Monday, June 29, 2009

Public Apologies

cross posted at
re-posted here with permission from OomPoppaMowMow Snookums

To Darkley Aeon - 6-29-2009

Throughout the course of recent days much has been made of how your photographs were handled during the SLBD events by photoLIFE staff. I felt because of the amount of publicity that any conversations between us may be forgotten or not properly acknowledged so I felt it necessary to write this letter making it unequivocally clear the position of photoLIFE on how your photos were handled.

photoLIFE does not condone the use of any photographers photographs without their permission. I feel you were not properly informed of how the photographs from the Flickr site were used, and as a result, new policy has been put in place to prevent this type of occurance from happening again.

New Policy Change
"photoLIFE occationally uses textures submitted from the Flickr site for photography contest, and featured photographer displays. Those photographs on the photoLIFE Flickr site may be used during these types of settings. Those photographers posting to the Flickr site must now agree for any uploaded photos to be used in promotional settings of the Team photoLIFE group. The Purpose of this policy is to allow a smooth process to honor the work of individuals on the photoLIFE Flickr site. It allows our staff the ability to have your work posted in world for others to view without having to address each photographer individually which could take an endless amount of time depending on who is in word or not. Photographs uploaded to the Team Flickr site will never be sold or used for profit. Only display or contest purposes."

This policy was not in place at the time you were not informed about the use of your photos. I sincerely apologize for this happening. I hope that you see that efforts are being made to prevent this from happening again.

I sincerely regret the manner in which you were addressed in this occurance by the photoLIFE staff. New policy has also been put into place that addresses the way your complaint was heard.

New Customer Service Policy Clarification
"......If a photoLIFE user has an issue they feel needs to be addressed. It is the policy that all affiliates of photoLIFE treat each issue with the upmost care and respect........No desciplinary action should be made towards any individuals based on a formal complaint about programs or systems of photoLIFE..."

The final complaint that was made regarded the display your photo was on being set for sale. While I understand the implications behind such actions, I can not speak for anyone but myself in saying that photoLIFE has never sold the work of any photographer with or without asking.

After reviewing this case I have found that the nature of the item being set for sale suggest it was an error based on several points. The item that was set for sale was a wall approximately 20 meters long of around 20 photographs gathered from the Flickr group. Most of the photographs had the names of the photography studios from which they came from on them. The parent prim used in making the wall came from a product recently set for sale by the builder. The URL of the photoLIFE website appears on the wall. I know during our discussions you have agreed that you did not think the intended use of the photographs was malicious. While it is unfortunate that the wall being set for sale suggest an ill intent, I have no indications that the individual has ever attempted to steal or reproduce the work of any other photographer.

In regards to this incident , a new proceedure policy is in place
"....before the opening of any event, a review must be made by the owner or the general manager of photoLIFE to approve the site and or any displays that have been built or made for it. This review will check for any oversight or misplaced permissions that may be misunderstood or against company policy."

Finally, while I know this has been an unpleasant experience for you, for that I am truly sorry. Many people are not aware that we have had a friendly relationship and I know I can say I have always enjoyed the time we spent learning and discovering different photography approaches together. While I know relations have been strained, you are always welcome to be a part , however you see fit in the photoLIFE community.

-OomPoppaMowMow Snookums

Friday, June 26, 2009

Read All About It - photoLife Trial

Have you ever noticed when a company does something wrong, makes a mistake, causes an error to occur the press is all over them like the bad smell on a three day old corpse? And of course then follows the ensuing crowds of people that trail the press in their own little car on the hate train express headed right for the business owner.

Every business owner in the world who has experienced negative press has surely had the same feeling of wanting to assume the fetal position, under a palapa hut, whilst listening to the sound of calypso music playing on a tropical island they’re hiding out the rest of their ostracized lives on.

I find this to be a strange occurrence. I mean, sure I know all about gawking at train wrecks and rubbernecking on the freeway during an accident, but what I don’t get is why you only get one side of the story in case of corporate mistakes. Then before you know it, this mob mentality that takes over. The crowd has lit the torches as they ascend the hill with every intention of burning down the castle in order to skewer and roast poor old monster Frankenstein.

