Yesterday Linden Lab rolled out an update to the SL Marketplace – and in the process managed to break several things:
- When editing any listed item, merchants found themselves faced with both the item’s list name and all permissions set for it being wiped from listing details, thus requiring the info to be added again
- Loss of information appearing in Merchant’s Transaction Histories following sales (such as the actual customer’s name…)
- Loss of data from the Automatic Notification of Sale (ANS) e-mail merchants receive when a sale is made (such the actual amounts involved, pre- and post-LL’s commission).
This has understandably lead to a lot of consternation and anger both on the commerce forum and on individuals blogs. Various assurances have been given over aspects of the above errors, together with excuses made (such as the zeroing of balances in ANS being “A bug that was missed” in testing) – but the fact remains that issues have still not been fixed, nor have the changes been rolled back until such time as the code can be made fit-for-purpose. As a result, merchants are still – quite rightly – feeling hurt and betrayed.
I do not classify myself as a merchant in the same was as Darrius Gothly, Dartagan Shepherd or Pamela Galli – but I do feel their pain. Second Life is promoted on a number of unique attributes – one of which is the ability for people to “make real money”. If this is to be true, then the systems Linden Lab put before their customers to enable them to do so must be robust and capable of providing information people need in order not to fall afoul of legal requirements vis-a-vis earnings, etc.
But in reality, they’re not – not through and direct flaw in the software, but simply as a result of how things are being managed. This is perhaps where the philosophy of “put it out, test, polish, test, polish”, as described by Rodvik at SLCC 2011, falls down. Simply put, such a philosophy cannot work well where it impacts in people’s ability to generate income. As Blaze Nielsen comments:
“Brooke et al, I believe the great frustration we feel as merchants here is the methodology of using us as beta testers for your “upgrades”. Many of us have our livelihoods on the line. The money we use to buy food and gas and pay mortgages. For many this is far far [sic] more than a hobby. We see again and again and again sloppy code disrupting our businesses here while the bugs are ironed out. From the server, the client and the marketplace you obviously feel your tinkering can be done with the general population instead of in an isolated testing environment. This needs to be discussed at the highest level of management and the policy changed.”
An added issue here is that Linden Lab are introducing a new Direct Delivery system which could be exceptionally beneficial to merchants and customers alike. But this latest situation does little to inspire merchants with any sense of trust in LL’s ability to do so without causing further confusion and upset.
Update, September 16
Darrius Gothly reports that the majority of the issues encountered in the Marketplace update og the 13th have noew been fixed. He also gives considered thought on what went wrong – and is in all probability pretty close to the mark – and what needs to be done in the future to avoid similar cock-ups. It’s a recommended read for all those involved in content creation and sale, whether for business or as a hobby.