A certain tendency - of which I approve - has been visible in the Destination Guide in the past few weeks. Until fairly recently (I wasn't paying attention, so I can't say exactly when!) a search among "Popular Places" or "Chat Hot Spots" would be sure of turning up a long, long list of infohubs. Now, they are all gone from those listings. The only infohub I've been able to find in the Guide is the hitherto inactive one at Murray - and, from the way it seems to be deserted every time I look in there, it's probably still inactive as an infohub (i.e. people don't get randomly routed to it).
Now, this is all well and good, because I have vented before on the toxicity of infohubs, and describing these hotbeds of LOLspeak, gesture spam and casual racial abuse as "Chat Hot Spots" is like saying the Black Hole of Calcutta was a cosy place to meet new friends. But, as reforms go, this one still isn't going anywhere near far enough.
The problem, as I see it, is that new people are still going to be routed randomly to infohubs, often quite early in their SL careers, often also quite late in their SL careers, as there is nothing like a crowded infohub for putting you off SL for good. For that matter, oldbies can get sent to them from time to time as well - people attempting logins on unavailable Caledon regions, apparently, often end up at the Adult-level hub at Arapaima, and it is hard to imagine a greater contrast with Caledon than that. So, infohubs, it seems, are still a cross we have to bear.
It's something LL really should do something about, and there are a couple of possible things they could do. The first one, of course, is to staff the damn hubs and enforce their own rules. Put an on-duty Linden in each active hub, sitting under the no-weapons-no-nudity-no-disturbances-no-spamming sign, with a banhammer cocked and loaded ready to fling offenders off the sim.
It's an option. I doubt it's anyone's preferred option, although it would have the benefit of putting some Lindens back on the Grid - I have seen one in my entire SL career to date; if they're out there, they're not in the places I go to. But, it would require dedicated staff resources, and the Lab is feeling the economic pinch like everyone else these days, and it would be a soul-destroying job. So -
- the second option: let the Residents do it themselves. (Hey, if it's working for SL9B, why not for this?) There used to be a programme - everyone who reads this will remember it, I think - whereby some sims were designated as Community Gateways, with tutorials on SL in place and volunteers on hand to acclimatize new people into the ways of the Grid. And, for the most part, it worked; indeed, for the most part it still does. When LL axed the Community Gateway system, many of the help sims carried on regardless; places like Oxbridge, NCI's sims, Ajuda SL Brasil, other names we can all think of, all kept rolling on. Without SL support, some of them fell by the wayside - I miss the old LGBT hub, which used to have a walkthrough tutorial almost as good as Oxbridge's, but which was just a conference venue last time I saw it. But many of the Gateways are still there, the staff are still ready and willing to help... and sending people to them will give a much better impression of SL than bunging them off to be spammed, sexually propositioned, vampire-bitten and generally abused at an unmonitored infohub.
There are probably other options I haven't thought of. But I am certain that there is a real need for people to be able to get into SL and be welcomed into it - for new people to be routed to places relatively free from predators, trolls, and other species of griefer. And there are people willing to help, so - come on, LL, why not take that help?