Disclaimer: Thoughts and opinions are my own and I do not represent Microsoft or AltspaceVR. Fair and reasonable critical analysis has been applied. You should check the official AltspaceVR Blog for official news.

First, it wasn’t a town hall style meeting

In wake of the removal of the commons campfire on the AltspaceVR VR platform, a community town hall meetup event was scheduled with a form linked in the announcement to collect questions.

“Anytime we make changes within Altspace our ((intention?)) is to do a town hall afterwards and open it to dialogue.”

To state a fact of the matter, there was 5 cherry-picked questions asked. Although it was acknowledged that they had received a lot of questions that claimed to be similar, those key questions we had burning in us clearly weren’t answered.

Before the Q&A started event-mod & Altspace admin Leila started in the opening.

“…and due to time we are going to do our best to get through them so Alex I’m going to start with a list of questions I have here and if we have time we might be able to open it up..”

Didn’t happen.

And if you want the really short story the presentation only went for 20 minutes before Alex and Leila followed by the rest of the Altspace admins vanished from the event and left us to take in what had just happened.

Q&A Time

Just five questions were answered before the event ended abruptly so lets go through the five questions and you can decide if these would have been the five questions you would have been ‘dying’ to ask.

I will quote the question and summarise the answers given because it’s too much editorial work to do at short notice but you can watch the video in full here. I personally don’t think these answers clarified things for example Q2: Further clarity about world-building specifically with templates and using Unity, it would have been nice to hear the words “Unity world builders”.

Q1: Why are you making these changes now?

Apparently, they are listening to users and making changes to fit our needs.

Q2: You call out Altspace as an events based platform, does this mean worlds will be going away?

Nope, and it was mentioned that there will be a focus towards worlds and “double downing” to improve things. But this contradicts the focus towards events.

Q3: Now that campfire is gone where do we hang out and meet new people?

In events and worlds apparently, as well as your homespace.

Q4: A question that keeps coming up, can we turn off our safety bubble?

Yes, you need to toggle it off each time. No mention about feedback that I have personally heard given to campfire admins so this was something I feel should have been addressed.

Q5: Can we unmute ourselves? We see that we get muted by default when we enter a space today. Are we able to unmute?

Yes!!! the question of the century answered right here. We can unmute ourselves to talk. But this is enabled by default when we enter a room. Again, no feedback to change the defaults or any suggestion of having had feedback.

Q6: Why did you change to a Microsoft login process?

Mainly for being able to give adults the control to restrict access to certain events. This is a change I am an advocate for personally and although this change is hard and technical I think in the long run it will keep children safer online.

Q7: Some people have had problems signing into Altspace using their Microsoft login, are you looking at this?

Yes and it will be mandatory eventually.

Q8: How do we find Moderators today if there is no campfire?

Moderators will start moderating events and worlds moving forward. Not sure how all the ‘weed rooms’ will be treated by the new mods. They have also announced new icons that hover over their names that are more visible but it is unsure if it’s all mods or some new division of non-mods-staff that were visible with the new icon but didn’t have an admin badge but were providing mod support with /_\ in their names. But I will put that in a separate section because it’s newsworthy.

Q9: 3d party events,…. what are the expectations of event hosts?

An answer was given that explains the roles and functions that an event moderator would do which is standard knowledge. Some unknown additional features are expected to be added such as age restrictions.

Closing comments were then asked from Alex which he elaborated on this enthusiasm for the community and said he felt honoured that we show up every day.

“We started a little early so I think we can end a little early,” said Leila which was responded with an overwhelming response from the audience.

New support mods that aren’t ‘gold-badged admins’ & new admins

Something that wasn’t really covered in the event or explained well, there were several users present that weren’t admins but had ‘AltspaceVR Support’ above their names. This is confusing because you can see similar characters. I believe those /_\ symbols can track users in their names to give them the icon which is visible on some of the names (MRE may have been glitchy).

One of the helpers (non-admin) said she was here as a one-off and didn’t work for AltspaceVR or Microsoft and didn’t elaborate further which was odd. I also noticed two friends were also helping out with the tag in their name. I’m not sure if they are onboarding with EducatorsInVR to assist with mods being available or if extreme trusted users of the platform were entrusted with this tag on this occasion.

What makes it confusing is the fact ‘staff’ have always been visible with a gold tag, anyone else you can assume was not a staff member unless they were a known staff member with their badge toggled. Community helpers have green tags but this new kind of support agents don’t get a tag and they get an icon and the privilege to put those characters in their name.

What now?

Further updates were said to roll out in the coming weeks, the full details is still unknown. At the present time, there is more questions than answers so it is a wait and see and hoping the community sent AltVR a message about being transparent and communicating with us.

The real reason for the meeting?

I noticed two new admins that I hadn’t seen before and one was asked how long they had been working for Altspace and he replied it was his second day. It’s apparent that this may have been an onboarding session for staff to get them used to using front row.

Recent changes to AltspaceVR safety tools