So today I thought I might try something different. Thanks to the quick response team at the Shopping Cart Disco blog, I’m sure a lot of you have read the blog entries regarding a recent incident with photoLife and a Second Life photographer. I know I have. And as is the norm, SCD did not fail in delivering a quick one sided version of the story. Good job SCD.

I have to say though, I’m a little disappointed SCD continues to do that. I mean, seriously folks, how many of you out there make a qualified decision based on information from one party to an issue? If that were the case, we might still be debating the value of the round wheel.

I look forward to the day SCD decides to incorporate impartial reporting. Snort…oh dear… okay, I had a hard time keeping a straight face while typing that, but never the less, I do mean it.

In response to the SCD article, and those blog articles stemming from it, I thought I might take this opportunity to find out the other side of the story.

But before I start laying out the facts discovered, I want to ask you a question. Who here has not made a mistake? If you’re reading this, and you’ve never, ever, once made an error, big or small, please stand up… or contact me, I need to find out your secret to success.

Let’s be real. Everyone and I mean everyone has made a mistake. Some larger than others. Some were made because one failed to find out everything needed to make an informed decision. And some perhaps were made by simply making the wrong choice. Others still are just stupid, silly, run of the mill, facepalm; “I can’t believe I did that” kind of mistakes. Hell, if any one of you haven’t done any of these, you’re God and I want to meet you.

In the case of the incident I’m going to address, what we have here is, and forgive me for the possible inference to a movie with the following string of words but, an unfortunate series of events. A whole slew of mistakes that just seemed to hit at the wrong time at the wrong place.

But let’s get down to the facts as I know them.

Everyone knows SLB6 is going on right now. Happy Birthday SL! And photoLife like many other in world companies has a booth. This booth has their latest product which happens to be the photoLife 3.0 photo studio. In addition to that, it was thought that displaying photos from some of the photoLife owners would be a nice touch to show not only the great photography but promote the studio as well. No shame there, it’s done all the time in business.

Evidently in trying to get everything set up for their SLB6 booth, photoLife used some photos from the Team photoLife flickr site without asking permission. Mistake number one.

Why you might ask? Well, many times before at other photoLife events, the very same thing has been done. So in other words because it had been done before, doing it again would seem a natural thing to assume was okay since it had never been an issue in the past. Of course we all know now, that’s probably not the smartest business practice.Anyway, the idea always being not only will it help promote the capabilities of the photo studio, but the talent of the photographer as well. It’s a symbiotic relationship, many businesses have them. Nothing new there.

Some photographers were contacted and asked if they wanted to provide a photo for the photo wall at the photoLife SLB6 booth and others were not. Mistake number two.

Why? Well, that’s just it, it was a mistake. Perhaps made in haste, perhaps whilst trying to finish building the booth, coordinate the set up, answer customer service calls, etc. Whatever, it was an error plain and simple.

Mistake number three is by far in my opinion the biggest and most stupid mistake of all. Yes, I said stupid. Because it was. Do I mean the person that made the mistake is stupid? No. On the contrary, but lord knows even Einstein made a stupid mistake or two in his lifetime.

Number three was the wall that was put out to hold the photos. It was taken from a photoLife associates inventory, a pre-made wall he had used prior to SLB6, then it was set up at the photoLife booth, photos were applied to it in prims, and it was on display for the whole grid to see. In addition to that… it was also set to sell… for $10L. NOT $1000L that has been reported.

Now, I personally found this mistake to be of interest to me. How many of you have gone frolicking through Second Life, shopping contentedly when you happen upon the cutest little French living room suite, (or your object of desire of choice) clicked the object to see how much it was selling for, positive it was too much only to see $10L as the sale price? Well? How many? I’ve been here three years and that’s happened to me more times than I can tell you. I mean sure, you know full well it is a mistake, the owner forgot to reset the sale price from the standard $10L setting it to whatever price they really want to sell it at. Have I ever bought items marked this way? Yes, I’ll admit I have. I mean how often can you get a full set of antique French living room furniture for $10L? Was it right? Nooooo. So okay, my conscience finally got the better of me and I make it a practice to alert the store owner now.

