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Thursday, January 24, 2008

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cincia singh

I never use "popular places" as a guide for places to explore in SL. Since I came to SL in June of '07 the Popular Places tab in search always takes me to places with little or no actual social interaction. If I want to be bored I can be bored in RL, I won't tolerate boring places in my SL. If you want me and my lindens frequenting your club or shop, hire real avatars and put on real events, please. Cin

Ann Otoole

fraud is fraud and these people blatantly using these bots to increase traffic are criminals and should be shunned by the community. teach new residents to avoid these places. if you see these bot armies then know that whatever products are there are quite obviously unable to stand on their own and are sub standard and a waste of money. the sooner these fraud operators are run out of secondlife the better.

Christophe Hugo

The fraud is bigger than reported, Hamlet: When I visited B&B Skins a couple of weeks ago, a raffle was apparently going on, with a "B&B Customer Rewards
orb" shouting on a regular basis: "[name of avatar] has just won L$1 for being a valued B&B Skins customer!"
The strange thing is: each and every winning avatar was a... bot owned by B&B Skins. So the B&B Skins owner was basically paying herself every minute for being... her best customer! hmm.

We are talking about L$1 at a time.. but once every minute. Just make the computation: with 3,600 seconds per hour, this adds up pretty quickly over the months.

Now, that's what is called plain RAFFLE FRAUD - unless the store owner in question can explain such behavior?

As you know Hamlet, "the proof is on file", or rather on the pictures I sent you last month.

Hamlet Au

Interesting, Chris. For the record, though, I don't think "Fraud" is an accurate word for this phenomenon.

Jolly Jedburgh

I'm not a big store owner nor know what the results of being in the "most popular" really is but I completely agree with Bagnaria, if people are just going to buy my products because I'm in the top ten list then so be it, they deserve to be slightly fooled (fraud? come on!). No body is made to buy it, it's just another form of advertisement.
Every advertisement you see is fraud then, when was the last time you went to eat and what you ordered looked EXACTLY like the one on their photo? When you got what you ordered, did you actually get up and say "hey this is not as tasty looking as the one up there".
I congratulate Bagnaria for being open and honest about it and I agree if that's what needs to be done to be able to stay ahead of the competition that does not play fair, then so be it!
Sooner or later LL is going to have to do something about it as there will be no end to this, they will constantly try to beat the other business that's just above them and there is no way they can increase the bots for ever.

Liberty Tesla

I don't know whether it fits the legal definition of fraud, but is definitely an act of deception, and ethically indefensible. 'Popular places' should actually *be* popular; if you're trying to pretend your place is popular when it isn't, then you're lying.

I've proposed a fix for this several times, I keep hoping the Lindens will pick up on it: only count Premium users in traffic.

Users who get a stipend will not be tempted by the tiny sums that camping chairs pay; and maintaining an army of Premium membership bots would be prohibitively expensive. While not all 'genuine' traffic would be measured under this rule, all the traffic measured *would* be genuine. The 'Popular Places' tab would actually be meaningful; the highest traffic numbers would go to locations that really are popular with real human beings.

I despair of this ever being implemented -- from the way the Lindens have been talking lately, it sounds like they don't really care about Traffic anymore, and are putting their faith in Google's algorithms. But if that's the case, they should eliminate the Popular Places tab and all the Traffic scores in the other search panels. Either make it meaningful, or drop it; they should stop displaying a metric that they *know* is broken.

hiri nurmi

But traffic appears to make no discernable difference in the new search anyway, so I think these people running bot armies are just fooling themselves. My store is currently #4 in a search for 'Silks' (a popular category of 3000+ hits) which I've moved up via various methods, but traffic isn't one of them.

I tried running a number of bots but apart from a possible minor increase for the first one or so (one or at most two possible places with a search placement in the mid 20's when moving traffic from 300 to 3000+) they make no discernable difference.

My guess, but based on what I see, is that the Lindons have marginalised traffic in the new search and applied a rule of diminishing returns. Running bots even seems to be counter-productive at the levels needed to make a store popular - I was actually unable to get a sim for a store the other day because the sim was counting full and viewing from the sim next door seemed to indicate most of the avs inside were bots. Bots don't lag much, but they really don't help either and that doesn't help shopping.

