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Censorship The Almighty Buck Your Rights Online

Second Life To Remove Free Content From Web Search 187

Posted by kdawson
from the all-for-monetizing dept.
Outland Traveller writes "In a move that continues to shake the Second Life community of content creators, merchants, and consumers, Linden Labs has declared that free virtual content will no longer be searchable without listing payments on their website portal; and additional fees will be added with the intention of discouraging content listed for inexpensive selling prices. The move is particularly troubling because the online Web listing service is the de facto search engine for virtual content in Second Life, since the in-world search tools are unable to provide information about an object beyond name and location — basic textual descriptions, pictures, or descriptions of licensing, size, or content-category are not possible. While initially the change was explained as a response to community feedback, the residents involved in this feedback process were revealed to be fewer than 100 in number, primarily larger merchants among a community of millions. Within 24 hours of the announcement, the feedback thread has swelled to over 1,000 overwhelmingly negative responses. Additionally, in-world protests have erupted throughout the day, and over 20,000 objects have been voluntarily removed from the online store by angered merchants." Read on for more details on the brouhaha.

Adding to the controversy are the officially stated justifications in the FAQ, such as 'They [free content listings] hinder the shopping experience because a "sort by price" puts all freebies first,' and the perplexing statement 'They [free listings] garner so much attention that Residents are driven toward the freebies instead of quality, fairly priced items.'

Various independent virtual content listing sites have been proposed, such as Meta-life.net and Slapt.me, but attempts to post this information on the Second Life forums has been met with aggressive administrative censorship of these links.
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Second Life To Remove Free Content From Web Search

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  • by hey! (33014) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:37AM (#30170838) Homepage Journal

    The customer reaction illustrates that the following is a bad business model: creating a service like Second Life for people who have time to waste on services like Second Life.

    • by TheKidWho (705796) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:45AM (#30170948)

      Even going so far as calling them merchants is silly imo...

    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:08AM (#30171224)
      Obviously, Second Life is trying to show how free stuff is of lower quality, and that they do not support free stuff. Like Second life...
      Wait a minute! Uh... Thats not what we meant...
      • by Darinbob (1142669)
        I mean, in an online game all "fairly priced items" are free. Anyone who pays real money money in second life is getting ripped off.
    • by eln (21727) on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:09AM (#30171238) Homepage
      Summary of the summary: People who get stuff for free don't like it when they're asked to start paying for that stuff. Further, people on the Internet (and especially places like Second Life) LOVE to complain about stuff, and have lots and lots of time to do it. Therefore, when a company that caters to people on the Internet who have lots of time on their hands decides to charge for stuff, the impotent rage reaches epic proportions. Before you know it, disembodied penises start flying everywhere.

      Summary of the summary of the summary: People on the Internet complain about everything. Companies like to make money. Result: Nerd (or in this case, Furry) Rage.
      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        To summarize the summary, people are a problem. - Douglas Adams

      • by mypalmike (454265)

        I'd like to complain about your summary of the summary. I am on the internet and I never complain. You are unfairly stereotyping internet users like myself. It's not right, and I'm going to start "tweeting" about it pretty soon if you don't apologize.

  • Who gives a rip? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LS1 Brains (1054672) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:37AM (#30170850)
    Certainly nobody in my circles. I've asked - nobody I know uses Second Life. Are we missing the greatest thing since sliced bread? I'd wager a big no.
    • by ChowRiit (939581)

      I have never met or even heard of anyone who uses Second Life, with the exception of journalists who seem to think it's the best example of an MMO to report on online gaming with.

    • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:36AM (#30171576) Homepage Journal
      SecondLife is basically a gigantic Internet Drama Engine. Worse, because it creates so much drama, it tends to gain the attention of the mass media who seem to think it's the final realization of "cyberspace" that they were promised in the 80s. In reality, it's Deviantart with a crappier interface.
      • by GigsVT (208848)

        SecondLife is basically a gigantic Internet Drama Engine. Worse, because it creates so much drama, it tends to gain the attention of the mass media who seem to think it's the final realization of "cyberspace" that they were promised in the 80s. In reality, it's Deviantart with a crappier interface.

        Make something better... Seriously. None of the "competitiors" to Second Life really "gets it"... they all want to give people prepackaged experiences with professionally created content... completely missing the point.

