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Censorship The Almighty Buck Your Rights Online

Second Life To Remove Free Content From Web Search 187

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

    by LS1 Brains ( 1054672 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:37AM (#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 solevita ( 967690 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:46AM (#30170960)
    The BBC has an article today - What happened to Second Life? [] Seems like a bad day of news for the decreasingly popular SL.
  • by Aldenissin ( 976329 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:04AM (#30171174)

    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.


    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.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:10AM (#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.
  • by CalcuttaWala ( 765227 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:14AM (#30171288) Homepage
    Second Life ( and 3D Virtual Worlds in general ) is what the web will look in the future. When I built my first website on Tripod people laughed at it and the whole concept of web. Geocities is dead and Tripod will most likely follow suit but the web lives .. and has become an integral part of our life. I am not saying that Second Life will die, but even if for the sake of argument we say that it will, the idea that it has spawned -- of persistent 3D virtual worlds that are built by users -- will continue to evolve and mutate ... and will spur the the growth of parallel technology in the area of 3D screens, 3D imagery and so on. Net net, new technology always seems quirky and geeky ( and that should not be a crime in slashdot :) but I believe that this will evolve into something useful and ubiquitous in future.
  • Re:We Should Care (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shihar ( 153932 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:23AM (#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 vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:00PM (#30171888) Homepage

    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 swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:23PM (#30172244) Journal

    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.

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

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @12:26PM (#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: [] 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 ( Sadly, when actually confronted with a situation that turned somewhat internet-ugly, they folded to their interventionist sensibilities to make sure everyone 'played nice'. (

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

  • by ResidentPoet ( 1682852 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @01:41PM (#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 makomk ( 752139 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @02:09PM (#30174058) Journal

    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. It requires having an object in Second Life to deliver the items from, which means someone has to pay money to Linden Labs for the virtual land to put the object on, either directly or indirectly.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990