I do currently run one or two bots after giving up on them for a while, but these are clothes models and I can find no effect of the traffic they generate on search position - they're there simply to show off the goods.

Val Kendal

And the free advertising in NWN doesn't hurt business either! I admit that I'm going over to check out her store after seeing the picture of the skin in the article.

Cyn Vandeverre

"Everyone else does it" is one of the weakest arguments on the planet for any behavior.

I would be interested to see if there is anyone in SL who actually does pay attention to Traffic. I suspect, once you've been inworld for a month, you know it's a completely useless bit of data.

Arcadian Vanalten

I have to agree that Popular Places may as well not BE on the search tab; I never use it. I make my decisions on where to shop mostly by seeing great products on other avatars, or by grass-roots recommendations (I'm a master of Inspecting prims to find out who the creator of that great trenchcoat/boot pair/hair, etc is). Popular places is actually more useful as a meter of places to avoid, as they'll be laggy, bot-laden, and even if they do have cool stuff, you'll see your snazzy new (fill-in-blank) on everyone else in 2 days.

And yeah, it's sleazy, but if it's not actually breaking a law, it's not criminal and therefore isn't fraud. Just b/c it's legal doesn't make it tasteful.

Arcadian Vanalten

And in defense of the bot users, I can see their point. It IS a very competitive business. But if the idea behind the metrics is to measure actual popularity, the use of bots and zombies just skews the data by introducing false data into the mix. The solution is not to continue the "let's fake the popularity" arms race. I agree that a better metric is needed. Just measuring premiums isn't an improvement either,though, considering the number of actual active basic accounts; again, you're skewing the data by eliminating a sizeable chunk of SL whose lindens spend just as well as anyone else's. Still a data skew via false preselection of your population. One could look at transactions per sim, but not all sims are about vending. Would work well on sims pretty much dedicated to sales only, like Sine Wave Island, etc, but clubs are harder to track, since transactions are a back seat to many clubs (albeit they're often used as draws for more commercial ventures). I really don't have a better solution (yet), but I'm sure SOMEWHERE in SL are RL professional demographers more versed in these issues specific to measuring actual site traffic (it's only tangential to my job).

George

Personally don't agree with bots in SL, but this article would have been even better and more powerful if this blogger had taken the time to qualify and check out their facts fully. There are a number of mistakes in the article.

It's a shame that some individuals in SL feel the need to single people and sims out in what can only be described as a personal attack against successful enterprises.

These same enterprises that pay out tens of thousands of lindens a day to newbies and people that need/want the money. Enterprises that are supporting the newbie community and providing avatars with money to buy things from other sims and retailers. Enterprises that are not just in SL to make some money, but also invest in helping out people (non financial) and contribute to the better being of SL.

Unfortunately when you have people write articles like this with only half the jigsaw pieces it is likely that perhaps the motive for their article is not as professional as it may seem, but something personal against people they simply don't like.

To conclude, don't believe everything you read - take this article with a pinch of salt and visit the places mentioned in this article to form your own opinion and to establish the true facts.

Hamlet Au

George, if you can point out any errors and source them, I'll be happy to look into them and correct as necessary.

George

Sure - Go to Platinum World and see that it doesn't run bots its a Camping Cafe and has been for over a year.

Residents go there to camp - there are no owner run bots there, its popular because of the amount of money paid out and its reputation over many months.

Hamlet Au

I did go to Platinum World and tried talking with the Residents sitting there, and got no response, even after waiting about ten minutes. I tried the same method at another location's camp site and got replies from almost all the Residents gathered at the campsite within a few minutes.

Rebecca Vacano

Thanks George for your comments on Platinum, but think its best that this comes from me directly as the owner.

Platinum World has and always will be a camping area. The fact that residents don't respond straight away or at all does not make it a bot zone nor that I as the owner am running bots. Most campers that I have known in SL leave their avatars running over night or even for days without checking back in. A simple 10 minute check in my mind does not qualify the statements made in this article. Nor has anyone involved in these articles contacted me prior to printing these defamous views to qualify the content or comments that they have made.

I strongly oppose the use of bots in SL and regularly get hacked off when others around me do this as I know how hard it is to run genuine popular traffic.

