Gateway programme API update

secondlifeNote: the following is based on a conversation at the end of the TPV developer meeting held on Thursday, April 7th. A video is available, and the discussion commences at the 37:43 mark. As such, the following is my interpretation on matters, rather than an official overview from the Lab.

As most people are aware, the Lab is working with a number of groups across Second Life to re-introduce the Community Gateway programme to help bring new users into Second Life. For more background on this, please refer to be September 2015 introductory blog post on the approach.

The original gateway programme was discontinued in August 2010, with the Lab citing several reasons for doing so, including issues around scalability and management oversight, together with question marks around its overall effectiveness in bringing new users into SL. However, there have been repeated calls over the years for it to be re-introduced, and the planned pilot programme is a response to these calls.

However, as I recently reported, there has been a slight issue around matters of legal compliance. Essentially, the Lab need to ensure that sensitive user information, such as account passwords, have to be handled directly by the Lab’s own registration services – they cannot be passed through a third-party service as would be the case with the new gateways, were they to use the current new user registration API.

To try to get around this, the Lab initially suggested the gateways make use of the “old” user registration API, as used with the original gateway programme. While this does handle account details through the Lab’s services, thus meeting legal requirements, it also has a major downside: there are no hooks into things like the web-based avatar picker. This means that when using it, new users cannot select a modern avatar, but instead are delivered in-world with either the default male or female Character Test Avatar (below) – hardly an ideal approach, given how the test avatars look.

The default Character Test Avatar, as used by the "old" new user registration API

The default Character Test Avatar, as used by the “old” new user registration API

In order to try to improve things, the Lab had toyed with the idea that users would be able sign-up through the third-party gateways, but would have a temporary account password delivered to them via e-mail from the Lab, which they could initially use to log-in to SL, and be able to change via secondlife.com.

While it is actually not uncommon for on-line services to use e-mail exchanges as a part of their sign-up process (e.g. to verify a person’s e-mail address), this approach was seen as potentially too intrusive with the SL sign-up, with fears raised that it could put new users off as the swap back and forth between sign-up pages and e-mail.

In response to this, the Lab are now proposing (and currently QA testing) an alternative approach. During the user registration process, the incoming new user is directed to a secure page hosted by Linden Lab, where they set-up their account details, before being returns to the gateway sign-up pages to complete their on-boarding and coming in-world (so it is like opting to pay for goods on website using your PayPal account and being redirected to PayPal’s secure server to make the payment before being returned to the website).

The new user sign-up process for the gateway programme currently in QA with the Lab, should present users coming into Second Life via a third-party gateway with a relatively transparent process which allows the Lab to meet its legal requirements on account information privacy. (Note: this diagram is for illustrative purposes only, and based on how the process has been explained during a meeting [42:35]. The number of steps involved in the process may differ in practice)

The new user sign-up process for the gateway programme currently in QA with the Lab, should present users coming into Second Life via a third-party gateway with a relatively transparent process which allows the Lab to meet its legal requirements on account information privacy. (Note: this diagram is for illustrative purposes only, and based on how the process has been explained during a meeting [42:35]. With the exception of the information handled by the Lab’s service, the number of steps involved in the process may differ in practice)

Some concern has been voiced that this approach may still be off-putting to new users, however, it is hoped that it will be transparent enough to offer a more integrated sign-up flow than would be the case with the use of e-mails. There is still no indication as to when the revised API will be made available to groups in the trial gateway programme, but it has been approved by the Lab’s legal and compliance people, so hopefully once testing has been completed, we should hear more official news about it directly from the Lab.  programme should resume moving forward “soon”.

4 thoughts on “Gateway programme API update

  1. Richardus Raymaker

    Why are gateways not made in a way like bansk do with payments. you registratiuon (or payment) is send to LL servers and there you create the account. when done and verified etc. the visitor get send back to the gateway page he came from.

    Problem solved ?

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  2. Danko Whitfield

    Just yesterday I created a new alt, in the usual fashion, starting on the front page of secondlife.com. I was pleasantly surprised to arrive inworld at the new Firestorm gateway. Of course this got my curiosity up and I’m thinking about creating another alt to see what happens. But I’m wondering, is there a way to find out if other gateways are up and running and to choose to enter through a specific gateway? And even if I can’t choose an entry region yet, are you aware of any others that are already operating?

    Also, I would like to congratulate the Firestorm team on putting together a great portal for newcomers. The selection of freebie clothing was excellent.

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    1. Inara Pey Post author

      I previewed the Firestorm gateway here as part of my report no the return of the gateway programme (which now seems to have been a little premature!), and ran through the on-board experience as it currently stands here, if you want to compare notes🙂 .

      So far as I’m aware, this is the only gateway which has been available on a “preview” basis, although I understand from Patch Linden that up to around 20 groups were involved in initial discussions on the trail programme, so when it goes lives, there should at least be a few in the mix. I’ve not had any direct feedback from enquires as to other groups involved in the programme.

      The idea is very much that those running the gateways will be able to attract new users via websites and then deliver those users via a sign-up process directly to their own in-world “gateway experiences”. I’m actually very keen myself to see what has been set-up by the groups participating in the programme, and in reviewing them and promoting them through these pages.

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