Tuesday, January 26, 2010

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Inventory Bankruptcy: How Do You Clean Out a Second Life Inventory of 100K Virtual Items (and How Could the UI Get Fixed So This Doesn't Happen in the First Place?)

Emerald Wynn Inventory Bankruptcy

One day Emerald Wynn peeked inside her Second Life account to discover that during her years in SL she had amassed over 100,000 virtual items in her inventory. "Seriously," she begged in this long Plurk thread, "I need help. Don't even know where to start." Helpful friends offer advice, but most of them involve tips for making manual deletion go somewhat faster. The thing is, even if she deleted a 1,000 items a day, it would still take over three months to get through it all.

This phenomenon reminds me of the concept "email bankruptcy", where someone's inbox gets such a massive accretion of valid messages, no amount of time and effort is adequate for the task of replying to them. I'm much less of a power Second Life user than Ms. Wynn, but my own inventory has nearly 4,000 items, and I've pretty much declared inventory bankruptcy long ago. It's one reason I tell people not to send me notecards, because they're likely to disappear unnoticed in the thicket already there.

At heart, this is another example of Second Life's user interface working against its users -- and ironically, against Linden Lab. Since inventory is so difficult to manage and prune, items tend to keep piling up -- and consequently, the Lindens' asset server gets taxed more and more. Trouble is, in a world with user-generated content, you're going to get a lot of, well, content. So the problem of inventory management in Second Life becomes an essential one: How would you tweak the UI so that great content you own is easily accessible, while less important content is stored somewhere in a dusty digital attic out of sight and mind (but still available, if you really need it)?

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ColeMarie Soleil

AHAHAHAHA you haven't seen MY inventory yet :D!

Metacam Oh

How about a preview box of the item that way you can immediately delete stuff you dont want use or need without rezzing it on a parcel and hoping for the best.

Thaumata

I would love to see a feature that allowed me to sort my items by frequency of use - it'd be much easier to prune the dead weight if suddenly you could see all items that hadn't been used in 6 months, for example, or the least used 1000 items you own.

It'd also be massively helpful if the inventory UI were more graphical. If the name of an item no longer rings a bell for you, there is very little to do but rez it or wear it, and then wait for it to rez completely. Clothing layers can be slow to rez and people without their own land might find it hard to locate a space where it's ok to rez big primmy objects, so there really needs to be a way to see what's in an item without actually opening it. An icon or something like that, or even a better description line. The one that's in there now is so limited it's not very helpful.

wizard gynoid

i have about 40,000 objects in my inventory. i seem to recall from somewhere that the Linden boys probably put recently unaccessed assets on backup servers, so that only recently used assets are on primary asset servers.

Doreen Garrigus

Heheheh. 4000 items, Hamlet? Wow, I remember having only 4000 items. That was a long time ago...

Ann Otoole

1. Start by deleting all landmarks and notecards. This dropped my inventory by over 5000.

2. save any snapshots you need to disk and delete all of those that you don't really need to keep in world.

3. Delete all demos.

4. Delete any skins, shoes, clothes or hair you will never wear again. Like those non flexi disco wigs. Those circa 2006 prim shoes. Those skins you wouldn't be caught undead in with the visible seams and pixelated features from before skinners got good.

5. If it is named "Object" are you really worried about deleting it? You didn't care enough to name it properly did you? While you are deleting all those "Object" backups of work in progress perhaps you should get rid of any obsolete named build backups and only keep the finished product. The one that is for sale in world or on xstreet. Also do you have a lot of sell prims that are duplicates? Get rid of them. If the box is for sale in world you can get rid of them all and take a fresh copy.

6. Now it gets hard. Make the hard decisions. Are you really going to rez that noob house you got when you were new? I doubt it. Start deleting everything you will never use again.

7. Get rid of all the textures you got from places you now know to have been DMCA'd because most likely it is trouble waiting to happen. Then box up the remaining textures you like. Perhaps in texture organizers. While you are at it you might consider saving to disk any textures you used on builds just in case something happens to it and you have to reupload and send out updates to fix a lost texture. Some people store textures in notecards but I don't trust that technique.

8. Get rid of anything that came in a cheap big box (like 100001 scripts). Most likely they are all obsolete, will be useless when limits are rolled out, or are of questionable provenance.

