April 23, 2010

Jump, JIVE and fail!

Phish out of water!
As if things couldn't get any worse, yesterday Linden Lab was forced to shut down all Private Messages (PMs) in JIVE SBS as well as several other program features due to a successful phishing attack that used a security hole in PMs to gain access to people's passwords and account info. The other proggie features disabled include embedded images and vids as well as some formatting stuff.

I wondered why I saw a PM notice in my email account but when I went to the flogs to read it, a message simply said that feature was "unavailable". So did Linden Lab notify everyone up front? Oh no no noooo!. They buried it in the Community section. Did they do a MOTD? Oh no no noooo! Trusting our real life information to the current regime at Linden Lab is becoming increasingly suspect. Now on to the original article....

Jump, JIVE and Fail!
Today's topic grrlz, boyz and furrehz is JIVE SBS, the software platform that Linden Lab uses to power its dreaded blog / forums aka the "blogrums". First a disclaimer, I'm no expert on bulletin board software except as frequent user of different forums and as a beginner/intermediate LSL scripter. So take what I say with many grains of virtual salt. :)

I'll admit I was thoroughly ticked off when teh Lab shut down a perfectly good, working forum at XStreet SL (aka SLX) and moved it to their fancy, shiny Clearspace (JIVE Software) platform. And I was likewise ticked off when they moved the Resident Answers forums over to same. Why? Because the old vBulletin forums were searchable, organized reasonably well, used screen real estate efficiently, had a functional editor and allowed signatures. Plus they were in a "standard" format that most other web-based forums use. You didn't have to learn to drive the car all over again.

What we got with Clearspace was flashy looking (yeah it "looks" like Web 2.0) but offered nothing more usable and in fact gave us broken search, an editor from hell (jumping cursor, no multiple quoting, random indenting, no embedded spell check, etc.), took up huge amounts of screen real estate for minimal content, no signatures, no real thread tools, poor organization, reduced readability, etc., etc.

And of course, when asked why Linden Lab moved to Clearspace in the first place, we were told that vBulletin simply wasn't "scalable" or "capable enough" to power the new, improved SecondLife.com. (The fact that some of the largest web bulletin board sites in the world use vBulletin seems to escape Teh Lab -- more on this later.)

The failed upgrade.

Needless to say, thinking the blogrums couldn't get any worse, most of us SL'ers were eagerly looking forward to the long promised upgrade to the second generation platform, JIVE SBS ("SBS" = Social Business Software). We were told it would address many of the usability issues, fix bugs, improve speed, yada yada.

And what happened? JIVE SBS got installed and just about everything went to hell. Let's see:
  • search is worse than ever
  • editor is still borked -- jumping cursor, broken quotes, broken indent, HTML no longer works
  • can't edit (change) your own post once posted
  • serious security flaws that exposed real life email addresses and apparently, for some, their real life names.
  • history for many was deleted
  • password integration was used from XStreet SL but doesn't translate correctly to the blogs so you don't stay logged in
  • many residents can no longer login period and are now forced to using alts to post
  • logins treat "Snickers Snook" and "snickers Snook" and "snickers snook" as separate accounts
  • recent activity is blanked
  • response has slowed down dramatically -- sometimes taking minutes for new pages of posts to display
And yesterday, we got this acknowledgment by Wallace Linden of the problems:
Thanks, everyone, for your patience while we continue to iron out the upgrade to our blogs and forums software. We're actively working on the issues that have been brought up in this thread (as well as others we've uncovered) and have already begun pushing fixes to the software. Each of these, of course, requires additional testing, so you won't see all the bug fixes all at once, but you will start to see the effects of things over the next few days and early next week, and going forward from there. It has definitely helped to have people reporting these bugs to us. Again, thanks for your patience, and thanks as well for your feedback.
Another JIVE SBS failure - Harmony Central

So once again, WHY did the Lab roll out such a flawed piece of software and WHY are they using JIVE in the first place?? This led me to do a bit of internet searching for other sites using JIVE SBS. While my search wasn't real productive (hey, there aren't that many sites using JIVE), I turned up an interesting one called Harmony Central. It's a very popular bulletin board / web portal for musicians featuring product reviews, user-to-user discussions and user-to-expert posts. Lo and behold, Harmony Central JUST converted to JIVE SBS from vBulletin, much like Linden Lab. Apparently the rationale was similar -- scalability and integration with their other web shinies.

