Marketplace listing categories and contest

Following the most recent Marketplace “update” forum post, the Commerce Team have launched a Second Life Marketplace categories contest.

The basic idea is to get merchants to give feedback on the proposed new Marketplace categories which are under consideration by LL and – by providing suggestions on one category in particular – have the chance of winning “L$2,489 (cost of a month long, frontpage Marketplace Product Listing Enhancement) or [sic] your efforts!”

Marketplace listing enhancements: feedback sought

Listing categories are, for the uninitiated, the selections under which merchants can have their products listed in the Marketplace. So, for example, as someone who built houses, I would list my work under the category Building Components > Structures > Residential Structures. The idea is to help quantify / filter products on the Marketplace (together with keywords) so that they can be more easily found (by a user using the Category option on the left of Marketplace pages and clicking down through the options to refine a list of displayed results in the main part of the page).

Merchants have long felt that many of the categories used within the Marketplace are too broad. For example, and keeping with the example above, “Residential Structures” covers a multitude of options: houses, mansions, skyhomes, skyboxes, castles, tropical (tiki) homes, cabins, and so on. These means that search results using the current categories can end up being bloated (there are just under 27K of items under the “Residential Structures” category alone…).

However, defining where and how the categories should be expanded is a problem in itself. Do it autocratically, and you’re bound to get your hand bitten off. Ergo, having a survey – while it is hardly likely to please everyone – is perhaps a preferable route by which to encourage feedback, refine what has already been put forward and so a degree of willingness to engage with customers (merchants) and take on-board their feedback and insight.

Really, the problem here  – as Ciaran Laval has pointed out – is one of perception. Coming on top of their refusal to engage directly with people and invite open discussion and discourse with their customers, the Commerce Team have effective said, thanks, but no thanks” which I’ve already commented upon) – the competition runs the risk of being seen as little more than an attempt to curry favour.

The really cynical might even see this as a sideways attempt to try to boost flagging listing enhancement revenues due to all the billing cock-ups in that department over the last 12 months by directly (and repeatedly) linking the cash prizes on offer with the idea of a monthly listing enhancement (see the quote from the blog post announcing the competition above, with the contest rules further pointing out, “Each winner will receive L$2,899 (the cost of a month long [sic], front page featured Product Listing Enhancement on the Marketplace)”, with the survey form itself outright (and confusingly) stating the prize actually is a month-long product listing enhancement (part 3 of the survey).

The prize as quoted in the Contest Survey (13th November 2012) – click to enlarge

Nevertheless, and quibbles aside, the call for feedback on the proposed listing enhancements – whether or not one enters the competition – should be heeded, particularly if, as a merchant, you’ve felt that they are currently too broad at present and need improvement. The contest itself is entirely optional – so if you have no interest in female skin categories, then simply ignore it and complete the first two parts of the survey.

It’s important to note as well that there is no limit as to the number of times anyone can complete the survey – so it is possible to post a response for each of the categories you use to list your products and services.

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So today I gave up the last 4096 sq m of private land I paid tier on. It was actually odd, turning-in the keys (so to speak), without having land “of my own” to go to.

The reason I’ve done so is explained elsewhere, but in short, I opted to re-up at Premium for another year and to make proper use of my Linden Home, which I’ve been using as my “primary” residence for the last couple of months & slowly getting used to it.

All moved in

Even so, cancelling rental on the last parcel of land was a little hard; for most of the nigh-on six years I’ve been back in SL, I’ve shared my land with a good friend – Kelly. We’ve alternated having our respective homes on the ground and in the air – with me being the airborne resident for most of the last year or so, and sometimes, when my holdings were larger, having our houses side-by-side on the ground, amidst shared gardens or beach. Seeing her go off to a new home in SL was a little like seeing a member of the family up stakes and move away to a new town. IM will doubtless become our version of the weekly long-distance ‘phone chats, and we’ll be picking out places in SL we can meet-up directly when a face-to-face chin-wag is needed…

Adjusting to living in the limited space of a Linden Home hasn’t actually been that bad; as I’ve commented in the past, the 117 prim allowance / land capacity provided with each house can allow rather a lot to be done with them – particularly if you shop right. What’s more some of the houses lend themselves to low-prim conversions and do actually exist in reasonable neighbourhoods. Or at least, I think the Tahoe range does…

The Aspen interior, as supplied

I opted for the Aspen in the Tahoe range. It’s one of the “long” versions of these A-framed houses, and the only one with the front door in one of the long walls, something I particularly wanted. After moving in, I did do a small amount of conversion – I installed a second vertical wall in the place so I had room to hang pictures and added a basic loft area at one end of the house to make space for a (never used) bedroom (do avatars dream of electric sheep?) – but other than that, didn’t really do that much with the place beyond slapping in some furniture.

After deciding to make the place my primary abode, I re-worked things a little, dividing the single room into two, and re-modelling the stairs and loft. This all came to a cost of nine prims (the magic of sculpts!), although it could have been less; I wanted a different floor in the “back” room, and a door separating it from the lounge.

At home – the Aspen remodelled

I’m particularly proud of the picture frames on the long wall and over the fireplace amount to just 2 prims and as well as allowing me to display 4 prints, they contain scripts which activate a warm level of lighting at dusk before turning it off again at dawn.

For the rest of the place, as mentioned, I went with Ample Clarity’s PrimPossible! items. which give me a plant, a lounge suite, tables (even books!), rug, piano, bed and upstairs sofa for the princely sum of five prims. Throw in an ornament or two, and that’s the place remodelled and furnished for just 20 prims – leaving me 97 still to play with, should I get extravagant.

The Patio

Another reason I like the Aspen is that it has a decent patio area, so there’s room for me to entertain outdoors and enjoy the late afternoon Sun. The railings on the patio are mine – but again only amount to 1 prim.The patio also comes in handy for rezzing purposes as well.

Linden Homes get heavily critiqued for being cookie-cutter packed into the available space; I know this because I’ve been one of those doing a lot of the critiquing. The truth is, I still do find much of the Linden Home regions to be something of an eyesore; hence why I say to anyone thinking of getting one to shop arround. Look at the different classes of build, their surroundings and the various styles of house offered in each class. But, the additional truth is that, pick wisely (and be prepared to bounce around a few houses), you can land a perfect comfortable place with surrounding that aren’t really that bad – although admittedly, Linden Lab could really do with updating the textures they use for – well, just about everything, actually.

Paddling upriver from ny “new” home

In my own case, I have a navigable river close to hand (OK, so I have to rez my boat at home and then “drive” it overland to the water – but it is all downhill) which allows for a little paddling around (or puttering, in the case of something larger), and a couple of regions away – reachable on foot or via water – there is an area of parkland to be enjoyed.

The parkland also lets me take my Neuspa for the occasional spin without annoying the neighbours. Again, being amphibious, it means I can use it to travel to the park by water well out of people’s way, and drive ashore for a little putter around without upsetting others with noise and the risk of being run over.

So, that’s me settled all Linden-y like in the Aspen. It’s only taken me a year to get there, and I’ve enjoyed myself doing a little more exploring in the local neighbourhood; after living on private islands for so long, being able to walk out my front door and simply go a-wanderin’ without having to resort to landmarks and teleports is a novel experience; I’m rather enjoying it.

Four wheels on my wagon – taking a break from wandering around my local Tahoe regions.