Web Profiles – a further look

Over the last couple of months the layout of web Profile pages has undergone a series of progressive enhancements. As it has been a while since I’d last looked at web Profiles, I thought a little update was in order, particularly given the most recent change to Privacy Settings, which has come out entirely unannounced by LL.

The first noticeable revision is the provision of a new drop-down list of options that can be accessed by clicking on the down-pointing chevron next to your name at the top right of the Profile page.

Clicking on this displays a drop-down list of options, namely: EDIT PROFILE, PRIVACY SETTINGS and LOG OUT. Clicking on either of the first two options will automatically open your Profile / settings for update, regardless of whose Profile you are actually viewing.

Defining your reach

An issue with earlier iterations of the Web Profiles was that they carried all information about your avatar out into the web. This generated a lot of criticism from users, some of which was valid. While options were later added to limit how far real world and other information in a Profile could be broadcast, it was impossible to disable or stop the About Me section of a web Profile being visible from across the web without it vanishing from Viewer 2’s in-world search, effectively making you a non-person, Profiles-wise.

This has now been rectified. A new option has been added to the Privacy Settings, which defines who can see the About Me section of your Profile page.

As with earlier iterations of the web Profiles, the options for defining how widely the various sections of your Profile can be seen are:

  • Everyone: the information is available to the whole Internet and can be picked up by search engines
  • Second Life: the information is available to all Second Life residents who are logged in to the website or in-world
  • Friends: only your Second Life friends can see the information.

Setting all of the Privacy options to Second Life / Friends means that anyone casually browsing the web (via search or whatever) who comes by your Profile will only see the top section of your Profile page – name, rezdate, etc., together with a button to join Second Life. This should be ample to allay the worries people had about having their Profile information broadcast across the web, and it means that even if access is restricted to Second Life or Friends, a profile won’t completely vanish from Viewer 2.

Social media connections

A further nice addition to web Profiles that I’ve not looked at previously is the ability to connect SL Profiles to other social media accounts (FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and YouTube) should someone wish to do so. A drop-down list of available options is located towards the bottom of the Profile page when in Edit mode, under the title Social Identities.

To use it, click on the arrow and display a drop-down list of networks and click on the the one to which you wish to connect and follow any on-screen prompts or requests. Repeat for any other accounts to which you wish to links – and don’t forget to click SAVE when you have finished.

Each social media network added to your profile will be displayed in the edit screen directly below the drop-down list, together with an option to remove it later, should you wish.

Once saved, your various social media connections will be shown in the middle column of your Profile’s Second Life tab, in a field entitled Elsewhere. This will be directly under your Picks and / or Group listings, assuming these are visible to people perusing your Profile.

Worthwhile enhancements

These updates are likely to prove popular among users, providing as they do greater control and flexibility over how the web Profiles can be used.

While there are still issues with the web system that need to be examined and resolved – including load times and the loss of data entered into Profiles – which tend to impact the effectiveness of web Profiles, these new changes demonstrate that LL are listening and making changes in response to user requests, as well as providing greater choice as to what can be done with web Profiles. Both of these points are to their credit.

If there is anything upsetting about these new enhancements, it is in the fact that once again, LL have made no announcements concerning them; I only found out about the Privacy Setting changes from Ann OToole. Given the amount of concern previously expressed by users on this particular issue, this has to rate as another mark-down in LL’s ability to communicate, and shows (again) the Lab has a lot of ground to make up where keeping its user base informed is concerned.