      • by PitaBred (632671)
        Deviantart? I was thinking more Livejournal. Or have all the emo kids moved since I last checked?
    • by iamhassi (659463)
      "Certainly nobody in my circles. I've asked - nobody I know uses Second Life. Are we missing the greatest thing since sliced bread? I'd wager a big no."

      actually the people I know that play Second Life are teenage girls that like the virtual sex. [theregister.co.uk] Guess it makes sense, they don't feel comfortable doing it in real life (or labeled as a slut by peers) so they turn to Second Life.

      And you might be thinking "sure but that's rare, the girls in SL are probably all guys in real life". Maybe, but as a straight
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        actually the people I know that play Second Life are teenage girls that like the virtual sex.

        You just think they're teenage girls.

        Actually, they are 50 year-old men who have sex with each other in between calling talk radio shows.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by CronoCloud (590650)

          Second Life has built in voice chat....and people use it. The majority of female avatars are played by women and of those who are played by folks who were born male, a bunch of those are transwomen. I've referred to SL as "a world for women". They run it, they own it. The number of geeky guys scripting helicopters and whatnot are easily outnumberd by the women making clothes, buying clothes, making art, playing music.

    • by Knara (9377)

      SL is a half-assed graphical implementation of MUSH/MUSE games from the early-mid 1990's.

      The interface is the main hurdle to using it. If that engine was better, the system itself would be really intriguing.

    • Maybe none of your friends are fat people with addictive personalities. Fat people are big Second Life fans. They can create a thin and sexy avatar for socializing as if they were thin and sexy while munching on burgers pecking away at their keyboard. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01OSKJwXuDM&feature=related [youtube.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by TravisO (979545)
      I know it's easy to pick on Second Life but my wife use to play it obsessively so let me give you some real insight: The game gives you a lot of power to import models, animations and textures, think of it as an in game "make your own Sims game", where you can set rules, scripts that execute on other people's models, etc. The game is flooded with woman, usually stay at home wives, these aren't necessarily your traditional "fat goth chicks". I'm a hardcore gamer myself, mostly just Xbox 360 lately, so I w
      • Yep SL is a women's world: stay-at-home moms, art students (and recent art school grads), graphic designers, etc. Most of the scripters seem to be male though.

  • People still care? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vohar (1344259) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:38AM (#30170862)

    Oh no, now the world will...well, continue to not care about Second Life I guess.

    It was a fairly neat concept, but I always felt like media outlets were pushing it a lot harder than it was really worth. It's basically the internet given form, so there may have been some gems of innovation in there but there were a whole lot of dirty, disgusting places as well.

    • We Should Care (Score:4, Insightful)

      by u4ya (1248548) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:44AM (#30170936) Homepage
      Not so much about Second Life, but about the way in which what is happening there parallels what we have in the real world. Powerful interests consistently manipulate our world's system to benefit the interests of a tiny few at the expense of the great majority. Hopefully massive protests will stop this from happening, in both SL and in the real world.
      • Re:We Should Care (Score:5, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:08AM (#30171222) Journal

        >>>Hopefully massive protests will stop this from happening, in both SL and in the real world.

        Well ebay instituted similar policies in 2008 and 9 to discourage small-time sellers (i.e. people like us selling used games, videos, whatever), and there was widespread protest on the forums, but nothing changed. eBay simply deleted the negative posts, banned people with repeated "This is bad policy" postings, and nothing changed. Now the portal has become a place that favors big businesses with deep pockets.

        • Re:We Should Care (Score:4, Informative)

          by houstonbofh (602064) on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:16AM (#30171320)

          Well ebay instituted similar policies in 2008 and 9 to discourage small-time sellers (i.e. people like us selling used games, videos, whatever), and there was widespread protest on the forums, but nothing changed. eBay simply deleted the negative posts, banned people with repeated "This is bad policy" postings, and nothing changed. Now the portal has become a place that favors big businesses with deep pockets.

          And all the people cleaning out the garage, like me, went to craigslist. So, where is 3rd life? (shudder)

          • It's called Opensim, virtual world regions hosted on people's own computers rather than Linden Lab (owners of Second Life) servers. Since the Second Life server software is not open source, people are having to recreate the functionality on their own, as an open source software project.

