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What is the extent of 'Second Life' problems?

The blogosphere is in a bit of a tizzy about problems with the popular virtual world. But are the issues new? Or ongoing?

The blogosphere was in a bit of a tizzy Wednesday over problems plaguing the virtual world Second Life. The question is: Are the problems people are worked up about new, or ongoing? And does it really matter?

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The main issue raised in the original blog entry on was that Second Life is experiencing six hours of downtime. To hear other blogs, like TechCrunch, position it, this is kind of a noteworthy occurrence.

The truth is that Second Life is frequently down on Wednesdays, because that's when its publisher, Linden Lab, releases updates to its client software.

And it's true that some users are upset about the downtime. But they're also upset every time the "grid" goes down for the several hours it takes to complete an upgrade. After all, there are countless virtual businesses that can't sell things, and countless people who can't get in-world to do whatever it is they want to do.

For many longtime Second Life users, the issue this raises is not about any individual shutdowns of the grid, but rather that it has to happen so frequently. The Second Life software is built in such a way that the constant bug fixes, updates and new features can really only be implemented through these periodic updates, and the unfortunate side effect is semi-regular downtime.

There's no question it's annoying. But is it news? Not really.

On the other hand, there was news out of Europe that police in Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands are looking at Second Life and trying to decide whether in-world stalking should be prosecuted as a crime.

There's no resolution to that question yet. But with all the other things going on, including allegations being investigated by German authorities of "age play" (supposed in-world sexual activity between a child avatar and an adult avatar), as well as never-ending broken features, many people seem to be deciding Second Life is doomed.

Maybe so. But maybe it's just growing pains. Or perhaps it's just the nature of Second Life: it's chaotic software with a worldwide user base that's allowed to do what it wants, and problems ensue.

And it is annoying. I can attest to that: I frequently do interviews in Second Life and it's a pain to realize that I can't do one because the grid is down for a Wednesday update. But is it news? Not especially. It's just the way it is.