Well guess what. Users on Harmony Central hate JIVE SBS! (Click to read some of the posts.) The level of vitriol being thrown at Harmony Central's management is nothing short of astounding to me. It makes the invective often directed at Linden Lab sound mild in comparison.

They rolled JIVE back and out!

In fact, the hate and rate of attrition from the site obviously became so bad that HC's management actually did something about it. (SHOCKING!!) The CEO announced a rollback to the original forums (vBulletin)!! OMG!! I think I'm gonna faint. If Mark Kingdon ever admitted a mistake like that and actually did something similar about it, I'd expect the world to stop spinning on its axis and look for the immediate second coming of Jesus. Now admittedly HC does not appear inclined toward rethinking their whole JIVE move right now but at least they're "looking" at it. So half the site was rolled back to a previous version of JIVE while the other (most important) half reverted to vBulletin.

What more on the JIVE front?

The next part of my search adventures led me to another interesting site -- http://rankings.big-boards.com/ where you can find most of the large web-based bulletin boards ranked according to number of posts, users and software. Well guess what? Most of the largest BBS are either running phpBB or vBulletin! The largest site running JIVE is Sun's Java forum ranked #748. I guess Sun would use JIVE since it's the only one of any size written in Sun's own Java.

So my conspiracy twitchy nose says this smells like a backroom venture capital or board-level connection between Linden Lab and Jive Bunny Software. On the surface, there sure doesn't seem to be any rational explanation for a company that so clearly depends on user-to-user communication to want to shoot itself in the foot with JIVE SBS. Is there?


  1. buncha JIVE turkeys...

    Excellent title, btw ;)

  2. There were a number of posts on the Harmony Central site pointing to fanboi posts by the JIVE Software crew in other JIVE forums. So I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't a few JIVE Software alts lurking about in the Second Life blogrums.

  3. Interesting, Snickers. I only log into the blogrums when I need to find something these days, but I'm a bit concerned about "serious security flaws that exposed real life email addresses and apparently, for some, their real life names." Since I can't seem to find anything on the blogrums, can you point me to where this was discussed?

  4. @Feline - https://blogs.secondlife.com/message/178084#178084

  5. The Harmony Central roll-out could hardly have been worse. Management has tried to put the best face on it possible but the reaction to the Jive message boards was immediate and visceral. Readability was AWFUL. Textbook don't-do's like medium gray text on light gray background. Paragraph text on screened backgrounds. When users complained tiny, fixed pitch light colored fonts gave way to CSS 'over-weighted' fonts, presumably in abreaction to user complaints about readability. Now, instead of tiny, pale, text, there's big, oversaturated blobby bolded helvetica as the default message font. Missiing features. Infrastructure that STILL does not work -- they're keeping the HC2.0 message boards while they try to fix them.

    Members and mods STILL cannot log on from mobile phones, including iPhones and Blackberries (and, presumably, iPads ;D ). There are seemingly serious security vulnerabilities reported but unfixed.

  6. (not actually anonymous)
    Jeeves/ab said ...

    It seems that the incompetents at Jive have come up with a new bug a day policy, or is that a two bug a day policy because today they have gone one better, by introducing at least two new bugs :
    * Underlined text no longer shows as underlined, it is underlined while editing, then poof.
    * It is no longer possible to edit an existing post, every time I try I get "An unexpected error has occurred". Aargh they can't even come up with meaningful error messages or is that because their software is so poor that most of the time errors are expected!!

  7. ROFL after the phishing yesterday based largely on people getting accustomed to the bad logins on SL sites.

  8. And we seem surprised... why?
    Oh, It looks and works like 2.0?

    When I was young my older mentors said there were conspiracys in every thing and I laughed and called them fools.
    Now I know there are conspiracys in every thing...and I'm so amazed at those older mentors.

  9. If you want to see what Jive says about themselves compared to other software, here's an interesting opportunity. Seems like they say that there software is so awesome that it can be used for anything. Your company intranet, your customers, anything!


    "There are many feature advantages of Jive, overall industry recognition of Jive as the leader in the space (external and internal), and high level strategic advantages that most companies find very compelling. An example on the strategic/vision side - Jive has experience with enabling and bridging both public facing communities and the employee collaboration within companies. Companies who are thinking long term about a holistic social software strategy vs. just throwing together some 'social' on their website will go with Jive 100% of the time."


All thoughts are welcome.