I don't intend to speculate any further on this subject - but ask that you and your team to in future qualify with people and check your facts out fully before printing inaccurate statements, that affect innocent bystanders.

Hamlet Au

Rebecca, thanks for offering your side here, I've posted an update. I used the only available means I know of to infer bots, but since you state for the record you have no bots, I'll give your statement preeminence.

rebecca vacano

Thank you for your updates to the Platinum comments. I think a test that compiles of 10 - 15 minutes of asking a bunch of campers whether they are bots will get most of the people who read this laughing. I refer to what I said earlier. Campers leave their avatars camping without being there for hours if not days.

It should also be noted that the writer was offered to monitor the residents over several hours / times so he could establish that they were different residents.

Lillie Yifu

I loathe the traffic/camping system. I have also told clients running sims at various times how to go about creating camping bots, because this was, prior to the new search, an important part of doing business. I noted to the people who I advised that the bots were alts, technically, and that they should, therefore pay for premium membership.

Now here is the interesting part, using a regular lightweight client based on libsl, it was still cheaper than paying campers, when the costs of sim crashes from regular camping were thrown in.

So there you are, on one hand I've campaigned to end traffic and the odious camping system, and at various times as a manager, told people how to exploit it, because those are the rules as they stand. LL could end camping, and could have removed traffic entirely from the new search. As it stands traffic does mean something, just not as much. But bots can be used to increase some of the new search metrics.

Actually if you want my vote for odious, it isn't the use of camping/bots, which is simply using the system as sl has created it, but selling of freebies at vastly marked up places and other practices common to many camping farms. One even has the audacity to demand exclusives of girls who dance there and charges 500L/wk for escort ads, when there is absolutely no money to be made for anyone dancing there, and a common freebie cock is sold for 500L.

Bots are also used as "fuck bots," to populate orgy rooms. As an experiment a friend of mine wrote one to see how many people would know the difference. The answer was depressingly few. The gender of that freebie chick might well be "mono-sexual."

My friend Dahlia Trimble is working on bots with enough AI to fill particular roles, and another friend of mine is actually working on a web application which would allow someone setting up a role playing situation to, with relatively small amounts of work, set up AI bots with interactivity to make building quests and adventures something that a non-building, non-scripter can do.

Of course land bots are one of the more controversial uses, but actually, land bots are good, if you know how they work, because they create a real floor price for land. It's the humans who will try and trick you to sell for less than the bot price.

Some things can only be done efficiently with bots, for example communication between outworld devices to in world that are rich.


Lillie Yifu

Platinum World. I'll attest that of camping farms, Platinum skins actually has one of the most lively over all places for campers who actually talk, interact and hang out with each other. There are ebbs and flows, but it is fun occasionally to put on a good kimono and do geisha dancing there.

Laetizia Coronet

I guess, Hamlet, that there is one way to check if avatars are bots: check their profiles. Most 5 day old noobs are member of one club or other. I expect that noone is going through the hassle of enrolling their bots into someone else's club or shop group.

Amy Little

I have read a lot of the interest surrounding the B&B Skins case. I think its great to discuss the pros and cons surrounding the ethics of this, but lets be quite clear here, B&B Skins are clearly breaking LL TOS by having more than 5 accounts.

Upon enquiring the conciege line about this when I read about it, whilst they wouldn't comment on specifics around individuals they confirmed that LL will only allow more than 5 accounts to RL registered businesses that have a presence in SL. I don't believe B&B Skins fit into this category.

Therefore either a false application was made for accounts, or the normal new account process must have been rigged.

From reading through other comments back from people thinking its ok to do this, it is quite clearly not ok or LL would be allowing users to create as many accounts as they wanted and it would be more wide spread. Therefore its unethical, uncompetitive behaviour that shouldn't be allowed to continue.

Ric Mollor

Though traffic may no longer play a big role in determining ranking, the role of user profile 'picks' and group membership has not been determined.

It's not uncommon to see these bots have the location of the shop owner selected repeatedly as their picks.

Perhaps that is the strategy for improving the ranking in search. Possibly the bots don't even have to be parked at the location seeking to improve it's ranking!

Allen

It's really bad to use bots fraud. Here is a good article about using bots for second life marketing.

http://www.socialham.com/2008/01/27/using-bots-for-second-life-marketing/

rjs

I've been in SL for quite some time and seen pretty much all the con"ISH" or different let's say marketing techniques.