          • "And all the people cleaning out the garage, like me, went to craigslist."

            Of which eBay promptly bought a 25% share.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craigslist [wikipedia.org]

        • could you please be more specific about these policies and link to the posts? or provide a relevant google query?

          I would like to read more.

      • Re:We Should Care (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Shihar (153932) on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:23AM (#30171414)

        No. We really shouldn't care. A small time struggling corporation making a desperate attempt to boost profits before they go under because their game frankly sucks isn't worth caring over. They are altering their own internal search engine so it costs a few bucks to advertise free junk. Holy shit. Bring out the protest signs. There is nothing to get worked up over. There are no "powerful interests". . Blizzard has more money invested in their urinals than SLs makers have even dared to dream about. There is just a tiny pin prick of a size company that runs this crappy game, and they need money to expand / stay afloat / pay server costs / whatever. They figure they can probably rake in a few extra bucks by charging "merchants" a few bucks to advertise free virtual junk on their wretched game. There is no story here, and certainly nothing to care about unless you happen to be one of the three people playing this game.

        • by makomk (752139)

          They are altering their own internal search engine so it costs a few bucks to advertise free junk. Holy shit. Bring out the protest signs. There is nothing to get worked up over. There are no "powerful interests".

          This is Second Life. "Powerful interests" is relative, but big merchants were certainly complaining they couldn't compete with all the free stuff on the site, and this is the claimed reason for introducing the charge. (The *other* change is that free items will no longer be listed in the normal search, so even if people are willing to pay to list them, no-one will find them.)

          There is just a tiny pin prick of a size company that runs this crappy game, and they need money to expand / stay afloat / pay server costs / whatever.

          Have you seen what Second Life charges for land in-world? It's not exactly cheap. There's a $200 or $300 a month fee per region, which

        • by Blakey Rat (99501)

          Blizzard has more money invested in their urinals than SLs makers have even dared to dream about.

          Note: Blizzard buys only urinals of pure silver with ruby flush handles.

    • Read up on the "Hype Cycle" (The Gartner Group came up with that description). Most new technologies go through it. Some survive. The process is roughly, new idea comes out, someone implements it, the promoters and the media go crazy for a while hyping it. Lots of people try it, many find it *isnt* the best thing since sliced bread and give it up. Then it goes into hibernation for a while. Some technologies die at this point, either lack of interest, or something else takes over that space. The good

  • They are (Score:2, Insightful)

    by scarboni888 (1122993)

    Greedy fuckers

  • by santax (1541065) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:40AM (#30170888)
    For real, here in the Netherlands media hyped about 2nd life about 3, 4 years ago. Some banks even bought some land etc. But nowadays, I personally don't know anyone using it. So where is second life big? This is not meant as a flame or anything, I am just curious. 1000 protests doesn't seem like a lot. Check the protests on Forza 3 missing custom lobby or the Modern Warfare missing custom servers... That's a bit more than 1000...
    • by solevita (967690) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:46AM (#30170960)
      The BBC has an article today - What happened to Second Life? [bbc.co.uk] Seems like a bad day of news for the decreasingly popular SL.
      • by santax (1541065)
        Thanks for that link!
      • Looks like a banner day for "first" life!

      • by nametaken (610866)

        And yet from that article...

        "But Linden Labs isn't worried, because the number of users continues to rise.
        "Monthly repeat login - a metric we use to gauge the number of users engaged with Second Life - grew 23% from September 2008 to September 2009," says Mark Kingdon, chief executive of Linden Lab."

        I wouldn't know as I've never used it, but after all the huff and puff it seems they're doing alright.

      • by syousef (465911)

        The BBC has an article today - What happened to Second Life? Seems like a bad day of news for the decreasingly popular SL.

        In Australia, our largest ISP (Bigpond) has just announced unmetered usage of second life are now going to be metered. I think they also closed their content (a "Bigpond Island" which they had paid staff to create) citing this as a failed experiment.

        Linden Labs need to be revitalising Second Life - offering more to retain and get new peeople. Instead they seem hell bent on self destructi

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:49AM (#30170998) Homepage Journal

      Second life is a big hit among people who have never played a competently developed computer game. Just navigating the world is intensely painful. The tools for content creation are even worse. The documentation reminds me of that for drupal... inadequate, and when you point this out you're referred to a fucking video tutorial. Second Life is a huge fail because it's almost as big a pain in the ass as FIRST life.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by megrims (839585)

        Unfortunately, Drupal stands out from the crowd by actually having documentation, despite the inadequacies.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vadim_t (324782)

        SL is about as competently developed as it can be.

