is calling...
What an incredible speech, and what an experience. Those words inspired me to become a captain the following year. That spirit carried us through 2012 and beyond. 2014 was the last great Relay year in Second Life.
If you've lost your way or came after that time and never knew what it was like, I have something special for as long as it exists...
Relive Relay Weekend 2014!
When Treet TV was an active production company in Second Life, several of their shows had a presence on the track. The Giant Snail Races you already know. But so did Designing Worlds.
DW usually had a studio overlooking the track. For Relay Weekend 2014 it became their home base for roundtable discussion in what was round-the-clock video coverage. It featured trackside interviews with team captains and Relayers, the Tiny Snail Race, and all ceremonies. It was such a job and they went above and beyond, but it preserves Relay For Life of Second Life at its best and even captures that moment when funds passed US$400,000 during the closing ceremony.
This stream runs in one continuous loop 24/7 and requires Flash to play.
One More Thing..
Last but not least, thank you to those who attended my annual 4am Lap Theme set at the Activity sims Sunday morning.
|World Music for International Hour. Ty FF's Elayne for hosting!|
Coming Soon: The 2017 Wrap Up and other things.