9. Use storage boxes to consolidate anything else that you seldom use.

10. If you have not looked at it for 2 years why do you need it?

From this point you might give consideration to using a legitimate third party viewer with export capability to export content you created for safe keeping.

I would estimate for an inventory over 50,000 this process would require a month of your time to complete. So it is important to develop a discipline about managing stuff before it gets to that point.

Easier said than done.

Oh but then there is the good part. Due to various reasons what you delete may come back. And as you delete stuff from bulk folders you might see new stuff appear that was not displayed before. So it can be frustrating to say the least.

I guess since Hamlet is posting this topic then LL must be about to lower the boom on inventory and erase or force customers to erase millions of dollars worth of customer data by capping inventory. The class action lawsuit on that one would be interesting.

Ann Otoole

Oh one more thing. LL allows us 5 accounts. that means you have 4 extra closets to leverage for stuff that is transfer.

Daniel

I brought the tagging items idea up with Philip in Spring 2006, and it was like he didn't get it. To me it seems super obvious as a means of being able to sort through items.

I give up on Linden Labs showing any leadership in solving this problem. The OpenSim and 3rd party viewer folks will lead the way.

To answer the question - being able to have automatic tags (such as time, and the slurl where the item was acquired), plus owner added tags, would go a long way towards being able to sift through massive amounts of inventory.

Ann Otoole

BTW Hamlet you need to get Kelly Linden to brief you on how the inventory system works. You need to separate the asset system from inventory since they are two separate things. Copies of stuff in inventory are just pointers to the same asset. More than one copy of item X across the grid in many inventories is still just the same asset record unless it gets modified and a new asset record created. And I sort of doubt LL deletes any assets. Kelly would probably know the answer to that. maybe they get rid of stuff that no longer has any inventory pointers but it is dangerous to do that given how flaky the inventory database system can be at times losing track of stuff.

Alicia Chenaux

Just for the record, Emerald has set out to reduce her inventory and managed to delete 5000 things the other night! WOOT!

Caliburn Susanto

The answer is simple, of course, we should be able to BACK UP our inventories locally and manage them offline. My inventory, which is currently at 35.5 thousand, would be halved in no time if I could cull it offline.

As far as I am concerned once I pay for a digital file it belongs to me, to make back-up copies of and safekeep in any manner I see fit to protect my investment. Barring that ability then somebody owes me reimbursement money if and when said file(s) are corrupted or vanish.

Needless to say, the in-world file/folder management is tedious at best and definitely a deterrent to using SL when people know about it prior to joining.

SunShine Kukulcan

HA. As of this AM? 142, 050 items.

What I have begun to do is sort by day and date, and go through the items ASAP.

I have been deleting on the average of over 1000 per day, but wish there was an archive option to deep-freeze items but not delete them....zip box so to speak.

*sighs and gets back to sorting*

Marx Dudek

I've recently done a purge of approximately 9,000 items. I went from 26,000 to 16,650 mostly from deleting demos, landmarks, notecards, backup copies, old "quick-dress" outfit folders (after carefully archiving anything that was no-copy), and then backing up all of my old photos into a texture viewer and any boxed items I wasn't using into ThinC boxes. Then I culled the dresses, outfits and other things that were transfer, passing them along to friends, alts, and big giveaway boxes of decent things that can be shared with a newbie or two.

Nine Warrhol

Usually I do a blind delete of the objects, notecard and the lost and found every couple of weeks. I figure if I haven't noticed it already, it needs to go. Keeps me down around 10K...nice-n-fast. :P

Nightbird Glineux

"At heart, this is another example of Second Life's user interface working against its users"

No, this is just clutter. I have this problem in RL, times 10. :/

I've had to organize my outfits in SL so they don't sit unused. I buy an outfit, I'd like to find it in the future to wear it, right? I wrote about what I did in a comment to Torley's blog: http://torley.com/avatar-inspiration-can-come-from-anywhere#comment-46365

It would help to have thumbnails of snapshots and textures in the SL Inventory, though. (I never learned how to make one vs. the other.)