        It doesn't get the benefit of an optimized and static world with well picked textures, because there's nobody to enforce such a thing. Before SL there was ActiveWorlds, which had exactly the same issues for the same reason.

        And SL isn't really a game. It's more of a MUD with a GUI. You couldn't do the same things in say, WoW, and if you managed anyway they wouldn't be tolerated (Blizzard doesn't really like people messing with their system).

        • by Blakey Rat (99501)

          And SL isn't really a game. It's more of a MUD with a GUI.

          SL isn't anything like a MUD. MUSH, possibly.

          The funny thing, though, is that the horrible usability of Second Life actually makes the horrible usability of most MUDs/MUSHes look pretty good by comparison.

      • by Random Walk (252043) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:14AM (#30172082)

        It's a big hit among the people who have the creativity to actually do something, rather than just consuming. It's a big fail with those who expect a game with a set goal, those who need to cling to someone/something telling them what to do.

        I'm doing freeform roleplay, and it's great fun. There's plenty of roleplay communities in SL.

        • by Rakishi (759894)

          So in other words it a way for people who are incapable of living in the real world to play out their escape fantasies?

          • So in other words it a way for people who are incapable of living in the real world to play out their escape fantasies?

            Yeah when I was younger we called them "chat rooms".

    • by makomk (752139)

      Second Life is about as popular as it's ever been - which is to say, still fairly niche. It's just the media have stopped hyping it and lost interest.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:05AM (#30171184)

      Second Life has always been a mediocre-to-awful virtual reality primarily filled with furry perverts.

      What happened is about 3 years ago, they hired the BEST PR TEAM EVER. They got companies and even some governments to set up shop in there, thinking it was the next big thing. They got stories in the news almost every day-- if you visited this site, you probably remember how often it came up here. It was remarkable, when you consider what product they were actually selling!

      Either people actually tried Second Life and realized the marketing was all lies, or their awesome marketing team is gone. For whatever the reason, in the last year or so all the hype has virtually disappeared, and now Second Life is back to being a mediocre-to-awful virtual reality primarily filled with furry perverts again.

      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        One point I forgot to bring up, but should be apparent: It's pretty obvious that none of the journalist writing about Second Life, and executives demanding online land be purchased, never actually downloaded and played the game.

        Also, no post about Second Life would be complete without the brilliant Wonderella comic on the topic: http://www.graphicsmash.com/comics/wonderella.php?view=archive&chapter=14739&mpe=0 [graphicsmash.com]

        • by tomhudson (43916)

          One point I forgot to bring up, but should be apparent: It's pretty obvious that none of the journalist writing about Second Life, and executives demanding online land be purchased, never actually downloaded and played the game.

          Actually, Reuters did [bbc.co.uk], then abandoned it.

          American Apparel closed its shop just one year after opening. Reuters pulled its correspondent in October 2008. When asked about his virtual experience, Pasick says: "It isn't a subject we like to revisit."

          Second Life needs to get a life.

    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:10AM (#30171246)
      I'm still there because I got grandfathered in to the old weekly allowance years ago and, with the Linden real dollar exchange being what it is, they actually pay *me* to be there. I haven't actually logged on in ages.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by swordgeek (112599)

      I looked at Second Life, but it was unusable with my old, slow computer.

      When I got a new computer, I tried it out again, and found that it was still...unusable. Clunky, laggy, slow, awkward, and ultimately not very interesting. A pity really, because it was a neat idea.

      To answer your question, I don't think it's big _anywhere_ now. It had its heyday, and it's dying painfully.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:47AM (#30170980)

    'They [free listings] garner so much attention that Residents are driven toward the freebies instead of quality, fairly priced items.'

    How dare people give away their fairly created goods instead of charging through them! How dare they be non-materialistic in this fictional world! That's just un-American!

    If you can't sell your product, you're pricing it too high. If someone can make it cheaper, expect to lose business. Welcome to reality.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Aldenissin (976329)

      If you can't sell your product, you're pricing it too high. If someone can make it cheaper, expect to lose business. Welcome to reality.

