Iris Rants: One Year After The Madness of Mad Style And SL Marketplace Features Are Still Utter Garbage
The Second Life Marketplace has a problem, and it's not new. While I love the idea behind the seasonal Marketplace features and showcases, in reality they're just downright useless. It appears to be unmoderated and easily exploited, based on tags and search terms, which means that anyone who clicks the feature banner expecting to uncover something new and relevant is likely to be delivered into piles of old and unrelated content.
Last year I wrote about my disappointment with the Mad Style feature, which was intended to draw attention to retro fashion and decor on the Marketplace. Instead, the banner led shoppers to a pile of bikinis, booty shorts, novelty t-shirts, ice-cream mohawks... You know, just like Don Draper always wears. So iconic. Even worse was that after filtering through those results, many of the most notable retro designers in SL weren't anywhere among them.
It's a bad look.
For example, here's what I found when I followed the banner above, which promises shoppers the latest summer styles:
Nothing says summer like Christmas gifts, fall ensembles, fur coats, and the same pair of thigh-high template boots that I'm pretty sure have been at the top of every SL Marketplace search I've done since 2010.
Like I said, it's a bad look. It's useless. It's embarassing. It's garbage.
And it's a shame, because it really doesn't have to be.
It would be absolutely outstanding if the SL Marketplace added user curated collections, as it would provide an easy mechanism for LL to showcase users as well as make their own seasonal features manageable and, you know, actually useful for their intended purpose of highlighting relevant content? I wrote about this last year in the wake of Mad Style's maddening failure, and it's disappointing to be in the same place more than a year later looking at winter coats and sweaters when I was expecting bikinis and tiki bars.
Again, I think the seasonal features are a great idea, but implementing them without any new systems to support managing the content associated with them wasn't. To be fair this was probably a clever community Linden's idea, and they just don't have the ability to change things like that for what to some must seem like a trivial feature. I've been there. I empathize. Someone is doing the best they can with what they've got, and what I'm saying here isn't directed at them. -- it's directed past them. A community-powered (and community-strengthening) system like Etsy's Treasury would take resources to develop that LL is likely not interested in putting into the SL Marketplace right now, but the fact remains that searching on the Marketplace is a nightmare. It can be an impenetrable heap, and it's often easier to just Google what you want and hope the results aren't from 2007. That's what salts this wound: The one device LL has to highlight Marketplace content, a thing that could be a beacon in the cluttered mess, is 90% busted.
Now that I think about it, do you know what else is often an agonizing mess to search? Desura, the indie game marketplace LL just bought. Collections/treasuries are a great way for users to assemble, share, and discover related content (which can help balance out search features that fall short), while also encouraging community growth and personal investment in a platform. These are things Desura desperately needs to work on if they want to stay ahead of other indie distribution platforms.
... All I'm saying is that a little web development could go a long way.
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Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.