Fogwoman Gray

It becomes so tempting to just delete everything and start fresh. But then I discovered 2K items missing from my inventory, and so many things were from people and places that don't exist anymore. I was devastated, and still mourn when I go to grab something and remember it is gone now.
The only real solution is constant maintenance and discipline. I am pretty good, with a result that my increase has slowed - hopefully some day I can get going in the downward direction.
I am boxing stuff I want to keep for sentimental reasons, and then decide if I trust the grid more to keep it stashed someplace or just put the box back in inventory as 1 item instead of hundreds.

Caliburn Susanto

I use MS OneNote for a lot of inventory management. I put text files (instruction manuals, notecards, etc.) into organized folders in OneNote then delete them from inventory. Not only reduces inventory, but makes every word in every document searchable.

Each time I wear an outfit I store a screen-shot of it along with the inventory listing in OneNote also. Keywords (or tags) make these easily searchable also. Example: http://www.twitpic.com/wbm63/full

Seasonal stuff and shareable things for handing out to newbies I keep in storage boxes in-world.

Daniel

Heh .. when someone says that their "increase has slowed", all it means is that they already have one of everything ;)

Miro Collas

Uhm, why blame LL for what is essentially a human problem: ie, some are incapable or too lazy to keep their stuff organized. Must we have our hands held in *everything*?

I am a content creator, I have thousands of textures, copies of everything I have made in my time in SL, plus a ton of stuff purchased both for business and personal use. Yet my inventory stays at or about 11K.

Whenever I purchase something, if it is copyable, a copy gets filed into a prim. Texture sets get filed into a texture organizer right away. Once done with the folder of textures, the folder is deleted (I have it both in the organizer, as well as having the original box filed).

Transfer stuff is also filed in prims if I don't need it on hand on short notice.

Doing this takes VERY little time if you do it as a matter of routine. It takes no special skills. No UI changes are needed. It is simple, basic organization. And if you can't or won't stay organized, you have no one to blame but yourself. Laying any blame on LL is lame, IMHO.

-- Miro Collas

Quaintly Tuqiri

@Caliburn: That sounds like so much work -_-"

@Hamlet: I would like a system like we have on our PCs where you buy something and SL asks you where you want to put it. At least it would be automatically organised. The problem for me is I go on huge shopping sprees and then can't find anything because they're all over the place. If I could immediately slot a dress in my "Dresses" folder, that would help A LOT.

brinda Allen

I'm not sure why...perhaps my OCD...I've never had more in my inventory than I do now...thats under 7K...and that's at my first 1000 days {today!}

LittleLostLinden


I think this is a user problem. In fact, I would like to hear this user try to explain this. I've been in SL for quite some time and I have read all the arguments about why it is beneficial to keep your inventory under 2000 items, and it is very easy for me to do.

I could see a builder needing 10,000\15,000 or so, but 100,000 is just mis-management of ones inventory, and not to mention a burden on the users who keep their inventory neat and tidy because supposedly, if you are inworld and you walk next to someone who has a ridiculous inventory, it can slow the sim down, or your avatar down.

http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Inventory_management_tips

Samantha Poindexter

Pfft. "Nearly 4,000" is nothing. I'm at around 36K, and while I could probably get it down to 30K with a bit of effort and a fair amount of self-sacrifice, I can't imagine going much lower without having to give up things I really like. A fair amount of Second Life's draw is the closet space... if that creates a strain on the asset management system, then fix the asset management system.

On the other hand, I keep my inventory well organized, so finding things in it isn't a real problem. Which is all that matters, I think.

(And while I haven't seen it, it's safe to say that I'd hate to have LittleLostLinden's wardrobe. Much of the economy is driven by fashionistas, y'know... I think I have more than 2,000 items just in my hair folders. And that is a comfort and a joy.)

Hamlet Au

Here's an idea:

Add an inventory filtering system so that every inventory item which isn't used or accessed in the last 7/14/30/60/90 days (selectable by the user) is automatically put in a secondary folder. You can also tag specific items as "Always Keep in Main Folder".

That, or the Lindens could start charging people L$250 a month for every 1000 extra items over, say, 10,000 items. That'll *really* encourage item trimming. (Believe it or not, the Lindens were kicking an idea like this around as far back as 2004.)

Or do both!

