Tuesday, April 29, 2014

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Iris Wants to Know: How Would You Fix the Second Life Marketplace?

Ad-Seductive - New
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Well I knew these boots were driving me crazy, but I had no idea just how much they were getting under everyone else's skin too. Impressively, some of you even knew exactly what boots I was talking about from reading the headline alone. I've heard so many "UGH ME TOO" and "OMG I KNOW, RIGHT?" responses since I posted the article, I think most of us can probably agree that something about how the Second Life Marketplace favors listings is either broken... Or maybe working a little too well?

So here's what I want to know: What would you do differently? What would you change about the SL Marketplace to ensure higher listing turnover and less undying, ever-present nightmare boots? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Mixed reality iris 2013Iris 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.

Comments

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Cube Republic

Why does it need fixing? Are you suggesting that some content is more worthy than others? Who would decide? Personally I try and make the best stuff I can. I have a philosophy; some folk may only get a couple of hours after work to kick back, so I wish to give them the best content I can!

Iggy

While stale listings may well be a bane and block our view of new shinies, what exactly is wrong with these boots, other than the sleazy Vampirella images they conjure up from my brain-stem, where my 40+ year-old memories of Warren Comics' brand of 70s cheesecake still dwell?

Caveat: I am an academic and not a fashionista, which means on a good day, I remember to wear a belt and my shoes actually match. That makes me a "clothes horse" compared to many colleagues.

Arwyn Quandry

First off, before they fix how it's put together and what items appear where, they need to fix the speed. Marketplace is SLOW. Not just a little laggy. Not just a little behind. It's dial-up slow on a high-speed connection. It's full of glitches, things not showing up properly or not processing correctly.

Creating the folder in inventories specifically for marketplace items to show up in was a great idea. Redoing the images on marketplace to actually show nice looking avatars and content that's relevant to how avatars look today was great as well. Before anything more stylistic is done, it needs to be sped up and de-glitched.

Iris Ophelia

@Cube & Iggy: To me, if an item is at the top of the heap for *years*, it is absolutely a problem. Its popularity ensures its placement which ensures more popularity in an apparently never ending cycle, while simultaneously keeping fresher content that better demonstrates the current state of the platform and the developing skills of creators at the bottom. It does a disservice to shoppers and designers alike.

Pussycat Catnap

First:

1. I think this is already there, and explains the boots. But if not it should be: Make search consider your recent history as well as if what you want is also related to things you have looked at in the past. So if over the last month you clicked on various furry fashion items, and then today you just type in 'mesh avatar' the search should list 'furry mesh avatars' first in relevancy.

2. The fix for the problems the above can create, as seen by the boots example. A 'clear my history' checkbox somewhere. This is something Google lacks and is why I use Bing in my day-to-day searching (Bing lacks it too, but seems to lose the data over time anyway). This allows people a context reset, to prevent context collapse. Just because you searched for 'xxx furry gorean prim babies' over the last month because you were in some heated online argument about 'weird stuff in SL' and needed proof for your side of the debate... does not mean you want that now, when you're trying to find scripting tools for and article on your blog about changes in virtual realities...
- Google's great "sin", and Facebook's as well, is they chain you to a context like an albatross on your neck... And the Boots article here makes me think SL Marketplace search is doing the same...

(Especially since I had to switch to an old trampy alt before I managed to get those boots to show up for me on Marketplace.)

My only other fix for marketplace would be adding filters in search for:
Unrigged Mesh
Rigged Mesh
Fitted Mesh
Sculpty
Demo
- each as an 'only' or 'block' option, or left blank for not considered as a factor.

As for Marketplace itself... one simple fix that would address my issues with how it competes with the viability of land in SL:

Have Marketplace only able to sell items that are inworld. Remove selling from your inventory and instead of using selling from a magic box, add an option to any object inworld that can be checked, and if checked, the object shows up on you merchant page on Marketplace as something you can list for sale. Buying it, sends a copy of that object to the buyer as if they had walked up to the object and used the 'buy' option inworld. So people could seel boxes with stuff in them, or the stuff itself raw...

As a second option, a marketplace listing could have a 'teleport to' button that instead of buying the object takes you to it inworld - only working if the object inworld is buyable, and the price on Marketplace would then not be editable, but based on the inworld price.

I would do both of these two options. Double the current merchant tax for the first option, and half it for the second - then let merchants pick per item how they want to sell it from between those two.

No more selling without an object existing inworld.

This would make it easier to track fraud and no-longer-existing merchants as well as solve the problem of marketplace devaluing land.

