Marketplace listing errors: LL needs to speak up

Update April 1st: LL issue revised DD migration deadline and updates on JIRAs related to Marketplace issues. 

For the last several days, there has been a serious issue with the SL Marketplace. I’ve reported, with updates, on the matter – as have others. The problem, which as I’ve noted in my original blog post, includes:

  • Listings on Marketplace stores do not match the actual items
  • Incorrect merchant attribution (products from Merchant X listed as belonging to Merchant Y, despite appearing in Merchant X’s store)
  • Products from one merchant appearing in stores belonging to other merchants
  • Items incorrectly priced
  • Incorrect ratings assigned to products (G-rated items appearing as Adult, etc.).

Note that a full list of JIRA on Marketplace issues is also available via Sera Lok and Sassy Romano.

Advice and feedback from the Lab on the issue has been sporadic at best. On the plus side, we have had a welcome apology for errors in the support team relating to the issue. However, feedback within the forum thread on the issues has otherwise been restricted to an attempt to provide advice on the issue which unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to work. Elsewhere, feedback has been restricted to a brief Grid Status page remark.

And therein lies a problem: many are completely unaware that there is an issue. As a result, we’re starting to see:

  •  Rising levels of accusations of “theft” among merchants as they come across what appears to be their own goods being listed by others
  • Well-intentioned customers raising concerns of product theft with merchants when they see incorrectly listed items
  • Growing concerns and confusion being voice through various product support groups in-world.

Linden Lab are somewhat caught between a rock and a hard place here. They are obviously trying to resolve the situation as quickly as possible, and in a manner that won’t in itself lead to further issues and problems: hence why calls to suspend the Marketplace appear to have gone unanswered. We simply do not know the extent of the issue and it would appear that there are at least as many merchants unaffected by the problem (such as myself) as there are merchants impacted by it. Therefore, it is entirely possible that were LL to suspend the Marketplace, the resultant uproar might be even greater than the upset the issue itself is causing.

However, LL do need to be more proactive in communicating the issue – not all merchants routinely read the Merchant’s forum and not everyone reads the Grid Status pages (unless there is something very noticeable “going wrong” in-world, such as teleports failing, rezzing issues, etc). Hence why the levels of misunderstanding are growing.

If the issue cannot be easily resolved – and this would appear to be the case, then more direct communication on the matter  – via e-mail, through all available channels such as the Land and Business blog, etc., would appear to be of an increasing necessity. The e-mail / blog post doesn’t need to delve into specifics but should at least outline the problem and indicate that the Lab is actively seeking to resolve the issue. Doing so would ensure merchants are informed, and potentially go a long way to stemming accusations of “theft” and / or fear of “copybotting”.

On a broader front, being seen to provide information would also help stem the rising tide of anger being directed at the Lab over this issue. Alongside the calls to suspend the Marketplace have also been calls to roll back the Marketplace database to a prior to this problem arising. There are more than likely practical reasons as to why this cannot be done; however, by not acknowledging such calls and at least outlining why a roll back cannot be done – or why there needs to be further investigation prior to committing to a roll-back if it turns out the idea is feasible – would again so much to lessen the resentment that  customers are feeling towards the Lab at this point in time.

It is again in situations like this where Linden Lab do themselves no favours, something I’ve recently touched upon. There are times when silence simply doesn’t work – yet all too frequently, silence is the main tool the Lab uses in dealing with a situation. It’s also an approach that reinforces the negative attitude many people feel towards the Lab, justified or otherwise.

Linden Lab has channels of communication open to it – and where e-mail is concerned, it’s not as if they’ve not used that channel to reach out to merchants in the past. Given the fact that even now, three days after the initial problem was first noticed, some people are still only just finding out about the problem – and in some cases leaping to the wrong conclusion – an advisory posted to the blog and / or e-mailed to merchants would seem to be a practical step to take, particularly as we are now facing the weekend with absolutely no indication as to whether the matter will be resolved sooner rather than later.

Related Links

Pathfinding: Main grid beta commences

Coming on top of the request for region owners to involve themselves in pathfinding testing on the Main grid (Agni), Linden Lab has announced a broader public beta being commenced on Agni, using fifteen of specially configured sandboxes:

Note that access to the four Snack regions is dependent upon joining the Second Life Beta group.

Looking across Limia and Arowana: suitable for pathfinding vehicle testing on land / water

Pathfinding Viewer

Beta tester will require the Pathfinding Project Viewer, of which two variants are available:

Formal Call to Region Owners

Owners for full regions can still involve themselves in the beta. Those wishing to do so are requested to:

  • E-mail from the e-mail address associated with your account
  • Include your account name and region you want added to the beta.

Related Links

Another view of Arowana and Limia