Research in Second Life—Interview

I think, SL is one of the best places to find great interview participants. I have done more than 20 large scale interviews in about one month. All participants gave me great inputs. Thank you~

Even though I done some small scale interviews before this one, I was still learning during each interview process. Thanks for all participants tolerance my virtual world interview learning curve. 

Now, I am going to share my experience with you, hopefully it helps you for your future research in SL.


1. If you are using snowballing data collecting method of getting interviewees from your survey, study your interviewees survey before the interview. It can reduce some repeated questions, and interviewee will be glad to know that you care about the interview.


2. SL time is not international time. It is great that we can easily interview people from around the world in SL, but be aware of the time rang you provide for your interviewees.


3. Each interviewee’s technical abilities is different. Be sure to make some time for trouble shooting for your interviewee.


4. Using text chat or text IM for interview takes longer time than use voice. Let your interviewees know how long the interview might take when you arrange the interview time. Try to make the interview less than one hour no matter you are using text or voice.


5. There are 3 ways to do interview in Second Life. 1, voice chat, 2. text IM and 3. local text chat.

  • If voice chat is one of your option for interview, be sure you have a Skype account for SL users. SL voice chat is not very reliable yet, most of SL users they have a special Skype account for their SL friends. Prepare one before you start your interview, it will help. (Even though voice chat have IM and public chat, no matter which one, it is easy to understand your interviewees finish their talking by looking at the green blinking light. If you are using Skpye, you can understand by the voice from your interviewees.)
  • Text IM is nice, you and your interviewee have the privacy to talk, and when your interviewees are typing, in the communication window it shows someone is typing. But, before you ask another question, wait for another 5 seconds. If your interviewee keep typing, SL communication window will stop showing someone is typing for about 3-5 seconds.
  • Most of my participants choose to use local text chat. I personally think this is the most tricky one to understand does my interviewee finish his/her typing yet. In SL default, we all have the typing gesture when we are typing in local chat. However, many people does not like it, and stop this animation. Or, some people have their own avatar animation, it will also block the typing animation. Also, some chairs (sitting poses) also block the typing animation. From my observation, some avatars does not have the typing animation from their hands, you can see their head slightly shaking when they are typing. Also, if you open your sound in SL, you can hear some typing sound when your interviewees are typing. However, the typing sound is not a continuously sound. It will be better if you heard the sound, and wait for about 5-10 seconds.
  • WAIT/ NEXT. I think, the best way to solve all these finished or not concern, is to tell your interviewee when they think they finished each question, type or tell you “next” to go on. it might not look professional in real life research, but it is better than you interrupt your interviewees accidently.

6. Don’t arrange interviews one follows another. Give yourself one hour break between each interview. Maybe your interviewees want to show you some places or want to know you more, prepare sometime for it.


7. Keep all research related landmark, snapshots, and notecard always in the same folder in your inventory. (Make a folder for it!) It will really helps you when your inventory is a mass.

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