July 28, 2010

Hope for Second Life Marketplace?

I had a long chat with Brodesky Linden last night which I think was productive and somewhat eye-opening. Brodesky corrected me on a few things I put in my previous blog post while giving me some sense of what Linden Lab plans for Second Life Marketplace. He also took some of my suggestions to heart and indicated that you might see them in the next iteration of the SL Marketplace beta. I'm not going to detail some of the things that were a bit "internal" to the Lab but I will tell you that I thought Brodesky was being as honest and straight with me as he possibly could. One thing he did make clear was that the 30% layoff at the Lab has hit them all really hard. We were chatting up to around 11:00 pm SLT and Brodesky was still working (via laptop at a cafe). Most of the development folks are working 18-hour days. :(

One thing Brodesky mentioned was that, while he might not have wanted to put the beta out so soon, the Lab did convert over 1.2 million listings and perhaps 30K of those didn't come over correctly. But of course, the 30K that got fouled up generated a lot of negative posts and a ton of tickets.

Also, he told me there are 100 merchants of all different sizes participating in the design & beta of the Marketplace -- but the reason you don't know what their feedback is or how things are being incorporated is because they're all under NDAs.

So here we go on some specrfics (I hope I got all these correct):
  1. Formatting for listings. The "no BBCode" statement is a final, however that doesn't mean that some form of editor for offering limited formatting might not be included. Bullets (& numbering??) may be added right off. Bolding and italics maybe. However, it's pretty clear that LL is not going to back away from the uniform look and feel they want in the marketplace.
  2. Custom fields. My comment was that if you couldn't do a lot of formatting for a listing, you needed to make up for it more fields for information. This seemed like a good idea to Brodesky -- we'll see where it goes.
  3. Color / size options. Not sure we really pinned this down but it sounds like there are plans to implement something along this line.
  4. Picture formats. I was not aware that 512x512 is now allowed and will not be scaled.
  5. Picture limitations. The limit of 8 probably won't change in the short term however they are looking into some way of addressing texture vendors and their unique problems. Coverflow was mentioned as a possible solution (I have no idea what that really is). :)
  6. Object ID and updates. Many of concerns voiced by creators like me who have versioned objects seem to have been heard. They are looking at some way of handling these uniquely. The primary concern at the Lab seems to be preventing "gaming" through bait and switch of high rated items with junk. Personally I've never come across this in all my years of shopping OnRez, SLX and XStreet so I'm not sure if it isn't a solution in search of a real problems. Regardless, I was pretty adamant that we needed SOME way of preserving good ratings and reviews for items that simply change via bug fixes or added features. One issue is that LL would really like to get rid of Magic Boxes. However, that's what allows you to sub a product in name only.
  7. Search. Haha, we never got around to discussing it.
  8. Networked vendors. There seems to be a split internally about what to do about these. No conclusion here. 
  9. Storefronts. The new URLs will consolidate all of a merchant's items. And the product listings will be SEO-friendly. We also discussed having something like  /snickerssnook or /snickers.snook also point to all of the merchant's items. However, due to uniqueness requirements, no custom store names for this. :(
  10. Video vs. GIF89a. Clearly the Lab-rats don't like GIF89a for product demos. It's a design issue, not technical. However, they are open to embedding video from a trusted site (like YouTube) in listings to give better product information. I thought may they could allow ONE animated GIF and all others must be static formats.
  11. More categories -- suggestions wanted! Finally, Brodesky challenged little old me to suggest more categories that could be included in the Marketplace. I'm not sure I'm the best for this. So, if you have any suggestions for categories, post your list up here and I'll pass them along. Or I'm sure Brodesky would take them in a notecard -- or a JIRA could be created.
  12. Multiple categories. I hit this point several times. We need a way to have ONE product appear in more than one category. I don't care if the Lab charges a premium for each extra one. It would cut down some clutter AND increase sales. I could see limiting it to a maximum of three. However, category abuse should be a reportable offense.
  13. Abusive reviews. We both agreed that some way of flagging abusive or inappropriate reviews needs to be found. I know there are lots of ways to handle this -- from a flagging system to "this review was helpful or not" system. I think a merchant advisory board could handle this.
So there you have it. Very long chat and hopefully things are being nudged in a better direction. That said, the proof is always in the pudding, or prims, or plywood cube. Until things actually happen, you're never 100% convinced. But I'm a shade more optimistic now. :)

1 comment:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cover_Flow

    Is Apple licensing Cover Flow?


All thoughts are welcome.