Samantha Poindexter

"Add an inventory filtering system so that every inventory item which isn't used or accessed in the last 7/14/30/60/90 days (selectable by the user) is automatically put in a secondary folder. You can also tag specific items as 'Always Keep in Main Folder'."

...you think this would make it *easier* to find things in your inventory? Really?

The implication here -- that all your items are normally in one giant folder -- may suggest why you find even 4,000 items to be unmanageable. It's all about organization. Folders, sub-folders, sub-sub-folders, and so on. If you sort everything as soon as it comes in, it doesn't matter how many items you have; you'll be able to manage it.

On the other hand, automatically shunting things out of your organized inventory into either one giant catch-all folder or a duplicate hierarchy of sub-folders elsewhere would make a complete hash out of things. When I go to my Landscaping > Holiday folder next winter, I expect to see my snowmen, Festivus pole, and giant menorah, even though I haven't used them since last December.

As for an inventory tax... in the unlikely event that they're willing to grandfather in all of us who've been using SL as it currently exists, then they can put that on the table, self-defeating though it is.

(Caliburn has the right of it above; if you want to declutter the asset server without impeding functionality, a real solution would involve making it easy for us to move items between the grid and our own hard drives.)

Hamlet Au

"you think this would make it *easier* to find things in your inventory"

No, I think a lot of people don't use a lot of their inventory items most of the time. However, shunting all that rarely used content to another folder would make it much easier to search through the remaining content you *do* often use.

Believe me, Samantha, I have a buttload of sub-folders and sub-sub-folders. The time-consuming effort of creating all those and then trying to drag content into them despite the lag induced by the asset server was yet another reason I declared inventory bankruptcy.

Samantha Poindexter

Okay, how's this for a compromise? Keep the inventory itself as-is, but in addition to being able to filter by how long ago you acquired an item, add the ability to filter by how long ago you last used an item. Or add an option for sorting by the date of last use, rather than date of acquisition. That way, I'd get to keep the integrity of my folders, and you'd get to ignore items you haven't used in awhile.

Sioban McMahon

Ann suggested inventory boxes.

I used them a lot, especially for seasonal things like plants for the sims. You have to be VERY conscientious in sorting and putting things in the boxes/drawers, though, or you'll end up with the SL equivalents of that kitchen drawer that you dread opening up.

On inventory boxes, I've tried several of the systems, but to be honest, i don't often use them the way the designer intended. I love my file cabinets, but don't whip out the little laptop to click among the folders and items. It's too slow. I have the box system too, but don't use that click through floating text. Also too slow. Usually, I just click edit and bring up the Contents tab of the appropriate box or drawer and scroll down the list until I see what I want. Much quicker than messing with the laptop or clicking those arrows on the front. I guess I should just use plywood boxes with floating text, but these drawers and inventory boxes look better in my storage room. :D

Arcadia Codesmith

"How about a preview box of the item that way you can immediately delete stuff you dont want use or need without rezzing it on a parcel and hoping for the best."

We have 3D preview functionality already implemented for texture uploads. I wonder if that could be adapted and expanded to preview objects in inventory without the need to rez them.

For extra credit, include the ability to "unpack" objects stored in prims, which would clean up some of the junk created by rezzers who don't pick up after themselves.

And if you really want to look cool and brilliant, include the whole toolset in the offgrid rez box, so you can design, create and save objects anywhere and then rez the finished product when you're ready.

LittleLostLinden


It's the same old thing, just like users don't maintain their corporate e-mail properly and save massive ammounts of e-mail they could delete, and the same way they let their personal network drives fill up until the network admins have to hound them, the same is true when it comes to SL invenetory management.

C'mon sloppy people, clean up your crap!

Arcadia Codesmith

You can't browbeat users into trimming their inventory.And if you try to limit or penalize inventory size, the work-arounds that people will come up with tend to impose a greater load on the server than unlimited storage.

If you want an effective clean-up of unused clutter, you need a recycling program. Dump stuff you don't need into the official bin and get points towards some sort of highly-desirable, exclusive prize. The original object is deleted regardless of permissions.

People will game it by creating a bunch of cubes for the express purpose of feeding to the bin. Let them. There's little or no cost to provide the incentive, and zero sum on the asset servers for creating and destroying one-off objects.