      THIS!

      People make choices, and free is a choice. Limiting that is like a gang, just crying for attention because the system is broken. How about work on a real fix, like perhaps divide it into a separate free section, and demonstrate why the pay stuff is better. If you can't do something along those lines or better, then your business model was doomed.

    • Hanlon's Razor (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338) on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:09AM (#30171240) Journal

      Or we could just apply Hanlon's Razor: Never ascribe to mallice, that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

      While some collusion _is_ possible there, it could also be that they just listened to the wrong crowd. That's also a "welcome to reality" kind of thing. A vocal minority can often seem like they're the majority, or at least representative enough for a majority of players. It's not just a Second Life or selling goods issue, it's that a tiny number of vocal people can generate more posts and whole circle-jerk treads, than the vast majority... who's too busy playing the game or coding flying penises for Second Life and doesn't bother much with posting.

      Just look at almost any gaming board and you can see the same phenomenon: a minority of fanboys or malcontents can generate more posts than everyone else combined. And if left to their own devices, can actually gang up on anyone saying otherwise and try to drive them off. It can be about off-line single player games too (about half a dozen fanboys were enough to insult anyone who had a problem with Morrowind, back when that launched), online games (just read the Stalker boards in COV and you'd think that (A) 99% of the players want only PvP, and (B) everyone agrees that Stalkers should be able to one-shot any other class, including tanks), etc.

      And occasionally you see some game screwing up spectacularly, because they listened to the wrong crowd. Without any anti-communist ideology being involved at all. E.g., it seems Vanguard owes half its screw ups to listening too much to the gang that, basically, went, "I've played WoW for 2 years straight and raided every night, and then discovered that everything about it sucks and only an idiot kiddie would like it." If you figured out by now that whoever makes such a claim, just called himself an idiot kiddie, and that only an even bigger idiot would take design advice from a self-confessed idiot... well, then you'd be smarter and more perceptive than some designers ;)

  • They live? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:54AM (#30171058)

    SecondLife community

    I thought they were all wiped out in the Final Flying Phallus/Furry War of 2007.

  • So, the predicted doom and gloom of free virtual items given away by good, decent people assumes that no 3rd party directories will rise?

    Doesn't seem very likely to me. If it's as popular as this news item suggests then I could see MANY 3rd party marketplaces popping up practically overnight. If no 3rd party marketplaces are created, then, as the saying goes, "nothing of value was lost."

    • I know that no one reads TFA, but you couyld at least read all of TFSummery.

      "Various independent virtual content listing sites have been proposed, such as Meta-life.net and Slapt.me, but attempts to post this information on the Second Life forums has been met with aggressive administrative censorship of these links."
  • by _KiTA_ (241027)

    I cannot imagine how much spam items these search results must get.

    But having said that, an option "hide free items" would be nice, instead of just taking that option away from the users.

  • by Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) <abacaxi@@@hotmail...com> on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:18AM (#30171356)
    I examined the logs of the three "office discussions", and a total of thirty-five merchant avatars showed up. It was 3 hour-long discussions, held on a single day, that didn't even discuss all of the supposedly discussed changes.

    There were no e-mails, although they claim to have twittered about the office hours.

    • by Xugumad (39311)

      Stop reading those! The less people know I was there, the easier my life is going to be...

      Seriously though; a lot of articles are calling this a money grab. It might be, but the core point from what they said at the office hours was to cut down on the sheer clutter in XStreetSL. Unfortunately, they haven't given us an alternative site for freebies (which was a point raised), and there's no ability to group items under a single listing (for example, if someone sells one hair style in 20 colours, they need 20

  • Linden Labs is a for-profit entity. Most of their income from Second Life comes from two sources: people renting virtual 'land' (who quite often use that area for storefronts), and people buying in-game currency so that they can buy in-game clothing and realistically vibrating penises.

    People who hunt out the freebies, as opposed to shelling out a few real-world dollars for something that might be better, are a drain on both Linden Labs' resources and a frustration for the people who pay upwards of a hundred

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by the_fat_kid (1094399)

      "realistically vibrating penises"

      Ok, maybe you are new to the idea of what a penis looks like and what it does.
      untill the Parkinson's disease takes over, they don't vibrate.
      That thing in mom's drawer is a vibrator, not a penis.

