SL Project Updates 49/2: Web User Group

Grumpity and Alexa Linden host the Web User Group meetings on alternate Fridays at Alexa’s barn

The majority of these notes are taken from the Web User Group meeting held on Friday, December 8th, 2017. These meetings are generally held on alternate Fridays, and chaired by Alexa and Grumpity Linden at Alexa’s barn. The focus is the Lab’s web properties, which include the Second Life website (including the blogs, Destination Guide, Maps, Search, the Knowledge base, etc.), Place Pages, Landing Pages (and join flow for sign-ups), the Marketplace, and so on and the Lab’s own website at lindenlab.com.

Not all of these topics will be discussed at every meeting, however, the intention within the group is to gain feedback on the web properties, pain points, etc., and as such is very much led by comments and input from those attending. Along with this are three points of note:

  • Specific bugs within any web property  – be it Marketplace, forums, Place Pages or anything else), or any specific feature request for a web property should be made via the Second Life JIRA.
  • Alex Linden provides routine updates on the Lab’s SL-facing web properties as and when appropriate, which can be found in the Second Life Web thread.
  • Note that the SL forums are not covered by the Web User Group, as the management of functionality of the forums falls under the remit of the Support Team.

General

  • Work continues on improving Place Pages. One forthcoming update is support for 360 snapshots captured with the 360 viewer (still at project status at the time of writing), including support for 360 images as the hero (top) image on Place Pages, and gallery views support.
    • The 360 snapshot viewer is in the process of being updated to support higher resolution images, fix issues with level of detail loading for objects behind you, etc. It will include support for direct upload to Flickr as well as to Facebook. This update should be appearing “in the next couple of weeks”.
  • Web properties as a whole are also being examined as a part of the overall project to move Second Life to the cloud for delivery. Some services are already managed via the cloud (at least in part), but there is still considerable work to be done and significant infrastructure changes to be made to SL’s web properties, so this is going to be some long-term work.
  • Some are reporting that some Mainland Welcome Area now have Voice chat disabled – some of which might be intentional, due to people abuse Voice within these areas. However, if it is believed Voice has been disabled in error, the advice is to raise a bug report, using the LPDW (Linden Department of Public Works) reporting category, and indicate the affected region and the lack of Voice capabilities.

No Copy Exploits / Illegal Sales of No Copy Items

As I’ve previously reported, one area of concern / upset for content creators has been the use of server exploits to generate copies of No-Copy items, which are then placed for sale, generally through the Marketplace. A long-standing problem, this is now hitting some gacha creators. While the Lab is working to technically address such exploits, some of those experiencing frustration for what they perceive as a lack of action on the Lab’s part procedurally to remove content from the Marketplace / responding to reports of the illicit sale of goods.

These frustrations have most visibly been brought forward at in-world technical meetings – such as recent Simulator User Group meetings and the Web User Group meetings. While the Lindens chairing these meeting are prepared to discuss some options for dealing with such issues  on a technical level (with obvious caveats around discussing the specifics of exploits, fixes, etc.), they cannot speak to issue of Governance, or on matters which may cross into legal areas. This means they cannot respond to questions about specific abuse reports, associated actions / investigations relating to them, or even how governance issues are managed.

While it does not provide an easement for the frustrations that are being felt, it does mean that such forums as the Simulator User Group, Server Beta User Group, Open-Source Dev Group, and the Web Group are not suitable venues in which to seek feedback on governance matters.

DMCA Update

Somewhat related to the above is the informal announcement that the Lab will be changing how people can file infringement notices (DMCA take-down notices) in the near future.

Currently, the Lab’s Infringement Notification Policy requires that such notices are filed with Linden Lab via mail or fax. Once this update has been implemented – possibly around January / February 2018, it will be possible to file notification with the Lab via an on-line form. I’ll hopefully have a full report on this when the forum has been deployed for general use.

Marketplace

  • It is believed that the underlying cause of items being de-listed from the Marketplace has been fixed, and there have been no further reports of new cases where de-listing has occurred. The Lab is continuing to work with those creators who have been affected to ensure all of their affected listing are recovered.
  • Blocking purchasers: some creators would like a means to block people they see as troublesome from purchasing their creations via the Marketplace (just as they can block people from their in-world stores). This is something the Lab is looking at – but again, it is difficult to implement / enforce because of the ease with which alt accounts can be created and used.
  • Marketplace facts: a couple of Marketplace-related facts:
    • There are around 40,000 unique monthly sellers using the Marketplace per month.
    • There are around 150,000 unique buyers using the Marketplace per month.

Seller Verification

: the idea of “verifying” or of at least having some means to control listings on the Marketplace (particularly scam listings / those trying to sell illicit items) was initiated at the inaugural WUG meeting as part of a wider discussion on Marketplace management.

The Lab is looking at various options which might be implemented to help with this, although nothing has been decided as yet. One idea put forward – and again, has not been adopted as something that will happen – is that of applying a listing fee,  potentially tied to a benefit for Premium members (e.g. no fees, or X number of free listings). Given changes to fees for cashing-out will be made in January 2018, and LindeX fees were recently changed, this did not go over well with some at that meeting, although others seemed in favour, although it does potentially represent a higher barrier to entry into selling content.

A resident-voiced proposal is for those using the Marketplace to supply some aspect of their physical world information as a means of verifying who they are (already required for those cashing-out L$ balances to fiat money)  – something which may discourage content copiers and MP spammers, but which might again discourage other who sell on the MP, but who don’t necessarily cash-out (they use the L$ income to support their in-world activities) from continuing to participate in the MP.

This approach might also allow those merchants who have verified their accounts with the Lab to have some form of “verified” / “trusted” icon displayed within their listings, although the legal ramifications for the Lab in doing this would likely have to be investigated (for example, how vulnerable might the Lab be to legal action should a so-called merchant “verified” as “safe” by them start selling illicit goods at another’s expense?).

In terms of stolen / copybotted goods on the Marketplace and scam accounts, Grumpity Linden stated the Lab’s broader aims:

Meeting Contents

It has been noted that Marketplace-related items are dominating the two WUG meetings held thus far, leads to some concerns that other web-related topics may get pushed out of meetings. Of all the Lab’s main user-facing web properties, the Marketplace is probably the most visible, and carries the largest potential impact with people, therefore a focus on it is to be expected (particularly given the Commernce Team abdicated their own in-world meetings around 5-6 years ago and have shown no willingness since to re-engage in them). However, Grumpity and Alexa acknowledged the wider purview of the WUG meetings, and suggested that a portion of future meetings might be set aside to discuss non-Marketplace web topics.

Date of next meeting: Friday, January 5th, 2018.

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