November 2022 Web User Group: new “Plus” subscription level

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022.

These meetings:

  • Are held in-world, generally on the first Wednesday of the month – see the SL public calendar.
  • Are usually chaired by Reed Linden, who is the Lab’s Product Manager for the Second Life front-end web properties (Marketplace, secondlife.com, the sign-up pages, the Lab’s corporate pages, etc.).

A video of the meeting, courtesy of Pantera, can be found embedded at the end of this article (my thanks to her as always!), and subject timestamps to the relevant points in the video are provided. Again, the following is a summary of key topics / discussions, not a full transcript of everything mentioned.

Marketplace

Marketplace Search Overhaul

[Video: 1:08-4:30]

  • All of the currently planned updates are complete and are awaiting the opportunity to “turn them all on”. This will likely happen (with an announcement) ahead of US Thanksgiving, 2022.
  • Some of the noted updates include:
    • Merchant and store names will no long be searched in product searches.
    • Searches for exact matches (using quotation marks around search descriptors) has been added.
    • Wildcard (e.g. using *) will be possible.
    • The back-end supports fuzzy matching to better handle typos when inputting searches.
    • There should be a noticeable increase in speed of search results being returned.
  • Once running, these updates will allow LL to add-in the relevance engine AI to the Marketplace search (as a separate API entity to the relevance engine already running on the web search).

Marketplace Styles

[Video: 12:15-14:00]

  • Work will resume on Marketplace Styles (allowing multiple colours, etc., for an item to appear within a single listing rather than each requiring its own listing) as soon as the MP Search updates are officially enabled.
  • It is hoped this capability will be available towards year-end.
  • It will obviously be up to merchants as to whether they use it to group variances in a product within a single listing or continue to list them separately – single listings for multiple versions of an item will not be mandatory.

Land Ownership “Journey”

[Video; 8:14-12:12]

  • A complete re-write of every route by which users can obtain and hold land, from Premium (+Plus) Linden Homes, obtaining Mainland (incl. Abandoned Land), and private island regions, and renting from private estates.
  • The first element of the land work to be user-facing will be the new Land Portal, a central hub from which to get to all aspects of land “ownership”.
  • Overall, this work is not liable to be surfaced much before the end of 2022.
  • When it does, it should be looked upon as a template / proof of concept for overhauling the rest of the Second Life web properties to give them a coherent appearance; make it easier to maintain existing web portals and pages and to add new ones; make SL’s web presence more performant overall and ensure it works on mobile devices as well as desktops / laptops.

New “Plus” Subscription Level

[Video: 4:1-35-8:05]

  • The new subscription option is to be called simply (if possibly confusingly) “Plus”.
  • This is designed to sit between Basic and Premium.
  • Its core intent is to unlock the ability to hold land on the Mainland, although it will have a modest stipend associated with it + a small bump in the number of allowed Groups.
  • Pricing is subject to the formal announcement that Plus is available, which is anticipated as being by the end of November.
  • It is hoped that once available and given time to determine how it performs / users respond to Plus, that further subscription levels – which may possibly include an “a-la carte” option – can be defined and added to the selection.

Premium Plus (and Premium) to be Renamed in the future?

  • It was suggested that the new subscription level would be better named “Basic Plus” – something that was not dismissed by Reed as an informal means of referencing it.
  • However, the Lab is apparently considering single-word names for all current and future subscription offerings, and Reed indicated that if this is the case, then Premium Plus is likely to be renamed at some point in the future, and this renaming might extend to Premium as well.

In Brief

  • It is hoped that a future Marketplace update will allow store owners to have access to search metrics for their items (e.g. which items are being popularly searched / purchased, etc.). However, this is not part of the Search updates described above.
  • The web properties updates will likely include improvements to the web version of the World Map. However, what these changes may be & which they might be implemented is very much still TBD.
  • Web profiles will not be entirely shut down for as long as the profile Feed remains popular with users – this is the one element of Web Profiles that has not been moved back into the viewer (and appears unlikely to do so).
  • It has been noted that if a user has the Profile Feed set to Private, the new Legacy Profile viewer code shows a broken version of their web profile in the Web tab.
  • For all other discussion points,  please refer to the video below.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, December 7th, 2022. Venue and time per top of this summary.

3 thoughts on “November 2022 Web User Group: new “Plus” subscription level

  1. What is the “Relevance Engine API”?

    The quality of Marketplace searches is diminished, I think, because it is so easy for merchants to keyword spam. Most of my searches return lots of things that aren’t even close to, or in the category of, what I wanted.

    Will the Relevance Engine make MP searches more accurate and less gameable?

    TY!!!

    Like

    1. As per previous WUG summaries, earlier in 2022 LL brought-in expertise specialising in the Elasticsearch engine, which powers both the Second Life web search and the Marketplace search, with the aim of having that expertise help overhaul and improve both search systems.

      As a part of that work, a “search relevance engine” was built specifically for web search. This uses AI capabilities to help improve the relevancy of search results by “learning” how people use search and the results they get with the am of having it “learn” about how users make use of search and try to ensure the item they are seeking appear more towards the top of a list of search results, etc.

      Because the MP search is entirely separate to the web search system, and has its own unique qualities / properties, rather than simply porting the relevance engine built for web search over to the the MP search, LL are having a separate version of the engine built to run specifically for the MP. And yes, the idea is to help make searches more relevant (“accurate”) for users.

      Like

  2. Re. Subscription levels:
    remember function first! easy, self-explanatory names before cool, show-off, in-crowd names.

    Like

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