  • by Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) <abacaxi@@@hotmail...com> on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:23AM (#30171408)
    A company that runs its servers on Linux griping that free stuff will drive the big costly stuff out of business

    I like Second life ... it's graphical chat with some wildly creative visual artists. (not all the furries are perverts, and you don't get issued a freenis when you join.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ColdWetDog (752185)

      I like Second life

      You are a very brave entity to actually come out and say that here. My codpiece is off to you sir/madam/whatever.

  • by DanielRavenNest (107550) on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:42AM (#30171670)

    Just before the announcement of listing fees, there were 1.15 million items listed on http://www.xstreetsl.com/ [xstreetsl.com] , their web commerce site. Many of them were just color variations of the same item, or free items. By not having a listing fee previously, people had no incentive to be efficient in what they put there, in fact they had incentive to spam the listings with as many items as possible to be seen (just like email spam occurs because sending emails is essentially free).

    So this move will force people to be somewhat efficient in what they put there. Note that the fee is L$10 per month, which equates to about a postage stamp for a year's worth of listing. Big surprise that people whine about the changes in a social media space (not). They were whining before the changes that it was cluttered with too many listings.

    For those who say it's not popular, they have 750,000 active accounts (people who log in more than once a month), which is probably more than the active accounts here at Slashdot. It does not appeal to everyone, but then *nothing* appeals to everyone. It does, however fit with some of the tropes at Slashdot, the people who like to make their own stuff, and mess around with open source. The viewer code for Second Life (the client software you run on your PC) has been open-sourced for a while now, and around 40% of players are using alternate viewers (especially the one that has enabled "breast physics" *heh*).

    Disclosure: I'm a top 20 currency trader in SL and derive a moderate monthly income from that and other in-game activities. I'm also a developer for Blue Mars, a new virtual world that's in early beta (much better graphics, using the Cryengine2 graphics engine from the Crysis games), so I'm agnostic about virtual worlds if they are good ones.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by makomk (752139)

      Many of them were just color variations of the same item, or free items. By not having a listing fee previously, people had no incentive to be efficient in what they put there, in fact they had incentive to spam the listings with as many items as possible to be seen (just like email spam occurs because sending emails is essentially free).

      The reason each colour variation gets its own listing is because that's the only way to sell colour variations individually. You can't create a single listing that allows a choice of several colour variations. Think users of the site have been complaining about it for ages. (On the other hand, the reason for so many free objects is primarily convenience - it makes useful things easier to find, especially given how badly the in-world search works.)

      Listing items on the site also always effectively cost money.

  • Tried it - just a vacant boring wasteland with a crappy interface. Even the hookers were uninspiring. The text MUDs I used to play had more users, more interesting content and were easier to use.
  • It's very simple: there are hundreds of thousands of things on the website, the vast majority of which are crap. Not just bad, but crap. And they stay there because even if nobody wants them, there's no incentive to get them removed either.

    It got so bad it's nearly impossible to find the right thing unless you know the precise thing you're looking for.

    So, this move is them trying to get people to remove all the crap that doesn't sell, to get a more cleaned up listing.

    • by makomk (752139)

      Except I can't see it solving that problem. A lot of the issues come down to two things: (a) Linden Labs are unable to create a useful search engine to save their life, and (b) they turn a blind eye to people keyword-spamming their listings with irrelevant keywords. This will solve neither problem.

  • So... they concluded that the listing of free content was harming the sales of for pay products.

    Which may very well be the case, but without them, it's a certainty that there is a not insignicant customers who might have otherwise stayed and browsed for a while will not. While it might be easier for people who are willing to pay for products to find what they are looking for, with fewer customers in the first place, it's not at all a far stretch that this move will result in *FEWER* sales, not more.

    A

  • If there's a real problem why not just give people searching a choice whether or not they see the free stuff? That can't be that hard to implement and wouldn't make life substantially more difficult. The lack of such a simple solution really does suggest that this is about the big merchants.
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Here's the reality of the situation: Second Life makes money from sales, not free stuff.

      I've been making money in Second Life long enough to know that Linden Labs (the company behind SL) has very little, if any, morals.

