Almost everything that exists in SL has been created by its residents. LL's greatest contribution has been to have the initial vision of starting this world and then putting it in the hands of the residents. "Your world, your imagination". But that is pretty much it in terms of what LL has done good for SL. It has not done anything special either in building the technical platform or in governing the new world that it has given birth to. As a matter of fact, lately it is even straying away from its own initial vision and it is hurting SL.
And yet, LL holds a tight control over SL and it acts as if it owns it fully. It is taking governance measures like the recent ban on unregulated banks and the previous bans on ageplay and gambling. What's worse, these measures are made with little transparency and accountability. To add insult to the injury now, LL released new data this week on the SL economy and Zee Linden acts as if it's an act of greatness on the part of LL:
"I really enjoy the fact that we are such a transparent company. Throughout the good times and difficult times in 2007, we posted our numbers in a consistent fashion. [...] I wish other companies believed in transparency the way we do. I’d love to see our registrations, active users, user hours, economic activity and anything else comparable on lots of virtual world and MMORPGs."
First of all, "our numbers" as in numbers owned by the LL company? It is true that LL can be the only reliable source for these numbers, but they have a moral obligation to release these numbers to those who are making the economy. That is the major difference between SL and other virtual worlds and MMORPGs and it is what has made it successful. Yes, LL deserves credit for putting the economy in the hands of the residents but they can't have it both ways. "Your world, your imagination" must mean also "your data".
In another example of having it both ways, LL recently appealed to residents to participate in what looks like a new wave of media hype in the making. There is an implicit statement in making that appeal that we, SL residents, and LL are in this together and we are to work together for the good of SL. However, if we are in it together, then why are the comments closed for that blog entry? No, the reality is that we are not in it together. There is a great divide between LL and the SL residents and working together is becoming increasingly difficult.
There is so much criticism being thrown at LL and a common reaction to it is to deflect it as criticism of SL. Or, "If we enjoy SL and we stay with it, then LL must be doing a good job." SL is not LL though and our criticism of LL is just that. Criticism of LL.