Vaki

Simple: Linden Lab needs to stop trying to reinvent search technology, and license Google's search engine, like most other companies with a "search" field do. This would allow us to use things like complete string matching, boolean operators (for instance, we could search for boots -sculpted to exclude sculpted boots from our searches, which we currently can't do), and would give us an advanced search option (so we could search by date added, for instance).

Search technology is not Linden Lab's core competency. There are companies out there that do search very well. For a stupidly small amount of money, LL could resolve a lot of its problems by letting one of them handle that for them.

Alecks

The real issue is not seeing the item above is seeing it when you look for something entirely different.
I know those boots were very popular and makes sense they might still have a good price for many yet if I search skirts I am sure I would still see them.
That's the problem.

Pussycat Catnap

@Alecks: That's a bit of how Search Relevancy works. If this were Google, the boots would show up because they are relevant to your general search patterns and anything in them also corresponded to something about your current searches.

Sit me down in front of most people's computers, and after typing in may 5-10 searches, maybe even less, of some choice words... I could tell a lot about that person by what Google chose to display.

If they were Bing users though, it'd take me a lot more searches and I may or may not be able to determine anything useful about them.

Things like:
news
help
education
sex
religion
politics
- one word searches like that and I'd get different results for every person's machine I did it on, and be able to spot patterns telling me about them.

And if LLs plugged google's search into LLs, you'd start seeing results of things you looked for in SL bleeding into results of things you looked for when using google on any machine where you logged into a google account that you had also been logged into over outside of SL, but on the same machine, while using that plug-in based search in SL.

- Google loves collapsing context on people.

My suspicion is that LLs is using something like this - and that the boots kept showing up because they hit broad relevancy for a number of demographics, being matches to things people looked for not now, but in a combination of the past and present.

Ferd Frederix

I have to actually buy my own stolen stuff from the Marketplace to be able to file a DMCA. That is piracy for a ransom. Please get rid of the copybotted items. There are thousands of illegal items on marketplace. Make it so anyone can flag a copybotted item to warn users not to buy, and allow me to file a DMCA without having to purchase my own stolen property, thus enriching the thief. After 8 years of making thousands of items in SL, I might actually put something on marketplace if even the slightest effort was made to enforce the law instead of hiding behind a DMCA. Look at Blendswap as an example of how it is done properly. They won;t allow any copying, period.


#2 If it is not rezzed, it is not available on marketplace. That would fix the SL economy, too.


2014

1. Hit the reset button on the MP sort tab. I always search by newest, but relevance is the default, and the top selling crap from 2009 is always at the top, and it's not relevant anymore in 2014.

2. Hit the purge valve on products older than 2010, I know most of you oldies don't like that idea, but for SL to grow and look better, all that high prim, full bright, badly textured crap needs to be gone. Mainland is the perfect example of this, it's a hot mess with old crap.

3. Get rid of a stage during the buying process, I don't need a screen that says "Buy it now" to go to another screen to "buy now".

4. MP needs to be faster (already covered numerous times)

Pussycat Catnap

@2014:
1. That doesn't happen for me when I have sort set to relevance. I get what's actually relevant. You have the data you have because of how you have used the service.

2. I somewhat agree. Not a purge of pre-2010 though. I would say products should expire after 200 days, and need to be manually re-activated. If NOT re-activated withing another 200 days, they get purged.

3. Yes - too many screens to manage a checkout. If you buy a freebie there is even an additional page of advertisements - but we've already seen and chosen not to buy that stuff at this time... so that page is just a slowdown, unless they really have good data showing a lot of sales are generated from that page - in which case I would merge that page with the final payment page.

4. I don't experience this problem.

Alexis Sommerfeld

As a long time merchant, and marketplace vendor, I can tell you that there are a few simple improvements that I think would dramatically improve my Marketplace sales and experience:

1) No more freebies. Maybe there should be a second marketplace for free items, but freebies just dilute the marketplace for the serious content creators.

2) More buy-in for vendors, or a bigger barrier to entry for becoming a vendor. I think it's reasonable to charge a monthly fee to post on marketplace. A subscription. This will discourage casual creators from posting their shoddy, half-hearted efforts. It's not unreasonable, because in every other market sector in the world, you have to pay for booths to sell your stuff.

3) More incentive to pay for visibility of your items. Right now, there's very little reason to pay for special visibility on the marketplace. My items get buried before they even get seen.

I could go on and on, but these are the areas I would most like to see fixed.

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