      If they can make more profit in the short term by screwing thousands of people, they will. Even "community" events seem mostly hollow marketing attempts. The only customers they intend to keep happy are real-life companies pumping thousands of dollars into virtual land and the big merchants t

  • Good riddance, SL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:26AM (#30172318) Journal

    SL was neither the best nor the brightest of the various shells that tried to offer a 'new' way of browsing and providing web content. I can think of at least 4 off the top of my head, and that was 6+ years ago. It was essentially nothing more than a graphical shell for a MUD, an ancient concept in Internet years. (TiA: I was a beta for ViOS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vios [wikipedia.org] in 1999, so SL in 2003 was utterly not impressive.)

    In fact, it was one of the slowest, kludgiest ones I ever had the misfortune to try. (In truth, that probably had a lot to do with the unprecedented amount of access the users had to customize their experience and manipulate the world in non-trivial ways.)

    Probably inspired by books like Neuromancer and Snow Crash, it was an attractive concept ... only until you analyzed it rigorously. Let's see, I can type "Deutsche bank berlin customer services" in a browser, wait 0.246 seconds for the links to pop up, and click one to get to their site. OR, in the 'internet as virtual world' paradigm, I could log in to my avatar, and go 'flying' at Mach 15 to wherever DB Berlin's virtual hq was (which I'd probably have to look up), "enter" it, and then navigate in some Euclidean way to the customer service 'office'. Lot more fun, sure, not so efficient (not to mention orders of magnitude more hardware and bandwidth required). I can turn on "NPR's Science Friday" or d/l from the web to listen at FM-radio quality....or I could go into SL (login), travel to the SL place, and then watch my screen flicker at 15 fps while the giant penis-avatar to my left keeps lagging into the zebra-chick hovering over the stage, all the while the audio stutters and drops all over the place. Improvement?

    It took all the efficiencies of the internet, and rendered them BACK into their real-world constraints of geography and linearity - being able to fly really fast doesn't really help that. Putting the internet in a real-world context doesn't improve efficiency of use nor quality of results, so what good is it? Who ever thought that was actually, a good idea? As far as I can tell, only the promoters.

    Second Life somehow managed to gather a tiny bit more focus and attention (probably because it was free for users), making it the "go-to" place for all the people WHO DIDN'T REALLY UNDERSTAND THE INTERNET IN THE FIRST PLACE. Thus, some businesses followed out of simple cash-sniffing self-interest. Some other sorts of organizations showed up - as the BBC article says, you could hardly open a newspaper Technology section or computer magazine without some reference to SL for a couple of years there.

    Couple all this failure with the Linden Labs' arbitrariness and hypocrisy*, I was astonished then that people (and especially businesses) bought into it for so long.

    * and I do mean hypocrisy; The only value I thought it MIGHT have was that I thought the whole thing MIGHT be an interesting social experiment of the concepts of the Commmons, broadened to numbers of people undreamed-of by late-90's standards. The ability to customize the code, plus what was a strict hands-off policy by the Lindens, seemed like it might be a cauldron for a working-through of the Greater Internet Dickwad Theory (http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19/). Sadly, when actually confronted with a situation that turned somewhat internet-ugly, they folded to their interventionist sensibilities to make sure everyone 'played nice'. (http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2003/07/war_of_the_jess.html)

    People using Second Life to experience the internet always seemed to me like chimps futilely trying to use their termite sticks to dial a phone....it *might* work, clumsily, but conceptually you're light-years away from really 'getting it'.

    • While in early SL you could only teleport to "telehubs" and teleporting cost L$, SL has free direct teleporting anywhere for years now. You can even TP directly to a search result. SL search works better too than it used to, if you know how to use it.

