December 2022 Second Life Web User Group summary

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, December 7th, 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 Elastic Search Overhaul

[Video: 4:29-7:00]

  • The drive to get the MP search updates release is continuing.
    • It had been hoped that this would be completed by US Thanksgiving, but last minutes issues resulting from the sheer size / volume of the MP (which cannot be replicated in test environments) prevented this from being achieved.
    • The aim is now as soon as everything is working as anticipated.
    • Those using the Marketplace recently may have noticed some glitches with search – this has been due to the Search team banging on things under the hood in order to get the updates deployed.
  • This work is essentially the same kind of back-end update as carried out with Web search a few months ago, with the emphasis on faster, more robust performance, together with new search options, including:
    • Merchant and store names will no long be searched in product searches.
    • Wildcard (e.g. using *) will be possible.
    • Better exact matching against search terms
    • 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: 7:15-7:54]

  • 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. As such, Styles will not be deployed in 2022, but will be the first MP update for deployment in 2023.
  • 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.

Marketplace Refresh / Rebuild

  • This is still being looked at as a primary project for development and possible initial deployment in 2023, and as such will likely form a focal point for discussions and feedback through Web User Group meetings in 2023.
  • The work will at least comprise a refresh of the Marketplace appearance and the addition of further desired functionality; because of this, there is a push within LL to completely rebuild the Marketplace from the ground-up.
  • [Video 13:54-14:05] Any rebuild of the Marketplace would not require merchants to re-upload there items: a migration of listings from the current MP to any new MP would be provided.

New “Plus” Subscription Level and Beyond

[Video: 8:00-10:34]

  • The Plus subscription level was launched on November 18th, 2022 – for details please refer to the official blog post and my own reporting on the release.
  • Work is continuing to bed this in alongside of the other subscription options.
  • The Lab is generally pleased that the majority of users appeared to understand what they were trying to achieve within the introduction of Plus.
  • Plus is the last of the currently-planned subscription options the Lab has on the boards, and there are currently no plans to make further offerings available.
  • However, consideration is still being given to providing future possible options, such as:
    • A “Premium A-la Carte” level whereby your subscription fees are based on the options you select from a list.
    • Subscriptions based on specific interests (such as a “creator subscription”.
    • BUT these are only in the “Soon™” phase, indicating they are a feature or capability Linden Lab would like to implement, but which is not far enough along in development to determine if or when it might / could / will be implemented.
  • [Video 21:19-22:42] Will subscriptions ever support payment in Linden Dollars?
    • This is being considered, although the overall implications, etc., have yet to be fully understood.
    • In particular, it could have ramifications on the status of the Linden Dollar (which is not at present regarded as a virtual currency, but could be if it were to become a recognised payment system for benefits.
    • As such this is an idea that is not even in the “Soon™” criteria of thinking; however, there is an internal goal to make it possible to pay for “all things” SL-related in L$ – the questions are really what will this do to the Linden Dollar in making it a virtual currency; how will that effect how the LindeX will function / be regulated, how Tilia can support such a move, etc.

In Brief & Q&A

Video, 17:00 onwards, unless indicated.

  • [Video: 12:10-12:54] Real-time population stats:
    • The Lab is working on improving the ability for the Destination Guide to provide a real-time reflection of the number of avatars within a specific in-world location.
    • Should this be achievable, the capability will be extended into Search so that Places searches will return the number of avatars within the location at the time of the search.
    • This work might be completed by 2022 year-end.
    • [Video: 14:20-14:54] Concerns were raised over the use of unregistered bots (i.e. avatars not correctly flagged as Scripted Agents) to game the numbers. LL is aware of the unregistered bot issue across Second Life, but outside of users reporting them on finding them, there is no easy solution to this issue.
  • [Video: 19:00-19:36] With the acquisition of CasperTech, will Caspertech Drop Boxes and vendors be integrated into the Marketplace?  Yes. However, what form this will take and when it might be undertaken has yet to be determined internally at the Lab / with Casper Warden.
  • [Video: 23:22-29:42 + via text earlier in the meeting] The suggestion was made to make OpenSpace regions (aka Void or Water regions – not to be confused with the 2008 OpenSpace offering which morphed into Homesteads in 2009) as a part of a “Super Premium” offering (+ a nominal tier fee on to of the subscription fee) purely for use as private homes.
    • These regions have a Land Capacity of 1000, and are limited to 10 concurrent avatars, and are regarded as being for light use and a special purchase via support with the requirement that the purchaser must hold at least one Full private region.
    • While the idea was taken under advisement, such a offer could still impact the existing private estate market, and so would have to be considered carefully.
  • The OpenSpace discussion further raised the idea of having these regions potentially on an on-demand basis (e.g. only spun-up when avatars are present within the regions. H
    • However, it was pointed out that regions, whether “up” or “down” require grid slots, and the infrastructure configurations means that grid slots have underpinning hardware, so there is still a potential hardware cost, regardless of whether a region is spun up for use or not.
    • As such, this cost impact would have to be resolved in order for regions (or a specific region type) to be made available through an on-demand system.
  • [Video; 30:11-30:35] Land ownership Overhaul:
    • As noted in previous WUG summaries, this is 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.
    • A focus at the moment is on defining what “land” and the associated terms around it actually means (e.g. what is “renting land”? Where can land be rented? How is it rented?, etc.) .
    • The first element that will be surfaced is a new Land Portal, a central hub from which to get to all aspects of land “ownership”.
  • For all other discussion points,  please refer to the video below.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, January 4th, 2023. Venue and time per top of this summary.

 

 

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