But you'll find the number of people willing to part with that gawdawful pair of prim shoes from four years ago skyrockets when they can get something in return.

Emerald Wynn

<--- lazy SL hoarder

Aiming for 200K!

Emerald Wynn

<-- lazy, sentimental SL hoarder . . . and avid shopper-slash-booster of the SL economy?

Oops, in my defense, I thought the whole "huge inventories cause lag" thing was a myth. Now I feel slightly responsible for all the lag we endure much of the time.

(wonders where my earlier comment went . . . maybe it got lost in my inventory :-O )

Dana Moore, BBN Technologies

I would tend to agree with comments that push for a sort of 'thumbnail preview' mode for riffing through inventory; sort of a cover flow capability. Of course there's the issue of how to treat contents of a container object, but perhaps it works out to be similar to drilling down into a folder.

Good topic though, and certainly something I struggle with constantly.

Quaintly Tuqiri

@LittleLostLinden: I like to change clothes and hair and shoes, AND I keep textures & scripts to build with, AND I have poses for blogging & taking pictures, AND there is a lot of useful stuff I don't need every day but will pull out once in awhile as and when necessary.

If you buy a dress that comes with 3 skirt options (short, long ballgown and long narrow) and also comes in all layers possible, that alone can easily be 20 new items in inventory. The count goes up really fast.

As Samantha Poindexter says, having a large inventory doesn't necessarily mean it is out of control or messy. In fact, if you have a large inventory and it is messy, you won't be able to find anything in it, so that defeats the purpose of having all that stuff in the first place.

Samantha Poindexter

Indeed. Following up on Quaintly Tuqiri's point, one thing LL could do to reduce inventory size considerably would be allowing clothing to be worn on any layer; that is, allowing a jacket to be worn as a shirt or undershirt, and vice-versa. There's a LOT of necessary redundancy in clothes right now to work around that.

ColeMarie Soleil

A nickname dizzy banjo once bestowed upon me:
"Asset Server"
<.<
You really don't want to know how large it gets if I started unboxing things... be afraid

Peter Stindberg

My two cents:

- Imprudence, Emerald and probably other 3rd party viewers have an "Asset browser" that helps you organize textures.
- SL My Inventory Viewer (http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/SL_My_Inventory_Viewer) allows you to automatically backup notecards, scripts and textures to your harddrive
- It is often suggested to delete all Calling Cards. However I advise against it since the calling card can server multiple purposes. Not only do its properties show when you "friended" a person, but also Calling Cards can be sorted in subfolders and work as workaround for the missing groups/folders in the friends list

Wordfromthe Wise

.. and btw. have fun while waiting for your inventory downloading after a Viewer Cache purge :-)
@jabbaah

Marianne

I think it's many reasons. Some of us have a work in RL, and SL is our leisure time, and often limited to 1-2 hours. It is more tempting to do something that feels "fun" instead of doing daily clean-ups.

It is wrong to compare shoppers to builders. In my experience, builders spend so much time building. They are not interested in sales and hunts. That way they don't build up a huge inventory so fast.

And SL's stupid clothing layers makes clothing impossible to use if designers don't include all layers. That way, a top comes on 3 layers. And because shirt template stop too high up, they need to provide underpants layer too. Then the designer start to clutter with LM to main shop, and satelite stores, a NC with "Thank you for buying", a NC with Store policy, a NC with how to use Windlight, a NC with "Stop content theft", an NC with how to resize if the top had some prim parts, a unpacker script, a floating script, a texture of the item you bought and some promo textures. All that for just ONE top. And then there's a sale and I buy 4 tops... you get the picture?

It's a No Win situation too. If the designer don't include all sort of LM and NC, some guy who can't use search will complain because there was no LM included in the pack.

For hunts, you get a LM to the next shop and you must unpack the gift box. The original hunt folder stay in inventory with the gift box and LM,and you get a new folder of the gift with all the usual NC, LM and textures.

Every time I decide to clean out inventory, I wish I could open the inventory without having to open SL. That way, easy cleanups could be done in Lunch break, or other times when I can't or won't open SL. And no trouble of slow loading, because there's not 1000 textures in the sim or on the avatar that need to be uploaded.

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