But that’s the thing, seeing that $10L price on a wall, not the prims holding the photos mind you, but the wall itself, a big, lumbering long single wall should set off the light bulb over your head that this sir is a mistake.

But apparently an owner/creator of one of the photos on the wall at the photoLife SLB6 booth, took this to mean something entirely different. In fact, meaning that her photo was up for sale and took mighty offense to that. Hey, I understand that. If I saw one of my photos up for sale somewhere I’d be up in arms too. But we all interpret things differently, easy to understand why she might be upset, especially if in fact all three mistakes were made sequentially. And it is possible for the general public to be unaware that you’re not allowed to sell anything at SLB6.

So, as events go, this photographer who happens to live on a different continent than that of the photoLife associate involved in this occurrence, sends an instant message to him with a query as to why her photo is up on this wall for sale. The rest of the conversation you can read as posted verbatim on the SCD blog.

First let me just start by saying I’ve read that conversation a few times. I can honestly tell you that my first reaction was; wow… could he have been less of a customer service representative? Dang, I think not. I mean without a doubt the photographer was due better service, more grace and less snarkyness. But after thinking about it for some time, I decided to ask the photoLife associate exactly why it went down that way. I wanted to know because I know this guy. And as long as I’ve known him, I’ve only known him to be more than helpful, always friendly and always willing to lend a hand no matter what. So no one was more surprised than me by the way this read because it seemed so out of character for him. Of course I realize that a text based environment tends to loose a bit in the translation but still it did come off rather frigid and I thought I really need to know if I’m missing something here.

After talking to him for awhile, I recognized the need to be a bit more understanding as it was 4am his time when this occurred. Asleep in a recliner near his computer he heard the ding of an instant message. For a moment he thought about going back to sleep but came to see what it was.

Mistake number four. Never, ever talk to anyone, a client, a friend, a family member, a wife, lover, dog, a neighbor and surely not an unhappy person at 4am in the morning when not fully awake, tired, grumpy or whatever. Always a bad idea. Always. Just keep snoring. Oh and, the now infamous “belch” that keeps being referred to, I asked about that. Apparently when the photoLife associate was woken, he didn’t realize his mic was still on and as human bodies do sometimes, his released some excess gas by way of a belch. Frankly I think everyone’s lucky he didn’t fart. But that’s just my opinion. God, I hope I never leave my mic on when I’m unaware. But anyway, does he regret how this situation played out? Yes, indeed he does. And I believe he has made every attempt to apologize to the photographer in question.

Having said that, by now you can see where I get the reference to an unfortunate series of events.

1. Using a photo without permission

2. Failure to contact ALL parties to ask permission

3. Inadvertently placing a prim out that is set for sale WITH someone else’s photo on it that had no permission

4.Opening mouth and inserting foot otherwise being less than gracious

As soon as all of this was brought to the attention of the owner of photoLife, Oompoppamowmow Snookums, he and his team immediately set into place new policies to prevent these mistakes from happening again in the future. In addition, apologies were made to the person involved for the improprieties and Linden Lab was consulted with and presented all information for their opinion. According to O. Snookums, LL has found this to be, as stated a mistake. An error. An unfortunate series of errors. NOT intentional and not malicious.

Now, knowing all of this and of course assuming you believe this to be the truth, which I do. Is the company guilty enough to deserve to be treated like pariah? Tell me, because I really would like to know the answer to what a company can do in reparation if in fact they’ve made mistakes like these. What would be to the satisfaction of the public? It appears Oom sincerely tried to admit to the mistakes, take responsibility and apologize in a response he made on the SCD blog, but wow people, you really let him have it. He was cooked, ate, digested and expelled within five responses to his public admission to what happened. So tell me, what exactly would suffice? A liver? A kidney? First born male child?

The best part and I’m being sarcastic is, even after he apologized, stated what happened, admitted the mistakes, a lot of people just kept picking at the wound. Let’s not stop there the thread read, let’s all pull out our bag of unhappiness and sprinkle it around some. Meaning, after that public apology there were plenty of instances of people regaling why they were unhappy with him. “Yep, I was unhappy when he did this… or didn’t do that…, I got screwed because of this, or I was not paid attention to when I thought I should be”. Wow, God help us all if this is the way things are handled by the public in the physical world. Personally I hope I get a more mature judge and jury when it’s my turn.