  • by ResidentPoet (1682852) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:41PM (#30173604)
    A brief overview of the comments on this subject reveal three things immediately to me: 1: non-SL users have no clue what goes on in SL. No big surprise there. If you're not in there, you really haven't got any information on which to be basing your opinions. 2: People who have tried SL and left unimpressed have little clue what goes on there and are therefore little more qualified to make informed judgements of what goes on there. 3: People with little or no clue what goes on in SL can spread a lot of misinformation to the rest of the non-SL-using world by stating their uninformed opinons as "fact" in forums like this. So, I thought I'd counter the misinformation before it gets too far out of hand. SL is debateable as a "game". Many people use it this way. Many others don't. "Having a lot of time on your hands" doesn't always mean one is an irresponsible deadbeat, probably unemployed, with time to "waste", as is often implied. Many people in SL have part- or full-time jobs in the real world, even those called "merchants" in this article. I am one who has a full-time job. I use SL. not as a place to "play" as if it were a "game", but as a place to advertise my real business, which I also have in addition to my full-time job. I create things other people buy and then I convert the inworld currency to real money in the real world, something often discouraged in "games", but something SL was designed to do. I personally know several people who make a full-time income (or two) in SL, and contrary to "having lots of time on their hands", their entire time is spent creating art, organizing business meetings and creating and maintaining connections to real-world networks. While I'm not certain I'll ever make a full-time income with my products in SL, it does pay for itself at this point, and I hope it will point people toward my real-world business, helping establish it as my full-time job before I am physically no longer able to do what I have done for the last 25 years. Which brings me to another reason why many people are "merchants" in SL: They are disabled, and in an economy where jobs are becoming more and more scarce and companies are cutting back and firing even their long-term most valuable employees, disabled people have an even tougher time finding full-time work than they usually do. If they are imaginative, creative and remotely skilled with a 3D program or coding, they can make enough real-world money in SL to pay the light bill at least, if not pay their rent as well. Xstreet has long provided merchants in SL with a way to sell their products to massive numbers of people. Because most users of SL want a convenient and fast shopping method, most shoppers in SL use Xstreet at least as often as they use inworld methods, if not more. Freebies, which actually are not "always crap" as so many people seem to think, but are often good quality products offered free by creators as a way to incline potential customers to want more of their stuff, are a popular section of the site. Granted, about half of the stuff there is "crap". The other half is decidedly not. A discerning shopper knows the difference. Contrary to Linden Labs claims that the freebies come up first in searches for any items, its actually difficult to find the freebies unless you click the Free category link. In addition, there is an Advanced Search option that allows the user to completely fine-tune their search, including the order in which the search results are displayed. In other words, Linden Labs lied. A lot. It is of note that until Linden Labs bought the site, Xstreet charged a commission for every sale. Period. This helped a lot of business owners to get their products out there and selling without a large outlay of real cash. Given that a number of business owners in SL are poor folks struggling to make it, and have turned to SL as a way to make real money from creating virtual content, (trust me, folks, this works a lot better than pay-to-click, stuffing envelopes and other lame options available to the disabled and otherwise disadvantaged in th
    • by Araneas (175181) <pgilliland&rogers,com> on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:43PM (#30174714)
      "2: People who have tried SL and left unimpressed have little clue what goes on there and are therefore little more qualified to make informed judgements of what goes on there."

      No, people who have tried SL and left unimpressed are making an judgement informed by their experience. To say that they had little clue about what goes on there simply means that Linden and the cabal of initiates in the know have done a piss poor job in exposing "what goes on there" in a simple, attractive and easy to use fashion.

      The rest of your post was interesting - I hadn't thought of SL's possible uses by the disabled community.

      • True, they have their impressions and experiences, but SL changes very very quickly. In SL a certain place or person can be the hottest thing ever and then 3 months later they can be a face/place in the crowd again.

        SL also works much better than it did when I first started using it back in July of 2006.

  • This is yet another bad move on the part of Linden Labs, and it's driving people away.
    Just wandering and looking when using Emerald reveals: Few people are using the Linden-supplied viewer. Reading the news shows that the OpenGrid is picking up more and more followers, in general people have decided they are sick of the Lindens and they can do better on their own.

    XStreet was an example of this: Search in SL sucked, still sucks (though not as bad as it was), and so people independently created online methods

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      Just wandering and looking when using Emerald reveals: Few people are using the Linden-supplied viewer.

      I have found many places where this is not true. I guess you don't get out of the places you usually go to, much.

      Reading the news shows that the OpenGrid is picking up more and more followers, in general people have decided they are sick of the Lindens and they can do better on their own.

      OpenGrid needs content, a micropayment system, DRM, people and various SL features that aren't implemented correctly ye

  • Who cares? Noone is using Second Life anymore, except those marketing people who still think, they can advertise there...

    and the last mention of it in mainstream media was 2-3 years ago (afaik)

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