But the fact is, while these people are running their bot schemes, Linden reboots a server and puts the most of us back down to 200 for traffic.

I've had over two thousand hit my store. But the land only shows 250. My neighbor has been on the sim for two years and has alot of traffic, he too has a land showing only 220 or so, then it gets up to a thousand or two and time to reboot the machine. Back down to 200 or so.

My recommendation is quit looking at what the traffic shows because it makes no difference. There are people that have thousands of hits to their parcels and end up showing 200. Linden likes to keep things under control this way, we wouldn't want anyone with real talent to get ahead without paying Linden more for it now would we?

rjs

JudgeDread

The biggest gamer of Traffic bots has to Rebecca Vacano, that lady takes the biscuit.Not ony does she game Traffic, she games Picks Camping, she games ALL search with invisible prims in the water. Thank god she doesn't run a classified advert, I'm pretty sure there would be keywords used for products not sold there.
Lets see her Platinum Skins shows 85 dots only 2 are milling around, her Escala sim has 73 green dots of which 0 visitors and finally her Indulgence sim with 58 green dots with just 1 visitor. Thats over 200 green dots with a total of 3 genuine visitors across 3 sim. What is the point of all this? 200 bots to catch 3 genuine visitors? This does not make good business sense. Its not business full stop. People should boycott such places :(

Rebecca Vacano

Um, why would anyone want to see anything at Alady? You can buy her entire store for less than 800L! LOL I am sorry, but could you prove the value of your products in any louder fashion? I think not. And the sad thing is, noone buys them, even at that price. As for my sim, I have been there. I have top name designers working on my sim, just like other big name sims in SL. My products are excellent and I challenge anyone to say otherwise. My products are superior to any other. My product is much better than Alady’s. Also, it would seem to me that the writer of this blog should be a bit more responsible than to smear me in this article. Why not remove the picture, at least? To choose one place out of the literally THOUSANDS in SL that use camping seems to me to be a bit of a vendetta and really not a good reflection on the person writing this blog.

Rebecca Vacano

I have some of the best products in Second Life – this is why it’s top of the searches and popular and people come to buy things. Usually when sims are popular people add it to their picks, which causes them to be higher in the search. How is that gamed?

Sims that have simple / childish builds, laughable vendor pictures and rubbish products are bound to be lower in the search. Perhaps the person targetting and stalking me would be better off spending their time making their stuff better and then they would succeed in SL.

Rebecca Vacano

You are all just jealous of my success - this is because I am more popular and higher in search. I make the best products in second life period!

Judge Dread's post shows just how jealousy can get.

Rebecca Vacano

I am angry - because because of your article they made me take my bots away and causing my business to shrink to rubbish! My product is superior and I needed bots to generate traffic. How am I to pay my tiers?

Jealous fools!

Rebecca Vacano

I am angry - because because of your article they made me take my bots away and causing my business to shrink to rubbish! My product is superior and I needed bots to generate traffic. How am I to pay my tiers?

Jealous fools!

Rebecca Vacano

If I change my mind about a post I created here - how do I delete it? I do not want to be stalked by all of you!

Rebecca Vacano

hahahaha Linden Lab are so thick! they haven’t even noticed all the bots that I have. Whats the point of having a policy that they don’t police!

More fool them, that I am still able to rip off other hard working designers by cheating the system with all of my bots!

actually I don’t make any money because my products are complete rubbish! More fool the people that buy them as my shapes are nothing more than freebie templates!

Marketing Works

Wake up you idiots,

Do you whiny little wimps cry because one can use search engine optimization on the internet to move their rankings up in the search results?, do you cry because a company can buy ad time on television and pay more for a better time slot to promote themselves? If you do, you’re just little wimps that don’t have a clue. You cry; “ohhh he’s using a bot to promote his business, and i don’t sell as much because of it”
Quit your whining and make a product that someone really wants and stop blaming the smart business promoter for your shortcomings in intelligence. Oh and by the way, if you DO have something worth selling on Second Life, why not get a bot and drive some traffic to your shop huh, smart marketing, like a good RL business operator does to promote his products. If not, then quit whining and why not get a real life eh?

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