Well according to the blog responses I read, it appeared nothing short of OomPoppaMowMow’s head on a platter or worse would make people happy. It’s unconceivable to me, the amount of venom spewed and guilt found so easily to where only a public lynching would suffice and the crowd then silenced. I just don’t get it. Every business owner, hell every person has people they don’t get along with, or have had issues with. These people typically wait for the right time, just the right circumstances to crawl out of the wood work index finger stiff in the pointing gesture telling the entire world why they hate said business owner/person and you should to.

I always hoped that SL would have a better societal practice, different than what we see in RL, but sadly that has not turned out to be the case.

So again, I’m going to ask you to dig deep, look at yourself in the mirror, perhaps looking where you’ve chosen not to look before because it’s ugly and easy to avert your eyes. Have you made a mistake? Are you guilty of doing something rashly? Have you taken advantage of a situation (think $10L furniture)? Have you mistakenly done something due to lack of life experience? Have you inadvertently done something wrong? Have you set up a business and never had to make changes to it because it was perfect from day one? If any of you can say yes or you’re not guilty, then you’re indeed the lucky ones, you’re perfect. I’m not. And apparently neither is photoLife. I’ve made mistakes and I continue to make them, but thankfully most are new mistakes. I try and learn from each one as most of us do. As most of you know me, I’m not malicious or spiteful, it serves me no purpose and I honestly do not believe this incident was in any way malicious or spiteful.

I’ve known O. Snookums, since his very first creation of photoLife and I can tell you that while he is surely not perfect, and we may not always agree on everything, I can say with assurance he has integrity. He’s one of the hardest working people I know on the grid, and he’s one of the most honest. In addition, he’s one of the few business owners on SL that still makes house calls. At any given time I’ll see someone on the PL group chat box ask for help with this or that on their studio. If Oom’s online, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen him respond with, “tp me”. Tell me how often you get that kind of service now days. In addition his staff are some of the most friendly, helpful people I know. Geezus… Colleen Criss, photoLife’s General Manager gives me a freaking cavity every time I talk to her she’s so sweet.

I guarantee you I could not keep up the kind of patience these people do, admittedly I am not equipped.

Now for full disclosure I should tell you that I’m currently CCO of Opium Fashion Agency a company partially owned by OomPoppaMowMow Snookums. I’ve also worked for photoLife in the past, but not currently. I’m a certified photoLife photographer and a member of some of the photoLife groups. Does this mean I would write this, wholeheartedly believing it to be the truth if I didn’t? Absolutely not. In fact, Oom knows if I don’t agree with something, I’m going straight to him and we’re going to talk about it. I am not a yes woman, never have been never will be. If I felt for one second this was a malicious act, a sneaky attempt to make money I would be the first one in his face reading him the riot act.

But I don’t and I’m not. And I’m not writing this to convince anyone of anything, simply to state my opinion and encourage people to see both sides before forming their own opinion.

I firmly believe all facts should be presented before making a decision. In this case for me at least, it’s fairly clear that this was an unfortunate occurrence and no one was intentionally set out to be taken advantage of, hurt or used. It’s kind of sad actually, because truly I believe had the conversation between the photoLife associate and the photographer been different I would not be writing this now. Had he just said something to the effect of, “omg I didn’t realize that prim was set for sale! I’m so sorry, I’ll take care of that right now! God I feel like such a moron, thanks soooo much for bringing that to my attention”, this would have been a mute point. But, alas that didn’t happen, and I’ve already covered why. And because those words were not chosen, the smack down train was loaded and the circus came to town blowing this way out of proportion.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Please forgive me in advance for any grammatical butchering as everyone knows I'm grammar challenged. I now return you to your normally scheduled broadcast. Oh, by the way, the opinions voiced here are mine and mine only, they may not represent those of the general public, the staff, management, or my cat, there that’s my disclaimer. ;)