Outland Traveller writes: In a move that continues to shake the SecondLife(tm) community of content creators, merchants, and consumers, Linden Labs 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. 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" as well as the perplexing statement "They [free listings] garner so much attention that Residents are driven toward the freebies instead of quality, fairly priced items". While initially this move was explained as a response to community feedback, the residents involved in this feedback process were revealed to be less 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 overwhelming negative responses. Additionally in-world protests have erupted throughout the day, over 20,000 objects have been voluntarily removed from the online store by angered merchants. Various independent virtual content listing sites have been proposed such as http://meta-life.net/ and http://slapt.me/, but attempts to post this information on the Second Life forums has been met with aggressive administrative censorship of these links. This move by Linden Lab 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 a name and location, such as basic textual descriptions, pictures, licensing, size, or content-category.
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